- Written by Adrian Wittenberg
- Published on 15 September 2008
The DVD-2500BTCI is one of several Blu-ray players that Denon is offering in their current lineup. Unlike the DVD -3800BDCI which features a Realta HQV video processing solution and internal decoding of Dolby TrueHD and dts-HD Master Audio, the DVD-2500BTCI is billed as a digital-only transport that offers playback of BD discs as well as output of the audio signals on the disc in raw bitstream format using its HDMI 1.3a compliant connection. There have been only a few players available on the market that can perform such a task, but more and more players are now offering this feature.
- Design: Blu-ray Player
- Supported Formats: BD-ROM (BDVideo), DVD-Video, DVD+R/RW, DVD-R. DVD-RW, CD, CD-R/RW, MP3, WMA, JPEG, Kodak PictureCD, DIVX (ver.6)
- Connections: HDMI 1.3a. RS232C, Denon Control
- Dimensions: 5.5" H x 17.1" W x 15.4" D
- Weight 20.3 Pounds
The 2500BTCI does not have any analog connections and it is designed to be mated with an advanced AV processor that can decode the bitstream signal into its various native HD sound formats. This includes Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and dts-HD Master audio. Products such as Denon’s AVR-4308CI or Integra’s DTC 9.8 along with a number of others, would be natural choices to use with this unit. Between the three Blu-ray players that Denon offers, the DVD-2500BTCI would be the rational choice if you already own an AV processor that delivers sound and video in spades.
The DVD-2500BTCI’s superior construction sets it apart from many other, lesser Blu-ray players.
Getting a look at the internals, we can see a cooling solution implemented as well as a view of Denon’s Precision Drive Mechanism, newly designed for Denon’s Blu-ray line. Most notably the drive is enclosed with a top and bottom steel shield keeping the disc environment protected from dust and magnetic influences.
Denon’s Jeff Talmadge also told me that the drive tray is coated with a special protein to help eliminate vibration.
In addition, this player has no analog section and that gives it a simpler design, free from costly DAC components. The DVD-2500BTCI’s intuitive layout eliminates interference between circuits by separating them from each other by placing the video and power sections of the unit on their own isolated circuit boards. Furthermore, this player also uses steel plates on both the top and bottom of the chassis to not only further eliminate interference but also to suppress vibration.
Denon is known for exceptional build quality and as you can see this player continues with that trend. Getting a look at it from an external point of view, the 2500BTCI is a taller and heavier player than most. At 20.3 lb its rugged chassis is also supported with feet to stabilize the unit.
Moving to the front, the attractive brushed metal face plate looks very sleek. It includes basic playback controls as well as an SD card slot that can play the MP3, WMA, JPEG and DIVX formats. This player also features a rather large display, which I found to be very attractive and legible even from several feet away. Its brightness can be adjusted via the settings in the menu and can be turned off completely by using the Pure Direct button located on both the remote control and the front panel.
On the back panel, we see the single HDMI connection as well as a RS-232C control and an input to control other Denon devices from a single remote control. As you can see, there is no Ethernet port on this unit, so this player will not support BD-Live and any firmware upgrades offered from Denon are performed by downloading an update from the Denon website and then burning it onto a CD-R. The processing chip that the 2500BTCI employs is the Panasonic UniPhier solution. This is the same decoder chip that’s been used on Panasonic’s BD-30 Blu-ray player. The Panasonic UniPhier chipset also known as the Pro2P is an all-in-one solution that offers the ability to decode dual simultaneous HD signals. This enables the 2500BTCI to output picture-in-picture content as well as output dual audio streams which makes it a Blu-ray 1.1 profile compliant player.
The remote control is really well-organized and the buttons used most frequently are spaced apart and are easy to press singularly. I liked the remote because of its straightforward operation. My main gripe with it is that it doesn’t have a backlight.
The DVD-2500BTCI can play BD-video, DVD Video, CDs, and Kodak Picture CDs. It can also play MP3, WMA, JPEG, and DIVX pc formats that are stored either on disc or on a SD memory card.
The 2500BTCI allows you to manually set the output resolution between 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p60, and 1080p24. 1080p24 works correctly if there is 1080p24 frame material on the disc, the display you are using supports the mode, and the display’s EDID reports the mode correctly to the player. If not, the player will default to 1080p60 or the next available resolution that the display supports. As of writing this, there is a firmware update released that addresses the selection of 1080p24 but I was unable to confirm its operation.
One of the most attractive feature sof this player is its ability to output HD audio codecs in their raw bitstream format. For someone like me who owns a dedicated AV processor, this is a preferred choice because the high quality components in the AV processor allow the sound to be reproduced exquisitely. To enable this feature HD Audio output should be set to Normal. If it’s set to HD Mix then the player sends the audio as a 5.1 PCM signal. HD Mix is actually a feature used for special pip content on a BD disc.
