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Pioneer DV-563A Review

post #1 of 661
Thread Starter 

Got my 563A from Crutchfield yesterday. For the price ($160 w/$20 MasterCard coupon), this is one of the best home theater purchases I've ever made! I've been aching to have an affordable universal player for a while, almost getting the pricier Yamaha 2300 or Denon 2900 when they came out. Glad I waited! I've owned more than a dozen DVD player since 1997, including two that played DVD-A. The 563A replaces my Panasonic CP72. My review equipment is the Panasonic 53" (ISF-calibrated) HD RPTV, Onkyo SR600 receiver & Acoustic Research HC6 6.1 speaker system.

Here's my mini-review...

Build Quality & Setup
The 563A is only available in silver. I've always preferred black components, but silver is slowing growing on me (& my wife likes it better). The player is fairly lightweight & sleek-looking (nice, slim design). The remote is light & flimsy-looking, but I use a universal remote anyway.

I made all the connections (power, optical digital & 5.1 multichannel analog) & powered the 563A on. The setup includes an 'advanced' area & a 'guided' area. I went through both to cover all the bases. The 'advanced' area is where you choose how content on DVD-Audio & hybrid SACD should behave. (I set it up so that DVD-Audio & the multichannel portion of SACD play automatically.) The video setup has "Memory 1" & "Memory 2" to save your custom settings; I left mine at standard & 480p output. The final setup I did was with my RadioShack sound meter in the 'advanced' area, adjusting all but the sub to the correct levels (the 563A doesn't let you adjust the sub level).

Audio Performance
I've been dying to hear Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" SACD, so that's what I popped in first. Went to track 4, "Time". Wow! This is the first SACD player I've had so I can't compare, but it was like hearing DSOTM like I've never heard it before (& believe me I've listened to this album countless times). Great clarity, depth & surround effects. I was so thrilled, I called my wife to listen. She isn't a Pink Floyd fan, but concurred the SACD sounded great. She however does like the Police, so I popped in the "Every Breath You Take: The Classics" SACD. Also terrific, although not as "wow" as DSOTM.

Next, I tried the Blue Man Group DVD-A. While very good, the 563A's DVD-A quality didn't quite match that of the Panasonic RP91 & CP72 (my previous DVD-A players). It's still terrific, but the RP91 & CP72 produced slightly fuller audio. The 563A had a little less 'oomph'. Need to listen more when I get some time.

The 563A's Dolby Digital & DTS quality is as good as the best DVD players I've owned. I tried several reference DVDs & they all sounded great.

Video Performance
This I haven't yet evaluated critically yet. I was so interested in the DVD-A/SACD capabilities of the 563A, that's what I played around with most last night. To test the 480p video, I tried "The Fifth Element" (SuperBit) & "Narc" (a DVD I just rented). Both looked excellent. Sharp/detailed & artifact-free. Colors seemed a tad muted, but I may need to recalibrate with Avia. I haven't checked to see if the 563A suffers from the infamous chroma bug yet.

These are my impressions after only 2 hours of playing with the 563A, but so far I'm very happy with this player. It's an awesome universal player, a steal for the price! Can't wait to get home tonight & play around with it some more...
post #2 of 661
Thanks for your quick impressions!

I get mine on Friday hopefully and can't wait.

I think my first DVD-A purchase will be Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.


post #3 of 661
Keep us back-ordered individuals posted!
post #4 of 661
I just got mine today.

No chroma up-sampling error bug that I can detect so far (haven't tested all of "the" movies yet).

Manual does not confirm analog bass management. No where on the packaging or in the manual is the claim made. So I hooked it up to my receiver with my Outlaw ICBM in between. The speakers can be set to large or small. I set them to large because of the ICBM.

*Please let me know if anyone of you can confirm analog bass management.*

The Video quality appeared to be outstanding for the price. I only tried: The Crow, Spiderman and Star Wars Episode II before having to go to work.

