Blu-ray Players

Yamaha BD-A1010 Aventage Universal 3D Blu-ray Player

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The Yamaha BD-A1010 Aventage Blu-ray Disc Player In Use

The first feature we made use of with the A1010 was the Netflix streaming. This may seem odd given it's a high-end Blu-ray player - why not pop in a Blu-ray and really see what this thing can do, right? Well, the first evening after setting it up my wife and I wanted to continue watching "The Tudors" which we have just recently finished. We started the series using the Netflix feature in my Samsung PN-58C7000 plasma TV. There was a striking difference between watching Netflix via my Samsung TV versus watching it on the Yamaha BD-A1010. The picture on the A1010 was noticeably dimmer. My Samsung is properly calibrated; however, that's no guarantee that the Netflix function is also calibrated. I only calibrated those modes and inputs available when playing back a Blu-ray disc. Currently there is no way that I know of to calibrate a display from within the Netflix application. So I compared the Netflix and Blockbuster apps on my Oppo BDP-93 to the Yamaha and Samsung as well. The Oppo is also less bright than the Samsung for both apps, but not so much so as the Yamaha. When comparing the A1010 to the BDP-93, the Oppo was brighter, but only slightly. In fact, the image on the Samsung TV was a little too bright, compared to the Oppo and Yamaha. However the Oppo and Samsung seemed to deal better with some resolution-related artifacts in the streamed videos. Other than that, the Netflix experience was virtually identical to that on my other devices (Oppo BDP-93 and Samsung TV). I did not notice this difference in brightness on Blu-ray disc content, when comparing to the Oppo. Navigation of both Netflix and Blockbuster was a little snappier on my Samsung TV than on the Yamaha BD-A1010.

On to some Blu-rays: For Christmas I received the new box-set of the Star Wars saga, so those have become my new favorite Blu-rays. While Episode 3 is not my favorite of the saga, it is one of my new references for video comparison. Overall image quality of the Yamaha BD-A1010 was fantastic, and the DTS-HD audio was as expected, amazing.

I tested the 3D capabilities of the A1010 with my Samsung 3D demo discs of "How to Train Your Dragon" and Galapagos IMAX. Both movies were rendered in 3D nicely. There were no discernible differences between 3D performances on the BD-A1010 vs. my reference Oppo BDP-93.

On the HD audio side, I dropped in my DVD-A of Chanticleer's Magnificat. I'm quite familiar with this disc, which I adore, and the sound was as usual: stunning. I listened to this disc both over HDMI and over analog RCA stereo. It was difficult to A/B with a DVD-A disc since I couldn't have it playing in both at the same time. Also, the disc would go to the menu first, where I'd have to select the right track. So there was always a delay between comparisons. That said, there was hardly any difference at all between the Oppo and the BD-A1010. If I had to find a difference, I'd say that the Yamaha had an ever so slightly more open sound. But it was subtle, and given the delay in A/B comparisons I hesitate to bring it up. The Yamaha did at least match my Oppo for DVD-A high-def music sound quality, and might have surpassed it.

Finally, I brought out my Telarc recording of Beethoven's 9th Symphony (Telarc CD 429 861-2). A/B'ing this was a bit easier, as I could make a copy and play both simultaneously. For comparison, I focused on the first several bars of the second movement, the Molto vivace. I love listening for the overtones of timpani and they get a nice (if brief) solo here. Again, there was almost no difference between the Yamaha and my reference Oppo player. I did again detect the slightest sense of a more open sound with the Yamaha. Highs were just ever so slightly clearer, and there was a feeling of a more substantial mid-range.

Last year Yamaha published an Android app for their A/V products. I've been using this app to control my receiver from anywhere in my house (within Wi-Fi range of my router). The Android app also works to control the Aventage Blu-ray player, and it works quite flawlessly. As with any touch-screen tab/smart-phone app, you lose all tactile feedback that you would have with a remote. But for controlling my system remotely, it's a God-send.