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Denon DVD 2900 vs Pioneer 47ai comparison (1 Viewer)

JohnnyN

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Sep 10, 2001
Messages
228
Denon - $899
Pioneer - $799
Before you read any further, let me get straight to the bottom line, there really wasn't a clear winner... With all the numbers and specs in favor of the Denon it really did not outperform the pioneer in all that many respects... My ears are better than my eyes, and the multi channel audio playback WAS better on the Denon, but I expected the video to be a whole lot better and it really wasn't.

My set up.

Denon AVR 4802
B&W CDM 9NT fronts, CNT center, SNT Surrounds, 1NT surround back, ASW CDM Sub
Monster M Series Audio Interconnects

Sony XBR Grand WEGA™ Rear Projection Television
KF-60XBR800
StraighWire Silver Link 2m Component Video
Monster 1000V 1m component video
Monster 500V 1m component video

Test Material
DVD Video - Moulin Rouge, Superbit Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Fast and the Furious, Gladiator.
SACD - SACD Sampler, Vaughn Williams - A Sea Symphony
DVD Audio - Buena Vista Social Club, Linkin Park

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The Denon weighs noticeably more and feels so much more sturdy and solid... considering how close these two players are in price, I expected the build and finish of the DV47 to be closer... but the build quality of the denon is far superior. The remote on the pioneer was easier to use.

VIDEO COMPARISON
First I hooked up both players to my 4802 so that I could use it's 50mhz component video switching, but across all the dvds I ran through this process of a&b switching, I quickly realized that both players exceeded the quality of the receiver's video switching and they looked almost identical in terms of video quality... so I tried them seperately on each dvd on each set of the three video cables mentioned above... The first thing I noticed when using the straight wire silverlinks was that the Denon had the slightest advantage in black levels especially on My Gift is My song on moulin rouge... Then I tried the first race scene in Fast and the Furious to see how these two players held up in really fast motion scenes and here I'm sorry to say, but I couldn't find a clear winner. Both were very smooth and provided fine details even as the cars warped and stretched down the street.

Then I tried running through a few scenes in crouching tiger hidden dragon with the Monster 500V component video cables. In the scene where they fly through the trees, the 2900 had the slight edge with detail and skin tones against the back drop of trees. both players reproduced sharp vivid foliage, but the pioneer just didn't seem as smooth.

In the opening fight scenes of Gladiator I tried to see if I could noticed any difference in performance of these two players with shadows and muted colors under overcast skies and here I'd have to give the slightest edge to the denon for ever so slightly sharper details even in the shadows, but the it's the teeniest tiniest margin of victory.

Audio Performance
I think denon was a slight but clear winner in the SACD playback department. My ears just told me that what I was hearing was more open and closer to what the original sound engineers meant for me to hear. The Pioneer sounded good, but the denon just sound crisper, more open, and effortless on my speakers.

I expected the same on my dvd audios, but I was quite surprised that the pioneer actually sounded a little more lively and while the denon's dvd audio playback was great, it sounded a little dry compared to the pioneer.

in the end I'm sticking with the denon because of it's better SACD playback, slight wins in video playback, and I already have a denon receiver. My choice is probably based less on clear performance wins and more on aesthetic matching. Considering the small $100 difference in price, I went with the player with better build quality, but if anybody has bought a DV47ai and is feeling like maybe they should have waited, have no regrets, I think the DV47 holds it own very very well against the denon and I would have been perfectly happy keeping it. I hate those reviews in audio and home theater mags that make all products sound the same like they were doing adlibs, but in all honesty, the denon sounds a lot better on paper, but it really doesn't outperform the pioneer like I had hoped it would. Despite not having a Faroujda chip or Silicon Image chip, all in all, I'm quite impressed with pioneer's progressive playback... Maybe I'm missing something here and maybe I need new glasses... or maybe the Pioneer is as good as the Denon.

As a footnote... I bought the three different sets of cables to see if I could be convinced about the cable hype... To be honest, I saw a slight difference between the $150 silver links and the $100 Monster 1000V and the $60 monster 500v... but not nearly 3 times or even twice the difference... I'm going to return the more expensive cables and buy some more software... I'll continue testing and see if I can provide any more info...
 

Joe

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jul 27, 2002
Messages
139
Thanks for your review.

I wonder how the 2900 compares to the 1600 as far as video goes?
 

BrianMagog

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 2, 2003
Messages
83
Thanks for the review as well.

Would your opinion change given that the 2900 will probably not get much cheaper than the $900 price range, whereas the 47Ai is widely available for $650? Is there a $250 difference in SACD playback and video?
 

James St

Supporting Actor
Joined
May 8, 1999
Messages
959
Thanks for the review, Johnny. Any impressions on the layer change? Curious how the 8mb buffer on the 2900 performs.
 

JohnnyN

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Sep 10, 2001
Messages
228
BrianMagog - IMHO there is not a $250 real world difference in performance... in fact if you have or plan to get the Pioneer flagship receiver, you'd be crazy to not want the 47ai. However I'm probably not the best person to be reviewing video performance... I'm much more of an audio person than a video person... having said all that... I'd still stick with the Denon because of it's build quality...

