Equipment Review No.3 July-August 2002
Pioneer Elite DV-37
Pure Cinema Progressive-Scan DVD Player
Progressive scan technology is one of the latest advancements in DVD hardware. When connected to a monitor that has progressive scan display capabilities, these new DVD players can deliver clearer, more flicker-free images than do the present interlaced players. Progressive scan DVD players accomplish this task by updating all scan lines in one pass when displaying a picture. By contrast, interlaced players only update odd-numbered scan lines in one pass, and then even-numbered scan lines in the next.
As one might expect, Pioneer Electronics is leading the way with this progressive scan technology. Between its standard and Elite product lines, Pioneer Electronics currently offers seven DVD players with this technology, with prices ranging from $449.00 up to $5,999.00. With that in mind, I will be taking a look at the Elite branded, DV-37, a model somewhere in the middle of this product offering with its $1,000.00 M.S.R.P.
Removing the player from the box, it is immediately evident that the DV-37 is both stylish and well constructed (weighing in at nearly 15 pounds). The black front panel is elegant and uncluttered. Internally, there is a double layered chassis for increased stability and an acoustic damper tray for suppressing transport noise. The video, audio, and power supply are isolated in 3 distinct chambers, and the two-prong power cord is removable. Ultimately, this is a piece of equipment designed and manufactured with the highest standards.
Undeniably, the single greatest feature of the DV-37 is its 3-2 pulldown, progressive scan capability. When playing a film-based DVD, this superior form of progressive scan technology (which Pioneer has termed PureCinema) adjusts the picture to more closely match the picture quality of a cinema screen. Other notable features include three factory video settings (TV, Projector, Professional); twin-wave laser pick-up enabling playback of DVD, CD-V, CD, CD-R, and CD-RW formats; 15 video parameter adjustments; Viterbi Error Correction; Setup Navigator; Advanced GUI with non-stop operation; dual 96kHz/24-bit audio DAC; and glow jog/joystick remote control with TV control presets.
The DV-37 has all of the connections necessary to accommodate almost every home theater setup. On the video side, this player has one set of component video outputs, two S-video outputs (S2 compatible), and two sets of composite video outputs. On the audio side, the DV-37 has two sets of analog outputs, one digital coaxial output, and one optical digital output. These two digital outputs enable Dolby Digital and DTS signals to be passed through to an external receiver or processor for decoding.
I auditioned the DV-37 with our reference equipment which consists of a Pioneer Elite VSX-33TX A/V receiver, Pioneer SD532-HD5 rear projection monitor, and BIC Americas V636 5.1 channel speaker system. With my test DVDs, Chicken Run and Enemy of the State, I first examined the players video playback in the interlaced mode. The resulting picture quality was very sharp, with excellent detail, solid contrast and robust color. To be honest, the picture was so good that I thought I had inadvertently selected the progressive playback mode. This then begged the question of whether the progressive mode could actually offer any noticeable improvement over the interlaced picture. Well, the answer is a resounding yes. The picture quality in the progressive scan mode is nothing short of spectacular. Simply put, everything looks smoother with a markedly improved overall clarity. Two things in particular caught my attention. First, all text appearing throughout both films was flicker-free. When the end credits rolled, it was a pleasure to be able read them without getting eyestrain. Second, despite our reference rear projection monitors excellent internal line-doubler, certain colors would have a tendency to bleed with DVDs played back through our old DVD player (ProScan 868OZ). This was most evident when large blocks of the color red appeared on screen. Reds, or any other color for that matter, were much cleaner and sharper with the DVDs I played back through the progressive mode of the DV-37. Overall, the video playback quality of this unit is very good in interlaced mode and cinema-quality in progressive mode.
With regard to audio playback, this player performed equally well with almost all of the different disc formats currently available. The DV-37 encountered no difficulties reading the soundtracks of either the Dolby Digital or DTS DVDs I tested. Music CDs, whether the standard two-channel stereo or the multi-channel, 96 kHz/24 bit variety, were also read with ease. Perhaps most impressively, though, was the players ability to read CD-R tracks. Having burned some music onto a CD-R disc through the use of my personal computer, nary a hiss, pop, or crackle was heard when I played the disc back in the DV-37. Overall, clean vocals, good channel separation, and an extended dynamic range characterized playback for each of these various disc formats. About the only things this player couldnt do in terms of audio performance was to play DVD-Audio and SACD discs. (Note: For those audiophiles out there who require DVD-Audio playback, Pioneer does offer three models with this feature, the DV-38A ($2,000.00), DV-47A ($1,200.00) and the DV-AX10 ($5,999.00). Additionally, the DV-47A and DV-AX10 also support SACD playback).
As DVDs have indeed become mainstream, the appropriate question to ask is not whether you should purchase a DVD player (as the answer is obviously yes), but rather which particular player should you purchase. The Pioneer Elite DV-37 is a top-notch DVD player. It is well built, feature-laden, and contains all of the audio/video connections needed for todays state-of-the-art home theater systems. Plus, if you have a monitor that is capable of displaying progressive scan technology, the DV-37 will unlock a picture quality that is unparalleled by every consumer video format short of HDTV. Backed by Pioneers two- year parts and labor warranty, the DV-37 is worth every penny of its $1,000.00 M.S.R.P.
- Calvin Harding, Jr.
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