Equipment Review No. 2   May 2002


Integra THX-Ultra DVD-Video & DVD-Audio Player Model DPS-7.2
(SRP recently reduced to $600)


Specs:
Power Consumption: 16w
Freq. Response -
DVD-A: 192K sampling, 4 Hz to 96 KHz
DVD Linear Sound: 96K sampling 4 Hz to 44 KHz
44.1 CD: 44.1K sampling 4 Hz to 20 KHz
S/N Ratio: 100 dB
Audio Dynamic Range: 106 dB
Harmonic Distortion: 0.01%
Video Output: 1.0 V 75 ohm
Digital Audio Optical: -22.5 dBm
Analog Audio: 2.0 V RMS 320 ohm
THX-Utra Certified
Dimensions: 17 1/8” x 3 9/16” x 12 5/15”
Weight: 7.9 lbs.
Supplied with AV cable, S-Video cable, RC-472DV remote

The DPS-7.2 is a versatile player that accommodates both DVD-Audio discs and DVD-Video, playing back the latter with progressive scan-enhanced imaging. It also will play both CD-R and CD-RW - including those containing MP3 files, plus Video CDs (the Chinese standard). It will play DVD-R and DVD-RW discs recorded with DVD video format, but will not play RW discs that were recorded with only one-generation copy permission.

Rear and Front of Unit

The player’s rear panel has the expected set of output jacks with a few extras: two sets of component video outputs, a RS-232 port for use with an external controller, two standard video output jacks and two S-Video output jacks, two pairs of analog audio outputs for stereo use plus two pairs labeled Front and Surround and one each for Center and Subwoofer. There are two Toslink optical outs, one digital coaxial out, a detachable AC inlet for accessory power cords, and two R1 jacks for other components using that control option.

The front panel sports quite a raft of buttons, most of them repeated on the remote: Among them is a button to disable the video circuit for possible improved fidelity when playing CDs and DVD-As, A Last Memory button which captures the point on the DVD where you left off viewing - when putting the DVD back in the tray you press the button and it start from the memory point, a small sampling rate indicator clearly shows the sampling rate of the disc in the player (it showed that a good many DVD As are just 48K or 88K instead of 96K or 192K). The cursor/enter button on the remote is duplicated on the front panel and it is surrounded by the four associated small buttons - Top Menu, Menu, Return and Setup. In addition to the usual disc motion controls there are repeat and dimmer buttons, a display button and a standard stereo phone jack with associated level control. The large multifunction display on the center front of the panel is easily seen from some distance away and includes visual identification of discs which are Dolby Digital, DTS and uses a diagram of six small white squares to indicate which channels are playing back. (This helped me get thru the hurdles on some DVD-As which defaulted to stereo and refused to access their 5.1 option.)

Operation and Picture/Sound

I don’t have any MP3 discs so I didn’t test that function, but I have many 96K audio DVD discs from Chesky and Classic and they were among the first I played on the 7.2. It has a very speedy tray loader and display. Playback began immediately and was of very high quality. I could discern little difference from using a 96K-capable transport with my outboard MSB 96K DAC.

DVD-Video quality was also excellent and I could not choose between the screen image on my Pioneer 51-inch RPTV with the 7.2 and my Pioneer AX10 - at ten times the cost. Operation of the supplied remote was straightforward; buttons for options such as Angle, Audio, Subtitles, Last Memory, Dimmer, and the two menu screens were all located at the top of the remote for easy access. The Angle button got frequent use during viewing the video sides of the A.I.X. Discs, which feature two viewing angles for their video coverage of all their music performers. The On Screen display for adjusting all the various parameters was clear and easy to navigate as well. One is offered the choice of Basic or Expert level on the Setup Screen - the first for beginners who are all thumbs about home theater. One of the functions on this screen not available via other controls is the Audio DRC or Dynamic Range Compression; it only works with Dolby Digital sources, which seems rather limiting, if you’ll pardon the expression. The 7.2 also lacks Dolby and DTS decoding in the player, thus requiring a processor or receiver that handles those functions, using one of the digital outputs.

DVD-A sonic results varied depending on the particular disc, but were very similar to playing on the Pioneer AX10 except that certain disc option which the Pioneer could not access working perfectly with the Integra. This included many of the extras on the DVD-Vs of The Godfather series. The Bucky Piazzarelli Chesky DVD-A and the Belshazzar’s Feast EMI DVD-A were especially awe-inspiring on the 7.2, although both were only 4 channel instead of the standard 5.1.

Only on standard 44.1 CD playback did the 7.2 not quite come up to the sonic level of my other DVD and SACD players. But aside from putting a Bright Star sand weight on top of the rather lightweight case, I didn’t try any tweaks on the player, nor did I employ it as a transport with my outboard MSB DAC, which probably would improve 44.1 play quality.

Conclusion

All in all I found the 7.2 a fine player at a reasonable cost, especially in view of the recent price reduction. If you already have a good CD player or transport and/or an SACD player with good standard CD playback quality and are in the market for a progressive scan DVD-video combined with a fine DVD-Audio player, the 7.2 seriously warrants your perusal. We haven’t seen a good, reasonably-priced universal SACD/DVD-A player yet, so for those interested in both of the new hi-res formats, two separate players is the way to go for now.

- John Sunier

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