Universal Audio Love

SACD partisans Sony and Philips continue to release new disc players that also decode DVD-Video, but not DVD-Audio. And arch-DVD-A supporter Meridian, as well as companies such as McIntosh, are releasing DVD-A and DVD-V players that don't do SACD. But there are exceptions, notably Pioneer, who debuted the first widely available "universal" player, the DV-AX10 SACD/DVD-A/CD player, last year.

Proving once again that it's a music-lover, not a fighter, Pioneer formally announced its latest generation of universal machines, first promised at the 2002 CES this past January. Revealed to the press last week are the two Elite universal DVD players, the DV-47Ai and the DV-45A. Pioneer notes that the DV-47Ai also sports a dual i.Link (IEEE 1394 or FireWire) output for high-bandwidth connectivity.

The company says that both the DV-47Ai and the DV-45A offer triple Burr-Brown 192kHz/24-bit audio-processing chips, six-channel analog audio output, bass management, Dolby Digital, DTS, and SRS TRU Surround audio decoding. The DV-45A is expected to retail for $700, with the DV-47Ai hitting the $1200 price point. Both units should hit dealer shelves later this fall.

The universal player concept is an important feature, says Pioneer's Craig McManis. "Both DVD-Audio and SACD provide unbelievable multi-channel experience for music, but sometimes consumers can only find the title they want in one format or the other. We're giving them the freedom to buy one DVD player and be able to play discs from either of the two emerging formats. We were the first company to offer a universal player and now we're bringing even greater technology to the table with the i.Link connectivity."

The i.Link technology is a restricted-use (copy-protected) industry standardized format, and is significant in that it will allow multi-channel digital audio data to be shared with other four-pin IEEE 1394–enabled devices. Pioneer says it plans to exploit this high-bandwidth digital audio connection this fall when it releases the VSX-49TXi multi-channel receiver with dual i.Link inputs, at $4500 retail.

McManis adds, "We developed these new receivers with the understanding that multi-channel sound is critical. By incorporating an i.Link connection on the flagship receiver, we're giving consumers the most technologically advanced method of processing audio through one digital cable, instead of multiple analog cables."