Marantz Audio Steps Back To Go Forward - Twice

Marantz Audio Steps Back To Go Forward

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Marantz is looking back to get ahead.

The 50-year-old audio pioneer is expanding its selection of two-channel audio separates and launching its first vinyl turntable in 25 years to fill a market segment long abandoned by many audio companies. At the same time, however, it's expanding its selection of new audio technologies by launching a trio of universal SACD/DVD-Audio players with HD up-scaling HDMI outputs, its first XM Satellite Radio product and two new displays.

In video displays, Marantz said it plans November shipments of an as-yet-unnamed DLP video projector priced to compete at the lower end of the home theater front projector market than its current VP-12. The HD- capable projector, due November, is expected to carry a $6,000 suggested retail price.

In DVD, the company will continue to offer three universal models starting at a suggested $650, but in the new selection up-scaling HDMI outputs will appear on all three models, not just the top-end model. In addition, the top-end model at a suggested $2,099 will up-scale to 1,080p, whereas its $2,099 predecessor up-scaled to 1,080i.

The three universal players are the top-end DV9600, due in October with HDMI 1,080p output; the already available $1,099-suggested DV7600; and the $649 DV6600, due in November. The latter two feature 1,080i up-scaling HDMI outputs. All are single-disc models. Additional 9600 features include direct IR input and 1394 connector to transmit DVD-Audio and SACD in the digital domain.

In two-channel audio separates, the company will expand its selection to 10 SKUs from six, with the addition of a turntable tentatively priced at $1,500 to $2,000, a new integrated amp, a single-play CD player at a suggested $329 with new DACs and new headphone amp, and a second two-channel SACD-only player at a tentative suggested $2,000. It will join a $3,200 two-channel SACD-only player and a multichannel $1,000 model. Details will be announced at the CEDIA Expo. They're due shortly after the Expo.

In A/V receivers, Marantz plans a version of its top-end SR9600 to include XM tuner. Pricing wasn't set. Marantz also plans a hardware upgrade for existing SR9600 owners. The cost of including a high-quality XM tuner, the company said, warrants offering a separate SKU. The 9600, which shipped in June at a suggested $4,199, includes dual AM/FM tuners, 1394 for SACD and DVD-Audio input, and HDMI switching.

Two other new receivers are the SR4600 and SR5600 at a suggested $429 and $649, respectively. Compared to their predecessors, they add HDCD, detachable power cords for easier replacement in an A/V rack and other features. The 5600 ships in August, followed around CEDIA time by the 4600.

Marantz said its receiver sales are rising in part because all models from $429 to $4,199 feature HD switching, seven amplifier channels, post processing such as THX or proprietary HTEQ and video up-conversion and downconversion.

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