It's a point that's been made many times: why would you spend AU$700 on a DVD player when you can get one for 40 bucks at Aldi? Well, in this high-definition age, you would be doing yourself an extreme disservice for a start.
Features like PAL progressive scan and component outputs might now be commonplace on budget players, but mid-level machines like the Denon DVD 1930 offer that little bit extra.
The Denon is an upscaling DVD player with HD output and a filofax full of compatible formats. It's available in a choice of silver and black, and shares the Denon component "look". In fact, it sort of resembles a performance street car in that it looks hunched and ready to pounce.
Build quality is good, and the casing is brushed metal and not plastic like some others, which lends the product a touch of solidity and class. It's also reassuringly heavy -- which usually means it's filled with high quality analog versus cheaper digital electronics -- and feels like a true hi-fi component.
This is one of the most fully-featured players at this price -- with the other notable being the Marantz DV6001 -- but for our money the cosmetics and build on the Denon put it slightly ahead.
For your seven minties, you get upscaling and picture processing by video experts Faroudja, as well as compatibility with DivX, MP3, SACD and DVD-Audio. It features a 5.1 analog output which will come in handy for fans of SACD, as the HDMI version is only 1.1. This will still mean it plays DVD-A via HDMI, however.
One of the welcome features that the Denon DVD 1930 brings is the 2MB of buffer memory used to decrease the jarring effect of a layer change during movies.
As a CD player, the DVD 1930 has a warm, detailed sound which complements the more exciting sound of Denon receivers. In a perfect world, "signal in" to a receiver should equal "signal out", but unfortunately that's not the case. Some components are tailored to be great for home cinema, with a bright, involving sound ... and some are designed to be best for music, with better bass and less "tizz". The Denon is somewhere towards the latter, and so combining it with a bright amp should cancel the excitement levels out leaving you with a neutral, more natural sound. At least that's the theory.
We tried the Denon with receivers from several different manufacturers, including Pioneer, Marantz and Denon. Strangely, the DVD 1930 sounded best with the Marantz for music and the Pioneer VSXAX2AS-S with surround sound, and not its own stablemate. The Denon AVR 1707 we used is great for a budget amp, but is outclassed by this player. The DVD 1930 really needs a mid-to-high level receiver to bring out its best.
DVD-Audio and SACD also sounded excellent, and could only be bettered by a player costing several times this amount. Coupled with the right equipment, the Denon gives a true hi-fi performance, and one which should serve your music selection well if you don't want to shell out for a separate CD player (which every music fan should do anyway).
Video, however, is where this player best excels. And no matter whether you're using a 576p image or up to 1080p upscaled the results are pretty much mind-blowing. We used several 1080p screens to test the Denon's capabilities, and only when using the AU$15,000 Panasonic 1080p projector did we see a vast difference between it and Blu-Ray.
The onboard video processor is the excellent DCDi from Faroudja, which is the best available at this price point. But we'll have to say, that on occasions, the results of upscaling were fairly patchy. Some scenes looked best with no upscaling while for others 1080p or 720p gave the most outstanding picture. Upscaling to 720P removed a lot of judder from the final scenes of Mission Impossible 3, where there is a pan across Shanghai rooftops, and in fact there were more stuttering visuals in the Blu-ray version! Impressive.
However, some of the higher resolutions actually added noise that wasn't in the original 576p version, for example. It appears video processing gives in some areas but takes away in others. But overall, the results were excellent -- images burst with life, and were untroubled by quick movement.