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Onkyo To Unveil Custom Line

Onkyo will go to the CEDIA Expo with a custom-oriented Integra Research line as part of a new distribution strategy that includes plans to develop the Integra and Integra Research names as separate brands.

Three Integra Research-branded components, which lack the Onkyo name on the front panel, will ship in the first quarter of next year to 60 accounts.

The products are a DVD-Audio/ Video player with progressive-scan outputs, a THX Ultra-certified seven-channel preamp/processor with 6.1-channel THX EX decoding, and an Ultra-certified EX-capable seven-channel amp. The former two models are targeted to retail at about $3,500 each. Pricing was not available for the amp.

The Integra Research brand complements an Integra and Onkyo co-branded series that, will carry only the Integra name on the front panel when next-generation products are launched late next year.

“During the past few years, we were slow to introduce new products that pushed the envelope, and we lost a lot of accounts,” said national product manager Sergio Batista. “In trying to get back into these stores, dealers are asking for more higher-end, technologically advanced products from Onkyo.”

New Integra products shipping in this month, as well as custom-oriented Integra Research products, are intended to meet that demand, he said.

The Integra products include a six-disc carousel DVD changer and a trio of “global standard” receivers compatible with present and future digital technologies. A dual-well CD-recorder is due in October.

With the Integra launch, said Batista, “we’ve pulled back ex-Onkyo dealers,” bringing the number of accounts to about 160 and including Harvey Electronics and other regional specialty chains.

The standard Onkyo line is retailed by such companies as Circuit City, Crutchfield and Ovation Audio. Integra Research is targeted to independents, primarily custom installers. “We don’t plan to expand too much [beyond the initial Integra Research accounts],” Batista said.

In Integra Re-search’s first product trio, a multiroom, multisource seven-channel preamp/ processor features built-in Dolby Digital, DTS and THX Surround EX decoding. It provides component-video switching, balanced audio outputs, 12-volt triggers, seven-channel DB-25 input, and seven-channel RCA inputs.

An RS-232 port is designed for connection to home automation systems, for downloading macros or new features such as DSP functions, and for downloading a network standard to enable its IEEE 1394 digital interface, possibly with the HAVi standard.

A THX Ultra-certified DVD-A/V player would also feature the 1394 interface and RS-232 port, also intended to download a digital interface standard and to interconnect with home automation systems.

The Integra Research seven-channel amp will be co-branded with co-developer Balanced Audio Technology.