Blu-ray Players

Pioneer BDP-09FD Elite Blu-ray Player - Benchmark



Pioneer BDP 09FD Elite Blu-ray Player

(Check out the video tour of the player's features at the bottom of this page.)

If I hadn’t known how well built the Pioneer was going to be, my first clue would have been when the UPS driver had to use the hand truck and elevator to deliver it to my condo instead of just carrying it up the stairs as they will do with most deliveries I get. Opening the box, the Pioneer was packed decently in a couple of Styrofoam cutouts and it was in perfect shape, though I had expected that they might pack it in something a bit more secure and reusable, as that type of packing tends to break down or break into pieces after a few uses.

Also contained in the box was a remote (identical in layout to the other Pioneer BluRay players, but with metal construction instead of plastic and glow-in-the-dark buttons), manual, Ethernet cable, BNC to RCA adapters for the component video jacks, and standard RCA audio and video cables. Unfortunately, Pioneer still doesn’t see fit to include an HDMI cable inside the box of their Blu-ray players, but includes a standard composite video cable that will almost certainly never be used by someone purchasing this player. The remote, which has a design that I am not a fan of, was designed so if you have other Pioneer components (Plasma display or Receiver), the remote layout will be familiar and you can use it easily, but if you don’t have these other components, then the layout is just not that well designed. Anyone that is buying this player will almost certainly have a universal remote solution I would imagine though.

The Pioneer BDP-09FD is constructed unlike any other BluRay player, or other AV component, that I have had the opportunity to use. Weighing over 30 lbs, the BDP-09FD is constructed with gold plated outputs, a solid steel base plate, internal crossbar supports, and separate power supplies for the audio and video sections of the player. The player also features a Blu-ray recorder drive mechanism, which has stricter tolerances than the standard Blu-ray drive mechanism, and a very attractive glossy finish that made getting a photograph without my reflection for this review a challenge, but didn’t distract when it was in my AV rack.

Pioneer BDP 09FD Elite Blu-ray Player

The back panel of the Pioneer features a full complement of outputs, notably including dual HDMI outputs, allowing you to run one to your display and one to a receiver/processor, or one to a projector and one to another display or your receiver/processor. I hooked them up in the display/receiver setup to make sure that nothing would cause any loss of quality in the video section, while still allowing me to send all the audio over HDMI.

Pioneer BDP 09FD Elite Blu-ray Player

However, sending audio over HDMI from this player would negate one of the major advantages of it: a full complement of 8 Wolfson 8740 DACs operating in Dual mode, one of every channel, which allows you to control all of the audio settings in the player: Speaker distances, size and crossover, and level adjustment while using the high quality DAC’s which are used in Pioneer’s Elite SC-05 and SC-07 receivers, as well as many other high end audio products. Since the Pioneer can internally decode all of the new audio formats (Dolby TrueHD, DTS Master Audio) and perform all of these speaker level adjustments over the multi-channel outputs, and has higher quality DACs than most receivers and processors, I did most of my evaluation using the analog audio connections instead of the single HDMI cable, but the HDMI outputs were tested for audio as well.

Additional features found on the BDP-09FD are an Ethernet jack for BD Live capability and firmware updates, a feature that was sorely missing on the BDP-51FD that I recently reviewed. Unfortunately, while their previous Elite Blu-ray players could use the Ethernet port to play media from DLNA servers on your home network, the new Renesis chipset that Pioneer is using for this player lacks that feature and so the Ethernet port can only be used for BD Live and Firmware updates. Also included are Composite, S-Video and Component outputs for video (since I wondered about this, Pioneer assured me that keeping legacy Composite and S-Video jacks on the panel doesn’t affect the design in any negative way, since those capabilities are built into the chipset they use for the player), and Coaxial and Optical outputs for audio.

Pioneer BDP 09FD Elite Blu-ray Player

For BD Live support, the BDP-09FD features 4 GB of memory on the board in the form of an SD HC card for downloaded content. As most movies typically only require around 4 MB of space, you should be able to hold the downloadable content for close to 1,000 discs before you run out of room. I was unable to test what happens if you fill this memory up but was told that you would need to manually delete data to make room from the Setup menu, which unfortunately required you to delete all of the movie information in memory, not individual titles as the PS3 allows you to do. This means if you do manage to fill this memory up in the future, you would have to completely empty it out before you could access the content of a new disc, so hopefully they will allow you to delete individual titles from memory in the future.

One final feature that I was unable to test, but was very interested in, was Pioneer’s Precision Quartz Lock System for playing audio CD’s. If you have a compatible Pioneer receiver (the SC-05 and SC-07 both work) and have the player connected over HDMI, for CD playback the machine will use the higher quality clock signal inside of the receiver instead of the poorer quality video clock inside of the BDP-09FD. This works to eliminate jitter from the disc to the point that Pioneer can claim that the signal is actually jitter free, which should produce an audible increase in audio quality. Pioneer has also said that this is an open standard that other manufacturers are welcome to adopt in the future, and in the future they plan to support this jitter reduction for video playback as well with new products, so hopefully this feature will become something that other manufacturers adopt.

If you would like to take a video tour of the player's features, click on the photo below which will download the *.wmv file that will play on your Windows Media Player.