Blu-ray Players

Pioneer BDP-52FD 3D Universal Blu-ray Player


The Pioneer BDP-52FD Blu-ray Player On The Bench

The last round of Pioneer players failed multiple areas of our benchmark, from having always enabled edge enhancement to no colorspace selection and not telling you what the current mode was. Pioneer looks to have taken this to heart and addressed the issues, which you can see in the bench test results.

The main tests that failed were the Super Speedway test and the Diagonal Filtering test. On Super Speedway, the Pioneer would sometimes lose a lock on a cadence for a fraction of a second. While not a huge issue, it is still distracting and something that should not happen as other players can pull it off. With the diagonal filtering HD test, the rotating needle test on Spears and Munsil had very good results, but the Ship video test was not as good. Aliasing was visible in the ships rigging and edges more often than we would like, so this was a case where the test pattern was good but the real world content was not.

I also tried over and over again to see a layer change on the test DVD, but I never saw any sort of hesitation at all from the Pioneer. The lack of a Source Direct mode, for those with external video scalers, was the only issue with the colorspace selections, and this mode is pretty uncommon to see. The Galaxy Quest test showed a little bit of breakup on mixed flag content, but far less than some players do. Overall the Pioneer did very well on the bench tests.

Over HDMI, both 422 and 444 colorspaces were perfect. The manual did not specify what the different RGB modes did, so I defaulted to testing the RGB mode. This proved to be a mistake as it took the 0-235 video range and spread it across the 0-255 RGB values, which leads to a calibrated TV only seeing values from 15-215 instead of 16-235. The only reason to use this would be if you are playing media that was authored for a 0-255 PC range and need to display it on a TV that is calibrated for the 16-235 video range.

Unfortunately, the RGB Full setting takes content that is 0-255 and squeezes it down into 16-235. This is fine as if you have material that is authored for a 0-255 PC range and you need to display it on a video display calibrated for the 16-235 range, this will do that for you. None of the RGB settings on the Pioneer are correctly designed for a normal video display with normal Blu-ray content, so if you need RGB instead of YCbCr, you have to look elsewhere.

Load times overall for the Pioneer were good, coming close to the best players we have seen recently. The interesting point on the times is that it came closest to the top performers on the BD-J authored discs, which seems to indicate that the processor in the Pioneer is fast at loading content and the delays are due to taking longer to seek out different areas of the disc. The best example is The Fifth Element, which has to search the disc twice during load, but has no BD-J content, and this was where the Pioneer was worst. With the far more complex Toy Story 3 disc it was closer, so as discs get more complex, the Pioneer will perform better.

Since the Pioneer is also a universal player, I did bench tests with it for both CD quality and 24/96 and 24/192 DVD-A content. I couldn’t test out SACD performance on the bench as there are no SACD test discs that are readily available.

With a 1 kHz test tone, 24/96 looks to have the best performance here, but that’s due to a mistake on my part with the range of the spectrum. When you look at the 24/192 and 16/44 graphs, you can see that past the half sample rate limit (So, 22 kHz for the 16/44 data), there’s a slow rise up in noise levels to the end of the graph. The 24/96 graph cuts off at 45 kHz, so it’s missing this data, and it has lower noise levels as a result. Many people might not care about this as it’s beyond what your speakers can do, but excess noise could manifest itself later in the signal chain and it would be better if it didn’t have this rise. For all the graphs, there was around 95 dB of headroom.

Here we see some larger spikes of noise than with the 1 kHz signal. 16/44 signals have a spike at 35 kHz that reduces the headroom down to around 65 dB. With 24/96 and 24/192 there is a little over 80 dB of headroom, so it does much better with high-resolution audio than with CD audio.

With 19 kHz and 20 kHz tones, there are a good number of peaks on either side of the tones, giving you around 75 dB of headroom. 16/44 is once again the worst, with a spike limiting you to 65 dB of headroom or so.

With 60 Hz and 7 kHz tones, the IMD level was 0.0024% with 16/44 and 24/96 material, but all the way up to 0.03% at 24/192. The results were better than with the previous IMD test, with very few spikes along the spectrum and a low, clean noise floor.