Kenwood Sovereign DV-5700 DVD Player Reviewed

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With home theater sales booming like never before, manufacturers are beginning to produce DVD players for more discerning movie-lovers. The Kenwood DV-5700, part of the up-market Sovereign line, is an example of this breed. It is a 5 DVD/CD carousel model that is compatible with DVD-Video, CD, MP3, and the excellent DVD-Audio multi-channel music format. The DV-5700 is only available in black, and has a retail price of $1,200.

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Unique Features
The DV-5700 incorporates two of the most significant advances in audio- video technology today. The first is progressive scanning, which when fed to TVs that are High-Definition compatible (I-ID), can provide a picture better than could have been imagined just a few years ago. This technology effectively "doubles" the frequency at which the picture is refreshed, from 480 lines interlaced (240 lines drawn on each pass requiring two passes to generate 480 lines of information) to 480 progressive (480 lines drawn on each pass). Although most HD-compatible TVs have a built-in line doubler, when the DVD player has this capability the conversion from 480i to 480p is done entirely in the digital domain, thereby decreasing picture degradation. The DV-5700 takes this one step further by licensing the latest in de-interlacing technology, the Sage-Faroudja FLI2200 with DCDi. Faroudja is a name long associated with mega-dollar line doublers for high-end front-projection systems, and this new chipset is the first-time Emmy-Award winning Faroudja technology licensed for use in DVD players. DCDi uses proprietary processing to smooth the jagged, "step-like" look of diagonal edges of objects, which also has the effect of increasing three-dimensionality. The de-interlacing this player provides is superb, and it is probably the best video processing chipset available in a DVD player today.

The second major feature of this player is DVD-Audio, the new multi-channel high-resolution music format, which along with the competing SACD, is destined to replace the aging CD. The DV-5700 has the requisite 5.1 outputs for this, high-quality 24/192 DACs (digital-to-analog converters), and bass management capabilities for those without 5 full-range speakers.

Setup is fairly straightforward with this player. The setup and use menus use a combination of text and pictographs, and are easy to understand. I found the best picture resulted from turning the "enhancer" in the menu to the off position, and turning down the "enhancer gain" setting to 0 to decrease artificial sharpness. The necessary component, S-Video, composite, coaxial and Toslink digital audio outputs, interlaced/progressive switch, and 5.1 decoder outputs can be found in back as part of a particularly rigid panel. The 5700 is a little larger than the normal player, yet should easily fit into most racks. It is possible to turn the front display off for dark room viewing. The manual is fairly easy to understand, although sometimes the translation from Japanese does result in some grammatical flubs. I set this player up with a component connection to my Pioneer Elite RPTV, with a digital coaxial connection to my pre-amp, and with 5.1 analog interconnects to my pre-amp for DVD-Audio.

When you have digested all of this information, and finally have this player set up on your HD display, you will be rewarded with one of the best pictures available at any price. The colors are lush and beautiful, the blacks dark and deep, the edges of people and objects sharp and smooth, and the overall picture is very detailed and film-like. If a high-quality DVD is used, the clarity and beauty of the picture lead to an almost emotional experience, and one can notice all sorts of small details that can be easily missed in a movie. Watching Gladiator, the fight scenes are so realistic, it is as if I was in the middle of the action, and I could almost feel the gore splashing me. During the night-time parade scene in Dr. Zhivago, I was struck by how deep the blacks of the dark Russian overcoats were, and how the crimson communist party flags stood out against this scene. This sort of experience is what directors and filmmakers try to achieve in a movie theater, and now we can have it at home.

Read more about the performance of the DV-5700 on Page 2.

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