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Pioneer Adds WM9, IIx, Virtual Surround

Windows Media 9 decoding and virtual-surround technology will put in an appearance in receivers at the Pioneer booth.

Windows Media 9 will appear in the Elite series VSX-59TXi receiver, available since December at a suggested $4,000. The codec will appear “in the fairly near future” in Internet download and streaming sites and in packaged media, a spokesman said. The receiver sports an SP/DIF digital input to take in the WM9 bitstream from devices such as future settop boxes, which might access WM9 content directly from the Web or from networked PCs.

Other receiver features include 1394 input authorized for use with DVD-Audio and SACD players, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, and an advanced version of Pioneer’s room-acoustics-correction technology, called Multichannel Acoustic Calibration (MCAC). Previous versions measured room reflections at a fixed point in time, but the new version measures early and late reflections to deliver more accurate response.

In another technology announcement, Pioneer will incorporate Dolby Virtual Speaker technology in receivers for the first time to deliver a multichannel-surround experience from two speakers and a 6.1-channel experience from a 5.1-channel speaker system.

The technology appears in three new Pioneer-series receivers: the $299 814, $399 914 and $499 SX-1014Tx. All feature Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES six-channel decoding. The latter two are the first receivers in the mainstream Pioneer series with Dolby Pro Logic IIx. They also feature automatic speaker-level and time alignment setup. The 1014Tx is also the first THX Select-certified receiver in the mainstream Pioneer series.