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Denon Charts Audio Course

DVD-Audio/Video players and a DVD-Video carousel changer are in Denon’s future, however the company hasn’t determined whether it will ship a combination DVD-Audio/Super Audio CD player (shown as a non-working prototype last fall at a Japan trade show), said VP Steve Baker.

Denon is also considering an entry into the CD-R/RW market, he told TWICE as shipments got underway of the $999 suggested-retail AVR-3300 receiver – a lower-priced version of the recently shipped $2,800 flagship receiver. Baker claimed the new receiver packs the features and performance of competitors’ models usually priced at $1,500 to $2,000.

Other new products will be introduced at September’s CEDIA Expo. They will include the company’s first DVD-Video carousel changer – a five-disc model due to ship in September at a suggested $1,000.

As for DVD-Audio, he said Denon “will definitely build DVD-Audio in future products,” but he declined to say when. “There are still unresolved issues,” he noted, including the choice of a watermarking technology. He also claimed that adding DVD-Audio technology to a DVD-Video player “is not a fairly low-cost upgrade.”

As for the DVD-Audio/SACD player, he said “we’re still thinking about delivering it,” but the company hasn’t determined when or at what price.

On other issues, Baker said the company doesn’t plan on returning to the surround-sound-equipped shelf-system market and will continue to focus exclusively on two-channel systems. “It’s difficult for us to be in this market with the extremely low-price surround-sound shelf systems from other companies,” he said. Denon is also “looking at CD-R” (though a timeframe wasn’t disclosed) and he doubts a DVD-receiver “makes sense for us.”

The company’s new AVR-3300 receiver incorporates most of the features of its flagship predecessor but lacks THX Ultra certification, has fewer inputs and outputs and offers a reduced power output of 5×150 watts versus the flagship’s 5×140 watts. Common features include Dolby Digital and DTS decoding and 96kHz/24-bit PCM DACs intended for use with Denon DVD players that pass through two-channel 96/24 PCM audio from select DVD discs. Other common features include component-video switching for use with DVD players and set-top DTV decoders, eight-channel analog input and output for use with potential future audio formats, and two pairs of switchable surround-channel outputs (that let users switch between direct-radiating and bipolar or dipolar speakers).

The new model isn’t THX Select-certified, Baker said, because Denon didn’t want to wait six months for a single-chip solution that processes Dolby Digital, DTS and THX 5.1. The receiver, however, does feature Lucasfilm’s Cinema Re-EQ.