Denon DVD-2900 review: Denon DVD-2900

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Universal player; superb sound; state-of-the-art bass management; JPEG-photo viewer.

The Bad The user manual could be better; some artifacts in video-based material.

The Bottom Line Denon's universal player offers exceptional sound quality and unprecedented setup versatility.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 8.0
CNET Editors' Choice Jul '03

Review summary

The Denon DVD-2900 is hardly the first universal SACD/DVD-Audio player to hit the market, but it's the first with comprehensive bass management--a requirement for good sound from a satellite/subwoofer system. This expensive DVD unit (listed at $999) can also play virtually every type of five-inch disc, and it delivers solid progressive-scan video. But sound quality is everything to the well-heeled audiophiles who make up the device's target market, and at the end of the day, the DVD-2900 is the best-sounding universal player we've tested.

Editors' note:
&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eusa%2Edenon%2Ecom%2Fhome%2F" target="new">Denon Electronics won't honor the warranty on a product purchased from an unauthorized dealer or on one whose original factory serial number has been removed, defaced, or replaced in any way. If in doubt about a particular retailer, online or brick and mortar, call Denon at 973/396-0810.

At 5.25 inches tall, the 2900 towers above its sleeker, more mainstream competitors, and that imposing stature definitely contributes to the machine's high-end look and feel. Solid build quality is also no small part of the unit's sophistication; the 2900 weighs almost 18 pounds.

Compared with the player itself, the small, common-looking remote is a little disappointing. Its keys aren't backlit, and we found the button layout awkward at times.

Unlike other players we've tested, the 2900 allows you to complete DVD-Audio and SACD setup with a single menu. Although the user manual leaves out a lot of setup particulars, Denon's Web site offers an &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eusa%2Edenon%2Ecom%2Fcatalog%2Fpdfs%2Fdvd2900%2520Eng%2520DFU%2Epdf" target="new">update that clarifies most of the mysteries.

Bass management routes deep-bass frequencies away from smaller satellite speakers to the subwoofer, where they belong. The 2900's implementation of this feature is superior to that of competing players, but it still isn't as flexible or effective as the Dolby/DTS setup options found on a typical A/V receiver. To test the 2900's bass management, we hooked up the unit to our tiny Energy Take 5.2 sats and the matching Energy S8.2 subwoofer. The player didn't quite jell with the speakers (the sub's level was too low), but the 2900 still mates with sat/sub systems better than any universal player we've tested to date.

On the compatibility front, Denon's big boy handled every permutation of optical media that we tried: DVD-Audio discs, SACDs, DVD+R/RWs, DVD-R/RWs (including a particularly difficult DVD-R that tripped up most other players), CDs, CD-R/RWs, MP3-encoded CDs, Kodak Picture CDs, and JPEG-photo discs. Our JPEG files took about eight seconds each to load, a delay that can be annoying during a slide show.

The 2900's 16MB buffer memory made the layer change in The Matrix nearly imperceptible. Like some other high-end players, the 2900 provides picture adjustments and lets you store your tweaks in custom memory slots.

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