- Written by Adrian Wittenberg
- Published on 10 April 2008
The CDP-502 didn't have stellar performance in our core video tests. On the upside, the player passed all of our Chroma upsampling tests, and it didn't show any Y/C delay issues using either component or HDMI outputs at any of its available resolutions. The player also passed the below black pluge test and it includes the ability to set the black level to either 7.5 IRE or 0 IRE as well as turn below black on or off. One of the drawbacks that it does exhibit however is a significant pixel cropping issue. Ten pixels were cropped from the bottom of the screen at any resolution, and up to three pixels were cropped from the top of the screen depending on what resolution its set on.
We now launch a new manner of benchmark data presentation. By clicking on the graphic shown below, you will see the full set of data in an Excel spreadsheet. You will eventually be able to compare different players, using side-by-side spreadsheets. When you click on the graphic to enlarge it, the chart may not be completely full size, depending on your monitor. In that case, move your mouse cursor over the chart and you will see a small box with arrows appear in the bottom right hand corner. Click on that box to enlarge the chart to its full size so you can read the text. Put your cursor on the chart and hold down the left mouse key, then you can move the chart around on your desktop for convenience.
The player has a white level from the component output that measures low at 96.5 IRE. This causes a reduction in the contrast and makes whites look lackluster. This would mean that adjusting your display would be the way to get the most out of the 502 when using the analog output. The measured video frequency response from the component analog video output show a large rise in the middle of the curve. I suspect this was purposely designed in order to add a bit of zip to fine detail.
In our de-interlacing tests, the CDP-502 performed fairly well. It passed most of our basic tests with flying colors and only exhibited trouble when locking onto a pattern that contained cadences with breaks or changes. The combing artifacts that were present were very minor though, so I did give the player partial credit when it was due. The CDP-502 failed in the ability to sync subtitles to frames, so if you watch a lot of movies with subtitles, you might see some combing artifacts on the lettering when it appears or when it disappears.
On video based material the CDP-502 was a bit of a mixed bag. The player is motion adaptive but it couldn't pass our 2-2 cadence based tests output at 480p. Real world material such as the Natural Splendors video looked much better when the signal was up-converted to 720p or 1080p though, and the staggering effect seen in fine detail was nearly unnoticeable. Most people who are seriously considering this player will hopefully have a system that can take advantage of this player's HDMI output and I would recommend it as the best connection choice for this player.
I watched a couple of movies using the CDP-502, and I tested out the player's ability to upscale material to 1080p. I used the HDMI output connection to my display. I started by watching House of Flying Daggers in 480p. The picture was sharp, the color looked good, and there was sharp detail in scenes with lots of trees or leaves (this is a result of the bump in video frequency response at 6 MHz). I then changed the resolution to 1080p, and found that the image was very smooth, but it also looked soft and it was lacking in edge detail (this is due to the 10 MHz response actually going a bit below 0 dBV on the graph). I tried turning on the edge enhancement in the setup menu, and I liked the medium setting which improved the detail without making the image look grainy. I felt the high setting was a bit too much. I had similar results with other movies like Stardust. Upscaling to 1080p would make the image look like it was projected on a huge screen in a theater: a little bit washed out and a little soft in detail. If I owned this player, I would probably stick with outputting material at 480p through HDMI.
For sound verification, I listened to a couple of DVD-Audio discs such as Buena Vista Social Club's release and Pat Metheny's Imaginary Day. I also listened to some jazz compact discs like Miles Davis' ESP and Sonny Rollins Newk's Time. I connected the 502 to my Integra 9.8 DTC using the Toslink output, and I also listened to it connected to my antique Scott Stereomaster 233 tube amp using single ended (RCA analog) connections. The sound was impeccable in both cases. I especially liked listening to two channel music through my tube amp which produced a gorgeous sound with warmth and presence. The sound quality the CDP-502 produced was truly a delight to the ears.