Review - Denon 3800 against 963 sa and others

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by perka, Dec 23, 2002.

  1. perka

    Standard Member

    Oct 1, 2002
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    This is the only "review" of the 3800 against 963 sa I have seen so far. Did you make any A/B test?

    "perka, Kain:

    Well, I did an A/B comparison last week, when I was in California (I took a 963SA with me for a friend that lives in Sunnyvale).

    It was a quite interesting experience. The really tricky part was to adjust the settings of all three models to their best. What we really found unbelieveable is how much we had to tweak the three models to give out their best performance with the projector we used (a Sony VPL-VW11HT). We used the same component cabling, and we always used 480p, to keep the ground even, and to test the three model's deinterlacers (since they use three different deinterlacers).

    Before you ask, the 3800 in question is the latest revision available, with both the chroma bug and the drive mechanical problems (heating, locking up, etc.) solved.

    If you only care about pure video quality, the 3800 is definitely the best. Not by too much, but its superiority is quite noticeable. The 963SA is the second. The 999ES could be comparable to the 963SA if it weren't for the horrible deinterlacer, which has way too many problems with some discs (shimmering, for example).

    In terms of sound, you can't really compare the three of them in anything but CD, because the 3800 does DVD-Audio only, and the 963SA and 999ES are SACD only. In that respect - CD playback - funilly enough, the 3800 is the worst. The 999ES is the best, followed closely by the 963SA. Our feeling was that the differences were subtle, especially between the 963SA and the 999ES. Probably the only reason the 963SA doesn't sound just as good as the 999ES is because the 999ES has slightly better mechanical quality (chassis, shielding, etc.). The DACs and electronic circuitry in general should be equivalent (if not identical).

    If you aren't confused enough, then get a load of this: the features. The 999ES and the 963SA are much more tweakeable - namely in terms of chroma delay; on the other hand, the 963SA is easily found/made multiregion and PAL progressive, closely followed by the 3800, while with the 999ES it is not possible at all to do it currently.

    So, basically, it's a question of what you prefer to have; personally, we though the 963SA is the best balanced of the three, in terms of video, audio and features. However, it is edged by the 3800 in video and by the 999ES in audio. It's quite frustrating...

    If you're an american videophile, or someone who already has a good machine for CD/SACD playback (like an XA777ES), and doesn't need chroma delay setting, I'd go for the 3800; if you're an american audiophile that doesn't want to buy a dedicated XA777ES and doesn't care about deinterlacing artifacts, I'd go for the 999ES.

    If you're neither, and you don't mind not having the absolute best video and audio available, go for the 963SA, or, if you do mind, wait for the next series of players from Denon and Sony in Q3 2003

    By the way, for the americans that still want to go for the 963SA, but don't want to buy it from Europe, be ready for what can be a long wait; Philips and Sony have a more or less "secret" agreement of Philips not releasing the 963SA in the US and not releasing the Sony 999ES in Europe until they're convinced the either market is big enough for both models. Of course, they can decide it's a good time in 1 month, but they can also decide to wait 6 months... or forever.

    Hope this helps!

    Best regards,

    Afonso. "

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