This comes after my purchasing and returning a Denon DVD-3910 because the picture wasn't nearly as good as my Zenith DB-318. The 3910 also dropped sound 3 times during my test passages in The Matrix. (Another member had asked if anyone had experienced this as his 3910 dropped sound during DTS material.)
Of the 6 dvd players I currently own, the Kenwood 6050 also bears mentioning as IMO it's the best for the money non-upscaling player I've seen. When I first set it up, I experienced a noticable improvement in sound quality as well.
Then I purchased the Zenith DB-318 and was impressed with the upscaled picture quality (through component) over the Kenwood 6050, but sound was lacking by comparison.
Then I briefly danced with the Denon (didn't want to miss my 30 day return window) and made the observations mentioned.
Doug_H (another forum member) recommended the Marantz 9500 as it was getting excellent reviews. This player stunned me. It is being sold by a high end audio site for it's DVD-Audio and SACD abilities, but it's the best all around player I've seen. The picture upscaled through HDMI - converted to DVI and run into my Mitsubishi WS-73713 TV was astounding! On the thread where this discussion started, several members were "shocked" and "speechless" that I stated the Denon 3910's picture was simply not even comparable to the 9500. I'd place the picture of the 3910 between my Kenwood 6050 and the Zenith DB318 - and I mean right in the middle. That's not too bad since the 6050 has the best picture I've seen in 480P (upscaled to 540P by my Samsung DLP 43" and Mistubishi RP 73").
I feel I did experience a bit more detail in sound from The Matrix on the Denon 3910 than the Marantz, but on DVD-Audio and SACD I'd rate it a tie. I tested both of these players on my Sunfire Ultimate and Denon 4802 reciever's by the way.
The menu's are clean and easy to follow, with two little quirks. One, selecting "Downsampling On/Off" refers to 96K/48K digital output. Normally I think of this as downsampling to stereo over analog outputs which I do so I can play DTS/DVD-Audio, etc. in stereo on my patio (Zone 2). Not so! When I switched it to "off" and put 96K to my receiver, the sound became all it should be.
The bigger quirk is playing DTS CD's. There is a menu setting for downsampling to "Stereo" or "LF/RF" (I believe that's the correct letters - I'm not in front of it). The latter means converting DTS CD material to Prologic II!
I was frustrated at seemingly being unable to play DTS CD material through this wonderful new player. Then it occured to me to go direct through the pre-outs and of course that worked. Trust me (or ask Doug_H!) You've never heard the Steely Dan Goucho DTS CD like you will on the Marantz 9500/Sunfire Ultimate combo! Guess I should mention the speakers tested - Both player/receiver setups were tested with Magnaplaner 1.6's and M&K 750's.
As to the picture comparison - don't take just my word for it - ask Doug_H also, a rather seasoned forum member who saw both setups at my house.
Here's a quote from a review/comparison at: Home Theater Hifi
|The core performance of this player is just about perfect. There is absolutely no pixel cropping, which is an extreme rarity these days, and there is no Y/C delay at all. The analog video frequency response is outstanding and one of the best we’ve seen at any price point. The player passes a below black pluge via component or HDMI out, and the HDMI output can be configured for either PC or Studio RGB levels to accommodate your display. The white level via component was a tad hot at 102 IRE but was still within our passing criteria.|