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Denon Reveals Newest Models

NEW YORK – Denon unveiled a 2000 lineup that includes the industry’s first component equipped with licensed DTS ES decoder, the company’s first RF touchscreen remote, and the company’s first dual-tray CD-recorder.

Other introductions outlined by the company are:

  • · Denon receivers with Dolby Digital, DTS, 96kHz/24-bit input and S-video switching drop to a suggested $399 from $599.
  • · The opening price of a five-disc DVD changer becomes a suggested $599 from $999.
  • · The company’s opening-price single-play DVD player is now a suggested $399. The unit also features 96/24 digital output, whereas other DVD players at this price point are said to truncate the digital output to lower sampling rates and word lengths.

The company also said it expects to ship a DVD-Audio/Video player “soon” but declined to be specific. The unit would be priced at a suggested $1,199, said sources close to the company. It would feature built-in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1-channel decoding and six 192kHz/24-bit DACs.

The DTS ES-equipped product is the AVR-5800 three-source/three-zone A/V receiver, which incorporates THX EX decoding and seven built-in amplifier channels at a suggested $3,800. It’s due in August.

Although other suppliers’ THX EX-decoding components offer DTS ES compatibility to deliver a rear-center channel, they do not incorporate a licensed DTS decoder that delivers the surround effects in the way intended by the content producer.

Denon’s receiver actually features two DTS ES multichannel formats: DTS ES Matrix 6.1 and DTS ES Discrete 6.1, both of which are backward-compatible with DTS 5.1 de-coders. Matrix 6.1, like THX EX, delivers a matrixed rear-center channel, while Discrete 6.1 delivers a discrete rear-center channel.

The introduction of Discrete 6.1, said Ross Hering, DTS’s marketing VP for professional audio, marks the first time a multichannel sound technology will be heard in home theaters before it’s heard in movie theaters. More than 300 U.S. theaters are equipped to play back Matrixed 6.1 soundtracks (as well as EX soundtracks), but theatrical equipment for Discrete 6.1 hasn’t yet been developed, nor has a launch date been targeted.

Nonetheless, DreamWorks plans to ship the industry’s first Discrete 6.1 DVD, The Haunting, sometime in August, Hering said. The disc will also deliver Matrix 6.1 sound.

As more Discrete/Matrix home decoders become available, he added, studios will be incentivized to make films in Discrete 6.1 — even if movie theaters aren’t equipped to play them back — because a Discrete film soundtrack can be encoded with matrixed center-channel coding for playback in Matrix-equipped theaters. Adding Matrix codes to a Discrete soundtrack, however, “might take an extra day in the dubbing stage,” raising studio costs.

Two CDs from DTS Entertainment will also feature Discrete 6.1 soundtracks: Studio Voodoo, due August 15, and Don Henley’s The End of Innocence, which will feature a bonus Discrete/Matrix 6.1-channel track to accompany the disc’s 5.1 tracks and is due June 30.

Hering expects the pipeline of DTS-encoded DVDs and CDs to grow now that the company has begun shipping DTS encoding gear to mixing studios, and said, “We recently shipped the first 15 sets [of pro encoding equipment]. We hope a hundred music and DVD studios will be equipped by the end of the year.”

Thirty studios are already using beta versions since mid-March, and five have been using alpha versions since the third quarter of 1999.

Another new DTS technology, called Neo:6, is also available in the Denon receiver. It derives 5.1- and 6.1-channel sound from stereo programs.

Denon’s receiver is billed as future-proof because of several features, including a programmable DSP that can be upgraded with future-format software through an RS-232 port.

The device can be upgraded to offer a FireWire connection via an add-in DSP board and digital jack panel, and it features two sets of 7.1-channel inputs for adding on future multichannel source products such as DVD-Audio and SuperAudio CD. To support these formats, the receiver uses 192kHz/24-bit DACs on all seven channels, delivering frequency response up to 100kHz.

The receiver’s price includes the new AKTIS RF remote, due as a separate SKU in July at a suggested $449. It issues IR and RF commands, but to take advantage of its RF capability, users must buy a companion $179 RF receiver/battery recharger. The base delivers IR commands to the 5800 via a wired connection, and a second IR output can be used with IR emitters and IR blasters to control other system components.

In introducing other products, Denon said its 2x-speed dual-tray CD-recorder will ship in October at a suggested $699 following June shipments of its first CD-recorder, a single-tray model at a suggested $599. The dual-well model incorporated HDCD decoder and preserves HDCD coding during the recording process.

Denon’s new carousel DVD changer is due in September at a suggested $599 at the same time as its new $399 single-play model.

Both feature Dolby Digital and DTS compatibility, 96/24 two-channel audio DACs, and 96/24 digital outputs. The changer adds component-video outputs and virtual surround processing. The single-play unit reads CD-R discs.