Pioneer DV-563A Universal DVD/SACD Player

Photos by Tony Cordoza

Have you been waiting for the high-resolution audio formats, Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio, to get their acts together? Have you, like me, said, "Format war? Bah! No flippin' way am I buying two more players just for these things! And it's for major sure I'm not spending a grand or two on a new combi-player!"

Well, what you're hearing off in the distance is the sound of your ship coming in, in the form of Pioneer's sleek DV-563A. This $249 progressive-scan DVD player can handle virtually any optical disc you throw at it. That's right, for one low, low price the new Pioneer plays multichannel (and two-channel) SACDs and DVD-Audio discs as well as regular DVD movies and CDs, plus other formats (click to see PDF of table).


KEY FEATURES Plays DVD-Video and DVD-Audio discs, CDs, and Super Audio CDs 2:3 pulldown processing for progressive-scan output Onscreen setup and operational displays

OUTPUTS component video (switchable between interlaced and progressive-scan), composite/S-video; optical and coaxial digital audio; multichannel analog audio (dual L/R front channels); Pioneer-brand unified remote control in/out

DIMENSIONS 16 1/2 inches wide, 2 1/8 inches high, 11 1/8 inches deep

WEIGHT 5 1/4 pounds

PRICE $249

MANUFACTURER Pioneer Electronics USA, Dept. S&V, 2265 E. 220th St., Long Beach, CA 90810; www.pioneerelectronics .com; 800-421-1404

It's not a very big ship, though. The player is barely taller than three stacked DVD cases, and its footprint is not much bigger than four laid out flat. This makes for a cozy front panel with a small but refreshingly uncluttered display. And the rear panel is packed with jacks, including the six analog audio outputs you need for multichannel DVD-Audio or SACD playback, plus an "extra" left/right pair for plain stereo.

Setting up the DV-563A was a snappy procedure thanks to colorful, easy-to-read onscreen graphics and a Setup Navigator that walks you through the key steps, resorting to good old text to explain many of the trickier bits. Nonetheless, there were a a couple of oddities that gave me pause despite my experience with these things.

For example, when you're adjusting channel levels on the Audio Settings page, you have to save your changes for each channel by hitting the enter key on the remote while that channel's screen icon is still selected - otherwise any tweaks you've made will be lost when you move on. Also, you must explicitly turn the subwoofer output on - its default setting is off.