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Denon 3910 personal reviews


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ok, i thought i'd start a thread to offer feedback to people who may be interested in the denon 3910 (fence-sitters) but are yet to take the plunge.

firstly, i am in no way 'equipped' to comment on the potential PQ of the 3910 simply cos i don't yet own a HDTV. i plan to purchase a 42" plasma within a few weeks so will reserve judgement until then. however, i don't have a good 'reference' to compare with, as i've never owned a HDTV or high-end DVD player before to know whether the 3910 surpasses anything else (like an A11 or 2900 or whatever).

but i am a bit of an audiophile, or at least really enjoy audio, and have had reasonable exposure and 'training' of my ears over years to acknowledge what sounds good and what doesn't.

hopefully we can collate a good discussion thread here about the pros and cons of this unit from personal experiences.

*packaging and manual: unit was well-packaged; box had been resealed with tape with 'inspected by denon' sticker applied, and i suspect this has to do with denon-australia altering the firmware to make it 'region free', although i am yet to confirm this; manual is comprehensive and easy to follow, particularly for those familiar with HT settings (4 star)

*build quality: this seems excellent. it's a very solid unit weighing in at 9.3kg; the fascia is brushed metal (mine's black); the buttons have a great 'feel' when pushed, with a satisfying 'click'; generally at least as good as my rotel gear (5 star)

*ergonimics: very good to me; buttons are easy to read, the fascia isn't overly cluttered, and all the most useful buttons are present; display is bright (adjustable) and simple to read although the size of the text could be bigger (looks small at 3m although can be read easily enough); rotary-scroll/push button allows you to quickly override the default settings and there are HDMI/DVI selection buttons too, all of which allow you to 'instantly' compare output modes/formats on your screen to find the best PQ (eg: compare 720p vs 1080i) (4.5 star)

*remote: fairly lightweight plastic (both good and bad), and loaded with buttons, most of which are quite small (not good for clutsy fingers); excellent reception, without need for perfect line-of-sight and as yet never needing to re-press/send a command (picks it up first time); typically, the full range of functions are accessed via the remote rather than the front fascia (so don't lose it!) (4 star)

*connectivity: regarded as having it all covered, and so it seems; DVI-D (with HDCP) and HDMI, scart/component/S-video/composite; analogue 5.1 output (as for DVD-A/SACD), denon-link, digital coax/optic, IEEE1394 (5 star)

*OSD/user menu: easy to navigate and logical; the manual has a very good summary page (menu map) which i find useful as a reference to know how to make my way quickly to the menu i want (5 star)

*speaker setup/channel levels/time alignment: those with a comprehensive AVR will find these settings familiar; time alignment is chosen via 'distance' from the listener (selectable as 'm' or 'ft') and has very fine increments of 0.1m (my rotel AVR has 0.2m increments) which is a boon; when setting levels, you can only 'drop' the level of speakers relative to each other rather than 'boost' the softer channels (ie: start off with all set to 'max' = 0dB) but not a big deal (4.5 star)

*video setup/PQ: as mentioned above, i can't really comment on this as i don't have a suitable display to utilise the full potential

*and finally, how it sounds:

i have yet to do extended listening tests comparing redbook CDs on the 3910 compared with my dedicated rotel RCD-1072 (which is renowned as being an excellent value CDP although not truly audiophile/high-end). both offer HDCD too, so i will do some extended listening soon. but thus far, the SQ is very, very good, and at least a match for my rotel AVR which is probably the weakest link. my main speakers are B&W 704 floorstanders and i think revealing enough for the denon.