I only had a chance to make sure all disc types worked and they did. Listened to a little from 3 SACDs and they sounded very good. I haven't heard SACD before, only alot of DVD-Audio on other players. It appears, from my very limited listening time, that alot depends on the recording engineer's decisions about what to place where. I hope everyone keeps that in mind when playing both SACD and DVD-Auido titles of different Artists, etc.

Anyway, I'm sure everyone knows that the Pioneer doesn't treat SACDs like, for example, Sony SACD players. Instead of DSD, the Pioneer converts to PCM before D/A conversion. I know that is going to be a deal break for some but I don't have "golden ears" and being able to play both formats with one player and having them both sound pretty damn good is enough for me. Oh, and I only paid $180 too.

No aspect ratio control, of course.

Menus are nice and look pretty cool.

Can't play SVCD like the 663.
post #5 of 661
Hmmm... might be getting one soon. I don't have a wad of cash burning a hole in my pocket and I need a new tied-me-over player until I do.

Looks kind of interesting for the money. I guess I can live with sub-standard SACD decoding for a little while. My Outlaw Model 950 has an 80 Hz analog bass management switch (which I have to use anyway or I get double bass) for its 6 channel analog input, so I should be a-ok there.


P.S. Anybody here have much experience with Outlaw Audio's interconnect cables? They seem pretty well built for the money and I can get 6 of them for under $100.
post #6 of 661
Well, I'm gettin' this player just 'cuz it looks like such a good deal.

Dan, I think you might wait to judge the DSD to PCM conversion before you call it sub-standard if you can even tell it as a problem...

I mean in theory it should remain 'real world' perfect if converted from DSD to 24/96 if that's what it does -both have a better noise floor than any player can output anyway, and higher freq. band than anyone can hear, or most speakers can play, etc...

Plus not all SACD's are recorded in DSD in the first place so they're going from PCM to DSD. Is it such a crime to convert back to very high rate PCM again?

Most importantly in actual application... this certainly Ain't a high end player by any means and the audio of CD/DVD-A and SACD should all be poorer than a true high end player.

The power supply and output section of the player will probably make the DSD to PCM conversion irrelevent.

BTW... I also own the Outlaw 950 (and really like you ideas for their next prepro. that was you right? too bad they'll probably take another 3 or 4 years to do it. they're followers not innovators IMO) , and also their audio cables.

The cables are made REALLY well IMO, and OCC copper wire found in much more costly cables. Might double check that they changed the thickness of the ends. The ones I got were from the first run and they're so fat that they slightly rub together on standard RCA jack spacing (which the 950 has). They said they were going to thin it up a bit. Don't know if they ever did.

I haven't seen other cables built this well for this low of price.

Anyway... I'm not a big cable tweaker -I mean open up this Pio DVD player were talking about and look at the POS cheap wiring you'll be connecting these cables too and then think about the FAR greater run of wire in the x-overs in your speakers.
Cables (if worth tweaking at all) are about the last thing to bother with.

I'm probably going to have this player modded by ModWright to get a lot more out of it. That'd be the best first step w/ using this player in anyone's system IMO.
post #7 of 661
Tested Toy Story, Fifth Element and other movie titles and still haven't seen the chroma bug.

I know Pioneer's video track record at Home Theater High Fidelity is far from steller but so far I'm pleased with the video output which seems just a bit overly sharp.

All my DVD-Audio discs sound great, just like on my other players. DTS-CDs sound the same, of course.

As far as SACD is concerned, I still haven't heard it through a DSD SACD player but I think it sounds better than any CDs I own. But like I prefer DTS over Dolby Digital, I can't just list off all of the reasons I do -- I just do.

One thing I learned about ordering SACDs on-line is to look more closely at the "specs", if you will. When I got the discs, the packaging clearly shows if they are Stereo or Multichannel/Stereo, etc. I could have easily picked out more Multichannel titles at a store.

