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The DVD-A1UCDI: New top of the line Denon Blu-ray, etc. player introduced (1 Viewer)

RAF

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Not for the mainstream purchaser, but a niche product for those who want no compromises in a DVD player. Rather than rehashing the specs here,

My next DVD player

It's a good fit for me because I already own the Denon AVP-A1HDCI pre/pro and have a sizeable SACD collection (as well as a significant number of DVD-A discs). Denon Link 4 looks intriguing too as it provides the first direct link to the actual content on an SACD in its native DSD form. And Denon has already announced a firmware upgrade that will make the AVP-A1HDCI and the AVR-5308CI Denon Link 4 capable.

Looking beyond the holiday season, I have a few months to see if this product turns out to be as good as the specifications indicate it might be. It should be available sometime in February, 2009 and by then there should be some early reviews available.
 

RAF

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According to the article, among the other things offered on the new Denon player with be Silicon Optix's 10-bit Realta HQV chipset with up-conversion and IP scaling via HDMI to 1080p. That's SO's top of the line processing at the moment if I'm not mistaken. Therefore if your current player or receiver or pre/pro has lesser VP chips this would be an instant upgrade.

While I already have Realta processing built into my AVP-A1HDCI Denon pre/pro there are many other reasons for me to consider the new Denon player. I'm especially interested in taking advantage of the new Denon Link 4 which allows me direct DSD access to content on my many SACDs. There's no purer way to listen to SACD than by this completely direct access method. In addition the article hints at several other features that will merge the abilities of the DVD-A1UCDI and the AVP-A1HDCI (or the AVR-5308CI). I eagerly await real world testing on these announced features to see how everything pans out.

It looks like Denon is taking a no-holds-barred approach to this latest (and expensive) player and I hope that it turns out to be as impressive as the preliminary specs seem to indicate. The AVP-A1HDCI lived up to the hype and it remains to be seen if the DVD-A1UCDI follows suit. I'll be watching closely on this item.
 

Edwin-S

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Does the video processing in these units make your component theory of HT obsolete? Are outboard video processors really required with gear at this level? How would a piece of equipment like this reconcile if a person was using outboard processing?
 

RAF

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Edwin,

A very good point! While I still believe that a component approach to HT has its benefits (and I still subscribe to this for the amplification stage of your system since good amps might outlive the owner - especially at my age!) several things have occurred in the last few years that change this a bit.

For one thing - the price of good video processing has come down to the point where even middle grade AVRs have some very nice VP built into them. Where it used to be extremely expensive to get top of the line video processing (thus justifying a separate box) now some of the new receivers actually are on a par or outperform the expensive VP boxes. Even Anchor Bay (DVDO producers) have acknowledged this with the introduction of their under $800 unit, the "Edge." If one wants to go the complete component route as I originally outlined, it has become a lot less expensive with many, many more options. And as VP processing drops in price it becomes a viable option to include it in your AVR and trade it in when the next box comes along.

Secondly, you are correct when you note that the higher end AVRs and pre/pros like my Denon AVP-A1HDCI now contain VP circuitry that performs as well as many standalone VP units. While some of these new pre/pros and receivers sometimes lack all the control of the video chips that the standalone units have most missing controls are things that 98% of users would never use as the world becomes more of a 1080p in, 1080p out scenario. And better still, some of these new pre/pros are firmware upgradeable to the extent that if the internal chips are capable, additional features can be added over an Ethernet upgrade. My AVP has already hade several significant firmware upgrades that makes it even more functional. Audyssey dynamic volume was added a few months ago and Denon Link 4 (for direct access to SACD DSD streams over HDMI) is coming soon. Denon has also hinted at any major upgrades in the future that require new hardware may be handled in the higher end models via circuit board modifications (factory installed) at a price that doesn't make the initial investment obsolete. Denon has done this in the past with flagship models. So in that regard, at the highest end of the scale there is a bit more obsolescence proofing going on. That still doesn't detract from the fact that one can still use the component approach to be budget conscious. By carefully choosing a mix of components that allow for entry into great sight and sound one still retains the option of upgrading a single component when finances permit. You don't have to start at the top initially but still can achieve 90-95% of the performance while leaving your options open. And if the time comes when you really want to purchase the top of the line models more and more manufacturers are apparently working to insure that your investment won't be a dead end. (Not all of them though, to be fair.) I could tell you some personal Lexicon stories that seem to be completely counter to this philosophy. To each his/her own I guess.

Finally, the most recent AVRs and pre/pros now all have enough inputs and outputs (my latest pre-pro has six HDMI 1.3a inputs and two HDMI 1.3a outputs) to make connecting a bit easier. I actually was able to pare down from three separate boxes (AVR, VP and HDMI repeater) to one in my latest upgrade. Not only does that cut down on the number of wires but it also makes the HDMI handshaking much more predictable and reliable because each new box added to the scheme brings with it the need to have equipment that plays by the HDMI rules. I have lost no real functionality by reducing the number of components and have gained a great deal of HDMI stability. Now the only time I get "Blue Screen" (or should I say, "Blu-screen") is when my PS3 is about to play a Blu-ray title and the momentary lag in HDMI sensing is probably related to the copy protection checksums that the Blu-ray specs require. But even that is less than a second and nowhere near the horrors of earlier HDMI connections.

I've been extremely busy lately and was hoping to write a follow-up article to my original "component" approach and post it here and on my HT website - especially in light of my new equipment and my recent experiences. Most of what I've said above is a rough draft of the major thesis of that forthcoming paper.

Hope this puts things in perspective for you and others.
 

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