i toyed with DVD-A tonight (and calibrated the setup with my SPL meter), and i am quite impressed. i've not experienced DVD-A before. still, whilst it's impressive, i must say i'm not totally blown away by the format, probably cos i'm so used to SQ meaning sound from 'infront' of my ears rather than 'all around'; so it seems a little artificial. aside from the additional channels, the actual SQ was excellent, with great dynamics, superb linearity and overall balance, and a very open soundstage (as best as i could discern for a 'surround' format). having a dedicated subchannel seems to work extremely well; with 2-channel/CD, i cannot integrate my sub 'perfectly' (perhaps i should experiment more), and prefer listening without the sub. whereas with DVD-A, it integrates beautifully and adds highly enjoyable oomph to the lowest octaves. DVD-A also gives DVD-like video menus for accessing info on the disc like lyrics and track info, etc (may not be applicable to all DVD-A discs).

i don't have any SACD discs, but plan to hunt some down soon!

anyway, i'll add more along the way as once i've spent more time with the it, and can better-appreciate what it can do. but overall, i'm highly impressed and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. :blink:

tested with:

my ears and eyes

rotel RSX-1056 AVR

rotel RCD-1072 CD player

B&W 704 front floorstanding speakers

B&W HTM7 centre speaker

B&W 601 S3 rear bookshelf speakers

JBL E250 12" active subwoofer

carpet snake 'copper head' coax digital 1m cable

custom-made analogue 'perception' RCA interconnects

carpet snake 'anaconda' biwire (main) speakerwire

generic and QED speakerwire elsewhere

bodgy '70s philips CRT colour (!) TV

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thanks for the words on the 3910 shiny. will be interested on how you go with sacd and a bit more cd listening. By the way you've got to replace that 70's TV man with the kind of gear you got!

hopefully others here who've managed to get a 3910 can post their views here too.

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Nice review, although doesn't really serve me very well, as I am very interested in nothing but the PQ.....

Ritesh

What is it that you want to know about PQ Ritesh?

What size image are you going to be watching?

Most if not all members here don't have test equipment to measure the output like they do at Secrets, so anything that is said will be subjective.

You are probably better to rock up to someone’s place that has a setup similar to yours and judge for yourself. This is just my humble opinion.

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Nice review, although doesn't really serve me very well, as I am very interested in nothing but the PQ.....

Ritesh

What is it that you want to know about PQ Ritesh?

What size image are you going to be watching?

Most if not all members here don't have test equipment to measure the output like they do at Secrets, so anything that is said will be subjective.

You are probably better to rock up to someone’s place that has a setup similar to yours and judge for yourself. This is just my humble opinion.

Spearmint,

No worries mate, let me give you a sample of questions that I still have:

  • MACROBLOCKING
    This problem manifested itself in the previous DVI equipped Denon player, and have been noted (although to a lesser extent) with the newer ones. Plasmas seems to be most affected by it; I am curious to know if the current breed of plasmas in Oz, from the likes of Panasonic, Pioneer, Hitachi, NEC etc. exhibit this artifact from the new Denons.
  • GREEN PUSH
    This has also been noticed (in darker scenes), again have had no mention here in Oz. I am most interested in any plasma owner noticing this.
  • DOUBLE-SCALING
    This is my favourite topic these days, I am really interested in this. The newer Denons are different to say Momitsu, or HTPC in the sense that custom resolutions are not allowed. Many standard plasma resolutions, e.g. 1024x768, 1024x1024, 852x1024 etc. are not represented by the upscaled 720p or 1080i, thus will inevitably invoke scaling in the panel as well. Is double scaling good/bad? if bad, then does that defeat the purpose of upscaling DVI equipped DVD players for most plasma owners !

On another topic, I am also trying to find some info. regarding the audio:

  • HDMI VERSION
    HDMI comes in different versions 1.0 only supports 2 channel audio, 1.1 supports multichannel down-sampled audio, 1.2/1.3 which supports full rez. multi-channel audio. I am not sure which version of HDMI is supported by the Denon. This is fairly important for something like 2910, which only offers HDMI, but no iLink, and will answer the question, if say, 2910/3910, when connected via HDMI to a HDMI-equipped receiver can play DVD-A and SACDs in their full-resolution.

