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All of the top-drawer technology beavering away inside results in some of the best Blu-ray pictures you're ever likely to see. Hancock, for example, is staggeringly crisp and detailed, with the Denon easily getting to grips with tricky textures like Will Smith's stubble and clothing, or the shrubs surrounding Hancock's hillside house.
But what sends the Denon's pictures into the stratosphere is their punchiness and three-dimensionality - black objects look majestically deep yet lose none of their detail and colours radiate from the screen with dazzling intensity. Skin tones are beautifully judged and smoothly gradated thanks to that 10-bit processing, and the clean, hard edges give the image scintillating clarity.
Given that the Silicon Optix Realta chip was designed to tackle the sort of torture tests thrown up by the company's HQV Benchmark Blu-ray disc, it's unsurprising that the Denon aces the lot of them. The edges of the rotating bars on the diagonal filter tests are flawlessly smooth; HD noise suppression is second to none; plus the video and film resolution loss tests are played without flickering or strobing. It also turns in a near-perfect performance with the HQV DVD, revealing that the 3800BD is also an astonishingly good upscaling DVD player.
The player backs up this sterling video performance with amazing sound. Its fantastic HD audio decoding talents deliver an expansive, detailed and cleanly separated soundstage with Hancock's Dolby TrueHD track when the analogue outputs are rigged up to our Onkyo amp. With music CDs it's pure audio chocolate - rich, sweet and oh so satisfying. Denon's Advanced AL24 Processing works its magic with Erykah Badu's Baduism CD, shaping the organic jazzy soul into a thing of beauty.
In pure performance terms, the Denon DVD-3800BD is one of the best Blu-ray players money can buy, with only the latest Pioneer decks coming close to matching it. Its superb processing, high-grade components and stunning construction result in near-flawless picture quality and spine-tingling sound, particularly with music. On the downside, a player at this price should be ready for BD Live and it's more sluggish in operation than some recent players, but if you want to see Blu-ray at its very best then we highly recommend you check out this player.
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