Universal Audio/Video Player
|We all know that
quality parts and good construction contribute to good-sounding audio gear. However, it
also takes skill and time to make that same black box easy and enjoyable to use. But when
it comes to designing components that perform well and are a pleasure to use,
Im amazed at how many companies still miss the mark.
Price: $2500 USD
Dimensions: 17.13"W x 3.56"H x 12.31"D
Weight: 26.7 pounds
Warranty: Three years parts and labor
- Multichannel playback of DVD-Audio and SACD
- Built-in DTS and Dolby Digital decoding
- HDMI and i.Link digital outputs
- Progressive-scan output
- Built-in Oplus FlexScale high-definition video scaler
- Silicon Image Sil 504 progressive video processing
- Analog Devices NSV 14-bit/216MHz video DAC
- Direct digital audio path
- Vector Linear Shaping Circuit
- Veridic progressive scan for HD images
- Wolfson 24-bit/192kHz audio DACs on all channels
- Toroidal transformer
- Independent power supplies for audio and video
- Rigid aluminum chassis, solid brass feet
- Machined BNC-type connections for progressive video output
- Fully programmable learning remote control with full
Ergonomics -- the design and arrangement of things people
use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely -- affects
everything from light switches in your home to an automobiles control layout. The
key is to make these products intuitive to operate. The use of an ergonomically
well-designed product or device should be transparent to the user. Over the long term, a
product counterintuitive in its operation can cause user fatigue.
Ive owned many Onkyo products, including an Integra
DX-7500, which was my reference CD player for a number of years. In addition to great
build quality and performance, all of my Onkyo and Integra components featured first-class
ergonomics. I never needed to think about what switch to press -- controls were placed and
operated where and as I expected them. Onkyos Integra DPS-10.5 universal player
($2500) continues this trend.
The Integra DPS-10.5 has a classy, well-finished
appearance. Its solid chassis and clean appearance convey the impression of a machine
designed to be reliable and easy to use. The front panel is simple: a central disc tray
flanked by transport buttons on the right and a dime-sized Power button on the far left.
Between the silver-colored Power button and the tray are two smaller buttons, for
disabling the video circuit and directing an external video source (such as a TiVo or
cable box) through the DPS-10.5s video processor.
The DPS-10.5s hefty chassis is well-constructed of
aluminum and steel and braced with perpendicular steel beams. The player weighs 27 pounds.
Four brass feet isolate the sensitive electronics and disc-reading mechanism from
vibrations. Inside, every inch has been made to count. The large, custom-made, potted
toroidal transformer that feeds the DPS-10.5s linear power supply sits to the front
left of the chassis, while the audio and video circuit boards are neatly arranged beside
and atop one another. Everything is secured with screws instead of cheaper mechanical
pins, and the cover fits tightly atop the chassis via channel-and-groove construction and
seven large Allen screws.
The rear panel of the Integra
DPS-10.5 is full of connections. Audio facilities include 7.1-channel outputs
(configurable via a switch), a dedicated output for two-channel audio, sets of coaxial and
TosLink outputs for digital audio, and FireWire (IEEE1394) connections for Pioneers
i.Link audio interface. The DPS-10.5s video hookups include BNC connectors for
progressive video output, RCA interlaced component and composite outputs, and HDMI. There
are also inputs for taking advantage of the DPS-10.5s powerful progressive and HD
upconversion processing, a 12V trigger, and Onkyos proprietary R1 remote interface.
Audiophiles who have the urge to switch out power cords can do so via a standard IEC
The DPS-10.5s excellent ergonomics are continued in
the well-designed remote control. This is the sort of remote youd expect to
accompany a high-end receiver. More than 60 perfectly placed buttons populate the Integra
RC-562DV remotes aluminum façade. Backlighting is also included, though I seldom
needed it. The lozenge-shaped translucent buttons are logically spaced and sized; moving
my fingers around the remote -- even in the dark -- was a cinch. And unlike most token
remotes included with DVD players, the RC-562DV includes preprogrammed codes and a
learning function for other audio/video devices. I was able to program into the Integra
remote the commands for my TiVo, Linar Model 10 integrated multichannel amplifier, and
television remote controls.
Hookup took five minutes and included sending an S-video
cable from my TiVo to the DPS-10.5s video input, component video to my Mitsubishi
monitor, and 5.1 channels of audio to my Linar Model 10. Later in the review period, when
I used a Rotel RSP-1068 surround-sound processors internal DTS and Dolby Digital
decoding instead of the Integras, I heard very little difference between them.
The DPS-10.5s menu system is the best Ive used.
Good-looking, easy-to-read hierarchical menus quickly take the user through all manners of
set up. I encountered no problems.
According to my wife, Santa couldnt fit the
HDMI-equipped DLP monitor down my chimney this year, so I was forced to evaluate the
Integra DPS-10.5 via its progressive component-video output. Multichannel and two-channel
audio were evaluated with the video disabled.
The Integras pictures were outstanding. George A.
Romeros Land of the Dead is a very enjoyable follow-up to the
horrormeisters beloved Night of the Living Dead series. Its also a
great visual reference. In chapter 3, for instance, deep blacks and grays contrast
beautifully against the films abundant reds and bursts of colorful fireworks. The
DPS-10.5s 14-bit/216MHz Analog Devices video processors rendered transitions between
individual elements, such as the hard edges of the zombie-mobile, Dead Reckoning,
and Rileys boyish good looks, without the high-frequency shimmer of the video noise
associated with less-capable processing.
I use chapter 4 of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
to judge how well a DVD player deals with depth of field and skin tones. The scene is
breathtaking when playback is up to snuff. However, quantization noise can cause the image
to collapse into an amorphous heap of overly soft elements. Through the Integra, Kate
Brewsters beautiful complexion popped out from the screen, and the colorful,
out-of-focus background revealed a startling degree of detail.
