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Product Review - Denon DVD-1600 DVD-V/DVD-A Player - June, 2002

John E. Johnson, Jr.


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Specifications:

Formats:  DVD-V, DD, DTS, Multi-Channel DVD-A, CD, MP3

MFR:  4 Hz - 88 kHz (192 kHz Sampling)

THD:  0.0025%

Dimensions:  3 1/4" H x 17" W x 10" D

Weight:  6 1/2 Pounds

MSRP: $549 USA
 
 

 

Denon Electronics; http://www.denon.com

Introduction

The first DVD-A players and SACD players - both of which are the new high resolution audio formats - were very, very expensive. In the past year, mass market prices have been achieved. However, that old chroma bug that we reported on some time ago, has still been present in the DVD players. It takes awhile to move to new chips. As you are about to see, the Denon DVD-1600 not only is an inexpensive DVD-A player, but it has eliminated the chroma bug. And . . . it passed our Benchmark tests with ease.

The Design

The DVD-1600 goes beyond the basic DVD player by adding DVD-A. This is a single-disc player, not a carousel. The front panel has, starting from the left, a push-button On/Off, Headphone Jack with Volume Control (this can be used with SP V.S.S. or HP V.S.S., which is Virtual Surround Sound into the two-channel headphone, with indicator lights next to the headphone jack), the DVD drawer and LED Display Panel, Open/Close Drawer button, Play, Pause, Stop buttons, Progressive Scan/Interlaced Scan button and indicator light, Chapter Skip buttons, and Search buttons.

The rear panel has, from left to right, one Toslink Digital Optical output (the cover is built-in), six RCA analog out jacks for 5.1 DD, 5.1 DTS, and 5.1 DVD-A, two RCA jacks for two-channel audio out, two RCA jacks for composite video out, one S-Video out, and one set of component video out. The component video jacks have multiple labels. I guess you just take your pick. But all you really have to do is just pay attention to the color coding and you will be fine.

The remote control (shown below) has all the usual buttons, plus a few that you might not be familiar with. For example, "Group" refers to the fact that DVD-A tracks are divided into groups that contain several tracks. You can select one group over the others to just play those tracks. Secondly, with this particular player, there is a "Cinema" button, which I found particular use for. This button raises the detail in dark shadow areas of the video. In other words, it is a gamma control. It does not affect the highlights, but it brings things out of the shadows. Digital projectors have a particular problem with the dark regions of the image, with black sometimes looking gray or dark brown. I have a Sony 10HT digital projector that has poor contrast, and the blacks look muddy, hiding the shadow detail of the movies. So, when I pressed "Cinema", those shadowy details rose above the poor black quality, and I was able to see them. My plan is to further experiment with this, using what photographers call a "Neutral Density Filter". This will pull the muddy grays and brown down to black, and I am hoping that the details that were in the shadows, but pulled above them by the Cinema button, will appear more natural, and near true black. I will report on this sometime soon. There are previously successful ways of improving the contrast on the 10HT, involving the use of red color filters and adjusting the levels on each of the three color LCD panels. In fact, the 10HT is almost a "cult" projector. Other than the contrast problem, it is a fine product, and I am looking for any method I can to improve that contrast.

The remote fit in my hand nicely, and the buttons are shape-coded and tactile. The only complaint I have about the remote control is that the top buttons - Stop, Pause, and Play - are in the reverse order (left to right) from the front panel of the player. Since the remote is not lighted, you can't get into the habit of hitting the button on the left for play, because it is on the left on the player panel, and on the right on the remote control. An annoying inconvenience, but it does not affect the performance.

The On-Screen Display (OSD) is intuitive and easy to use. So much info to pick from these days!

The 1600 is one of the few DVD-A players to include bass management. You can select "Large" or "Small" for the speakers, delivering a 100 Hz low-pass summation of the five channels to the subwoofer when "Small" is selected. However, all five speakers are all still fed a full range audio spectrum. There is also a Delay Time setting for the center channel and rear surround channels, along with a channel balance control (volume) for the center and rear. It is nice to see this, since, as you are probably aware, you have to connect the multi-channel DVD-A outputs from the DVD-A player to your receiver using 6 analog cables. There is no digital output for DVD-A. When you use 5.1 analog connections to a receiver, all the DSP is bypassed, including bass management.

The Tests

For the performance tests, I used our Theta Casablanca II Processor, Yamaha DSP-A1 Receiver, Cinepro 3k6 SE Gold Power Amplifier, Threshold ES-600 Electrostatic Speakers, Krix Speakers, Nordost Cables, and BetterCables. Video was through a Sony 10HT LCD Digital Projector onto a Stewart Grayhawk Screen. Analysis was done with several software packages, 24/192 Balanced Sound Card, and BetterCables Interconnects.

Click HERE to go to Part 2 - The Sound and Video
 

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Copyright 2002 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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