3 year old Denon DVD-A1 v 3930. My verdict..

Jules

Distinguished Member
With the endless wait for HD DVD and Blue Ray, and with the HDMI socket looking lonely on my Sony HS50 projector, I decided to replace my 'no HDMI' Denon DVD-A1 for a brand spanking new Denon 3930.

The other reasons for my decision were:

- I could get the 3930 in black to match almost all of my kit (everything is going black again!)
- using HDMI frees up the component ouput to my Plasma. Previously I had to use S-Video on the A1.
- The 3930 plays SACD where the A1 does not.


The 3930 has had lots of high praise thrown at it for its upscaling abilities over HDMI, but is it really like Denon's A1 players for 1/3rd of the price?

Well, over HDMI and using 720p upscaling to my HS50 the picture is beautiful.
Yes, better than the component ouput from my DVD-A1, and so I'm very happy with it.
The 3930 is a belting DVD player , and the upscaled picture from most films looks alot better than component. Infact I'm very impressed.

However, before you jump up and buy one... there are a couple of very big
caveats.

1) Audio quality.
The audio quality is pants compared to the A1.
With CD's, the A1 sounded better than my NAD C542 CD player... which in itself is a very fine CD player.
The 3930 sounded considerably worse than the NAD. The results were obvious... the 3930 is not even close the performance of the A1 with CD.

I thought that using Denon link, the 3930 and A1 would sound the same.
I was wrong! The 3930 sounds good over Denon Link, but switching to the A1 made CD's sound more wholesome, rich, smooth, controlled and detailed.
Even Dolby Digital via the A1 sounds better...not quite so much in it, but definately more refined.


2) The component video output from the 3930 is very good, but it switches to Interlaced when using HDMI (I didn't know this).
Also, when I switched back to the A1 for a moment, I noticed the complete absence of any noise in the picture. The 3930 looked less pristine.
The A1 perhaps looked a little soft, but I couldn't say there was less detail in the picture.... it just looked a bit 'cleaner'.


3) The drive speed. I hadn't appreciated how slick the A1 was.
The A1 whisks through DVD menu's like greased lighting. The 3930, whilst not slow (much quicker than my Panasonic DVD-R) was no match for the A1.


4) Build quality. People say how well made the 3930 is, and it is a very nicely put together machine. But again it is no A1. The top and side panels flex when you pick it up.
I wouldn't (and didn't) put the A1 on top of the 3930, but I have put my 28Kg Amplifier (Denon A1SE) on top of the A1.
The 3930 feels like it will last a fair few years, whereas the A1 feels like it will last a lifetime.


Overall, I'm very happy with the 3930 because if feeds my HS50 a better picture using HDMI and I can use the component ouput to feed my Plasma instead of S-Video.
As a DVD player, especially over HDMI, I rate it very highly.

However, if I didn't have a NAD C542 CD player to play music on it would be a different story.

The 3930 is a stonking DVD player, but if you want a one box CD / DVD solution, my advice is to look elsewhere.
 
J

jackal

Guest
Thanks for that review, very helpful! :smashin:

I am going to demo one tomorrow as a possible replacement for my Pioneer 868. I was hoping that the audio would be a great improvement over the Pioneer, but you have given me food for thought.
 

Moviebuff

Well-known Member
Off to buy Recruit's DVD A1XVA today - it was always on my mind that it may have been more cost effective to just buy a 3930. Although you havn't done a direct comparison between those two players - it kind of put's my mind at rest, that I have done the right thing. :)
 

Timbo21

Well-known Member
From what I can tell from a couple of reports here it definitely sounds like the picture is excellent, but the audio is average. It's such a pity Denon can't get it together. For £900 you should get something which you can actually use as a universal player. I'm sure for many it will be fine, but for others who expect more it sounds like it may be frustrating. I dare say the money has gone on the video processing rather than the audio!
 

Crustyloafer

Distinguished Member
An excellent review and one that matches my own views on the product.

If audio quality is of importance then the new Arcam DV139 might be worth a spin, it knocks both the 3930 and the A1XVA into a cocked hat for audio performance.
 

Jules

Distinguished Member
Out of 10, I'd mark them as follows for their component ouput.

A1 (Progressive) = 9.5
3930 (Progressive) = 9

A1 (interlaced) = 9
3930 (Interlaced) = 7

The 3930 gets a low score for interlaced output because it is riddled with the Chroma Bug in interlaced mode.
It can look a little out of focus aswell. This is a shame because you are limited to interlaced component ouput if HDMI is switched on. It takes a few button presses to switch HDMI On/Off, so I doubt family members will know what to do when they find no signal going to the projector)


I did mention above that the A1 has absolutely no noise in the picture and looks a bit 'cleaner' than the 3930's progressive output. The 3930's progressive component output is still very good though.
 

gandley

Novice Member
An excellent review and one that matches my own views on the product.

