Equipment Review No. 1 •  February 2003

SONY DVP-NS755V PLAYER
Formats Played: CD, SACD stereo and Multichannel, DVD, MP3, DVD-R and RW.
Outputs: 5.1 audio, digital coax and optical, stereo RCA (2), composite video (2), S-video (2), 480i/480p component video.
Processors: 108MHz/12 bit video, 192kHz/24-bit audio, Dolby Digital/DTS for 5.1 output.
Special Features:
Progressive-scan output
Twin Laser pickup
Precision Drive 2 system.
SmoothScan and SmoothSlow search modes
10-second Instant replay
TV virtual surround sound and Digital Cinema sound circuits.
Bass management for multichannel output (including SACD)
Multi-band remote
Block Noise reduction, Digital Video Enhancer and Custom Picture Mode video, Enhancement circuits.
Parental Controls
Display Dimmer
Multi-disc resume
Program Play
SRP: $250
Audio signal-to-noise ratio 115 dB
Dimensions: 17 inches wide, 3 inches high, 11 3/8 inches deep
Weight: 5.73 pounds Purchase Here

This is one heck of an over achiever of a player. In addition to all the features above, it contains all the regular DVD features. The unit has a captive power chord. The build quality is light. The unit only weighs 7 pounds, but what do you expect for $250 retail?

Special Features

There are three video enhancements in the player. The first is Block Noise Reduction (BNR). This basically is a circuit that smoothes image edges. There are three levels of noise reduction. Then there is Custom Picture Mode. There are six modes, which play with the contrast, color intensity, black level and color contrast to improve a poor picture. The last enhancement is Digital Video Enhancer (DVE). This is another circuit to enhance the clarity and crispness of the picture. It has three levels of video enhancement and a softening mode. There are also parental controls, in which a password must be used to watch certain movies. It uses selectable movie rating ratings to be used in deciding which movies can be watched without password. There are also Operation sound effects. This causes certain beeps to occur during operational changes. There are also various surround sound settings. These are for two or multi-channel setups. For two channel setups there are four setting. TVS Dynamic creates a virtual set of rear speakers. TVS Wide creates five sets of virtual speaks to the side and back. TVS Night suppresses the loud sounds for late night listening. TVS Standard sets up 3 sets of virtual surround speakers. These are meant for using a television’s stereo speakers or a standard set of stereo speakers. The multi-channel setups are for shifting the sound of the surround speakers, away from either the side or rear speakers. They are mainly meant for four channel setups. It has a child lock so small children can not open the tray. It also has all the usual functions of scan, search, slow motion, shuttle, freeze frame, repeat, playback memory and shuffle. The Multi-disc resume allows you to start at the point you left off at, the next time you play that disc. It does this for up to 40 discs.

Setup

The unit was put in my 7.1 surround system. For information on the system see the Meet the Staff section at www.positive-feedback.com. There has been one change in the system. I am using a Pioneer as a processor for DTS and Dolby Digital. I also use the 5.1 bypass to go to the Citation 7. The Sony was put on mipingo feet on a Bright Star Big Foot base. The 5.1 cables were from Jena Labs. I used the optical digital out to the Pioneer. I used a Cardes Hex gold cable for stereo from the Sony to the Citation. The Citation processed the surround from a 5.1 to 7.1 output. The setup of the NS755V is menu driven. To set up any kind of surround, you need to hook up a monitor. Installation can get very expensive with a unit like this. You will need 8-10 RCA audio cables. At least 5 of these need to be good quality or better. You will also need component video cables (3) and a digital cable. For the 5.1 output you will need a receiver or preamp with 5.1 input. The power cable is captive, so it is not easy to use a better one. I had been to a couple of stereo stores that had a hard time getting the surround sound working on multichannel audio sound. I thought they must be very incompetent - before I tried to set up this unit. I hooked up the units with wires to the system. I thought I made all the proper menu settings. Turned it on, and no rear channels. It took me several hours of closely reading the manual to figure which menu settings I had missed. You need to make sure your 5.1 output setting of the Sony agree and are correct. You must also make sure the 5.1 settings of your preamp inputs agree with what is set on the Sony. You can set which speakers are going to be used in the surround. You can also set the size of all the speakers, the distances from each speaker to listener and the level and balance for each speaker. Unfortunately they do not have a setting for surrounds that are different distances from the listener. A test tone output by the player is used to do this. I wish Sony could have had more volume control on the surround speakers. You basically had to turn down the surrounds or turn down the main channels and leave the surrounds up in volume. After I finally got everything right, I could finally listen to the system. The remote was well designed and easier to use than most. I ran the unit on repeat play for a couple of days before listening, to break it in fully.

Video Performance

The video performance was nearly flawless. For comparison I used by Sony 9000es. This is a player that is considered one of the best DVD players under $2000. It also retails for 4 times the cost of the NS755V. This was a tall order but the junior Sony definitely held its own. I would say that the 755 had about 97% of the performance of the 9000. I saw a little bit better black levels and slightly more fine detail with the 9000. You would have to A/B them to see it. The extra video circuits came in very useful in watching less than great video quality DVDs. The Custom Video Mode was very useful for dimly lighted pictures.

Audio Performance

The two-channel SACD sound on the 755 was very good. I would say about 93% of the 9000. The 755 at times seemed to have slightly better highs than the 9000. The bass was not as well controlled on the 755. There was a slight loss in fine detail and sound staging with the 755. The 755 had a slightly brighter sound and the 9000 a little laid back sound. The 755 really came alive on multi-channel SACD. The sound on a good surround SACD, like the Telarc A Celtic Spectacular was exhilarating. The highs were crisp, clear and airy. The sound stage was large with instruments well placed. The room ambience really gave you a feeling of being in a concert hall. On track 8, Off to the Hunt, the surround really gets you involved. This is a sound effects track of a foxhunt. The surround puts you in the middle of the chase, with horses and hounds crossing in front and back of the listener. I do not have any comparisons for the multi-channel sound, but I found it very pleasing on the 755. My first impression of SACD surround is that it is much more tastefully used than in DTS or DVD-A surround. The DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 outputs sounded like receiver outputs. I preferred using the digital outs to a processor for movie surround. The low point of the 755 is its CD playing output. The 9000 performs so well on CDs, and the 755 sounds like a $250 CD player. I think they must not be converting PCM to DSD before converting it to analog. On CDs the 755 sounds dull and lifeless. For some reason CDs sound better through the 5.1 output than on the standard stereo outputs.

Conclusions

The Sony DVP-NS755V is an amazing piece of electronic gear. For the price of $250 you get a very good DVD player, SACD stereo and SACD multi-channel player (but no DVD-Audio playback). It competes in these areas with units costing 4 times as much. It has an incredible number of features for this price. Probable every feature you need in a player. If you have a good CD player, you may not want to get rid of it. But even CDs on this unit probably sound as good as other units at its price. This is an inexpensive way to get into the marvels of SACD sound.

- Clay Swartz

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