|Integra DPS-10.5 Universal Disc Player|
|Home Theater Audio Sources DVD-Audio/SACD Players|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Thursday, 01 September 2005|
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I paired this top of the line Integra player with their equally impressive, top of the line DTR-10.5 receiver, and not only are they cosmetically a perfect pair, but they also talk to each other quite nicely with the i.LINK and HDMI card installed on the receiver. The Integra remote control works flawlessly for both products and I have quickly become a fan of the DVD player’s backlit, feature-filled remote.
In the set-up menu, you can select the size of your speakers and distances to the main listening position. A test tone allows you to make sure that the volumes are set correctly and the speakers are wired up correctly as well. The Integra receiver has this feature, too, but I found that by using the player’s menus to set up my speakers, it made the picture on my screen synch better and feel more connected to the sounds as they were occurring. Having these time delay and speaker volume options on both the universal player and receiver lets you really fine-tune your room set-up.
All technology aside, the day-to-day ease of use of a universal player is one of the most important things for me. Even after opening the disc tray close to a thousand times, the transport feels as solid as it did the day I cracked the box open. All of the basic play, pause, fast-forward and rewind features that anyone commonly uses when watching a disc are extremely simple to use on the DPS-10.5. I wouldn’t expect a novice to be able to drill deep into the set-up menus, but the small joystick type button in the center of the Integra remote control made this a total breeze. Up, down, left and right are handled with this controller, while pushing the joystick down selects the highlighted menu. If you get yourself into an area that you don’t want to be in, simply pressing the “return” button gets you out of trouble and back to square one. Neat features like Zoom let you pause a scene, then move in and focus on just a small part of the screen. I can’t help but think of the scene from “JFK” where they are examining the Zapruder film to see if they can spot a second gunman on the grassy knoll during the Kennedy assassination. Chances are, you can find other things you’d want to zoom in and see with this feature as well.
One of the most used demo discs of all times in the world of audio/video is “The Fifth Element” (Columbia/TriStar) starring Bruce Willis and motormouth Chris Tucker. I would normally shy away from this stellar-looking disc since it’s “played out” in reviews. However it, was recently re-mastered and re-released in a super-deluxe special edition that looks even better than previous releases, according to the studio. It’s actually an improved version over the already stunning Superbit Edition, featuring an absolutely killer DTS soundtrack and high bit-rate picture.
I cued up the scene where Leeloo is being created in a glass case in the laboratory and my jaw dropped to the floor. The level of detail that the Integra’s internal video scaler was able to produce, combined with the direct digital HDMI connection, had me salivating over what HD-DVD and/or Blu-ray are going to look like. Upscaled to 720P, this scene is so jam-packed with eye candy from the bright orange hair of Leeloo (strangely with blond roots) to the detail in the gold foil walls, I’d be hard-pressed to say that I’ve ever seen anything look better on my TV screen. There were no motion artifacts and my three-chip HD-ILA JVC rear-projection set worked in perfect unison with the Integra Universal player.
”The Fifth Element” is full of vibrant colors and supernatural creatures, but I next wanted to see how well the DVD player could reproduce skin tones. On the Will Smith film “Ali” (Columbia/TriStar) during Ali/Frasier II, the red tone of Ali’s shorts with the white trim could have easily been an area where a lesser system could flicker and show dot crawl. None was evident on the screen in this system. My TV is ISF calibrated and I left the stock settings on the universal player’s progressive color, tint and contrast levels. The skin tones on “Ali” looked absolutely perfect. The sweat on the actors’ backs and the faces in the crowd are just some of the intricate details that the video scaler is able to really bring out.
I recently got into the DVD release of the primetime drama “Dallas” (Warner Home Video). The picture quality of this vintage TV show is pretty lackluster and the sound quality is poor, too, as the discs are literally in mono. I used them as an example in this review for only one reason. On several of the episodes, for some strange reason, possibly poor re-mastering, the voices drift from the picture and the movement of the actors’ mouths get out of synch. I played the disc on several different players to confirm it was not a time-delay issue with my particular system. This is where the Integra stepped in and saved several unwatchable sections. Any time the sound would drift on the DVD I could, on the fly while watching the show, cue up the semi-transparent onscreen display, access the AV Synchronization menu and set the delay with a virtual slider knob until the sound was back in synch. This feature is normally used for delays in picture vs. sound caused by AV preamps, but it ended up helping me fix a poorly created DVD. Of course, I had to set it back to the default setting after watching the disc for other movies that didn’t have this issue. It’s important to note that the AV Synchronization setting has no effect on SACD and 192 hKz/176.4 kHz DVD-Audio.