Entre Entertainment Hub and
DV-5900M 400+3 Disc DVD Audio/Video Changer
Kenwood's new Sovereign line represents the company's move towards creating a sophisticated A/V system that will completely change the way you control your audio and home theater. Each Sovereign product is rich in features and when connected to one another, unleashes impressive capabilities. We evaluate two Sovereign products in this review the Kenwood Sovereign Entré Entertainment Hub and the Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400 + 3 Disc DVD Audio/Video Changer. While Kenwood also has an A/V receiver designed to work with these products, we didn't have it as part of this review. However, even without the receiver, these two components performed amazingly well and certainly changed the way we view home entertainment. When the Entré is connected to a DV-5900M DVD/CD changer, it will gather both DVD and CD information, cover art and Disc Title/Track Title information for practically every disc in your collection. In addition, it will organize and display this compiled information so you can find and enjoy your favorite discs with simple remote commands.
Sovereign Entré Entertainment Hub
The Entré communicates with the DV-5900M changer using a standard RS232 cable provided with the unit. During the initial setup, the Entré collected information from both CDs as well as DVDs stored in the changer and then compares the information with the Gracenote CDDB and Open Globe MovieDB databases. Information such as song list, total playing time, ratings, general descriptions, genre, as well as cover art for each disc is downloaded from the sites. However, not all movie discs were recognized by the automatic setup. In fact, about 20 percent of the discs were flagged as "Unknown DVD". Fortunately, using the Options menu for the unknown titles, I was able to get the Open Globe database to find the information. Heck, even the Kenwood Sovereign demo disc was in the database. We were told that many of the discs that have multiple versions (Dolby Digital, DTS, Special Editions, Etc.) cause this problem.
The component video from the DV-5900M CD/DVD changer is passed-through the Entré on its way to the display. The reason for this is the Entré either switches to the DV-5900M video or displays its own video. This is how Kenwood decided to implement the two components in a seamless fashion. The approach works well and because the video switching is capable of passing a high bandwidth signal, we didn't see any video degradation. A Pass-through button on the remote allows the user to switch between the two video sources at any time. This can come in handy if you want to see what the Entré is doing while the DVD/CD changer is actively displaying something.
The size and button placement on the remote for the Entré was logical and easy to follow. The buttons for Music, Movies, and Internet Radio were labeled well. I liked the way the navigation buttons worked, particularly with the many menus this system has.
The Entré is a powerful unit with a lot of built-in features. This component offers a large number of features including the ability to download the latest system software upgrades on demand. In fact, we downloaded the latest software update the night we received the unit from Kenwood. The Entré is basically a powerful computer with a friendly user interface. As with almost all computers, there were a few occasions where we caused the system to freeze and had to initiate a system reboot by holding down the power button on the front panel. This was rather infrequent and was always rectified once the system was reset.
Sovereign DV-5900M DVD Audio/Video
Aside from the massive 403 disc capability, the video processing in the DV-5900M is by far the most attractive attribute of this product. The highly regarded Sage/Faroudja DCDi Deinterlacer and Video Enhancer chips (FLI2200 and FLI2220) are used for the high performance progressive scan outputs. First, the MPEG video is decoded by the Panasonic (Matsushita) MN677521HB chip and then sent to the FLI2200 deinterlacing chip. This high performance deinterlacer uses a 16Mbit SDRAM for storing multiple fields of video for cadence-reading of the 3:2 pulldown sequences. While the implementation is not cheap, the results are stunning, and far better than strictly relying on the sometime erroneous repeat flags stored in the video stream. To further improve video performance, the FLI2220 video enhancer chip is added to the video chain. The back-end audio processing uses the Burr Brown (now TI) PCM1602KY 6-channel 192KHz/24-bit delta-sigma DAC for the six channel outputs. Kenwood actually chose to use the better of the two parts available with this part number. This is an impressive move on Kenwood's part and reflects their commitment to detail in the back-end audio design. The 2-channel mix line outputs use the Burr Brown PCM1748E 96KHz/24-bit DAC.
The rear panel has the standard DVD interfaces that include component, s-video and composite video as well as 5.1 analog outputs for the DVD-Audio and decoded DTS and Dolby Digital bitstreams. All connectors are gold plated to ensure a good, long-term connection. Digital audio is offered in both Toslink and coaxial. Unfortunately, the power cord is not detachable, which would have certainly made it easier to connect in the limited amount of space we had to work with. The changer is quite large, not only in width and height, but in depth as well. I could barely get the huge changer to fit in my custom-made cabinets. Be sure to check dimensions before you decide to put it into an existing cabinet in your system.
The remote for the DV-5900M was painful for me to get used to. I didn't particularly like the layout and I found the buttons to be somewhat non-intuitive. Chapter search buttons were stacked on top of each other rather than being placed left and right. However, the orange colored power button was useful in our dimly lit room.
Many of the new DVD-Audio players currently on the market lack bass management features, which can cause some problems for satellite/sub speaker systems such as ours. The DV-5900M includes bass management for its analog outputs, but we preferred using an outboard unit to handle this due to the rather high crossover frequency (100Hz) used in this unit. We currently have an M&K BMC mini Bass Management Controller that uses the 80 Hz crossover point.
