Denon DVD-2900 Universal DVD Player Review

Rob Babcock

Rob Babcock

<font color='#000000'>I would have loved a '2900, but I settled on the '2200. &nbsp;I'm sure the more expensive unit is worth the extra $, but I bought mine because my Pioneer DV-45A started to flake on me, so waiting another month wasn't an option. &nbsp;Also, I think that DVI output is almost mandatory on a $1k player (c'mon, Samsung has it on their $300 player! &nbsp;Not saying it's as well built, but really...). &nbsp;I strongly suspect that shortly we'll have DVI &amp; Firewire even on the sub $1000 players, so I'll use the '2200 til the next couple models come out.

That said, the '2200 sounds awesome, and better than my old Pioneer universal. &nbsp;The digital bass management sounds fantastic, although I do have one suggestion to make, since we have a Denon rep checking in. &nbsp;I know that a global setting for all MC is easy to use, but the versatility would be better if you could set up the bass management and speakers for EACH FORMAT SEPARATELY! &nbsp;This couldn't add too much to the cost but it would make the player much more appealing.

Still, I don't wanna grouse: &nbsp;my player rocks! &nbsp;A nice bonus, too, the ability to play MP3 &amp; JPEGs. &nbsp;I haven't tried the latter, but the former plays perfectly (all the discs I've tried- a few wouldn't play correctly on my DV-45A).</font>


<font color='#000000'>Good review!

My Denon 2900, to my ears and eyes, pretty much matches what you've had to say here in your review.  I've had this unit since first release and still marvel at the sound, both in two channel and multi-channel listening.

Now ... There's a fellow in Seattle who does tube upgrades to these units and I'm considering sending mine in.  Heck, if I can get an even finer sound, all the better.  The only problem is, I'm so happy with the sound as is, I'm worry that my ears just might want the unit returned to its original configuration.  Apparently those who have heard the modded units have said that the sound is improved considerably.  Here's what the mod consists of:

&quot;The mods include cap upgrades in the power supply, custom high performance shunt regulators for the DAC chips, a new shunt regulated, active loaded tube output stage with new high voltage power supply in the 2900 and new output RCAs. All original funtionality and outputs are maintained. With the placement of the new ventilaton holes the heat from the tube stage pretty well flows up and around the tube stage without heating the rest of the unit.&quot;

Have you heard any comments on this upgrade?  Do you believe that an upgrade of this sort would indeed result in better sound?

Would appreciate any comments you might have on this subject.



<font color='#000000'>Hi Gene,
As usual an excellent review, but the seguey to the HIREZ music scams is long on technical stuff ( the validity of which I'm sure is well researched) but I'll admit here and now that I've been scammed over 150 times and will continue to be as long as someone cares to produce the music.

I agree that there are plenty of reworked titles that from (personal opinion) could have been better thought out, particularly large venue live albums. &nbsp;
I also feel the door is wide open here for a whole new generation of creativity which may not have the significance of the invention of &quot;The Wheel&quot; but is certainly enough to breathe fresh life into a musical era that was stagnating.

Maybee the best thing about Napster was that it accellerated some creative thinking and again made necessity the mother of invention. &nbsp;When I'm listening to Miles Davis, I;m not watching my BitRate meter I'm just enjoying some 30 or 40 year old music that to my ears has never sounded better.

Gene, I thought it was sad reading the &quot;Disc of the Month&quot; choice in Stereophile magazine an issue ago which chose Rachel Podger's &quot;LaStravaganza&quot;, identifying it as a cd, with no mention that it was also a mltich sacd.
Fortuneately Felix Martinez of DVD ect magazine felt the same way about the disc but chose the HIREZ version.

Your article about hirez music is important and should be read because there are plenty of bugs in the system, but the music buying public has been scammed plenty before these formats were ever thought of.

Peter m.</font>


<font color='#000000'>To Ken jr.
       If you would like to add more noise, distortion and less reliability to your unit, than by all means go for the &quot;tube upgrade&quot; .
                Dan Banquer</font>


<font color='#000000'>The review of the Denon 2900 is so overly favorable here, How can we believe this is as good as the review says and what will you possibly have left to say when you review the Denon 5900 coming out in October '03. Listed on the Denon and Crutchfield website as a real &quot;audiophile class player&quot;
at $1999?</font>


Audioholics Master Chief
<font color='#000000'>Well Mike, there is always room for improvement in any product and I did list many negatives about the player I am hoping the DVD-5900 will address.  Would you have preferred me to not positively comment on the measured flat color response we got out of this player or the extremely low analog noise floor?

The quality of audio/video is only as good as the best exposure one has had to it.  Right now the DVD-2900 is the best sounding DVD player I have had the pleasure of reviewing.  Perhaps the DVD-5900 will raise the bar of performance again, just like their AVR-5803 receiver did for me.  Prior to reviewing the AVR-5803 I didn't think it was possible for a receiver to outpeform similarly priced separates in every category, but I was proven wrong.  

