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- Age Rating: All
- Region: All Region DVD
- Released By: Other
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Hardware Reviews
April 04, 2002
What They SayThe Review!
Sony DVP-S7700 DVD Player
Since noone has submitted a review for this player, I guess I'll take a stab at it. I have been enjoying this player for 6+ months, and I've tried different things with it as well. FYI, I am a sarcastic person, but I always think of myself as unbiased; even so, take the review with a grain of salt.
Sony decided to create the first DVD player, and thus came to be created the DVP-S7000, Sony's flagship player. It was one of the first DVD player to be made, but it was so good, a lot of people then made it as their 'reference' player. Then, came other players, and thus Sony spoke again, and thus the successor to its flagship product was born. DVP-S7700 was its name, and $1199 was its (suggested retail) price.
Given its high price, one would expect the kitchen sink to be delivered to your door when you order this product. However, that is not so. As the manual stated, this is a CD/DVD player. Plus a bit more, but not much more. And to some degree this can be stated as less, since a lot of other things are included with lower priced players (even Sony ones). So how does Sony justify this product to be made? Answer below; but first, I'd like to say a few bad things about this player.
One of the first thing a videophile would complain about this player is its inability to pass black below black signal. What does this mean? Some (a very small percentage) of DVDs (and most of these are test DVDs) can output a black below black level, that on test DVDs are used to set the contrast/brightness setting on a display output device. Ideally, the black below black signal will be the same as a 'regular' black signal, which is what the signal all DVDs should produce when it wants to produce the color 'black'. DVD Essentials is an example of a calibrator disc that requires this capability so the user can set his display's brightness/contrast controls accurately. OK, no more lessons. As said above, most DVDs should output a regular black, so the Sony has no problem for those discs. However, when you do want it, the Sony will NEVER BE ABLE to deliver black below black signal. As a note, the DVP-S7000 CAN do this, so why Sony took this out is something I can't figure out.
For its price, the player does NOT have a Dolby Digital or DTS decoder. The Toshiba SD-9000 has it, and cheaper to boot. The same thing with the $699 Sony DVP-C650D. One thing to consider though, MOST audio/videophile (in their quest to get the holy grail of perfectness) prefers separates, since they deem all-in-one devices will (or I should say can) not perform as well as dedicated devices.
The player does NOT play CD-RW discs. Although this might be related to the equipment, my current Acer CD-ReWriter and Acer CD-RW discs was not read by the player. I've read people saying that it does read CD-RW, but I've tested this myself (not more than 2 hours ago), and unfortunately the CD-RW was not recognized. As a note, not many DVD players can read CD-RWs, but given this player's dual optic pickup design, I'm disappointed.
The remote is rather large, and might not be suitable for those with smaller hands. It has a jog control, which works, but is an acquired ability to use properly. The cursor selection pad is really bad IMHO. You are bound to want to press enter, and it kinda slips into a direction movement + enter. Again, training is recommended. Sony would do better to use the XBR TVs remote, with its joystick like selection stick.
The digital audio outputs will output downconverted signals to 48KHz/16bit. Considering that Sony high end receivers can accept 96KHz/24bit signals, and this is THE flagship product, Sony blunders again in this department. Analog signals are the result of its internal 24-bit D/A converter though, so some people have (including myself) recommended using the analog out for musics.
Please do not despair, those who have read this far, because this player is rewarded with good stuff as well. This product is simplicity in the extreme. The back side of the player is clean, which I like. It has 1 set of component output (non-progressive), and 2 sets of Audio out (L/R), 2 sets of Composite Video out, and 2 sets of S-Video out. It also has an digital optical out and a coaxial digital out. And it has an S-Link plug. Out of the box, it included an S-Link cable, an RCA (2 Audio and Composite Video) cable, and an S-Video Cable. All connections are Gold plated for those who wanted to know. It has a rather large (medium thickness) manual, and I think very professionally made. Mine was made in Japan as well. This is one heavy product for its size. This player can output DTS signals as well.