The Blu-ray 1.1 profile requires the device to be able to play picture in picture content and as mentioned before, the 2500BTCI is capable of playing this content. This feature is typically used for audio commentary or other novel ways of revealing more info about a film. There haven’t been very many releases that take full advantage of this ability yet, but the recent Fox Studios sci-fi title Sunshine has it, and more will be coming on the horizon as the format develops and as more players are released that meet the hardware requirements of the 1.1 or 2.0 Blu-ray profile. There have been reported issues with this unit attenuating the LFE content by 5db when otput through LPCM, but apparently there has been a firmware update that addresses this problem.
Standard DVD Video Processing Performance
This player is primarily designed for Blu-ray content and it, like other players built on the searlier revisions of the UniPhier chipset, didn’t fare well on Secrets benchmarks for SD content. Here are the results.
The main issue I saw with the 2500BTCI was that it was unable to handle any of Secret’s film based cadence tests. These high detail wedge patterns test to see if the decoder is properly handling the 3:2 cadence and this player was unable to pass any of them which effectively means that resolution can be substantially lost as the player stays in video mode the whole time. The player is motion adaptive but it also failed the 2-2 cadence test.
On the upside, the 2500BDCI was able to display scenes with high detail content fairly well such as the Super Speedway test and also the more difficult Coliseum panning scene in Gladiator but it did take the player about a second to lock onto the pattern so I gave it a borderline score. The DVD-2500BTCI also failed two of the benchmark tests that check for the CUE error.
Since this player doesn’t have any analog outputs, measurements weren’t taken with the Tektronix Oscilloscope. This player didn’t crop any pixels whatsoever and a visual assessment of the YC Delay test didn’t exhibit any problems. All in all, this player exhibits below average performance in the Secrets DVD Benchmark.
This player takes around fifteen seconds to power on and initiate and it has very smooth and quiet operation due to its exceptional build quality. Load times on the player were decent with Blu-ray discs such as Pan’s Labyrinth and 300 loading up from start to finish at around forty seconds and Java titles loading up longer between a minute or two. That’s slower than a Sony Playstation 3 (which is known for speedy operation) but not by much and it’s very respectable given what else is out there.
Commands from the remote were a tad on the sluggish side with a minor but noticeable delay between when I pushed the button and when the command processed. Chapter skips operated briskly and were nothing to complain about. There are five speeds of fast forward and reverse and they operated well and were fairly smooth.
On our benchmark test for layer change the DVD-2500BTCI clocked in at a hair under a second which gives it a passing score for the test.
My setup has the Denon 2500BTCI output in bitstream mode to my Integra 9.8 DTC processor. I experienced a few HDMI handshake issues here and there with the audio not syncing up but I’m unable to tell if it was the player or the processor causing them.
Being a HDMI 1.3a player, the 2500BTCI supports up to 36 bit Deep Color. In the menu under the HDMI RGB setting you can select between “Normal” which has the IRE range set between 16 and 235 and “Enhanced” which changes the range from to 0 to 246 which enables one to see any additional highlights or shadows and displays more headroom and footroom present in source material.
Blu-ray video material looked very sharp with excellent definition and very good color representation including great depth in the shadows and highlights. The 2500BTCI didn’t clip a single pixel at higher resolutions and also showed that it could produce a wide array of colors without banding effects seen on the Avia II banding pattern. On the other hand, the player was tested for proper i/p conversion of 1080i material and it failed thus there is some loss of detail in this kind of material. I also put the 2500BTCI through Silicon Optix’s three line jaggies test and it showed diagonal processing in effect.
The player also was tested for noise reduction but no apparent noise reduction was occurring for HD material. I viewed the BonusView pip feature in action on Fox Studio’s Sunshine release and it was an entertaining feature. A small window came up in the bottom right corner of the screen that played an HD sequence that had video and audio content relevant to the current scene. I found it to be an interesting way to get more out of a film and I’m interested to see how this idea continues to be implemented.
When watching Blu-ray titles, the combination of the 2500BTCI and my AV processor produced excellent audio results. Discs that contained Dolby True HD content such as Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis Showcase sounded superb giving the soundstage seamless boundaries and excellent reproduction across the whole frequency spectrum. Marcus Miller’s performance on the track entitled Panther sounded incredible with all the ranges of the electric bass work sounding very natural and articulate.
I had results that were similarly exquisite with dts-Master audio material such as from Pan’s Labyrinth and this setup made me appreciate how luxurious the modern lossless HD sound formats really are. There was a lot to like about the DVD-2500BTCI’s performance when used together with a qualified AV processor and it’s a solution that I got a lot of enjoyment from.
Denon’s BD2500BTCI Transport is a solid product that has very smooth operation and is likely to withstand manyyears of use due to its high build quality. When coupled with an AV processor that has additional video processing and support for the latest HD sound codecs it represents an excellent Blu-ray solution for home theater. While there is a trade-off with mediocre standard DVD performance the BD2500BTCI Transport performed very well as intended and it is a very attractive offering from Denon.