I noticed that albenau is picking up the 2910 and will be connecting to a Plasma, hopefully my PQ questions will be answered :blink:

Sound info. is more for the future-proofing....

cheers,

Ritesh

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I noticed that albenau is picking up the 2910 and will be connecting to a Plasma, hopefully my PQ questions will be answered  :blink:

Sound info. is more for the future-proofing....

cheers,

Ritesh

got it ritesh. this 2910 is one very well built unit. Jees my japanese built 5 year old tosh dvd player looks like a light weight chinese built no name brand next to it.

The remote is one big plastic ugly thing though. The person who styled the 2910 definetely did not style the remote.

Have finished hooking up. have hooked up video via component and also audio/video RGB via scart (using my trusty maxcable scart cable) also hooked up digital audio via coax.

Can't wait to turn on. got to have some thing to eat first!

I'll be trying the dvi just a bit later as my teac hd box is hooked with that connection just now.

I'll report back once I've given it a go.

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I noticed that albenau is picking up the 2910 and will be connecting to a Plasma, hopefully my PQ questions will be answered  :blink:

Sound info. is more for the future-proofing....

cheers,

Ritesh

got it ritesh. this 2910 is one very well built unit. Jees my japanese built 5 year old tosh dvd player looks like a light weight chinese built no name brand next to it.

The remote is one big plastic ugly thing though. The person who styled the 2910 definetely did not style the remote.

Have finished hooking up. have hooked up video via component and also audio/video RGB via scart (using my trusty maxcable scart cable) also hooked up digital audio via coax.

Can't wait to turn on. got to have some thing to eat first!

I'll be trying the dvi just a bit later as my teac hd box is hooked with that connection just now.

I'll report back once I've given it a go.

Did you get your 2910?

From Klapp?

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I noticed that albenau is picking up the 2910 and will be connecting to a Plasma, hopefully my PQ questions will be answered  :blink:

Sound info. is more for the future-proofing....

cheers,

Ritesh

got it ritesh. this 2910 is one very well built unit. Jees my japanese built 5 year old tosh dvd player looks like a light weight chinese built no name brand next to it.

The remote is one big plastic ugly thing though. The person who styled the 2910 definetely did not style the remote.

Have finished hooking up. have hooked up video via component and also audio/video RGB via scart (using my trusty maxcable scart cable) also hooked up digital audio via coax.

Can't wait to turn on. got to have some thing to eat first!

I'll be trying the dvi just a bit later as my teac hd box is hooked with that connection just now.

I'll report back once I've given it a go.

Did you get your 2910?

From Klapp?

from the group buy merchant..

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I picked up a 3910 this morning and have been playing with it most of the day. I'm using it on a HD plasma that also has a Denon DVDa1 connected to it, so I've been able to do a side by side comparison. So far I've been very impressed with both the video and audio performance and I love all the bells and whistles it comes with. It truly does have every format/connection one would possibly need. As far as video quality goes I would say it was on a par with the A1 if not a tiny better.The images appear a little sharper and better coloured. Where there is a noticable difference though is in the area of audio. The A1 has a nice smooth controlled sound, where the 3910 sounds a little muddy and the bass a little boomy. This wasn't too noticeable with normal CD's (Sting, Madonna), but was with DVD-A (Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac). The rear channels seemed to be more prevalent than what they were with the A1 (Both were used in the factory default mode). As far as build quality goes they are poles apart. The 3910 is what I'd call a well built to Chinese standards unit. The casing is made from a thinner steal, the buttons are pretty flimsy, the DVD tray is loose fitting and cheap looking, the remote is bulky and a little fiddly. This lower quality is also noticable on the rear panel where the backing plate holding the connectors is pretty flimsy. Still, it didn't rattle and looks good, and if build quailty isn't as important to you as it is to me (I'd buy another A1 tomorrow just for the workmanship and the 20kg it weighs), go for it. At a quarter of the price of the A1 it is great value for money and performs exceptionally well. Pair it to the 3805 and you have a bells and whistles HT DVD/amp set up for under $4500. Had it been made with the same quality as the A1 I'd have had to pay $7000 for it. I bought mine from the group buy merchant as well. Very good value!!

