Boy am I glad I decided to take a look at this DVD player! In short, Denon have really come up with the goods with the DVD-3300. Put simply, this is the best DVD player I have ever seen. Period. It is so good that it has replaced my previous reference model, the Loewe Xemix 5006DD, as my reference DVD player.
The Denon DVD-3300 is a very stylish-looking player. It is also very heavy, weighing in at a respectable 5.4kg. Inspection of the inside of the DVD player reveals the source of all the weight - metal encases the plastic inner chassis, which effectively isolates the DVD player's sensitive video and audio circuitry from external influences. The build quality of the unit is extremely high and amongst the best I have seen, which is only to be expected at this price point. It is clear that much thought has been given to minimizing stray interference from both external and internal sources, with the video circuitry nicely isolated from the rest of the player's circuitry with additional metal shielding.
The left side of the front panel carries the soft power on-off switch. STANDBY mode can be entered via either the front panel or the remote control. A very friendly "Welcome to DVD World" message appears on the front panel display whenever the player is powered up. An AUDIO-ONLY button allows the video circuitry to be turned off for greater audio performance, and there is also a GROUP button which is used for DVD-Audio operation. Completing the left side of the front panel is a headphone socket with volume control.
The center of the front panel carries an extremely smooth, highly responsive and very quiet disc tray which has a very solid, comfortable feel about it, giving the impression of a highly refined mechanism. Of particular note is the fact that this drive mechanism very rapidly recognizes the type of disc inserted. The only mildly negative aspect of the drive mechanism is that there is a definite soft but solid-sounding click that comes from the drive mechanism whenever it is negotiating the menu structure of a DVD. This sounds like it is inherent in the design of this mechanism and is not at all intrusive. This noise is not present during actual programme playback. Indeed, other than this one characteristic, this mechanism is one of the quietest I have had the pleasure of using.
The fluorescent display is pleasant to look at and functional. Suitably discreet, it is dimmable, a feature I always like to see in a DVD player.
The right side of the DVD player carries the logically-placed tray OPEN/CLOSE button and basic DVD navigation buttons. Pressing the OPEN/CLOSE button when the DVD player is in STANDBY mode will turn the player on and open the disc tray.
It is worth mentioning that all of the front panel controls feel pleasant to operate. There are no cheap and nasty mechanisms here, simply adding to the overall classy feel of this DVD player.
The rear panel of this player is equipped with a excellent selection of outputs. From left to right, the player features;
The main DVD navigation buttons are placed in two rows above the arrow key mechanism. Initially, they are counter-intuitive to find and operate, but familiarity found me more adept at locating the appropriate keys. A great navigational help for this DVD player is its GUI which is easily accessible via the DISPLAY button, located near the arrow keys, but more on this later.
The SUBTITLE, AUDIO and ANGLE buttons are in a row below the arrow key mechanism. As with the other navigation buttons, familiarity will likely lead to greater ease of use. The MENU key is well-placed and easy to locate.
The operating range and angle of operation of the remote control were fair to average. In particular, the player did not like responding to steeper angles of the remote control. I found that the remote had to be pointed directly at the front panel of the DVD player for keypresses to be completely reliably registered, particularly at longer operating distances.
A rather odd option which I did not explore was a setting for display type, which gives the options of; CRT-based direct view, Rear Projection, LCD Projector or CRT Projection. These options are mentioned in the manual but not explained.
The only minor annoyance with the set-up menu is the separation of the three standard DVD display modes; one section of the setup menu allows you to specify if you want 16x9 or 4x3 mode, and another allows you to specify whether 4x3 mode should be Pan & Scan or Letterbox. Most other DVD players group these options together, which is more logical.
Simply put, this DVD player produced the best-looking image I have ever seen from any DVD player at any price point. This player was by far the most revealing image-wise that I have ever seen. Incredibly fine details both in the foreground and in the background of images were revealed, details that I had never seen before with any other DVD player. The Image Montage from Video Essentials in particular revealed more detail than I have ever seen before, including some extremely subtle image imperfections in this sequence that are simply an indistinct blur on all other DVD players I have reviewed to date. The best news is that this incredible image detail does not come with any trade-offs such as increased aliasing (image shimmer) or any MPEG decoding anomalies. Put simply, I could not fault the image output of this DVD player.
The review player was marked as a Zone 2 player, but had been factory-adjusted by Denon to be a Zone 4 player. It only played appropriately zoned DVDs.
The fast forward and fast reverse functions of this DVD player are available in five speeds from x2 to approximately x100. x2 fast forward is extremely smooth, strongly implying that the DVD transport mechanism is a double speed mechanism. Other speeds and reverse speeds are acceptably jerky. Unusually, this DVD player can be configured to output audio from DVD whilst in x2 fast-forward mode - however, this can be turned off via the setup menu if you don't like it.
RSDL layer changes resulted in a short but noticeable pause of around 1/4 of a second.
The DVD player knows a fair number of language names, displayed as three character abbreviations. Unknown languages are displayed as *. Rather annoyingly, selecting a subtitle stream from the GUI will not result in the subtitles being displayed - in addition to selecting them, you need to manually turn them on as well. This is illogical.
Functional key-presses on the remote are accompanied by various on-screen icons, usually self-evident.
Subjectively, I noted no audio sync problems with this DVD player, an observation borne out by the objective analogue vs digital delay measurement of 0.6 milliseconds.
DTS digital AND analogue output is supported by this DVD player. MPEG audio bitstreams are output digitally as either raw MPEG audio or Linear PCM audio depending on the setup of the player.
|Screen Saver/Auto Power Off||
Plays DVD-Audio discs.
Inbuilt DTS (and MLP) decoder.
Superb build quality.
Cannot play CD-Rs.
Subtitles don't automatically turn on when selected with the remote control.
Not progressive scan capable.
|Video||Component Output||RGB Output|
|Audio||DTS Output||MP3 Playback|
|Inbuilt Decoder||Dolby Digital, DTS and MLP|
Is it good value for money? At $3299, it certainly
isn't cheap, but quality doesn't usually come cheaply. I personally think
that this is a fair price to pay for this level of quality. If your goal
for your DVD player is like mine - for it to superbly play back DVDs -
then you should seriously consider this DVD player. Indeed, I think this
player is so good that I have made it my new reference DVD player, and
I can't think of anything else I could say that would recommend this player
more highly than that.
|Value For Money|
|Product Type:||DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, Video CD and Audio CD player|
|Region:||Marked as a Zone 2 player (Japan, Europe, South Africa, UK and Middle East) but the review unit had been factory reset to Zone 4 (Australia/New Zealand & South America)|
|Signal System:||PAL / NTSC|
|Serial Number Of Unit Tested:||4300834|
|MPEG Decoder:||Panasonic MN677521HB|
|Audio Frequency Response:||2Hz - 88kHz (DVD-Audio)
2Hz - 44kHz (DVD-Video)
2Hz - 20kHz (CD)
|Signal to Noise Ratio:||115dB|
|Total Harmonic Distortion:||0.0012%|
|Dimensions:||434 (w) x 266 (d) x 107 (h)|
|Distributor:||Audio Products Australia
67 O'Riordan Street
Alexandria NSW 2015
|Telephone:||1 800 642-922|
|Facsimile:||1 800 246-262|
© Michael Demtschyna
22nd February 2001