DVD-2910 Overview and Setup
Denon surprised many of us hard-core videophiles at this year's CES with their top of the line DVD-5910 DVD player. I was happy and excited when I became aware that I was going to review its little cousin the DVD-2910. This is the mid-priced player in their Universal DVD line up for 2005. Denon has proven they can consistently design and build quality DVD players that meet the performance level demanded by the home theater enthusiast. Will the Denon DVD-2910 prove to be another great player? Read on to find out.
Opening the factory box I found that the Denon DVD-2910 was well packed. The box contained the Denon DVD-2910, one Denon RC-985 remote control, two AA batteries, one user manual, one power cord and one set of 1 meter RCA interconnects. The factory must assume that you have a portable CD player at home to use them on because they are not suitable for hooking up this DVD player.
After unpacking and placing it on my makeshift stand (the box it was packed in), I noted that the Denon DVD-2910 is beautifully constructed. The front panel looks refined and classy. The circular buttons are easy to push and are slightly recessed from the front panel. The oversized standby button lights green when the DVD-2910 is on and red when in standby mode. I was not able to turn the power indicator light off. If the DVD-2910 is placed close to your monitor in a dark room the glow could be a minor annoyance. The front panel display is easy to read and provides all the information necessary to operate the DVD-2910.The back panel of the DVD-2910 offers a whole host of output connection possibilities including one each of digital coax, toslink, component, S-video, composite, HDMI and DVI. All RCA outputs are gold plated. One thing I noticed was how solid the HDMI and DVI connectors were fitted into the chassis. Many times I have seen these connectors installed into products without sufficient reinforcement. As a result, the connection wobbles and rocks inside the chassis and it's just a matter of time until they develop bad contacts. The Denon DVD-2910 has no such problem The player also comes with a detachable power cord.
Setting Up the Denon DVD-2910 Player
For the review of the Denon DVD-2910, I wanted to use multiple display devices and evaluate the video performance with both component progressive and DVI outputs. The Denon DVD-2910 also has an HDMI output but I did not use it. Regarding cables, I would admit to being a bit skeptical in regards to so-called "high end" products. I generally recommend and install cables based on these guide lines: #1 build quality, #2 reliability, #3 shielding, #4 termination, and #5 price-to-performance ratio. In my opinion these are the most important aspects of a cable. One of the staff members here at Audioholics suggested that I try some of the cables from Impact Acoustics. Being the skeptic that I am, I ordered them only because I respect the opinion of the staff member recommending them. I ordered the 10 meter Sonic Wave DVI cable because I wanted to see if there were any problems with the DVI connection at that length. I have run into problems with sparkling and artifacting on DVI cables over 7 meters in length. In addition, I ordered 4 pairs of 1 meter Sonic Wave analog interconnects and a 1 meter Sonic Wave digital interconnect. I don't want to go into an in-depth review of the Impact Acoustics cables; however, I must say that I was very impressed with these products. The DVI cable worked flawlessly, without any artifacting or sparkling.
Just for fun, I wanted to see if I could introduce RF into the cable by wrapping an amplifier power cord cable around the DVI cable (Many times the DIY'er will inadvertently run cables across 110v romex and this will trigger many problems). The photo below shows the power strip and amplifier power cable wrapped around the Impact Acoustics DVI cable. The amplifier I used has a little transformer hum even when sitting Idle. I was unable to introduce any noise or RF interference into the cable revealing that the Impact Acoustics DVI cable has excellent shielding. In addition to that, its build quality is exceptional.
I used four pairs of Impact Acoustics Sonic Wave analog interconnects for the multi-channel output and the right and left mixed analog output. For the digital audio connection, I used one Impact Acoustics Sonic Wave digital audio interconnect. These cables are better built than the mass marketed over-hyped brands and offer more of the all-important price-to-performance ratio. You don't get any fancy packing with the non-retail versions of the Impact Acoustics cables, but you do get a nicely constructed cable for your hard-earned dollar and that is what turned this skeptic into a believer.
The Denon operating instruction manual is well written and easy to comprehend. Entering the setup menu is as easy as a push of the button labeled Setup on the RC-985 remote. I found the Setup menu easy to use and navigate. The first page of the menu contains the language setup dialogue. I chose the factory default English; the next setting was subtitles. I chose the factory default "Off". Reading the manual, it says that you can select any one of 124 different languages.
