Shopping for a DVD player is not as simple as it sounds. Sure you can find a $49 no-name player from your local mega store or online, but if you want the latest in convenience, quality and technology then be prepared to spend some extra dollars. Before you plunk down your hard earned cash, you need an HD-compatible or EDTV to get the most benefit out of the more expensive DVD players. If you are not sure, look on the back of your TV set for component video inputs (Y Pr Pb) which are usually three color-coded red, green, and blue RCA jacks. If you have this, you are golden. Read on…
Video features to look for
One of the most important features to look for is progressive scanning, which basically doubles the resolution of DVD video. To make things more confusing, all progressive scanning is not created equal. A company called Faroudja specializes in video scaling, and licenses their technology (DCDi) to DVD manufacturers. It corrects jagged edges and smoothes the picture, making it look much more life-like. Another important video feature to look for is 3-2 pulldown, which handles the process of converting film frames to the NTSC video for your TV.
You thought that was all? There is more to know. All DVD players have a digital output for Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound. So the basics are already covered. But if you want the highest audio fidelity for music (not movies), you can get either SACD and/or DVD-Audio. Both DVD-Audio and SACD are superior sounding, incompatible formats, which require specially encoded music discs to work. Both technologies essentially sound the same for this discussion. The most expensive DVD players can play all formats, but you can usually save money by choosing one format or the other. Both DVD-Audio and SACD are new formats and nobody knows for sure which one will survive. For now, both are available, with limited music availability for each.
I am finally getting back the Yamaha DVD-C920 which has just about every feature you want in a DVD player I mentioned above, except for 3-2 pulldown and SACD processing. But at a list price of $399, you get exceptional video quality thanks to the progressive scan and Faroudja DCDi processing.
Progressive or not
Some people wonder if they need a progressive scan DVD player if their TV has a built-in line doubler, like most of the newer rear projection HD monitors have. The answer comes down to which line doubler is better — the one in your TV or the one in your DVD player. In this case, the Yamaha DVD-C920 line doubler (progressive scanning) is much better than that in my Zenith 65-inch rear projection HDTV Monitor.
A common example compares an American flag blowing in the wind. On regular DVD players the red and white stripes have many jagged edges while the flag undulates in the breeze. When progressive scanning with Fajoudja DCDi processing is applied, the stripes appear very smooth and realistic. This is just one example, but the video improvements make your DVDs appear much more film-like.
The audio connections from a DVD player can be somewhat complicated to the beginner. If you have a surround sound receiver then you can connect the digital output from the DVD player with one digital cable (optical or coaxial) from the DVD player to the receiver. This will work great for movies, but does not work for DVD-Audio or SACD.
6 channel, huh?
To hear multi-channel DVD-Audio or SACD you need to use the 6 channel outputs from the DVD player to the 6 channel inputs of the receiver. This connection requires six RCA audio cables. Lastly, you must select the “6 CH input” option on the receiver to enable the DVD-Audio or SACD sound. What you have done is bypassed the internal processing of the receiver (which can’t decode DVD-Audio/SACD) so your DVD-Audio/SACD player is now decoding the sound and sending the correct signals to the proper speaker. When you hear DVD-Audio or SACD for the first time, you will definitely hear a huge improvement in sound quality.
Minimal surround options
Now that you have completed the above you have to adjust the multi-channel surround speaker settings on your DVD-Audio player via the on-screen guide. The DVD-C920 has calibrations for speaker volume and surround delay in milliseconds, but there are no settings for bass management.
In addition to playing DVD-Audio and regular DVDs, the unit also plays MP3, VCD, CD-R and CD-RW formats. Audio performance across the board was great from the lower quality formats, while DVD-Audio discs sounded outstanding.
Did I mention the DVD-C920 is also a five-disc changer? So you can put a few DVDs and/or a few CDs and play uninterrupted music or movies for hour after hour without leaving your chair. The DVD-C920 also allows you to change discs while a disc is playing. It took an average of 12 seconds to completely stop a disc and start playing another.
Operating the DVD-C920 DVD player has some peculiarities. The remote is nothing exceptional; although it handles the most common tasks, expect there is no power (on/off) button on it. The on-screen menu graphical display, with tabs for each section, was a little cumbersome to get used to. Lastly, the progressive scan mode is off by default and must be manually enabled each time the unit is powered on.
The bottom line
Despite its nuances, there are two main reasons to buy the Yamaha DVD-C920. Because you want a five-disc DVD/CD changer and you want to play DVD-Audio discs. However, the stellar progressive scan video processing could be reason enough to justify its purchase.
- Outstanding Video
- Fajoudja DCDi
- Progressive Scan
- DVD-Audio Quality Superb
- 5-disc Changer Convenience
- Average Remote
- No 3-2 pulldown
- No Bass Management
- Usability quirks
Yamaha DVD-C920 MSRP: $399
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Remember I am just one man with one opinion. If you own this product, or have a comment or question feel free to add your thoughts below.
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