Marantz DV-18 DVD Player

    The Marantz DV-18 is a premium DVD player at a premium price. Part of the Marantz Reference Series of components, it is THX Ultra certified, and the Marantz web site boldly proclaims that this DVD player provides "unsurpassed picture and surround sound quality". I was therefore very pleased to be given the opportunity to assess this DVD player in order to see just what sort of level of performance a $2590 DVD player is capable of providing.

What's In The Box

    The following items are included in the box;     The Marantz DV-18 is available in either Champagne or Black. It is a very attractive, heavy and solidly-built DVD player. Opening up the DVD player reveals the source of the heaviness - a very sturdy metal sub-chassis holds all of the components of this DVD player together. Internal inspection also reveals that considerable effort has gone into the analogue audio output stage of this DVD player.

Front Panel

    The Marantz DV-18 has an unusually laid out front panel that is moderately counter-intuitive to operate.

    The left side of the front panel carries the disc tray and a hard-wired power on-off switch. Standby mode can be entered with the remote control. The disc tray is extremely quiet and smooth in operation, but is very unresponsive to the Eject button, often taking 5 seconds or more to start to open after the Eject button is pressed. This becomes an operational annoyance after a while.

    The middle of the front panel is taken up by the attractive fluorescent display which can be partially, but not completely, dimmed. Below the fluorescent display are a series of oddly-placed buttons such as the aforementioned Eject button and the Fast Forward and Fast Reverse buttons.

    The right side of the front panel is also oddly laid out with three large buttons for Play, Stop and Pause separated by small Chapter Skip Backwards and Chapter Skip Forwards buttons. Underneath these are a headphone socket and its accompanying volume control.

Rear Panel

    The rear panel of this player is equipped with a comprehensive selection of outputs. From left to right;

    Two sets of Left and Right analogue audio outputs start the rear panel connections off. There is no inbuilt Dolby Digital decoder, an interesting omission given the price of this player.

    Two Composite Video outputs are next on the rear panel, along with an S-Video output, and Component Video outputs. This player is not capable of outputting RGB video.

    The digital audio outputs are next on the rear panel, with a choice of Coaxial and Optical digital audio outputs offered.

    Next to the digital audio outputs are two connectors for a remote control buss system, presumably Marantz-specific, and a switch to control these connectors.

    Finishing off the rear panel is a wired-in power cable. On the review unit, this lead to a cheap-looking Clipsal AC plug.

Remote Control

    My initial impression of the Marantz remote control was extremely unfavourable. As I used it, my opinion improved marginally, but nonetheless this is an awful remote control, annoying to use and extremely disappointing to say the least.

    The first thing you will notice about this remote control is that it is physically very big and quite heavy. The centrepiece of this remote control is a Jog/Shuttle mechanism. Personally, I don't particularly like these mechanisms, but your opinion may differ. More importantly, the central positioning of the Jog/Shuttle mechanism relegates the all-important arrow key mechanism to the upper part of the remote control.

    Speaking of the arrow key mechanism, not only is this badly positioned on the remote control, but it is also difficult to operate, particularly with the ENTER key placed to the bottom left of the arrow mechanism instead of centrally. You have to press very firmly indeed on this mechanism to register a keypress, significantly slowing down the speed with which you can use the arrow keys. Indeed, all of the keys on the remote require quite a degree of force to operate, and provide little tactile feedback to indicate that they actually have been pressed.

    One positive aspect of this remote is the large, well-located PLAY and STOP buttons, which are easily located in the dark. Another positive aspect is the fact that there are buttons for TV volume and channel selection, which some users may find useful, and which can be configured to control a goodly number of brands of TV.

    The SUBTITLE, LANGUAGE and ANGLE buttons are placed at the bottom of the remote, and are tiny. They are awkward to find and use at the best of times.

    The operating range and angle of operation of the remote control is satisfactory.


    The manual is presented in both English and Japanese, and is excellent. It is clear, well laid-out, and both suitably thorough and concise at the same time. I wish more manuals were as pleasing to read as this one.

Set-Up Menu

    The set-up menu of the Marantz DV-18 is GUI-based, and is reasonably simple to navigate, although navigating between headings is a little unclear at first. All the basic and expected options are present and accounted for, and it is pleasing to note that full control is provided over the digital output format of Dolby Digital, MPEG and DTS audio tracks.

