Denon DBT-3313 Universal Blu-ray Player Review

Can Denon's flagship Blu-ray player deliver a performance that justifies the price?

Home AV Review

43

Highly Recommended
Denon DBT-3313 Universal Blu-ray Player Review
SRP: £500.00

Introduction

The price of Blu-ray players has tumbled in the last couple of years and now you can pick up a decent high-def disc spinner for less than £100. If you're prepared to go slightly higher up the price ladder you can even get yourself a very capable player with smart functionality and a host of other features included. However, if you want universal playback, that is the ability to play Blu-ray, SACD, DVD, DVD-A and CD, the options become more limited and a bit pricier. Pioneer, Marantz and Oppo all have universal players in the £250-500 price bracket and now it's the turn of Denon's DBT-3313UD, which can currently be picked up for a price at the higher end of that scale. Whilst that might seem like a lot when you consider that over HDMI the audio and video output between two players should be identical, there are plenty of other factors to consider. The build quality always plays a big part in how quiet a player is and the video processing can certainly impact on the playback of standard definition content. In addition the DBT-3313 includes Denon Link HD, which promises to deliver improved audio performance, even in the digital realm. So let's see if the DBT-3313 can justify its price tag...

Design and Connections

Some people might say, why spend £500 on a Blu-ray player, when you can get a perfectly good one for a hundred quid? Whilst that's true, you might also ask why eat steak when you can have a Big Mac, they're both just food right? Generally with cheaper Blu-ray players you get a lightweight plastic chassis, flimsy construction and a noisy disc drive. There is always something rather comforting about a well built player and the DBT-3313 oozes charm with its classic styling and superb construction. The player has some hefty dimensions, measuring 434x108x295mm, and at nearly 7kgs it has the kind of solidity that results in near silent playback. There's a choice of two colour schemes - traditional black or premium silver.

The DBT-3313 is built like a tank, with an all metal construction and thick aluminium front facia that is minimalist in terms of its look. There's a centrally mounted disc tray that slides in and out on a mechanism that is both smooth and silent. Our only minor complaint would be that the space you actually put the disc into is very shallow, so make sure it is in correctly. Above the disc tray is a big display that is well laid out, informative and easy to read. Over on the left hand side is the power button, the Pure Direct button and a small blue LED that shows you when the player is connected via Denon Link HD. Whist on the right hand side there are some basic controls (play, stop, skip and eject) and a USB port.

Denon DBT-3313UD

At the rear is a very basic set of connections with just two HDMI outputs, the Denon Link HD connector, an Ethernet port, in/out remote control jacks, an RS232 serial connector for system control and stereo analogue outs for a second zone. Aside from the twin HDMI outputs there are no other digital outputs, nor are there any analogue outputs except the second zone stereo connectors. The DBT-3313 has been designed purely as a digital transport for use with HDMI and where applicable Denon Link HD. Whilst most people will probably be using HDMI, it is worth pointing out that if you're looking for coaxial and optical digital outputs or multi-channel analogue outputs, you'd better look elsewhere. The connectors themselves are gold plated and the twin HDMI outputs mean that when using the pure direct mode, you can split the audio and video over the two HDMI outputs.

Denon DBT-3313UD

The remote control is constructed from black plastic and is reasonably large and comfortable to hold. The button position is quite intuitive and the weight well balanced, making it easy to use with one hand. The remote doesn't have a backlight but the primary controls are all centrally located and the buttons are phosphorescent, making them easy to find in the dark. Along with all the usual controls, there is a Home key, a Pure Direct feature (which turns off the video circuits and display for audio-only playback) and buttons for directly accessing Netflix and YouTube. You can also set the resolution, choose the layer of a SACD or access the picture adjustment menu directly from the remote and there are basic controls for a connected Denon AVR.

Setup and Menus

Since there are only HDMI outputs on the DBT-3313, setup was very simple. You just connect the player to your receiver via the main HDMI output and you're good to go. You also have option of using the main HDMI output for video and the second HDMI output for audio, this is a useful configuration if you want to take full advantage of the Pure Direct mode. If you plan on using Denon Link HD, then you need to connect the DBT-3313 to your Denon AVR using the provided connector. It is important that you turn on the HDMI Control on both the player and the receiver otherwise the Denon Link HD won't work. You'll know when you've got a connection because a blue LED lights up on the front panel. It is worth noting that the latest generation of Denon Link uses RCA connectors and is not compatible with previous versions.

Denon DBT-3313UD
Denon DBT-3313UD

In the Settings menu there are four sub-menus - General Settings, Video Settings, Audio Settings and Information. In General Settings there are sub-headings for System, Language, Parental Control, Network and Others. In Video Settings there sub headings for TV (Aspect Ration, Wallpaper and Progressive Mode), HDMI (Colour Space, Deep Colour and Output) and 3D (Output and Screen Size). As mentioned previously you set the resolution using the dedicated button on the remote and the choices are Auto, Source Direct, 480/576i, 480/576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p and 1080p24. Thankfully Denon have resisted the temptation to include any picture modes, opting instead to output an untampered video signal, aside from any deinterlacing and scaling. However there is a Picture Adjustment menu, again accessed directly from the remote, that offers a number of image controls. The default setting for all these controls is zero and that's where we'd leave them, as any such adjustments are best made on the display itself.

