Yamaha BD-S1065 Blu-ray Player Review 
Home Theater Video Players Blu-ray Players
Written by Thomas Spurlin   
Thursday, 12 November 2009

Right at the core of the $500-600 price point, Yamaha BD-S1065 Blu-ray player enters against some stiff high-end competition.   It’s a sect currently dominated by Oppo’s BDP-83, a jackknife player that does just about anything needed.  Yamaha’s unit, however, is up to task in offering some healthy competition; as a Blu-ray Profile 2.0 player with a mind audio quality, it certainly impresses with its capabilities.  Whether its highly-chiseled sonic class alone justifies the price depends on individual preference and the necessity for media adaptation, but everything the BD-S1065 offers certainly packs a hefty punch underneath the hood. 

Out of the Box:

At first glance, the size and weight of Yamaha’s S1065 will be a surprise – at least a marginal surprise, as those familiar with the company’s components are accustomed to their girth.  Close to double the height, roughly 4 inches tall, and just as wide and deep as other players, this hefty 10-pound model is a beast that’s built to last.  Its design aesthetic matches that of other Yamaha devices, with the style of buttons, silver platforms at the bottom, and dividing line shot right across the frame to match an underlying receiver.  Of course, placement of a Blu-ray player on top of a high-temperature receiver is discouraged, but at least it’ll match the rest of the equipment in other portions of your media rack.  A standard, light Yamaha remote, a generic A/C power cord, Composite A/V cables, and a hefty tri-language Manual that goes through the bones, bits and pieces of setting up the unit in very descript not-so-robotic fashion.

Raised, semi-textured buttons are available at the front of the unit for remote-free usage, including a circular Power button to the left and Eject, Play, Pause, and Stop buttons to the right.  The time display offers an adjustable bright blue LED readout, with crisp lettering that can be seen even at its lowest dimness (discussed a little later).  It’s a cheerful hulk of a Blu-ray player, welcoming us and saying “Bye” with each power up/down.  Once the unit’s been turned on, it offers indicators for the type of disc inside (BD, CD, DVD), title, chapter track, and several repeat options. 

 

Yamaha BD-S1065 Left Side

Yamaha owners are fully aware of the company’s prowess in offering a multipurpose array of jacks to the rear of their equipment, and the S1065 shouldn’t overly disappoint in that regard.  As to be expected of most Blu-ray players, it carries an HDMI port for transmission to HDTVs and applicable receivers, along with S-Video, Component, Composite Video, and a Toslink optical port.  The big satisfactory element comes in the 7.1 analog jacks, making transmission of HD sound possible to non-HDMI receivers.  For BD-Live and BD-Java, we’ve also got a LAN Ethernet port and a USB 2.0 extension port.  Rounding things out, an Infrared Remote In/Out jack is also available, though RS-232 isn’t available.  For the larger portion of this review, Yamaha’s BD-S1065 was connected via HDMI to Onkyo’s SR605.

Remote:


Yamaha’s remote is a very meager affair, offering little beyond the stock offerings on others.  It’s a light, relatively inexpensive remote without a lot of weight to it.  A gray circular directional navigator adorns the center with an Enter button directly in the middle, with Top Menu, Pup-up Menu, Return, and Exit at the applicable points around the circle.  Above that sits the four-colored bookmark buttons and the numerical keypad, as well as six gray toggle buttons for Open/Close, Subtitle, Dimmer, Audio, Video-Reset, and Angle.  At the very bottom, we’ve got the stock in-movie buttons – Play, Pause, Stop, FF/RW, etc. – as well as Status and On-Screen buttons.  The Status button shows the elapsed time of the film/feature playing, while the On Screen goes a little more in-depth in showing the audio track, angle, and other elements.  It doesn’t, however, have a codec indicator through the interface.  The Yamaha remote doesn’t come with any form of backlit buttons.   It’s simple there to do the job. 

Setup:

Once the BD-S1065 has been fired up, pressing the SETUP button makes four separate functions available – Display Title List, On Screen Language, Picture, and Settings.  It’s under the settings that the player’s attributes can be tailored in a fairly dense number of options.  It allows for the following to be adjusted:

 

  • Audio/Video Settings
  • Speaker Settings
  • Quick Start
  • Auto Power On
  • HDMI Control
  • Playback Setting
  • Communication Setup (Ethernet)
  • Version
  • USB Memory Management
  • Software Update
  • System Reset

Audio/Video Settings branches out to TV Aspect Ratio, HDMI Video Out, Secondary Audio, Audio Out, and Dynamic Range Control.  In order to enable Picture-in-Picture special features via BD-Java, Secondary Audio must be turned on – which, in effect, disabled direct DTS HD Master Audio / Dolby TrueHD tracks to be processed, instead decoding them internally to Multichannel PCM.  The Audio Out function is where you can select whether to use HDMI, Digital Output, or the 7.1 or 2.0 analog outputs.  Along those lines, the Speaker Settings function can also be used to alter speaker options when using the 7.1 analog jacks.  Most of the other settings options are fairly explanatory, with Quick Start enabling unit power on/off when the Eject button is pushed, the Auto Power Off function sending the unit into Standby Mode after 10 minutes. 


