Integra DPS-10.5 Universal Disc Player

by | Dec 3, 2005 | Component Reviews | 0 comments

Integra DPS-10.5 Universal Disc Player


SRP: $2500
 
F e a t u r e s

Highlights:
SACD, DVD-Audio, CD, CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, VCD, & MP3 universal playback
JPEG image display and slideshow
Dual-laser pickup
THX Ultra certification

Processing:
Dolby Digital, DTS built in
192K/24-bit audio D/A converters
216 MHz/14-bit video D/A converters
Progressive upconversion with 3:2 and 2:2 reverse pulldown
Direct Digital Path
VLSC (Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry)

Connections:
HDMI digital video and audio out
2 i.LINK multichannel digital audio sockets
4 digital audio outputs: 2 coax, 2 optical
HD component video output
1 component video output, 2 S-Video outputs, 2 composite outputs
5.1-channel analog audio output
Dedicated downmix analog audio output
S-Video and composite video inputs with progressive upconversion
Bidirectional RS-232 port
IR in and out
12V trigger input

Functions:
Disc Navigator for MP3 and JPEG discs
Title, chapter, group, track, folder (MP3), time search
Frame-by-frame playback
Slow motion playback
Fast forward and reverse
Repeat, Random, Last Memory playback
Supports both 4:3 and 16:9 displays
Supports up to 8 soundtracks/languages
Supports up to 32 subtitle languages
Multiple camera angles
Parental Lock
Screen Saver

Others:

Auto Power Off function
Toroidal power supply transformer
Silent slide disc tray
Aluminum front panel
Display brightness is adjustable, incl. off setting

Specs:
Frequency Response –
DVD Audio = 4 Hz – 88 kHz at 192 kHz
DVD Linear Sound = 4 Hz – 44 kHz at 96 kHz
CD = 4 Hz – 20 kHz at 44.1 kHz
S/N Ratio = 112 dB
Audio Dynamic Range = 106 dB
THD = .002% at 1 kHz
Audio output (digital/optical) = -22.5 dBm  & 75 ohms
Audio output impedance (analog) = 320 ohms
Power Consumption = 48 W; Standby = 7.1 W
Dimensions = 17 1/8” W x 4 13/16” H x 14 13/16” D
Weight = 26.7 lbs.

Integra Division of
Onkyo U.S.A. Corporation
18 Park Way
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
201-785-2600
www.integrahometheater.com

————————————————–
Intro


The Integra high-end line of Onkyo first brought out a universal disc
player back in 2002, the DPS-8.3. Three years have passed and several
features and improvements have been made and in the process the price
doubled, but I found this unit the best sounding and imaging of all the
universal players I have tried.  In fact so good that it has
convinced me to finally dispense with the separate players for the
different formats I have been using and make the Integra my reference
disc player for everything.  I’m discovering anew the great
convenience of being able to slip any optical disc whatever (except a
Laserdisc!) into the silent non-resonant tray and have it display the
format and play without serious hesitation.  I was just comparing
two versions of the Verdi Requiem – one SACD and the other DVD-A. 
Previously they would have been on different players of unequal
playback quality, but now I can be assured any differences I hear are
due to the particular recordings (or formats) and not to the different
players.

Yes, it comes with a not exactly bargain price, but the 10.5 is an
entirely different unit than the entry-level universal players you see
at Circuit City-type dealers.  For instance, check out the
weight.  Actually it seems it should tip the scales even heavier
because this baby is solid – the heavy front aluminum panel and brass
feet are the visible parts of the avoirdupois, but inside a massive
toriodial transformer has to add to the weightiness. Separate internal
power supplies for the audio and video elements are another addition to
the weight and to the improved performance. There are all sorts of
logos on the front panel, the usual suspects plus some probably
unfamiliar ones such as VLSC, which is Integra’s trademarked circuitry
which reduces pulse noise in analog audio signals converted from
digital sources. Processors from Silicon Image take standard interlaced
signals and converts them to progressive, correcting for DVD mastering
errors, reducing scan lines and motion artifacts along the way.

Some Features

Like most play-everything players today, the Integra can not only read
CDs burned with low-res MP3 audio files, but can also display on the
connected screen JPEG images you have put on a cross-platform CD-R or
DVD-R.  In fact they will automatically arrange themselves into a
slide/dissolve show with each onscreen about five seconds unless you
change the settings.  The only restriction is the image files
cannot be any larger than 5 MB. You can be listening to a multichannel
SACD or DVD-A and simultaneously send a stereo down-mixed signal to
another zone in your house or to a computer burning a two-channel copy.

