Denon DVM-4800 DVD-Audio/Video Changer Page 4

Since this player is about more than movies, I checked out a DVD-Audio release of America's soft folk/rock album, Homecoming (Warner Archives/Rhino). The multichannel remix of "Ventura Highway" places one guitar in front and another in back, with lead vocals in the front three channels and backup vocals all around. The front/back interplay of the guitars is an example of tasteful surround sound mixing. On "Don't Cross the River," the bass guitar was firm in the subwoofer.

The player gave a terrific account of itself throughout this and other DVD-Audio discs. The sound quality provided by its audio DACs was first-rate (and playback from good, old-fashioned CDs was superb). On the downside, the changer was rather leisurely at disc swapping; it took about 20 seconds to stop playing one CD and start playing another, and even longer with DVDs.

I was disappointed that the DVM-4800's speaker settings don't apply to DVD-Audio. For example, even if you tell the player that your surround speakers are "small," it'll send full-range DVD-Audio signals to the analog output jacks. On the plus side, pressing the front-panel Bass Enhancer button directs low frequencies from all channels to the subwoofer so you won't "lose" the bass if you're using satellite speakers that have small woofers. But this analog bass management isn't complete because the player still sends full-range signals to the five main channels, which could damage speakers not designed to handle them.

Although this partial solution is a step in the right direction, I'd gladly trade some of the doodads like HDCD decoding and virtual surround sound for more comprehensive DVD-Audio bass management - including adjustable low-pass cutoff frequencies and filter slopes. That would make this great player nearly perfect.