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Onkyo DV-C600 DVD/CD Changer Print E-mail
Monday, 01 May 2000
ImageThe Onkyo DV-C600 is a six-disc CD and DVD changer. Yes, a DVD changer. This multi-featured unit is priced near the middle of its competition: $579.95. Now, if you had a similar reaction to mine, when I was told that I'd be reviewing a DVD changer, you might be thinking: why would I ever want to load six DVDs? I just want to slide a movie in and watch it beginning to end. Well, read on for the pros and cons of this machine.

With DTS discs becoming more common, it's important for your player to be DTS compatible. The DV-C600 is DTS ready. (Of course, your receiver must be able to decode DTS. ) The unit also supplies you with advanced ten-bit 27 MHz video D/A conversion (which gives you four times the accuracy of conventional eight-bit, 13. 5 MHz players); gold plated component video output for use with digital TVs; gold plated S-video output for the rest of us. The unit has the ability to pass PLUGE signals and enhanced Black-Level control for easy monitor calibration; it contains a four mode search function (title, DVD chapter, CD track, and time), six-mode repeat (titles, chapters, tracks, all tracks, memory) and a user selected A-B section on DVDs and CDs, three-mode picture magnification in 25 selected areas of the picture and dual focus optical pick-up. Whew! And the hits just keep coming: video CD playback, programmed memory playback, random playback , and CD only mode which will bypass any DVD discs that happen to be loaded with CDs. I also feel compelled to mention Onkyo's exclusive Direct Digital Path. The Direct Digital Path provides a very robust digital signal (96-kHz/24-bit audio resolution) directly to the back panel; bypassing all of the preamp and DAC circuitry. The result; a clean, noise free audiophile bitstream. Speaking of back panels, the Onkyo DV-C600 also includes digital outputs (coaxial and optical) as well as RCA analog audio pairs.

The physical characteristics are basic black with brushed aluminum front panel. The DV-C600 does offer a two-mode display dimmer, and anti-resonant reinforced steel chassis with large anti-resonant feet along with a 54-key remote control. I know, I know... why would you ever need a DVD changer, a six-disc changer at that? Patience, we're getting there.

Enough with the gear-head talk already. So how did this thing perform? Very well. If you happened to catch my review last month of the Rotel RSX-965 A/V Receiver, you'll recall that I set up the system at my niece's/godchild's christening. I hooked the Rotel up to a pair of old JBL Control 10 speakers and patched in the Onkyo DV-C600. I had pre-programmed everything from Greek folk dance music (for the locals) to Frank Sinatra (for the oldies) and even Garth Brooks (for our visitors from Texas). I received compliments from everyone and all I had to do was place my track selections in memory and press play; the DV-C600 did the rest. The sound quality, even within this big reflective un-tuned hall, was great. My old JBLs never sounded so good.

Back at home, I again teamed up the DV-C600 with the RSX-965 A/V receiver. I packed up the Control 10s and hooked up my Energy e:XL-28Ps and e:XL-C for the main and center channels respectively. For rear surround and subwoofer signals, I used the Mirage AVS Series. Everything was strung together using high-quality Camelot cables. My listening environment is relatively small with highly reflective surfaces (hardwood floors and plaster walls).

Since The Matrix (Warner Home Video) won an Oscar last month for Best Sound Effects Editing, I decided to revisit this dazzling adventure. In the opening scene there is a phone conversation going on that you can only hear. The visual is a series of numbers that are being scanned. Obviously, someone is trying to trace the call. As these numbers are being scanned, there are digital underpinned tones that were reproduced so accurately by the DV-C600 that I could distinguish that each number carried a separate tone. An amazing mix. For me, these subtle nuances make the difference. Almost any decent player can generally reproduce machine-gun fire, car accidents or bombs exploding. However, the scene in which Keanu Reeves' character sets off a metal detector is very well done, and the DV-C600 accurately replicated this very intense shoot-out scene, right down to the last shell casing hitting the terrazzo floor.

After viewing The Matrix, I felt the need for a little realism, so I placed (DTS) Saving Private Ryan (Universal) into the disc tray and let it rip. And rip it did. As the spray of the ocean and bullets splashed onto our boys storming the beach, the DV-C600 reproduced the onslaught with realism and clarity that was almost too accurate. Enough. I wanted to go back to dreamland, or least somewhere in-between: Three Kings (Warner Bros. ) was just the trick. Pure fun and then some. As Archie Gates and his boys start to plan the gold heist, I could hear a fine mix of finger cymbals and the flutter of distant helicopters. This DVD intentionally and dramatically shifted color density and contrast in both skin tones and landscape. I loved how this unit kept pace.

So why a DVD changer? Honestly, the only reason that most of us would want a DVD changer is to load all of the Lethal Weapon movies at the same time, select and load your favorite scene into memory and entertain yourself, friends and family. However, the thought of reducing the amount of equipment in my rack is always a motivator. I have a seven-year-old Sony CD changer that has seen its better days. If I was currently in the market for a DVD player, I think I would opt to pay an additional $200 or so, for the six disc carousel the DV-C600 offers (compared to equally equipped single disc DVD players) and get rid of Sony changer and the clutter.

The Downside
Although the performance of the DV-C600 was more than adequate for the price, there were a couple of areas to criticize. First, the unit will not play CD-Rs or CD-RWs; which typically means that those compilations CDs that you burned on your PC won't play back on the DV-C600. Second, the industrial design of the remote control leaves much to be desired. It's much bigger and more ergonomically challenged than other players that I've reviewed are.

Back to the question at hand: why a DVD changer? Forget about it. The real issue is whether or not you play a lot of music, if the answer is yes and if you are looking to get into DVD, take a good long look and listen to the Onkyo DV-C600. Thumbs up, Onkyo.

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