HE: Sony Introduces SACD Player With Digital Output

At the pre-show media day on Thursday, Sony Electronics hosted a press event to show off their products for the fall season, including several new SACD player products. Of note here was more information on their new top of the line Multichannel SACD player as well as several new SACD players in their “ES” product line.

In addition to the SACD product announcements, Sony Electronics also talked about a variety of new products including a new line of ES Series Receivers with Digital Amps, XBR Plasma WEGA TVs, Grand WEGA TVs with LCD based rear projection technology, LCD WEGA TVs, an HDTV set top receiver and a portable DVD Video player.

Sony SCD-XA9000ES Multichannel SACD Player With Digital Firewire Connection
In March, Sony Europe announced the upcoming SCD-XA9000ES Multichannel SACD player (see link below). HE 2003 served as the player’s U.S. introduction and provided more details on it.

According to David Bent, marketing director for the Home Audio Products Division at Sony Electronics, the XA9000ES will replace the current SCD-XA777ES Multichannel SACD player as Sony’s top of the line, audio only Multichannel SACD player when it comes out this Fall at a list price of $3,000. It features a brushed aluminum front design that is also used in the other new ES players slated for release this Fall.

The XA9000ES is also unique in that it will be the first Sony Multichannel SACD player to use the SACD industry standard firewire connection as well as incorporate the new “5C” Digital Content Protection System. It also features a new “Tri Power Digital to Analog Converter” that uses 18 Super Audio DAC Chips (six per channel) as well as additional DSD DSP processing power (said to be three times the processing power found in the current XA777ES model) for improved audio peformance. The player also includes bass redirection, speaker management and speaker time alignment all performed in the DSD domain.

Sony officials noted that the firewire interface on the XA9000ES can be used to connect the player to external DSD DACs that use firewire connections. The interface was co-developed with recording studio and high end audio firm dCS and is said to enable the XA9000ES to be used with dCS’ Elgar Plus Stereo DSD DAC. According to Sony, other DSD DAC makers have talked to them about adding a firewire interface to their products so that they can be linked to the XA9000ES player. Sony has no plans to make an external DSD DAC to connect to the XA9000ES “at this time” according to company officials at HE 2003.

The firewire interface on the XA9000ES can be used to connect the player to the new Sony STR-DA9000ES ES Series Receiver.

This receiver features a 7 channel digital amp that offers 200 watts per channel as well as bass redirection, speaker management and speaker time alignment. It also offers a DVI interface, video up-conversion from composite to S-Video and Component video, assignable digital inputs, second A/V and third zone audio outputs with independent source selection, an RS-232C port for communication with room automation systems and future firmware upgrades. It also has infrared repeater input and outputs, 12-volt triggers and a remote control with a touch panel. When the two units are connected by firewire, a blue light on the receiver is lit. (This combo was used during the show in the SACD Sound Room). The new STR-DA9000ES receiver
will be available in the Fall for a price of $4,500.

2 New ES Series Multichannel SACD and DVD Video Players
Joe Stinziano, director of marketing for Sony Electronics’ Home Entertainment Products Division discussed the DVP-CX777ES and the DVP-NC555ES, two new players that incorporate both Multichannel SACD audio and DVD Video as well as progressive video playback. Both players include what Sony says is “the industry’s first 12-bit, 216 MHz video D/A converter for extended video detail and higher sampling rate.” They also include Multichannel Speaker Management and Speaker Distance Adjustment features.

They also have a “Audio/Video Alignment” feature that is designed to eliminate time delay between the on screen picture and sound for DVD Video playback.

The DVP-CX777ES is a new ES Series 400 disc “Mega Changer” that offers playback and management of large SACD and DVD Video collections. It features Sony’s “Disc Explorer” system which provides a Graphical User Interface which enables consumers to easily access their SACD and DVD Video discs “by title, disc type, or genre” as well as an RS-232 interface “for custom installations”. The DVP-CX777ES will join the upcoming DVP-CX985V in Sony’s new lineup of 400 disc SACD/DVD Video Mega Changers in September. The DVP-CX777ES will sell for $800 while the DVP-CX985V will sell for $400 (see the link below for more on the 985V model).

The DVP-NC555ES is Sony’s new ES Series 5 disc SACD/DVD Video changer. It features Frame and Beam Construction to improve the quality of audio and video playback from the unit. It is scheduled for release in August at a price of $600.

According to Stinziano

“The demand for high-quality DVD performance has paved the way for models such as the DVP-CX777ES and the DVP-NC555ES. Our new ES DVD models provide both video and audio enthusiasts with the combination of superior performance and convenience which brings to life the optimal DVD experience. With the 400-disc storage capacity of the DVP-CX777ES, we have a unique solution for video and audio enthusiasts to manage their movies and music collection and enjoy their favorite discs in stunning picture and sound rivaling any cinematic experience.”

Two Upcoming ES Multichannel SACD Receiver/Players
Although they were not officially announced at the show, the Sony Electronics booth at HE 2003 also featured two upcoming ES SACD Receiver/Players. These units are the AVD-S700ES and AVD-S500ES Multichannel SACD Receiver/Players.

The S700ES model is a 5 disc receiver/changer that features Multichannel SACD, DVD Video, CD and MP3 playback and 6 channels of power at 120 watts per channel. The S500ES model is similar except it is a Single Disc Receiver/Player and it offers 5 channels of power at 100 watts per channel.

The S700ES will be available in the Fall for a list price of $999. The S500ES will also be available in the Fall for a list price of $799.