Like I've alluded to earlier, I'm not an audiophile. I actually prefer multichannel surround music over just "plain" stereo. So I hope I can find more multichannel SACDs that have alot more activity in the surrounds like much of my DVD-Audio titles do. For me better, higher quality stereo is just stereo.

Anyway, I'm still liking this player. I came very close to getting the Denon 2900 (which I really want) when they first came out at Crutchfield and I'm now glad I waited (especailly if you know the 2900's early history).
post #8 of 661
I could always see the chroma bug on my old Pioneer, especially on the toy story opening logo, the red edges were definitely jagged. The 563 does not have this ?
post #9 of 661
Well let me recommend Peter White's Glow SACD album. It is a great instrumental album that just shines in multichannel SACD format. I forgot who recommended it to me on this forum (sorry) but it really is a very well done multichannel mix (probably the best of my rather small collection of SACD/DVD-A). I am really happy hearing the good reviews of the player from all of you. I hope someone with a true DSD playing SACD player will pick one up and do a comparison of Direct DSD playing vs the DSD->PCM conversion. But either way enjoy your new player.
post #10 of 661
Luffy, thanks for the recommendation, I will be trying it.

gman99, I've just looked at the Toy Story logo again, getting right up to the screen (rear-projection) and I don't see any chroma-bug problems.

I have a friend with a very similar TV and the chroma bug is clearly visible using his Sony DVD player.

One reason I got this player from Crutchfield was for their return policy. Good SACD or not, I will not stand for the chroma bug because every player I own and have owned all were without it (hope my luck holds in the future). After reading about the chroma bug for years and then actually seeing it easily with my own eyes on my friends player I can honestly say I could never live with it (got enough 'early adopter/beta tester' problems as it is already). :-)

P.S. just played parts of Toy Story in the Pioneer DV-563A, Panasonic RP-91 and Sungale 8500 back-to-back and they all look very good. Reds and other colors look good around the edges and everywhere
post #11 of 661
Barring unforeseen circumstances, it looks like this will be my next el-cheapo player to replace my old Toshiba (man, times really have changed when 5 years for an A/V product is considered old!).


Yup, that was me on the Outlaw site talking up the new pre-pro features.

Good to hear about the Outlaw cables. I too remember they said that the connectors where less fat with the new batch of interconnects. I'll have to try them out. Don't want to use patch cords, yet I don't want to spend a bundle either on 6 analog cables for a "bedroom quality" unit.

post #12 of 661
I really wish that someone that is quite experienced in AV equipment, has auditioned higher end equipment, yet not enough snobby to listen to a mainstream unit would try to do a review of this new Pioneer player.

Don, I have a set of 6 copper Outlaw Audio interconnects, as well as their silver digital interconnects that I use as component cables. Copper interconnects are of very good build quality, thick, their new connector although not as thick as the ones in initial batches are still very thick and at times this causes quite a challenge to screw and un-screw them. Actually these connectors are of "screw-on" type, so make sure you loosen the cables prior to connecting them. I am not big fan of this type of connectors though.
As for their silver digital interconnects, well, I am quite disappointed - their connectors are of different type (not the same connectors as on the copper cables), they sit pretty loose in the female RCA plug. I have to put more effort when connecting my other el-cheapo NXG Pro component cables rather than these Outlaws.

post #13 of 661

Maybe you don't mean to , but I think you come close IMO to insulting the guy who was the first to post about this player and has been doing his best to answer what he can.

Yes, we all want to see a review in comparison to true high end gear as that would be a real reference point to comment from, but you've GOT to expect that a $180 DVD player is not going to be the new darling of the very high end audiophile crowd, and most people who will get this player (at least leaving it unmodded) will not have ref. level speakers, amps, and high end pre amps.

I'll post comments when I get the player.

