Sunday, February 25, 2007

Denon DVD-2930CI Review

I spend so much time helping clients with their cool AV toys that I sometimes forget to satisfy my own needs for nifty new gear. To alleviate this, I've recently made a major upgrade to my theater: a shiny new Denon 2930CI DVD player! I had been using a no frills progressive-scan Sony player for about a year or so while wondering what to do about new formats and the dropping price of quality video processing. When Denon announced the inclusion of the HQV Reon chip in their new player, I knew where my AV dollars would be going next. Thanks to Crutchfield, I've now had this player sitting in my rack for about 2 months.

As with all Denon products, this player is built like a tank. It weighs 17 pounds and stands just over 4 inches tall. It occupies a full 17 inches of rack width and 16 inches of depth. I connected it to my Samsung 50-inch DLP with a Bluejeans Cable HDMI cable. I'm currently running the audio through an optical cable to a Sony receiver but soon I will be utilizing the Denon Link connection with a Denon AVR-3806. I set the HDMI format to RGB and 720p to match the native resolution of my display.

My first order of business was to pop in the GetGray calibration DVD and view a few test patterns. Since my Samsung TVs color management settings and white point (adjusted in service) are global, my primaries, secondaries and grayscale tracking were already calibrated. It’s good to know I can get consistent results from HDMI or component inputs on this set. I tweaked the black and white level settings to resolve the pluge and ramps patterns properly. Since this player offers image positioning controls, I centered the picture using an overscan pattern.

I couldn't wait a moment longer to run through the HQV torture-test disc so in it went. Needless to say, it aced every test. I honestly don't know what the differences are between the Reon and Realta chips are (the Realta is found in the Denon DVD-3930CI and 5910 players), but it would seem that for a mere $849, I had achieved video processing quality previously found only in players costing far more.

Moving on to actual content: I picked some of my worst quality DVDs to try like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Babylon 5. No, they didn't look like HD but dynamic range was hugely improved. There was absolutely no trace of jaggies anywhere! I really looked hard too! Once I put in high-quality DVDs like Lost or James Bond Ultimate Edition the image was simply stunning. It truly approached a high-quality HD feed. In fact, I would rate it higher than some HD content I've seen on DirectTV. Color and dynamic range are simply in a new league with this player. And did I mention the sound? My current speaker system is far from state-of-the-art and I heard an immediate difference. Imaging and clarity were much improved. I can't wait to run some SACDs through this thing! That will have to wait until I've installed my new Axiom speaker system. Stay tuned for that in about a month. One footnote on Denon Link: besides the HQV chip, Denon Link is the other big reason to choose this player. This is the only non-Sony product that I know of that will play SACDs over an all-digital connection. Paired with Denon's AVR3806 receiver, this player will send all sound formats digitally. My system now has no analog sound interconnects whatsoever!

I know many people are waiting to see the results of the format war before buying a new disc player. I almost did myself. I finally reasoned that eventually, there would be players that could read both formats as well as standard DVDs and all types of music CDs. There has already been a press release about a decoder chip that reads both HD and BluRay and LG Electronics is currently advertising a player that incorporates it. I feel it's only a matter of time before Denon releases players that read every currently available optical disc with HQV processing and SACD over Denon Link. When that happens, I'll be upgrading. For now, I am thrilled with my 2930CI. To beat this level of image and sound quality, you would have to spend at least three times as much money. There will be support and demand for standard DVD for years to come. Why not enjoy them with the best player you can afford?


Alfredo said...

Nice! My preferred source for SD viewing is that DVD player. :)

Anyway I must retweak the picture settings to arrange correctly the gamma curve with my DLP front projector Projectiondesign Model Two, Do you know it?

Chris Eberle said...

I am not familiar with that projector. I'm sure that the image quality with this superb DVD player is top-notch!

Alfredo said...

By the way, I wonder what is the meaning of the "white level", "black level" and, specially, "chroma level" picture adjustments in order to acquire a good calibration.

I have attached the 2930 to my plasma TV Panasonic TH-42PX60EH and to my front projector via Denon A/V amplifier (european model A11-AXVA) and an HDMI splitter.

I will make use of 2 of the 4 memories of the 2930 for adjustments.

Hope all goes well... ;)

Chris Eberle said...

Alfredo, please send me an email so I can answer your questions. There just isn't room here for a thorough explanation.

Dustin said...

I'm trying to set up my 2930CI. When I play SACD's in analog multichannel I have to have my HDMI set to two channel. So everytime I watch a DVD, I have to go into settings, and change my HDMI settings to LPCM. Is there anything I'm doing wrong, or is this just how it's set up?

You can e-mail me back at


Chris Eberle said...

Hi Dustin,

It would appear that you are doing nothing wrong. You have run into an annoying limitation of the Denon’s analog multi-channel output. It seems that it won’t work unless HDMI is set to 2-channel operation. Though I don’t use my player this way, I tried to find a workaround for your issue and could not. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help.