Pioneer DV-525 DVD Player

    The Pioneer DV-525 is the latest entry-level player from Pioneer Australia, superseding the DV-515 and DV-414 players. A Recommended Retail Price of $699 ensures that this player is competitive with the current crop of no-name DVD players entering the Australian marketplace.

What's In The Box

    Everything that you would expect of an entry level DVD player can be found in the box. This includes the remote control, batteries for the remote control, a composite video cable, a two-way analogue audio cable, and the operating manual.

    The most significant thing that I noticed about the Pioneer DV-525 was its very light weight. Weighing in at a mere 2.8kg, this is a very light player indeed. Having said that, it certainly seems sturdy and well-constructed.

Front Panel

    The left side of the front panel carries the power on-off switch and a small button to either engage or disengage the analogue Video Noise Reduction circuit.

    The center of the front panel carries the disc tray and the quite attractive fluorescent display. One significant omission from the front panel for this DVD player is a dimmer for the fluorescent display, which has been present on the majority of Pioneer DVD players to date and was sorely missed by yours truly.

    The drive mechanism is relatively noisy, both with tray movement in and out and with actual disc play functions. So noisy, in fact, that this player would have to be inside of a closed hi-fi cabinet for the noise level to be adequately suppressed.

    The right side of the front panel has the tray open/close button, and the basic DVD navigation buttons; chapter skip forwards and backwards, play, pause and stop.

Rear Panel

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

    The digital audio outputs consist of both a coaxial digital audio output and an optical digital audio output.

    A "control in" jack is provided to interconnect the DVD player to other similarly-equipped Pioneer components.

    A PAL/NTSC/Auto switch allows a certain amount of video signal conversion between PAL and NTSC. In essence, it enables the conversion of an NTSC DVD to a PAL-60 video output signal. This is not the same as a standard PAL video signal. Some PAL-only TVs will be able to display this signal correctly. Some will display this signal with decreased vertical height. Some will be able to display this signal with some adjustment of the vertical hold control. Some will not be able to sync to this signal at all.

    Video output consists of an S-Video connector, a composite video connector, and also a component video output utilizing appropriately colour-coded RCA sockets. A switch selects between S-Video/composite video output and component video output. There is no provision for RGB output.

    Left and Right analogue audio outputs complete the rear panel, along with the 240V AC input.

Remote Control

    The Pioneer DV-505 was notorious for its poorly laid out remote control, so Pioneer have made some changes to the layout of the DV-525 remote control. I never thought I'd say this, but the layout of the DV-525 remote control is even worse than the layout of the DV-505 remote control. This remote control is so badly laid out and so hard to use that even my wife commented on how difficult it was to use the remote. All of the buttons are exactly the same size, and they are laid out in featureless rows with very little logic about their layout. The all-important arrow keys and enter key are laid out in a logical configuration, but these buttons are identical in size and shape to all of the other buttons crammed onto this remote control. This makes it all but impossible to locate these buttons in the darkened environment of the typical home theatre since they simply do not stand out in any way from the buttons surrounding them.

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


    Unlike the remote control, the manual has significantly improved compared with older Pioneer DVD player manuals. This manual is a decent effort and is easy to read, informative and accurate.

Set-Up Menu

    Pioneer's setup menus have always been relatively spartan. Considerable improvements have been made in this area, and the setup menu for the DV-525 is nicely laid out and easy to follow. Beginner and expert modes are available, with the expert mode adding a few additional available options into the menu.

In Operation

    There are some good, average and bad points about the DV-525 in operation.

    Firstly, the good points. When the player is in StandBy mode, pressing the disc eject button either on the player or on the remote control will awaken the player. Few DVD players do this, and I consider this both a useful and logical time-saver. The player will also awaken from StandBy mode with presses of the play and Last Memo buttons. Once again, logical and user-friendly operational choices. Many other players require you to awaken the DVD player from StandBy mode by pressing the power button, either on the unit or on the remote control before they will respond to any other key presses. Logically, however, the first thing that you will want to do with a DVD player that is powered off is to push the eject button so you can insert a DVD. On other DVD players, pushing the power button frequently results in an annoying pause whilst the player initializes before it will respond to your second key press and eject the disc tray. Pioneer anticipates this logical progression and saves you the unnecessary angst incurred whilst waiting for the player to initialize. Simply press the eject button, and a short time later, the disc drawer ejects, ready to load the DVD. Logical. Simple. Sensible. More manufacturers should take note of this and incorporate this user-friendly feature into their DVD players.

    Secondly, the average point. Pioneer DVD players all have the characteristic of needing the fast-forward and fast-rewind buttons held down for some considerable time before they lock into the appropriate mode. Most other DVD players will lock immediately into fast-forward or fast-rewind mode when you press the appropriate button on the remote. Personally, I don't mind this functionality as it works well for skipping a short distance backwards or forwards, whereas it will irritate other DVD users.