Video Playback

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

    The Marantz DV-18 provided a superlative video image, equally the best that I have ever seen via S-Video. A particularly pleasing aspect of the output of this DVD player is the fine resolution of background detail that it was capable of providing. Subtle image details were brought to life superbly with this DVD player, and its video output was flawless.

    The review unit was marked as a Zone 4 player, but played a single Zone 1 DVD that I tried on it with no problems.

    The fast forward and fast reverse functions of this player are very jerky indeed, with speeds of x2, x8, x30, and x100 available.

    The only disappointing aspect of the video performance of this DVD player is the way in which it handles RSDL layer changes, being by far the worst handler of these changes that I have ever seen. Typical pauses were in the vicinity of 2 - 4 seconds, often making me wonder whether the player had stalled. This is a major disappointment. Reversing over the layer change resulted in corruption of the Time Elapsed counter, also a very disappointing characteristic of this particular player.

On Screen Display

    The onscreen display presented by the Marantz DV-18 is functional and reasonably attractive. It is presented in the form of a GUI at the top of the screen, allowing you to see and adjust the current Title, Chapter, Time, Subtitle Track, Audio Track and Viewing Angle.

    A second screen allows you to adjust the brightness, contrast, sharpness and hue of the player's image.

    Subtitle and Audio tracks can be selected from a list that the DVD player compiles when you press the appropriate keys. This is an elegantly implemented feature, but unfortunately, the player only recognizes the more common languages. Unrecognised languages are simply listed as nearly indecipherable two letter acronyms.

    Functional key-presses on the remote are accompanied by various appropriate symbols appearing on the on-screen display.

Standards Conversions

    The Marantz DV-18 can convert NTSC DVDs to PAL-50, which is compatible with the vast majority of TVs in the Australian marketplace. It does this nicely, even though conversion artefacts are readily visible on horizontal pans. There is little to no jerkiness about this conversion, so it is perfectly serviceable.

CDR & Video CD

    The Marantz DV-18 can play back CD-R media and Video CDs.

Audio Playback

    I only used this DVD player with its coaxial digital output. I did not specifically test the analogue audio capability of this DVD player, however, I will mention that respected audiophiles have declared this DVD player to be the equivalent of a $1,500 CD player.

    Subjectively, there were occasional hints at audio sync problems on a few discs that I tried in this player, but nothing that I would call definitely a problem. The usual test passage that I use for testing this; The Matrix, Chapter 5, played in sync.

    Objectively, the analogue vs digital delay was 20 milliseconds. This is the sort of delay level where occasional audio sync problems will be detectable by sensitive viewers, as was the case during my subjective analysis of this player.

    DTS digital output is supported by this DVD player.

    MPEG audio bitstreams are output as native MPEG or converted to Linear PCM, depending upon the setup of the player.

Disc Compatibility Tests

    No DVDs that I tried in the Marantz DV-18 gave any specific problems.


The Good Points
    Excellent image quality.

    Plays CDRs.

The Bad Points
    Very poor remote control.

    Very poor handling of RSDL layer changes.

    Borderline audio sync problems.

Features At A Glance

Video Component Output RGB Output
Audio DTS Output MP3 Playback
Plays CDRs
Conversion PAL-50
Inbuilt Decoder None

In Closing

    One way of justifying the $2590 price tag of this DVD player is to look at it as a $1500 CD player and a $1000 DVD player. It certainly produced an immaculate image, albeit with extremely lengthy layer changes, but its minor flaws were a disappointment at this price point. In the end, the decision as to whether this is a value-for-money item ultimately rests with the person buying it.

Ratings (out of 5)

Build Quality
In Operation
Value For Money

Technical Specifications (Manufacturer Supplied)

Product Type: DVD-Video, Video CD and Audio CD player
Region: Zone 4 (Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America, Mexico)
Signal System: PAL / NTSC
MPEG Decoder: C-Cube ZiVA-3
Audio Frequency Response: 4Hz - 22kHz (48kHz sampling) 
4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
Signal to Noise Ratio: >110dB
Dynamic Range: >100dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.0025%
Dimensions: 458 (w) x 313 (d) x 88 (h)
Weight: 6.4kg
Price: $2590
Distributor: Jamo Australia Pty Ltd
24 Lionel Road
Mt Waverley  VIC  3149
Telephone: (03) 9543-1522

© Michael Demtschyna
24th August 2000