The next page in the Setup menu contains the digital interface setup. On this page there are two selections: HDMI/DVI black level. I selected the factory default normal and HDMI. In audio setup I selected the factory default 2 channel. The HDMI/DVI black level setting allows you to choose Normal or Enhanced. If you are using the HDMI or DVI connection and your black level is too low or your image appears washed out, selecting the enhanced level will correct this. I chose to leave the player in the factory default setting and adjust the black level on my monitor. The other setting on this page is for the HDMI audio set up. I did not have a receiver or pre-amp with a HDMI input so I was unable to select this. It states in the user manual that you can select Multi-channel output from the HDMI but I was unable to confirm this.
The next page in the Setup menu is for configuring the Audio Setup. The first setting is for audio channel speaker configuration. I chose the factory default multi-channel, because I have a multi-channel system. You can also select 2 channel SRS off or 2 channel SRS on. Highlighting the Multi-channel setting takes the user to a sub menu. On this sub menu page, there are the speaker configuration, channel level, delay time and audio set ups. I configured all my speakers to Large because they are full range speakers. I selected subwoofer on. Selecting the Small speaker setting will activate the 80Hz crossover on the analogue outputs. This is a usable crossover and is much more effective than the 100-120z crossovers found in some other DVD players. With that said we would still like to see a fully adjustable cross over for the analog outputs on even mid-priced DVD players. 40Hz-150Hz would be the desired range. The next item in the sub user menu is the internal test tone generator for the player. You can apply the test tone individually to the front left, front right, center, surround right, surround left and subwoofer channels. The user can adjust individual channel levels from 0dB to -10db (there is no gain which is as it should be). There is also a setting for adding +10dB to the subwoofer in conjunction with the subwoofer level adjustment. This setting is very useful in cases where the subwoofer's relative level is simply too low when using the analogue outputs of the player. The user can then trim the added gain by adjusting the subwoofer level. The next group of settings is for speaker delay times; they are available in both feet and meters. We have to applaud Denon for providing actual length adjustments instead of the millisecond adjustments found in many other players.
Back in the Audio setup menu I left the Source Direct in the factory default Off. When On is selected, it allows analogue output of the audio signal without adding any of the speaker size settings or delay times that were configured in the multi-channel sub menu. I left Bass Enhancer in the factory default Off position. The bass enhancer does not affect the digital outputs on the DVD-2910. The purpose of Bass Enhancer is to output the bass from the main channels to the subwoofer for two channel sources. This is a useful feature for those using non full range front speakers and require the subwoofer to be active to achieve full range sound. There is a final adjustment for SACD filter/crossover setting. You can select 50 kHz or 100 kHz and, unless you are a dog, we'd suggest leaving it at 50 kHz. I was very impressed with the amount of user controls and adjustments that can be made in the audio section of this player. With all the settings available to the user, it will be very easy to dial-in and calibrate a multi-channel system.
Pressing the Pure Direct button on the RC-985 remote or on the Denon DVD-2910 front panel allows you to select Normal, Pure Direct Mode #1, or Pure Direct Mode #2. The user can store the Pure Direct mode of their choosing: digital output on/off, video output on/off, display on/off, all on or all off or any combination in the two provided memory banks. In the SACD Setup menu you can choose to select the SACD mode Multi-channel, Stereo or CD. The wide range of user adjustability with the DVD-2910 is very impressive. The Denon engineers have hit a home run with the development of this user interface and impressive list of options and adjustments. They should be applauded for their efforts.
The DVD-2910 allows selection of five different progressive settings: auto 1 is the factory default, auto 2 is thirty frames per second film mode, video 1 is for regular video material, video 2 is for video material that has little movement, and video 3 is for video that has a lot of movement. Squeeze Mode in the "On" position displays 4:3 source DVDs in the correct aspect ratio on 16:9 screens while in progressive mode.
Pressing the Picture button on the RC-985 remote brings up a submenu that contains extensive user adjustable picture controls. The user has five different configurable picture mode settings. The user can adjust contrast, brightness, sharpness, tint, cross color suppression, white level, color density, chroma delay, noise reduction, horizontal position, vertical position, and set up level either 0 IRE or 7.5 IRE (factory default is 7.5 IRE.) The DVD-2910 even includes full Gamma adjustments! Denon has thought of just about everything to get your DVD player and monitor calibrated to correct levels and has given the user an extensive amount of control. The use of five different memory banks, all configurable makes this one of the most adjustable DVD players on the market, and a videophile's dream come true. The forward thinking and intellect to produce this kind of control is highly appreciated. This is the new standard for user control and GUI. For this review I left all the Picture adjustments at the factory default levels.
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