SAN DIEGO — Sony continues to promote high-resolution audio as a key feature in new 2014 home audio products and promises to bring high-res playback to a broader base of consumers.
To broaden the base, the company is launching its first high-res-capable HTiB, a series of entry-level speakers said to deliver high-res audio performance, and two new high-res-capable A/V receivers at an everyday $499 and $599.
The HTiB is the wedge-shaped $699-everyday BDVN7200W, a networked 3D Blu-ray model that plays back high-resolution 2.8MHz DSD files and, at resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz, WAV and FLAC files via USB stick or home network. It ships in May. It converts DSD files to PCM.
Among four new A/V receivers, the top two – the $599 STR-DN1050 and $499 STR-DN850 – decode WAV and FLAC music files up to 24/192 and ALAC files up to 24/96 as did their predecessors, but the DN1050 is upgraded to add native 2.8MHz DSD decoding. Files can be played back via USB stick, Ethernet port, or Wi-Fi.
In its first entry-level speaker refresh in years, Sony is launching the four- SKU Core Series to bring high-resolution audio to entry-level customers at prices of $239 each for a three-way floorstanding speaker, $219/ pair for a three-way bookshelf speaker, $169 for a two-way center channel, and $239 for a 115-watt 10-inch sub.
In its latest audio products, Sony is bringing HDMI 2.0 to an HTiB for the first time. It joins the company’s first two HDMI 2.0 soundbars, which were announced recently, and the company’s first under-TV speaker, which also sports HDMI 2.0. Two of the four new AVRs also feature HDMI 2.0, as did their predecessors when a software update was made available for them.
All of the products, however, lack optional HDCP 2.2 copy protection and won’t get upgrades to HDCP 2.2. Here are the product details:
A/V receivers: Four new models will be available in May to replace four current models. The 7.2-channel $599 STR-DN1050 and 7.2-channel $499 STRDN850 are networked models that play back WAV, FLAC and AIFF files with up to 192/24 resolution like last year’s models via USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Both also decode ALAC files up to 96/24. The DN1050, however, adds 2.8MHz DSD playback via USB and network. The feature was absent in the AVR’s predecessor.
Like their predecessors, both AVRs have AirPlay, DLNA, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, MHL and 4K passthrough. The $599 model features 4K up-scaling like before, and the $499 adds 4K up-scaling for the first time. Both add NFC.
In other changes, the $599 model improves upon its predecessor by adding a back MHL/HDMI input to join a front MHL/HDMI input, dual HDMI outputs for the main zone, HDMI for a second zone, and powered second zone to distribute any connected source, including Bluetooth. The $599 model also adds a faster audio circuit with less distortion.
The $499 DN850 features one MHL/HDMI input like before but adds onscreen GUI, whereas its predecessor displays black-and-white text.
Two other new AVRs, the $349 7.2-channel STR-DH750 and $279 5.2-channel STR-DH550, are largely unchanged from their predecessors. Both lack network capability. The $349 model features Bluetooth, while the $279 model lacks Bluetooth.
Compared with the $279 model, the $349 model adds 4K passthrough.
All of the networked AVRs, the new Blu-ray player, and the high-resolution tabletop speaker can be controlled via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth from Sony’s new Song Pal app for iOS and Android.
Consumers can import any of their streaming apps into Song Pal’s user interface to unify control and make it possible for the networked-audio products to stream the streaming-apps’ music directly from the Internet.
Blu-ray HTiB: The wedge-shaped BDV-N7200W is the company’s hero 3D Blu-ray HTiB, available in May at $699 with cosmetics that differ slightly from its predecessor. The DLNA/Wi-Fi-equipped system continues to offer an angled-up top panel that slides to the side to expose a disc.
The 5.1-channel system supports all high-res audio codecs up to DSD via USB stick and Ethernet port. Wi- Fi access to a computer’s high-res files was unclear.
Like its predecessor, it comes with embedded Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, two-way speakers, Bluetooth, NFC, DLNA for audio and wireless surround speakers.
Other features include two HDMI 2.0 inputs, one HDMI 2.0 output, 4K passthrough, Miracast, DDSE+ to enhance compressed music, and streaming of Netflix, HuluPlus, Sony’s Music Unlimited, Pandora, Spotify and other Internet-delivered services. The system also offers supertweeters to extend high-frequency response.
Core Series speakers: The Core Series (CS) speakers are promoted as offering high performance with extended frequency response at an affordable price.
The speakers will be available in May exclusively in Sony stores and in Best Buy, bringing Sony speakers to the retailer’s main sales floor for the first time in years. The CS speakers will join Sony’s STR series of AVRs on the main floor. Sony and Best Buy will work together to promote high-resolution audio, Sony added.
Sony, other CE suppliers, the music industry and CEA have joined forces to promote high-resolution audio playback to reinvigorate the home-audio market and drive up declining sales of music downloads.