|Kenwood DV4070 DVD-A/V Player|
|Home Theater Audio Sources DVD-Audio/SACD Players|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Thursday, 01 March 2001|
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DVD-Audio is the most hyped new technology in audio since the compact disc. Now Kenwood is out with one of the first DVD-Audio/DVD-Video players on the market with the $1,000 DV4070. The DV4070 is a five-disc changer that will play nearly all of the media on the market right now including compact discs, CD-Video, DVD-Video and the new DVD-Audio format. However, it will not play DVD-Audio’s competing format, SACD.
Like most changers, the DV4070 comes equipped with all of the bells and whistles that you’d expect from a mass market DVD player. These include instant access to the disc tray while a disc is spinning, a slick on-screen interface, an ergonomically correct remote and even a headphone jack for late-night sessions. The DV4070 is the standard 17 inches wide and will fit on a shelf in a rack-mounted system.
The DVD-Audio format is specifically designed to utilize the large-scale storage capacity of a DVD disc to store both high-resolution two-channel and 5.1-channel music. Through the use of Meridian’s Lossless Packing (MLP) compression scheme, the mastering engineer, artist or executive producer can decide exactly how the disc will be configured. For example, most discs have a stereo track, so that the software is backward compatible with stereo systems. What is more exciting is that most DVD-Audio discs have high-resolution (24/96 in some cases) surround mixes for music. Both the backward compatibility and the high-resolution stereo and multi-channel playback capabilities are the draw luring early adopters to consider DVD-Audio discs as a possible replacement for their nearly 20-year-old 16-bit stereo CD collections.
Setting up a Kenwood DV4070 isn’t hard if you have all of the proper components and inputs needed. Bear in mind that most of us don’t have what we need in a traditional AV system. Obviously, you need a DVD-Audio player like the DV4070, as a traditional DVD-Video player will not play all of the DVD-Audio disc's features but it will play some DTS 5.1 and some 2 channel material if it is on the DVD-A disc. DVD-Audio players also must be hooked up via a 5.1 analog input, as opposed to a digital hook-up. The DV4070 can be hooked up digitally for DVD-V and 16-bit CD outputs, but you cannot currently output the maximum resolution from a DVD-Audio player digitally. This is not Kenwood’s fault; it is today’s standard for DVD-Audio. Considering this limitation, you need three pairs of good analog interconnects, a digital cable and a video cable to get started with a 4070.
But wait there’s more -- much more. In order to benefit from the 5.1 analog outputs, you must have an AV preamp and/or a receiver with 5.1 analog inputs designed to accept the already converted signal from the 4070 in surround or 24-bit 96 kHz stereo. My $5,000 Proceed AVP AV preamp doesn’t have 5.1 analog inputs, nor do most other AV preamps, although manufacturers are all back at the drawing boards, retrofitting the next version of their preamps so that they’ll accept 5.1 analog inputs. The good news is that the very high-end AV preamps have 5.1 inputs on their latest updates, while the Japanese receivers, with their nine-to-12-month product cycles, have adapted to the needs of the new technology very quickly and have the needed inputs.
Testing Music, Movies and More on the DV4070
The Kenwood 4070 can play nearly every kind of disc. I started by testing the 4070 in familiar waters by hooking it up to my Proceed AVP for use with DVD-Video discs, as well as traditional CDs and even some DVD-V discs specifically recorded for two-channel music. The 4070, considering its price point and versatility, is a strong performer. On movies, the video quality, as fed through my Proceed AVP to a Faroudja LD 100-line doubler and into my Sony 1252 CRT projector, looked nearly as good as it did on my dedicated Pioneer Elite DV05 ($1,000) DVD-Video player. The Kenwood was slightly less bright and lacked a negligible amount of color richness that I saw on my Pioneer Elite, yet I overcame this mild problem in nearly every case with slight adjustments to my Faroudja’s color and brightness controls.
The DV4070 performed nicely with traditional CDs. Michael Jackson’s "PYT" from Thriller (Sony-Epic) had good attack on the disgustingly smooth guitar chops. The highs were relatively smooth but couldn’t fully compare to my Theta Data Basic ($2,400) dedicated CD transport in terms of resolution and depth. One of the more shocking demonstrations I heard was with a few 24-bit Classic Records DVD-Video discs that have been specially mastered for music-only purposes. John Lee Hooker’s "Boom Boom" set a new standard for how low and tight bass went in my condo’s listening room. More importantly, Hooker’s raspy voice was so palpable that I was inspired to raise the levels of this highly refined high-resolution recording to heights not normally visited. It was easy to do so because the soundstage never collapsed and the details remained real, much as they’d sound at a live concert, even at extreme volumes.