Pioneer 656A first impression


Standard Member
Picked up one of these yesterday after problems with 3 successive Toshiba 220Es. Decided to move to a slightly higher price bracket to partner my Pioneer 433MXE plasma.

Cabled it up using a digital optical lead (to Yam RXV630) and Component (direct to Plasma). First impressions were good - solid build quality, easy and comprehensive setup function including a "wizard" to make the initial settings.

First disk played was R2 Hannibal and immediately my wife said "is that the DVD player?", referring to the drive mechanism noise. It did seem to quieten down as the player warmed up but it was noticeable initially.

Switching between S-Video and Component it was clear that component offers a noticeably better picture - an example is simply the Pioneer logo when you stop a disk - it bleeds a bit on S-Video (though its much better than composite), but is pin sharp on Component. OTOH the colour seems a bit washed out on Component in comparison to SVideo, but can of course be adjusted using normal TV/plasma settings.

Then it finally dawned on me - why all this PAL Progressive fuss? I started seeing "jaggies" on high-contrast horizontals (e.g. fence rails, telegraph wires and the tops of chairs in the lecture theatre - about 29 - 30 mins into Hannibal). Nightmare - spoiled the film for me. I don't remember the Tosh 220 having this problem but maybe it did. I tried some other disks and started noticing it on all of them.

So I'm disappointed but its my own fault for not doing more research/ testing. Plan B (C?) is to replace the 656A with a much cheaper DVD (as I don't really need DVD-Audio/SACD) and start saving/ waiting for some £300-500 PAL progressives to turn up. Here's hoping the Philips 963SA arrives soon and is hackable/upgradable to PAL Prog.

Anyway I think the moral of all this is - if you buy a high quality display device, budget for some expensive sources too. And don't even get me started on lip-sync... ask Party Animal about how expensive that one may turn out to be!

If anyone's got any questions about the 656A before I return it, fire away.


Well-known Member
The pioneer drives have always been quite noisy, especially when on the the menu screen. Certain discs used to make it worse as well...IMHO for my old 717 and 737 anyhow...



Standard Member

Where did you get the 656 from? I've had one on order from AVLand since mid-August (which wasn't a problem until my amp + speakers + new TV arrived :)) Supposedly a new batch of 656s is arriving this week, but I'm starting to look around for alternative suppliers just in case...




Standard Member

Rang up my local Richer Sounds (Kingston branch) and got the last one in stock. Looks like it was a return or had at least been demo'd in the shop given some of the packaging was open, but nothing was damaged/ missing.

This branch of RS has been very helpful - they set up a Tosh 220 with their NEC plasma when I was having lock-up problems with my original player from Sevenoaks. Didn't try to push an alternative sale too hard either. In fact the sales guys seemed very happy to watch Pulp Fiction for a while :)

Price is £300 or £330 for Region Mod. Hope you get yours soon!


The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: CES '22 TV Announcement Round-up, Plus, Most Anticipated Movies of 2022 and More...
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom