|2009 Holiday Gift Guide: Blu-ray Players|
|Home Theater Feature Articles Best Of & Top 100 Lists|
|Written by AVRev Staff|
|Wednesday, 18 November 2009|
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The audiophile / videophile level of Blu-ray player is targeted at serious home theater gurus that want a component expertly calibrated to play all types of discs, beyond Blu-ray. These video players may be on the extreme end of the price spectrum, but the quality is beyond reproach. Here are our recommendations:
Top Pick: Marantz UD9004
This would be the appropriate time to start drooling. Take one of Marantz’s reference series SACD players, mix it with the BD7004 and you have the Marantz UD9004. You get immaculate video reproduction thanks to the 14-bit/297MHz video DAC which utilizes Silicon Optix’s Realta HQV video processor. You get the audio circuitry design from the Marantz SA-7S1 SACD/CD player and twin 32-bit SHARC chipsets for multichannel processing. You get two HDMI outputs, designed to split the video and audio signals to separate components. You also get an SD card reader, RS-232 control for integration and BD-Live support via ethernet. It’s a multi-purpose player that’s nearly perfectly designed to replace your SACD player, DVD player and Blu-ray player.
Denon is banking on consumers looking to do a little web surfing before or after watching a flick on Blu-ray. The player incorporates a built-in web browser (the first player on the market to do so) into the system as well as integrating iPhone / iPod touch remote control abilities over wi-fi. On the audio / video side, the unit uses 12 bit, 297MHz DAC for the video as well as a Burr-Brown 24/192 audio DAC for two-channel audio production (SACD gurus, take note!).
The Pioneer BDP-09FD is Pioneer’s top level Blu-ray player in their Elite series. Arguably, it’s designed for the home theater owner that cherishes the analog signal over HDMI. It utilizes eight different Wolfson audio DAC’s to output each channel of audio to your seven speakers + subwoofer. The pitucte quality is upconverted from 8-bit to 16-bit with the video processor, excellent for Blu-ray video as well as upscaling DVDs. In addition to BD-Live compatibility, it comes with 4GB of internal memory to store all those goodies from your Blu-ray discs. The top notch quality of the audio and video performance makes this an easy recommendation for those avoiding HDMI for now.
Once again, the megachanger makes an appearance. What’s the difference this time? Simply put, the picture quality. The BDP-CX7000ES uses a proprietary 14-bit HD video processor that converts the 8-bit color production into a smoother, higher quality image. Beyond improving a stunning 1080p image, it provides excellent upscaling. In addition, the component comes with a RS-232 port for integration into a custom installed home theater setup. Similar to the previous megachanger, the unit provides all your disc information without having to input it into the system