As with many of the latest DVD players, the 10.5 boasts an HDMI output
to connect to the latest displays with HDMI inputs. (My older display
currently lacks this new development so I couldn’t test it out.) 
This bypasses various D/A and A/D conversions required before,
preserving the digital purity of the video signal. In addition, the
10.5 features a special high definition scaler built in, which can
upconvert standard DVDs and then send out the signals in a variety of
resolutions to fit your particular display.  The remote control
sports a special resolution button to go thru this list, giving one the
smoothest screen image by matching the input to the native resolution
of your display.

Speaking of the remote, this is one of the best-designed ones I have
seen in some time.  First, it is backlit, and bright enough to
really see all the buttons in the dark.  It is hefty in the same
style as the player itself, and the Enter button is right in the center
and sticks up a bit so there is no confusion about it.  This
joystick is a joy to use. It is also a universal remote which can
operate your amp, receiver, TV or VCR with dedicated function
buttons.  There are four buttons for teaching the remote various
sequences of your other remotes, and even buttons to turn the video
circuitry off completely when you want the utmost sonic quality from
audio disc playback.  You can also use the remote to bring up the
on screen display at the top of the screen to deal with that
increasingly annoying problem of the lip sync being off.  The AV
Sync menu option lets you increase or decrease the delay on the audio
(using an image of a slider knob) until it perfectly matches the mouth
movement which has been delayed by video processing on its way to your
set.

Video Testing

I checked out the video capabilities of the 10.5 first, after doing the
fairly simple initial setup using its on-screen display.  My
Pioneer doesn’t have a progressive option, so I set the Integra for a
progressive signal thru my Monster Cable component video connection to
the set. I was curious to learn if I could see any subtle improvement
in the images with the unit’s 14-bit processing compared to the only
10-bit of my two DVD players.  I certainly could, and it was not
subtle. The gorgeous black and white transfer of To Kill a Mockingbird
by Criterion Collection gives the images a depth and sharpness with
most players.  But with the Integra there was an almost 3D quality
to the images which felt as though you could move right into them in
some of the shots. Next I tried another Criterion DVD, their reissue of
Kubrick’s classic Spartacus. One chapter starts with a long
establishing shot of Rome with all sorts of detail in it. The Pioneer
59AVi player I had on hand showed much detail both at mid and far
distance, but the Integra enhanced the resolution to the point that it
became obvious where the actual studio set ended and the painted
backdrop began.  In some of the dark cave scenes the Integra
displayed more details in the murkiness.

The latest reissue of The Sound of Music is an excellent transfer of
this classic.  The opening shot of Julie Andrews spinning around
on the hilltop had a magnificent richness and resolution I had not seen
with other players. So also was the famous alien aria scene in The
Fifth Element via the Sony Superbit DVD version.  I found that the
best DVDs looked close to the image quality of most HDTV
programs.  You may discover that when you eventually have a
separate hi-def DVD player, your old DVDs won’t look dated when played
back on the Integra. And of course the sound element is just as
important as the picture in video viewing, and the Integra is no slouch
there either. In making those aforementioned comparisons of the two
Verdi Requiem formats, I had to switch back and forth many times when
playing the DVD-A between “DVD” and “8-Channel” on my Sunfire preamp –
the quality of the Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks was so high that even on
the big climaxes of chorus and orchestra in the work it sounded almost
identical to the 96K DVD-A surround sound.

Audio Auditioning

I used a Monster Cable analog six-channel connecting cable to go from
the multichannel analog output jacks on the Integra to the multichannel
inputs on my Sunfire Theater Grand IV.  I also hookup up the
coaxial digital out as well as the two-channel analog out.  The
latter went thru a pair of Bybee filters plus the Taddeo Digital
Antidote and then into the analog stereo inputs of the Sunfire. 
This allowed for selecting “Source Direct” on the Sunfire, which is the
purist “no processing of any sort” path for analog signals.  I
then auditioned some of my favorite CD test discs, among them the Opus
3 gold series. It became clear quite soon that the Integra is the first
universal player I’ve heard that doesn’t fall down on standard CD
playback.  The guitar quartet on “Depth of Image” that I
frequently use had a bite to the strings as they were plucked, combined
with a rich timbre and awareness of the acoustics in the church where
the recording was made. The upright piano on the left channel of the
next trad jazz track sounded even closer to a real piano than it had
sounded with my best-CD-playback modified Sony 9000SE player. The
stereo and Pro Logic II settings produced glorious sounds with
seemingly nothing lacking, but they were fed by the digital connection
and going thru some processing, even without the derived surround
enhancement.  Switching to the pure analog Source Direct setting
brought a palpable transparency increase and a much more spatial
placement of the instruments on the soundstage.  So any concerns
about giving up the utmost in 44.1 stereo CD reproduction in order to
realize the joys of universal multichannel were evaporated.