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I bought the black 3910 just over a week ago - it's connected to an Epson Cinema 500 LCD projector - screen size is 100"/254cm (seating position about 5 meters away). 23ft HDMI cable; Denon set to 720p, projector set to "through". The number of variables that can be adjusted becomes a bit mind numbing - I haven't had a chance to do a proper calibration yet (a task for the weekend). Sound is via digital coax connection to Sony TAE9000 digital preamp/6x RCA connections TAP9000 analogue preamp/TAN9000+TAN55ES power amps + powered Richter sub. Apogee Centaur (ribbon) mains, Jamo Centre, Sony rears.

Some "first" impressions...

Picture quality:

The Denon's PQ is very good via RGB (scart) and via component - a good deal better than my 7 year old Pioneer DV717 player which it replaced. Better colour, clarity, and "smoothness"(?). Picture via HDMI is beautiful - even better colour, greater clarity and a much greater sense of depth (more like looking through a window) - I find myself distracted by little details in the background that I haven't noticed before - movement and camera pans are very smooth. I'm VERY happy with the picture so far.

Macroblocking:

Noticed last night some hazy (pinkish?) moving "patterns" in some dark shadows on the snow covered mountains in the Lighting the Beacons scene of LOTR:ROTK - have yet to play with the settings to see if I can get rid of this...you've got to be really looking for it to notice it. Noticed tonight some movement in some space scenes in Star Wars - adjusting black level on projector seemed to get rid of it...

Sound quality:

Compared to CD, DVD-A and SACD seem to provide more "presence" of voices, instruments etc in the room - that's if the sound engineer hasn't gotten too carried away with the the surround mix. I only have one DVD-A and one SACD at the moment and I haven't heard any other DVD-A or SACD players for comparison...

CDs sound "different" on the Denon compared to the DACs in my digital preamp. At this stage I prefer the sound from the preamp - it has better bass management than the Denon (for both 2 channel and multi channel - the Sony preamp allows for a different crossover level to be set for front, centre and rear speakers). Yet to do some serious listening tests...some SACDs on order from OS. [Choice in SACD and DVD-A seems quite limited unless you prefer classical or jazz]

Build quality:

Very good but light compared to other components (eg Sony ES CD player) and the Denon A11.

Ergonomics/remote:

Generally good. The remote seems a bit large and unbalanced. Wish the unit's display showed setup/settings without having to switch on a screen (in my case, a projector) in order to view and make changes. Wish there was an audio "Source Direct" on/off button on the remote - you must enter the audio settings to toggle this on/off.. You also need your screen switched on to choose some of the audio options when listening to DVD-As. On screen display graphics (previous, next etc for DVD look a bit "cheap") but these can be disabled.

Excellent connectivity options - pretty much something for everyone.

Speaker setup:

Good - esp for SACD and DVD - though the crossover increments could be smaller with separate crossover settings for different sized front, centre and rear speakers. Not sure bass management works for two channel sound...I like my subwoofer to handle everything below 40Hz.

Video setup:

Excellent - enough settings to keep you tinkering for days and 5 memories to save your different settings.

I was considering the Denon A11 at twice the price when the 3910 appeared. I'm more than happy with my purchase. The picture quality is all I had hoped for (and could get better yet after calibrating). Multi channel "hidef" sound is a bonus (and will come into its own once I buy some music in these formats that I actually enjoy). However, for me, the Denon was worth buying for the picture quality alone.

