Universal Players

Denon DVD-A1UDCI Universal Blu-ray Player

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup

After moving the Denon into place in my AV rack, which was no small feat due to it's weight, I hooked it up with every connection I could: Dual HDMI outputs, 6 channel analog audio outputs (I have a 5.1 system and not 7.1), and Ethernet for BD-Live. With most Blu-ray players I'm happy to rely on HDMI audio and let my receiver or preamp do the processing, with the Denon I wanted to make sure I could use the analog outputs to see what the audio quality from it's internal DAC's was compared to those in my system (I used a Pioneer SC-27 receiver during the test of this Denon), as that is one of the things you are paying for. Thankfully, since most receivers will bypass all settings when using the multichannel inputs, the Denon lets you configure everything in it's setup: Speaker size and distance, crossovers, and levels. After spending some time with my tape measure and my Radio Shack SPL meter, I had everything configured the way that I wanted in the menus for audio when using the analog outputs. Denon has a very nice graphical interface that will be familiar to anyone that has used their receivers recently that helps to make setup a breeze.

After the audio was configured, I was able to move on and look at the other wide range of options available in the Denon. I configured it to send video over HDMI1 to my display and audio over HDMI2 to my receiver, and then set about looking at the wide range of picture adjustments available for me. My display has been calibrated to be fairly accurate, except I have never been able to fully dial in the Gamma setting to be correct for it. The Denon is the first Blu-ray player that I have run into that will let me adjust the Gamma in 10 IRE steps, from 10 up to 100, to help correct for deficiencies in your display. Additionally, the Denon can hold up to 5 different Gamma settings, so apart from using one to correct for issues your display might have with it's default Gamma curve, you could setup another curve for a value of 2.5 instead of 2.2, so when you are watching a movie with a higher level of ambient light than usual, you can select the 2.5 curve to account for that, and easily go back to 2.2 for when you have full light control. This is a level of image control that is unavailable in any other Blu-ray player that I have used, or even read about. Additionally, you can adjust noise reduction, contrast, brightness, sharpness, hue, white and black levels, chroma, and horizontal and vertical screen position.

Continuing my setup, I initially went to set the Denon to output 1080P24, as I wanted to avoid the cadence issues that can happen when displaying 24 fps content at 1080p60 resolution. When I tried to look at some test material to see how the player was working, I experienced some weird motion artifacts that I couldn't really explain. Looking in the manual I discovered that if you set your resolution to this, then everything is converted to 1080p24 for display. As I have some live convert Blu-ray discs, and my wife likes to watch a lot of TV on DVD that have resolutions of 1080i60 or 480i60, that would cause those to be displayed at 1080p24 with lots of motion artifacts from the reduction in frames. Far preferable to this would be for the player to display 1080p24 when the source is 1080p24, but otherwise convert everything to 1080p60, the native resolution of my display, and one that is far more compatible with non 24 fps sources. Other players, such as the Oppo BDP-83 that I typically use, work this way and I would like to see Denon add this feature in the future.