Personally I do have a dedicated audio room, GR Research Alphas (I don't use a center channel), Outlaw 950 pre/pro, and Acoustic Reality eARTwo digital main amp, Newform Research 645 surround speakers, (soon to have) nOrh Le Amp II surround amps, and dual DIY Adire Tempest sonotube subs tuned to 16Hz in their EBS design.

I think it's a fairly high end system -heh.

I'll just have to wait for my Crutchfield order to get here, but I think I'll still have the unit modded if I find it to be a 'base level' of quality worth upgrading to a more high end level. We'll see.

Personally I'd like to hear from Pio 45/47 owners and see what they think of this player in comparison as there's a LOT of 45/47 comments already out there, and a much more realistic reference point than say top of the line Sony SACD player and Meridian DVD-A player on world class gear in carefully treated audio room.

"-Don, I have a-"

His name's Dan not Don.

I don't get what you want from RCA cable connectors?

You seem to have a problem w/ Outlaw's 'screw-on' type which are designed to go on loose so they don't scratch at the connector coatings, but then give a very tight strong connection that won't loosen up when screwed tight.
But... then you also don't like Outlaw's silver cables because they don't have that type of connector and are a bit loose on your other gear's plugs??

There's going to be a slight variation in diff. female RCA plugs, and it just shows how great the screw on connectors are for fitting on any of them w/ a tight connection.

IMO, Outlaw should have stuck w/ those on all their RCA ended cables.
post #14 of 661

I was reading through some Outlaw website threads about the PCA cables until my eyeballs were twirling.

So, do you have a clear cut answer as to how you attach them and unscrew them to remove the connector's from the RCA plugs without damaging anything? I guess from the viewpoint of looking at the back of the equipment. "Enquiring" minds wanna know!

Wouldn't it have been great if BNC connectors and pure balanced XLR had been the defacto standards for analog?

post #15 of 661
pioneer players are easily hackable, region free etc too.

The 563A's Dolby Digital & DTS quality is as good as the best DVD players I've owned. I tried several reference DVDs & they all sounded great.

VERY MUCH agree!!

It lacks detail, video settings of 45A , like auto 1, auto etc, while 47ai..is over fully tweakable!!

any one? Pls confirm ur video/audio settings? thnx
post #16 of 661
Can anyone confirm analog bass management?


post #17 of 661
Thread Starter 
I finally got around to testing for the chroma bug. Like Wesley has already reported, there's no trace of it on the 563A. I tested the "Toy Story" menu as shown in the Secrets' article, plus the "Monsters, Inc." DVD.
post #18 of 661
Excellent! Now, if DVD-Audio and SACD are just pretty good, I'll be extremely pleased when I get the 563A Wednesday.

Thanks for the updates everyone.
post #19 of 661
I finally got around to testing for the chroma bug. Like Wesley has already reported, there's no trace of it on the 563A. I tested the "Toy Story" menu as shown in the Secrets' article, plus the "Monsters, Inc." DVD.


As a point of comparison, what display do you have, and how is the 563 connected?

On my 45A, I do not see the CUE on my main display (Pioneer 533HD, connected with component cables, and running in progressive OR interlaced mode), but if I use the 45A with an older Sony 32" interlaced display (S Video connection), I do see it.

Just curious. There are lots and lots of 45A users that have said that they do not see it, but I trust the Secrets test which conclude that it exists. In the case oif the 45A, it appears that the CUE is masked in my display.

I would be most interested to get a 563 and try it in my rig, buit for now, I will just gather data from current users.

post #20 of 661
Thread Starter 
BGL, I have my 563A connected to a 53" Panny HD RPTV via component cables. I only tried 480p when doing video tests, not 480i.
post #21 of 661
BGL, I have my 563A connected to a 53" Panny HD RPTV via component cables. I only tried 480p when doing video tests, not 480i.


FWIW, I was unable to see the CUE either way (480i or 480p), which suggests a possible focus issue with my display.

