Philips DVD-963SA - My Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by quadophile, Oct 15, 2003.

  1. quadophile

    quadophile
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  2. Klippie

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    quadophile,

    Fair enough review I find mine good as well.

    How old is your 963 and have you noticed any green banding on the left side of the picture.

    You will only see this if component connections are used.

    Klippie.
     
  3. gringottsdirect

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    Excellent review, if I didn't have one already it would make me rush out and buy one.

    It's great to see comments based on a player that works properly rather than someone making countless posts having had one that doesn't. :rolleyes:

    Having said that, it's Philips fault for having poor quality control and making 963s in Hungary I suppose. :)
     
  4. quadophile

    quadophile
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    If I had noticed anything unusual I would have mentioned it in my review. Yes, I admit I was aware of all the problems so all was in the back of my mind so there is no way I missed out on anything. I have had the player with me since last 3 weeks now.

    I use the component video cables and use the progressive scan output from the player. I have a disk with both NTSC and PAL version on each side and have tried out both with good results. No problems of any kind that I encountered.

    The problems that I personally had with the player, I have mentioned it in my review.

    Your feedback is appreciated, thanks!
     
  5. figlio

    figlio
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    Do you think that the PHILIPS 963Sa is in the same standard of the Pioneer 757 or the DENON 2900
     
  6. quadophile

    quadophile
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    Never compared either or them nor have heard the sound of either player so cannot say how they compare.

    I did read a few posts on another forum (maybo audiogon or AA not sure) which stated that 963 is better than 2900, I guess it was an opinion and I do not know the person myself so cannot concur with that analysis.
     
  7. Klippie

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    It seems to me that a lot of people have been frightened off buying one of these players because of the problems associated with the 963SA and I can understand this because I had the very same problems with mine, but these can easily all be fixed by Philips and I take it the newer build machines are now trouble free.

    I looked at some expensive DVD players before I bought my Philips and I still rate it above many of them for picture quality even before the price comes into it.

    Klippie.
     
  8. quadophile

    quadophile
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    It sure is the case. The player as you know has flash rom instead of eprom so there is always a possibility of firmware upgrade and fixing the problems and that is exactly what Philips has done.

    Even the Linn CD 12 is not perfect so why blame a player which is almost 1/40th the price. Its just not fair.
     
  9. quadophile

    quadophile
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    Its been over a month now since I had this player, its sounding very open and detailed compared to when it was heard out of the box. I must have done some 70+ hours on it. No issues either.
     
  10. puddleduck

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    Interesting review, and mirrors my own experiences - I got my machine on import direct from Holland back in early November 2002, and nearly one year later, I have NO upgrade-itus issues with this player, and the picture quality is still capable of stunning me (and my guests!) on a regular basis :)
     
  11. Klippie

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    Guys,

    How do you check the firmware version as I am curious to see if Philips updated it when my 963 was away at thier service center having the mods done to remove the green banding.

    Klippie.
     
  12. quadophile

    quadophile
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    Klippie,

    Get the menu of the 963 to display on the screen, access the last option on the left side and you will see "Access Control" on top of the visible menu. scroll down to the last option and press the down arrow key again which will bring up the firmware version.

    It will give you the firmware, 4.81.22 and above as well as servo version 7.12 or above.

    If they really did change the firmware in your machine you should surely have combination of these two, 4.81.24 and 7.12 or higher for both.

    I would appreciate if you could post the results and the date it was serviced just for the information of the members here who may be interested in this info.

    Happy Listening!:)
     
  13. Klippie

    Klippie
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    quadophile,

    It looks like the firmware was not changed when my machine was repaired.

    Version 4.81.18 Servo 7.10.0

    Is there an updated firmware release for the 963SA that could be flashed to give me the latest versions and will doing this improve anything.

    My 963 was sent away in May for three weeks, do a search and you will find the original thread that contained my post.

    Klippie.
     
  14. quadophile

    quadophile
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    You should contact the service center to get the firmware updated to be on the safe side.
     
  15. gringottsdirect

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    Mine is 4.81.17, 7.10.0.
    Works OK though. :)
     
  16. TimF

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    I had the opportunity to test this player against much more expensive machines and (despite a recent psu failure requiring return to phillips) I would recommend it.

    I tested back to back over a long weekend in my home against more expensive prog scan Arcam and Denon machines and preferred the visuals on the Philips player.

    Digital sound output to AV decoder is excellent.