Some definite advantages the DVD-5900 will have are:
1) DVI output (eventually active and will greatly benefit Digital Displays such as DLP, LCD, Front Projectors).
2) Digital Delay and Bass Management for SACD.  Currently no player other than the Sony's have this due to licensing issues and DSP horsepower requirements from what I understand.
3) Digital Link to Pass DVD-A and SACD to their AVR-5803.  Imagine the receiver being the final demarcation point for all Channel Trims, D/A conversion, Digital Delay &amp; Compensation, etc.

Thanks for your feedback.


I would advise against adding a tube output stage to your DVD player, especially since it would void your warranty.  It is a fine sounding player as is IMO and most likely not the weakest link in your set-up.  You may wish to focus more on speaker positioning and room acoustics.


Thanks for your feedback and appreciate your comments regarding DVD-A/SACD software issues.  We plan on doing follow-ups and updates to existing articles soon.  

[edited: added comment to Ken,Peter]</font>


<font color='#000000'>Mike raises a good point that I'd like to comment on.  My feeling is that in many home theater systems, especially those with smaller TV's, people may not really notice a significant difference in video quality between several DVD players, provided they all have progressive scan output and so on.  But I know from experience that when you have a larger wide screen RPTV, LCD or Plasma display, there is indeed a noticeable, yet subtle difference between the video quality of players.  This is especially true when viewed on a TV that has been properly aligned (convergence) and had some form of color calibration (grayscale, contrast, hue...) such as the two we used for our review.  

Grayscale Calibration Article

Also, depending on speakers, receiver, processor, amplifiers and so forth, many people may not notice a substantial difference in sound quality between players as some of it can be masked by the performance of the equipment.  But in our experience, and given the equipment we implemented in Reference System 1 and Reference System 2 when reviewing this product, we yet again, noticed a difference in performance between this player and others.

I think the moral of the story is to come up with a budget and buy the best for your money.  If you have the system that justifies a better quality DVD player for either video or sound (or both), and you plan on spending $1,000, we have shown in the article that the Denon DVD-2900 measures an improvement to the Sony DVP-NS999ES, and others we’ve seen.</font>
Clint DeBoer

Clint DeBoer

<font color='#000080'>And as I recall, our review ratings state that value is a big factor... so a $1999 player has to earn the same type of rating at that price point.</font>


<font color='#000000'>Keep up the good work on the reviews.

<table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">Switching back to the “Filter Off” position resulted in a more uniform and satisfying blend of system bass performance. Since all of the speakers in my reference system are full range capable, this did not present a significant problem.</td></tr></table>
I would like to take the liberty of clarifying a point hinted at in the above, but that I did not see mentioned: &nbsp;When &quot;Filter off&quot; is selected, Bass Management and the Bass Enhancer option are defeated. &nbsp;(With &quot;Filter on&quot; enabled, the Bass Enhancer option has effect, even if all speakers are set to &quot;Large&quot;.)

<table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">I felt the DVD-2900 compared favorably to my Audience modded Sony SCD-CE775. On the fly DBT testing was not practical between the two players since their output levels were quite different and would involve constant volume level compensation when switching between units.</td></tr></table>
I don't understand. &nbsp;I gathered from the review that the receiver in use has adjustable analog input levels. &nbsp;Is this adjustability inadequate to balance the players for comparison?</font>


Audioholics Master Chief
<font color='#000000'>Hi Mod-free;

Good points on the Filter settings. &nbsp;Although I did briefly mention similar on page 2 of my review.
<table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">According to the DVD-2900 Users Manual, the “Filter Off” feature defaults all channels to full range and boosts the subwoofer level 5dB for DD/DTS and 15dB for DVD-A/SACD sources. After comparing the two settings and compensating for subwoofer level differences, I ultimately preferred the “Filter Off” setting in my configuration. I just could not achieve proper system bass performance in my set-up in the “Filter On” position.</td></tr></table>

As for comparing the modded Sony vs the Denon on the fly, two things prohibited this:
1) At the time of the review I didn't have a pink noise test reference CD to compare and set levels (The Sony is a CD/SACD player only).
2) I recently discovered storable level trims are per mode of operation, not per mode and input like the marketing literature alludes to. &nbsp;So each time I would switch to different sources in &quot;Pure Direct&quot; mode, I would have to compensate via master volume or channel trims. &nbsp;My hands aren't quick enough to make such changes to make that type of test feasible

I will be writing an addendum to the AVR-5803 review after I receive the new upgraded hardware to discuss the added features, existing features I did not cover, and to point out a few of the marketing literature inconsistencies I have recently discovered.</font>
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