Only on my old interlaced set did I see what I was expecting to see in terms of the test shots from Secrets.

Having said that, the 45A/533 can through up a subjectively wonderful detailed pitcure with good software. Monsters looks great; the fur on Sully's body looks real.

I think at some point it is better to keep one's head in the sand. You stay happy with what you have, and its much cheaper!

post #22 of 661
Originally posted by BGLeduc
I think at some point it is better to keep one's head in the sand. You stay happy with what you have, and its much cheaper!

I've got 3 Pioneer DVD players and I'm basically surrounded by the CUE. I'm still very happy with the players and I guess my eyes aren't "trained" well enough for the CUE to be a "major" problem for me.

I don't consider my "head to be in the sand", but rather that I'm just satisfied with the products I've purchased.

post #23 of 661
I should get mine today! What are the input/outputs on this . I've seen conflicting specs. I know it has the 6 channel analog audio outs, but what else?
post #24 of 661
Thread Starter 
Composite Video
Component Video (Y,Pb,Pr)
6-channel multichannel analog
Optical digital audio
Coaxial digital audio
post #25 of 661
No S-Video?
post #26 of 661
Thread Starter 
Oops, yes s-video!
post #27 of 661
How about a spereate stereo pair, in addition to the 6CH outs?

Out of curiosity, do you have any DVD's ecnoded in DD 2.0, which are meant to be decoded in Pro Logic? How does the 563 handle those?

Note: The two questions are related.

I ask this because the 45A lacks a Pro Logic decoder, which means that if you have any 2.0 PL titles, you will need to use the stereo pair, and have your pre/pro or receiver do the PL deocoding.

If the 563 does NOT have a seperate stereo pair, you could simply use a Y connector on the main L&R channels, and run those into another input on your pre/pro.

Just trying to see what was carried over from the 45A (if anything), and what was done differently.

post #28 of 661
Originally posted by BGLeduc
How about a spereate stereo pair, in addition to the 6CH outs?

I would be VERY surprised if it didn't. Pioneer DVD players tend to come with a fairly complete set of outputs. I own the Pioneer DV-656a and if the DV-563a has connections similar to the DV-656a, you should have almost all of the outputs you would need (minus DVI or similiar kinds of outputs).


Out of curiosity, do you have any DVD's ecnoded in DD 2.0, which are meant to be decoded in Pro Logic? How does the 563 handle those?

Note: The two questions are related.

I ask this because the 45A lacks a Pro Logic decoder, which means that if you have any 2.0 PL titles, you will need to use the stereo pair, and have your pre/pro or receiver do the PL deocoding.

I'm not sure I follow. I have a coax digital cable connecting my DV-656a to my Pioneer Elite VSX-24TX A/V receiver. When I play DD 2.0 or Pro-Logic DVDs, my receiver's "speaker config" lights light up accordingly. With a DD 2.0 title, I get a "stereo" configuration. With Pro-Logic titles, I get a "stereo" config with a rear-channel indicator.

What am I missing here?

post #29 of 661
BGLeduc, yes on the stereo pair. I believe you can set the player to 2-channel and Dolby Digital, DTS and MPEG audio is downmixed to two channels to then be processed by your receiver. DTS downmix can be set further with an option for Stereo or Lt/Rt. DVD's in DD 2.0 should pass through unaffected through the stereo pair output to be correctly handled by a receiver.

I believe your correct in that the output is meant to be decoded in Pro Logic (Pro Logic II) by the receiver and that the receiver will detect the signal as such. The 563A also has what the manual calls "Virtual Dolby Digital using SRS TruSurround" which is explains further as "SRS TruSurround creates a realistic surround-sound effect from ANY Dolby Digital or Pro Logic encoded source using just two speakers. SRS TruSurround is a process certified by Dolby Laboratories for Virutal Dolby Digital Sound..."
post #30 of 661
PIONEER/SONY..will never cut corners on FEATURES!
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