|Kenwood Sovereign Entré Entertainment Hub and DV-5900M DVD Player|
|Home Theater Audio Sources DVD-Audio/SACD Players|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Monday, 01 December 2003|
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The Kenwood Sovereign Entré entertainment hub and Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M DVD-Audio Mega Changer combination is a high-tech source component system that bridges the gap between home theater and computer audio. While the changer can be used without the Entre’ hub, it really excels when the two are used together. The $1,400 DV-5900M is a feature-laden Mega-changer that need not make any excuses about quality. When the DV-5900M is connected to the $1,500 Entre hub, the already above-average graphical interface becomes remarkably advanced.
DV-5900M DVD Changer
The DV-5900M DVD-Audio changer has a huge array of features, quality and ease of use. This changer is relatively large in size, measuring approximately 17 inches in width, eight inches in height and 21 inches deep, weighing 23 pounds. It facilitates 403 CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, DVDs and/or DVD-Audio discs, including MP3-encoded CDs. Just about the only type of discs it won’t play are SACDs. The changer holds the discs in a tightly packed vertical orientation, with three widely spaced slots, dubbed the “rental zone,” for easy access. Other convenience features include the ability to daisy link three changers without sacrificing playback quality, an onscreen menu system, automatic disc titling, a 15-character dot matrix display and a keyboard remote control, in addition to a more normal full-featured remote and RS-232 control. The RS-232 port allows the changer to interact with the Entré hub discussed below. In addition to the RS-232 port, the Kenwood features the necessary inputs and outputs to daisy chain the digital, stereo analog, component composite and S-video signals from three changers. I noted that there was no capability to daisy chain the 5.1 analog signal, so your DVD Audio discs are limited to the first changer.
From reading the above, one might get the impression that the Kenwood is all flash, which is not so. The DV-5900M has real video and audio muscle. On the video side, it utilizes Faroudja’s FLI2200 and FLI2220 chip sets to provide high-quality progressive scan playback capabilities. (For more information on progressive scan and the Kenwood’s progressive scan capabilities, please see Bryan Southard’s review of the Kenwood Sovereign DV-5700 in the AudioRevolution archives.)
The Kenwood is no slouch in the audio department, either. In addition to the ubiquitous DTS and Dolby Digital decoding, the DV-5900M features bass-managed analog outputs for both DVD-Audio discs and those discs that were decoded by the internal DTS or Dolby Digital decoders. The DV-5900M’s digital outputs can pass a 24-bit/96kHz signal, while the internal DACs are rated at 24-bit/192kHz for the front left and right channels and 24-bit/96kHz for the remaining channels. The Kenwood is also capable of virtual surround and down-mixing with numerous setting options. The audio settings include dialog enhancement, dynamic range and a “Pure Audio” mode that turns off the video circuits.
Entré Entertainment Hub
The Entre’ is designed to be the hub of a networked entertainment system, providing integrated control of Kenwood Sovereign receivers and DVD changers in addition to music management. The Entré features a 20GB hard drive, internal CDR/CD-RW drive, Internet connectivity via a local network or the Entré's internal modem. I used the Kenwood Entré to control the Kenwood DV-5900M DVD changer, which provided me with an enhanced graphic interface system and increased functionality. The increased functionality and interface was significant. While the changer’s own graphic interface was adequate and in fact better than my older Sony CDX-850 changer, the Entre’s interface was a level beyond.
With the Entré connected to the DV-5900M, I loaded it with about 150 DVD videodiscs, a dozen DVD-Audio discs and a few CDs. The Entré detects when new discs are added and uses Openglobe to access the CDDB, Movie DB and Gracenote Internet databases. These databases identified over 90% of the discs. The Entre’ then sorted the music discs from the DVDs and placed them in alphabetical order. One potential shortcoming was that the Entré lists DVD-Audio discs as movies. Kenwood says this is a byproduct of the Internet databases and they anticipate proper recognition of DVD Audio discs as “Music” discs rather than “Movie” discs as the databases are updated.
The Entré menu categories include Movies, Music and Radio. The Movies category lists all the DVD movies in alphabetical order. The guide in the Music mode lists all the CDs in the connected changers, MP3s stored on the internal drive and any audio disc that may be in the internal drive. The Radio mode was the most surprising for me. If the Entré is connected to any Kenwood Sovereign receiver, the Radio mode lists all FM/AM stations received by the receiver’s tuner, as well as all available Internet radio stations. I was surprised to find music to listen to over Internet radio, as this had previously been an unreliable and ever-changing source of music. The Entré provided me with easy access to Sirius and Radio Free Virgin “radio stations” that were streamed over the Internet connection.
The Entré's connectivity also allows for transfer of music files from network-linked computers and to certain supported portable MP3 players. While there are numerous other innovative features, the last one I will mention is the CE-commerce feature. I did not register for this feature, but it allows one to order music via the remote control, so if you like what you are listening to, all you need to do is pick up the remote and voila, a few button pushes later, your new CD is on the way.
The set-up of the Entré and DV-5900M is more complicated than a standard DVD player, but Kenwood has thankfully provided detailed manuals that walk you through various connection options. You will need more cables than normal to take full advantage of the Entre’s OSD, as you will need to route the video cables through the Entre’ to your processor. Kenwood also suggests that you set up an audiotape loop. However, the Entre’s only digital output is optical, and there are no provisions for 5.1 analog audio.
I connected the Entre’ to my computer network and Internet by utilizing the Home PNA connection. This connection allowed me to connect the Entre’ to a phone jack with an ordinary phone cable in my audio room. My router is in my home office, which is set up in a different room. In the home office room, I plugged a phone cable into the phone outlet on one side, and connected the other to a Netgear Home PNA to Ethernet adapter, and then into my router. All of the network connections were easily made in less than five minutes. This connection allowed the Entre’ to access the Internet and also transfer music files from my networked computer. Got all that?