    Thirdly, the bad points. As mentioned previously, the DVD mechanism is quite noisy. So noisy, in fact, that it would be mandatory to house this player in a closed cabinet in order not to be bothered by the whirring noise of this player in normal operation. In addition, the fluorescent dimmer button has been removed from the player, so that you are no longer able to dim the display, a feature which I quite liked on previous Pioneer DVD players.

Video Playback

    All video playback tests were performed with the player set to 16x9 output mode and using the S-Video output.

    There were absolutely no video playback problems at all, with the Pioneer DV-525 delivering the trademark Pioneer video quality. Sharp, clear, crisp and vibrant video output were the order of the day, and I had absolutely nothing to complain about at all in this area.

    The player is marked as a Zone 4 player, and it would not play back any DVDs coded as anything other than Zone 4 or Zone 0.

    The fast forward and fast reverse functions are much smoother than in previous Pioneer DVD players, but they are still relatively jerky compared with other DVD players. As mentioned previously, these controls do not lock into place immediately - you need to hold the button down for approximately 10 seconds for the function to lock in.

    The reverse chapter skip function will return to the start of the current chapter rather than to the previous chapter. I personally prefer the other implementation of this function, which is for the player to skip to the previous chapter when this button is selected.

    RSDL layer changes were noticeable, but the typical pause was of the order of 1/2 second and quite unobtrusive.

On Screen Display

    The on-screen display is a feature of this DVD player. It is nicely laid out, and there are several screens of information available, detailing Chapter and Title running times, the currently selected audio and video streams and also a bit rate meter. Information is also presented on-screen when changes are made to the audio or subtitle bitstreams or when significant keys are pressed on the remote control.

Standards Conversions

    The Pioneer DV-525 is capable of converting an NTSC DVD to a PAL-60 video output. It is not capable of performing any other video standards conversion for DVD. In particular, it is not capable of outputting a PAL-50 video signal from an NTSC DVD.

    The player is capable of converting PAL and NTSC Video CDs between each respective format.

CDR & Video CD

    The Pioneer DV-525 has a dual laser mechanism which is compatible with CD-R media. I did not specifically test this functionality. The player is also stated to be compatible with Video CD, but again I did not explicitly test this functionality.

Audio Playback

    Pioneer DVD players produce excellent quality video output, but they are notorious for producing out-of-sync audio under certain conditions. This problem has been largely, but not entirely, addressed with the Pioneer DV-525.

    Subjectively, the audio sync problem is much improved, with only slightly noticeable audio sync problems with the suite of test discs that I use for this purpose (The Wedding Singer, 54, and The Matrix). Compared with older Pioneer DVD players, the problem is considerably improved, but has not been totally eliminated, however the majority of users will not notice a sync problem during normal operation of this player. Some users will - I certainly did.

    Objectively, I have a particular measurement that I like to perform on DVD players to assess their susceptibility to audio sync problems. It consists of measuring the time delay between the analogue audio output of the DVD player and the digital audio output of the DVD player via a Dolby Digital decoder. Whilst this is not a direct test of AV sync, I have found that it is a good proxy measurement. Readings of 12 milliseconds or less correlate well with a DVD player that does not play out of sync. The Pioneer DV-525 measured at 27 milliseconds of delay, which is consistent with the readings I have obtained with older Pioneer DVD players. It appears that the Pioneer AV sync problem has been addressed in this player by delaying the video bitstream relative to the audio bitstream so that this delay is not as noticeable.

    DTS output is supported by this DVD player, but I did not test this. Linear PCM audio output at 96kHz/24 bit sample depth is also supported by this player, though once again I did not specifically test this. Both of these options need to be explicitly enabled in the setup menu before they will function.

    MPEG bitstream conversion to Linear PCM is also supported, though this provided quite poor fidelity for the resultant sound. Since MPEG audio is largely restricted to the occasional menu screen, and to the extras on some older Village Roadshow discs, this should not be a significant problem.

Disc Compatibility Tests

    I had no disc compatibility issues with this machine. The player played all the discs that I threw at it without skipping a beat.

Features At A Glance

Video Component Output RGB Output
Audio DTS Output 96/24 Output
Plays CDRs
Conversion NTSC to PAL-60
Inbuilt Decoder None




    Whilst the Pioneer DV-525 provides an excellent image, its performance in the area of audio sync remains less than ideal and it has a number of minor operational quirks such as a noisy mechanism and a poor remote control that make it difficult to unconditionally recommend this player.

Ratings (out of 5)

Build Quality
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
Audio Frequency Response: 4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
Signal to Noise Ratio: 115dB
Dynamic Range: 102dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.002%
Dimensions: 420 (w) x 285 (d) x 104 (h)
Weight: 2.8 kg
Price: $699
Distributor: Pioneer Electronics Australia Pty Ltd
178-184 Boundary Road
Braeside  VIC  3195
Telephone: (03) 9586-6300
Facsimile: (03) 9587-1495

© Michael Demtschyna
27th January 2000