Denon DVD2900 Vs Marantz Dv8400.

I just spent a few very intimate days with both the Marantz DV 8400 and the Denon DVD2900.
I work for a pro audio company and I was searching for an inexpensive (less then $2k) "reference" Multi player.

in short!

For SACD/DVDA Marantz hands down.
For DVD and general use and feel DENON hands down.

Full bas management was one of the criteria. No matter how good your room is and how well your full range speakers reproduce bass in your room, it is significantly easier to place and setup a system if you have a sub you can move around.

Well turns out that the denon although it seems to have "Full" base management, it doesn't.
1,. The SUB outs are at -15db. Unless your preamp can compensate for this (In my case the Classe SSP75 did well with trim) you will be screwed.
(I guess the source of this has a lot to do with DTS and AC3, But for god sakes, do these people seriously believe that we need that in the player to begin with, I mean how many of us will use the built in AC3 and DTS decoder? None. I'd say)

2,. What in the hell is up with 120hz THX crap when we're talking music? With a single especially 120hz high filter your options to move bass around the room greatly reduced!!!
(Again this has to do with movies and NOT WITH MUSIC coming from DVDa and SACD!)

After I was done being mad at the shortcomings of the Denons "full" bass management and adjusted and recalibrate the Classe, I started listening.

Got many titles from DSOTOM trough Franky Goes to Hollywood about 15 Pure DSD Telarc titles, some classical etc... about 100 disks.

For the past 5 years I have been listening to hihg resolution mixes in my office and other studios.
Have heard DSD recordings, but never really paid attention to the player, till now.

It was soon obvious that the DENON was very shy and nervous. So much so, that I had to revert back to CD's for a second just to see how bad the denon was compared to the Classe DA and analog stage.
THIS IS NOT A FAIR COMPARISON I know! You can't compare a $1000 player to a $7000 all balanced super high end pre pro! Sure enough, it sounded thin less focused and a lot less detailed compared to the Classe. But there was something else. The Denon Seems to add some hihg frequency garbage to the music. It sounded like it was on crack. Very jittery very unsatisfying.

Moving on....Ok so the Denon just can't compare to the calsse's Da and analog.
Lets see if we can live with it. Played for 5 days, adjusting levels, skipping tracks and never being fully satisfied. There was always this bright thing harsh sound that on a revealing and already bright system just was not something I could listen to for too long. This was true for almost all disk, DSD or PCM.

Having heard a lot of high res recordings from masters and mulittracks I knew there had to me more.
Sure there is but I don't want to pay 10k!

Looked at the Marantz site and noticed that they have an "Updated Audio section".
Oh well its still less then 2k, and It doesn't have bass management for SACD but at this point I'm just looking to see if there is something wrong with the Denon or what?

Yes I read all the reviews of the 8300! (I never head it though, in the matter of fact this is the only two high res players I ever heard in a controlled environment).

But I have a feeling that when Marantz Say that they have an upgraded audio section they mean it!

Night and day! The difference was so big, that I have to declare: If you are interested in what DVDA and SACD is today, you have to get the Marantz! The denon just looses the entire essence of what high res especially SACD (DSD) is supposed to be all about!

The air, the smoothness the coherent time domain with the most amazing imaging with ear blasting dynamic range of DSD recordings was now in my room with the 8400!

The shaker on Billy Jean in the right jumped out of the EMIM midrange and slapped me as much as Al DI Meola's guitar stings wrapped around me ear!
I had to get up many times to see if my center channel was on for some reason.
Some vocals parts were coming not just so focused from the middle but also about 2 feet higher compared to my mains, exactly where the center was. It wasn't on!

So despite the fact the denon with it's shaky bass management provides a lot better bass response in the room, there is just no comparing the two for overall listening pleasure!

Now the real dirt!

Both players are well built, the denon has a more solid transport.
The marantz has a "bigger" power supply and copper chassy.
The donon separates all the different circuits onto separate boards, the marantz share the audio with the video (Except the DVI out!).
The Deonon has the Latest TI (Burr Brown) the Marantz has the latest Cirrus (Crystal) 192k chips.
And last the Denon has an IC for operational amp the Marantz has a very nice discrete stage with good components (1% etc) and a copper shield for all its transistors for temp control and some shielding I guess.

I have a feeling that IC Opp amps burr brown or not, are just no match for discreet!
The difference I hear between the two players are very much what I experienced going from a Lexicon DC1 to the classe SSP75. (The classe ssp has like 3o somewhat transistor / output!)

Now the real dilemma...

