Marantz DV6400 Universal DVD/SACD player

A year or so ago, a new "universal" DVD player - one that could handle both DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD multichannel music recordings as well as conventional DVDs and CDs - priced at anything less than a thousand bucks might have been big news. Today, a growing number of universal players are finding their way onto dealers' shelves. And competition has brought us lower prices.

PDF: Format Compatibility

Case in point is Marantz's DV6400, which plays just about everything and at a reasonable price. The DV6400 is slim, simple, good-looking, and space-efficient, too - it's barely 8 inches deep and weighs less than 5 pounds. In fact, when I plugged my heavy-duty cables into its component-video output jacks, its rear panel actually bowed a bit as I twisted them home. No damage done, though.

marantz movie
In rendering the breathtaking images of The Two Towers, The DV6400 stood shoulder to shoulder with the best players.

The chassis may be lightweight, but I couldn't fault the DV6400's video performance. Finding I had two copies of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on hand, I spent a good couple of hours doing A/B comparisons between the Marantz and my reference player - a widely praised unit costing about twice as much. I compared the two on a parade of still-frame and moving images from Middle-earth, with each player connected directly to my Princeton HDTV monitor's component inputs using identical cables. I could see no visible differences: zero, zip, Zapata.

FAST FACTS

DIMENSIONS 17 1/4 x 3 x 8 1/4 inches PRICE $600 MANUFACTURER Marantz America, www.marantz.com, 630-741-0300

KEY FEATURES

• Plays nearly all digital optical disc formats • Full Dolby Digital and DTS decoding • Bass management for DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD • Composite-, component- (switchable interlaced/progressive-scan), and S-video outputs • Optical and coaxial digital audio outputs; 6-channel and stereo analog audio outputs

The Marantz effortlessly showed off the richness of this visually stunning production's makeup, lighting, and set-dressing. In the icky scene between Aragorn and Arwen in Chapter 25, I could admire every peerless pore of Liv Tyler's milky foundation - er, complexion. (So what's the deal here: do the children get the pointy ears, or not?) And the resolution was so good that I could easily see the difference between the jaw-dropping New Zealand scenery and the model-shop look of scenes like the warg-riders battle or the digitized army of zombified baddies marching to the gates of Mordor in Chapter 15. Bottom line: the cost-conscious DV6400 can stand with the best players out there in terms of video performance.

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