Arcam DV88 Plus DVD-player
Rapid technological progress has the downside. Purchased today digital equipment headily stales morally. If the question is, for example, about cheap budget DVD player, the trouble is not great. But if it is a top model, which was cost more than $1000? What a shame.
Such player can still work perfectly and sometimes even new models, getting technological innovations, in comparison with them lose something in Q-factor of performance and even in quality of image and sound. But still there is some kind of inferiority complex, which compels some video lovers and audiophiles to change their equipment all the time. In order for device could satisfy the highest demands, it should harmoniously combine the latest software, the newest element base and at the same time the time-proved solutions. And to stay relevant for a long time - it must have the ability to upgrade.
Arcam DV88 Plus is a rare example of such a device. It differs from its predecessor without "plus" in the title firstly by the progressive scan in PAL - it is one of the first, in which this function was officially certified.
The interesting fact is that all the owners of "simple" 88th can turn it into 88 plus for relatively small money (about 350 pounds). In turn, both are brought to DV89 level, which differs from 88th by DVD-Audio support. In addition to "plus" in the title the 88th got radically updated software and a new DVD transport and more perfect processor Vaddis 5 is used instead of Zoran Vaddis 3. As a whole this led to the improvement of readability of "problem" discs.
During the development of 88th the designers set quite uncommon challenge - to achieve not only exclusive quality of cinema sound and image, but also uncompromising playing of musical CDs. It's not a secret that most of the inexpensive DVD players play CD-Audio noticeably worse than even cheap "one-format" CD devices. The reason is a high-frequency video path, which causes interference on the sound part of scheme. In some devices there is the possibility to disable parts, being responsible for video blocks, which are useful while listening to music CDs. This is fructify, if, of course, it is not the only measure for sound improvement.
The Arcam developers chose more correct, although not the easiest way. In particular, they immediately gave up on OEM solutions, which many other manufactures used for the sake of economy. The first Arcam DVD player was made almost from the ground up, and the company had to buy all necessary for this licenses.
Video path in Arcam is not switchable in order not to strip a viewer of the possibility to display the information about playing tracks. But they took care to exclude mutual influence of different blocks: fully unleashed their power, made separate clock generators, used four-layer circuit boards in order to optimize the layout.
The basis of the player, as mentioned above, is one of the most modern and sophisticated single-chip processors-decoders with Zoran Vaddis 5 with bit depth of 32 bit and clock frequency of 135 MHz. 6 microcircuits 10bit/54MHz (having internal bit width of 12 bit) are used in video DAC. Audio DAC I on the high qualitative Wolfson chips 24 bit/192 kHz.
High class of the player is emphasized by its traditional strict design. It is made solidly and well. The setup menu is strictly too - no any "funny pictures". It's an adult and serious device.
While connecting I note quite a characteristic detail: there are SCART and component RCA on the back panel - usually there is one or the other. However, they work not at the same time - Video outputs (they are turned on constantly) and RGB on SCART are used on default.
Digital outputs of the sound are optical and digital. By the way, the signal at the selection of track in DTS is given only on digital outputs, on the analog ones at this time - silence.
Picture settings are almost bsent - there is only switching of the level between 0 IRE and 7.5 IRE.
I start with test lists of "Video Essentials" disc. I haven't met such clear color renditions in other DVD-players yet. Zone plate is ideal - isn't painted and almost without moir?.
The difference in scan modes is very noticeable in the tables of adjustment: diagonal ora serratas become smooth at its turning on. But at pause mode barely noticeable artifacts appear - like stitches of thread in those places, where teeth used to be, but in playback mode there were not these artifacts in the same tables.
They didn't appear in films too.
When you turn on progressive scan, a warning inscription displays in the bottom of the configuration menu, meaning that this scan is not supported by all displays. And in case of problems (picture comes with stripes and it is impossible to switch back through menu) the return to interlaced scanning is released with a help of Stop button on the front panel.
A curious fact was discovered during the test: the home theatre LINN Classic Movie willingly responded to signals of the remote control. At the same time the reaction to volume changing buttons and Mute was correct and transport control buttons switches the inputs of LINN. By the way, Arcam DV88 Plus can be equipped with different remote controls, so it has the corresponding paragraph in the setup menu, where the number of using device is specified.
The one which we had was quite convenient, although we had to get used to its buttons' location. And also I don't like when OK button is not in the center between control cursor, but sideways.
Certainly, these are petty claims and it is hard find a serious fault in Arcam. The most important thing is that the quality of demonstration is really exceptionally high. Picture is very crisp, with soft tonal renditions; you just forget about the digital character of source. The sound is good too: juice, deep, amazingly emotional and dynamic. There is no hint of digital harshness and "synthetics". Having watched and listened to Arcam DV88 Plus you understand that it costs its money. We can only envy those lucky people who have access to such device.