Denon DVD-A1UDCI Blu-ray Player Reviewed

Denon DVD-A1UDCI Blu-ray Player Reviewed

This $4,500 player is the crème de la crème of Denon's Blu-ray line, loaded with the company's high-end design and performance technologies. The DVD-A1UDCI is a universal disc player that supports Blu-ray, SACD, and DVD-Audio playback.

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Denon's 2009 Blu-ray lineup includes three new models, ranging from an entry-level $499 player up to this reference $4,500 model. The top-shelf DVD-A1UDCI is not just a fully loaded Blu-ray player; it's a universal disc player that supports playback of the high-resolution SACD and DVD-Audio music formats (remember those?) and incorporates Denon's most advanced audio and video technologies. We have not performed a hands-on review of the DVD-A1UDCI, but here is an overview of the player's features. First and foremost, the DVD-A1UDCI is a Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player that supports BonusView/picture-in-picture playback and BD-Live Web functionality, and it offers both onboard decoding and bitstream output of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

Additional Resources

This player uses the Silicon Optix Realta HQV video processing chip, and the inclusion of Denon's AL32 advanced digital audio processing allows for the upconversion of 16-bit CDs to a full 32-bit digital format. Balanced stereo analog audio outputs are included, and the DVD-A1UDCI employs the new, fourth edition of DENON LINK in the HDMI connection. According to the company, when the player is mated with a properly equipped Denon receiver or preamp, DENON LINK 4th allows the master clock that operates the receiver or preamp's D/A converter to be transmitted to the player, so the devices share the same clock to virtually eliminate jitter. The DVD-A1UDCI does not support any type of video-on-demand streaming or download service, such as those offered by Netflix and Amazon VOD, and CinemaNow.

In terms of video connections, the DVD-A1UDCI offers dual HDMI outputs, as well as component video, S-video, and composite video outputs. Dual HDMI outputs allow you to send the A/V signal to two displays or to separate audio and video and send each via its own HDMI cable. This player supports both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 output resolutions via HDMI, and it includes a Source Direct mode that allows it to output all discs at their native resolution. You can also output an HD signal via the HDMI and component video outs simultaneously. The setup menu includes an A/V Sync function, as well as a Vertical Stretch mode that removes bars from 2.35:1 sources, ideal for use with a CinemaScope screen and a projector with an anamorphic lens. The menu also offers numerous picture adjustments, including noise reduction, contrast, brightness, gamma, sharpness, chroma, and more.

The DVD-A1UDCI has the full suite of audio outputs: HDMI, optical and coaxial digital, and both 2- and 7.1-channel analog. As I mentioned, the dedicated stereo analog outputs are balanced XLR connections, and the DVD-A1UDCI is equipped with 32-bit D/A converters for each channel. The inclusion of multichannel analog audio outputs makes this model a good choice if you own an older, non-HDMI A/V receiver. The player has onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, and it also passes these high-resolution audio formats in their native bitstream form over HDMI, for your A/V receiver to decode. High-resolution audio tracks from SACD and DVD-Audio discs can also be passed via either HDMI or analog audio. You can set the speaker size, crossover frequency, level, and distance for the analog outputs. The back panel also sports a proprietary DENON LINK port to employ the DENON LINK 4th feature described above.

The DVD-A1UDCI's disc drive supports the following formats: BD, DVD, SACD, DVD-Audio, CD audio, AVCHD, JPEG, MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, and Divx. The back panel features an Ethernet port for BD-Live Web features, as well as quick firmware updates and IP control. The player lacks internal memory, so the addition of an external storage device is required to download BD-Live features; an SD card slot is provided for this purpose. The front-panel SD card slot also supports playback of JPEG, MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, and Divx files. Finally, the DVD-A1UDCI sports both RS-232 and IR in/out ports for integration with an advanced control system.

Read The High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2

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High Points
• The Denon DVD-A1UDCI supports 1080p/24 playback of Blu-ray discs. Dual HDMI outputs lets you send the A/V signal to two displays or separate the audio and video signals.

• This universal disc player also supports playback of SACD and DVD-Audio music discs, as well as AVCHD, JPEG, MP3, WMA, AAC, and Divx.
• The player has internal Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and can pass these formats in bitstream form over HDMI. It has multichannel analog audio outputs for use with older A/V receivers.
• The DVD-A1UDCI has balanced stereo analog audio outputs and supports DENON LINK 4th Edition.
• It supports BD-Live Web content and can play picture-in-picture bonus content.
• This player uses Silicon Optix's Realta HQV processing chip for improved DVD upconversion, but it also offers a Source Direct mode to output all discs at their native resolution via HDMI.
• The SD card slot allows for easy playback of digital movies, music and photos.

Low Points
• This player does not support any type of video-on-demand or music streaming, nor does it feature a wireless option for connection to your home network.
• The player lacks internal memory, and Denon does not supply an SD card for storage of downloadable BD-Live content.

Conclusion
The $4,500 DVD-A1UDCI is clearly targeted at the high-end A/V enthusiast who wants to use it as the primary playback device for both high-definition video and high-resolution audio. This product is best mated with a top-shelf Denon receiver or preamp/amp combination. While the DVD-A1UDCI is admittedly quite expensive for a Blu-ray player, at least it offers perks like DVD-Audio/SACD playback, dual HDMI outputs, and balanced stereo analog audio outputs.

Read more top performing Blu-ray player reviews from Sony, Sony ES, Samsung, Vizio, Denon, Toshiba, Oppo, Lexicon and many others.

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