Next I tried several of my favorite DVD-As and SACDs.  The same
Verdi Requiem I seem to keep returning to is a most exciting
performance conducted by the dynamic Russian Valery Gergiev. One of the
soloists speaks on the provided video about the strong communication of
fear in the music and words.  That’s right on, and the enhanced
DVD-A playback of the Integra (vs. my previous DVD-A-only player) made
Verdi’s musical visit to The Last Judgment raise the hairs on the back
of my neck. The terrific Chesky Bucky Pizzarelli DVD-A “Swing Live”
captures the feeling of being right in the hall with the players, but
the Integra captured it with an even more 3D quality than I had ever
heard previously.

The new London Symphony performance of Smetana’s ‘My Country” symphonic
cycle conducted by Sir Colin Davis on the LSO’s own SACD label seems to
give this dynamic nationalistic work the playback power and impact that
it requires, with a tremendous dynamic range going from the quiet harp
introduction to the overpowering climaxes in some of the six tone
poems.  Adding to the realism of the recording is that all the LSO
hi-res discs are recorded live during actual symphony concerts. 
The classic Layla 5.1 SACD remix on Polydor by Eric Clapton and friends
had an increased impact and more support in the lower bass end than on
my modified Sony CE-775 or the Pioneer DV-59AVi.

I’m returning to multiple guitars again in a jazz SACD, though only two
this time instead of a quartet. And in only two channels instead of
multichannel.  Ying Tan doesn’t do the multichannel thing on his
Groove Note audiophile label, but somehow he comes up with even better
sound on masters from labels such as Concord than others have achieved
reissuing similar material. Take for example the Charlie Byrd/Laurindo
Almeida SACD “Tango.”  Among my extensive collection of 45 rpm
audiophile vinyl are a couple Crystal Clear Charlie Byrd albums, and
they are direct-to-disc. In fact I helped select the sides to be
released on one of them.  It’s difficult for even the most
advanced hi-res stereo digital disc to come up to the sonic quality of
a 45 rpm direct disc on a good turntable system. But I find that this
Groove Note SACD, played on the Integra uni player, does it.

Wrap Up

Using the DPS-10.5 is a pleasure.  The tray is silent, sturdy and
well-insulated against resonance.  I have carefully covered
several disc player trays of the usual flimsy variety with Cramolin and
other anti-resonance materials to tweak playback sonics. This one
doesn’t need any, and it’s not one of those inconvenient
top-loaders.  My only slight gripe is that it takes its time in
both opening and in starting playback after closing.  But after
all, the poor thing has some major decisions to make about which of the
many different formats to play back!  I’ve noticed most universal
players suffer this built-in delay.  And it plays perfectly every
type of disc I throw at it.  None of the other universal players
were able to handle jpeg image CD-Rs I burned on my Mac – only the
Integra.

Sonically and visually the 10.5 is at the top of its game. (The Onkyo
line sports a very similar player – the DV-SP 1000 – which has the same
dimensions and weighs the same. It has a two-year warranty vs. a
three-year with the Integra and may have other differences, but its
street price runs from $1600 to $2000.  So you may want to compare
the two players if possible.)  If your system includes either
i.LINK digital connectivity to your preamp or receiver and/or HDMI
connectivity to your video display, chances are you’ll be enjoying
enhanced listening and viewing even in excess of what I am
experiencing. The two-channel 44.1K achievement of the player makes it
more of a truly universal disc player than any of the others I have
auditioned. I plan to make it my reference disc player for all of my
reviewing work.

– John Sunier

My Reference System: Sunfire Theater Grand IV
preamp, Pioneer Elite 510HD 53″ RPTV, Sony CE-775 SACD changer
(modified), 3 Opera Consonance M400S tube monoblocks, Parasound
HCA-2003 3-channel amp, Von Schweikert speakers: 4 VR-2s, LCR-15 center
channel & VRS1 subwoofer; Bybee AC conditioner, SOTA Star turntable
with SME V arm, Transfiguration Spirit MC cartridge and Grado head amp.


 

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