James - There was a layer change? :) I'll double check again tonight.
 

Kevin C Brown

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2000
Messages
5,714
Johnny- Excellent, neutral, objective, non-biased review. :) It also is interesting to note, that the 47ai is running with about year old technology (small changes from the 47a which came out just about a year ago), vs the 2900 which is brand spanking new. Hopefully someone does comprehensive tests of the BM too someday...
 

ReggieW

Screenwriter
Joined
Mar 6, 2001
Messages
1,571
Doesn't the the Pioneer have one of the most severe cases of the Chroma upsampling error? Just on this merit alone I would never consider the 47ai.


Reg
 

KeithH

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2000
Messages
9,413
Johnny, thanks for the review. I greatly appreciate it. Frankly, I expected the difference to be greater in favor of the '2900. Interesting.
 

JohnnyN

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Sep 10, 2001
Messages
228
Okay. I just heard from a friend that the video comparison might not have been the most valid given the fact that my monitor has a built in scaler that would skew a fair comparison of the two player's video playback abilities.

As for ReggieW's comment about the chroma upsampling problem... I wasn't aware of this and I wasn't looking for it... but if I didn't notice the problem on any of these movies, then to me it's not a problem... so whether it "is the most severe" case or the least severe case, I think you'll find all kinds of problems in either of the players if you're explicit looking for them instead of enjoying their better qualities and the movie itself.

I also listened to a few more DVD audios today and I still feel the pioneer had a slightly fuller sound with a little more body, while the denon had a crisper slightly edgy sound (but only in comparison the pioneer)... I'd like to say the denon had better imaging, but they both did a pretty equal job in that department... Lets wait and see if the professional reviewers can validate any of my points...
 

JohnnyN

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Sep 10, 2001
Messages
228
BTW, I bought mine from The Home Theater Store. Their sales staff has been extremely helpful in helping me tweak it and do comparisons on various plasmas and projectors for the hell of it. Their staff is very much into HT and once you let them know you're serious and that you've done your research, they'll cut the sales pitch crap and give you their real, sorta like live HTF. Their helpfulness, the warranty combined with the fact that I can return to the store if anything goes wrong was worth the extra 100 bux.
 

Dzung Pham

Second Unit
Joined
Mar 10, 2001
Messages
271
Soundpros honors the warranty directly through the store.

I am betting there would be a lot more differences in the video if you used video-sourced or poorly mastered dvds. I watch a lot of Hong Kong and foreign dvds and the combing that I sometimes get on my JVC is very annoying. The Denon should perform better on these dvds than the Pioneer.

I am surprised that you did not notice the chroma bug on Moulin Rouge since it is more prominent on reds and Moulin Rouge has a lot of red (I'm assuming, I've never seen it). But some displays mask this more than others.

I've heard that a Secrets review should be out by next week. It will be interesting to hear if the chroma delay issues that were present on the 3800 have been fixed. Speaking of the 3800, I'm surprised the price hasn't been dropping more.
 

Marc_E

Supporting Actor
Joined
Oct 9, 2001
Messages
769
Johnny,
Thanks very much for the comparison. I have a question. How many hours of use did each player have prior to these comparison? If the Pioneer is well broken in and the Denon is new and not, IMO there will be a difference after a proper break-in period. Not everyone shares this opinion. I adamantly believe in breakin of everything, cables too. After say a good 100 hours use would you mind re-visiting a few of these comparisons?
I should have my 2900 tomorrow and will post initial and 'broken in' impressions in comparison to my DVD-1600.
Again thank you very much for going to this big effort to provide us who are drooling with anticipation and watching every hometheater site waiting for a drip of information about this player. I very much appreciate it and do not mean to come across like I am attacking it.
Marc
 

Doug_B

Screenwriter
Joined
Feb 11, 2001
Messages
1,081
If the Pioneer is well broken in and the Denon is new and not, IMO there will be a difference after a proper break-in period.
Slightly off topic, but my RP-91's audio was dreadful out of the box. Improved with just short-term, moderate use.

Doug
 

Lewis Besze

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 28, 1999
Messages
3,134
Somebody has to pay for retail businesses to let us walk in and audition high quality equipment side by side with our own dvd's and movies. I don't mind paying a premium to support this kind of service and convenience, I wish others would consider this when buying discounted b-stock merchandise from shady internet dealers.
Since this player came out it can hardly be a "B" stock now is it?!Unless you comparing user interface,comparing video products in a store is a useless and futile exercise,there is just too many variables to make any kind of judgment.If you wanna support your local retailer than by all means, but don't "mock" others with your condescending tone, because their priority is different then yours.
 

Dalton

Screenwriter
Joined
Aug 19, 2001
Messages
1,199
Location
Rhode Island
Real Name
Dalton
Well i was all set to exchange my Philips 962SA for a 963SA but now i am spending the extra to get the 2900. Tweeter is running a good sale this weekend - 18months no interest, no payments. So i ordered it yesterday and will be picking it up Saturday afternoon. Can't wait!
 

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