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Receivers Making New Connections

Component audio suppliers will launch A/V receivers that connect to satellite radio tuners, control MP3 portables and iPods, link up with HDTVs via digital HDMI outputs, connect to PCs via USB ports and integrate more easily with custom-installed distributed audio systems and home control systems.

Here’s a sampling of what dealers will find:

Denon: Its fifth XM-ready receiver is the $1,099-suggested AVR-2807 with HDMI switching, up-conversion of video formats to HDMI, deinterlacing of 480i sources to 480p and automatic room-error correction. The company’s least expensive XM-ready receiver is $699.

The company will also outline new field upgrades to the $6,000 AVR 5805 and $3,500 AVR 4806 receivers.

One upgrade provides Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) interoperability with other certified devices. Another upgrade delivers high-definition up-scaling of analog-video inputs via an HDMI output.

Other upgrades include an Ethernet port upgrade, allowing remote control of a networked PC’s Windows Media Player 10 application. The receiver will stream the PC’s music and enable users to view metadata on a connected TV.

Another upgrade adds up-conversion of composite, S- and component video to HDMI. Still another provides access to more than 1,200 Internet radio stations via service provider

Some upgrades will be available on a CD-R, which must be run on a networked PC.

Harman Kardon: Three new 7.1-channel A/V receivers will be the brand’s first XM-ready receivers. They also control iPods through an optional $69 docking/recharging station, expanding the company’s iPod-controlling selection to six.

With the introductions of the AVR 740, AVR 640 and AVR 440, the brand is also expanding the number of models with Dolby Virtual Speaker and Dolby Headphone.

The $3,499 AVR 740, shown at CEDIA but not shipping until this month, is the first HK receiver to upscale video sources to 1,080i from 480i and 480p video sources. It uses an HDMI output for that purpose. It becomes the brand’s highest priced receiver, surpassing the former flagship AVR 7300 at $2,399. The 7300 is the brand’s first receiver to upscale to 480p.

All three models feature automatic room EQ, expanding the selection with that feature to four from one.

All three are two-zone, two-source models that amplify 5.1-channels in the main room and use the surround back amplifiers to power second-zone stereo speakers. The AVR 740 adds second-zone video output so that consumers using XM or an iPod for their second zone will see track/song metadata on the second-zone video display.

With the launches, HK expands HDMI 1.1 inputs to two more models that accept and process DVD-Audio signals. The 440 features HDMI 1.1 input but lacks DVD-audio decoding.

JVC: Three new receivers, each available in two colors, include the company’s first two XM-ready models. The two XM-ready models will also control a docked JVC-brand Sirius plug-and-play tuner. They are the RX-D411/D412 and RX-D211/D212.

Those two, along with the RX-D205/206, feature a USB port to stream music from a nearby PC. With two carryover receivers, JVC will expand its selection of USB-equipped receivers to five from four. All three new models feature a game mode. The RX-D411 adds auto speaker setup with included microphone. Additional details were unavailable.

In 2005, JVC also offered a model that controlled a docked Sirius tuner.

Halcro: The company will trumpet distortion “immeasurable at normal listening levels” in two new monoblock amps, the dm88 at $39,990 and the dm78 at $32,990. They’re rated at 275 continuous watts into eight ohms and 225 watts, respectively. At four ohms, they pump out 500 and 400, respectively.

The monoblock amps are available.

Marantz: The company began shipping its ST7001 XM-ready AM/FM component tuner with three IR code sets so that installers can stack the three and independently v-control them through an IR-based or RS-232-based distributed-audio system.

Marantz will begin offering an XM-embedded version of its high-end SR-9600 A/V receiver in the first quarter and will call it the SR-9600XM.

Panasonic: The company’s new A/V receiver, the $399-suggested seven-channel SA-XR57, replaces a six-channel model and adds 7.1-channel Dolby Pro Logic IIx. Like its predecessor, it offers an HDMI 1.1 input to accept DVD-Audio signals and an HDMI output. Cosmetic changes make it match the silver-and-mirror finish of Panasonic DVD recorders.

Pioneer: Three new A/V receivers include the first two XM-ready models in the company’s mainstream series, joining existing $1,700 and $1,400 models in its Elite series.

All offer Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES, Dolby Pro Logic IIx and Windows Media Audio 9 Professional. Front-speaker bi-amplification capability lets users direct power from the surround channels to the left-right speakers.

The VSX-516-K, due in March, will be the company’s lowest priced seven-channel receiver at a suggested $199, down from $299. A silver version VSX-516-S will also be available. Quick Set-up Operation allows for simple room set-up.

The $299-suggested VSX-816-K, due in March, is also 7×100 watts but adds XM-readiness and automatic room EQ. A silver version, the VSX-516-S, will also ship.

At a suggested $499, the XM-ready VSX-1016TX will ship in June with 7×120-watt amp, THX Select 2 certification and HDMI video switching.

Sherwood: In its higher-end Newcastle series, the $999-suggested R-871 is XM-ready. The 7×100-watt receiver ships in March and expands the number of receivers with Sherwood Newcastle Automatic Parametric room EQ, which applies seven bands of parametric EQ to each of seven channels after measuring the frequency response of each channel at 1/12th-octave increments. It then equalizes frequencies that are most in need. Dual Point EQ lets users and installers measure the system performance at two different points in the room to improve system performance at both places.

Other features include Dolby Virtual speaker, Dolby headphone and two-zone output from the receiver’s internal amplifiers.

Sunfire: The company is cozying up with custom installers with the launch of the Theater Grand processor 5, a $3,995-suggested tuner/preamp/processor. The two-source/two-zone 9.3-channel device replaces the Theater Grand IV and adds improved connectivity features for integrating with distributed-audio and integrated home-control systems. The Grand adds Ethernet RJ-45 for IP-based control from AMX. Crestron and other IP-based systems feature two-way RS-232.

Other features include two HDMI ins and one HDMI out, 9.3-channel playback, phono stage and video up-conversion to component output. It ships in the first quarter.

Yamaha: Two new three-zone A/V receivers, the 7×130-watt RX-V2600 and 7x120watt RX-V1600, are touted as the world’s first receivers in their class (a suggested $1,399.95 and $1,099.95, respectively) to offer two-in/one-out HDMI switching, video deinterlacer to deliver progressive-scan video through the HDMI output, an ability to transcode composite and S-Video, and component signals to HDMI output to simplify hookup, the company said.

The V2600 is also Yamaha’s first receiver with HD/upscaling HDMI output and is said to be the only receiver in its price class with that feature. Upscaling to 1,080i and 720p works on any video signal at 480i resolution and up. Both also provide deinterlacing via component output to 480p.

Previously, Yamaha offered an RX-Z9 receiver with deinterlacer and HD/up-scaling, but the features were available only on a component output.

The two receivers are also the company’s first with HDMI Ver. 1.1 format to transfer DVD-Audio.

Both also feature automatic room-acoustics compensation, XM-ready capability and THX Select2 certification. With their availability, Yamaha expands its selection of XM-ready products to six receivers in the audio specialist line, six receivers in the Concert series, two stereo receivers and seven home theater in a box systems.