If audio quality is of importance then the new Arcam DV139 might be worth a spin, it knocks both the 3930 and the A1XVA into a cocked hat for audio performance.
But is not so good as the A1XV when it comes to video, which is why exactly one buys a dvd player. (personal preference noted)


Jules
Also you say even via denon link the 3930 sounded not as good as the A1, are you saying the A1 has better dacs than the amp you have. I had the A1 and i dont think it rates as an audio player, certainly not bad but nowhere up to the spec of a decent av amp with quality dacs.

but for £899 the 3930 is one of the recent bang for buck bargains at its price point, i forget how much an A1 was but it wasnt too cheap when i bought one.

Have demoed just about every arcam, and yet to buy one. (audio is always impressive, video always lacking but the most perfect VP fodder, bar the 27a which i almost purchased @ the time they were a hot product, and regret not gettin one)
 

gandley

Novice Member
"but it switches to Interlaced when using HDMI (I didn't know this)."

I take it you did change it in the menus to progressive, and tested it in each of its modes.

I should say i demoed the 3930, along with the Denon A1xva amp, you know the friggin great monster, (which you can now find for about £3k) and via Denon link 3 the audio quality was excellent, though the amp was doing the grunt.
 
J

jackal

Guest
"but for £850 the 3930 is one of the recent bang for buck bargains at its price point, i forget how much an A1 was but it wasnt too cheap when i bought one.

Have demoed just about every arcam, and yet to buy one. (audio is always impressive, video always lacking bar the 27a which i almost purchased @ the time they were a hot product, and regret not gettin one)[/QUOTE]"

It is £1100, where have you seen one for that? (Purely Gadgets have grey imports at £879.)
 

Jules

Distinguished Member
I take it you did change it in the menus to progressive, and tested it in each of its modes.
Yes, and then I read the manual... which told me what I had suspected.

Also you say even via denon link the 3930 sounded not as good as the A1, are you saying the A1 has better dacs than the amp you have. I had the A1 and i dont think it rates as an audio player, certainly not bad but nowhere up to the spec of a decent av amp.
My amplifier is a Denon (K)A1SE. The DVD-A1's DACS are better than those in the amplifier, but using Denon Link (and therefore using the DACS in the amp) is more convenient.
I don't therefore think the quality of the DACS in the DVD player are relevant in your question. I can only presume the difference between the 3930 and A1 in this scenario is due to the DVD-A1's vastly superior transport and build quality.

I actually rate the A1 very highly as a CD player. When I first got it, I was really taken aback by how it good it was.
 

gandley

Novice Member
"but for £850 the 3930 is one of the recent bang for buck bargains at its price point, i forget how much an A1 was but it wasnt too cheap when i bought one.

Have demoed just about every arcam, and yet to buy one. (audio is always impressive, video always lacking bar the 27a which i almost purchased @ the time they were a hot product, and regret not gettin one)
"

It is £1100, where have you seen one for that? (Purely Gadgets have grey imports at £879.)[/QUOTE]


AVland my friend, UK stock, Denon gold dealer, GooGle is your friend if you want to get good deals

Edit, make that £899 MR
http://www.avland.co.uk/denon/dvd3930/dvd3930.htm
 

morkus

Standard Member
With the endless wait for HD DVD and Blue Ray, and with the HDMI socket looking lonely on my Sony HS50 projector, I decided to replace my 'no HDMI' Denon DVD-A1 for a brand spanking new Denon 3930.

The other reasons for my decision were:

- I could get the 3930 in black to match almost all of my kit (everything is going black again!)
- using HDMI frees up the component ouput to my Plasma. Previously I had to use S-Video on the A1.
- The 3930 plays SACD where the A1 does not.


The 3930 has had lots of high praise thrown at it for its upscaling abilities over HDMI, but is it really like Denon's A1 players for 1/3rd of the price?

Well, over HDMI and using 720p upscaling to my HS50 the picture is beautiful.
Yes, better than the component ouput from my DVD-A1, and so I'm very happy with it.
The 3930 is a belting DVD player , and the upscaled picture from most films looks alot better than component. Infact I'm very impressed.

However, before you jump up and buy one... there are a couple of very big
caveats.

1) Audio quality.
The audio quality is pants compared to the A1.
With CD's, the A1 sounded better than my NAD C542 CD player... which in itself is a very fine CD player.
The 3930 sounded considerably worse than the NAD. The results were obvious... the 3930 is not even close the performance of the A1 with CD.

