Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Player - Pioneer BDP-320

By Danny Phillips



Our Score:


Thankfully, we can't fault the quality once it finally gets the picture on screen. The BDP-320 brings all of Pioneer's usual qualities to bear, such as deep blacks, impeccable detail retrieval, razor-sharp edges and a complete freedom from artefacts, all of which results in a picture that sizzles from the screen.

Its talents are demonstrated by the Angels & Demons disc. The deck's exceptional insight makes the insides of shadowy churches look crystal clear without destroying the dark, sinister atmosphere - the finest details, such as the texture of stone walls, are easy to discern amid the shadows and the corpse of the first murdered cardinal is revealed in all its gruesome glory. But when the action moves outside, Rome has never looked better - the vibrant, faithful colour reproduction and punchy detail give the city picture postcard appeal, and as Tom Hanks frantically dashes from church to church, the Pioneer tracks his motion without even the slightest stutter.

With the Silicon Optix HQV disc, it passes both Jaggies tests with ease, offering some of the smoothest moving diagonals we've seen, and detects the correct cadence of the Video Resolution Test instantly, rendering fine lines crisply and avoiding any strobing. The Film Resolution test threw up some strange results though - the picture was beset by a strange pulsing effect.

We're happy to report that audio quality is of the highest order. It digs out lots of delicate detail from subtle jazz tunes, but really throws its weight behind more up-tempo pop and rock, conveying songs with a snappy, rhythmic tempo, crisp treble and a healthy dose of bass. Movies output in PCM or bitstream sounded incredible on our test system, although it does depend on the quality of your equipment.


The BDP-320 is another impressive Blu-ray deck from the Pioneer stable, which will appease discerning users with its incredible performance, extensive AV tweaks and solid build quality. That said, it's not the easiest player to get along with - although it looks nice, much of the operating system is sluggish, plus discs take an age to load - and having got used to the brilliant LG BD390, the Pioneer's feature list seems paltry by comparison, especially when you consider the price differential between them. But if you care not for bells and whistles and simply want a straight-up Blu-ray deck that delivers stunning picture quality, then the BDP-320 is certainly worth an audition.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Performance 9
  • Value 7
  • Features 8
  • Design 8


November 21, 2009, 3:51 pm

In 1080p Blu-ray playback, why should there be any picture quality difference across players?

Everything up to actual frame display happens in the digital domain, according to a minutely detailed prescription set down by the standards.

The decoding steps are all relatively straightforward and the results well-defined... at no stage is adding 2 and 2 permitted to give "4.3, give or take".

And ultimately, for each decompressed frame, there is only one correct H.264/VC-1-compliant result, and this can be checked against the reference decoder published along with the standard.

So surely the only PQ differences in 1080p playback are down to post-processing or 'user preference' controls, which are obviously subjective... the movie studio has encoded the Blu-ray as they want it to be seen?


November 26, 2009, 6:09 pm

@simonm - I'd probably agree with you. I'm still not convinced that it's worth purchasing a stand alone player when the PlayStation 3 does a very good job already.

The PS3 still seems to be the quickest player to load Blu-Ray discs and navigation is a cinch. The new slim version also support audio bitstream output so why should people pay over £300 for just a player. Admittedly it's fan noise can impede things but that only happens when it's too hot.

Then again, I'm sure Pioneer have done a great job in trying to squeeze everything out of their players.

john jordan

December 6, 2010, 6:44 pm

The pioneer will still be sailing down the river,when the LG starts letting in water!

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