|Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai DVD-A/V/SACD Player|
|Home Theater Video Players DVD Players|
|Written by Matthew Evert|
|Monday, 01 March 2004|
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Pioneer Elite, as its name indicates, is the premium audio/video line of Pioneer Electronics. Pioneer has come a long way from its origins as a Tokyo-based radio and speaker repair shop back in 1938. Pioneer has since expanded to become one of the more trusted names for home, professional and automotive electronics in the world.
With all the latest 5.1 audio formats and ample connection options, the $1200 DV-47Ai is a “universal” player that is within reach for many listeners looking to upgrade their home theater systems. This progressive scan DVD player with multi-channel DVD-Audio and SACD playback is a formidable option to enjoy the most advanced audio and video formats with the ease of a single player.
The DV-47Ai is quite a handsome DVD player for those used to the rather plain styling of Pioneer players of the past. The faceplate is nicely designed, with a glossy black finish and gold lettering. The dot matrix display was easily readable from 15 feet away, with the front panel sporting just a few buttons for the most commonly used functions (stop, play, eject, next/previous track). The construction of this player is solid and impressive, featuring a steel chassis, a well-fastened cover and sturdy connectors on the back of the unit. The CD drawer opens and closes smoothly. The drawer is robust and a cool feature. It easily accepted and played CDs that were haphazardly placed in the drawer’s transport. My roommate is not very talented or coordinated, so correctly placing CDs properly into the tray is a constant challenge that this player remedied better than most. The 11-pound-three-ounce player is hefty, a good indication of the quality of construction used on the chassis and the multitude of precision electronics within. The DV-47Ai stands four-and-one-eighth inches tall, 16-and-three-quarter-inches wide, and 11-and-one-eighth inches deep. Rubber feet mounted on the circular legs of the player reduce the frequency of skips for those of us who have heavy feet and flimsy old floors.
Looking at the back of the player, you will notice quite a few enticing connections for various audio/video applications. The back panel is intuitively laid out, with a slew of gold-plated RCA connectors. A rarity for players of this caliber, the DV-47Ai has a removable EIC power cord allowing philes to tweak with obscenely expensive aftermarket power cables. Video outputs include two S-video, one composite video and two component video connectors. Audio outputs include one optical digital, one coaxial digital, one analog set of RCAs, a six-channel analog output and a digital I-link connection. The optical and coaxial outputs are the most common connections to your receiver or digital processor for Dolby Digital movies or DTS music. For the all-important 5.1 audio playback, it provides six analog outputs or the I-link connector. The single I-link cable is nice, since it is much easier to hook up than the cumbersome six cables. If you have beefy audiophile-grade interconnects for your 5.1 audio connections, good luck labeling and feeding all those thick cables around your stereo rack. The drawback of I-link is that the technology is new and you will need to buy a receiver that supports the I-link connectors, like the Pioneer Elite VSX-55TXi. The only notable connection missing is a DVI or HDMI output for best connection to today’s newer digital video monitors, such as Plasma, LCD and many others.
Versatility is definitely an asset for the Pioneer Elite in that it will play CDs, CDRs, CD-RW (as long as the session is closed), DVDs, and DVD-Rs. On these various types of CDs and DVDs, you can play MP3s, DVD-video/audio, DTS-video/audio, and SACD formats. I have several dozen MP3 CDs that played without issue in the DV-47AI and sounded pleasant, despite some poorly recorded tracks. MP3 recordings are tolerable if they are sampled at 128kbps or greater.
Recent enhancements to the technologies used in DVD players have drastically improved the home theater experience. One major enhancement is digital progressive scan video capabilities, which are intended to recreate as closely as possible the look and sound of the movie theater, using your home theater equipment. Pioneer's has its own PureCinema progressive scan technology, as opposed to other manufacturers, who license this feature from outside manufacturers. This feature results in much smoother images, removing much of the stair-stepping of diagonal lines, thus making video look considerably more like film. Also, Pioneer’s progressive scan 2:3 technology detects when the material was originally shot on film and instantly recreates each individual still frame to yield a more film-like presentation. It also up-converts analog video signals to digital, doubling the amount of information displayed, then doubles the information again both vertically and horizontally for a substantial increase in signal density. To further improve the video quality, the DV-47AI sports video DAC 108MHz/12-bit video processing and both Progressive Digital Noise and Interlaced Video Noise Reduction.
On the audio side, Pioneer went big by using three Burr Brown DACs 192KHz/24-bit (3x2 channel) for top-notch sound reproduction. Burr Brown is well known and respected in the AV industry for their outstanding DAC performance. The addition of a bass management features lets you control the amount of bass sent to your speakers, for better multi-channel sound with your DVD-Audio and SACD recordings. Some of the early universal players didn’t offer bass management for SACD or converted DSD to PCM, thus defeating many of the audio advantages of SACD. This player keeps the signal pure and in control for both formats, no matter what size speakers you have.
The remote is essential to the operation of this player. The remote has some necessary accents like the jog controller (works like the paddle controller on the old school Atari game systems). This jog dial allows you to quickly fast/slow forward or reverse to see the explosion happen at the end of the chase scene, over and over again. This controller has a pseudo-joystick to navigate the DVD menus and the OSD (on screen display) of the player itself. The joystick takes some getting used to, but it is functional for its intended purpose. The buttons are intuitively laid out on the remote and they glow in the dark. The trick play processor is cool, since it enables the viewing of individual frames by stepping frame by frame. The OSD has nearly all of the set-up configuration functionality of the player, so don’t waste your time looking for a button on the remote for setup options: it is probably not there. The OSD is absolutely necessary to visit prior to SACD or DVD-A listening, since neither will work without changing two settings buried in two different submenus. There are some other, less important settings in there for adjusting chroma levels, chroma delays, sharpness levels, gamma correction and progressive scan functions.