Universal Players

Denon DBP-4010UDCI Universal Blu-ray player

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

Now that the setup details are out the way, we can talk about the DBP-4010UDCI in daily operation. The first thing you notice about the DBP-4010UDCI is that it’s not a speed demon. I found the player to be quite slow in comparison to some players on the market. For example, it takes on average 52 seconds for the tray to open when the player comes out of standby, and another 35 seconds after that to start hearing music if you insert a CD. If you left a CD in the player when you turned the DBP-4010UDCI off, it will start playing in approximately one minute and 12 seconds when you hit Play. The DBP-4010UDCI offers a “Quick Start Mode” to compensate for the slow start-up speed, but this comes at the expense of extra power utilization.

In my experience, I was content to just wait rather than consume more power. The player’s tray mechanism operated nicely but I was disappointed in the overall operation of the players’ drive mechanism. The player is slow, and during chapter seeks and disc-menu operations the DBP-4010UDCI produces occasional noise and beeps which were noticeable from across the listening room. Fortunately, this didn’t happen during normal movie or music playback and wasn’t a problem in daily use.

As an audio player, the DBP-4010UDCI was very satisfying. I had no troubles with any CD or DVD-Audio media and CD playback with the analog AL24 processing was very natural and enjoyable. In terms of SACD performance, I consistently preferred the DBP-4010UDCI analog output to PCM output via HDMI. The DBP-4010UDCI only outputs 44.1 kHz PCM signals when transmitting SACD over HDMI. To get the full benefit of SACD performance with the DBP-4010UDCI, you must use an analog connection. The DBP-4010UDCI converts the DSD bitstream directly to analog. Selecting “Source Direct” as discussed earlier allows you to send up to the full 100 kHz signal during analog SACD playback. I was once again reminded of how good SACD can sound and enjoyed some old favorites like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Peter Gabriel’s So.

For Blu-ray playback, I tested the DBP-4010UDCI with a few new releases: Julie and Julia, Terminator Salvation, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Inglourious Bastards. The DBP-4010UDCI did a great job with all four movies. The picture quality was excellent with exceptional detail and depth as I’ve come to expect from Blu-ray video. On the audio side of things, the DBP-4010UDCI did an amazing job with the soundtrack from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This movie makes great use of the surrounds and I was very impressed with how well the analog output section of the player performed. The soundtrack from Inglourious Bastards is superb and once again the DBP-4010UDCI did an impressive job producing the multi-channel soundtrack from this movie. Switching between high resolution PCM over HDMI and the multi-channel analog input on my processor was indistinguishable with the DBP-4010UDCI.

For DVD playback, I tested with the usual test material from Gladiator and Star Trek Insurrection. I did not see any major artifacts in the flyover scene of ancient Rome in Gladiator or the opening scenes of the village and hay stacks in Star Trek Insurrection. I felt that the opening scenes of Star Trek Insurrection were a bit noisier than I’d prefer, but overall I was satisfied with the player’s ability to upscale standard DVD.

The DBP-4010UDCI remote is straightforward. The Play button is uniquely shaped so you can easily find the transport controls without looking at the remote. The buttons for fast/slow forward and reverse on either side of the Play button are slightly curved on the edges which also help in locating the correct keys. I did feel that the bottom third of the remote which houses the batteries was overly bulky which made this remote seem really large in my hand. At this price point, I would have preferred a back-lit remote but the glow keys were a nice touch.
The user interface during CD playback is very basic.

Pressing the Display button on the remote cycles the display through the remaining track and total playing times. With all the available space on the screen, I would love to see a progress bar with track elapsed time on one end and remaining time on the other. The display gets more useful with SACD playback where the player will display artist, song, and album title if available.

When playing media from the SD card, the player will also include the album art if it’s included in your media.

