What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Mon, 12 Jan 2009, 3:00pm

Denon DVD-3800BD

Tested at £1500
80100
4

We were impressed when this player was first tested and the Denon is still a good option. It just suffers against the new decks on the block

Write your own review

For

  • Virtually bomb-proof build-quality, pictures show great contrast and good definition

Against

  • Only profile 1.1
  • colours a little overblown compared to other players
  • a little safe sounding

We originally reviewed the Denon DVD-3800BD well before many other Blu-ray players came onto the scene. So, it is interesting to see how it handles the pressure of the newer players.

The machine boasts typical Denon robustness in the form of a multi-layer heavy-duty chassis.

Inside the player you'll find individual circuit boards for video and audio, a 12-bit 216MHz video DAC, Denon's AL24 audio processing and accompanying high-grade audio DACs.

Audio and picture processing

All the high-definition audio formats are catered for, whether you want to bitstream to a compatible amp or decode onboard the player.

The player's menu system is decent enough, but it lacks the fluidity of those of the Pioneer BDP-LX91 and Sony BDP-S5000ES players. Matters aren't helped by a remote that is slow to react: the buttons certainly require a particularly firm prod.

A Realta video processor is in charge of providing the best picture quality possible. It works in conjunction with noise reduction technology and Denon's proprietary Pixel Image Correction, which claims to promote a more natural picture that's smoother with movement.

When a film is playing, you can go into the player's menu and alter picture settings such as chroma level, contrast brightness and gamma. And, as an added bonus, you can then store your preferred settings in individual memory presets.

Blacks are deep, and there's plenty of detail

The Denon definitely has its moments. Blacks are deep, and there's plenty of detail to lap up. When playing the Blu-ray of Quantum of Solace, the '3800BD keeps Bond's tuxedo jacket black, but still manages to dig out enough detail to make creases and the edges of lapels visible.

Switch over to the vibrant Blu-ray version of Australia and the Denon laps up the glorious transfer. Those expansive shots of the Aussie outback look particularly impressive. Compared with others in this test, colours do appear marginally overcooked, but you're still enjoying a very good image.

Sonically, the Denon produces a nicely listenable sound. The player maintains an even tonal balance and in two-channel mode handles the bounding bass and powerful treble of The Prodigy's Invaders Must Die with ease.

Dynamically, the likes of the Pioneer BDP-LX91 and Sony BDP-S5000ES disc-spinners have more in reserve but the Denon is still a competent CD player by a Blu-ray player's modest standards.