    CD/SACD is ok for a DVD player but in my opinion not up to a true audiophile dedicated CD player and not even close to my aged Linn player.

    The real killer is cheap pal progressive - If you have a cheap pj/plasma and you will be blown away with the improvements over non prog scan players.

    Quality control aside this player is outstanding for the price and should be considered against in any DVD buying decision up to £800 imo.


    Cheers

    Timbo
     
  17. eamann

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    Have just bought the Philips 963SA on the strength of the good reviews it has received and because it offers component video output and progressive scan. I am using it with a 52JW642S Thomson RPTV (which I recommend highly as well!).

    Question: do those of you who have had this DVD player for some time fiddle much with the various image and sound options? I am still trying to find my way about and I am wondering whether it is worthwhile experimenting, for example, with various settings for gamma, sharpness, True Life, etc..

    Are there any particular settings which in your experience are especially worthwhile?

    Thanks for your input!

    Eamann
     
  18. quadophile

    quadophile
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    To be honest you do not need to keep fiddling with it all the time, but yes, do experiment and try to set up as per your own preferences and the TV that you have, once you set it up properly with the a particular TV model you will not need to play around with it. I have done the same thing but now I have settled down to enjoying it.

    I would advise you to start with one control at a time and see what difference it makes rather than adjusting all at the same time and getting confused in the process.

    Make sure you set up the similar things only on one component and not both. If you use the DVD controls your TV should be on normal and vice versa. Do not end up with both extremes as they would nullify the effect on either component.

    Happy viewing and listening!

    Cheers!
     
  19. Matt F

    Matt F
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    Anyone know the cheapest place to get hold of a multi-region 963SA these days?

    Thanks,

    Matt.
     
  20. WSquared

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    Most people find that the True Life feature actually adds artifacts when set above 1 or 2. I have it at 0, off. I have had a 963sa since last October/Nov and have had no problems at all. With older firmwares, I had to adjust the gamma quite a bit so that the player wasn't crushing the shadow details into black before the signal was output from the player. With newer firmware, the correct setting for me is not too far off the mid point. The key thing is to use a test disc live Avia/DVE to set it up properly.

    I don't know where the cheapest place is to get one these days.

    Firmware can be downloaded from here:
    http://www.ianc.net/philips/downloads.shtml

    I do prefer the deinterlacing of the Sil504 chipset compaired to the FLI2300. But, I'm happy for now.

    Cheers, William
     
  21. quadophile

    quadophile
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    I checked via search engine and ended up at Pantheronline.co.uk who are offering at 299.99 plus shipping (by far the cheapest). Try another search and see if you can find a better price otherwise you may consider buying from them. Beware I have not checked them out as far as reliability is concerned, please ensure that before you order from them. I am merely suggesting due to low price. You may check the link given below.

    963 @ pantheronline.co.uk
     
  22. quadophile

    quadophile
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    Ordered my copy of DVE (2003 edition) which arrived few days back. I was too tired to go through the whole process last weekend due to other commitments but will surely earmark 2-3 hours to experiment. Will try and set it up on the weekend.

    Anyone used the new version of DVE? Want to share your experience?
     
  23. quadophile

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    I have firmware 4.81.22 (7.12.0). Is there any merit in upgrading to 4.12.24 (7.12.0)? What is the difference, if you happen to know?

    Cheers!
     
  24. quadophile

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    No changes have been made to the original review but following is added for prospective buyer's as a final conclusion of my review of the unit:

    When I wrote the review I mentioned about “equipment break-in” which of course applies to almost everything you buy which can be classified as “hifi”, be it source, amplification, speakers, headphones etc. It’s been close to three months now that I have had the player and it has, most definitely “come of age”. I reckon my mileage as far as the unit is concerned, is close to anywhere between 175 and 200 hours. A lot more, than what my finding was initially, of about 100 hours based on my research.

