I really like audio.  That is one area that I think is still lacking in the PC world, but it is improving from years past.  There are some interesting and exciting developments that have been rolled out over the past year with the biggest being Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.  These audio formats so far have been limited to several dozen titles on Blu-ray and through VUDU.  The selling point of these new formats is a more three dimensional component to the audio.  Dolby Atmos requires the user to have two speakers pointing towards the ceiling at an angle towards the listener.

Two very obvious things are needed to support these audio formats; a receiver that supports the decoding of Atmos/DTS:X, and a set of speakers that conform to the physical specifications for pointing audio towards the ceiling.  There are specialty speakers right now that feature the upward firing drivers, but they are not common.  Users could craft their own setups by utilizing speakers of their choice and positioning them at the correct angle themselves.

Onkyo and Pioneer (a subsidiary of Onkyo) have announced two sets of soundbars that provide not only the upward firing drivers required for Atmos/DTS:X, but also the ability to have full surround without the use of rear speakers.  The Onkyo FS-EB70 and the Pioneer SBT-A500 are both three piece units which provide high quality sound in a very small package.

The units each come with their own receiver/amplifier that provides multiple inputs from a variety of sources as well as extensive wireless functionality.  They support a variety of streaming audio apps, but any kind of streaming video will require an appropriate smart TV or Blu-ray player.  The receiver is very low profile with a proprietary audio connection for the speakers.  Perhaps most impressive is that these small units have four HDCP 2.2 compliant HDMI input ports.  Many midrange receivers only feature three inputs that are 4K and HDR compliant.  They also feature a handful of legacy connections for older audio gear that a user may not want to get rid of.

The small powered subwoofer is wireless, but promises to pack a pretty decent punch.  The sound bar itself features two speakers per side and on the center channel.  The upwards firing drivers are single in their configuration per side.  The bar is very low profile so obviously the drivers are not terribly large.  It will easily fit underneath any TV and is wall mountable.

The units look essentially identical and Pioneer has their MSRP at $1,000 US.  The Onkyo version does not have a price listed, but we can expect it to be higher and probably utilize some higher end components in the receiver portion.

Next generation PC parts are coming down the way that will feature support for higher resolutions through HDMI as well as Atmos and DTS:X.  This looks like a good set of soundbars that offer performance and expansion capabilities well beyond what other, less expensive products can provide.  Personally I can’t wait to try such a setup in my remodeled basement with a real racing rig and a 49” TV that I haven’t used in a year.  Audiophiles will likely want to create their own setups by mixing and matching components, but for those not interested in that and only want a solution that works well out of the box these look to be pretty solid implementations of the technology.

Click here to read the entire press releases with in-depth specifications.

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LONG BEACH, CA, January 5, 2017 – Supplying surround sound in a slim design is Pioneer Home Entertainment U.S.A.’s new Elite® FS-EB70 Network Sound Bar System, launching today for a $1,000 MAP (US) and $1,499 MAP (CAD), and on display in The Venetian Meeting Rooms Level Two, Bassano Room #2601.


The ultra-slim sound bar provides a 3.1.2 channel immersive audio experience without having to place speakers above or behind you thanks to Dolby Atmos® and DTS:X integration, along with custom top-mounted drivers that bounce sound off the ceiling.  Adding power to the experience are six-channel Class D amps with a dedicated power supply that power wide-dispersal speakers with angled height-channel speakers enclosed at each end of the sound bar.  A powerful yet compact wireless subwoofer delivers deep in-movie Low Frequency Effects (LFE) for tremendous depth.  Details include:


Surround Sound

  • Upward firing speakers conform to the Dolby Atmos standard for overhead sound reproduction of object and channel based content.  In-ceiling speakers or additional modules are not required.
  • A Dolby Surround upmixer, which decodes and directs sounds to all of the speakers in the sound bar including up-firing capabilities to provide a higher sense of immersion from all channel based content.
  • Dolby Audio includes new Surround Enhancer technology, a mode that wraps sound around the listening position by means of virtual rear speaker creation.
  • DTS Neural:X mixes standard 5.1 sound for convincing replication of object-audio soundtracks by retrieving spatial cues from the soundtrack.
  • Dialog is mixed as a separate element in DTS:X so dialog volume can be raised or lowered independently to other sound elements.


