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Kenwood’s Mainstream Series Adds DVD-Audio, 6.1-Channel Decoding

Kenwood’s mainstream audio series gets its first two DVD-AV players, its first 6.1-channel component receivers, and new home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB) features.

Also in receivers, Kenwood is planning to do the following:

  • drop its sole two-channel model;
  • add an unusual feature in two models: a sixth amplifier channel that can be switched to drive either a passive subwoofer or a rear-center-channel speaker;
  • and introduce the industry’s first four receivers with Circle Surround II decoding, which decodes the Dolby Digital EX-encoded soundtracks and upconverts mono, stereo and Dolby Pro Logic soundtracks to 6.1 channels. It also incorporates techniques to improve dialogue clarity and enhance bass response, the latter by constructing bass fundamental frequencies from detected bass harmonics.

Dolby Pro Logic II, in contrast, creates a 5.1-channel experience and doesn’t do so on mono sources.

In DVD players, Kenwood is bringing Faroudja’s video processing chip into its mainstream series for the first time.

In HTiB, the company is adding such upgraded features as two-way surround speakers in all five new models, one of which is also Kenwood’s first to offer audio response to 40kHz.

Some of the products shipped in June; the rest are due in July.

Here are the details:

DVD: Three new DVD players, all five-disc carousels, and two with DVD-Audio playback and built-in DVD-A bass management. Those two also feature Faroudja’s deinterlacer video processing chip.

All three feature MP3-CD-R/RW playback and progressive-scan output. Suggested retails are $200, $350, and $500.

Receivers: Prices on the four-model selection range from a suggested $200 for a model with Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1-channel decoding to $300-$600 for the three models that decode Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES 6.1-channel soundtracks.

The top two models feature 6.1-channel amp, and the top model, which is THX Select-certified, adds THX EX decoding.

All four come with Circle Surround II and Dolby Pro Logic II.

HTiB: Five new systems use a component receiver, and like last year, two feature component DVD player. The players in both are five-disc carousel models with MP3 CD-R/RW playback and progressive output. Four of the five new systems feature two-way surround speakers, which weren’t available in the previous lineup.

Prices range from a suggested $300-$700. All feature Dolby Pro Logic II.

Sometime this year, the company plans to replace its current two “integrated” HTiB systems, which are built around a DVD-receiver. One is the Unity system that’s co-branded with the Kenwood and Boston Acoustics names. Details weren’t announced.