    So, what does it sounds like after the said break-in period? Well, for one thing I certainly can say that the Marantz is no longer in the race. The unit is sounding very controlled with excellent low end resolution. Not just the Paradigms that are sounding more authoritative with this unit but I can also say that the newly acquired Rel Strata III which I purchased recently gives a very good idea of what the player’s capabilities are at low end of the spectrum. I even connected the combination of the LS3/5a (ruthlessly revealing the midrange quality of any gear upstream) Rel Strata III (considered a fast and musical sub by many) and they both really start to sing. The midrange is sounding very refined and smooth to my ears. I tried few CD’s namely, Diana Krall, Suzanne Vega (Tom’s Diner), Patricia Barber, James Taylor, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong etc. Dare I say the midrange is as good as the Quad 67 CD player, if not better. However the Quad 67 remains in the race unlike the Marantz CD 63SE. The high end of the Quad 67 was such that it made the player sound very civilized in the sense that it was sweeter. In comparison the 963SA is very open and probably has better resolving capability. Quad 67 was forgiving but 963SA is not. Now, this aspect of the unit again is a matter of personal taste. Some like it hot so to say! But certainly it is no sizzler. I personally do not like players which give out tizzy top end as they tend to turn out to be very fatiguing rather than anything else. I have spent many hours at a time on weekends (like 6-8 hour sessions) and never felt the high end of this unit was anywhere near being tizzy. For a $500 unit it is extremely civilized. No worries there!

    The other point which I touched upon in my review was the upsampling feature on the unit. Initially I was having problems with it as the sound on some of the disks was not to my liking and I used the player with the upsampling feature turned off. Now the scenario has somehow changed after the break-in period, no, I am not listening to the feature turned on all the time but it does make a difference on some of the CD’s, even the new recordings tend to sound very different which I did not notice as much initially. When the feature is turned on, the sound is much smoother on most of the recordings and somehow the high end sounds sort of extended and clean. It also does something to the soundstage, expanded, airy, giving an illusion of addition of an extra layer. I also came across some CD’s sounding odd but the number of them is not a concern here as they are in minority. Could be that the recording does not favour the feature. But, I must add that all those recordings that are great, not just my opinion, but also the opinion of the majority of the audiophile fraternity, sound great. I would advise anyone to use it and see for yourself if the feature works for you or not, since it may be attributed to personal preference, rest of the equipment in the chain, upstream or downstream and the room acoustics.

    Another feature I touched upon in the review was the button on the front panel which switches off the video circuitry. Well I have tried the tweak many times and expected some change to come about, but, my conclusion is, in one word NOTHING! Some golden eared audiophile out there may write a few pages on this feature alone, stating how much difference it makes to the sound but not me! The only thing I can think of (since this unit boasts a twin laser) is that, it is there to enhance the life of the video circuitry and the laser. It may also reduce the possibility of heat being generated by the circuitry and let the system run a bit cooler thereby enhancing the overall life of the components. So this feature, as I see it, is not really useless but has a purpose.

    My initial findings and impressions were that it was a good player for the money, but, after the break-in period, it is even better sounding and has more to offer. It is a bargain for sure at the particular price point.
     
  25. JSW

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    Are you using the analog or or digital output when listening to cd's ?

    I read all the posts on avs about upgrading lots of caps etc as the audio is considered absoloute crap by the guy who wrote the articles/

    Personally I love the sound from my 963 but it just makes you wonder when you read the stuff on avs.

    Cheers
     
  26. quadophile

    quadophile
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    I use the analog outputs.

    By the way if this player had crappy sound it would never get noticed in the first place by so many folks and now considered one of the bargains. The modder who's opinion you are referring to either is going hungry these days or is actually being paid by the competitor of Philips. Have a heart, it IS a good player, doesn't it sound nice to your ears?

    We should not expect a mere $500 player to sound like $5000 player, its not fair.
     
  27. eamann

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    I use my 963SA for viewing DVDs with progressive scan "on" and a component video cable on my Thomson RP TV and in most cases I am very satisfied.

    However, with some DVDs the colours are deformed - for example, people have blue faces... In those cases I switch off the progressive scan and the colours right themselves, but the video quality is less good.

    Can anyone explain why I have this problem with some DVDs and not with others (are some DVDs incompatible with progressive scan?) and if there is a better solution?

    Thanks in advance for your help!
     
  28. quadophile

    quadophile
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    Have you tried the particular DVD on another player?
     
  29. gringottsdirect

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    Which discs have the blue face problem ?
    Are they mainly R1 or R2 ?
     
  30. Smurfin

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    Do people honestly think they can tell the difference after 100 hours? Seems to me that the "break in" period is a red-herring and it's all simply psychological.

    Bottom line is, there's no way on earth you can REALLY remember what it sounded like 100 hours ago. The differences are so marginal, your brain and perception changes more than the equipment.

    This is IMHO of course, and no doubt someone will come along and prove me wrong :D
     

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