Multi-Room & Streaming

  • Multi-room wireless audio functionality and streaming capabilities include FireConnect™*1, DTS Play-Fi® technology*2, Chromecast built-in*2, AirPlay® as well as Bluetooth® wireless connectivity*3 and dual-band 5 GHz/2.4 GHz Wi-Fi®.
  • Supports all leading subscription services Spotify®*4, Pandora®, TIDAL, DEEZER, and TuneIn.


Easy Calibration

  • Premium MCACC*5 technology calibrates phase, reverb, frequency, and output for optimal sound at the listening position by ensuring that directional sounds of all frequencies arrive simultaneously so the listener is presented with a studio-faithful object audio image.  The built-in Reflex Optimizer precisely aligns the height-channel phase.


Hi-Res Connections

  • Four 4K/60p Ultra HD-ready HDMI® inputs connect various media players including those capable of High Dynamic Range*6 and BT.2020*7 video, and routes signals to a compatible TV via a single HDMI cable.
  • HDMI output features Audio Return Channel (ARC) with CEC/CEC Multilink. Your home entertainment system can be configured to switch on and off automatically with the TV.
  • Format compatibility includes Hi-Res Audio and 2.8 MHz/5.6 MHz DSD network audio*8.
  • Analog RCA or optical digital inputs are perfect for legacy gear and a USB input supports audio playback of a variety of music formats, including hi-res audio stored on USB memory devices*9.


Those attending CES 2017 can experience Pioneer Home Entertainment’s latest home theater offerings at the Venetian Bassano Room #2601 or visit them online at pioneerhomeusa.com/ces2017


About Pioneer Home Entertainment U.S.A.

Headquartered in Long Beach, CA, Pioneer Home Entertainment U.S.A. is a leader in home entertainment products under the Pioneer and Elite brands.  With an established reputation for innovation and quality, the company’s products are embraced by high-end custom installers and general music lovers alike.  Pioneer & Onkyo U.S.A. Corporation, DBA: Pioneer Home Entertainment U.S.A. is a preeminent manufacturer of high-performance audio and visual equipment for the home.


More information can be found online at www.pioneerelectronics/home.com, or follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PioneerHomeUSA, Facebook and YouTube.


*1 Multi-room audio is realized by FireConnect™ technology. Requires optional FireConnect™-compatible speakers. FireConnect™ is a technology of Blackfire Research Corp., USA.

*2 Feature enabled following a firmware update.

*3 Bluetooth Ver.4.1, A2DP, AVRCP-compliant, supports AAC codec. Pioneer cannot guarantee connection with all Bluetooth®-capable devices.

*4 Application is available for separate download. For Spotify®, please check regional availability and device compatibility at www.spotify.com. Subscription and charges may apply with use of Spotify®. Please see release notes for minimum performance requires for devices and operating systems.

*5 MCACC is a proprietary acoustic compensation technology from Pioneer that can perform sound field adjustment at the same level as monitoring techniques employed in sound studios.

*6 High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a technology that expands the maximum brightness of video. HDR10 is a technology version is used in next-generation Blu-ray Disc™ standard to expand the maximum brightness from 100 nit to 10,000 nit.

*7 BT.2020 is a video format standard that covers a color space more than twice that of the BT.709 standard currently used in Blu-ray Disc™ and other formats.

*8 Product supports ALAC and WAV formats to 96 kHz/24-bit via Network, 192 kHz/24-bit ALAC and WAV via USB, and DSD to 2.8 MHz/5.6 MHz (Multichannel/Stereo) via SACD, USB, and Network.

*9 Pioneer cannot guarantee correct operation with all brands and USB memory device-types. Please consult user manual for supported audio formats.


“PIONEER”, the Pioneer logo, “ELITE”, “MCACC”, and “Phase Control” are trademarks of Pioneer Corporation, and are used under license.

The terms HDMI and HDMI High-Definition Multimedia Interface are trademarks or 
registered trademarks of HDMI Licensing LLC in the United States and other countries.

Manufactured under license from Dolby Laboratories. Dolby, Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and the double-D symbol are trademarks of Dolby Laboratories.

For DTS patents, see http://patents.dts.com. Manufactured under license from DTS, Inc. DTS, the Symbol, DTS in combination with the Symbol, the DTS Play-Fi, DTS:X, DTS Neural:X, and DTS-HD logos, and DTS-HD Master Audio are registered trademarks or trademarks of DTS, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. © DTS, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Wi-Fi® is a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The Bluetooth® word mark is a registered trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc.

Spotify is a trademark of the Spotify Group, registered in the U.S. and other countries.

