Elite DV-09 DVD player (SGHT Review) THX DVD Players

Sidebar 3: THX DVD Players
Several years ago, Lucasfilm's THX division established a testing and certification program for laserdisc players. To my knowledge, the program found only one taker—Runco. Laserdisc-player manufacturers, who must have been anticipating DVD, were apparently unwilling to embark on a program that might require them to redesign their LDPs in what could be the final round of serious models for that format.

But THX hasn't been sitting on their hands. They've modified that LDP-certification program and created a similar program for DVD players. And this time, the plan could take off, if the presence of the Pioneer DV-09 and promised players from Runco, Meridian, and Denon are any indication.

In an odd coincidence, THX invited me to visit their facility in Marin County, California, for a look at the DVD-certification program while I was in the process of reviewing the Pioneer Elite DV-09. My favorable impressions of that machine had begun forming prior to the visit.

Most people associate THX with sound, and with good reason: The DVD program includes 22 audio tests for DVD players. But THX is also heavily involved in picture quality, as witnessed by their LD, DVD, and VHS software certification. The heart of their testing regimen is a special THX test DVD that includes more than 50 test patterns, many of which are multipurpose. This disc—which is available only to THX licensees, not to dealers or consumers—enables participating manufacturers to accurately run dozens of tests on their players.

Evaluations of video frequency response, chroma accuracy, noise, and linearity are only the beginning. As Tony Grimani, Director of Consumer Technologies for THX, whisked through portions of the program using state-of-the-art test gear, my head swam. But there was no mistaking the bottom line: This is a thorough and grueling test, and most of the first- and second-generation DVD players on the market simply don't cut it, even though they might subjectively perform well. Grimani assures me that the tests were designed to focus on characteristics that are visually meaningful. Based on my experience with the Pioneer DV-09, I have no reason to doubt him.—TJN

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