I thought that using Denon link, the 3930 and A1 would sound the same.
I was wrong! The 3930 sounds good over Denon Link, but switching to the A1 made CD's sound more wholesome, rich, smooth, controlled and detailed.
Even Dolby Digital via the A1 sounds better...not quite so much in it, but definately more refined.


2) The component video output from the 3930 is very good, but it switches to Interlaced when using HDMI (I didn't know this).
Also, when I switched back to the A1 for a moment, I noticed the complete absence of any noise in the picture. The 3930 looked less pristine.
The A1 perhaps looked a little soft, but I couldn't say there was less detail in the picture.... it just looked a bit 'cleaner'.


3) The drive speed. I hadn't appreciated how slick the A1 was.
The A1 whisks through DVD menu's like greased lighting. The 3930, whilst not slow (much quicker than my Panasonic DVD-R) was no match for the A1.


4) Build quality. People say how well made the 3930 is, and it is a very nicely put together machine. But again it is no A1. The top and side panels flex when you pick it up.
I wouldn't (and didn't) put the A1 on top of the 3930, but I have put my 28Kg Amplifier (Denon A1SE) on top of the A1.
The 3930 feels like it will last a fair few years, whereas the A1 feels like it will last a lifetime.


Overall, I'm very happy with the 3930 because if feeds my HS50 a better picture using HDMI and I can use the component ouput to feed my Plasma instead of S-Video.
As a DVD player, especially over HDMI, I rate it very highly.

However, if I didn't have a NAD C542 CD player to play music on it would be a different story.

The 3930 is a stonking DVD player, but if you want a one box CD / DVD solution, my advice is to look elsewhere.
what about denon dvd a11 for cd replay?
 

gandley

Novice Member
Yes, and then I read the manual... which told me what I had suspected.

My amplifier is a Denon (K)A1SE. The DVD-A1's DACS are better than those in the amplifier, but using Denon Link (and therefore using the DACS in the amp) is more convenient.
I don't therefore think the quality of the DACS in the DVD player are relevant in your question. I can only presume the difference between the 3930 and A1 in this scenario is due to the DVD-A1's vastly superior transport and build quality.

I actually rate the A1 very highly as a CD player. When I first got it, I was really taken aback by how it good it was.

Well we must just a have different view of what makes for good audio, but i i doubt there is a difference via D-LINK between players, that would be a first. as long as the d-link is sending the same digital signal, its all down to the dacs off the amp, therefore this is simply placebo effect.

If you were talking about the analog outs, then i can understand the difference, not trying to snipe. (did you also try the anolog outs of the 3930 for audio)


from the audio holics review of the 3930.

Starting off with some 12-string harmonics the title track, “Carry On Together”, only gets better by adding tight harmonies into the intro verse. Tracks like this are exceptionally revealing and the DVD-3930CI was extremely transparent sounding. The DACs on this player are simply astonishingly good."

full review here

http://www.audioholics.com/productreviews/avhardware/denon-DVD-3930CI-DVD-playerp1.php
 

Jules

Distinguished Member
I think the 3930 is just a bit too bright and digital sounding.... something I hate in digital audio and the DVD-A1 avoids this.

I guess I do subscribe to the idea that digital conenctions can and do sound different.
I genuinely firmly believe this is not placebo. After all, I don't think anyone would argue that the coaxial digital audio output from a £20 player from Asda sounds the same as that from an Arcam.



A quick update on the component video ouput from the 3930.
I'm going to have to knock it's score down to 7/10 for interlaced ouput.
It is riddled with CUE.
I've just been watching a brightly coloured Pop music video, and the interlaced component picture is poor. Not a patch on the A1.

Weird thing is that the progressive ouput is much better.
It's just a shame I have to switch HDMI off to maintain progressive component ouput to the plasma screen... and there's no discrete IR command I can programme into my Pronto to acheive this easily.
 

gandley

Novice Member
indeed there is cue in the interlaced mode, kris dearings pointed that out, though if one were to use this player in interlased mode they should be shot onsight. (what with HQV and all), I dont know this for sure but perhaps the progressive mode has CUE filters, a good check could be to look at starwars the clone was where bobba fets dad (jango)is shooting at obi wan in the space scene (seizmic charges says obi wan), the instrument panel has a few bright red dials etc, do these go all banded in interlaced mode and progressive or just interlaced? (thats if you have the time to look)

What you mean those asda Players arent just bulk rebadged arcams, ive been stung.:)

Though we arent talking about a £20 dvdplayer, I found the Audio from the 3930 to be excellent, redbook CD was most impressive, very detailed with excellent clarity. SACD had great dynamics and sound steering. As good as an arcam for redbook cd, no. but i also own a NAD C542 and the Denon in my opinon produced a finer sound, but not even a contender for my dedicated NAD silverline system or now departed A1XV
 

usman24

Active Member
Hi all,


Off topic question?

