It has been tested and is in full working order. The item is in good cosmetic condition and just has a few minor marks. It comes with the power lead and manual only. The remote is not included.
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Component video out 25 RCA Two S-Video outputs 26 Two composite video outputs 27 The set of connectors are fairly comprehensive and should suit the majority of home theatre configurations.
The provision of an IEC power socket allows you to substitute a higher grade power cord if you wish for those of you who think the quality of a power cord makes a difference to the performance of the player!
However, the manual does not confirm this. The most interesting connector is the Denon Link connector. Remote Control Denon is not exactly famous for producing good, functional and most importantly usable remote controls for its equipment in the past, and this is yet another disappointing remote control.
This one has too many small buttons all looking alike and impossible to distinguish in the dark. The remote does have a glow button 7 that when activated lights up a subset of the buttons. The next six rows will light up if you press a large button on the left hand side of the remote.
As mentioned before, only some of these buttons have icons embossed on them so that you have to guess which is which when they are glowing. After this, you get a plethora of tiny grey buttons mostly indistinguishable from each other.
This includes the following: Picture Adjust 8 - allows you to adjust contrast, brightness, sharpness, hue and gamma you can change various points in the gamma curve - impressive! Manual The manual follows the standard Denon format of being typeset in landscape rather than portrait orientation, but with two columns of text on each page.
It is fairly thick and contains over a hundred pages, but this is because it has versions for several languages English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and Swedish. For example, Subtitle does not cycle through available subtitle tracks - it puts the player into subtitle mode and you use the up and down arrow keys to cycle through subtitle tracks. Fortunately, I found the manual relatively easy to read though not always helpful, but better than most.
For example, it describes the "F," "V," and "G" enunciators as "Film," "Video," and "Graphic" but neglects to explain what these modes mean pulldown, interlaced, and pulldown respectively. Set-Up Menu The set-up menu is accessed by pressing the Setup button which brings up a tabbed set of setup parameters.
You navigate across tabs effectively sub menus using the left and right arrow keys. The up and down arrows allow you to navigate between setup parameters. Pressing the right arrow key on a setup parameter will allow you to change it. Exiting the setup menu is done by pressing the Setup button again or by navigating to the "Exit Setup" menu item. The "Disc Setup" sub menu contains the following parameters: Dialog select language of default audio track Subtitle select language of default subtitle track Disc Menus select language of default DVD menu The above setup parameters allow you to directly select between English, French, Spanish, German and Italian.
All other languages require you to enter the four digit language code from the manual. There is also an additional setup parameter in the speaker configuration labelled "Filter" which you can turn On and Off. This allows you to determine whether the LFE channel is a full range channel required for some DVD Audio software which uses the LFE channel as a "height" channel or a low frequency only channel in which case a low pass filter is applied to the channel.
The manual also seems to imply that the Denon Link cannot be enabled unless Filter is set to On so I left it that way. The "Ratings" sub menu allows selection of parental control rating level and password. Denon has taken the purist approach and obviously intends this to be a "reference" player that outputs the video stream exactly as it was encoded with no dubious post-processing algorithms.
Personally, I agree with the "purist" approach in my experience noise reduction algorithms tend to do more harm than good. However, extensive testing revealed that this perception of "softness" was ill-founded. As we all know, adding sharpness to a video image is easily done most TVs have a "sharpness" control but increased sharpness paradoxically reduces detail as it is achieved by deliberately distorting the signal.
I did not notice any video artefacts or abnormality viewing this test pattern apart from the usual moire effects and slight colouration in the moving zone plate. The level of detail that is reproduced by this player can only be described as "astounding. The following examples are all taken from a DVD I recently reviewed "Double Take" using the Pioneer D: Not only was the small print in the close-up of the "La Questa" newspaper at readable and incidentally, it is in English and not Mexican!
Never before have I gotten the impression that I was seeing the whole picture and nothing but the whole picture, but I did with this player!
However, I did notice a very occasional tendency for the player to pause ever so slightly during a pan - almost as if the MPEG decoder ran out of buffer space or CPU processing capacity and had to take a brief moment to recover. This is a real torture test for an MPEG decoder, as the entire scene is a relatively fast pan from right to left.
On the D the scene appears really jerky and sometimes I can see individual frames. On the DVD-A1 I get a much smoother though not completely smooth pan and a more detailed set of frames. Another good test disc to demonstrate the superior video playback performance of this player is the R4 edition of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. On most players, the transfer exhibits persistent minor aliasing. On the DVD-A1 in progressive scan mode, aliasing on this disc is virtually non-existent.
Also, the detail levels, particular on the sand buildings in Tatooine, are nothing short of amazing - I can just about see every sand particle. Finally, the pod race scene is superb, featuring ultra-smooth movement guaranteed to induce motion sickness! The review unit initially could only play Region 2 discs, but after the firmware upgrade appears to have been multi-region enabled, and I had no difficulty playing a number of Region 1, 2 and 4 discs including R1 RCE discs.
I am not sure whether retail units will be multi-region enabled out of the box. Unfortunately, the review unit exhibited the "chroma upsampling error" common on many DVD players. Some displays have circuitry that effectively "masks" the problem by resampling the chroma information. If you are an existing owner and you experience the chroma bug, please contact your dealer.
