Blu-ray Players

Yamaha BD-S1065 Blu-ray Player

ARTICLE INDEX


Introduction

The BD-S1065 is one of Yamaha’s most recent Blu-ray models (the other being the BD-S1900), and is also the least expensive model in their lineup. Despite being the “cheapest” player in Yamaha’s arsenal, the BD-S1065 is well equipped to meet its competition with full Blu-ray profile 2.0 (BD-Live) compliance, built-in audio decoding of all the latest high-resolution audio codecs, and even AVCHD playback capability.

It is not a universal player, instead focusing simply on Blu-ray. Let's see how it performed.

Specifications

  • Design: Blu-ray Player
  • Supported Formats: BD-Video, BD-R (BD Video), BD-RE (BD-Video), DVD-Video, DVD-R/-RW (DVD-Video, DVD-VR, AVCHD), DVD+R/+RW (+VR, AVCHD), CD and CD-R/-RW (CD-DA, JPEG)
  • Supported Audio: Bitstream and Decoding Capability for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital+, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD, DTS-HD Master Audio, LPCM.
  • Supported Video Resolutions via HDMI: 480p (576p), 720p, 1080i,1080p 60Hz, 1080p 24Hz
  • Dimensions: 3.75" H x 17.1" W x 12.5" D
  • Weight: 9.9 Pounds
  • MSRP: $599.95 USA
  • Yamaha

Design

Upon un-boxing the BD-S1065, my initial impressions were favorable. The unit weighs 9.9 pounds, which is heavy enough to make it feel like it has solid construction. Yamaha points out that the S1065 is built around the same chassis as their audio-only designs and I noticed very little flex or vibration with the unit. The front faceplate (available in black or titanium) is sleek and uncluttered with just six transport buttons plus a stand-by/power button on the far left side. The drive tray and display are centered on the unit, which helps achieve the more “symmetrical” look that I prefer. The design is a perfect match for the current RX-V line of Yamaha receivers and also matches older Yamaha gear, such as the 4-year-old Yamaha DVD-C750 Universal DVD changer that I own.

Moving around to the back panel, the S1065 sports the following outputs: 7.1 channel analog audio, a separate 2-channel analog audio, optical coaxial, digital coaxial, composite video, S-video, component video, and HDMI. There is also an IR in/out for remote control capability, an Ethernet jack for BD-Live, and a USB input for storing BD-live content or loading firmware updates. If you need RS-232 control capabilities, you will need to step up to Yamaha’s BD-S1900. As the BD-S1065 lacks any internal memory, you must attach a USB thumb drive (2 GB minimum recommended) if you wish to use the BD-Live functionality. I must also commend Yamaha for including a detachable power cord, which makes installing and removing the unit much easier in my opinion.

Internally, there are five separate 2-channel AKM DACS for the 7.1 and 2-channel audio outputs. All processing, scaling, and HDMI-based tasks are handled by the built-in LSI chip, as Yamaha has chosen not to use a third-party scaling/de-interlacing solution. Overall build quality is very good. Even the disc tray opens and closes with a smooth, quiet action.

The included remote control is perfectly functional, but it is not backlit. However, all of the needed buttons are there, including “angle,” “audio,” and “dimmer” buttons to dim the front panel display (3 levels of brightness). The remote seemed to have good range and worked well even from relatively extreme angles. After using the stock remote for a few days, I programmed my Universal Remote Control MX-880 for the Yamaha and continued to enjoy trouble-free response to remote commands.

Feature Set

The BD-S1065 is a fully featured BD-Live (Profile 2.0) compliant player with built-in decoding capabilities for all of the latest lossless surround sound formats, such as Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio. However, the BD-S1065 is “DTS-Master Audio Essentials” certified, which means that with regular DVD discs, the player cannot decode DTS 96/24, DTS ES, DTS ES Matrix, or DTS Neo: 6. Considering how few DVDs are encoded with these surround formats, I wouldn’t be too concerned about this as you will still hear the “core” DTS soundtrack. The Yamaha can play many types of discs, including many recordable media except for DVD-RAM. DVD-A and SACD is not supported on this player. There are no capabilities for Netflix or Pandora video streaming either, which is offered more and more on Blu-ray players these days. HDMI CEC control is included to assist in controlling other CEC equipped devices, but it does increase stand-by power consumption if enabled.

The Yamaha can display JPEG images (via CD only, not the USB jack), but cannot play MP3 audio files. The BD-S1065 is one of the relatively few players that can handle AVCHD encoded discs, so I was finally able to watch the HD version of “Star Wars: Episode IV” that I’ve had for a few months now. The player supports x.v.Color and Deep Color, though there is still no content available. Another nice feature is that both the HDMI and component video outputs can be active simultaneously. They can even be set up for different output resolutions (i.e. 1080P via HDMI and 480i for component).


