Arcam DV137 DVD Players

Arcam DV137 DVD Players 


DVD video/audio & SACD player


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[Feb 17, 2009]
Alex from Chicago
Audio Enthusiast

First of all I was looking for a DVD player that had an excellent video presentation but the sound had to be at least as good and on the same level as my separate CD player which I am quite happy with. I also currently own a Denon DVD-2910 Universal player which I have had for 4 years now which did everything right and at its price point, a bargain in every way. I listen to DVD-Audio and SACD and of course enjoy well recorded Dolby and DTS encoded video DVDs. My separate CD player is an Arcam CD73T which was a revelation over previous CD players I've owned. My choice ultimately came down to a Denon 3930ci or the Arcam DV-137(neither is cheap but the Denon is less). As good as the 2910 was, especially on sacd and dvd-audio playback, the CD73T sounded better even on standard CDs of the same hi-rez titles and that bothered me. The DV-137 has a similar superior sound for all of the formats, with 5.1 surround to boot. The sound on this unit is open, spacious and with a fairly deep soundstage. I like the 3/4 back depth perspective with sound staging. Some players have a closer up front perspective while others sound farther back. Never a trace of harshness or dullness with the high frequencies and as clean and pure and open as you can possible imagine. The bass is tight and full with excellent well defined mid-bass. The midrange is wide open and spacious with the ability to point to separate instruments and performers within the soundstage. Although the sound is very detailed, it is not overly so as to draw attention to itself and take away from the listening experience. I have listened to other excellent CD players that exude lots of detail but you can’t relax and get totally involved when some parts of the music jumps out at you with overly emphasized detail to demand your attention, in a sense, pulling you out of a relaxed musically involved experience. I will admit that the dv-137 or the CD73T for that matter is not the most dynamic players but the trade off is zero listener fatigue, accurate sound reproduction and just pure listening pleasure. I would say that the CD playback on the DV-137 is about the same as the CD73T and perhaps the other formats definitely a bit better as they should be and again with the added bonus of 5.1. After all these hi-rez formats are suppose to blow away regular CDs. The Denon 3930ci is more dynamic and the picture quality is just as good and of course I think it is one of the best units out there. I will say however that the DV-137 has superior analog sound playback. I did not mess with the hdmi digital interfaces for passing sound, just the video since the analog outputs in regard to the Arcams are where they shine. I believe I have succeeded as far as bringing up my DVD theatre experience to the same level (and similar sound) as my dedicated 2 channel stereo listening experience. I do watch a lot of video concerts on DVD so the superior sound makes the theater experience that much better.

If you want a unit where the CD playback will equal or exceed any separate CD unit in the $1000 or less range, excellent video representation and the 5.1 surround experience with equally good sound reproduction in al channels in your theatre system, you have arrived.

This is the way I see it. For anyone that requires that an audiophile music sound system to be the priority in their lives and the theatre experience would be great addition (with a surround processor or excellent receiver) then the Arcam DV-137 is a no-brainer, but if they have quite a decent theatre system where their emphasis is certainly on the dramatic theatre surround experience with all the digital bells and whistles and digital options and their sound system is quite decent and not lacking then the Denon 3930ci may be a better choice. Some may like the more dynamic presentation better perhaps and the Denon would be my second close choice anyway.

I realize that this is a DVD player for the video experience as well. Perhaps someone can concentrate their review with emphasis in this area.

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