My preliminary Panasonic RP-91 reactions + Sony 9000ES comparisons

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by RAF, Jul 28, 2001.

  1. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    7,061
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My unit arrived today (black, not champagne) and I've had about 6 hours to play with it. I'm placing this unit in my HT to complement my Sony 9000ES so that I now can handle just about any DVD format out there, including SACD and DVD-A on the audio side. (Only SACD-multi is missing and I'll talk about that later). The units both feed a Sony VW10HT 16:9 projector onto a 110" 16:9 screen (Stewart Studiotek 130).

    I really have to spend some significant time with everything before I reach my final conclusions, but after a bit of A/B testing on both the video and audio sides I have formed some initial impressions.
    [*] The RP-91 is one heck of a package for the money.
    [*] The RP-91 has extremely versatile features and a very incomplete manual. The guy who used to write the manual for the Radio Shack LP-8 printer (remember that, old-timers?) must have moved on to Panasonic. [​IMG] Thank goodness for the HTF and the advice on setting up the image shift, the various functions, etc. Without these guidelines I would still be figuring out all options rather than writing this initial report. Sometimes it's good to be off the extreme bleeding edge. I'm only dealing with a few paper cuts instead.
    [*] The AUTO image sizing (when the software has the correct flags) is a very convenient function to have. And when you have to shift the scaling manually it's actually quite easy to do. I now have a choice to handle the size of the image on the screen from the RP-91 or from the VW10HT. With the RP-91 (when it works with proper flagging) it's an automated process.
    [*] I'll reserve judgment at this point regarding the scaling used on the RP-91 on non-anamorphic titles and the comparison with anamorphic versions of the same movie until I can do a more complete test. I happen to have a couple of titles in both versions (2001, The Stepford Wives, etc.) and I'll be able to A/B this.
    [*] I'm impressed by how non-anamorphic titles look scaled up on the RP-91. New life for older DVDs.
    [*] When the flagging doesn't trigger the scaling the RP-91 exposes how slipshod some of the earlier DVD products were. For example, I never really realized that TOY STORY has a non-anamorphic THX intro, followed by a anamorphic movie. But since the non-anamorphic THX intro is not flagged, the smaller image is a giveaway.
    [*] Sometimes the "Zoom" feature (actually, as others have said, this should have been labeled the "Scaling" feature) locks in place. Here's something I discovered. I have a DVD-Audio demo disc (picked up at the NY HiFi Expo as a giveaway) that I played right after looking at portions of TITANIC. As many of you know, TITANIC is one of those non-anamorphic discs that you must MANUALLY stretch with the RP-91 (no flags). I had left the RP-91 in "ZOOM" mode when switching to the DVD-Audio Demo Disc. The menu on the DVD-A disc was locked into ZOOM and I could not access the menu while the disc was in the player. I had to put in another disc (a DVD-Video disc) in order to release the ZOOM function back to AUTO or anything else. Not a major problem but something I'll look into a bit more later on.
    [*] So far, my impression of DVD-A is that it is still no match for 2 Channel SACD. This might be a personal preference, but the SACD appears to be much cleaner. I'll admit that the cables I used to connect the 6 channels of DVD-A to the analog external 5.1 inputs of my receiver (Denon 5700) weren't of the quality of the cables I use with my SACD direct analog setup, but I think it goes beyond that. DVD-A is very nice, but I still like the sound of SACD better so far. More to follow on this. Time is needed here.
    [*] The quality of the picture provided by the RP-91 comes close to that of my 9000ES. Looking closely, the 9000ES, to my eyes, is a bit cleaner overall but both don't show any chroma effects (my particular 9000ES never did and now the vertical lines have disappeared after the SONY modification). I would be proud to screen movies on either unit, whereas I used to prefer the 9000ES over my Toshiba 5109 (also progressive) for critical viewing. The Toshiba was used for older movies and supplements (2 trays).
    [*] One thing the RP-91 does better than the 9000ES is the transition from film to video (thank you, ObiWan for clueing us into the AUTO2 mode). The SONY takes a moment to stabilize between film and video and it's noticeable (once it's been pointed out). Not a deal breaker, but noticeable. Panasonic has obviously done their homework on this one, offering the AUTO2 mode.
    [*] Build quality. Not even close. The 9000ES wins by a wide margin. But, of course, at twice the price, it should. Time will tell which device is able to hold up better.