Setup

There is definitely some real convenience associated with HDMI-based hardware. Setup of the Yamaha took me no more than five minutes. I ran the power cable to my power conditioner and the single HDMI cable to a free input on my Integra DHC-9.9 pre-pro. Since I wanted to check out the BD-S1065’s analog sound quality with music, I also ran a pair of analog RCA cables from the stereo outputs of the Yamaha to my pre-pro. I then powered up the Yamaha and entered the on-screen setup menus. The setup menus were clear and easy to follow. I found that I didn’t need the manual at all during the initial setup, which is a testament to the BD-S1065's well thought-out GUI design.

The only menu choices that I needed to consult the manual on were the “Dynamic Range Control” and “Quick Start” features. I left the “Dynamic Range Control” on “Normal,” which does not apply any sort of limiting or compression to the source signal. I also turned on “Quick Start” which decreases the start up time of the unit from about 40 seconds to less than 2 seconds, a nice performance boost indeed. The only side effects of “Quick Start” are an increase in “Stand-by” power consumption from 0.7 Watts to 10 Watts (HDMI CEC adds .5W) and an increase in the shut down time of the unit from about 8 seconds to 35 seconds or more. As much as I enjoyed the fast start-up time of “Quick Start,” I’d like to see Yamaha get this same performance without so much extra power consumption. I would also like to point out that Yamaha has included fairly robust bass-management and distance compensation settings if you use the analog outputs. The only thing missing was an adjustable crossover point for bass management, but the default 80Hz setting should work for most users.

Before playing any discs, I checked the Yamaha website to make sure that my player’s firmware was up-to-date. It wasn’t, so I downloaded the latest 1.09 version to my PC and then copied the file to a USB thumb-drive. The Yamaha can only perform firmware updates via USB or CD, not the built-in Ethernet port. This is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. If you are going to the trouble of making the player BD-Live capable with an included Ethernet port, why not let it connect to the internet for firmware updates as well? Sadly, Yamaha confirmed that Ethernet firmware updates are not on the roadmap for this player. Regardless, the firmware update went smoothly and was completed in less than 15 minutes.


In Use

The BD-S1065 proved to be a very reliable player. I did not encounter a single disc (even Netflix Blu-rays) that failed to play while I had the unit in my system. The only glitches I experienced revolved around HDMI “handshaking.” The Yamaha seemed to be more sensitive than other BD players I’ve had in my system and occasionally required me to power cycle my Integra pre-pro before getting a picture or sound. This only happened three or four times over the course of my ten week evaluation so it was not a big deal, but I do feel compelled to mention it.

The only other criticism I have revolves around the player’s responsiveness. I found the Yamaha to be a bit sluggish in almost all aspects of its performance, shy of initial power-up in “Quick Start” mode. Disc load times were pretty long, slower than my nearly three-year-old Samsung BD-UP5000. Cars on Blu-ray took about 48 seconds to load to the initial trailers, versus about 38 seconds on my Samsung. This is a bit better than the Denon BD-1800 (50 seconds) that I had a few months ago, but I would expect to see a progression of performance with each subsequent generation of players. Also, the player was slow to react to fast forward and rewind commands, often displaying an error message if I didn’t wait a full second or so before trying to progress to the next fast forward/rewind speed (1x, 2x, etc). BD-Live content took a painfully long time to load as well.

Yamaha BD-S1065

Yamaha BD-S1065

Yamaha BD-S1065

Yamaha BD-S1065

Despite my criticisms of the responsiveness of the BD-S1065, the Yamaha was no slug when it came to outright video performance. I watched a lot of Blu-ray discs, including Transformers 2, Coraline, Up, and Angels and Demons. Each of these discs looked great on the Yamaha, even with the player converting 1080p24 content to 1080i or 720p for my Fujitsu plasma. On all discs, the picture was crisp and clean, with a very smooth quality to it. The IMAX footage from the forest battle scene in Transformers 2 looked spectacular, with great color from the trees contrasted by the incredible CGI of the robots. Image depth was fantastic, though this is by far one of the best individual scenes yet on Blu-ray. Coraline had great blacks and shadow detail, along with an incredibly sharp image. Up was a revelation on Blu-ray, with one of the sharpest images I’ve seen yet (even for a Pixar release) and some incredibly vibrant colors. Even without a third-party interlacing/scaling chipset (such as ABT or HQV), the Yamaha did a pretty good job of up-scaling/de-interlacing regular DVDs. Starship Troopers, one of my favorite “guilty-pleasure” discs, looked nearly as good on the Yamaha as it did on my HQV Reon equipped Samsung player, with just a smidge more detail visible on the Samsung. At least for Blu-ray discs, I found myself preferring the picture quality of the BD-S1065 to my Samsung reference player. It just seemed to have a richer, more vivid presentation that drew me deeper into the movie.

