Technics DVD-A10 DVD-Audio player
I fixed K-10 with my best whodunnit look. "So, ma chérie . . . who's on first?" She gave me one of her looks.
I should have said "Who's first?"—with machines on dealers' shelves, that is. That would be Technics, with the DVD-A10 DVD-Audio/Video/CD player. For what it's worth.
Super Audio CD hit the streets a year ago amid similar controversy. "Hey, where's the software?" was (and remains) a valid beef. But there were at least a few SACD recordings you could buy to play on your Sony SCD-1 when it debuted, plus a couple of demo discs. To be fair, there was a lag before a diversity of music became available, and, as I write, even that numbers only some 160 recordings—not exactly a landslide—most of them mastered from old recordings (and a number of which, reassuringly, I have on LP).
Sony and Philips demonstrated multichannel SACD at the 2000 CES last January, but we haven't heard much about it since then. I have reviewed, however, another two-channel SACD machine in the interim—the Marantz SA-1, in the September 2000 issue.
What's going on here? On the face of it, reviewing a machine with but one "official" sampler disc (plus another, VFV0156, marked "for internal use only") is a little bizarre. But DVD-Audio is the Next Big Thing—or, as Technics would have you believe, the only big thing. They're taking great pains to position the DVD-A10 as a high-resolution audio device with up to two channels of 24-bit/192kHz information, so that's how I auditioned it. Never even hooked it up to our old Sony 27" XBR TV (footnote 1). I took DVD-A seriously as a music-delivery format and compared it to SACD and CD "Red Book" 16-bit/44.1kHz recordings in two-channel mode exclusively. But as the DVD-A10 is a DVD-Audio/Video player, rest assured that one of our intrepid reviewers will continue the investigation in multichannel mode.
But, for the nonce, two-channel it was.
The DVD-A10's brushed champagne finish is very Upscale Nippon, with a dose of quasi-'60s Wallpaper . . . magazine lifestyle thrown in, for you Stylemeisters. The panel lights above the pushbutton controls are aqua blue; very Gidget Goes to Rome. The front-panel controls on the right are familiar, with the addition of a "Group" button to the standard Play, Pause, Stop, Skip, and Search controls. Fascia left sits an Audio Only toggle and indicator, which turns off the noisy video circuits. (I always activated it.) Next to that was the Re-Master LED, about which more shortly, and an LED for the V.S.S. (Virtual Surround Sound) feature. Finally, I always paid attention to the other two indicators on the left, one for Multichannel (three or more channels detected), the other for Two-channel.
V.S.S. is meant to be used with the headphone jack and level control you'll find on the lower left of the front panel. It's said to offer the surround experience with 'phones or two-channel setups. I suggest you avoid this feature unless you're up for a semi-'60s psychedelic experience mit acute psychosis. Mud, mud, and more mud—very Woodstock.
Footnote 1: Unlike the SACD medium, DVD-A requires the player be connected to a TV in order to access the full range of features and content.