Pioneer DV-535 DVD Player

Special thanks to Trevor Lees from Trevor Lees Audio, 10 Cotham Road, Kew, VIC, (03) 9853-2522 for the gracious loan of this DVD player for evaluation.

    The Pioneer DV-535 DVD player is the latest basic model in the Pioneer DVD player range. A solidly-designed player, it takes all previous criticisms that have been levelled at Pioneer players in the past and well-and-truly buries them. It may have taken them a while to do it, but Pioneer have finally come up with a killer DVD player at a killer price point.

What's In The Box

    The following items are included with each player;     The Pioneer DV-535 is only available in Black.

Front Panel

    The Pioneer DV-535 has a basic and functional front panel which is almost identical in appearance to the model it replaces - the Pioneer DV-525.

    The left side of the front panel carries a soft power on-off switch, operation of which takes the player in or out of stand-by mode. Stand-by mode can also be entered via the remote control.

    The center of the front panel carries a rapidly responsive and quiet disc tray. The most impressive aspect of the disc mechanism is that it opens and closes quite quickly and the type of disc inserted is recognized very rapidly. This is a marked improvement over anything I have seen from Pioneer in the past.

    Underneath the disc tray is an attractive orange fluorescent display which cannot be dimmed.

    To the right of the fluorescent display is the OPEN/CLOSE button and the basic DVD navigation buttons. These all have a nicely positive feel about them. In combination with the rapid response of the DVD player to these buttons, this makes the player a pleasure to operate from its front panel.

Rear Panel

    The rear panel of this player is equipped with a good selection of outputs. From left to right, we have;

    The arrangement of the outputs is a little jumbled and quite crowded, but careful attention to the labelling of each output should minimize the change of hook-up errors.

Remote Control

    Pioneer DVD remotes have long had a reputation for being very badly designed ergonomically. Indeed, the Pioneer DV-525 came with the worst remote control I had ever seen. Consequently, when I saw the remote control that came with the Pioneer DV-535, I had to double check the brand on the remote control and the DVD player - this is one of the best remote controls I have seen for a DVD player in a long time. What a turnaround for Pioneer! This remote control is a real beauty. It is extremely intuitive to use, and most importantly, it is extremely easy to locate buttons in the dark because of a few subtle but extremely welcome features that I will describe shortly.

    The centrepiece of this remote control is the circular arrow key arrangement with a central ENTER key. The remote is shaped so that your thumb naturally falls onto the ENTER key. All of these keys are exactly the right size to ensure easy operation, and to make sure they are easy to identify, are all appropriately shaped and have a little raised pimple in the sweet spot of each key. Excellent work, Pioneer, as these keys are a breeze to locate and use without looking at the remote.

    Surrounding these keys are the basic DVD navigation buttons. Again, these are shaped and have a little raised pimple in their sweet spots, making them easy to locate blind. The PLAY button deserves particular mention as being particularly easy to locate and operate, being intuitively shaped and placed below the arrow key mechanism.

    About the only minor criticism I'll make of this remote control is the placement of the AUDIO, SUBTITLE, ANGLE and MENU buttons towards the top of the remote control, not offset from any of the other buttons at all. These are relatively hard to locate and to differentiate from one another.

    The operating range and angle of operation of the remote control were as expected. As with the responsiveness to the front panel controls, the DVD player responded very promptly to remote keypresses.


    The manual for the Pioneer DV-535 is easy to read and comprehensive. It is presented in a somewhat odd order, with advanced discussion of the Setup menu coming before discussion of the on-screen display. The Setup menu is actually discussed twice due to the way this player operates when powered-up for the very first time. This leads to substantial repetition, but is probably unavoidable.

Set-Up Menu

    The set-up menu of the Pioneer DV-535 is text-based but well laid out. On the very first power-up of this player, it immediately goes into "Setup Navigator" mode, which asks a number of basic questions about your setup, such as the width of your TV and the type of digital audio processor connected. This ensures that the majority of users will be up and running correctly in little to no time at all.

    More advanced users will be pleased to find full control over the digital output of Dolby Digital, DTS, MPEG and Linear PCM audio, even to the extent of this player allowing the output of 96kHz Linear PCM digitally, something that many DVD players do not allow.

Video Playback

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

    The Pioneer DV-535 produces a beautiful image that is a pleasure to watch. It could best be described as producing an image that is very "film-like" in its quality. The image is exceedingly easy to watch for extended periods of time without exhibiting any of the image harshness that some other DVD players produce. This is not to say that this is a soft image at all, as it simply isn't, but rather it is a very smooth image. Fine detail resolution, both in the foreground of images and in the background of images was exemplary, with no MPEG decoding anomalies. This player produced superb results from film-based material.