As I rifled through my sons favorite animated films,
the DPS-10.5s ability to reach deep into an image continued to impress me. Chapter
17 of The Incredibles, "Missile Lock," would be exciting even on a
13" screen, but the Integra created a more tangible visual experience that heightened
the tension. Lesser machines would have produced a flatter, shallower image while
concealing small details such as the bubbling ocean surf. The same eye-popping depth of
field seen in T3 created an ocean that appeared to swallow up Elastigirls
One of the DSP-10.5s coolest features is the option
of converting an external video signal into 480p or HD resolutions. I didnt think
Id see a huge difference through my standard-definition 480p monitor, but I was
wrong. The DPS-10.5 dramatically improved my TiVos slightly noisy, washed-out image.
Although some compression noise remained, the sharpness and color saturation of the
TiVos output exhibited some notable improvements. Compression artifacts were no
longer distracting, and the image had added depth and brightness.
In most DVD players, sound quality is an afterthought, but
what I heard during chapter 37 of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,
"The Battle of Pelennor Fields," was the first hint that a more sophisticated
sound lurked behind the Integra DPS-10.5s handsome face. The detail and smoothness
Id already noted in images was also evident in the sound. This scenes dense
sound design makes the charge of the oliphants feel real, and they came through the
Integra without congesting or smearing the soundstage. Dynamic bursts of bass energy
harmonically coexisted with the desperate swell of Howard Shores immense orchestral
score. No doubt the DPS-10.5s well-engineered linear power supply and high-quality
output stage had a lot to do with such an open, exciting sound.
The smoothness and dynamics carried over to both
two-channel and multichannel music. Overall, the DPS-10.5s sonic signature leaned
toward a laid-back, ever-so-slightly warm quality. There was no artificial warmth or
sweetness, but rather a powerful, agile sound with excellent bass, high-frequency
extension, and midrange definition.
Paul Simons musical, The Capeman, may have
been a theatrical failure, but the accompanying album is a very enjoyable collection of
well-recorded music. Songs from the Capeman [CD, Warner Bros. 46814-2] contains
everything from the show, from the beautiful a cappella crooning of "Adios
Hermanos" to the shimmering, musically upbeat finale, "Trailways Bus." The
recording is full of high-frequency information that sets the music against a refreshing,
airy backdrop, and it can become fatiguing if the playback device has a harsh or brittle
signature of its own. Equally important is getting the midrange and bass right; otherwise,
the brisk, lithe character of each tune will be rendered ploddingly, the musics
passion sucked away. The Integra DPS-10.5 did a great job of conveying the musics
every detail while creating a compelling listening environment. The sound wasnt as
intoxicating as, say, Simaudios Moon Orbiter universal player, but close enough to
make me question the benefits of spending the extra $3500 for the Orbiter.
My multichannel reference recordings -- Seals Seal
IV [DVD-Audio, Warner Bros. 47947-9] and Kodos Mondo Head [SACD, Red
Ink/Sony 56111] -- continued to prove that Integras development team didnt cut
any corners in the DPS-10.5s audio section. Seals seductive voice demonstrated
the same spine-tingling quality Ive experienced with pricier players, while the
concussive slam and flowing harmonics of the Japanese Wadaiko drums were just as palpable
So many DVD players have passed through my home that their
individual traits are beginning to blur together. Luckily, the Integra DPS-10.5s
well-rounded personality allowed it to distance itself from the crowd.
The DPS-10.5 struck the perfect balance among performance,
usability, and cost. Although products such as the more-than-twice-as-expensive Esoteric
DV-50S and Simaudio Moon Orbiter (both $6000) offer somewhat better build quality and
sound, they arent as ergonomic. Nor does either eclipse the DPS-10.5s video
performance. Audio/videophiles might think that a remote control or menu system matters
little to performance, but such qualities are part of a products value, not to
mention the buyers long-term satisfaction with it.
The Marantz DV-9500 ($2000) offers a lot of nice features,
including high-quality HDAM audio circuits on all six output channels and HD upconversion
(the option of upconverting an external video source is unique to the Integra). The
Marantzs video performance is excellent, with even less high-frequency grain than
the Integra. But its lightweight construction and unremarkable remote control make the
Marantz feel cheaper than the Integra. Both Marantz and Integra offer class-leading
three-year parts and labor warranties.
What distinguishes these players sonic personalities
are their midrange and dynamic abilities. The Integra sounds ruler-flat across the entire
audioband, while the Marantz infuses a bit of tube-like warmth and bloom to the midrange
and midbass. This warmth comes at the price of dynamics. If you listen to jazz, choose the
Marantz. If the symphonies of Mahler and Bruckner are your thing, then the Integras
bracing dynamics should put a smile on your face.
The whole package
Onkyos Integra DPS-10.5 combines unique and useful
features, exceptional ergonomics, robust build quality, and superb audio and video
performance, all on a seemingly bug-free platform. $2500 is a lot of money to spend on a
universal player, but the Integra DPS-10.5 easily justifies its cost by giving the user
not only a killer playback device, but one that is also a genuine pleasure to use.
|Speakers - Thiel CS2.4
(mains), MCS1 (center), PowerPoint (surrounds), SS2 (subwoofer)
- Linar Model 10, Rotel RMB-1077
|Processor - Rotel RSP-1068
- Marantz DV-9500 DVD player, Vincent SDV-3 DVD player
|Cables - Analysis Plus,
- Mitsubishi WT-46809 rear-projection widescreen monitor with Duvetyne modification and
full ISF calibration
|Power Conditioners -
Balanced Power Technologies BP-10.5 Signature Plus, API Power Wedge Ultra 115