Christopher

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Christopher & bodalenko

Thanks for your thoughts guys, bodalenko I know what you mean about the A1 to me it is the Rolls Royce of players but my problem is to decide between the 3910 NOW sight unseen & tested or wait for the 5910 in January :blink:

cheers laurie

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Christopher & bodalenko

Thanks for your thoughts guys, bodalenko I know what you mean about the A1 to me it is the Rolls Royce of players but my problem is to decide between the 3910 NOW sight unseen & tested or wait for the 5910 in January  :blink:

cheers laurie

Hi Laurie

Just found this thread in the "AV Forumn" Site, might be of interest to you

"

Join Date: Jul 2004

Location: London

Posts: 42 "

"Having just read the review of the Denon 3910 in Hi-Fi News, which is a very well respected and long standing audiofile magazine, have stated, and this refers to the audio side of things only and not the video section, was basically that the 2900 trounces the 3910. So given that I would stick with your 2900. It will be interesting to hear what others have to say on this."

cheers

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Laurie, what are the specs on the 5910 and is there a site showing it? If the 5910 is the one my Denon retailer has been talking about, it will cost about 9k. It's a matching unit for a Denon pre/power combo that will retail as a package for 23k. I'd certainly buy one IF; Denon gave a written guarantee that they will update the 5910 FOC every time some new format was released. And if you've ever dealt with Denon and their distributor here, you'll know that will never happen. Personally I'd get the 3910. I've been using it solid now since last Thursday and am more and more impressed with it. Sure it a little tinny but for the price these are available for, how could anyone justify spending another 7k on the 5910?

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Laurie, what are the specs on the 5910 and is there a site showing it?  If the 5910 is the one my Denon retailer has been talking about, it will cost about 9k.  It's a matching unit for a Denon pre/power combo that will retail as a package for 23k. I'd certainly buy one IF; Denon gave a written guarantee that they will update the 5910 FOC every time some new format was released.  And if you've ever dealt with Denon and their distributor here, you'll know that will never happen.  Personally I'd get the 3910.  I've been using it solid now since last Thursday and am more and more impressed with it.  Sure it a little tinny but for the price these are available for, how could anyone justify spending another 7k on the 5910?

Specs. for 5910 is not released yet, there is a press release of Denon using the Realta HQV over Faroudja for 5910, see my post here...

You are right it is supposed to be very expensive, at the same time, people who know the preliminary info. (including Kris Deering of Secrets) say it is really worth it. Not sure what rabbits they'll pull for the price, I guess we'll find out...(could it be the first HD-DVD player... who knows.....)

Ritesh

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If the 5910 is the one my Denon retailer has been talking about, it will cost about 9k

bodalenko

Sorry but I cannot believe that's the price IMHO it will be closer to $4000 just look at the price point for the 3910!!

cheers laurie

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nickoff and ohboy - ah, wait for it....No :blink: Wasn't totally clear from previous post, perhaps..

Coax from 3910 to the digital preamp - for movies (Dolby Digital EX, DTS etc) and I can listen to CDs as well using the preamp's DACs (which I think I prefer to the Denon's) - digital preamp then passes through 6 channel analogue preamp (in bypass mode) to power amps and sub. I prefer the bass management, sound fields and equalisation that the digital preamp provides (vs the basic sound settings on the 3910)

AND

Analogue connections from 3910 direct to 6 channel analogue preamp - for DVD-A and SACD.

Spent an hour or so tonight listening to some SACDs - impression: sound is noticeably better than my best CDs. More space around instruments, instruments easier to pointpoint (better imaging), much more realistic bass. Orchestral stuff sounds great - closer to listening to the real thing. No experience of any other SACD players so can't offer a comparison - I'm happy with the audio playback features of the 3910 which I consider a bonus...still a bit in awe of the picture quality...

Maybe I'll upgrade to a 5910 next year if enough people rave about it - anyone for a slightly used 3910? :P

Christopher

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  • 3 weeks later...

Has anyone tried x2 fast forward on the 3910? On about half of my (original) DVD's, the picture on my 3910 jumps all over the place. It's Ok on x4>. This doesn't happen on my old Pioneer 717 or my demo Pioneer 868AVi. If it's a known problem I'm keeping the 868i and dumping the 3910.

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