I have always said that the Hi-Fi brands will own the delivery of sound in the home and that they could well end up delivering the devices for video streaming, and the launch of a stunning new Denon range of gear goes a lot way to supporting my theory.
Denon has announced a broad new product range including its first Blu-ray disc player, an expanded networked-audio selection, and six AV receivers that decode all standard and optional surround-sound formats approved for use on Blu-ray and HD DVD discs.
The networked-audio selection includes its first products with built-in Wi-Fi to stream music and photos from a PC and to access Internet radio, including the subscription-based Rhapsody service, without using a PC. The Wi-Fi products, which incorporate 802.11b/g, include two A/V receivers the S52 one-piece tabletop “network-music system” with HD Radio and integrated iPod dock and a combination iPod dock/network client that connects an iPod to any A/V system and networks the A/V system with a PC.
Three networked-audio products with wired Ethernet port include anA/V receiver, an iPod dock/network client and a one-piece networked music system.
All the new AV receiver models incorporate connectivity to an optional iPod dock and feature an XM-ready port. All models also feature HDMI 1.3a connectivity, even if used only for switching high-definition video signals up to 1080p resolution, the company said.
In other enhancements, the company is offering HD Radio for the first time. The technology appears in two new high end receivers and the S52 one-piece networked music system, which also features slot-load CD, USB connectivity and XM-ready port. In addition, all AV receivers upscale video to 1080p, and all networked products support more compressed audio than the company’s previous networked devices. The networked devices are also the company’s first to support JPEG streaming.
When it ships later this year the Blu-ray player will be the industry’s first with HDMI 1.3a outputs, which transfer all BD disc surround formats in native form via HDMI for decoding by compatible A/V receivers. Although all of Denon’s new AV receivers feature 1.3a, only six of the receivers incorporate decoders for all standard and optional surround codecs approved for BD and HD DVD discs. The other AV receivers incorporate Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 and 6.1 decoders and 7.1-channel PCM.
The BD player, which doesn’t play DVD-Audio or SACD discs, incorporates decoders for all Blu-ray surround formats, and it will be the industry’s first Version 1, Profile 1.1 BD-ROM player. This Blu-ray iteration enables picture-in-picture playback of a separate audio and video program for interactivity. On this player, the separate program must be downloaded by a PC and transferred to an SD Card. The player doesn’t incorporate an Ethernet port to play back the separate A/V stream directly from the Internet.
The BD player will also be the first BD player, or HD DVD player for that matter, to use Realta’s HQV processing, the company said.
At the upcoming CEDIA Expo in September, the brand will launch its first audio separates in years and first dedicated custom-install products, consisting of a 12-channel amp, video scaler, and a multizone dual tuner. Samples of the products were on display. In 2008, the company plans to expand its Wi-Fi selection, and in 2009, it will offer products that stream video.
In other announcements, Denon said it improved ease of use by adding a simpler GUI to its top-end AV receivers, simplifying the jack packs in back of its receivers, and rewriting all user manuals, adding a quick start guide.