Pioneer Elite DV-46AV DVD/SACD/DVD-Audio Player-Review

Performance and Versatility in a Small Package

Pioneer Elite DV-46AV Single Disc DVD Player
Pioneer Elite DV-46AV Single Disc DVD Player. Photo from Amazon

The Pioneer Elite DV-46AV is a DVD/SACD/DVD-Audio player with upconversion video output to either 720p/1080i via HDMI output. If you own an HD-compatible TV with HDMI or DVI input, you can watch DVDs in higher resolution. This works well with Plasma/LCD monitors and DLP video projectors. The DV-46AV offers extensive playback options, including Most recordable DVD formats and CD/CDR/CDRW discs. However, does the DV-46AV perform well under actual viewing conditions?

To find out the answer, keep reading.

Pioneer Elite DV-46AV Product Overview

The feature package of the DV-46AV includes the following:

1. DVD player with DVD-Video/Audio, SACD, DVD+R/RW/-R/-RW CD/CD-RW/Divx/WMA/JPEG playback.

2. DVD Upscaling to 720p or 1080i through HDMI output (adaptable to DVI-HDCP).

3. Progressive scan with 3:2 Pulldown Detection.

4. Component video (progressive and interlaced) outputs; S-video and standard composite video outputs.

5. Digital optical, digital coaxial, and 5.1 analog audio outputs.

6. Supports both Dolby Digital and DTS pass-through; built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoders included for 5.1 channel direct output.

7. DVD-Audio and SACD (Super Audio CD) playback via 5.1 Channel Analog Audio outputs.

8. On-board adjustments for Sharpness/Contrast/Brightness/Gamma (Color Temperature)/Block Noise Reduction.

9. Wireless remote control. Easy-to-use onscreen menus.

10. Slim space-saving low-profile cabinet design.

Overview of the DV-46AV's HDMI Output and Scaling Features

The Pioneer DV-46AV has two features that set it apart from many DVD players: HDMI output and Video Upscaling.

HDMI Defined

HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. In order to transfer the digital video signal from a standard DVD player to a television, the DVD player must convert the signal from digital to analog, this results in some loss of information.

However, the DV-46AV has the ability, with its HDMI output, to transfer the DVD's digital video signal directly, without conversion to analog. This results in a pure transfer of all of the video information from the DVD to a HDMI or DVI (via a connection adapter) equipped TV. In addition, HDMI can transfer both video and audio signals.

Video Upscaling

The DV-46AV also features video upscaling. You can enable this unit to either feed the digital video signal as 720p or 1080i (in addition to 480p) to an HDTV. 720p and 1080i are the two main standards for HDTV display resolution.

720p represents 1,280 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 720 pixels down the screen vertically. This yields 720 horizontal lines on the screen that are displayed progressively or each line displayed following another.

1080i represents 1,920 pixels displayed across a screen horizontally and 1,080 pixels down a screen vertically. This yields 1,080 horizontal lines, which are displayed alternately. In other words, all the odd lines are displayed, followed by all the even lines.

The Practical Side Of DVD Upscaling

The capability of the DV-46AV to output a video signal in the 720p or 1080i format allows the DVD player's video output to more closely match the capabilities of today's HDTVs.

Although this is not the same as watching your DVDs in true high definition, as current DVDs are not recorded in high definition, you will experience increased detail and color you didn't think was possible from a standard DVD player. That is why the DV-46AV is classified as HD-compatible.

This function works best on fixed pixel displays, such as LCD or Plasma sets, the upscaling may result in harsh images on standard CRT and Projection sets. In addition, if your television has a native display resolution other than 720p or 1080i, the TV's video processor will rescale the incoming signal to its own specification, which can also yield different results on the final, displayed television image.

Setup - Hardware

Additional components used in the review of the Pioneer Elite DV-46AV DVD player included a Yamaha HTR-5490 6.1 Channel AV receiver, Outlaw Audio Model 950 Preamp/Surround Processor paired with a Butler Audio 5150 5-channel power amplifier.

Video displays used: A Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor, Syntax LT-32HV 32-inch LCD TV, and a Samsung LN-R238W 23-inch LCD TV .

Comparison LCD TV/Monitors are HD-compatible. The Westinghouse LVM-37w3 (1080p) and Samsung LN-R238W (720p) both have HDMI input; the Syntax Olevia LT-32HV (720p) has a DVI-HDCP input. The Syntax was connected via HDMI-to-DVI Connection adapter.

Loudspeakers used, included: Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2, Optimus LX-5IIs, Klipsch Quintet III 5-channel speaker system, and Klipsch Synergy Sub10 and Yamaha YST-SW205 Powered Subwoofers.

Comparison Blu-ray players included the Samsung BD-P1000, and Sony BDP-S1.

The comparison HD-DVD player used was a Toshiba HD-XA1 HD-DVD player.

In addition, for comparison with standard DVD playback and upscaling performance, a Samsung DVD-HD931 DVD player with 720p/1080i upscaling (DVI-HDCP output) was also used.

Recordable DVDs used were made using: Sony RDR-HX900, Philips DVDR985, and a Presidian PDR-3222.

Connections between components were made with Accell, Cobalt, and AR Interconnect cables.

Setup - DVD/CD Software

DVDs used included: "Serenity", "Aeon Flux", "The Cave", "Kill Bill" Vols. 1/2, "Pirates Of The Caribbean - Curse of the Black Pearl", "Dead Man's Chest", "Underworld", "Moulin Rouge", "Zathura", "Corpse Bride", "V for Vendetta", "The Promise" and "The Italian Job" (DVD, Blu-ray, and HD-DVD versions). In addition, video content recorded on DVD-R and DVD+RW discs were also used.

The Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark DVD video test disc was also used for more precise video performance measurements.

All video displays were calibrated using SpyderTV Software.

Video Performance

Playback functionality was excellent. The DV-46AV played commercial DVDs, several DVD-R/DVD+RW discs, as well as a selection of CD/CDR/RW/DTS format discs.

Using the HDMI at the 720p setting in conjunction with a Syntax LT-32HV 720p native resolution LCD Television, and using the 1080i output mode in conjunction with a using a Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor, with both a Samsung DVD-HD931, in conjunction with the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark DVD video test disc, the DV-46AV produced excellent results in HDMI/DVI output mode.

The presence of artifacts, such as jaggies on diagonal lines, moire patterns, video noise, and frame rate cadences was very minimal, and easily on par or surpassing the Samsung 931 comparison DVD player, the Toshiba HD-DVD player, and both the Samsung and Sony Blu-ray Disc players (running in standard DVD upscaling mode).

In terms of detail, color, and black level, the DV-46AV provided solid performance. Objects were clear and distinctive, even on distant shots. Close up flesh detail was also excellent, although softer than a true HD-DVD or Blu-ray high definition disc display.

To determine DVD, Blu-ray, HD-DVD differences, I compared identical scenes from the standard DVD version of the film "The Italian Job", with both the Blu-ray and HD-DVD versions. The HD-DVD version was the most detailed, followed by the Blu-ray version, and then the standard DVD version (upscaled) on the DV-46AV.

Audio Performance

For those that think that DVD players are not to-up-to par with a good hi-end CD player for audio reproduction, think again.

The DV-46AV delivered excellent audio performance when playing standard CDs, SACDs (Super Audio CDs), and DVD-Audio Discs. I noticed no audio artifacts that could be attributed to the DV-46AV.

Several examples of good audio reproduction included the excellent surround imagery and vocal presence in the SACD version Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", as well as the DVD-Audio version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".

In terms of excellent standard CDs, Heart's classic "Magic Man", with its distinctive bass slide to lower depths of the audio range, was spot on.

All-in-all, the DV-46AV showed its versatility as both an excellent DVD player and CD/SACD/DVD-Audio player. It is too bad that SACD and DVD-Audio discs are hard to find on the shelves, as the DVD-46AV really delivers the goods on those two niche formats.

What I Liked About the DV-46AV and What I Didn't Like

The DV-46AV is an excellent DVD player. Some of its consumer benefits include:

1. Excellent Video and Audio Performance

2. HDMI output with 720p and 1080i upscaling options.

3. Automatic 4x3 Aspect Ratio Conversion when in 16x9 mode. The eliminates the "stretched out" effect when viewing 4x3 material on a 16x9 Television.

4. Inclusion of both DVD-Audio and SACD playback with 5.1 channel analog audio outputs.

5. Easy-to-use On-screen menu setup.

6. Slim Cabinet Profile

However, despite the positives, there are some things I didn't like about the DV-46AV:

1. No 1080p upscaling capability.

2. No SACD output available via HDMI connection.

3. No separate DVI-HDCP output.

4. No built-in Test Tone Generator for 5.1 channel analog audio speaker setup.

5. Buttons and controls on front panel too small.

Remote control not backlit.

Final Take

Using HDMI and both the 720p and 1080i outputs settings in conjunction with a Syntax LT-32HV 32-inch LCD TV with native 720p display capability, Samsung LN-R238W 23-inch 720p LCD TV , and a Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor, and using the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark DVD as a reference, the DV-46AV produced excellent results in terms of detail, color, video noise reduction, and progressive scan detection.

The Pioneer Elite DV-46AV was easy to set up and use. The user manual illustrates several connection scenarios, based on the type of television or audio system to be used.

Overall functionality was excellent. The DV-46AV easily played commercial DVDs, several DVD-R/DVD+RW discs, as well as a selection of SACD/DVD-Audio/CD/CDR/RW discs, and also a Divx disc.

In terms of video performance, quality depended on the type of connection used, but was very good for each type of connection, with HDMI producing the best results, with the upscaling feature.

It was a disappointment that the DV-46AV did not include 1080p upscaling, which is becoming common.

If you have a 1080p compatible TV that does a good job adjusting 1080i to 1080p for screen display, you may not notice the difference, unless you compare the upscaling of the DV-46AV with the native 1080i or 1080p output of a Blu-ray or HD-DVD player play Blu-ray or HD-DVD discs.

However, the lack of 1080p upscaling does factor into the review rating, as this option could be provided at this same price point.

Despite the difference between upscaled DVD and Blu-ray and HD-DVD, the DV-46AV does show how good standard DVD upscaling CAN BE, especially when you consider the price differentials between a good upscaling DVD player and the current crop of Blu-ray and HD-DVD players (as well as the price of the discs).

Audio performance of the DV-46AV was excellent. Dolby Digital/DTS surround sound options worked well, with excellent imaging and sonic detail. CD, DVD-Audio, and SACD playback audio reproduction was excellent and I did not sense any shortcomings that could be attributed to the DV-46AV. NOTE: SACD playback can only be accessed by the DV-46AV's Analog 5.1 Channel Outputs.

For its price class, I came away with the impression that the DV-46AV provided a better image-for-the-price, than either HD-DVD or Blu-ray does at this time, at least with players and discs currently available in those formats.

The DV-46A, with its excellent DVD/SACD/DVD-Audio and Upscaled DVD playback performance, is worthy of consideration for inclusion in your home theater system.

However, the lack of 1080p upscaling, the lack of access to SACD audio via HDMI, overly small front panel function buttons, and the lack of a backlight for the remote control were taken into consideration in the rating process.

I give the Pioneer Elite DV-46AV a very strong of 4.5 out of ​5-star rating.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.