When I opened up this player, I noted that there was quite a lot of unused space inside, with the circuit boards being seated quite low in the player while the only thing above them was the disc transport. Aside from this specific point, however, the player was well built, with all the circuitry being put together with the sort of quality that one expects of a player in this price range.
The Denon DVD-1600 is available in either black or gold.
The Denon DVD-1600 features a front panel with everything you need and very little that you don't. From left to right, we have:
The Denon DVD-1600 features a very serviceable rear panel, with just a couple of minor omissions that some users may find to be an issue. From left to right, we have:
Toshiba has long suffered criticisms over the shape and layout of their remote controls, so they obviously thought to themselves "ah-ha, this will fix them - we'll make one that is even worse!". How is this relevant to a Denon player, I hear you ask? Well, Denon has long used similar remotes to Toshiba, and it appears that they have followed suit and responded to criticisms of their remote control by packaging their player with a remote control that makes the previous one look good. The RC551 is an ugly remote that, in spite of its larger shape, is extremely difficult to use without having a very clear view of its surface.
This remote control essentially has two sections - the top and the other buttons. At the top of the remote, about a centimetre away from any other buttons, are the Open/Close button, the Power button, and the basic disc navigation buttons. As I alluded to in the previous sentence, these keys are offset from the other remote control functions by an approximate centimetre of empty space, and this is the only positive thing I have to say about this remote control. Even then, the layout of these essential buttons is very awkward, and the proximity of the Open/Close button to the Play button will have some users spitting chips as the disc tray opens when they meant to start the disc. The worst issue by far with this remote control, however, is that the numeral buttons and such buttons as the Play Mode, Subtitle, Audio, and Angle buttons are virtually indistinguishable from one another, making them impossible to use in a darkened home theatre environment.
At the bottom of the remote control, there is a collection of five buttons that relate to the audio and DVD-Audio playback capabilities of this DVD player. Clockwise from the top left, we have the Group, Page, Audio Only, SP V.S.S., and HP V.S.S. buttons, three of which are relevant to DVD-Audio, while the V.S.S. modes simulate virtual speakers using external loudspeakers or headphones, hence the cryptic abbreviations.
On the positive side, the operating range and speed of the remote control were more than satisfactory, with the DVD-1600 being rather quick to respond to inputs from well outside of the stated thirty-degree angle. Sometimes, however, it took multiple keypresses to make the player respond, particularly with the menu functions. This problem only reared its head every once in a while, but it did make for a frustrating experience navigating through the setup options at times. I suspect this problem arises from the highly graphical nature of the setup menus, which slows down the loading of different pages quite considerably.
The image that the DVD-1600 produces is very clean and smooth, with no harshness or edginess apparent in source materials that tend to produce such a look when used with my reference player. Even the all-region Criterion version of RoboCop, with which I tested the NTSC to PAL conversion and is noted for its very harsh, mechanical look, was noticeably smoother than I was used to. Far from producing a soft image, however, the DVD-1600 produces an image that is quite film-like in its quality, with plenty of vivid detail on offer in all aspects of the picture. Discs that have been sourced from less than optimal source materials, such as Black Adder, Season 2, also fare pretty well on this player. Suffice it to say that this player will extract the best possible look from all of your discs without adding the harshness associated with some players that this can be said of.
The fast forward and fast reverse functions on this player are impeccably handled, with five speeds varying between 2X and roughly 50X available. Playback is resumed from the exact point shown on the video display when the player is taken out of fast forward or fast reverse mode, a big plus in my view. Audio can be played back in the 2X mode, which also helps in picking the exact point where one wants to resume normal playback. For those who find this function irritating, it can be disabled in the setup menu.
Layer changes on this player are still noticeable, but less jarring than I am normally used to, with noticeable pauses lasting roughly half as long as they normally do on my reference player.
Some of the more appealing features of the On Screen Display include a graphical fast forward and fast reverse option, referred to in the manual as the Shuttle Screen. The DVD-Video On Screen Display also allows simple navigation through the Titles, Chapters, Soundtracks, and Subtitle options of any given disc, with a provision for specific time codes to be entered. The DVD-1600 does not display the total running time of a title for DVD-Video, only for DVD-Audio, an omission that I found to be extremely irritating considering I rely on this function for a number of reasons.
