Denon DBP-A100 Universal Blu-ray Player Review
- Universal Disc playability
- Advanced SVH (Suppress Vibration Hybrid) Disc Drive Mechanism
- DENON LINK 4th for HDMI Clock Control
- High quality High-bit i/p scalar
- Advanced AL24 Multi Channel
- Easy remote controller to use (fine form of keys, Glow Key)
- Web Remote
In celebration of Denon's 100th Anniversary, the company put out a series of products designed to represent their very best in each category. The first of these products we were able to get our hands on was their $2500 DBP-A100 Universal Audio/Video Player. Now, this player will do CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, SACD, DVD-Audio and play those formats back with the most pristine audio and video quality believed to be possible.
To accomplish this, Denon really went to bat with their SVH optical transport. SVH stands for... something you'll never remember, so let me tell you what it does. The mechanism was designed with a shortened motor shaft and brought closer to the turntable. All of this serves to ensure the laser stays perfectly aligned and picks up the digital signal accurately and with a minimum of errors.
They also implemented DenonLink 4th. For those who have been following this particular Denon feature, the 4th iteration actually grabs the clock from a compatible AV receiver, like the AVR-A100, and transmits it to the player, so the player and the receiver are playing in perfect lockstep - this results in almost no jitter. Also for audio, the player features gold-plated 7.1 analogue outputs as well as a discrete pair of 2-channel audio outputs that play back downmixed audio from multi-channel surround sources. In our testing audio was perfect. On our reference system we played back some high-resolution tracks from AIX records, various Blu-ray movies and even some SACDs and DVD-Audio discs. What we came away with was that the Denon doesn't get in the way. Audio comes off the disc and makes it to your receiver or amplifier without anything getting lost in translation. The player looks and sounds high-end, and it really comes across as something substantial. I mean look at how stinking big it is.
The Denon can connect to the Internet for firmware updates as well as for updating Blu-ray disc software when called to. It does not, however have any streaming media functions, though a front-located SD card slot will let you play back music and photos. For custom installers the player, as you'd expect from Denon, is fully controllable via RS-232, so it can be integrated easily into a whole-home automation system.
On the video side, Denon uses an Anchor Bay 2015 VRS chipset that we've found does an excellent job with both standard and high-definition video sources. It's the newest chipset from that company and it's found in their flagship non-anniversary model as well. From our testing, the video from this player is really crisp, and the VRS chip lets you tweak it as much as you want to get it exactly perfect in your system.
I know, after all this you're still stuck on the $2500 price tag, aren't you? Well, after using this product, it's clear to us that there are some concerns. For one, it's kind of slow. It takes about 43 seconds to get the tray to open from powering the unit up, and a full minute and twelve seconds total for a Blu-ray disc to hit the screen. On top of that, the player doesn't do 3D. It doesn't support dual HDMI outputs, nor can it play video over component while HDMI is enabled. There are no real networking features for streaming movies or music. On the audio side, everything seems really well-developed unless you have a need for balanced XLR outputs, which the DBP-A100 doesn't have. Aside from that, what we have here is a very nice, rugged and celebratory universal player. For custom installers who want to surprise their clients with an anniversary edition product that carries some brand recognition with it, the Denon A100 is going to hit the spot. For consumers looking for a bargain or the most flexible video features, this product isn't designed for you.
So while we find it hard to recommend this to the rank and file, for pro installers who carry Denon, this might be a really nice flagship product that dresses up, tweaks, and puts an anniversary badge on an already well-regarded flagship Blu-ray Player.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.
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