In this world of high definition, everyone and their spotted dog is getting in on this HD malarkey. While Blu-ray and HD broadcasts of the AFL are one thing, there is a growing band of manufacturers dedicated to improving the quality of all the standard definition content already out there. In this case we're talking about DVDs.
Upscaling is the name of the game -- taking a 567i (PAL) or 480i (NTSC) signal and outputting it in full high definition. While the PlayStation 3 recently added 1080p upscaling to its arsenal, it's a software enhancement ... and, frankly ... terrible. It's no match for a player such as the Marantz DV7001 and its sophisticated noise-shaping hardware. The Marantz is the superior player and here's why ...
The DV7001 is a hulking beast, and weighs in at a hefty 7.3 kilograms. The reason for this weight is the amount of reinforcing and metal plating underneath the player, which adds rigidity and prevents vibrations. As a result, the build quality is exemplary. From the solid, brushed aluminium front panel to the well-spaced RCA connections at the rear, this looks like a piece of professional broadcast equipment. The DVD player comes in two different colours -- the understated silver that we saw, or the gaudier black and gold version.
Looking at the specification list there are a lot of similarities with the littler Marantz DV6001, and these include a 216MHz/12Bit video DAC, Faroudja noise reduction and upscaling to 1080p, CD upscaling, and DVD-Audio and SACD playback.
What the DV7001 adds is better audio processing -- including Marantz's own HDAM amplifiers -- and that impeccable build. With this machine, Marantz seem to be saying: "You could buy the DV6001 and a separate CD player (as some people would do), or you could buy the DV7001 instead".
The remote handset is the same as the one which comes with the cheaper model, but it's still a very good unit. It's also able to control a Marantz amplifier, which comes in quite handy for users who like to stick with the single manufacturer.
Unfortunately for audio enthusiasts, the DV7001 is only version 1.1 of HDMI. This is also unfortunate because the compatible receiver in Marantz's range -- the SR7001 -- supports version 1.2. The essential benefit of 1.2 is that it can transmit SACD streams, so SACD enthusiasts will still need to use additional RCA cabling.
We found the Marantz's sibling to be a standout performer when we reviewed it in April, and this one builds on its strengths in most areas.
The DV7001 adds a level of sophistication not seen with the DV6001-- especially when replaying music. Stereo imaging in particular is sensational -- instruments and voices are locked in place between the speakers. There is a smidgen more bass in the signal, which is both deep and deftly-handled. Treble is also less ragged than its baby brother.
CD upsampling is also more successful on this model, with more body than before, but we found that the original, non-upsampled signal still sounded better.
DVD is where this player shines best, and though it won't fix a poorly-encoded disk, most of the DVDs we put through it were bright and full of life. The HDMI signal was best of all the different connectivity options on offer, and with upscaling enabled the results were just superb -- especially at 720p. With the Marantz DV700 plugged into your system you're not worried about the sound or the picture -- you're left to enjoy the movie.
One thing that the two Marantz DVD players had in common was slow loading times -- the DV7001 took 35 seconds to play a disk from a cold start (off).
Though we heartily enjoyed using this player, there is a substantial price differential between the two Marantz models, and the DV7001 doesn't add quite enough to justify the twofold increase. Having said this, the Marantz is an excellent player in its own right, and certainly better than competitors like the NAD T585. In short, the Marantz not only looks, feels and sounds impressive -- it is impressive.