Blu-ray Players

Yamaha BD-S1065 Blu-ray Player

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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.