-

Jump to content



Sign up for a free account!

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and you won't get the popup ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo

Pioneer 47Ai first impressions


This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
67 replies to this topic

#1 of 68 Ron S

Ron S

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 76 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 11 2001

Posted October 05 2002 - 03:24 PM

Woohoo! Was poking around onecall's web site and noticed they had the Pioneer 47Ai in "low stock" status. Called my local authorized dealer, and they had them in stock! In fact, they were still at the warehouse (20 mins away). Scott (Sound City in Denville) was nice enough to take a special drive out to the warehouse for me (hence his mention here, thanks Scott).

My rp56 was locking up more and more frequently lately, so it was time for an upgrade, err, replacement. Eyed the Pioneer Elite receivers to go along with it, but couldn't bring myself to upgrade the Onkyo 696 yet. It still works great Posted Image The price was nice, too, 799. plus tax.

Of course I set up the 47Ai as soon as I got home. It's hooked up to the Onkyo via both optical out (for DTS and DD on DVD-V) and analog 5.1 inputs. I have a Norh 4.0 setup all around, with an SVS 20-39. Component cables, of course, to the Pioneer 533. Thinking of upgrading my mains, but that's another story Posted Image

Knowing what some of the issues were with the 45A, I was looking for them on this model. Bought Hotel California on DVD-A, and Alice in Chains on SACD to test out. After comparing both, I have to say the DVD-A performance is stellar. Well, as steller as I can imagine (can it GET any better?). The vocals and guitar work simply have much more range. I'm not able to articulate the nuances of the music that are now audible to me. It's like I've never heard these songs before. AIC was less stellar. I don't know wether it's due to a poor rendition on SACD, or poor SACD performance by the Pioneer. Let me explain. After verifying that the formats worked fine, and the unit was working, I went out to get some more listening material. I couldn't find anything else on SACD that I wanted to hear! Picked up Foreigner 4 and STP Core on DVD-A. Foreigner was as eye-opening as Hotel California. Vocals in particular were stunning, more depth. Almost as if it was a different person singing it than the one I found so enjoyable when the record first came out. Core, I must say, was a bit of a disappointment Posted Image Which is a shame, because it's one of my all time favorite records. Weiland's vocals are noticeably more dynamic, on some tracks more than others.

And there goes my dilemna. With only one SACD title to audition, I don't know if it's a similarly lackluster transfer of the material, or poor performance of the media in general. It's possible I failed to set up something properly, as it only plays AIC in stereo (and shows multi-channel highlighted on the back of the case). I'll poke around and see if there's something I should have done but didn't. Setup seemed relatively straightforward. Got NO bass output from the SVS initially, as I forgot to set the speakers to SMALL on one of the setup pages. Don't know if there's a particular crossover point to choose for the sub, but didn't look so hard, was anxious to PLAY. If there is, it's on an on-screen menu. The back seems pretty straightforward and uncluttered. I think I'll have to audition some more SACD titles (poor me, hehe) for a more balanced view.

As for video, I've only watched one. 5th Element Superbit. Outstanding picture, better than the rp56, which surprised me. Maybe there is something to all this "you get what you pay for" stuff. Looked for the chroma bug, and think I've found it. Panic button was a little fuzzy (no real noticeable jaggies), but the blue neon Zorg sign was very noticeable. Only around the inside of the "O", though. Didn't see it along the outside edges of the sign. It's possible I didn't look for it properly. Had to pause and advance at 1/16th playback speed to see the jaggies on the sign, honestly couldn't see them on real-time speed.

Was mortified that I don't have Toy Story to assess the chroma bug. Guess I'll have to pick it up and report later. There was a moment's hesitation on the Monsters, Inc. layer change, but no real pause. Just a repeatable hesitation, not a fluke.