    So there's some food for thought. If time permits, I'll do some more critical viewing/listening this weekend or next week. I still want to try out the CD-R playback and the "remastering" of my Redbook CD's, for example.

    The bottom line: The RP-91 is certainly worth the money and if you own a 16:9 capable monitor this is a no-brainer. The only current format missing is SACD and with the new SONY SACD multichannel machines out there at fair prices you can handle that issue with a separate machine if you wish. I must side with Mike (Elitist Bastard) Knapp on the issue of multichannel sound - good for movies, but not my cup of tea for music. I still prefer pure analog 2 channel SACD for overall clarity.

    Stay tuned....

    ------------------
    RAF
    [Demented Video Dude since 1997]
    [Computer Maven since 1956]
    ["PITA" since 1942]

    My HT (latest update 02/05/01)
     
  2. DanG

    DanG Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2000
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  3. Steven Simon

    Steven Simon Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 1998
    Messages:
    3,276
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Steven Simon
    So the question is:
    If the Sony 9000 didn't have the SACD portion,
    and you could only have one player, which would it be??
    ------------------
    Thanks,
    Steven R. Simon
    HTF Administrator
    Theater Pics Updated 7-26-2001
    Send Email: [email protected]
     
  4. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    1,097
    Likes Received:
    71
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    RAFster,
    I didn't know you were looking at the RP91.
    I note with interest your comment that you give the edge to the Sony for picture quality (not by much, it sounds like). I have heard the opposite from a couple of other folks that have been able to compare both. I have seen the Sony 9K in action in Mike K's rig, but haven't been able to do a head-to-head with the RP91. I did look at the lower priced Sony that came out recently and it wasn't even close. Of course, I would expect more from the 9K.
     
  5. Andrew P

    Andrew P Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 1999
    Messages:
    304
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have done a head to head comparison with the 9000ES and the RP91. I sold my Sony 9000ES after seeing the picture of the RP91. The anamorphic picture on my Mitsubishi 73907 has never looked this good. The chroma bug is definitely noticeable on the Sony 9000ES. I am very anal about the chroma bug though so... I have yet to see the Panasonic comb during a movie although it does on the supplements.
    Andy
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    30,891
    Likes Received:
    6,197
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    Raf,
    Damn you, now the upgrade bug is starting to rear it's ugly head again, before I'm even in California during the HTF Meet. [​IMG] By the way, how do you handle hooking up both dvd players using the outputs for 480p?
    Crawdaddy
    ------------------
     
  7. Steven Simon

    Steven Simon Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 1998
    Messages:
    3,276
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Steven Simon
    Come on Craw...
    You have to have the RP91 by September!!! [​IMG]
    ------------------
    Thanks,
    Steven R. Simon
    HTF Administrator
    Theater Pics Updated 7-26-2001
    Send Email: [email protected]
     
  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    30,891
    Likes Received:
    6,197
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    quote: You have to have the RP91 by September!!![/quote]
    Steve,
    If a buy this player then I'm almost as bad as Obi in buying different dvd players. [​IMG] On second thought, this will only be my fifth player and since Obi is probably on his eighth or ninth player by now, I don't feel so bad about buying this puppy. [​IMG]
    Crawdaddy
    ------------------
    [Edited last by Robert Crawford on July 28, 2001 at 06:02 PM]
     
  9. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 1997
    Messages:
    5,547
    Likes Received:
    215
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    DFW
    Real Name:
    Steve Tannehill
     
  10. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 1997
    Messages:
    10,463
    Likes Received:
    662
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Feel weird posting in here without "Administrator " in my profile...
    I echo Obi's reaction to the RP91 vs. DVP-S700P. While the 9000ES undoubtedly is superior to the much less expensive 700P, I would get the RP91 in a heartbeat. Seeing as to how the 700P retails for about $350, and the RP91 can be had online for under $500, this is a no-brainer.
    I also echo RAF's assertion that this manual is a little cluttered. Yes, most of the info is in there, but the pages are so damned dense, it's like reading a textbook!
    I'm definitely returning the 700P and keeping the RP91.
    ------------------
    My dealer of choice (especially if you live in So-Cal, I highly recommend them): www.yawaonline.com
     
