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Detailing Denon’s Big Product Launch

Denon announced so many new products at its New York City press conference on Monday that I could hardly keep up with all them. As I sat in my home office, dialed into the presentation taking place for other remote reporters around the country and a live audience in Manhattan, I thought to myself, "Doesn't this compan

Denon announced so many new products at its New York City press conference on Monday that I could hardly keep up with all them. As I sat in my home office, dialed into the presentation taking place for other remote reporters around the country and a live audience in Manhattan, I thought to myself, “Doesn’t this company know there’s a recession going on?”

Joe Stinziano, Denon senior vice president for sales and marketing, acknowledged the difficulties that just about every industry is confronting and noted the especially tough turn for the consumer electronics industry when 600 Circuit City storefronts closed last year.

Stinziano pointed out that perhaps not surprising the relatively low end AVR 1909 was the company’s hit model for 2008 as they sold 21,000 units. The revenue winner in the category, however, was the AVR 3808. He also pointed out that while AVR category sales were down 17 percent in 2008, they’re only down four percent this year. Interestingly, he noted that e-commerce will account for a larger chunk of Denon’s sales than the AV specialty channel for the first time ever.

Would you believe that Denon will celebrate its 100th birthday next year? I know! You’d think by the list of new products that this was the centennial year. Instead, Denon has decided to party like it’s 99. To run down the list of new goodies, Stinziano handed the mic to Jeff Talmadge, director of product development and systems integration.

Talmadge ran through so many specs and features that my head almost exploded. I’ll skip the one about headphones and start with the AVR category, which features nine new offerings for 2009-2010, including three that feature industry-leading networking and Web access capabilities.

New AVRs
New Denon receivers include the following, with expected availability dates in parenthesis: AVR-4310CI (SRP: $1,999, May ’09), AVR-3310CI (SRP: $1,499, June ’09), AVR-2310CI (SRP: $849, June ’09), AVR-1910 (SRP: $549, May ’09) and AVR-1610 (SRP: $379, May ’09), as well as four new receivers in Denon’s Retail Home Theater Series line, the AVR-990 (SRP: $1,499, July ’09), AVR-890 (SRP: $799, June ’09), AVR-790 (SRP: $499, June ’09) and AVR-590 (SRP: $349, June ’09). The initials “CI” (for Custom Integration) in the three models noted above emphasize the inclusion of special features and capabilities geared specifically toward professional custom integrators.

Notably, the line features the introduction of several performance features, including the world’s first Audyssey DSX with front height or expanded width channels in the receiver category (AVR-4310CI) and Dolby Pro Logic IIz decoding in all models. By incorporating these technologies, the listener’s surround experience is dramatically improved, adding a vertical component to the horizontal soundfield of both 5.1- or 7.1-channel systems. The enhanced spatial audio effect provides a new dimension of presence and depth while maintaining the integrity of the source mix and ensuring audio is always appropriate to the source material. Other advanced features now included in all Denon receivers are HDMI 1.3a Repeater Inputs with Deep Color, xv-Color and CEC (Consumer Electronics Control), analog-to-HDMI conversion and HD Audio decoding from Dolby and dts.

The new receivers are also engineered throughout to provide consumers with all the features and capabilities they need to enjoy maximum compatibility with today’s home entertainment source components. For example, iPod connectivity is featured in models throughout the line, including direct digital audio connection via USB port in the AVR-4310CI.

All models feature a newly designed and refreshingly easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI). They also all feature simple one-cable HDMI connections and come with new easy-to-understand “Getting Started” guides that outline the steps of system setup, including networking setup where applicable. Notably, the new models all feature on-screen display (OSD) or GUI overlay via the HDMI connection, eliminating the frustrating necessity of additional cable switching or programming interruptions when making adjustments, such as volume, while watching HD content. Further enhancing ease-of-use, all models feature Source-Quick Select Power On and Quick Select options on the remote control.

Leading-edge lifestyle features throughout the line that further enhance user convenience and enjoyment include: Audyssey Dynamic Volume, a volume leveling technology that frees listeners from the disruptive changes in volume; Audyssey Dynamic EQ, a loudness correction technology; and Audyssey MultEQ, the in-room acoustic measurement and correction system.

Denon receivers continue to set the pace for today’s revolution in home entertainment networking, with a host of exciting networking and Web access capabilities. For instance, the AVR-4310CI, AVR-3310CI and AVR-990 allow users to stream audio and photos directly from their PCs, choose from over 7,500 Internet radio stations, and connect to Rhapsody and Napster music services (subscription required). Recognizing the demand for receivers capable of delivering audio and video to multiple zones within the home, Denon’s new AVR-4310CI and AVR-3310CI offer three-zone, three-source capability and all other new models feature dual-zone, dual-source capability.

Among the custom-integration features included in all Denon “CI” models are a RS-232 for third-party control and assignable high-current DC trigger outputs. Denon is an industry integration partner with Crestron, AMX, Universal Remote Control and RTI, underscoring its dedication to the custom integrator (CI) market and helping ensure that its products can be easily integrated into any type of CI-designed system.