Would it be possible to use a hdmi-dvi adaptor from the denon 3930 to a 42phd8 to achieve 1:1 pixel mapping [1024x768p] to bypass the screen's scaler as my screen does not accept 1:1 mapping via hdmi. obviously I may not be able to use this "colour expansion function" in the hdmi setting for dvi.

any advice would be appreciated.
 
S

simonharris

Guest
The 3930 has 1080p output over HDMI - but you are using component??

You also mentioned that you had been watching your previous DVD player over S-Video?
 

Jules

Distinguished Member
A quick update.

I'm not as enthusiastic of the 3930 as I was at first, and slightly regret agreeing to sell my DVD-A1.

First, the multi region hack is not perfect. It won't play my Region 1 copy of Daylight with enhanced regional coding. the DVD-A1 played it fine.

Secondly, the component video output is definately inferior to the A1, and horizontal pans are not as smooth.

Thirdly, probably being too picky here, but the drive speed is too slow for me.
I was used to navigating menus on the DVD-A1 in double quick time, and the 3930 is starting to iritate me as it thinks for a few seconds before responding.


Also, not the 3930's fault, but my Sony projector (HS50) crops the image using 720p upscaling and leaves an unused border inside the 16:9 frame.
I'm still connecting via HDMI, but have decided to use 480/576p instead of the 720p upscaling.
That means I'm not really gaining much when compared to the A1.

Oh well... you live and learn.
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Very interesting thread, and proves what a lot of the old sages have been saying around these parts.

Quality is quality.

Denon link is one of the best digital audio connections, but it won't make anything better - it will just help to stop things getting worse, and in this case it will expose the limitations in the amp. People often assume that amplifier DACs are better than player DACs, but the DVD A1 was pretty much cost-no-object in it's time, and more bits haven't made anything any better in the meantime.

Nick
 

CJROSS

Well-known Member
1) Audio quality.
The audio quality is pants compared to the A1.
With CD's, the A1 sounded better than my NAD C542 CD player... which in itself is a very fine CD player.
The 3930 sounded considerably worse than the NAD. The results were obvious... the 3930 is not even close the performance of the A1 with CD.
Excellent review Jules on many factes, one thing though dude, I am sure your C542 sound excellent, but what I hear from my DVD (Toshiba SD9500 & Sony NS900V QS SACD/DVD ) players knocks what I hear from £300-500 CDPs into the weeds these days in hifi dealers. I think these old estoric players can "play ball" with many £1000 CDPs. Once you send these DVD player into dedicated stereo systems, it amazes me what they can produce audio wise. I'd reccomend geeing up your stereo system as high as you can go dude and keeping an old superstar DVD player like your A1 for CD duties.
 

gandley

Novice Member
A quick update.

I'm not as enthusiastic of the 3930 as I was at first, and slightly regret agreeing to sell my DVD-A1.

First, the multi region hack is not perfect. It won't play my Region 1 copy of Daylight with enhanced regional coding. the DVD-A1 played it fine.

Secondly, the component video output is definately inferior to the A1, and horizontal pans are not as smooth.

Thirdly, probably being too picky here, but the drive speed is too slow for me.
I was used to navigating menus on the DVD-A1 in double quick time, and the 3930 is starting to iritate me as it thinks for a few seconds before responding.


Also, not the 3930's fault, but my Sony projector (HS50) crops the image using 720p upscaling and leaves an unused border inside the 16:9 frame.
I'm still connecting via HDMI, but have decided to use 480/576p instead of the 720p upscaling.
That means I'm not really gaining much when compared to the A1.

Oh well... you live and learn.
OH Hangon, which is it then, on AVS you say you compared your A1 to the A1XV and the A1 is still just as good, here you say its the 3930.

Having owned the A1, A11, 2900, 3910, A1XV i call majour BS at this even more so with the thread you made on AVS. The A1 was pretty good, there was no doubt but the A1XV stomps on it in every way, its not even close.
So did you compare with the A1XV or the 3930?

(if it wasnt you you got a twin:) )
 

LicensedTaximan

Well-known Member
HCC is reviewing this model in their next issue.:thumbsup:

I am interested in this model to go with my AVC-A11XVA. My present dvd player is the oldish but (at the time) well respected semi budget model Toshiba SD-210e. It's still working fine but technology has, as is always the case, jumped forwards in leaps and bounds since this model was released.

Thanks for your real world owners review Jules as it gives food for thought.:smashin:
 

Timbo21

Well-known Member
Denon link is one of the best digital audio connections, but it won't make anything better - it will just help to stop things getting worse,
Well said Nick. Some seem to think if it's denon-link to your amp it will sound the same whatever the Denon player. As you point out, not so.
 

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