Blu-ray Performance:

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.

DVD Performance:

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. 

Audio and Media:

As an audio device running with a 192/24khz Audio DAC, Yamaha’s BD-S1065 performs extremely well – if a bit more rigid than expected.  Working out the high-definition capabilities, 2L Nordic’s presentational disc was utilized – specifically the harp-heavy Vera Mininga and North Country II.  Each one exhibits delicateness in sound design, with a broad range of high and mid-range piano tones, that was sublime to the ears.  Jumping between the DTS HD Master Audio track and LPCM track offered practically the same experience, only with a minor amount of heightened clarity to the raw stream of material from the Mater Audio track.  Typically, only few tracks are tested at a time from this demo disc; however, the sound presentation was so engaging with Yamaha’s player that the disc was run much, much longer. 

Yamaha’s player also carries the ability to play CD, CD-R, and CD-RW discs.  CDs themselves also sound terrific, if light on availability to tailor the sound.  With a CD inserted, it defaults to a simple GUI navigation that enables individual selection and repeat function for the audio files.  Sonic notes run the gauntlet with Sigur Ros’ ( ) album, presenting a broad range of rock and new age elements throughout its eight beautiful tracks.  It’s a disc that can easily rattle the lower-frequency channel too hard (certainly has on other players), but the Yamaha handles the broad span of aural intricacies with aplomb.  Testing the waters with the orchestral accompaniment from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack provided an equally immersive experience, tracking the broad spectrum of the ensemble – strings being the most prevalent -- to great degrees.  Sound can be toggled between two-channel and L or R sounds accordingly.  The Yamaha BD-S1065 doesn’t offer support for the high-resolution SACD or DVD-Audio discs. 

Unfortunately, the rear USB port is strictly for BD-Live content, as photographs and MP3s can’t be accessed via the storage port.  Under the Setup function, a Photos option can access the images from a disc for display on the screen – only in JPEG format. 

 

Yamaha BD-S1065 Right Side

Overall Impressions:

Pros: Phenomenal A/V Quality, Great Upscaling, PAL-capable, Relatively Quiet

Yamaha comes out of the gate with their BD-S1065, and the results quality-wise are impressive.  It delivers an outstanding 1080/24p image, both of demo-worthy and not-so-pristine qualities.  However, its sound capacity trumps its strong visual delivery, holding the capacity to decode and bitstream DTS HD Master Audio / Dolby TrueHD audio to astonishing levels.  The company’s legacy of fine audio equipment can certainly be ascertained from giving several Blu-rays a spin, both boisterous and delicate varieties.  As a high-definition player itself, it delivers one of the stronger experiences out there, comparable to others in its price range.  This great sound quality carries over to a sensational presentation of audio discs, both of Master Audio/5.1 PCM and CD varieties. 

It’s also a very strong 1080p DVD upscaling machine, rendering exquisite detail within standard-definition DVDs.  DTS tracks in particular work a robust amount of magic through this player, though the other tracks certainly hold their weight as well.  PAL signals can also be processed by the S1065, including Region 0 discs and the special features on imported Blu-rays.  During movies themselves, the player operates on a very quiet, cool level, only letting out noticeable sounds from the unit upon shifting through menus and first popping in the disc for its initial load-up.   Boot-up noises are audible, yet not distracting and certainly not obtrusive during the whisper-quiet playback.

Cons: Competitors, No Wireless, Mediocre Load Times, Heavy/Thick

However, the Yamaha does have a few stipulations to its strengths.  First off, the price factor really comes into play here.  Ranging in between $500 to $600, it doesn’t offer enough advantages over its competition – namely Oppo’s BDP-83 – to compensate for the elements that it lacks.  One of the other things that it lacks that several other lower-priced models carry is an internal wireless device, essentially making the process of getting online to access BD-Live or other online functions a bit more difficult (requiring a permanent Ethernet cable to be run to the system). 

Along those same comparative lines, the S1065 also doesn’t have the fastest of load times – in fact, they can be downright sluggish at many points.  This issue largely involves booting up BD-Java applications from Blu-ray discs, which can be jerky and slow once they’ve finally been accessed.  Finally, and we’re talking on a purely aesthetic level here, this is a hefty, thick player.  It’s a quality machine, absolutely, and the weight and height of it (15 pounds and a good inch taller) can attest to the components riding inside, but the bulk isn’t terribly pleasing to the eye.

Final Thoughts:

Yamaha’s foray into Blu-ray technology is largely a successful one with their BD-S1065, though it’s not without hesitations.  It provides first-rate Blu-ray and DVD quality, as well as strong audio with Master Audio / CD discs, yet the versatility lacks when compared to that of its primary competitor and falls short with a few avoidable fumbles – namely load times, design aesthetic, and the lack of an internal wireless communicator.   The quality’s certainly there in Yamaha’s player to merit timid approval, but it’s missing the added punch that its easier-to-recommend competition offers. 

 






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