Marantz DV8400 DVI-Enabled Universal DVD Player Reviewed

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Marantz has long been a respected name in the audio community. Since the inception of DVD, Marantz has been an innovator in cutting-edge technology. For the last couple of years, it has produced universal DVD players--those models that play back both multi-channel DVD-Audio and SACD.

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Being the innovator that Marantz is, it has now gone one step beyond by offering one of a handful of DVI-enabled DVD players. DVI is considered a step up from component video, as it keeps the video signal in the digital domain. The digital signal is uncompressed, making it as robust as possible and producing some of the best images available from a DVD player.

Unique Features - The Marantz DV8400i is a truly awesome top-of-the line progressive scan DVD-Audio/SACD player that offers cutting edge technology. While it's not inexpensive at $1,599, it's certainly a next generation model, and can definitely be called a universal DVD player. The DV8400 includes a whopping 108MHz, 12 bit video DAC processing and progressive scan, which faithfully reproduces the original film frames using 3/2 and 2/2 pull-down telecine technology and displays them progressively. The player features full-resolution 4:4:4 video up-sampling, which uses 16 video parameter adjustments. The DV8400 is THX Select certified and also features factory display settings, so you can optimizes the player to the display device you are using. There is also an upgraded graphic user interface for easy setup navigation.

On the audio side, this player offers 192kHz, 24 bit DAC audio processing, enabling it to reproduce next generation multi-channel sound, such as DVD-Audio and SACD. Most companies today are in either one camp or the other. Happily, Marantz offers a player with multi-channel playback capability of both formats. These signals are passed thorough six analog outputs--all corresponding to surround cardinal points. If it's hard for you to choose between CDs and DVDs with either SACD or DVD-A sound tracks (as there are exceptional recordings by numerous artists available in both formats), you'll need a universal player that plays back all formats. The DV8400 comes to the rescue in a big way.

All Dolby Digital and DTS signals are passed via TosLink optical and/or digital coaxial outputs. The DV8400 plays back DVD-Audio, multi-channel and two-channel SACD, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, MP3, DVD-Video, DVD-R, DVD-RW, and VCD. This model also includes built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoders, plus bass management for SACD. Video images are passed by composite, S-Video, component video, or DVI (Digital Visual Interface) with HDCP (for copy protection). To obtain the best possible signals, DVI must be employed. It's clearly a player for all seasons.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use - Installation was straightforward. A Tributaries DVI cable was used to tether the DV8400 to a RCA Scenium HDLP5OW151. Since the set only has one DVI input and I also have a DirecTV satellite box with DVI, I used Gefen, Inc.'s new HDTV switcher. It accepts two DVI connectors and allows you to switch back and forth between signal sources without any signal loss. It does work! This is especially helpful if you have more than one component in your rack that features a DVI output.

There is a toggle switch on the back of the DV8400 called the DVI V.Level switch. It is factory set on normal. If excessive blackness enters into a displayed image, switch to expand and it should alleviate the problem. Since I have a full-blown home theater system, I used the digital optical output to port both Dolby Digital and DTS sounds to my A/V receiver (Pioneer Elite), and I connected the individual analog audio outputs to my receiver so I could listen to both DVD-A and SACD discs by simply switching to the multi-channel input on the receiver. Sound was ported to six B&W CDM Series speakers.

Read more about the DV8400 on Page 2.

HTR Product Rating for Marantz DV8400 DVI-Enabled Universal DVD Player

Criteria Rating

Performance

3

Value

4

Overall

3.5

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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In Marantz's quest to help the DV8400 integrate itself in a home entertainment system, They designed RS-232 controllability to tie into whole house automation. If you have other Marantz components, they can be tethered together using their remote control jack.

Completing the package, Marantz includes a 45 button remote with glow-in-the-dark navigation, menu, and setup keys. It was relatively easy to use. Although, I kept missing the Pause key in a darkened room as I watched a movie. I just wish it was more centrally located, instead of below the navigation key, obscured in a set of four gray keys.

Final Take - As previously noted, the DV8400 is a serious progressive scan DVD player, and all of the images displayed on the RCA Scenium HDLP5OW151 had a clarity and depth of field, giving the illusion of near HD-quality from a DVD-Video player. If you want to be a stickler, you can always put on the Video Essentials test disc or use the Home Theater Demo disc featuring Mannheim Steamroller, and watch test patterns to measure gray scale (and I did), and calibrate and test different multi-channel audio signals. But, the proof is in the pudding, and let's face it, a DVD player and a HD television are designed to watch movies and music videos, not test patterns.

Several new releases were watched with a keen eye towards picture detail and clarity, and in each case those images were far superior to what I have viewed on other brands of DVD players recently. Various types of films on DVD were watched, including Paramount's newly restored Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 1776, Blade II (awesome DTS soundtrack), Chicago, Finding Nemo, 7be Mark ofZorro, Casablanca, The Time Machine, and The Last Waltz, among others. I also viewed a couple of old standbys, like Fox's The Abyss-Special Edition and Columbia-TriStar's Air Force One (SuperBit) because of their aural and visual brilliance.

On purpose, I chose various types of film material from action/adventure movies with a lot of special effects to romantic comedies to musicals--some were recent releases and others were classics from various studios. The image quality pumped out from the DV8400 and displayed on the RCA DLP set were so vivid and life-like that they looked like top-quality, true 35/70mm feature films shown at your local multiplex. All selections had a true film-like quality that bordered on quasi-HD images. That's how good the image quality was from the DV8400 as displayed on a next generation monitor. It is something that needs to be seen to be believed, and heard to be fully appreciated as well.

Fortunately, both the DVD-Audio and SACD record labels have such a wide variety of offerings today that it truly made my listening experience fun. While all of the labels provided discs for listening tests, a handful of DVD-A and SACD discs truly stood out for their aural excellence, showing off the expertise of the DV8400 player. The DVD-Audio discs include American Gramaphone's Ambience Series - Summer Song by Chip Davis, DTS Entertainment's Queen - A Night At The Opera, and Warner Music's Eagles - Hotel California. On the SACD side, I listened to both two-channel and multi-channel discs. The titles included Philips' Jerry Goldsmith/ Movie Medleys, Rounder Records' Alison Krause Live, and Abkco Records', among others. Each disc showed off the prowess of the DV8400.

Marantz has done an excellent job of putting together their next generation DVD player, unlike many of the players currently available. It brings the viewer/listener to new aural and visual heights, and will be an excellent addition to any home theater system.

Additional Resources
• Read more source component reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Find a receiver to pair with this source.
• See more about the audiophile world at AudiophileReview.com.
• Discuss all kinds of gear at hometheaterequipment.com.

Marantz DV8400 Universal DVD Player
Progressive Scan with 3/2 pull-down
12 bit/108MHz Video DAC
24 bit/192kHz Audio DAC
DVD-Audio
Multi-Channel SACD
THX Select
Premium Audio Circuitry
Plays CD-R/RW
Plays MP3 and WMA Internet Music Files
DVI w/HDCP
Dimensions: 3 1/2"H x 17 5/16W x 12 1/4"D
Weight: 17 lbs.
MSRP: $1,599

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