  11. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 12, 2001
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    AS there appear to be a number of tweaks for the RP91, has anyone combined them into a faq and can furnish the url?
    Or are we left to scan and pan the fora for this info (pun intended)? [​IMG]
    --awaiting the arrival of my RP91 on Monday.
    ------------------
    --RR
     
  12. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    1,097
    Likes Received:
    71
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    quote: ...and since Obi is probably on his eighth or ninth player by now...[/quote]
    Huh! The RP91 is my 14th player since April '97 (that I can remember). And that doesn't include a couple that were sent as review samples that I had to send back.
    I'm also happen to be considering number 15 right now (anyone interested in a NTSC Panny A320 modified for auto region select with no problem with RCE discs and no Macrovision, email me).
    [Edited last by Robert George on July 29, 2001 at 01:10 AM]
     
  13. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2000
    Messages:
    4,611
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Psst...I'll take credit for that Auto2 tip. I think I was the first to post that. And don't forget the MP3 playback bugs! [​IMG]
    Another thing I noticed: When it scales 4x3 material for 16x9 TVs, there is a loss of resolution...easily seen when using the Avia 4x3 resolution patterns. Compare this to using the widescreen Toshiba's standard view in progressive. So far, it doesn't seem to affect real-world 4x3 material very much. And it's damn convenient when watch DVD extras.
    Enjoy your new player!
     
  14. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2000
    Messages:
    4,611
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Rick, I was thinking that a FAQ for the RP91 would be handy...maybe I should cull Obi's and my own posts for setting the sucker up for optimal viewing...anyone want to volunteer? [​IMG]
     
  15. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    7,061
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Sorry for the delay in getting back to all of you. Today, here in the northeast the weather was so beautiful that I took it upon myself to get out there on my Jamis Komodo and do about 20 miles on the local bike trails. I must be getting a bit jaded regarding HT equipment. There was a time that you couldn't pry me away when there was a new piece of equipment in the house!
    A few responses:
    Steve T
    Yes I did. And, interestingly, the service bulletin did not specifically address the "chroma bug" issue, but another matter - vertical banding. However, when the unit was returned to me in April (the same time the "Secrets of..." article on the "chroma bug" appeared) there was no bug on my 9000ES when I checked. Unfortunately, since this was after the fact I can't tell you for sure whether the modification also fixed the chroma problem. One thing for sure - it's not there on my 9000ES now. And to answer your question in more detail, let me share with you my original comments on this whole matter. Even though I've posted this in several other threads, the HTF has gotten so big that I realize that many people (probably most people, except those with 10 gazillion posts) don't see every thread. And then there was the software switchover which removed some of the threads. So the most efficient way seems to be a little cut and paste here. (I apologize to those who've seen this before - just skip ahead.) For those interested, here's my original message to 9000ES owners:
    ---------------------------------------------
    This message is intended for all owners of the SONY DVPS9000ES DVD/SACD player. There has been talk of a Service Bulletin that addresses the “Vertical Banding Problem” that appears as faint gray lines, noticeable mostly in white and other light backgrounds. My unit exhibited this characteristic and I was able to correct it by repositioning some of the cables in the back of the unit to eliminate the lines. The problem with this “solution” is that it apparently was only a workaround since every time I changed something in my rack (which occurs fairly often) the problem reappeared and I had to position the cables all over again.
    A while back word began to circulate that there was a Service Bulletin (Bulletin #70 dated January 5, 2001) that addressed this issue. In fact, someone on the web even went so far as to post the wording of the bulletin as follows:
    "Solder 1 microHenry Inductor and 33 pf Capacitor in series between GND and the signal of Component RCA pin-Jack Y terminal (green) J403 on VP-52 board, Side B. Note Solder L to GND on (GND side)"
    The wording seems to indicate addressing a problem that filters out unwanted signals (the vertical banding).
    I can now state, without reservation, that this fix is a real one and should be done by every DVPS9000ES owner who has ever noticed any banding. Actually, I would do this if I owned this product even if I never saw the problem because you never know when it crops up. The only exception to this would be, of course, if your unit already has the modification. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information on Serial Numbers affected (mine is 801085 purchased on 11/22/00) and I don’t know if you will get much help from Sony on this.
    The reason that I am so sure that this modification works is that I just got back my unit from the Sony Service Center today and the vertical banding is completely gone! The picture on the 9000ES was great to start with (especially when I was able to tweak out the banding) and now it is nothing short of phenomenal. While it’s impossible for me to run an A/B test I’ve looked at quite a few of my DVDs with white and light backgrounds and, from memory, the difference is significant. One track that I am very familiar with since I’ve played it over and over because of the great sound and presentation is the last piece from Fantasia 2000 – The Firebird. The backgrounds are now rock solid and the images are astounding. Another favorite from that Rhapsody in Blue, DVD (and constantly requested by my grandchildren), also has rock solid backgrounds throughout. That’s not opinion, but fact.
    In other words, yes, Virginia there is a DVPS9000ES service mod and it is the real deal!
    And now on to the particulars. Sony Customer Service is a rather odd group to work with. In the first place it is impossible to talk to a technician on the phone. You would have to live near a Service Center where they actually do the work to get any technical information. And not all service centers actually service the products. The one closest to me (in Paramus, NJ) is actually a depot. They send out all the repairs on DVD players to Bristol, PA (near Philadelphia) so be forewarned.
    Based on my experiences here are the steps I recommend that you take to initiate your Service Modification. It worked for me and it might save you a bit of aggravation.
    Step 1: Call The Sony Customer Information Center at 1-800-282-2848. Be prepared to wade through a series of telephone menus (and, perhaps wait for 30 minutes or more) before you finally get to talk to a “live” service rep. Once you give all the usual information, Serial Number, Dealer’s Name (I hope you used an authorized Sony Dealer), and Date of purchase (this one is kind of interesting since the 9000ES came out last fall and carries a 5 year warranty) the person on the phone will ask you what the problem is. You state you are getting vertical banding, etc. Whatever way you want to word it. The person on the phone will ask you if you did a number of steps (most of which have to do with repositioning cables, etc. etc.) Obviously you answer “Yes” and then you are referred to a Sony service center for additional help. The location of your nearest center can be obtained from the same phone number or from
    http://www.sony.com/service [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Thanks for sharing!
    --------------------------
    Briefly, (like I have the right to even use that word after this lengthy post!) the RP-91 represents a tremendous unit for the price, the performance and the features and should be at the top of anyone's list who has ~$500 (or even twice that much) budgeted for a DVD player. If you have a progressive-capable monitor it's not even a no-brainer - it's a must do!
    Despite the manual.
    Because of places like the HTF.
    The latest and the greatest (at least for this week.)
    Keep those cards and letters coming (if you've read this far).
    Take care.
    ------------------
    RAF
    [Demented Video Dude since 1997]
    [Computer Maven since 1956]
    ["PITA" since 1942]
    My HT (latest update 02/05/01)
     