There were some aspects of the DBP-4010UDCI that I did find frustrating. When accessing the SD card reader you do need to have a lot of patience since it’s a very slow process for the player to switch from playing discs to accessing the card reader itself. While I appreciated being able to play media and view photos off of an SD card, I really would have preferred to see a USB input on this player so I could access more media in a convenient fashion. USB flash drives are the norm these days and not everyone has SD cards. Many of my audio files are in WMA 9.2 Lossless format, and despite the player’s ability to play WMA, it was unable to process the lossless WMA files. This was a real disappointment for me and something I hope is enhanced in a future version. I also wished the player could just access the media on my existing network.

BD-Live Performance

In addition to the high resolution video and audio that Blu-ray offers, there are two additional features of the DBP-4010UDCI that we need to discuss. The first feature is Bonus View which allows you to enjoy a picture-in-picture overlay on top of the actual movie you are watching. The Bonus View technology is part of the Blu-ray Profile 1.1 specification. Bonus View is a great way to get some perspective on the making of the movie itself, and the Bonus View technology helps you really keep the comments in perspective. The audio for Bonus View is found on the secondary audio tracks.

The term secondary audio refers to an alternate audio track which is available on most Blu-ray discs. This extra audio content may contain menu sound effects which play when items in the menu are chosen. The extra audio content may also contain useful information such as the audio for the Bonus View feature. In order to hear this secondary audio, the player must mix the audio with the primary audio track for the movie. In the case of the DBP-4010UDCI, the player does not mix the secondary audio with the primary high resolution audio track unless you explicitly select “Mix Audio Output” in the “BD Audio Mode” menu. So what does all this mean to you when you are watching a Blu-ray?

First of all, if you want to use Bonus View, you must remember to turn on the secondary audio mix. If you forget to do this, you simply have to press the Mode button on the remote which brings up an onscreen menu.

Selecting “BD Audio Mode” then allows you to switch between “HD Audio Output” and “Mix Audio Output”. While this may seem like a lot of trouble, it is really a nice implementation since there are many players out there that require the user to stop the movie, go back to the setup menu, find the audio menu, find the BD audio setting option, change the option, and then navigate back to the main menu and restart the movie! That adds up to a lot of time-consuming steps to take advantage of the Bonus View technology. Fortunately, the DBP-4010UDCI makes that really simple.

You may be asking why not just leave the player in “Mix Audio Output” mode all the time. The reason for this is that you then lose another major benefit of the player – the high resolution audio. The DBP-4010UDCI does not have the internal processing capabilities to actually mix the secondary audio with the high resolution audio track and leave it in high resolution. To be precise, if you mix the secondary audio with a TrueHD or DTS-HD audio track, the player will only output the low resolution Dolby Digital or DTS audio tracks. If you want to ensure that you are getting the most from your audio experience on the DBP-4010UDCI, you have to make sure that the secondary audio is not being mixed when you watch the main feature on your Blu-ray disc media. I would recommend quickly pressing the Mode button when you start watching a Blu-ray movie to make sure that the “BD Audio Mode” is set correctly.

The other feature of the DBP-4010UDCI is BD-Live. This technology relies on the network connection in the player to retrieve additional content related to the movie and to provide additional movie trailers and promotional material offered by the studios. The BD-Live specification recommends a minimum of 1 GB of storage in order to download content off of the internet. The DBP-4010UDCI falls short in this regard by not having enough onboard storage to use BD-Live. Make sure you install and format your own SD memory card before attempting to use BD-Live on the DBP-4010UDCI. At this price point, I would have liked to see Denon include 1 GB of internal memory to satisfy the basic storage requirements for BD-Live. The DBP-4010UDCI had no trouble accessing the BD-Live content during my testing except for the Up disc. I included a small benchmark to give you a better sense of how the DBP-4010UDCI compared against the PS3.

Sony’s PlayStation 3 is still one of the fastest Blu-ray players on the market. While newer players are catching up to its speed, the ability to quickly and accurately process BD-Live material is still a step ahead on the PS3. My findings with the DBP-4010UDCI indicate that disc load times were somewhat slower compared to the PS3, while the PS3 still easily won on overall BD-Live load speed. This is not that surprising given the processing horsepower that comes in the PS3.