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After running Spears and Munsil’s hand-forged Blu-ray test disc on the Yamaha BD-S1065, which passed with flying colors with jaggies, detail, and audio tests, and fairly well with deinterlacing, it was time to send the player through a gamut of Blu-ray disc tests that span across both subtle drama and bold action. On a general level, Yamaha’s player delivers a striking 1080/24p visual experience rife with immensely satisfying detail and lush, correct colors. The big surprise – well, considering the source, it’s not that surprising – is the way DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD tracks sound through the player, which were simply astonishing. There’s only one problem: the load times are a bit on the humdrum side, especially for the price and class of the model. Outside of slightly lengthy wait times, it’s a very impressive unit.
Up first, Criterion’s presentation of Howards End tests the player’s ability to handle the 2.35:1 content in an AVC encode. James Ivory’s film exhibits lush, natural landscapes within a slightly aged visual treatment, though all shot with a strong-grade 35mm film. It looks outstanding through Yamaha,s player, exhibiting strong competency with contrast control and lush coloring of greens and purples during the nature sequences. The DTS HD Master Audio track, however, truly pleases, in one scene in particular: it involves a piano being played in a mostly-wooden show room, which showcases the player’s immense capacity to preserve echoing elements within the environment.
To liven up the mood – and to kick the sound design into high gear – Lions Gate’s recent re-release of the original Stargate film exercised the surround sound capabilities. It’s a bright, colorful action/adventure with plenty of motion to look at, and it all held true throughout this Blu-ray presentation. The 2.35:1 AVC treatment maintains natural colors, latching onto tight sky blues and warm tans during outdoor sequences and some rather tightly-realized black levels in underground sequences. The big stunner in this presentation comes in the thunderously multidimensional DTS HD Master Audio track, exhibiting crisp sound effects that pour across the full surround stage in grand fashion. Yamaha’s player handles these robust effects to entrancing levels, coming from every direction with clear, separated sound design.
Adding some extra glee to the screening trials, Disney’s presentation of Monsters, Inc. screamed its way into the player. Framed at 1.85:1 and completely computer-generated, it’s a natural stunner that’s filled with blasts of robust color and a plethora of textures. The S1065 presents it all without a hiccup, maintaining a fluidly impressive palette and robust range of motion throughout. It’s another disc with a DTS HD Master Audio track, one that concentrates more on subtle sound effects – and a few loud, lower-frequency ones as well. It remains vibrant and very active without any sort of distortion, keeping dialogue and slimy sound effects rattling through the soundstage beautifully.
Finally, to give 1.33:1, aged, black and white content a look-see, Criterion’s copy of The Third Man slinked its way on the screen. The noir-style photography concentrates on bold uses of contrast and some clever detail work, all presented through a print that shows some of its late-‘40s age even through the incredible clean-up job done by The Criterion Collection. Its fluctuating blacks and whites all look astounding, presenting lush grayscale contrast that satisfies throughout. Detail at times leaps through the print, like texture on Joseph Cotton’s blazer and such – which looks fantastic through Yamaha’s player. It also carries a boyant, age-latched PCM track that sounds appropriate, never distorting nor drowning out dialogue.
The BD-S1065 does suffer from sluggishness with the BD-Java applications inside each disc. Whether we’re talking about the Egyptian-inspired navigation menu with Stargate, the simple block motion within Criterion’s Blu-rays, or simply loading the discs upon first use, the Yamaha runs just a little bit slower than other units. It’d be less noteworthy if the unit weren’t catering to a higher-end purchase bracket, but at the $600 price point it’s a little slower and choppier in reaction than we’d like. The BonusVIEW P-in-P works just fine when Secondary Audio is selected, but hopping out of the film to select it isn’t a quick affair – and the film restarts. Yamaha also has access to BD-Live via the Ethernet connection, though sadly it’s not built with an internal wireless device. Connecting to the internet wasn’t strenuous, as plugging in a viable Ethernet cord allowed quick access when all options are selected to automatically obtain the information.
Also, the BD-S1065 is capable of handling PAL-encoded special features, as verified by a copy of Tartan’s I’m a Cyborg Blu-ray. It isn’t, however, a region-free Blu-ray machine, as Fox’s UK copy of The Fountain popped up with the typical error message.
To test the Yamaha BD-S1065’s capacity to handle standard-definition DVDs, we gave an old reliable disc – Universal’s Saving Private Ryan DTS DVD – a spin. It has a decent transfer, eve still to this day, but the big wallop comes in its audio track. And, as expected, the transfer looks exceptionally good, a bit better than expected. The water rushing during the beach storm sequence showcases a nice breadth of detail and motion tangibility, while the cold, undersaturated colors stay stable throughout. It’s in the DTS track that the player really, really impresses. It projects the legacy DTS track, in all its surround, thunderous glory, with a sonic barrage of surprise. The bullets whizzing to the rear channels were crisp and delightful, while the lower-frequency rumble remained controlled yet properly boisterous.
The next item to be spun in the S1065 was AnimEigo’s presentation of Black Rain, a classic Japanese film from Shohei Imamura. It’s a stark black-and-white film, one that’s experienced a relativey rough home-video distribution history. Yamaha’s player handled the standard-definition fluctuations of grayscale material rather well, exhibiting fine detail and pleasing gray levels. The Dolby 2.0 track sounded fine, mixed at the appropriate levels and never exhibiting any exuberant distortion beyond the source’s content.
Finally, to test non-anamorphic discs with Yamaha,s player, Fox’s aging copy of Great Expectations was given a whirl. Aside from the fact that it’s not enhanced for 16x9 telelvisions, the image really isn’t too bad – and the S1065 reflected that properly. It’s worth noting that the player itself doesn’t have an internal zoom, so the content will have to be blown up via the display. With that in mind, the scaling actually looks rather decent, with aliasing and macroblocking under about as much control as expected. As expected, The Yamaha BD-S1065 is locked to Region 1/0 DVDs. It can, however, play Region 0 PAL dvds, as tested by a copy of A Bittersweet Life from the UK.