Onkyo DV-S939 Progressive-Scan DVD-Audio/Video Player Page 2
On the back panel, the DV-S939 gets down to business. The analog outputs include two pairs of stereo RCA outs plus 5.1-channel RCA and DB-25 outputs (a DB-25 cable is even included as a supplied accessory). The multichannel outputs carry the decoded analog signals from the built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoders, as well as the DVD-Audio output. For video, there are two sets of composite and S-video outputs, along with two groups of component video outputs that can be set, via an onscreen menu, to output interlaced or progressive component video signals. The RS-232 port can be used to upgrade the processor in the DV-S939, as well as integrate the player into an automated control system. Two sets of optical and digital audio outputs and the power cord round out the back panel.
The picture quality from this player is simply marvelous, with fine detail and great color. There's quite an extensive ability to adjust the picture's performance, and three groups of custom picture settings can be stored in memory for both the interlaced and the progressive outputs. These custom settings include (for the interlaced output) adjustments to contrast, brightness, color, tint, sharpness, black level, gamma, Y/C time correction, and edge enhancement. The gamma adjustment was very helpful in brightening some of the darker scenes in Mission: Impossible 2 and Men in Black.
I've seen the zoom modes on several DVD players in the past, but the blocky picture quality they created was so consistently awful that I wondered what purpose other than marketing the inclusion of such a feature served. The zoom on the DV-S939 is not the typical Cubist picture digitizer, however. Even zoomed all the way in (magnifying the visible portion of the picture on the screen by about two), the picture is clean and undistorted. At first glance, it may appear that the enlarged picture has less detail, but this isn't really the case. Since the images on the screen are larger, you expect them to have more detail. Instead, what you see is a very smooth enlargement of the same details that were present in the original image. The zoom is absolutely good enough to use for checking out special effects, as well as creating your own pan-and-scan version of movies in an aspect ratio you feel comfortable with.
Of course, this player's big claim to fame is its DVD-Audio playback capability. The DV-S939 uses 24-bit/192-kilohertz digital-to-analog converters, and the menus allow you to choose bitstream or PCM digital output, as well as two-channel or six-channel analog output. Small blue LEDs under the drawer door on the front panel indicate the sampling rate of the playback. After listening for a short time, my only problem with this DVD-Audio player was the slim amount of true DVD-Audio software available. Both the Big Phat Band: Swingin' for the Fences and Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery DVD-Audio discs had outstanding clarity, detail, and energy. I didn't always agree with the amount of musical information mixed in the rear channels (something specified by the disc, not the player), but I do have to admit that I missed the engaging and energetic vibrancy that was clearly lacking in the otherwise-excellent two-channel mixes.
Standard CDs sounded awesome, as well. As a bonus, the DV-S939 is one of the very few CD or DVD players capable of playing through the final track of a badly scratched Loreena McKennitt CD that I keep putting off replacing. Although I did hear a couple of pops in the middle of one song, the DV-S939 played through without losing its place, stutter skipping, or simply stopping as so many other players have done. It resurrected a CD I thought was surely a goner.
The DV-S939 is, so far, one of just a handful of DVD players to receive THX Ultra certification, and it's not surprising. In terms of picture quality, sound quality, and operation, this player scores well above the rest of the pack. And that's before you factor in the ability to play DVD-Audio discs. If you're looking for a high-performance DVD player that will also play DVD-Audio, or an outstanding DVD-Audio player that offers superior performance with DVD movies, then this is the machine for you. At $74.95 per pound ($1,800 total), it's a bit more pricey than the aforementioned $20-a-pound bargain DVD player, but it's a true premium cut of DVD performance that'll have you savoring every audio and video morsel.
• Exceptionally fast access time
• Precision construction and excellent build quality
• Upgradeable processor via RS-232 port