The player seems to have potential weaknesses, most noticeably in the SACD dept. I will report what I find to confirm or refute it's performance with this format. If you need to notice the chroma bug in real time speed in order for the player to be "cursed" by it, then this is still up in the air, too. Personally, if it can't be seen (by me) on playback, then it's not a problem (for me). Switching between movies and DVD-A/SACD is a minor annoyance, as I must change the input selection on the receiver from multichannel to optical. DTS and DD don't seem to be recognized from the analog outs.

Strengths are progressive playback picture quality. Just plain beautiful. This MAY have something to do with the Superbit dvd. I'll watch LOTR or Blade and report if the playback seems less of an improvement. DVD-Audio sounds teriffic! It was a little scary putting the first disc in and wondering if I would be able to hear a noticeable difference. That fear was squashed 10 seconds into play. I haven't played with mp3 support yet. It DOES play SVCD's, a feature lacking on my rp56. Not a terribly big plus, as I have a 5 cd changer that does this neccessary task, considering all the homemade discs I own.

Overall, I'm very happy with this unit, as you have likely inferred from my comments. I'm not a total newbie anymore, but if there are specific suggestions or tests that you can think of me to try for you, I'd be more than happy to help (and learn in the process).

I'm keeping it!

#2 of 68 JackJD

JackJD

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 164 posts
  • Join Date: May 20 2001

Posted October 05 2002 - 03:31 PM

Congratulations!

Quote:
Knowing what some of the issues were with the 45A, I was looking for them on this model.


What issues are you referring to?

Do you mean the 47a?
"When you've seen beyond yourself -then you may find, peace of mind, Is waiting there..."  -Within You Without You

#3 of 68 Bobby T

Bobby T

    Supporting Actor

  • 586 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 13 2001

Posted October 05 2002 - 03:36 PM

The Alice In Chains SACD is definitely not the best one to reference by. Ask in the music area for some better SACD suggestions.
We childproofed our house but one managed to get in anyway.

Threats appeal a lot more to us than they do to ordinary people.
Hannibal Smith

#4 of 68 Ron S

Ron S

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 76 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 11 2001

Posted October 05 2002 - 04:20 PM

Quick update. Seems I neglected :b to enable multichannel SACD output in one of the setup menus. Remarkable improvement in audio. No surprise, I guess, since it's a multichannel disc. With only 2 channels enabled, was losing 60% of the audio (dam, I hate stoopid mistakes).

Jack- Actually, it was the issues in both the 45A and 47A that I was trying hard to cover. Poor SACD performance on the 47, chroma bug on both, No BM on the ?47a on DVD-A. Hard to keep track of which player had which problems. My bad, forgot to specify Posted Image

Bass seems to function well in both modes. And AIC sounds much more like I was expecting, now that all the channels are there. Doh!

Bobby- Thanks for the tip, I'll go ask around the music area for more options, even though the unit *is* sounding much better now :b

#5 of 68 Doug_B

Doug_B

    Screenwriter

  • 1,084 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 11 2001

Posted October 05 2002 - 06:30 PM

Quote:
DTS and DD don't seem to be recognized from the analog outs.
Not sure I understand what you're getting at here. Does the 47Ai have the ability to decode DD and DTS (vs just sending the bitstreams on the digital out connection)? If so, you may need to set an option in the player to tell it to do the decode, which will then use the 5.1 outputs. Your receiver will then play no part in decoding what is received on the 5.1 inputs, because each channel is already decoded. The decision on whether to use the player's decoding vs the receiver's should be weighted by how each sounds, with bass management and time alignment capabilities taken into account. Of course, you also mention a user interface issue that's apparently important to you.

Quote:
No surprise, I guess, since it's a multichannel disc. With only 2 channels enabled, was losing 60% of the audio (dam, I hate stoopid mistakes).
I infer from your comment that you thought that by setting the player to stereo SACD that it was only playing 2 of 6 channels recorded on the multichannel layer. Not true. Every multichannel SACD disc also has a stereo layer, so you selected the stereo layer. It may very well be true that the multichannel layer was engineered better than the stereo layer and/or you simply enjoyed the advantages that the extra channels provide, but unless it was a very bad engineering job, nothing should have been missing instrument-wise from the stereo layer. (I have no info regarding that particular selection.)