The first feature of the audio playback system that caught my eye was that the individual levels of speakers could be adjusted according to the listener's needs when the internal decoder was engaged. This already puts the DVD-1600 head and shoulders above similar entry-level models that claim to have internal decoders, but the fun doesn't stop there, either. The internal decoder of the DVD-1600 will decode Dolby Digital, DTS, MLP, and MPEG soundtracks into 5.1 channel analogue for your receiver to play back in all their glory. As an owner of several early Roadshow titles (Wild Things being the disc I tested with this function), I was as pleased as punch to have the deafening silence I normally encounter with MPEG bitstreams replaced by six channels of surround action.
Of course, the deafening silence of MPEG soundtracks is still present and accounted for when they are being played through the optical digital output, unless you have an external decoder that can handle such a signal. For the majority of us who do not, the option of downconverting such bitstreams into 48 kHz Linear PCM 2.0 soundtracks is provided, which effectively means there is not a single soundtrack that the DVD-1600 cannot at least handle in some manner.
I did not detect any audio sync issues with the numerous discs I tested on this player.
DTS audio streams can also be converted into Linear PCM for those who don't possess the appropriate decoders. Exactly why you would want to when there already is one built in to the DVD player is a question that came to mind, but it's certainly nice to have the option.
The DVD-1600 located all 110 MP3s in the root directory
of the MP3 CD I used to perform this test, and played them back in satisfactory
fashion, with no apparent anomalies in the decoding. The brief pause as
the player searched the disc for the next track, which tends to cause a
hiccup between tracks that follow on from one another, was still present,
but a little less pronounced. Unfortunately, the DVD-1600 still plays some
tracks out of their natural order, presumably because its filing system
also truncates filenames down to the 8.3 character length that causes no
end of hassles with sorting. Multiple bitrates posed no problems, as the
128 Kb/s, 256 Kb/s, 320 Kb/s, and Variable Bit Rate files were played back
with no noticeable problems whatsoever. Far and away the most pleasant
surprise was that the DVD-1600 located and played all four sessions on
the multisession CD-R, something that no other player I have seen to this
date can do.
|Test Disc Format||Results|
|110 MP3s in 5 subdirectories||Found all files|
|110 MP3s in root directory||Found all files|
|128 Kb/s, 256 Kb/s, 320 Kb/s, and Variable Bit Rate||Played all four files|
|Multisession CD-R (4 sessions, each with one added MP3)||Found all four sessions!|
|Pulp Fiction R4
|Terminator: SE R4
|Independence Day R4 Seamless Branching||
|Hollow Man R1
|Video||Component Output||RGB Output|
|Audio||DTS Output||MP3 Playback|
|Inbuilt Decoder||DTS, Dolby Digital, MPEG, MLP|
|Value For Money|
|Product Type:||DVD-Video, Video CD and Audio CD player|
|Region:||Marked as Region 2 (Europe/Japan), but factory adjusted to Region 4|
|Signal System:||PAL 625/50 / PAL 525/60 / NTSC|
|Serial Number Of Unit Tested:||AECP011657AU|
|MPEG Decoder:||Panasonic MN677531KA|
|Audio Frequency Response:||DVD (linear audio): 4Hz - 22kHz (48kHz sampling)
4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
DVD-Audio: 4Hz - 88kHz (192kHz sampling)
CD Audio: 4Hz - 20kHz
|Signal to Noise Ratio:||CD Audio: 115dB|
|Dynamic Range:||DVD (linear audio): 102dB
CD Audio: 98 dB
|Total Harmonic Distortion:||CD Audio: 0.0025%|
|Dimensions:||434 (w) x 252 (d) x 82 (h) mm|
|Distributor:||Audio Products Australia
67 O'Riordan Street
Alexandria NSW 2015
|Telephone:||1 800 642-922|
|Facsimile:||1 800 246-262|
© Dean McIntosh
December 8, 2001