AirPlay works with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 4.3.3 or later, Mac with OS X®, Mountain Lion, and Mac and PC with iTunes® 10.2.2 or later. AirPlay, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac are trademarks of Apple® Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Android and Google Play are trademarks of Google Inc.

FireConnect is a technology of Blackfire Research Corp., USA. Pioneer does not guarantee this product will support all devices incorporating FireConnect™.

All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective holders.





UPPER SADDLE RIVER, NJ, January 6, 2017 – Power and simplicity combine for massive sound with a minimalist profile as Onkyo USA today announced the SBT-A500 Network Surround Soundbar.  On display in the Venetian Bassano Room #2601 during CES 2017, the SBT-A500 features Dolby Atmos immersive audio as well as DTS:X™ playback, along with user-friendly wireless audio features such as DTS Play-Fi® technology*1, AirPlay®, and FireConnect™*1 multi-room distribution.


In addition to providing immersive object-based audio to the latest in video and gaming entertainment, the three-piece system offers key advantages over similar products, starting with its low 2.1 inch profile for an unimpeded view of the TV screen. The wall-mountable soundbar connects to a separate AV Center via multichannel audio cable, with authentic full-scale power delivered to precision drivers (comprising two speakers each for the left, right, and center channels, plus single height speakers) by a discrete digital amplification system.  Together with wireless subwoofer, this single-cable soundbar design results in neat and clean installation under the TV display.


The AV Center includes four HDMI® inputs to connect media players and game consoles, with all components and cabling easily concealed in an entertainment unit.  TV connection comes via single 4K/60p HDMI cable with Audio Return Channel, allowing the SBT-A500 to enhance broadcast TV audio.


The SBT-A500 also achieves a deeply satisfying stereo performance with a choice of network audio options, and includes a pair of upward firing speakers that conform to the Dolby Atmos standard for overhead sound reproduction of object and channel based content.


The soundbar will support DTS Play-Fi technology that collects music (streaming services, local files, or network-attached audio) into a simple interface for casting to Wi-Fi®-enabled speakers, and supports multiple streams to different speakers simultaneously without interruption.


Chromecast built-in*2, AirPlay®, and dual-band 5 GHz/2.4 GHz Wi-Fi® are also included for seamless app-based music casting, while Spotify® Connect lets subscribers stream direct from the Spotify® application.  Bluetooth® connectivity completes a universal suite for wireless music streaming.


Onkyo Controller app brings together wireless casting technologies, simplifies access to included TuneIn, TIDAL, and Pandora® services, and centralizes house-wide audio distribution to optional FireConnect™-ready wireless speakers. The easy-to-use app compliments on-screen GUI with system remote controls for each zone.


With discrete dialog volume adjustment for DTS:X™ soundtracks, DTS Neural:X™ is also included to upmix standard multichannel audio to 3D sound.  The SBT-A500 also supports a Dolby Surround upmixer, which decodes and directs sounds to all of the speakers in the sound bar including up-firing capabilities to provide a higher sense of immersion from all channel-based content. 


Dolby Audio adds a new Surround Enhancer technology that wraps sound around the audience by creating virtual rear speakers.  The addition of Dolby Atmos delivers captivating sound that places and moves audio anywhere in the room, including overhead, to bring entertainment to life all around the audience. Whether you are listening to music, movies, television shows or playing your favorite video games, Dolby Atmos delivers the full impact of the entertainment experience.


Rounded out with a 40-preset FM tuner, AV sync function and L/R tone controls, the SBT-A500’s feature set approaches that of a full-sized home theater component in a decor-friendly package.


Those attending CES 2017 can experience Onkyo’s latest offerings at the Venetian Bassano #2601.


About Onkyo U.S.A

Since 1946, Onkyo has been passionately committed to developing audio products that deliver uncommon performance, quality, and value. Bundling proprietary technologies and innovations with other sound-enhancing exclusives, Onkyo continues to create award-winning products that are lauded by many industry-leading publications.  The company's philosophy is to deliver products that are superbly designed and built to a consistently outstanding standard of excellence.  The results can be seen in the obvious quality of any Onkyo-manufactured product, even before it is turned on. Visit Onkyo's website at www.onkyousa.com.  Follow Onkyo USA on www.facebook.com/OnkyoUSA.


*1 Firmware must be updated before operation.

*2 Enabled via firmware update (TBA).


All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective holders.

© 2017 Onkyo USA Corporation. All rights reserved.

Note: Specifications and design subject to change without notice.