Doug

#6 of 68 Bobby T

Bobby T

    Supporting Actor

  • 586 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 13 2001

Posted October 06 2002 - 12:05 AM

The 47ai should decode DD and DTS. MY 45a does. You do have to set it up in the menu.
We childproofed our house but one managed to get in anyway.

Threats appeal a lot more to us than they do to ordinary people.
Hannibal Smith

#7 of 68 KeithH

KeithH

    Lead Actor

  • 9,427 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 28 2000

Posted October 06 2002 - 12:17 AM

Ron said:

Quote:
Maybe there is something to all this "you get what you pay for" stuff. Looked for the chroma bug, and think I've found it.


How ironic. Unfortunately, we have come to expect the chroma bug in higher-priced DVD player.

Ron, thanks for the review. I would be very curious to hear more about the SACD performance. I assume you do not have another SACD player available for comparison. That's O.K. Posted Image When you get more SACDs, please do give a report.
My:
Main Stereo and HT Systems ;
Second Stereo System ;
Equipment List ; DVDs, SACDs, and more ;
Planned Upgrades and Additions "You know, the tomato never took off as a handfruit."- George Costanza

#8 of 68 Ron S

Ron S

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 76 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 11 2001

Posted October 06 2002 - 06:06 AM

Thanks for the feedback on the SACD and DTS points, guys. I'll look into the menu further to see how to force the player to decode the DD and DTS soundtracks, and see how they sound compared to the receiver's rendition.

Regarding the stereo vs. multichannel SACD output, I was unaware that all SACD's also had a stereo area. The stereo output from the one disc I have at present does seem "lifeless" in comparison to the multichannel rendition. I had taken this to mean that it was somehow trying to compress all the info from the multichannel into 2 channels. I was a bit surprised, because I've toyed with DTS recordings, and while cute and novel, found that I often prefer the "plain" old stereo versions. Played with the stereo vs. multichannel output from the SACD disc again today, and confirmed what I thought yesterday. The stereo tracks on the DVD-A material seemed far better.

Found quite a bit of material online in SACD format that I like, and will order a few and see what happens. I'm beginning to think it might well be just this title...

#9 of 68 Tim Schwartz

Tim Schwartz

    Agent

  • 30 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 03 2002

Posted October 07 2002 - 02:30 AM

I bought a DV-47Ai on Saturday and have played Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" and Rolling Stones "Hot Rocks", both SACDs. I thought they both sounded very good. I'm no professional reviewer, but "Kind of Blue" had a very "you are their" sound. The Stones' SACD was also very good, but certain tracks seemed to be better recordings than others. It seems like with this level of fidelity, the equipment is much less of a factor than the recording quality. So far I'm very impressed with all aspects of this player. For reference, I'm using a Marantz SR-18, NHT speakers, M&K sub.

#10 of 68 Navid

Navid

    Agent

  • 31 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 21 2002

Posted October 07 2002 - 03:30 AM

So is there really the chroma bug with the DV-47Ai??


This would be very disappointing as I have been impatiently awaiting this player.

#11 of 68 Ron S

Ron S

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 76 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 11 2001

Posted October 07 2002 - 02:36 PM

Tim- You're right! I'm not sure why the Alice in Chains sounded so dull in stereo mode. Got some more SACD's today, and the stereo modes are fantasic. Gloria Estefan, in particular was unreal.

I'm not entirely sure why this is. Perhaps my Norh 4.0's aren't up to the task, but I would have thought the sub would compensate for most of their inadequacies. It does on everything else... Maybe I'll play around with the settings for sub level and such.

