Kenwood Sovereign DV-5700 DVD-audio/video player Page 2
The setup controls on the Visual menu include language selection, the brightness of the front-panel display, and black-level setup (0 or 7.5 IRE). The DV-5700 reproduces below black on a PLUGE pattern in either setting, whether you choose a progressive or interlaced output.
Onscreen menus also provide operational control, including disc navigation (also directly accessible on the remote), programming, language track and subtitle selection, and picture-quality adjustments. The last are provided for both interlaced and progressive operation, though the progressive offers more options. Which brings us to . . .
The Kenwood Sovereign DV-5700 is the first DVD player we have tested to derive its progressive-scan output with the new Sage deinterlacing and enhancement chips. The technology in these chips was developed by Faroudja. (Faroudja is now a subsidiary of Sage, which itself was recently bought by Genesis Microchip—it's hard to follow the players without a scorecard!) The Sage FL2200 chip is a 10-bit motion-adaptive processor that incorporates Faroudja's proprietary Directional Correlation Deinterlacing (DCDi), said to produce moving or still edges at any angle without stair-stepping or jaggies. The Faroudja deinterlacer recognizes and deals properly with 3:2 pulldown—no surprise there—and is also said to provide smooth, artifact-free performance even in the presence of film/video transitions and bad edits. Another Sage/Faroudja chip, the FLI2220, provides adaptive nonlinear 2-dimensional (horizontal and vertical) luma and chroma enhancement.
The onscreen menus provide a choice of preset video modes: Normal, Fine (sharpened), Soft, and User. The User mode provides access to video adjustments. In progressive operation, these include the Faroudja enhancements, though the Faroudja deinterlacing is operational in any of the other progressive-scan modes as well. Both progressive and interlaced User modes provide Gamma adjustment within a range of -7 to +7. I left this control at its default setting of 0 for all my viewing.
Like most remotes, the Kenwood's has no backlighting, which helps make it a little difficult to use. Many of the buttons have three functions, color-coded and selectable by means of a three-position switch on the upper left side. While the Play, Stop, and Chapter Skip buttons are reasonably easy to use, many of the others are small and close together. The On Screen button, which calls up the onscreen display control menus, is very close to the Stop button; I found it all too easy to inadvertently push Stop when I wanted to call up a menu. In addition, the On Screen button was none too positive in its action; unless the button was pressed just so, the menu would often flicker once and disappear. And the Display button, which adjusts the level of the player's front-panel illumination, is on the side of the remote, where it can be pushed accidentally, turning the display off (or on). On the positive side, the remote fits comfortably in the hand, and the combination menu navigation/Enter joystick was easy to use and perfectly positioned for thumb operation.
There is also a function called Sequential Play Mode (selectable from the large button just below the Chapter Skip button, purple setting). In SEQ 2, the player will skip over any DVD Video (or Video CD) that are in the carousel, displaying Skip DVD Video on the front panel display. This is not clearly or prominently explained in the manual, and if you select SEQ 2 inadvertently, you could easily conclude that there is something wrong with the player when it fails to play DVDs. There's nothing wrong; you need to go back and select SEQ 1. In that setting, the player will play all discs.
Catch the Brass Ring
After running-in the Kenwood with a couple weeks' day-to-day DVD-watching, I began my formal tests by loading up the Video Essentials DVD. Using the interlaced mode, with the Fujitsu Plasmavision SlimScreen PDS5002U-S as a monitor (see review in this issue), the results were impeccable with every test pattern I tried. The observed horizontal resolution was close to 500 lines—as good as we've seen from any other DVD player. The luminance sweep (chapter 17-23) had an even response, free of visible enhancement.
Everything looked great in progressive mode too—except for that same luminance sweep. There was evidence of visible enhancement at 4.3MHz, and also from just under 5MHz to above 5.5MHz (the limit of the test pattern). With the video mode set to Soft, or to User with the Enhancement option set no higher than +1, this effect was barely visible on the test pattern. It could still be seen with the display's Sharpness turned all the way down, the Enhancement mode on the Kenwood turned off, and the Kenwood's Sharpness control set to -2 (as low as it goes). It was a little disappointing that the progressive-mode luminance response could not be made as flat as the interlaced luminance in any video mode with any of the user-accessible controls. (Even when the interlaced mode was set to Fine, the picture showed no visible enhancement.)