The front panel can slide down, and it will unveil the DVD tray. It's one of those 'oooh...aaaah' factor (of course if the panel slider ever breaks, it's going to cost a lot to fix), very cool. The tray is solid, and the panel is also solid. The panel itself only has a play-stop-pause control and a DTS light (active when it detects DTS stream). On the left side of the front of the player, there is power button, a headphone output (the larger jack, gold plated as well), and a headphone volume knob. On the right side, it has a panel-open/close button and an eject button. One thing that I like about this player is it has controls behind the panel (when the remote is not handily within reach). When the panel slides down, you have access to title, menu, and enter button (along with the cursor keys as well). A setup button, DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) button, and next/prev track keys completes the ensemble.
Enough about cosmetics, let's get to the real matter. Processing. So far, I have NEVER encoutered a faster DVD player. This thing zips through the menu processing real fast, usually after I close the tray, it would start up the menu before I sit on my sofa. Selecting menu options flies really well, and I haven't encountered any anomalies/problems with it. I have enjoyed this player with 40 DVD titles that I have, and I rented out maybe close to 20 discs so far as well. Moving backgrounds, different colors, all are processed in a top notch manner.
Playback. Now we're talking. Visual glory! Ghost in the Shell never looked better. A lot of people say that Sony's picture are soft, but I have to disagree. The player delivers the sharpest image I've seen to date. I use the component output, using Monster Component Cables mating it with my 32XBR48 Sony TV. On the BGC disc I have, the first episode is REALLY sharp, to the extent that I think when the compression was made, they must have overdone it. All other materials look way better than anything I've ever seen before. Ninja scroll looks gorgeous, the colors are just coming out perfectly, and night scenes actually looks detailed. The player plays Video CDs. I should say it outputs better pictures than Xing VCD player (running on Celeron 366) and also better than my friends Japanese Sega Saturn with VCD card. It doesn't have zooming ability, but I've never found myself wanting one. Another plus, it plays CD-i discs. My Forrest gump looked good, but the quality (and this is because of the CD-i format, and not because of the player) is worse than a what a good VCR would produce.
What about Sound you said? I use the analog outs, and I like it a lot. It can be improved, but Sony's internal D/A is quite good to my surprise. When I bought this player, it has a promotion where Sony sends out a James Taylor Live at the Beacon Theater DVD, and the sound coming out of my speakers are CRYSTAL CLEAR. I have NEVER EVER heard any sound with that kind of clarity. Ever since that moment, that DVD is one of my favorite, and a test DVD for speakers when I go auditioning. Bass output is respectable, my Bad Boys DVD was blasting around, especially around that shootout-pursuit scene when they kidnap the girl. One thing to add, this player plays CD-R discs (see above where it doesn't play CD-RW discs), and it's a blessing. On one of my ultimate collection CDs, Celine Dion never sounded so good. One small nit-picky thing is, every now and then, the player will skip out the last 3 seconds of a track. I don't know why it does this. The analog output of this player is also unbelievably clean. I once tried it with a Chiro (Chico?) receiver, and with the volume level at 90% I cannot hear the hiss on the speaker unless I put my ear within 2 inches of the main driver. Tip: To get a hiss, play a CD, put your player in pause, and increase volume. If you just hit stop, most of the time a DVD player will shut off it's analog out - so use pause.
The S-Link capability actually becomes quite a novelty for me. If the TV is turned off, and you turn on (play) a DVD on the player, my TV is turned on automatically. Note: This requires the TV to have an S-Link input. Unfortunately, when you turn off the DVD (or the TV), it doesn't shut off the other. But that's a minor point.
I think this player can be improved, see my bad things up there. But even with those deficiencies, this player ranks up there with the best of DVD players. I can't say I was TOTALLY satisfied, but then again I don't have enough money to buy the $5000 Faroudja player :). One thing for sure, my interest in music is revived with this player, and that's with the analog out. I'm buying DVD only now, and I'm in the process of accumulating all Anime DVDs, since that's the main reason I bought it, and so far, watching those anime DVDs has been a treat with this player. I'm going to close this review here, since it has become a long-winded article, and hopefully it can benefit anyone who was looking into buying this player. Any opinions are welcome.
Sony KV-32XBR48 TV
DVP-S7700 DVD Player
NHT 3.3 Speakers, powered by Marantz MA-700 Monoblock Amplifier
M500V Monster cable for the component output video interconnect
Regular Audio cables for analog outs.