Although the DV-563A looks just like any other DVD player on the market, it is far from it. It is the only universal DVD player in this price range capable of playing DVD-Audio and SACD discs you will find on store shelves today. Of course, it also plays every other type of disc including audio CDs, CD-R/RWs, MP3-encoded CDs, JPEG picture CDs and all permutations of recordable DVDs.
The player’s silver face incorporates buttons necessary to navigate through its on-screen menu system, a welcome feature when you misplace the remote. The nicely laid out on-screen menu system, not only looks great, but is also very easy to use and allows access to all the player’s functions. When listening to MP3 CDs it provides quick access to all the folders and songs, and is very quick at playing the song once you select it – these are two nice features that many DVD players fall short on. Looking at JPEG CDs can be done through a slide-show or by selecting a picture from a set of nine thumbnails displayed at a time. The slide-show is timed appropriately, but selecting pictures from the thumbnail list is very tedious because the thumbnail previews load very slowly. The DV-563A does not have DVD-A/SACD indicators on the front panel that are pretty important since many DVD-A and SACD discs have Dolby Digital or standard CD tracks in addition to their high-resolution tracks, so you may not always know what type of track you’re listening to. The small remote fits in your hand comfortably and is not over-crowed with buttons. The most commonly used buttons are right where you thumb rests when you pick up the remote.
We tested the effectiveness of the DV-563A’s bass management by connecting a set of satellites and a sub to it. After some very straight-forward on-screen prompts, we ended up with a smooth transition from the satellites to the sub – a great feature that even many more expensive universal players have problems achieving. Satisfied with the speaker matching capabilities, we connected a set of Energy Connoisseur speakers (also reviewed in this issue) for the remainder of our test session.
The first few tracks on Michael Jackson’s Thriller (SACD) delicate sound radiated and filled the space. Only by moving close to the surround speakers were we able to tell that they weren’t actually playing – Thriller is a stereo album. Without much bass in the songs, the highs and mids exhibited incredible purity and clarity. Arguably the best song on the album, “Billy Jean”, brought forward very deep and vivid sounding bass.
Esteban’s masterpiece, Enter the Heart, brought terrific guitar playing with a Latin flair to our test room. The album is presented in DTS 5.1 audio and 5.1 DVD-Audio as well as Dolby 2.0 for those with a stereo setup. The guitar on the album comes mainly from the front speakers but there are some guitar parts coming from the surround speakers. Occasionally other instruments also come from the surrounds like the trumpet solos in “Flamenco Wind”. Every note on the disc was coming through distinctly and clearly and sounded uniformly superb. Without any vocals on the CD, it is a very easy and pleasant album to listen to. Switching from DTS 5.1 to 5.1 DVD-A produced noticeably more dynamic and rich sound. The DVD-A version placed us in more of a seamless surround sound atmosphere, as opposed to DTS which sounded more speaker specific.
MP3-encoded discs also sounded surprisingly vibrant on the DV-563A. Generally MP3 songs sound rather dull with the high and low notes being absent. Listening to multiple genres of music on the DV-563A produced a much more satisfying sound experience than many other DVD players capable of MP3 playback.
On the video side, the DV-563A’s progressive-scan capabilities performed very well. We tested the player watching Lord of the Rings: Twin Towers and did not notice the chroma bug – a bug in some DVD players that produces lines in deeply saturated colours. The player did a great job a compensating for the frame-rate difference between video and film with several DVDs we tested, without producing any additional jaggies or moving lines.
Overall, Pioneer’s DV-563A combines incredible value and impressive quality. For those who would like to experience the next step in music quality it provides the playback of both DVD-A and SACD together with all the other features of a well-made DVD player. And for under $300 (street price), it’s a very appealing product to add to your home theatre.
- Playback of:
DVD-Video/Audio, DVD-R/RW, SACD, CD/CD-R/CD-RW,
Video CD, MP3 and WMA-encoded discs
- JPEG Photoviewer
- Pure Cinema 2:3 Progressive scan
- 192 kHz/24-bit Audio Digital/Analog converter
- 10-bit/54 MHz Video Digital/Analog converter
- picture zoom
- component / s-video / analog video output
- coaxial / optical digital outputs
- 5.1 channel audio output
Dimensions (WxHxD): 16-9/16” x 2-1/8” x 11-1/8”
Weight: 5 lbs 4 oz