I only have a 32" sony tv monitor in this room and only s video connection, but it was easy to see that the DENON is FAR better in picture then the Marantz! Far more film like a lot smoother, every one noticed! Oah! Look at that picture on that tv.(Brave Hart, Die An other day etc.)) The Marantz however has a DVI out! (Not enabled yet! software updated!?) and if you have DVI in on your display device this may help with the picture quality. (DOn't know if it's the decoding or the video DA that is much better in the denon!) Hoping that the video quality is indeed the product of the video DA section so when we get a DVI projector it will "open up". THis is purely a speculation!

The marantz also got some nasty bugs!
Some DVD a titles it takes as much as 6 sec to skip a track!
It also had a hard time playing some of the DVDA disk! Like it was dirty! Skipping crazy!
The user interface on the Marantz seems like was written by a college kid (No wonder they spent all the money on that analog guy they called in to fix the 8300's audio performance!)

For now!

If you need a new DVD player with awesome video and want to make sure it is compatible with all CURRENT formats, the denon may be a good choice! But YOU WILL NEVER EXPERIENCE WHAT DSD or even DVDA is all about!

If you are looking to find out what DSD and DVDA is all about and don't care much about video quality (the marantz is was still satisfying!) and don't mind the amateur UI, then the marantz is pretty good.

If you make less then 100k a year I would say the time of the multi player is not here yet!

Even the Lexicon RT10 (I can't wait to hear that beast now) is missing on features!

The denon does not have bass management as it stands.
This is what bass management is!

Separate settings for all formats! (DTS, AC3, DVDA, SACD they are all different!)
Equal level out with trim for all channels (So if you want to use the built in decoder you can cut 15db out of dts and ac3 but enjoy normal level outs on the sub when listening to music).
Adjustable sub filter from 40 to 120 hz (but at least 60 80 and 120 presets)!
Having a fixed 120hz is not managing bass!
(The hardware is in there! SOftware only!)
Phase switch on sub out.

I keep the Marantz for now, despite the fact that it can't do bass management at all.
It just sounds far better and hoping that when the DVI is on and got a DVI display I will get better picture. But I will mad as hell if they can't put proper bass management in there!!!

If you already own the Denon, demand that they fix the sub out!
Demand that they offer full base management for each format.

If you already got the marantz, start sending them emails about how your player is broken!
No bass management! Crap UI! DVDa Crashes! This is all software and as I understand Marantz actually lives up the promise on software upgrades.

Frankly I would demand digital out!
Like I said I work in pro audio, there is no excuse for the recording industry's abuse of manufacturers like this! There is no reason to duplicate expensive DA and analog stages in the player! What the hell are you going to do with DSD or 96/24 5.1 PCM audio anyway?
What if you can record it to a computer maybe? How will you copy that and onto what?
We can't make a DSD disk no matter what. And authoring a DVDA is a mess.
You could I guess make a CD quality copy, but we can already do that!!!
There is no reason why we can't just have a player with digital outs!!!
DVI 1394 or something! SONY btw has an 8 channel 64fs DSD interface that can carry PCM also.
It is based on cheap cat5 cable and cost less then $40 to implement / port! Runs for 100m!

Riddle me this!!!!

On the dark side of the moon release!
There is a drop out! 10 sec or so long.
It wasn't on the masters! It was on the multitrack! Basically, what you will hear is one section of the wall of sound (I won't point it out because then it's easier to find what instruments). Some high frequency information in the background goes away for about 10 sec or so.

Tell me what track and which channel!

I think this indeed was a mulitrack drop out, that they either didn't hear, or didn't want to fix.
(If they didn't want to fix I understand! Putting PCM mastering tools in the way of DSD is a mess. and as for now many DSD "workstations" actually work in 384khz PCM mode for processing. so the less processing fixing the better...).

izsakmixer or (Hi-Rez Highway or DVD-A Autobahn).

Those guys live for stuff like this.
Whatever dude.

I simply wanted to put the word out to the most number of prospective buyers!
To me (6 years in pro audio) it was just shocking to see that basically all players as of today have big time flaws even in the 2k range!
Some of them are just "no excuse" problems.

Would you have been more happy if I'd just post here?
Or if I say (like most reviews in mags) that both of them are amazing!?

And can you please tell me how I benefit from "living for stuff like this"?

And what are you doing on both?
Hey, I just thought you might want to know that those sites really specialize in this area! A'goN, on the other hand, is a little more sporadic on the SAVD/DVD-A postings, so I thought you might find it more fruitful to try the sites I mentioned!!!

