The deck also has no major problems with the Silicon Optix Benchmark Blu-ray and DVD tests, doing a particularly good job of keeping jaggies at bay on moving diagonal lines.
But while the Denon’s Blu-ray pictures are impressive, certain scenes exhibit the faintest touch of softness – particularly ones with lots of movement – which prevents it from matching the mind-blowing clarity of the Pioneer BDP-LX71 or Panasonic DMP-BD55, its closest competitors from a price perspective.
Unsurprisingly given Denon’s track record, DVD playback is right out of the top drawer. ”Gladiator” looks sharp and punchy, with natural colours and clearly-defined edges. There’s a touch of mosquito noise here and there but it can’t stop its DVD performance being anything less than impressive.
Through a decent sound system with HD audio decoding, the player delivers breathtaking audio performance, and with PCM output selected (which is necessary to hear secondary audio tracks) there’s a distinct drop in crispness but it still sounds great. When playing back CDs through the analogue stereo outputs, Denon’s hi-fi heritage shines through in its open and detailed reproduction of music across a range of genres. By selecting the Pure Direct mode, the deck turns off the video circuitry, allowing for greater audio signal purity.
We wanted to be blown away by the DVD-1800BD but sadly it’s left us feeling a little bit underwhelmed. Although it’s an all-round solid proposition, we can’t help feeling that it’s a touch overpriced for a player that lacks BD Live support, multichannel analogue outputs and HD audio decoding. And while its picture quality is undeniably impressive, it lacks the jaw-dropping sharpness offered by the latest Pioneers and Panasonics. Maybe we expected too much from an ‘entry-level’ player – hopefully the sumptuous-looking DVD-3800BD can show us what Denon is really capable of.
Score in detail