Denon DBT-3313UD
Denon DBT-3313UD

In the Audio Settings sub-menu you can choose whether to output PCM or Bitstream over HDMI and turn the Dynamic Range Compression on or off - we recommend leaving it off. If you are listening to a SACD, the DBT-3313 can output as Direct Stream Digital (DSD) but if the the connected device cannot support DSD over HDMI, then the Denon automatically switches to PCM. The last page is System Information, which just shows the MAC address, so we're not quite sure why Denon has bothered with it. Finally, on the remote control there is a button marked Option, where you can select secondary video, audio and subtitle settings.

Features

There is a Home page from which you can access certain features such as Netflix and YouTube, although you can also access these directly from the remote. From here you can also access the media player and the Settings menu, although again this can be accessed directly from the remote. As far as features go the DBT-3313 is fairly limited, especially when compared to much of the competition, so if it's smart features you're after there are much better and far cheaper alternatives. In terms of its internet platform, all you have is Netflix and YouTube, although the Vudu button on the remote would suggest that particular service is also available in the US.

Denon DBT-3313UD
Denon DBT-3313UD

Despite the lack of built-in WiFi once you have connected the DBT-3313, using either an Ethernet cable or with a wireless adapter, the networking performance is actually quite good. We used an Ethernet cable and once attached the Denon connected immediately with our network and downloaded a firmware update. So as with the rest of the setup, it all seems quite easy and intuitive. The DBT-3313 worked well in our testing and appears to support the majority of media and file formats including MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, JPEG, MPEG1/2/4 and WMV9 files over both USB and a network. The Denon also supports FLAC HD 192kHz/24-bit over a network connection.

1080p & 3D Playback

As is always the case, every player should be able to output the content on a Blu-ray disc equally as well over HDMI because it is a digital signal. As a result the overall 3D performance of the DBT-3313 was flawless with the all the content we tried playing superbly well. With current 3D favourites like Life of Pi and Oz the Great and Powerful we encountered no firmware issues, added crosstalk or any other unwanted artefacts affecting picture quality. As with the 3D performance, the digital nature of the content means that any Blu-ray player capable of outputting 1080p24 should essentially be identical to any other when using the HDMI output. That is of course as long as the manufacturers don't mess with the output by adding picture mode options rather than just maintaining the integrity of the output on their players. Thankfully, Denon have avoided this trap and all the Blu-rays we watched on the DBT-3313 looked fantastic with plenty of fine detail and no undue judder or other distracting artefacts.

1080i Playback

As we often point out, there is a greater opportunity for a player to improve the image quality when it comes to 1080i content and the DBT-3313 preformed superbly in both the edge and source adaptive deinterlacing tests from the Spears and Munsil and the HQV disc. The Denon also handled the edge adaptive deinterlacing and cadence detection duties extremely well and fine details were retained under movement and the player was able to lock on to both the PAL 2:2 film cadence and the NTSC 2:3 film cadence. The DBT-3313 also had no issues with the mixed film and video text test and overall this was an excellent performance from the Denon player.

480i/576i Playback

Whilst we might be watching less DVDs these days, it's a safe bet you still have plenty of standard definition discs in your collection. The DBT-3313 performed extremely well in these tests, fully reproducing the SMPTE colour bar tests and correctly scaling the images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. With the video deinterlacing tests the results were also excellent and the Denon had no problems with the film detail test, correctly locking onto the image and in the cadence tests it also performed extremely well, correctly detecting the most common types 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European). The DBT-3313 also had no problems with the test displaying film material with scrolling video text, the text was always clearly readable without any shredding. Overall this was a fantastic performance by the Denon and means that there's still plenty of life in your old DVD collection.

Subjective Audio Tests

As is always the case, this section is far more subjective, especially as the DBT-3313's limited connections mean it can only be used as a digital transport, sending the audio as either bitstream or PCM via the HDMI outputs. We tried a number of different audio formats on the Denon including multichannel PCM, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA soundtracks from Blu-rays and Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks from DVDs. We also listened to the multichannel audio from SACD and DVD-Audio discs as well as two channel audio from SACDs and CDs. The DBT-3313 proved to be an extremely capable digital transport and whether it was DTS-HD Master Audio or a stereo CD the audio it delivered sounded fantastic. The Denon was also able to detect all the different discs and audio formats without any problems and played each one back flawlessly.