You might have to forgive me for being so helpful.
I already have! Yes you were right, people seem to be more interested in the topic over there.
Sony 999es has a better picture and sounds better on SACD than the Denon 2900. Tom
Holy Cow Izsakmixer. Pretty incredible review / comparison . You can have my attention anytime when posting reviews! I have the Marantz sa 1 and love it and wondered how it compared myself actually . Gotta go. I need to read this again!
It makes one wonder how close these two players are to each other since Marantz now owns Denon or at least they are both owned by the same company, D&M Holdings.
Isakmixer, is it possible The Marantz video just needed a little tweaking , or perhaps may have looked better on component outs, which I understand you dont have. {I do not have a digital input on my HDTV }Ive been waiting for a universal machine that could do DVDA and SACD right, it seems ironic its finally here and is lacking in what should be the easiest part to get right, video. Maybe its possible they put the video technology into the digital interface? Great review , would love to hear others who have the machine give their impressions of it. THX..
The SONY 999ES does not play DVDA!

I am after a player that plays it all and well for reasonable money.
Izsakmixer, just curious if you have had any chance to compare the DV8300 and the DV8400. If so is the 8400 better at SACD. I have the 8300 and am considering trading up, if the returns are there.
The problem is in trying to do it all in one box.

You can get a great DVD player for $300.

Then, if you are convinced that the Marantz has
the sonics you desire -- use it for DVD-A and SACD.

The best solution, IMO -- is to get something like
the Denon 1600 for DVD and DVD-A. Then, blow
the wad on a great CD/SACD player.

If you buy used, you can get a Sony SCD 777-ES
and a Denon 1600 for around 2,000.

And -- when you get more cash, you can have the
Sony modded up to play even better.

For 3,000 you can get something like a Shanling T-200
and the Denon 1600 and when you get more money,
you can have the Shanling modded to sound even

There you go --- all in two boxes, upgradable and
you'll end up with reference quality CD/SACD.

If they come out with a DVD player that has reference
quality DVD-A -- you've got it all. Since you didn't spend
that much on the Denon 1600, you're ready to open
your wallet when that becomes available.

Stop thinking in terms of one box solution and you
CAN have it all.

Just my opinion.
The SONY 999 does NOT have better picture!
I don't care about mag reviews.
Put your 999 next to a $200 Panasonic RP 82 or the XP30 and see for yourself!!!!
And as far as sounding better? When did you compare the two?
No this is the first two Multi players I ever had in my room. BUT I DO KNOW that the 8300 is a very different anymal. Marantaz has "upgraded" I'd say redisigned the AUDIO section 100%. Video vise I would think they are the same.

THis exactly what I was saying 2 years ago!
I figured by now it's not impossible to have one player for 2k that works well and sounds and looks ok.
But I'm fiding out it is still nuts...
For my application I can only have one. But your points are valid.

Izsakmixer on a Runco 700 dlp and a Pioneer Elite pro1000hd and a Panasonic 50in plasma the Sony 999es absolutely had a noticeably better picture than the Pioneer dv47ai or any of the Denons. The highly touted Panasonic Rp91 based on prior viewing I felt was not worthy of this comparison. The Sony also sounded the best of this group on sacd..Tom
I took the plunge and purchased the Marantz DV8400 today, after getting a demo at my local dealer. SACD and DVDA do sound amazing. Now on the video side, Ive hooked it up using component cables and progressive scan. Now Ive seen this with many RPTV's , but never with a DVD player. The Factory presets are way off. Fortunately The Marantz allows for 16 picture adjustments and within 30 minutes I was able to reproduce a smooth filmlike image on DVD video. Since Ive only had the machine 1 night , Im sure I can fine tune video reproduction even further. Just thought I'd pass this along for anyone considering The Marantz. Regards to all..........

Which Denons? The Sony 999 STILL has the dreaded chroma bug, the picture is soft, and not the same caliber as the 2900. I've done side by side comparisons with these decks on a number of displays, including FP and RP set-ups.

The 2900 is light years ahead of their last generation of decks for DVD playback, including no chroma upsampling error.

I suggest, if you haven't already, try the is easily the best DVD picture and navigation I've seen under one thousand dollars to this point. Sure, there are decent DVD players even around the $300 price point, but not with the capabilities of the Denon...including buffering for seamless layer changes and excellent DACs and build quality.