    It did not fare quite as well with interlaced source material. Scan lines became discernible when interlaced material rapidly panned, more so than with other DVD players that I have seen. This is really quite a subtle effect, and so only degrades the image quality slightly, and seems to be a characteristic of the Fujitsu MPEG decoder solutions used in Pioneer DVD players.

    Another area in which this player doesn't fare quite as well is in the area of chroma noise, particularly in fields of intensely dark blue, where chroma noise is clearly visible. Whilst by no means overly noisy, there is a little more chroma noise in dark blues than I would have liked to see. Again, this is quite subtle and only degrades the image quality slightly.

    The review player was marked as a Zone 4 player, but it happily played both Region 4 and Region 1 DVDs, including The Patriot R1, which is protected with RCE code.

    The fast forward and fast reverse functions of this player are quite jerky in comparison to other DVD players. The functioning of the remote control for these functions is a little unusual, with the appropriate button needing to be held down for approximately 10 seconds before it locks into either fast forward or fast reverse mode. Otherwise, the mode ceases the instant the button is released. In some ways, this is a good implementation of these functions, with short rewinds or fast forwards able to be accomplished easily. In other ways, this is a little counter-intuitive. It's something that owners of this player will undoubtedly get used to soon enough. In the initial stage, the player seems to fast forward or reverse at x4 speed. When locked in, the fast forward or reverse speed seems to speed up to approximately x8.

    RSDL layer changes resulted in a very short pause, typically of the order of 1/4 second, and may well go unnoticed by many viewers.

On Screen Display

    The on-screen display is text-based and provides basic information on time elapsed/remaining, total running time, chapter running time/time elapsed and also offers a bitrate meter.

    The DVD player knows a fair number of full names for languages, so you either get the full name of the language displayed or a two letter abbreviation if the player does not recognize the language in question.

    Functional key-presses on the remote are accompanied by various text messages appearing on-screen.

    The on-screen display font is a little blurry and hard to read at times.

Standards Conversions

    The Pioneer DV-535 is capable of converting NTSC to PAL-60.

CDR & Video CD

    The Pioneer DV-535  can play back CD-R media and Video CDs.

Audio Playback

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

    In particular, this DVD player did not exhibit any audio sync problems whatsoever. I tested the majority of the passages that I have noted to be specifically problematic with Pioneer DVD players in the past, and they all played perfectly in sync. This is the first Pioneer DVD player that I have ever tested that did not have a problem with audio sync, so it appears as if Pioneer have finally laid this problem to rest once and for all.

    Subjectively, there were no audio sync problems whatsoever noted with this player which could not be attributed to the source material. Objectively, the analogue vs digital delay in this player was 0 milliseconds. This compares with previous measurements in other Pioneer DVD players of around 30 milliseconds. This means that there has been some fundamental design changes made to the audio path within this DVD player, and it shows in the complete absence of sync problems.

    DTS digital output is supported by this DVD player. MPEG audio bitstreams are output as either Linear PCM or native MPEG depending on the setup of the player.

Disc Compatibility Tests

    No DVDs that I tried on the Pioneer DV-535 had any specific playback problems.

User Convenience Features

Screen Saver


The Good Points
    Great looking image.

    No audio sync problems (finally)!

    Decent quality remote control (finally)!

    Fast, responsive and quiet tray mechanism.

    Plays CD-Rs.

    Outputs 96kHz Linear PCM digitally.

The Bad Points
    The fluorescent display cannot be dimmed.

    Crowded rear panel.

Features At A Glance

Video Component Output RGB Output
Audio DTS Output MP3 Playback
Plays CDRs
Conversion PAL-60
Inbuilt Decoder None

In Closing

    Pioneer have finally come up with a DVD player that I find almost impossible to fault. It plays in sync. It has an excellent remote control. It has an excellent transport. It produces an excellent and eminently watchable image. With the DV-535, they are deservedly onto a winner.

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 & South America), although the test unit played back discs from all regions
Signal System: PAL / NTSC
Serial Number Of Unit Tested: UGSI008829CD
MPEG Decoder: Fujitsu MB86373B
Audio Frequency Response: 4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
Signal to Noise Ratio: 115dB
Dynamic Range: 102dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.002%
Dimensions: 420 (w) x 281 (d) x 104 (h)
Weight: 2.7kg
Price: $649
Distributor: Pioneer Electronics Australia Pty Ltd
178-184 Boundary Road
Braeside  VIC  3195
Telephone: (03) 9586 6300
Facsimile: (03) 9587 1495

© Michael Demtschyna
1st December 2000