Originally Posted by a guy
Hi Guys and Gals,
I have been reading these threads for a while in trying to decide, and had to give it a go myself.
I just finished playing with a Sony S5000es, a Denon 3800bdci, a Pioneer bdp-09, and a Pioneer BDP 51FD. (...and an old Denon 5900). I spent literally 3 weeks on my days off going at it...
All Players had the latest updates.
After listening and watching all four, here are my opinions...
1. Loading Speed: Batman Dark Night BR
Denon 3800 loaded about 20 sec. All three of the others took about 35 seconds. The Denon's latest update apparently is just about 2/3 faster than the other machines for loading BR discs which were virtually identical for load speeds. Denon wins the load contest, but they are all liveable.
2. Power on's to tray open were all almost identical on all four.
3. Picture: I have a 65" HD CRT TV. Those of you with GIANT or better screens should evaluate further, but here were my results;
In most tests, the Pioneer 51 and 09 were very similar in that you can tell they are both designed with the same characteristics, but the 09 has everything tweaked just better and has a few more adjustments, and I assume better componentry.
The Pioneer 09 (on my tv) is very rich, excellent, and, i'll say, cleaner than the 51, but the 51 is not bad. 51 was the darkest, least defined and most grainy of the 4 players.
Denon 3800 had a decent picture, but on my best adjustments it was no better, if not worse than my Denon 5900 when it comes to upsampling regular dvd's.
Sony s5000, for me was the Clear Winner (but only slightly over the 09) The main reason that makes it win over the Pioneer 09 is that with the 'reality enhancer' on, really did give a "3d" effect which really put people in a spacial setting in the pictures. ... almost like you could walk past one of them and talk to the person behind them and know exactly how many steps you would have to take. It was almost scary. (I have also seen this feature on smaller tv's and cheaper Sonys and they really got something there!) Otherwise, I would call the Sony picture a little cleaner, clearer, and brighter than the 09, but the 09 a little richer and more color saturated. So between the 09 and 5000, you should do your own comparison and choose your preference.
4. Analog Audio out sound:
The 51FD sounded just fine. As I said, the 09 is similar sounding in characteristic, but just ever so slightly richer sounding in its presentation. However, the 09 definitely lacks fine detail and ambiance in the analog outs that you would expect from a $2200 player. I would describe the sound as slightly bass heavy (not in a bad way, I liked the bass), and smooth. Similar to a system I had previously with B&K amplification and Paradigm Studio speakers. ...But definitely lacking if you have a higher end system. If I had to buy on analog sound alone, I would have a hard time paying 5-10x more for the 09 over the 51, and I quite frankly expected more with all those Wolfson DACs. Between the two, I would go for the 51 and not buy the 09 for it's analog sound. The 51 is similar style of sound and so close to the 09 I just could not justify.
The Denon 3800: I wanted to like the 3800 because, of the 4 players, it is the ONLY one with adjustable Bass Management. It had a great bunch of selections, and I loved its menus and remote, on screen display, and also you can a/b directly from the analogue to digital outs instantaneously. (On the other3 you have to go back in to the menu and stop the movie every time). The only problem was that after I got it all set up (Cool!!!...or so I thought...) The Sound Absolotely SUCKED from the analog outs. It sounded like a cheapo $50 player. It was clean and clear, but just dead boring. NO ambiance, NO richness, NO fullness, NO spatial effect, NO transient attack, NO detail, NO Nothing... just plain and clear but cheapie sound.
Sony's Sound BY FAR was the best on my system. It actually has two settings on the DACs. "Sharp" and "Slow".
Sharp: Excellent in; Transient attack and Detail, Very good in; Ambiance, spatial effect, Richness, fullness (Not quite as rich/full bass as the 09 but seemed more accurate in that regard rather than a slightly maybe overemphasized rich/full in the 09)
Slow: Excellent in Ambiance, Spatial effect, and Detail, but slightly more "laid back" and less transient attack and detail than 'sharp', and similar in rich/full to 'sharp'.
For me I HAVE TO HAVE the best possible Analog outs of the players because my system does not have HDMI, but is very high end. To replace it with the new Krell, Classe, Meridian, etc. starts at $8000 and goes up from there.
If you have a "high end" system, say main speakers that start at $5000 up (Like, say, B&W Nautilus or Diamond series, or Paradigm signature series, Wilson, etc. or better), and/or older processor without HDMI like starting with say Krell, Classe, Theta, Proceed, you have no choice but to go with the Sony S5000es for sound.
If you have a GIANT or plasma display But Mid-fi (say Anthem, Denon, Sony, Pioneer processor, and Speakers that don't have the ultra tweeters, (like say Paradigm studio series, Klipsch, Polk Audio, B&W CDM, etc.) or an HDMI Pocessor that you already like the sound of, you should look at both the Sony 5000 and Pioneer 09. And if your system is slightly bright sounding (like maybe w/Klipsch speakers) you may prefer the sound of the Pioneer to the Sony.
Any other "lesser system", I thought the Pioneer 51 is just fine especially since it is around $300 now compared to $1500-2200 for the others. And then I would have to check out the Sony PS3 and Maybe the Panasonic, and maybe wait for Pioneers or Sony's New ones that are coming out soon.
As far as Denon is concerned, (I have and like other Denon Products), The 3800 is just a waste of money as far as sound, and the Pioneer 51 picture is almost just as good... So....
The things I didn't like about the Sony 5000 are:
Only one bass management setting (Speakers 'small' or 'Large')
It's hard to ff or rw to an exact spot on a disk.
Things I didn't like about Pioneer:
Lack of detail and ambiance in sound in analog
Only one bass Management setting (speakers 'small' or 'large')
No DTS MA (they say they are working on it)
Okay, so I think I probably left some things out, and I am sure I probably pissed someone off with my opinions and/or terminoligy, but after reading Joerod's review I really thought I would want the Pioneer even though it was slightly higher priced..., but then Denon had all the Fancy Jazzy Bass management adjustments, coolest remote, and best on screen menu presentation, it loaded fastest, and is easiest to get a deal on (But the sound SUCKED!) and picture was nothing special, and some guys on here said they have had breakage issues with their Denon Blu ray and DVD players. (My Denon 5900 DVD player has had NO defects since I bought it new)
Initially, I least expected to like the Sony S5000, but I figured I should try it, and after using it in MY system, I can't even consider the other 2g'ish players. Oh yeah, and the Sony has a 5 year Warranty as well.
I hope this review is helpful to all of you out there as it's a lot of $$$ to just lay down, and then decide you got the wrong one.
I'm sure next year we will all be kicking ourselves because Sony and Pioneer will have a newer better one and maybe you will be able to get a Denon A1-UD for 2g by then... and it specs out a lot better than the 3800 so maybe it will be (alot better).
Good luck to you all...(and myself whom I may have made single by spending too much time with blu ray players instead of my girlfriend)