Denon Celebrates, Boston Acoustics Goes E-Ticket

Denon has reported that audio component sales, long declining, increased significantly last month (June). Not coincidentally, the company's own sales increased by double digits in the past year to the point where, in dollar sales, it holds the second place market share in the receiver/amplifier/tuner category (after Yamaha).

But Denon isn't sitting in its success, judging by the new products the company rolled out for their dealers and the press this week in Cleveland, Ohio. (Why Cleveland you ask? Because it offered the chance to offer its invited guests a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.)

While many of Denon's products are carried over from last year, there are several revisions and additions to its line of receivers, as well as new DVD players.

On the latter front, the DVD-3930CI universal DVD player ($1499) incorporates the Realta HQV scaling chip from Silicon Optix. But unlike the DVD-5910 (which also uses this chip and remains in the line), the Realta chip in the DVD-3930CI does all of the player's scaling and deinterlacing, including the step up from 1080i to 1080p. The DVD-3930CI is shipping now.

The universal DVD-2930CI ($849) also scales up to 1080p, but it uses a new HQV REON chip. The latter does not scale relatively rare recorded cadences like 5/5 (most processors do not, but the Realta does), but it does do 2/2 and 3/2 pulldown. It's also the lowest price player offering Denon Link, which offers a direct digital DVD-Audio and SACD player/receiver connection.

Perhaps the most interesting new universal Denon player is the DVD-1930CI, which offers 1080p upconversion (via Faroudja processing) at a low $369 price point.

Incidentally, we may need to come up with a new name for "universal" players, as no player that's currently called "universal" will play either HD DVD or Blu-ray discs. Denon is officially a member of the Blu-ray group, but as yet has not committed to building a player for either camp. They prefer to bide their time for now, concentrating on "upconverting" players.

In receivers, the flagship AVR-5805 is now the AVR-5805MkII. It has increased in price to $7000, but incorporates a number of upgrades that increase its flexibility (the aspects of the receiver that affect its sound have not been changed). There is now a fifth HDMI input. The receiver will also now convert any video input (including analog video) to HDMI at 1080p. The AVR-4806 (now $4000) also will upscale any source to a maximum resolution of 1080p HDMI.

All Denon receivers, even the least expensive AVR-1507 ($329) have 7-channels of amplification, assignable power amps (two of the channels, for example, can be redirected to provide bi-amplification of the left and right fronts), are XM radio and iPod ready (the latter with the optional ASD-1R dock), and offer 8-channel analog inputs.

Boston Acoustics also held their 2006 Summer Dealer (and press) conference in conjunction with Denon. Boston Acoustics is now owned by D&M Holdings, the same conglomerate that owns Denon, Marantz, McIntosh, Snell, rePlayTV, and Escient.

The big story from Boston Acoustics this year is a new flagship speaker line, the E Series. It consists of 5 models ranging from the small E40 two-way bookshelf ($400) to the top-of-the-line E100 ($2500). The prices given here and below are for each speaker; even the smallest E40s are sold singly. This will be useful if you need an odd number, such as 5 E40s for a 5.1-channel setup with identical speakers in each channel (plus sub).

Other E Series models include the E50, a three driver (woofer-tweeter-woofer) LCR ($500), the E60 ($600), and E70 ($800)—the latter two are larger, higher output versions of the E40 and E50.

All of the speakers are built on damped, extruded aluminum chassis with decorative side panels in cherry or black, a design Boston has dubbed StabiliTek. There are also four high quality binding posts that provide for bi-wiring, if desired. The E100 is the only one of the models designed primarily for floor mounting. While matching stands are available for the other models, all of them may also be mounted on-wall. If you must, you can also mount the E100 to a sturdy wall, using two of the dedicated E Series mounting brackets to handle the weight.

The smaller E40 has a single 4.5" woofer; the larger E50 has two. All of the other models employ 5.25" woofers. There are six of these in the E100, plus a 5.25" bass-midrange, a 3.5" midrange, and two 1" tweeters, one of them facing the rear (all of the tweeters in the E Series are variations of the company's VR design). The E100 is the most complicated speaker that Boston Acoustics has ever built, and may even be used on its side as a very wide center channel speaker— though an E70 LCR is a more likely candidate for this role.

Boston Acoustics also announced four new, moderately priced XB powered subwoofers, the XB2 (8" driver, $279), the XB4 (10" driver, $379), the XB6 (12" driver, $479), and the XB8 (12" driver, larger box and more powerful amp than the XB6, $679).