For anyone on a budget looking to upgrade a TV’s surround sound experience from the often narrower and more limited sound stage afforded by built-in TV speakers or middling sound bars, Pioneer introduced this week an affordable Dolby Atmos and DTS:X-supporting home theater in a box (HTiB) solution affording a 3.1.2-channel 3D object-oriented surround sound setup.

Onkyo USA Corp., which licenses the Pioneer brand for home theater products in the U.S., said that above all the system is designed for ease of setup and use.

The Pioneer HTP-076 Home Theater Package hits retail in ($499 suggested retail price). The system features a basic Pioneer model VSX-326 5-channel AV receiver with 80 Watts per channel (8 ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.08 % THD, 2ch Driven FTC) of power. It’s also equipped with a quad-core 32-bit DSP.

Among other the key features in the AVR, are compatiblity with newer object-based oriented surround sound formats, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. This is intended to produce an encompassing surround sound experience, including overhead effects. The system is equipped to handle 3.1.2-channels, meaning listeners are intended to hear sounds from front left, right, center, two front overhead channels and a subwoofer. Alternatively, the system can be setup for a basic 5.1-channel experience, and DSP sound processing will fill in the overhead channels with virtual sound effects.

According to a company statement: “DTS:X allows for the flexible placement of speakers to enable optimized playback in a variety of layouts. Owners without Dolby Atmos speakers can still enjoy many of the benefits of object-based audio, thanks to two break-through surround technologies: Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer and DTS Virtual:X that simulate the output from virtual height and surround speakers if they are not physically present in a room.”

Similarly, supported DTS Neural:X and Dolby Surround technologies also up-mix legacy “2D” soundtrack formats to simulate a surround-sound experience with a more seamless “wraparound” feeling, the company said.

The receiver includes 4 HDMI inputs and one output supporting video at up to 60p/4:4:4/24-bit, up to BT.2020 wide color gamut and HDCP 2.2 content protection. It will also pass-through HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), and Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) signals.

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Speakers in the package include: front right and left 1-way bookshelf-type speakers with 3-inch cones, a 1-way center speaker with a 3-inch cone, a pair of 1-way surround (or alternatively front height-channel speakers) with 3-inch cones and a 120-watt bass-reflex-type subwoofer with a 6-inch cone.

When using Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers, high directivity sound from the unit reflects off the ceiling, while low directivity sound directly reaches the ears. The different pathways cause a phase shift, making the sound feel uncomfortable. The Reflex Optimizer which uses the Phase Control technology adjusts this shift, and improves the localization of the sound image by aligning the frequencies with those of the floor speakers, creating the ideal reproduction environment.

To compensate for the phase lag between the subwoofer and the main channel speakers caused by the bass management filter, phase control will improve sound synchronization, the company said.

By Greg Tarr

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