Sleek and simple on the surface
You'd think a player with this much compatibility would have more logos than a Winston Cup stock car, but the DV-47A thankfully takes the understated approach. A black-lacquer finish covers its face, along with a few important buttons and a large, dimmable display that does a great job of relaying pertinent information. The display includes graphic indicators that show at a glance which of the six audio channels are active.
The remote control's keys glow in the dark, and their logical arrangement makes finding the right one a breeze. A prominent jog/shuttle control provides easy control over frame-by-frame movement. Despite its many functions, the remote isn't too large for most users' hands. The menus are easy to navigate; you won't have to burrow through more than one layer to reach most of the functions.
Tweaks, formats, and jacks galore
The DV-47A allows for more video adjustments than any DVD player we've seen to date. Those who love to tweak can play with four settings for noise reduction, two for sharpness, two for chroma delay, and numerous others from brightness to gamma. There are also three video presets tailored to the type of display you have--CRT, plasma, or professional--and three custom memories in which to store your adjustments. On the downside, bass management is limited for SACD and nonexistent for DVD-Audio. As a result, the bass may overwhelm systems with small speakers, especially at high volume.
In addition to the two high-end audio formats, the DV-47A plays MP3 CDs and displays the first six letters of the filename on its front panel. It can play a disc's worth of MP3s at random and handles DVD-RWs, DVD+RWs, and even unfinalized DVD+Rs (see the for info on these competing formats). The back panel includes analog 5.1-channel outputs, both types of digital audio output, two sets of A/V/S-video outputs, and a component video output.
Sweet sights, superb sounds
The DV-47A aced our video tests. Its progressive-scan image stayed razor sharp and impressively free of artificial movement during a viewing of Spy Game. For instance, in one scene, Redford and Pitt have a heated discussion on a Berlin rooftop as the camera circles them constantly. With the DV-47A, the columns in the foreground and the difficult, moving cityscape in the background both remain solid and well detailed, compared to the lesser progressive-scan circuit in our test TV that tended to introduce jagged lines and blur details.
Unlike many DVD players, the DV-47A does a good job converting anamorphic DVDs, which are enhanced for a wide-screen set, for display on standard 4:3 televisions. Unfortunately, it lacks full aspect-ratio control. If your wide-screen TV cannot control its aspect ratio with progressive-scan material, you'll have to watch nonanamorphic letterboxed DVDs at a small size or in interlaced mode. On the other hand, Pioneer provides a so-called compressed aspect ratio for watching 4:3 DVDs in progressive mode.
Even on our modest test system, which included a Pioneer VSX-810S receiver and speakers, the DV-47A sounded amazing. The SACD of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters resounded with incredibly lifelike drums, and the sax had a fullness that the CD simply didn't capture. Neil Young's DVD-Audio Friends & Relatives enveloped us like no recording of a concert we've heard, and his voice sounded even more painful and unearthly than ever.
It's hard to imagine audio- or videophiles finding anything to complain about with this product, other than the hefty $1,200 list price. For about $500, you can buy both the SACD-capable and the DVD-Audio, progressive-scan-capable and get the same functionality, although switching cables would be a nightmare. But if you believe that budget and high-performance audio don't belong in the same sentence, you should try the Pioneer DV-47A.