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How A/V Receivers Are Evolving In 2015

NEW YORK – New audio/video receivers (AVRs) available this year will deliver Dolby Atmos and DTS:X objectbased surround decoding at price points starting as low as a suggested $499, HDMI 2.0a inputs and outputs starting at $499, and HDCP 2.2 copy protection at $279, though at that price, it might be paired with HDMI 2.0 ports rather than 2.0a ports, suppliers indicate.

DTS:X capability will be available out of the box in some cases but in others will take the form of a free firmware upgrade later in the year after the AVR ships.

AVRs supporting Dolby Atmos and DTS:X processing up to nine channels could start at around $1,399, though consumers will have to add an outboard two-channel amp to complement the AVR’s internal seven-channel amp, one supplier said.

As for Auro-3D surround decoding, it will be available this year as paid firmware updates in AVRs priced as low at $1,399, the supplier added.

Recently announced Onkyo AVRs point the way to a proliferation of AVRs combining Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and new HDMI technologies at mainstream price points.

Onkyo plans June shipments of its first two AVRs to support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, though DTS:X will be available as a firmware upgrade sometime later this year. The AVRs are the TX-NR646, due in early June at a suggested $699, and TX-NR747, due in late June at a suggested of $999.

Both AVRs are also the brand’s first AVRs with HDMI 2.0a inputs and outputs. Both are networked 7.2-channel models that support a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos or DTS:X speaker configuration. An outboard amp can’t be added to support a 5.1.4 speaker configuration.

Both models also feature HDCP 2.2 copy protection. And both are the company’s first AVRs with HDMI/ HDCP2.2 inputs and outputs that support full-bandwidth 18Gbps HDMI instead of 10.2Gbps HDMI.

Later this year, the company will unveil additional AVRs at lower price points with Dolby Atmos, 18Gbps HDMI 2.0a, and HDCP 2.2 but without DTS:X, a spokesman said.

Another supplier expects this year to offer AVRs with Atmos and DTS:X at $499, though likely with a DTS:X firmware update later in the year. The supplier also expects to offer 18Gbps HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 at $279, with HDMI 2.0a starting at $499.

Earlier this year, Pioneer introduced AVRs at $399, $599, $450 and $700, all the company’s first with HDCP 2.2. They feature 18Gbps HDMI 2.0 ports but not HDMI 2.0a. Dolby Atmos appears in the $599 and $700 models, but the AVRs aren’t upgradable to add DTS:X.

For its part, Yamaha shipped a $299-suggested 5.1-channel RX-V379, which is the company’s first announced AVR with HDCP 2.2 copy protection. The HDMI ports are version 2.0, not 2.0a. It also lacks Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding.

HDMI 2.0a ports support the passthrough of high dynamic range (HDR) video to compatible TVs. HDCP 2.2 copy protection on HDMI 2.0 and 2.0a ports will pass through copy-protected 4K content to a compatible TV from such 4K sources as Ultra HD Blu-ray players and settop IP video streamers.