Navid- I do believe it has the chroma bug, but I would take the word of someone with more experience on this. Still need to go out and grab Toy Story, forgot it in the excitement of buying all the hi-res music Posted Image

#12 of 68 Tim Schwartz

Tim Schwartz

    Agent

  • 30 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 03 2002

Posted October 08 2002 - 06:40 AM

Ron S,

I have also noticed that the sub output is on the thin side.
I am using super-cheap generic cables, and have better ones coming tomorrow. It seems like it's on all of the formats I've tried: CD, SACD, and DTS CD. Compared to my NAD CD player's analog output or a digital signal(not possible on SACD) straight into my Marantz SR-18, the low frequency has MUCH Less weight to it. I've turned the DV-47Ai's subwoofer level up to +6 dB to get it close. I know it's set up correctly,because with the speakers set to Large I get NO output from the sub. I'm new to SACD and DVD-A, so I don't know if this is normal. Maybe that's why so many people use the Outlaw ICBM.

#13 of 68 Tim Schwartz

Tim Schwartz

    Agent

  • 30 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 03 2002

Posted October 08 2002 - 02:50 PM

Well, I think I've found the answer to why the LFE sounds so weak from my DV-47Ai. Reading one of the other threads in this forum, "Setting up a Pioneer DV-45A", it sounds like both the DV-45A and the DV-47Ai have VERY low subwoofer levels coming from their analog outputs on all format types. The sub output level is so low that it can't be balanced with the other channels, even by turning the sub up to +6 dB and the rest of the speakers to -6 dB. This isn't exactly what I had in mind when I bought this player thinking it had Bass Management on all formats. Oh well, back to the drawing board. Maybe the new Yamaha will get it right.

#14 of 68 KeithH

KeithH

    Lead Actor

  • 9,427 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 28 2000

Posted October 08 2002 - 11:25 PM

Tim, this is very disappointing. You would think that Pioneer could get it right with a third-generation univesal player and its fourth model overall. I guess not.

Note that Onkyo and Integra will be releasing universal players too (same company, different product lines). Be looking for the Onkyo DV-SP800 and Integra DPS-8.3.
My:
Main Stereo and HT Systems ;
Second Stereo System ;
Equipment List ; DVDs, SACDs, and more ;
Planned Upgrades and Additions "You know, the tomato never took off as a handfruit."- George Costanza

#15 of 68 Aaron H

Aaron H

    Supporting Actor

  • 598 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 28 2001

Posted October 09 2002 - 01:26 AM

Is the problems with the lack of bass fixable with an ICBM? Tim, I'm in your area too, and planned on going to Sound Advice next week after my new AVR8000 arrives to pick up a few things to demo. One comparision was going to be the RP-91 and 222/555ES vs. the Pioneer 47Ai.

I hope the news isn't so bleek on these new machines. How long until we see the new Onkyo units? Anyone heard?

Aaron

#16 of 68 Tim Schwartz

Tim Schwartz

    Agent

  • 30 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 03 2002

Posted October 09 2002 - 01:57 AM

I think the lack of bass could be corrected with an ICBM, but to do that you're looking at $250 + about $75 for 6 more analog interconnects. That would put me at $1225, including the price I paid for the DV-47Ai. For that amount of cash I think I'll check out the new Onkyo and Yamaha units. Yhe ICBM is still a possibility, I was just hoping for a cleaner solution.

#17 of 68 PeterKuhlman

PeterKuhlman

    Extra

  • 17 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 06 2002

Posted October 09 2002 - 06:50 AM

As I understand it, the Elite 49TX and TXi receivers provide full bass management on the multichannel inputs and so can then provide the proper bass output to the sub. This probably does involve some signal conversion with possible (audible?)degradation of sound. I have read elsewhere about this bass problem and it seems that the sub output is not truly configurable - requiring full range primary speakers unless you have the proper Elite receiver. I may be wrong about this. As a 49TX owner, I am considering the 47Ai but have not heard or seen one yet.
Pete in Louisiana

#18 of 68 Ron S

Ron S

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 76 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 11 2001

Posted October 09 2002 - 03:24 PM

Tim, have you noticed that ALL sound seems a little subdued (eww, no sub pun intended)? I've watched a couple of movies, both before and after some tweaking, and using both the digital out (tos) and multichannel. ALL the volume seems a bit lower. For example, on my 696, "50" was the typical volume I'd select for watching movies, and when I wanted to go "loud" on music (using the old rp56 and Sony CA70ES). This is "approaching loud" when using the multichannel inputs.