Video performance was excellent on the DV-5900M and the benefits of the Faroudja processing were rather obvious. Scenes from the introduction of Star Trek's Insurrection showed excellent deinterlacing processing. The scene where the children are jumping through the straw looked detailed and the sloped roofs of the structures were free from jagged edges. Color rendition was superb, exemplifying the performance of DVDs such as Toy Story. The unit did take considerable time to change a disc and almost just as long to start playing it once it was selected. On certain discs we could hear the changer humming quite loudly, but it never affected performance in any way. This seemed to occur only in the beginning when the disc is spinning at the highest rate. As long as the unit is in a cabinet, this shouldn't be a problem.
Listening to 5.1 DVD-Audio is a very different experience than standard two channel recordings because so much of the ambiance is created by the mixing engineer. No longer is the music limited to the imaging of the front two channels. These new DVD-Audio discs bring you right into the middle of the music. We had several new discs as part of this review including Fleetwood Mac's Rumors and the Eagles' Hotel California. These are two classic recordings we always enjoy listening to. These 70's recordings sound excellent on DVD-Audio. Even when transferring the old analog tapes to the DVD-Audio format, the highest fidelity is preserved for us end-users. It's simply wonderful. Another great DVD-Audio disc provided to us is a collection of jazz cuts from various movies called "The Bedroom Mixes" - Jazz at the Movies. The brass in this recording is very clean without an edgy side heard in poor recordings. The DV-5900M delivered reference quality sound from this superb audio format. Kenwood engineers did a great job designing this huge DVD/CD changer and the quality of the audio would impress many critics. The internal DTS and Dolby Digital decoders worked perfectly with our demo material.
As movie and music
collections become very large, the need to organize becomes important. The Kenwood
Sovereign Entré both archives music as well as controls your A/V setup
while the DV-5900M provides the massive disc storage needed to complete the system.
Kenwood's Sovereign line integrates complex components and is certainly worth
more than the sum of its parts. As an integrated system, the features are rich
and powerful especially with the connection to the Internet databases. Information
provided by Open Globe and the CDDB sites proved to be very impressive. The system
is geared for the more serious home theater enthusiasts willing to pay for the
luxury of an integrated set of electronics. Even so, the cost is fairly reasonable
for the performance. As with any complex system, there were some glitches we ran
into, but most of them were fairly benign. Kenwood's Sovereign line is a giant
leap forward in providing consumers with a fully integrated audio and home theater
system. The bar for home entertainment has certainly been raised once again.
Latest Information from Kenwood regarding their Sovereign Products
The following information was provided to us by Kenwood's PR rep.
NEW SOFTWARE FOR KENWOOD SOVEREIGN ENTRÉ ENABLES CONTROL OF THREE DVD CHANGERS AND PERMITS CONTROL BY CRESTRON®
Free Online Upgrade For Current Entré Owners; Company Also Announces Technology Upgrade for DVD MegaChangers, Free For Current Owners
LAS VEGAS, January 9, 2003 - Kenwood announced a major software upgrade for the Kenwood Sovereign Entré Entertainment Hub, enabling the Entré to control up to three Kenwood Sovereign 400-disc DVD changers with Rental Zone simultaneously, and, for the first time, allowing devices made by Crestron and other manufacturers to interface with and control the Entré. Kenwood demonstrated the software, including the three changer support feature, here today at the Consumer Electronics Show.
The company also announced a technology upgrade for its 400-disc DVD megachangers and said those who had previously purchased the megachangers would be able to obtain the upgrade free from Kenwood.
Brian Towne, director of product management for Kenwood USA, said the new Version 2.0 software for Entré would be in new products beginning in April and that current Entré owners would automatically be upgraded with the software at no charge when using the Entré's built-in online services capability, powered by OpenGlobe technology.
Towne said the Version 2.0 for Entré also includes changes to the user interface, such as fast, one-button access to media information stored in the Entré. In addition, third-party control devices can now interface with the Entré using either its USB or Home PNA port with an Ethernet adapter.
new features will make Entré and other Kenwood Sovereign components even
more suitable for installations in high-end integrated home systems," said
Towne. "Of particular importance is the addition of three-changer support,
a feature we've had a lot of requests for."
New DVD megachangers shipped in March will incorporate the new improvements, Towne said, and beginning at that time, current owners can receive the technology upgrade to their changers at no cost by contacting Kenwood customer service and shipping the unit to Kenwood's service center.
- Pioneer Elite PRO-610HD 58-inch HD-Ready TV (ISF calibrated)
|Review at a glance|
Kenwood Sovereign - Entré Entertainment Hub |
INTERNET RADIO FEATURES
GRACENOTE CDDB MUSIC RECOGNITION FEATURES
MOVIEDB DVD-VIDEO MOVIE RECOGNITION FEATURES
KENWOOD SOVEREIGN 400-DISC DVD CHANGER CONTROL
KENWOOD SOVEREIGN RECEIVER CONTROL FEATURES
Sovereign Entré Entertainment Hub
Kenwood Sovereign - DV-5900M DVD Audio/Video Changer
DISC PLAYBACK FEATURES
CUSTOM INSTALLATION FEATURES
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