With Onkyo’s superb AV receivers selling like hot cakes, it would be madness if the company didn’t have a Blu-ray deck to pair them with. Thankfully it does in the chunky shape of the BD-SP809, a 3D-ready deck that aims to deliver a more mature movie experience than your average budget machine with its high-grade internal components and vibration-snuffing build quality.
Of course, that also means it hits the wallet harder than your average Blu-ray player, but Onkyo is hoping that the BD-SP809’s features and performance (particularly with music, an area where low-cost players often fail to shine) will be enough to convince AV buffs to dust off the credit card.
The BD-SP809’s bodywork is certainly up to scratch, boasting the sort of luxurious construction you’d expect from a flagship player. Measuring an epic 104mm from top to bottom, this is not a deck that slips quietly into a tight crevice. The BD-SP809 needs – no, demands – a root and branch reshuffle of your AV cabinet. But that’s the sort of no compromise player we’re dealing with here, and if Onkyo feels those precious electronics need plenty of room to breathe then who are we to argue.
Indeed, those electronics have been organised with the utmost care and attention. Components that cause vibration have been bolted directly onto the chassis near the deck’s large, sturdy feet. Independent digital and analogue block design reduces electromagnetic interference from the power, drive mechanism and signal processing circuits. At over 4kg the unit is reassuringly heavy and robust too, and it’s fitted with a vibration-reducing top cover.
So its structural integrity is sound, but the look is functional. With no curves or hi-tech touches, it looks like an amorphous black box from a distance, with the bright LED display panel the only discernible feature (the silver version is much more attractive). It’s only when you get up close that you notice the attractive brushed aluminium front panel, which is completely flat and peppered with a cluster of playback keys. There’s also a ‘Source Direct’ button and a tiny LED that lights up when playing a 3D disc. There’s no USB port on the front – this is found on the back to stop USB sticks ruining the minimal appearance.
Rear connectivity is excellent, with gold plated ports giving another indication of the deck’s superior build quality. Two HDMI ports allow you to feed two separate displays simultaneously, or send 3D pictures and HD audio bitstreams to your TV and AV receiver respectively (ideal if your AV receiver doesn’t support 3D pass-through). Other video ports include component and composite video outputs, while on the audio side you get optical, coaxial and analogue stereo outputs. It’s surprising not to find multichannel analogue outputs, but perhaps Onkyo feels its audience is sufficiently equipped to keep everything in the digital domain.
Completing the line-up are RS-232, IR in/out and Ethernet ports. The Ethernet port represents your only way of accessing the deck’s network features, which feels a tad restrictive compared with the many Wi-Fi equipped models on the market.