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Sony DVP-S7700 DVD Player Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 January 1998
ImageThe Sony DVP-S7700 is a $1,400 DVD player that features DTS and AC3 audio, as well as component video outputs to feed a high-performance AV playback system. A good friend of mine who is a manufacturer in the high-end home electronics industry put it well when he said, "With the quality of DVD players coming out of Japan under $2,000, why should you spend $5,000 on some tweaked-out machine?" After spending time evaluating the Sony DVP-S7700, I am starting to agree with him.

The front panel of the 7700 is pleasantly devoid of the overabundant buttons and controls typically found on a mass market DVD player. The main panel folds open with an ease and sex appeal that is normally reserved for B&O. After the front panel folds down, the slender CD/DVD tray smoothly opens for you to insert your source material. You’ll find an On/Off switch, a useful headphone jack and volume control, Play, Pause, Stop, Panel Up/Down and Open/Close for the faceplate.

The 7700’s remote is hardly as simple. There is a jog shuttle-inspired menu controller that helps you navigate through DVD menus. You have direct access to Audio Change, Angle Change, Subtitle Change and Subtitle On/Off. Your 7700 remote also can perform double duty as a full-function TV or DSS remote, complete with a 10 key pad and channel Up/Down and volume functionality. You’ll also find the AV volume control will access your AV Preamp and/or receiver’s main level. Music on the 7700
You need to specifically set up the Sony DVP-S7700 to feed a PCM output to your AV preamp or receiver, but after that you are in for a real treat. The 7700 is a very good transport for the growing number of musical recordings mixed in 5.1 digital surround. I auditioned Boyz II Men’s cover of the Beatles’ "Yesterday" through my Sony receiver and 5 Definitive Technology in-wall loudspeakers and was quite impressed. I have heard this cut on my reference system back in LA (a Sony DVP-S300, Proceed AVP and AMP 5 with M&K 750 THX loudspeakers), as well as from the 24-bit master tapes as it was being mixed. Through the 7700, the surround effects were dynamic and resolute. Was it as tight, deep and punchy as the master tapes? No. But the Sony 7700’s price vs. performance ratio should impress even the most jaded enthusiast.

Movies on the 7700
The audio/video performance of the 7700 is great. On Waterworld (DTS DVD), you hear highly detailed and subtle clanking as Kevin Costner’s character tries to free himself from his hanging prison cell during Chapter 4 of this DVD. The picture on this track was stunning through my line-doubled Sony plasma monitor. The blues of the sky were crisp and the water in contrast looked emerald green, just as you’d expect to find in a giant tank on a movie studio lot.

The depth of field was the best feature of the DVP-S7700’s video performance. When you look deep into complicated scenes, you see resolute images that are not the main focus of the shot. For example, late in Waterworld’s same Chapter Four, there is a rickety, jury-rigged ship on which you can see every Band-Aid and scrap of rope used to hold the vessel together. The detail through the 7700 looked as if you were standing on the set.

On Super Speedway (Image DVD), the DVD-S7700 continued to show off its depth of field capabilities while depicting the engineers at Ford-Cosworth engine factory pushing a test engine to its red-hot limits for over two-and-a-half hours. You can see the textures and all of the details of the tiny plugs on the engine with beautiful clarity right before the engine completely melts down, just as if it were being driven into Three Mile Island.

The Downside
The remote on the 7700 is too complicated for most end users, as well as too wide to fit easily and/or comfortably into your hand. Like most Sony remotes, it is adequate for setting up the component, but it isn’t user-friendly enough for you to want to employ it every day. I chose to adopt a pricier but much more user-friendly solution in the Crestron color STS remote system. This means I no longer need to use the Sony remote. A Philips Pronto would also be able to solve many of your remote woes where the Sony Remote won’t.

The build quality of the 7700 is far superior to my other DVD machine, the Sony DVP-S300. However, compared to the more expensive Pioneer Elite DV-09 machine, the Sony does not feel as high-end. If you are rack-mounting your DVP-S7700 or have plans to build it into a cabinet, don’t worry about it. The 7700 is far from cheaply made, but if this unit is the centerpiece of your theater, you’ll have to rely on the faceplate trick for your ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs.’

The Sony 7700 features DTS capabilities with the DTS logo directly painted on the faceplate. However, requires a special, non-intuitive setup to make DTS operation function. If DTS is as important to you as it is to me, you’ll want to make sure not to forget to dial in your 7700 as soon as you crack open the box.

At $1,400, the Sony DVP-S7700 is the best DVD player under $2,000 currently on the market. The picture quality is excellent and the audio provides the excitement you’ve been hearing about for 5.1 soundtracks. The functionality of the unit is smooth, especially on the faceplate and the picture quality is worthy of feeding even the lofty nine-inch, $50,000 CRT projectors. Considering less than two years ago, this was a task reserved for $5,000 Laserdisc players, the Sony DVP-S7700 is one heck of a machine.

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