|Denon DVD-5910CI Universal Disc Player|
|Home Theater Audio Sources DVD-Audio/SACD Players|
|Written by Ken Taraszka, MD|
|Tuesday, 01 May 2007|
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Music And Movies
John Woo’s Face/Off (Paramount Home Entertainment) is a classic film with a great blend of video and audio, showing everything from dimly-lit and misty sequences to crystal-clear daylight scenes with plenty of fast action and intense surround effects. I started with the Denon outputting 480p and, while it offered a good picture, each increase in resolution up to and including 1080p offered more smoothness and less grain, while at the max resolution, the DVD-5910CI seemed to improve depth significantly and gave a more three-dimensional appearance to the film. Skins tones had a natural softness to them. Edge detail was exceptional, though a step less than Blu-ray or HD DVD, giving sharp edges to high-contrast areas without halos. During the fastest motion scenes, some grain became apparent, but it was very brief, and on facial close-ups, the skin blurred slightly with motion, but these problems were minor compared to the overall improvement in video that the scaling offered. Audio was superb during the mirror scene in the taking of Dietrich’s place; gunshots came from the center of the soundstage, while the ricochets of bullets flew from all around the room. Voices were clear and well-balanced and the DVD-5910CI easily reproduced the intensity of explosions, as well as the subtlety of birds in the background.
For something a little different on DVD, I chose Team America: World Police (Paramount Home Entertainment). The Denon clearly displayed the strings used to control the puppets, as well as the hairs on the puppets’ heads. During the initial fight scene between Team America and the terrorists, fast motion was accurately displayed, while allowing the detailed texture in the cobblestone to remain. Audio was amazing. The background music filled the room, conversations were well-placed and surround effects followed the screen perfectly, with a pleasant smoothness to them.
For some two-channel listening, I cued up a standard test disc of mine, Tori Amos’ Boys for Pele (Atlanic Records). I’ve seen Tori many times, so I’m quite familiar with her sound. “Blood Roses” started off with the delicacy of a harpsichord and each tinny note seemed to float on air. As the song progressed, so did the intensity of the harpsichord. The Denon kept each note separate and distinct, while giving a musicality to the instrument not often heard even in high-end players. Tori’s voice and breath were wonderful and lifelike. Moving to “Muhammad My Friend,” I was treated by this player’s ability to powerfully reproduce the deep bass of a piano, as well as the delicacy of its high notes. The complexity of musical passages wasn’t a problem for the Denon, which kept each note clear and independent of the rest of the happenings in the music. Tori’s voice maintained a great ease and smoothness to it that made this player so enjoyable to hear.
To test the Denon’s performance on SACD, I dropped in Pink Floyd’s all-time classic Dark Side of the Moon (Capitol). The laughter at the beginning of “Speak to Me” seemed to come from inside my head, while the drums stayed tight. The clocks at the start of “Time” ticked away, then exploded with power and clarity. Each chiming clock was precisely locatable in the sound field, and the bass of the big grandfather clock came through without fazing the complexity of the rest of the song. As the drums ramped up, each rap on their heads was clear and the surround was perfect. The Denon displayed a mellow ease with this album, never being harsh or forward, just pleasant and warm, overall making its presentation friendly. I think it made for one of my favorite sessions with this album. The delicacy of the piano at the start of “The Great Gig in the Sky” was simply incredible.
Another SACD I had to try was Elton John’s Madman Across the Water (Universal). “Tiny Dancer” starts off with a lone piano and Elton’s vocals, which were done with a wonderful smoothness. The song builds quickly with the addition of bass and drums and they were clean and full. As the strings came in, they filled the room with their added warmth. “Levon” impressed me with the lush nature of this player’s sound and I found myself lost in the music.
Moving on to DVD-Audio, I chose Steely Dan’s Gaucho (Universal) and was treated to even better bass than from SACD. Bass was more defined from DVD-Audio on this player, and the opening song “Babylon Sisters” clearly showed me bass and great surround effects. The horn was brassy as I’d expected, but not harsh. Vocals were clear and well-placed; the lead came from up front, while the background singers seemed to be everywhere. “Gaucho” filled the room with rich horns and bass, while the snare was sharp though never edgy. For comparison, I played this disc in my Meridian G98 DH through the same set-up. The Meridian had slightly more control of the bass and a little more air around the instruments, but the DVD-5910CI was a close second, being very musical in its presentation and costing just over half what the Meridian does.
The Doors’ L.A. Woman (Elektra) is a classic worthy of DVD-Audio. “Love Her Madly” gave an immersive experience with solid drums, Jim Morrison’s vocals came from everywhere and keyboards filled the room, with smooth mids and highs and wondrous depth of bass. “Been Down So Long” really demonstrated the bass this player can produce, while allowing the guitar and vocals to be unaffected. The various instruments flew around my room independently of each other’s actions. The deepest of bass never affected the subtlest of guitar riffs. I aired out the system to the title track and was impressed with the clarity as well as accuracy of the guitar riffs and keyboards. The rain and thunder on “Riders on the Storm” were amazing, while the keyboards came in with a richness that was so welcome. Jim’s voice was up front while the subtle echoes came from everywhere.