Harman Kardon will join a growing number of suppliers planning to launch dual-well CD-recorders and carousel DVD changers in the fall, when the company also plans to deliver a top-end DVD player that can be upgraded to play back future DVD-Audio discs.
Denon, Marantz and Onkyo also plan to ship carousel DVD changers later this year, with Onkyo having targeted this month for a six-disc model. Carousel changers are already available from Sony and Yamaha. As for dual-well CD-recorders, Marantz, Onkyo and Kenwood have announced plans to ship dual-well models later this year, joining Philips in the market.
HK's first CD-recorder, the dual-well CDR 2, will be differentiated from other announced products because it will be the first dual-well CD-recorder with quad-speed dubbing onto CD-R discs. It also dubs onto rewritable CD-RW discs at 2x speed, features speedier disc finalization, comes with 96kHz/24-bit PCM DACs, and, when copying CDs, bypasses its sampling rate converter to preserve HDCD and DTS encoding. It's due in October at a suggested $799 but could be available at retail as low as $649. It's built for HK by LG.
The brand's first DVD-Video player, the Signature series 3.0, was scheduled to ship in January but is being held up until November to incorporate DVD-Audio upgrade capability. The unit will be able to play DVD-Audio discs when a daughterboard is replaced and an upgraded operating system is installed in flash memory. The OS upgrade can be accomplished through an RS-232 port or by playing a specially encoded data disc on the unit's drive. The data disc could also be used to add other new features and functions, including menu integration with other HK components.
The $1,999-suggested-retail player comes with built-in High Definition Compatible Digital (HDCD) decoding, DTS passthrough, RGB component video outputs, and the needed analog outputs for DVD-Audio playback.
The DVD-Audio upgrade will be available about six months after the player ships at "minimal profit" for HK, president Tom McLoughlin said.
Although it has no specific plans for Super Audio CD, the company is looking at offering an SACD upgrade for the DVD player, but McLoughlin said the first-generation player probably couldn't be upgraded easily because the disc drive would also have to be replaced.
HK's first DVD changer, the $699-suggested-retail DVD 5, features five-disc carousel, DTS pass-through capability, 24-bit/96kHz two-channel PCM DACs, and component-video outputs. It doesn't incorporate built-in 5.1-channel Dolby Digital decoder.
The DVD 5 also lacks HDCD decoding, but two new carousel CD changers feature it at expected retails as low as $299 and $399 compared to an existing HDCD changer priced at about $500.
The new CD changers, the DVD changer, and the 3.0 DVD player play CD-R discs but not CD-RW discs, a spokesman said.
HK's fall lineup also includes the company's first receiver with HDCD decoder and the company's first two receivers with Logic 7 and VMAx processing. HDCD decoding of HDCD-encoded discs is said to yield 20-bit resolution; Logic 7 is a technology borrowed from high-end sister company Lexicon to derive a five-channel soundfield from stereo and matrix-encoded sources. VMAx 3D VirtualTheater processing uses psychoacoustic principles to simulate a multichannel soundfield from two speakers when used with Dolby Digital and Pro Logic sources.
The HDCD receiver, the AVR-7000, can be used to deliver HDCD decoding when connected via digital cable to the CDR 2 CD-recorder and new carousel DVD changer, both of which lack built-in HDCD decoders. At a suggested $1,499, it also features 96/24 DACs, Dolby Digital and DTS decoding, multiroom/multisource audio and video capability, and two sets of component inputs and outputs.
The AVR-7000 and the other three new receivers feature high-current capability to drive difficult speaker loads and six-channel analog inputs, which can be used with DVD-Audio players and with HDTV sets that come with built-in 5.1-channel Dolby Digital decoder.
Stepping down in price to a suggested $899, the AVR 500 receiver lacks HDCD, 96/24 DAC, and components inputs and outputs but retains Logic 7, VMAx, Dolby Digital, and DTS. Multiroom capability is limited to audio. At a suggested $699, the AVR 300 features DD and DTS, and the opening-price AVR 100 receiver at a suggested $499 features DD but lacks DTS decoding.
In other product developments, McLoughlin said HK currently has no plans to offer Dolby EX, a technology that delivers a matrixed rear-center channel for use in large listening spaces; but at some point, HK will "probably" offer it.