Incorporating the player into my system only took a few minutes. I connected the RT-20 to my Sony VPL-HS51 HD projector directly using HDMI and connected the component outputs to a DVDO VP30 video processor for component-to-HDMI conversion so I could compare the HDMI out with component video out.
For audio, I connected the coaxial digital, multi-channel analog, and XLR outputs to my reference Anthem D1 Surround Sound Processor. All in all this was a lot of cabling, but I imagine the majority of end users probably won't use all of these outputs simultaneously; I just wanted to try them all out for the review.
Set-up for the player is fairly simple using the on-screen menus. The video set-up has a wide range of options to tweak the image, but I found the player needed very little adjustment overall, and some of the options I would suggest leaving alone.
On the video side, you can set up the HDMI output for 480p, 720p, or 1080i, as well as a variety of color space options, including YCbCr and RGB. If you are connecting to a HDMI display, I would suggest the YCbCr output as it is 4:2:0 and in the proper RGB color space. However, if you have a DVI input display, the RGB output is fine.
The player has numerous noise reduction filters and a few other options like black and white levels and Y/C delay adjustments. I would leave these alone. Most hurt the player more than helped in my subjective viewing, creating unwanted artifacts in the image. The Y/C delay adjustment's resolution also wasn't fine enough to really make a difference. I have yet to see a Y/C delay adjustment in a player that doesn't adjust in higher increments than 1 pixel, which is of little use most of the time. This player didn't suffer from any Y/C delay, so that really isn't an issue unless your display has problems in this regard.
We reported on this player already in our DVD benchmark, and it did quite well in our series of tests. As I mentioned before, the RT-20 is based on the Marantz DV-9500 Universal DVD player and incorporates the same Pioneer Pure Cinema-based video processing. This processing is Pioneer's newest solution and far better than their earlier versions that held back the RT-10.
As you can see from the test results shown above, the Auto 2 mode of the player's de-interlacer gave us the best performance and passed the majority of our tests. The player still suffers from two forms of CUE that have become fairly common with just about every player I've tested. Otherwise, the performance was solid across the board.
The analog video performance was also excellent, having a very sharp image. This is no doubt due to the almost perfect ruler flat video frequency response of the component video output and high quality BNC connections.
Video Frequency Response
Very, very rarely do I recommend high end boutique players for their video performance, but this is one I would recommend with no uncertainty at all. It is not the reference for video in its price class, but it is definitely in the top bracket. Plus, it has terrific audio performance (see below), and you do have to take both factors (video and audio) into account when deciding to purchase a particular player. There really is no player that is the best at everything. But, this one comes pretty close.