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Sensory Science DVS3000 DVD Player Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 August 2000
ImageThis DVD player/Dolby Digital receiver combo offers an integrated all-in-one box solution offered at a list price of $499.99.

When I first heard of the DVS3000, and was subsequently assigned to review the product, I thought that it was just a matter of time before we started seeing this type of unit arriving on the home theater scene. I wondered what would be next: mini-stack/executive-style systems? Probably. For now, we'll concentrate on present-day activities involving the DVS3000, also known as Power3.

To begin by describing a few of its basic features, the DVS3000's integrated receiver offers a 200-watt amplifier section, which breaks down to 40 watts per channel. The amplifier has a frequency response rating of 10 Hz - 20 kHz, with a signal to noise ratio of 72 dB, with total harmonic distortion of 0.07%. As far as audio processing goes, the DVS3000 delivers 24-bit/96 kHz playback and a Dolby Digital decoder for 5.1 signal processing applications, as well as a Dolby ProLogic decoder. The video section offers 500 lines of video resolution and utilizes a 10-bit video digital-to-analog converter. In addition, this unit contains a 27 MHz digital filter. For those of you new to the world of DVD, the picture quality is more than twice the resolution you get from standard VHS video. The unit is compatible with DVD, CD and video CD formats, hence the Power3 nickname.
The DVS3000's front panel is clean and concise, containing a power on/off button, standby lamp, and play/pause – skip/search buttons. Also included are the DVD, VCR and AUX (TV) buttons. Volume and disc tray controls are also included. The back panel hosts the following inputs: composite VCR input and RCA aux input pairs (right and left). The output section contains five channel output terminals (right and left mains, center, right and left surround), subwoofer pre-out (for connecting to a powered subwoofer), composite audio/video output and S-Video output.

Sensory Science also includes a multi-brand remote control that has been coded to control some of the more popular components on the market.

After reviewing the main features and specifications, I decided to hook up the DVS3000 in my office. Setting the unit up was a no-brainer. I used the Mirage AVS-Series for speaker reference. This is a compact five-channel home theater system that includes a powered subwoofer. I patched in my Proscan VCR into the VCR inputs, the audio outs from my cable box into the aux pairs input and took the S-video and audio/video output to my Sony TV. All in all, it took all of 10 minutes. I think my mother-in-law could have done it in 20 minutes.

I began reviewing software from the analog side of the home theater food chain, namely the Dolby ProLogic applications. If you're anything like me, you have a collection of VHS tapes from yester-year. I though I would start things off with one of my favorites, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (Warner Bros.). The sound wasn't the 5.1 digital quality that I've grown accustomed to in the past few years, but it was still pretty accurate. In the opening scene, Tim Robbins' character unwraps a pistol he is hiding in a rag. I could hear the bullets shifting position as he reached for a pint of bourbon. One problem: I had to lean on the volume pretty hard to catch these nuances. Could there be a power shortage within the amplifier section? It was now time to move up the home theater chain to see how big a bite the digital processing section would have during DVD playback.

My first DVD sampling is one of my favorites for putting systems to the test, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ (Dreamworks/Paramount). The unit kept pace as the soldiers stormed the Dog Green Sector of Omaha Beach – bombs’ bursting red glare and all that stuff. If you haven't seen this movie, skip the next couple of lines. Towards the end of the movie, a "tank-busting" plane swoops overhead. The visual performance of the DVS3000 under attack was indeed satisfying. However, the extreme detail that I have found while reviewing separate components was missing in action, specifically at lower listening levels. Keeping with the wartime motif, I slid in ‘Three Kings’ (Warner Bros.). This movie incorporates a variety of visual styles. The unit reproduced the contrasting optical features with relative ease and stability.

It was now time for the two-channel application. I decided my first selection would be Everclear's ‘Songs From An American Movie’ (Emd/Capitol). The silky tonal, Cranberries-like sound of the Van Morrison cover "Brown-Eyed Girl" was pretty clean and fairly natural-sounding, but only fairly. Once again, the detail faded at lower listening levels - even cranked up, the sound was a little thin. Shifting gears from the somewhat retro style of Everclear, I turned to Macy Gray's ‘On How Life Is’ (Sony/Epic). From the funky syncopation on the cut "Why Didn't You Call Me" to the ever-popular ballad "I try," the DVS3000 sounded and performed well. However, when I removed the disc, I noticed that it felt pretty warm. The unit tends to operate a little on the hot side.

Even though you won't find some of the bells, whistles and technical performance that you’d get with more expensive separate components, the DVS3000 ships with a full assortment of cables to get you started, even an S-video cable - very thoughtful on Sensory Science's part. The documentation on the unit is comprehensive and easy to follow, which makes hooking everything together a snap. Just add speakers.

The Downside
Although I enjoyed playing around with the DVS3000, there are a few drawbacks, or rather, I should say, a few vital ingredients missing.

First, in the amplification department, 40 watts per channel is a little light. Most stand-alone receivers offer more power. Next, there isn't a DTS decoder on board. In fact, there isn't a digital audio input either. Therefore, if you wanted to expand your system to accept s true DTS signal, there is no way to patch into a DTS decoder. Not only that, if you wanted to hook up DSS, you'd be out of luck for a 5.1 feed. Finally, the DVS3000 does not have component output jacks. So if you were planning to upgrade your TV to a HDTV, you wouldn't be able to enjoy the full capability. However, there is a work-around solution for this particular issue: move up a level to the DVS3100, which has component outputs.

At first glance, I believed the DVS3000 might be a decent solution for someone just entering the home theater market, but I was wrong. With the lack of upgradability, I really can't advise it. Not only that, at the unit's price point, you could afford to buy separate components that are DTS compatible and more DSS friendly – not to mention more powerful. For those of you who want to enter the home theater arena, and are dead-set on going with an all-in-one unit, wait a little longer. has reported that in September, 2000, Sony will be introducing a complete micro-system called the Dream System that will be DTS compatible, has digital inputs and is packaged with a tiny 5.1 speaker setup for $599.

At second glance, the DVS3000 could be used as a secondary source application. It may be well suited for someone who already has gotten their feet wet in the home theater pool and is looking for a second unit, perhaps for a bedroom or even a dorm room.

Sensory Science has definitely found a niche with the DVS3000, even though it might be a narrow one. To the high school graduating class of 2000, this may be the perfect gift from Mom and Dad. Past that, this thing just isn't happening.

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