Not even the limitless potential of the web is enough space to describe every AVR model in detail, so I’ll just focus on the top-of-the-line for now. Leading off Denon’s new receiver line is the 7.1-channel AVR-4310CI, which features six HDMI inputs and two parallel HDMI outputs, including a single front-panel HDMI input for added convenience. The highest resolution audio decoders are provided, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio for the ultimate in audio fidelity. Analog and digital video sources are upconverted via Anchor Bay Technologies VRS processing to HD quality (up to 1080p-24-60). In addition to XM and Sirius satellite radio options, the AVR-4310CI and AVR-3310CI both feature built-in HD

The AVR-4310CI also incorporates Denon Link 4th, featuring HDMI Clock Control; when using the HDMI interface for AV output for Blu-ray playback in combination with Denon Link, HDMI Clock Control gives the master clock and jitter reduction to be handled by the connected Denon AV Receiver-Processor. DENON Link 4th retains all the features from the 3rd edition, including a fully balanced digital connection to handle the transmission and reduction of Jitter of SACD, DVD-Audio, and PCM signals as will as Dolby Digital and dts surround tracks. Beginning in June, owners of Denon’s flagship AVR-5308CI receiver and AVP-A1HDCI Ultra-Reference 12-Channel AV Home Theater-MultiMedia Preamplifier will be able to receive a free firmware upgrade to add DENON Link 4th.

New Blu-ray Players
Switching categories, Denon also introduced two high-performance Blu-ray products, each designed to make the benefits of high-definition video and audio more available and affordable. The company’s new Blu-ray offerings include two Profile 2.0 Blu-ray players, the DBP-2010CI (SRP: $699) and DBP-1610CI (SRP: $499.) Both are scheduled for July 2009 availability.

Among their interactivity features, both include built-in BD Live and Bonus View functionality. The new models also feature an onboard Ethernet port that allows for Internet connectivity for BD Live and firmware updates. Adding to their video handling capabilities, both models offer DivxHD playback and support AVCHD playback from BD discs made from HD camcorders.

Both players offer custom installers and customers more affordable options for enjoying the benefits of a true high-definition video and audio experience. Their highly rigid chassis and center-drive mechanisms ensure total reliability and optimum performance at all times. For ultimate image quality, the DBP-2010CI features leading-edge ABT (Anchor Bay Technologies) VRS processing for the highest-resolution video available via HDMI connection, with upconversion and IP scaling to 1080p-24, as well as high-definition audio decoding and multi-cadence i-p detection. Both players feature remote in and out connection for custom installation convenience, and the DBP-201CI adds RS232C connection capability for third-party system control as well. HDMI, component video, composite video, and analog audio connectors add to the total flexibility of both players, in addition to their Ethernet connection for BD Live capability.

Like Denon’s previous Blu-ray players, both new models allow owners of advanced AV receivers to add Blu-ray capability to their system and enjoy high definition video. Both players will natively output an HD audio bit-stream to a connected receiver via HDMI. Once this signal is accepted in the receiver, it can then be decoded into its native format including Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS HD Master Audio. For those listeners who want to use their Blu-ray player as a step-up CD player, both units feature a dedicated 2-channel analog audio output, equipped with high-class Burr-Brown D-A converters and superior analog components to ensure the high level of sound quality for which Denon is renowned.

New Networked-Enabled iPod Docks
Last but not least, Denon introduced introduced two new Network-Enabled iPod Docks, models ASD-51W and ASD-51N, both with Apple iPod command and control, as well as a host of new capabilities and features. Both the ASD-51W (SRP: $299.99) and ASD-51N (SRP: $249.99) are scheduled for August 2009 availability.

Building on the capabilities and benefits of Denon’s predecessor ASD-3N-W models, the ASD51N and ASD-51W add exciting new features that give users an even greater level of network connectivity to many AV components, including AV receivers, video display products, and single-speaker solutions, allowing them to stream audio files, pictures, Internet radio stations, and more through the connected devices. Notably, both new devices let users stream music from Internet Radio sources, as well as provide connection to Rhapsody and Napster music services (subscription required) and other network attached storage devices. As with the ASD-3N-W, the devices recharge the iPod while in dock.

Both new Denon Network-Enabled iPod Docks were engineered with a variety of features and capabilities designed to help professional custom integrators better serve their clients. For example, they offer IP Control (AMX and Crestron), Web Remote Control, and iPod audio streaming to new Denon networked products. In addition, a new Multi-Zone Management feature allows custom installers to quickly and easily perform a status check of all networked Denon products. Both models also feature a special “Party Mode” multi-zone network streaming management system for use with new Denon AV receivers that allows users to enjoy music throughout the home played simultaneously in up to five Denon devices on the network.

In addition to having Rhapsody and Napster connectivity, the new Denon iPod docks provide Windows 7 connectivity and overall faster networking capabilities. Notably, the ASD-51W adds Wi-Fi (11b-g) connectivity and WPS compatibility (Wi-Fi protected setup). This easy solution for wireless connectivity allows users to quickly connect the ASD-51W to the wireless router and automatically start communication and authentications without having to enter any password or SSID input. Adding to their flexibility and convenience, both new products also feature Digital Coaxial Output and Last Function Memory. For additional networking flexibility, the units feature an Ethernet port.

To minimize “remote control clutter,” both devices connect to any Denon receiver using the dock control port and give users command and control of their iPod via the receiver’s remote control. Whether connected to a current Denon receiver or other product, audio and video signals are sent via analog audio output and S-Video to the respective inputs on a connected device in order to view the GUI and hear the audio. The two models include a remote control and feature a screen saver and a newly designed GUI for displaying meta-data, full-color album artwork and user photos. The GUI will support English, German, French, and Spanish languages for both GUI text as well as meta-data from the iPod and other streaming media.