  16. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 1997
    Messages:
    10,463
    Likes Received:
    662
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    RAF,
    Has your unit ever made a clicking sound while skipping chapters on DVDs? Mine does, but sporadically. By that I mean it doesn't do it for every disc, but when it does do it for a disc, it does it all the way through. It's a "click!" every time I hit chapter forward or back, or even toggle between fast-scan and play.
    Weird.
    Oh, and I found out how to get the video bit rate, but I've heard you can get the audio bit rate for a DVD and haven't figured that out.
    Cheers!
    ------------------
    My dealer of choice (especially if you live in So-Cal, I highly recommend them): www.yawaonline.com
     
  17. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    7,061
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Please do! It would be a big help.
    ------------------
    RAF
    [Demented Video Dude since 1997]
    [Computer Maven since 1956]
    ["PITA" since 1942]
    My HT (latest update 02/05/01)
     
  18. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    7,061
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  19. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 1997
    Messages:
    10,463
    Likes Received:
    662
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Yeah, I'm just a little concerned because clicking now (when the thing is like 8 days out of the box) may translate to something way more heinous down the line...especially after the warranty runs out!
    And having had Sony players since forever, I do find the Panasonic's delay times to be quite an increase over what I am used to.
    Can't wait to hear what those other "weird sounds" your describing are.
    I guess this one is still a keeper (for it's scaling and overall performance). And it seems like half of HTF has bought this damned player, so if something serious goes wrong later on down the line we can all make some major noise and get something done for us, I'm sure.
    ------------------
    My dealer of choice (especially if you live in So-Cal, I highly recommend them): www.yawaonline.com
     
  20. DanG

    DanG Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2000
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

Share This Page