Denon DVD-3300 DVD Player

    Denon are an interesting company. They tend to target the more discerning consumer with their products, which generally have a fine reputation as high quality audiophile-grade product. I have previously reviewed another Denon DVD player - the budget Denon DVD-1500 DVD player - which I sadly found to be unsatisfactory, but based on their reputation, I was willing to give them another chance, so when offered the $3299 Denon DVD-3300 DVD player for review, which as an added bonus is Denon's first DVD-Audio compatible DVD player, I graciously accepted the offer and went into the review open-minded.

    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.

What's In The Box

    The following items are included with each player;     The Denon DVD-3300 is available in either Black or Gold.

Front Panel

    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.

Rear Panel

    The rear panel of this player is equipped with a excellent selection of outputs. From left to right, the player features;

Remote Control

    I have never been a fan of Denon remote controls. Very similar to Toshiba remotes, they tend to be too small and the button layout too cramped for my liking. The remote control for the DVD-3300 is no exception to this. Other than the reasonably shaped and placed arrow and enter keys, the remainder of the remote control is relatively difficult to come to terms with. Not as difficult as some of this style, mind you, but still not easy. In fact, I'd go so far to say that this particular layout of keys is as good as it is going to get with this general style of remote, and short of a complete design makeover, this remote isn't going to get any easier to operate than it is in this particular incarnation.

    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.


    The manual for the Denon DVD-3300 is very nicely laid out and is extremely easy to read. Whilst comprehensive enough for more advanced users, it is never repetitive and it is always clear and accurate, so even novice users will have no problems getting started with this DVD player. Overall, the manual is very impressive and is a complement to the DVD player.

Set-Up Menu

    The set-up menu of the Denon DVD-3300 is based around a Panasonic layout, which makes it a breeze to operate. Pleasingly, the in-built multichannel audio decoder features full control over the size, presence and distance of all speakers, an essential feature which is left out of inbuilt decoders far too often. Also pleasingly, downmixing options for the digital output of Dolby Digital, DTS and MPEG audio are provided which will be of great benefit to those who are using an external digital audio decoder.

    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.

Video Playback

    All video playback tests were performed with the player set to 16x9 output mode, utilizing its RGB output.

    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.

On Screen Display

    The on-screen display consists of a pleasant to look at and easy to operate series of green graphic menu bars across the top of the screen. Editable information on current Title, Chapter, Time, Audio Track, Subtitle Track and Angle are provided on the first screen, and lesser-used functions are provided on a second and third screen.

    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.

Standards Conversions

    The Denon DVD-3300 is capable of converting NTSC to PAL-60.

CDR & Video CD

    The Denon DVD-3300 cannot play back any form of CD-R media whatsoever, including the usually readable-in-anything Princo silver/blue CD-Rs. It can, however, play back pressed Video CDs.

Audio Playback

    I only used this DVD player with its coaxial digital output and had no specific problems.

   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.

DVD Audio

    Regrettably, I was unable to test the DVD-Audio capabilities of this DVD player as I was unable to locate any suitable software.

Disc Compatibility Tests

    No DVDs that I tried on the Denon DVD-3300 had any specific playback problems.

User Convenience Features

Screen Saver/Auto Power Off


The Good Points
    Magnificent image.

    Plays DVD-Audio discs.

    Inbuilt DTS (and MLP) decoder.

    Superb build quality.

The Bad Points
    Fairly clunky remote control.


    Cannot play CD-Rs.

    Subtitles don't automatically turn on when selected with the remote control.

    Not progressive scan capable.

Features At A Glance

Video Component Output RGB Output
Audio DTS Output MP3 Playback
Plays CDRs
Conversion PAL-60
Inbuilt Decoder Dolby Digital, DTS and MLP

In Closing

    The Denon DVD-3300 is the best DVD player I have ever had the pleasure of using. Period. Everything about it just screams "quality" and "class". The image quality is the best I have ever seen. There are no audio issues with the player. There are no significant operational issues with the player. The only minor disappointments are that it doesn't read CD-Rs and doesn't output progressive video, but I can live with these issues. As a compensatory bonus, it will play back DVD-Audio discs when they become readily available.

    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.

Ratings (out of 5)

Build Quality
In Operation
Value For Money

Technical Specifications (Manufacturer Supplied)

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
Dynamic Range: 106dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.0012%
Dimensions: 434 (w) x 266 (d) x 107 (h)
Weight: 5.4kg
Price: $3299
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