However if you own one of Denon's A/V receivers with Denon Link HD then you can connect the DBT-3313 using the dedicated cable to achieve a digital audio signal transmission with negligible jitter over an HDMI connection. This proprietary technology transmits the digital sound via the HDMI but uses the A/V receiver’s master clock signal, which is sync'd with the player. Thus the ICs (integrated circuits) on both the player and AVR share a uniform clock signal. In digital signal transmissions over conventional HDMI connections, the ICs are operated with separate clock signals, resulting in jitter which can impact on the sound quality. Denon Link HD works with all HDMI digital output signals, including BD, DVD, DVD-A, SACD, CD, and music streamed from a network. We tested the DBT-3313 with Denon's AVR-4520 and whilst we wouldn't say that the difference was night and day, the use of Denon Link HD certainly resulted in a wonderfully spacious and detailed sound from all the formats we tried.

Video Review

Disc Load Times

The DBT-3133 doesn't have a quick start feature but the boot up times from turning it on were reasonably quick, with the player taking 15 seconds to get to the home page. When it came to loading discs the performance was actually quite good, taking around 20 seconds to get to a copyright screen on a Blu-ray and about 10 seconds with a DVD.

Energy Consumption

  • Standby: 0W
  • Idle: 12W
  • Playing a disc: 14W

Verdict

9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

  • Universal playback
  • Excellent audio performance
  • Reference video processing
  • Reference build quality and quiet operation
  • Very fast load and response times
  • Easy to use with well designed menu system
  • Two HDMI outputs
  • Dedicated stereo output
  • Well designed and high quality remote

Cons

  • No Analogue audio outputs
  • No digital outputs (apart from HDMI)
  • No built-in WiFi
  • Limited internet functionality

Denon DBT-3313 Universal Blu-ray Player Review

Well if we were basing our scoring purely on the build quality, the DBT-3313 would certainly be a reference badge winner with it's weapons grade construction. The heavy chassis and thick metal facia combine to give the player a wonderfully solid and well engineered feel. This is easily one of the best made Blu-ray players we've reviewed and the centrally mounted disc tray and mechanism are almost silent in operation, immediately giving the user a sense of higher-end performance. The front is clean with only a few basic controls and a USB port, along with an easy to read and informative display. The remote control is sensibly laid out, comfortable to hold and easy to use.

The rear connections are very minimal, with only two HDMI sockets and no other digital or analogue outputs, aside from stereo analogue outputs for a second zone. This makes the DBT-3313 a dedicated digital transport, designed exclusively for use with HDMI enabled equipment, which probably won't bother most people but is worth pointing out. As a result the DBT-3313 is clearly intended for use with Denon's latest line-up of AV receivers, where the user can take full advantage of Denon Link HD. The DBT-3313 doesn't have a quick start mode but overall the boot-up and disc loading times were reasonable, whilst the power consumption was good for a player of this size.

The menu system is clear, concise and quick to navigate and setup was generally straightforward; although if you have a suitably equipped Denon receiver and plan on taking full advantage of Denon Link HD, we'd recommend reading the manuals carefully. Whilst there is an Ethernet port at the rear, there is no built-in WiFi, which is surprising as we would consider wireless capability to be the bare minimum these days. The reason for this becomes clear once you access the player's limited internet capabilities. There are some decent networking features and good file support but compared to much of the competition, the overall platform is fairly simplistic.

However, no buys a player like the DBT-3313 to make Skype calls or order their weekly shop, they buy it to play their disc collection and here the Denon was sublime. Whatever disc we tried this genuinely universal player just took it in its stride, producing a very assured and accomplished performance. Obviously 2D and 3D Blu-rays were flawless but thanks to some excellent video processing, the player could squeeze every last pixel of detail out of our diminishing DVD collection. Whilst DVD-Audio and SACD were never popular formats, the DBT-3313 is a powerful reminder of how good they can sound, especially when you utilise Denon Link HD.

The Denon DBT-3313UD universal Blu-ray player may not be cheap but you generally get what you pay for in life. So if you're looking for universal playback, flawless performance, superb build quality and a touch of class, then look no further.

Highly Recommended

Scores

Picture Quality

10

Sound Quality

.
9

Features

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
9

Build Quality

10

Value For Money

.
9

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Our Review Ethos

Read about our review ethos and the meaning of our review badges.

To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.

Related Content

Panasonic DP-UB820 4K Blu-ray Player Review
  • By Steve Withers
  • Published
Panasonic DP-UB9000 4K Blu-ray Player Review
  • By Steve Withers
  • Published
Microsoft Xbox One S UHD Blu-ray Player Review
  • By Steve Withers
  • Published
LG BP556 Blu-ray Player Review
  • By Steve Withers
  • Published
Sony UHP-H1 Blu-ray Player Review
  • By hodg100
  • Published

Latest Headlines

AVForums Podcast: 14th October 2019
  • By Phil Hinton
  • Published
Canton DM76 and DM101 soundbases now available in UK
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Sonos trials Flex speaker subscription service
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Top Bottom