Denon DVD-2500TBCI Blu-ray Player Reviewed

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Denon_2500_Blu-ray.gifIn case you haven't heard, there is a new king of home video, and it's Blu-ray. Once you see a Blu-ray disc, the picture quality is so much better than that of a standard-definition DVD that it is nearly impossible to go back to the old SD format. Blu-ray doesn't stop there, though. The increased storage space allows for markedly better audio tracks, including Dolby Digital Plus, and even the holy grail of audio, completely uncompressed 7.1 soundtracks from both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. While Blu-ray had a rough start and even got some scars in the format war with the now-defunct HD DVD, more and more titles and players are sold each day, and the quality and usability of players improves almost as rapidly. The initial Blu-ray players were finicky at best and often lacked the features needed to utilize the audio codecs, but as time has gone by, players have added functionality and usability.

Additional Resources
• Read more Blu-ray player reviews by's staff.
• Find an LED HDTV or plasma HDTV to get the most out of the DVD-2500TBCI.

Denon, a world leader in consumer electronics, has recently released three high-end Blu-ray players. The DVD-2500BTCI is the middle model in that line. The Denon DVD-2500BTCI is a Blu-ray transport, so it outputs only digital signals over HDMI and you need to have a receiver or AV preamp that can accept bitstream or LPCM to use it. Priced at $899, the DVD-2500BTCI is designed to be the premier silver disc spinner in a modern high-end home theater.

The DVD-2500 BTCI offers 10-bit video processing for scaling of standard DVDs up to 1080p and will output both bitstream and LPCM for all the new audio codecs, as well as all the legacy ones like Dolby Digital and DTS. It will play CDs, Kodak picture and Fuji Color CDs, WMA and MP3 CDs, DVDs and, of course, Blu-rays. The player is large at just over 17 inches wide, five-and-a-half inches tall and almost 15-and-a-half inches deep, weighing 20 pounds.

Denon put a lot of work into multiple sections of the unit to keep interference down and maximize performance, thus adding to the weight. The front of the unit has the new smooth Denon look, which I have grown to like much more than the etched lines of their prior gear. The smooth arcing of the face from top to bottom is graceful. The front of the player is pretty simple. A power button is on the lower left, with the display and disc tray centrally located, and the transport keys and resolution setting to the right. The rear is even simpler. Being a transport, the only output is a single HDMI 1.3a connector in the top middle, with a two-prong IEC power adaptor on the right. For control, IR controllers are offered as well as an RS 232 port are under the power plug.

The Hookup
Connecting the Denon DVD-2500BTCI to my system couldn't have been easier, thanks entirely to HDMI. I knew this player was on its way, so I had already prepared rack space for it. When it arrived, I simply unboxed it and slid it into the rack. I connected the HDMI output to the Krell Evolution 707 AV preamp, plugged it in and I was up and running in minutes. Straight out of the box, the Denon DVD-2500BTCI recognized the Krell Evolution 707 as taking LPCM and it passed all audio that way. When I swapped it into my bedroom with the Marantz SR8002 receiver, it immediately recognized it as taking bitstream and delivered that to the receiver. I was really happy to see this, as early adopters of Blu-ray have been fighting to make things work, while the Denon simply did it.

The set-up menu is pretty straightforward. I set my TV's resolution and how I wanted the audio to be output. You can also select parental safeguards, auto power off, screen saver options and, of course, control slide shows, among other features. I set the resolution to 1080p/60 Hz and the HDMI output to normal and was off and running. I was ready to watch some Blu-rays with totally uncompressed audio in my reference rig in less than ten minutes.

I watched the new Batman film The Dark Knight (Warner Home Video) first. Historically, I find the Batman series to be tough to reproduce. They are filmed in dark and often gloomy areas, and while this film is clearly brighter than the prior ones, there are plenty of dark scenes and the Denon did a great job of reproducing the subtle differences in black levels while also handling the high contrasts of other scenes. The uncompressed Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was amazing. The soundstage was huge and taller than I remember hearing with other films. Tiny details were ever apparent, whereas with Dolby Digital or DTS, they could be lost. The bass of explosions was unbelievable. Once you hear these new codecs, even on a simple receiver-based system, you will be awed, but to have them on my reference rig made them seem legendary. Every detail, from the drop of a foot to the explosion of the hospital, was more detailed and distinct than I have ever heard on Dolby Digital or DTS.

Read more about the performance of the DVD-2500TBCI Blu-ray player on Page 2.

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