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Onkyo Launches First Dolby Pro Logic IIz AVR

A trio of new low- to midprice A/V receivers (AVRs) from Onkyo include the world’s first AVR with Dolby Pro Logic IIz post processing, which derives height information from two-, 5.1- and 7.1-channel soundtracks for playback through two front-height speakers in a surround system, the company said.

The company also launched two entry-level home theater in a box systems (HTiBs).

Among new AVRs, the $599-suggested TX-SR607 is equipped with Dolby Pro Logic IIz. The 7.2-channel model, shipping in April, is also promoted as the industry’s first AVR with front-panel HDMI input.

Two other new AVRs are the TX-SR307 and TX-SR507, both 5.1-channel models due in March at a suggested $299 and $399, respectively. They lack IIz.

Dolby Pro Logic IIz adds a vertical component to horizontal soundfields to elevate the sounds of hovering helicopters in games and movies and, in music videos, add more depth, dimension and presence, Dolby said. Planes flying overhead, for example, will actually sound as if they’re flying overhead rather than through a listener sitting on the couch. Height speakers would be placed above the front left-right speakers.

Onkyo will bring IIz to higher-priced A/V receivers when it rolls out additional models over the summer. In those products, the company will also bring Internet radio and networked-audio technologies to lower price points, he said.

Other developments of note in the three new AVRs are the inclusion of the company’s new rear-panel U-Port universal port in the $599 SR607 and $399 SR507. The port connects to a planned HD Radio tuner and an iPod dock due in the spring.

In addition, the new line brings decoding of all Blu-ray surround formats and HDMI 1.3a inputs to $399 from $599. The $299 model lacks decoding of DTS HD High Resolution, DTS HD Master, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus.

HDMI repeater starts at $399 compared to last year’s $599. The new $299 model features HDMI pass-through switching. Support for HDMI Deep Color and x.v. color starts at $299 like last year.

Audyssey’s 2EQ room correction and Dynamic EQ technologies start at $299 instead of $379, and Audyssey Dynamic Volume starts at $299 as well. Onkyo offered Audyssey Dynamic Volume last year but at prices starting at $2,000 and up.

None does 1080p up-scaling, but up-conversion of video sources to HDMI starts at $599 as it did last year. The $599 607 also adds Sirius-ready capability.

In HTiBs, the company expanded its commitment to HDMI switching and Audyssey technologies in its opening-price selection, which the company has pared to two SKUs from three at suggested retails of $379 and $599. The company will likely refresh its step-up HTiB selection later this year.

The two new receiver-based HTiBs, which lack disc players, are the $599-suggested HT-S5200 and $379 HT-S3200. The new models bring 1080p HDMI switching/passthrough to $379 from last year’s starting price of $599. HDMI support for Deep Color and x.v. Color also goes to $379 from $599.

In Audyssey technologies last year, Onkyo started Audyssey Dynamic EQ and 2EQ room correction at $599. This year, Dynamic EQ starts at $379, 2EQ room correction still starts at $599, and Onkyo added Audyssey Dynamic Volume to the entry-level series for the first time. The $379 model also gets Audyssey EQ. Both feature four DSP gaming modes.

The 7.1-channel HT-S5200 at $599 features Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES surround decoding and iPod dock. The $379 5.1-channel HT-S3200 features DTS and Dolby Digital.