Blu-ray Players

Denon DVD-1800BD Blu-ray Player - Benchmark

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Setup of the Denon was fairly simple. The on-screen menus were clear and easy to navigate. Once I had the unit in my rack and connected to the Marantz SR6003 receiver, setup took less than 5 minutes. Operationally, the 1800BD was very solid, and I experienced no significant quirks during the month or so that I had the player in my system. It took the player about 19 seconds to open the disc tray from a powered down state and about 35 seconds from power up to display the first “Denon” splash screen. Disney’s Cars on Blu-ray took about 50 seconds to reach the first menus, which is not too bad. Surprisingly, the 1800 was a bit slower on all of these benchmarks then my Samsung BD-UP5000, which is an older design and a dual-format player (HD-DVD and Blu-ray) to boot. Once discs were loaded, the Denon proved to be very responsive to remote commands, which cannot be said of many other Blu-ray players.

I experienced no disc compatibility problems with the 1800BD, but Denon has just released a firmware update that you can download from their website, put it on a CD, and place the CD in the player to bring it up to date so that it will play the latest Blu-ray movies that have changed their copyright protection encoding (there seems to be a new copyright code about every 4 months).Personally, I feel that the constant firmware updating that has been required on most players is a real pain and is ill-fitting for a consumer electronics format searching for mass-market adoption.

Denon DVD 1800bd Blu-ray Player

 

Denon DVD 1800bd Blu-ray Player

While I had the 1800 in my system, I ran through my full battery of Blu-ray test discs, including Cars, The Dark Knight, Transformers, and the last few episodes of Mad Men. In general, picture quality was very good with all material. Black and white levels appeared spot on and colors were reproduced accurately. The only real chink in the 1800’s armor was found when running film material (native 24 fps) into my Fujitsu plasma at 1080i. The relatively poor interlacing/de-interlacing performance of the 1800 was fairly obvious, manifesting itself with a touch of the “jaggies” here and there. This also hurt the overall sharpness on a lot of source material, especially compared to my HQV Reon equipped Samsung player. These problems were even more noticeable on standard DVD material, like the Coliseum flyover sequence in Gladiator.

The Denon also seemed to be a bit slower to lock onto different film cadences than my HQV Reon equipped Samsung or the AVM II processor in my Fujitsu plasma. If your display can handle 1080P at 24 fps, I would definitely recommend using that setting with this player. If you only have a 720p/1080i television as I do, the 1800 may not be the best fit for you, unless you are feeding into a processor that can properly handle de-interlacing tasks.

Denon DVD 1800bd Blu-ray Player

 

Denon DVD 1800bd Blu-ray Player

 

Denon DVD 1800bd Blu-ray Player

While I wasn’t blown away by the video performance of the 1800, I have absolutely no complaints with the Denon’s audio quality. All of the high resolution soundtracks bitstreamed via HDMI to the Marantz SR6003 sounded excellent. The intro sequence to Cars (LPCM) was outstanding, with phenomenal contrast between the quiet “meditative” monologue of Lightning McQueen and the interspaced (and much louder) race scenes. The bank robbery scene at the beginning of The Dark Knight is another favorite test of mine, with the deep bass impacts of the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack helping to set the very ominous mood of the movie right from the start.

The 1800 reproduced the first scene of the movie perfectly, with fantastic bass. When the bank manager takes matters into his own hands and starts firing at the robbers with a pump-action shotgun, I just had to smile, as the blasts sounded so incredibly realistic. In fact, I greatly preferred the audio quality of the 1800 to my reference Samsung player, as the 1800 offered a noticeably smoother sound. I know that many people firmly believe that “bits are bits” when it comes to digital audio, and that all components should sound the same, but via HDMI, my reference Samsung is actually a bit thin and harsh sounding compared to the 1800. This was particularly evident with stereo playback.

The Denon sounded noticeably better with CDs via HDMI than my Samsung, again offering a much more balanced sound. Detail retrieval was excellent, without edging towards the bright or harsh side of things. I also spent a bit of time using the 1800 with its Burr-Brown powered two-channel stereo outputs and was pleasantly surprised by its sound quality as an analog two-channel device. If your Blu-ray player will spend a lot of time spinning CDs, the 1800 could be a very good choice.

One problem that I must mention is that one of our other reviewers did experience a significant issue when attempting to send audio via HDMI from the 1800 to his Onkyo TX-SR875 receiver. Despite making every possible change to the audio settings on the 1800, he just couldn’t get any sound to his 875. Considering that this happened with two separate samples of the 1800, it looks like there is some sort of HDMI compatibility problem between the 1800 and the Onkyo 875 receiver. Thus far, I haven’t heard of any other Onkyo/Integra units experiencing problems with the 1800.