The following is an example of the extent of the chroma upsampling error on the DVD-A1, taken from the R1 Superbit edition of The Fifth Element part of a copyright still image displayed prior to the film. The chroma bug is still present, but has been effectively "hidden" by the Sony DRC processing within the projector.
To exit Pause mode, you have to press the Play button. Once I got used to it, the buttons were surprisingly effective in cueing up to the right spot.
As with other upmarket Denon DVD players, this player includes a memory buffer that minimises the "freeze" effect of a layer change transition. Layer changes are extremely smooth on this player and will be unnoticeable for most discs, even problem ones like Fried Green Tomatoes R4. The only time I noticed a layer change was when watching the time elapsed counter very closely - sometimes this does not count up as smoothly in the vicinity of a layer change.
However, on DVDs that split a film across several titles including the abovementioned Fried Green Tomatoes , I noticed that title transitions still incur a slight pause. In essence, it reconstructs a progressive NTSC or PAL frame from adjacent half-frames intended for interlaced display stored on the disc.
Although DVDs are supposed to be authored with the "progressive scan" flag set appropriately to allow a DVD player to reconstruct the progressive frame correctly, there have been many DVDs released with the flag set incorrectly flagging progressive material as non-progressive, or worse still flagging interlaced material as progressive.
There have even been reports of DVDs authored with the progressive flag set alternately on and off with each half frame, which is a violation of the intended usage of the flag. Even when the progressive flag is set correctly, sometimes the video source has been spliced in between frames which may mean two completely different half frames are now adjacent to one other. With all the above issues, no wonder first generation progressive scan players did such a bad job, resulting in combing errors on-screen.
These players actually trusted the flag setting silly of them! The Sil is "cadence reading" which means it ignores the flags completely and stores up to four half frames in memory. It always compares between these frames in real time so that it is always selecting the right two half frames to combine into a progressive frame.
Furthermore, it takes care of NTSC pulldown. The DVD-A1 progressive scan implementation for both NTSC and PAL is excellent - I did not notice any combing errors except in menus right after selecting a menu item this is unavoidable , subtitle tracks and strangely enough in player on-screen text.
All these examples of combing happen when an interlaced video stream is superimposed on a progressive video stream so they are excusable. Most of the time, the player seems to sense the video source correctly - I have noticed occasional lapses into "V" for material that I know is progressive.
For material that contains a mixture of progressive and interlaced material for example, featurettes that mix video interviews with excerpts from the film , the player will correctly switch between Film to Video and vice versa.
The switch from Film to Video tend to occur instantaneously, but the switch from Video to Film tends to be delayed by a few frames almost as if the player is checking to make sure the material is actually progressive before combining half frames. Although the display of total titles on the disc and total chapters within the current title are useful, I would have liked to see Total Time title or chapter as well as a bitrate indicator.
Given that the player is extremely smooth on layer changes due to memory buffering, I would have also liked to see a layer indicator. Also, the display of the current subtitle language eg. This is not a serious omission given that very few MPEG Multichannel DVDs have been released but still, I would have expected a player at this price to support the format. The navigation keys can be used to navigate in and out of folders and to select MP3 files to play. However, it does not recognise ID3 tags, MP3 play lists or Joliet long file names - all MP3 files are displayed using 8 character names.
The implementation is very similar to the MP3 playback menu - showing folders stored on the disc and filenames of images with a. JPG extension. It will display successive images in a slide show with programmable delays between images. It correctly recognised a CD-R I burned with over ! The display panel shows the current sequence number of the image displayed.
However, it only displays the sequence number as a three digit number - on my CD-R it displayed images with sequence numbers greater than as "" instead of " I did not have any problems viewing images captured using a one-megapixel digital camera, however I noticed that some images copied from a web site did not display correctly.
Images that I scanned and wrote using Photoshop did work. I did notice that the player puts a black border around the images, which means the effective resolution of the images is a bit less than NTSC.
Also, the aspect ratio of the images did not seem correct I tried setting my display to as well as and neither worked perfectly.
The DVD-A1 excelled at reproducing all audio formats, with a sound quality that was open, solid and three dimensional. Presence and imaging is superb, and the player seems to reproduce low level detail such as ambience and very soft sounds to a level and accuracy that I have never experienced before.
Even when playing CDs on the DVD-A1, notes seem to decay naturally into the background instead of disappearing into a dark void. The player seems to allow good recordings to sound their best and manages to bring some life even into dull recordings.
Since both players retail for about the same price, I felt it would be an interesting and well-matched Battle of the Titans. It turned out to be a close call indeed and for a long time I could not decide which player is better.
However, it can sound a bit harsh compared to the XAES which is very smooth and yet dynamic and punchy when necessary. The XAES in comparison, though, can sound a bit "darker. HDCDs are normal CDs that store additional "bits" in the sub codes these are intended for storing information such as lyrics and are normally unused in CDs.
Listening to the soundtrack of A. Interestingly, my review unit has a quirk in the analogue 5. Subjectively, I did not notice any issues with audio synchronization on both analogue and digital outputs on the test discs Wedding Singer R4 second remastered edition and also Matrix R1.
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