With the 47Ai, it seems that all the volume is lower, not just the sub. I'm not using fancy RCA interconnects (ok, 20 bux a pairPosted Image), but this shouldn't have an effect on volume this drastic, and the same problem was present through the optical.

Quote:
it sounds like both the DV-45A and the DV-47Ai have VERY low subwoofer levels coming from their analog outputs on all format types. The sub output level is so low that it can't be balanced with the other channels, even by turning the sub up to +6 dB and the rest of the speakers to -6 dB


This is not my experience. With all of the sound coming out at low volumes, and wanting to get the BM "right", I pulled out my trusty RS SPL meter last night and did some tuning. As would be expected from my gestalt, the mains had to be cranked to +6 to attain near reference at this level. I didn't go for "true" reference, but calibrated ALL the speakers to the same level that the LF output at +6. To my surprise, the sub reached the exact same SPL as the fronts when I set it at +6. Now, my sub amp is turned up slightly beyond halfway, so this may have something to do with it. But if it can get there that way, I see no reason why setting the mains lower and setting the sub higher shouldn't produce similar results at a lower sub-amp output level.

Didn't have a lot of time to thoroughly test with different DVD's last night, but LOTR sounded as balanced and sub-heavy as always, litened to though the multichannel input rather than the optical.

And the stereo tracks on the Alice In Chains SACD sounded much more like I was hoping for Posted Image I'm not going to have oodles of time to play with it till the weekend, but I'll report back when I calibrate things officially to reference (read: When everyone is awake, so as not to jolt them out of their slumber).

#19 of 68 Ron S

Ron S

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 76 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 11 2001

Posted October 09 2002 - 03:31 PM

PeterKuhlman said:

Quote:
I have read elsewhere about this bass problem and it seems that the sub output is not truly configurable - requiring full range primary speakers unless you have the proper Elite receiver.


Could you point me to those sources? Is this possibly a crossover value issue? Hmm, in any case, an ICBM should "deal" with it, but I'll reserve judgement until I do a full test after reference calibration this weekend, and then using multiple formats.

#20 of 68 Tim Schwartz

Tim Schwartz

    Agent

  • 30 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 03 2002

Posted October 09 2002 - 04:10 PM

Well I have some good news. I thought I had the analog outputs for all speakers except the sub set to -6 dB, but they were actually at 0 dB. I was trying to set them in the initial settings menu, but the values in the audio settings menu seems to overide any values placed in initial settings. That sounds really confusing , but if you have one of these players, you'll know what I'm talking about. Anyhow, with the speaker outputs now set to -6dB(their minimum setting) and the sub set to +6 dB( it's maximum) the bass output seems to come very close to matching the other 5 speakers. The bass is a little shy in comparison with sending a digital output and letting my receiver do the decoding, but it's nowhere near as bad as it was with all speakers set to +6 dB(the factory default). This arrangement is kind of a kluge, but it's as good as it can get without some sort of external Bass Management.

One minor drawback is the volume level when doing the processing in the 47-Ai is now about 12-13 dB lower than when the processing is done in my receiver. So I have to crank the volume up on the receiver to play at a volume level that I'm used to. My wife may have a heart attack if I forget to turn it back down and she turns the TV on. The other drawback, like I said earlier, is that the bass output level is still slightly lower than the other channels and it's MAXXED out. I don't really like the idea of having to tweak these settings to their extremes just to get it close to correct.

I honestly don't see how Pioneer could have overlooked this problem. You'd think they would have taken some of the first players off the assembly line, played the test tones, and saw that the subwoofer output level is about 13-15 dB lower than the rest of the channels. Other than this bass management issue, I think this is a very good player. I'll have to decide whether all of it's good aspects outweigh this bad one.


Back to Archived Threads 2001-2004



Forum Nav Content I Follow