This is one place I disagree with Isakmixer. I, too, am an audio engineer and have quite a bit of experience with SACD/DSD and DVD-A playback. long has your Denon been burned in? I have just over 100 hours on mine and SACD playback has opened up tremendously over the break in period. I also consider DVD-A playback pretty good, in comparison with the Denon 9000 and other high end DVD-A electronics. Certainly, not the last word in DVD-A...but easily 90-95% of the 9000. As far as the bass management is concerned, DVD-A and SACD are recorded level across all frequencies...DD and DTS are boosted 10db in the LFE. The 2900 is 10db low on the analog LFE output, but this can be corrected in your pre-pro, IF your pre-pro can remember channel levels for seperate inputs...most new generation receivers and pre-pros can do this. It is THE most extensive bass management to date on any multi channel deck, IMO. All you do is calibrate your external input (analog pass-thru) the same as digital input for a guide line and adjust sub input accordingly. On my system, the sub was bumped 7db to hit 75db at reference level.

There has always been an issue with bass management for high rez music...just a dirty little secret kept by the early adopters. For easy to use BM, one only needs to add an outboard bass management box like the ICBM from Outlaw. There are others and I am not affiliated with Outlaw. My point, as yours Isakmixer...until we are offered a true digital signal from deck to pre/pro for HighRex from the music industry, bass management that does all we ask is still a ways off.

Like I have said before in the previous post the 999es looks the best when compared to any of the Denons including the new 2900. The Sony also sounds better on sacd. I am not the only witness to these events only the reporter of said events. I am not a supporter of Sony products. On a personal level I wish I could say the Denon or the Pioneer Elite where the better of the Sony 999es however they are not. Sony is not my corporate hero..Tom

You are WRONG about the comparison on the video front, completely WRONG!!!! The 999 is a decent machine, but still suffers from the Chroma upsampling error, lacks a memory buffering system, and the picture is softer than the 2900. The 999ES is a decent SACD performer, but I like the sound of the 555ES better, that is subjective though.

Who are the other witnesses to these events, I'm curious? The 2900 has only been on the market for less than a month. To my knowledge, no professional reviews have even been published yet!!!!
Well, check this out.
The opamp, they are not BB, they are cheap JRC's .32 ea.
I took it apart finally the other day.
So, this baby is going under the knife.
It will get better caps, and a nice opamp, (not sure which yet).

The clock also needs work as it as about 60ps.


Keep us up to date on the mods.
Bw, Witness to the events or comparisons were done at a local store I frequent. Store has the ES the Elite and the 2900. Easy to see differences on Runco 700, Elite Plasma, Panasonic plasma, and the mediocre Sony 50in. XBR plasma. All four of us involved in the comparison had the same conclusion. Sony 999 put out the best picture. Panasonic plasma was the best display.
Panasonic plasma? Better picture than a Runco 700?

Plasma isn't quite there yet, certainly not to the extent of Runco FP, IMO. I suppose it is all subjective, but you and your 3 friends are the first I've heard come to this conclusion.

I just ordered the Denon DVD2900 but have not yet received it. I've got a decent two-channel system (Arcam FMJ CD23 + A32 integrated, Definitive Power Monitor 900s) that I've just finished upgrading and breaking in. CDs sound pretty damn good on the system, so I got the Denon 2900 for a great price mainly to watch movies. That said, I also want to experiment with hi-res audio.

Questions: Will the bass-management issue affect the Denon's sound on my system, even though the setup is two-channel? Is there anything I do to tweak the 2900 to optimize sound? I know next to nothing about home theater.

Commenting on the opening statement about who might
or would use the built in DD&DTS. I've got a second
Home Theater system going in now and feel this would
be the perfect fit. A Rotel RSP980 has the 5.1 input
and would complete the system for me without having to
purchase external encoding. Plus it gives me all the
formats in one shot. The all Rotel system went into
storage some time back when I went for High End HT/Audio
separates, but I'm excited to bring it back out. I
couldn't bring myself to trade it in at the time for
$200 bucks.

I haven't decided which universal player yet, but
I'm starting to get the itch.....

Anyone tried to compare SACD and redbook CD performance on Marantz DV8400 vs. Marantz SA-14?
Do any Marantz DV8400 owners out there have a problem with a loss of center channel signal while veiewing DD 5.1 or DTS movies? It happens to me about 30% of the time while I'm watching movies. I simply hit pause and then play again and the problem goes away, but it is annoying! I'm using the 6 channel pass through capability of my Anthem AVM2 processor. Any suggestions?
Does anyone have the DVI activated yet on their 8400?

John C.

Izsakmixer, I know this thread is a little old, however if you do read this I would apprciate your opinion, based on your detailed analysis of the Marantz 8400, of the new Marantz DV12-s2 Universal player, if you get a chance to evaluate it - I have one and find it almost faultless on SACD, CD and DVD-A as well as awasome progressive scan video out. However it definitley is super sensitive to CD's that are not 100% perfect (my 10 year old Rotel 965 CD player is more forgiving on scratched discs than the DV12-S2)