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Onkyo Expands DVD Line, Adds Upscale Receivers

Onkyo is aggressively targeting the DVD market with the launch of an expanded five-SKU selection that includes one of the industry’s few DVD megachangers, a 301-disc model that began shipping at the end of April at a $999 MAP.

The five Onkyo-branded DVDs also include a DVD-Audio/Video player that will supplement a planned DVD-A/V model due as part of the company’s new top-end Integra Research brand.

Onkyo is also launching its first receiver with flash memory that permits upgrades to add future surround formats, DSP algorithms, DVD-Audio and SuperAudio CD processing, software to support a planned IEEE-1394 plug-in card, and other features.

The receiver, the $2,999-MAP TX-DS989, ships in May. It will be the first of several Onkyo-branded THX Surround EX-equipped receivers due this year, some with THX Select certification; others will be THX Ultra certified, as is the DS989, said senior VP Mark Friedman.

The receiver is also positioned as the first THX EX receiver with seven channels of amplification on board rather than five channels, which requires the addition of an two-channel outboard amp, Friedman said.

Onkyo’s receiver also features 192kHz/24-bit DACs on all seven channels, frequency response out to 100kHz to support DVD-Audio and SuperAudio CD playback, and Dolby Digital and DTS decoding.

In DVD, Onkyo is positioning itself to offer the broadest selection of players among audio suppliers, Friedman said. Audio suppliers’ models, he added, usually aren’t as price-competitive as those of mainstream video suppliers, but in its new lineup, Onkyo will price its models within $50 to $100 of those of mainstream video suppliers, Friedman said.

All Onkyo-brand DVDs will feature 10-bit video DACs, 96kHz/24-bit audio DACs, and black-level control but will lack on-board Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoding.

In expanding the Onkyo brand’s DVD selection to five from two, Onkyo will offer two carousel changers rather than one. One is a five-disc, the other a six-disc, at MAPs of $399 and $499, respectively. They’re due in May and July, respectively.

The DVD lineup will start with a $299 MAP model due in June and tops out with the DVD-A/V model at a targeted MAP of around $1,699 to $1,899. This model, which will include progressive-scan outputs, might ship at the end of the summer, depending on DVD Forum approval of a new DVD-Audio encryption standard.

Onkyo’s limited-distribution Integra Research brand will also feature a higher performance DVD-A/V model, which was unveiled late last year and is due later this year.

The company has also introduced a handful of other new receivers, all with frequency response up to 100kHz, Dolby Digital and DTS decoding, and inputs for DVD-Audio and SACD players. They start at a $299 MAP. Previously, Onkyo receivers with Dolby Digital but not DTS started at $399.

Onkyo’s dual-well 2x-dubbing-speed CD-recorder, is now due in June after a delay caused by developing a master processor intended to simplify the recording process, Friedman said. It’s still targeted to retail for $549-$599, he said.