While I was very happy with the overall video quality of the BD-S1065, I was even more surprised by its audio performance, both on movies and 2-channel. Transformers 2 was a sonic tour de force, with one of the most amazing surround soundtracks ever. Bass was incredibly forceful, but did not completely overwhelm the more subtle effects. Up has one of the most enveloping soundtracks I’d heard in a while. The sound of the wind blowing around you during the flying scenes were incredibly realistic, and further improved an already excellent film. I re-watched some of these sequences on my Samsung player and definitely felt that the Yamaha had a slightly richer presentation while still offering up more detail in the mix. Even with both players bit-streaming via HDMI, the difference was noticeable.

Yamaha BD-S1065

Yamaha BD-S1065

With 2-channel CD playback, the BD-S1065 continued to impress. I used the HDMI connection at first, and queued up my go-to demo track, “Non Allegro” from Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances” (Reference Recordings RR-96). The differences between the Yamaha and my reference Samsung were even more pronounced, with the BD-S1065 offering a much smoother, richer tone while allowing me to hear more deeply into the mix. Musical details were more pronounced, without sounding harsh or etched. I also found that the soundstage seemed both wider and deeper. Next, I cued up “Little Wing,” from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “The Sky is Crying” (Sony B0000027KO) and cut loose with the volume. This is one of my all-time favorite guitar tracks, and the Yamaha did it justice. The tone was beautiful, with Vaughn’s incredible riffs retaining their proper edge without crossing into “ear bleeding” land. I also ran these two tracks through the Yamaha’s 2-channel analog output and was similarly impressed. My Integra pre-pro does not have state-of-the-art analog performance, but I still liked what I heard. It didn’t top the Audyssey Pro equalization available via the HDMI connection, but those of you with analog only systems should not be disappointed with the quality of the Yamaha’s AKM DACS. The overall sound via analog was very similar to my older Yamaha DVD-C750, which is definitely an analog overachiever given its price. Unless you have a high-end CD player in your rack, the BD-S1065 could easily prove to be your “go-to” component for CD listening.


On the Bench

Video Performance

The Yamaha BD-S1065 had varying results in our benchmark tests. Measurements were taken at 1080i resolution with our Tektronix Oscilloscope from the component analog video outputs. White levels on this player were measured hot at 104 IRE. In addition, the player wasn't able to display blacker than black content and I couldn't find anything in the menu to turn it on. On the upside, the luma and chroma channels were in perfect alignment with each other without any Y/C delay issues, and the player displayed its images in full resolution without any cropped pixels. As you can see from the graph, the frequency response measured from the BD-S1065 has a declining slope into its highest frequencies. This translates into picture quality with lackluster or soft details.

In our HD section of the benchmark the BD-S1065 had below average results. While once again, the player was able to display a full HD image without any cropped pixels, the BD-S1065 fell short in the 1080i/p conversion, diagonal filtering, and noise reduction tests. In this case the BD-S1065 was unable to properly convert 1080i material with either 2:2 or 3:2 cadences into 1080p without artifacting. While there's not a lot of material like this that's out there, we still feel proper 1080i/p conversion is an important ability for a player to do correctly. This player also didn't pass any of our diagonal filtering tests and jaggies and stairstepping could be observed.

Standard DVD Performance

The BD-S1065 had pretty good performance in our standard DVD benchmarks. Using HDMI and component video connections the player was able to handle most of our tests correctly, and only had problems with a couple. The bad edit test tests for the ability of the decoder to handle hiccups in the 3-2 cadence and this player exhibited combing on various material. While the BD-S1065's handling of most film based material was good the player was given a borderline score on the 3-2 cadence mixed flag test because it wasn't able to stay locked on to the test pattern for the whole duration of the test. There's players with a lot worse performance than this and it's something that could probably be resolved with a firmware update. Results on our high detail test were excellent, and the player performed equally well with more difficult material such as Gladiator's coliseum flyover scene.

On video based material the BD-S1065 had good results. The player is motion adaptive, and was able to recover between film and video quite well as well as handle our Natural Splendors test.

On the usability section of our benchmark, the BD-S1065 had good response from remote commands but the player was a little bit slow when it came to powering it down as well as switching disks. There were also a couple times that the player had to be completely unplugged to restore operation. The layer change for the BD-S1065 came in at a brisk .7 seconds.


Conclusions

The Yamaha BD-S1065 is a well built Blu-ray player that had solid performance with both music and movies. Blu-ray picture quality was very good, with good standard DVD playback as well. As impressive as the picture quality was from the Yamaha, the audio was even better. This was the best sounding Blu-ray player I’ve had in my system, befitting a company with such a long history of producing fine musical instruments.