Review: Denon DVD-A1UDCI Universal Player

Denon DVD-A1UDCI Universal Blu-ray Player

Denon DVD-A1UDCI Universal Blu-ray Player

This dream machine plays every disc format know to man, but it's not cheap.

Oct. 28, 2009 — by

I love reviewing flagship products. It’s a chance to play with some of the very best equipment this industry has to offer.

Denon’s DVD-A1UDCI Universal Blu-ray Player is a dream machine that plays every existing disc format known to man, sans HD DVD. If you want a reference player that will handle all of your DVDs, Blu-rays, DVD-A and SACDs, you’ve come to the right place.

But it’s not cheap to own this player. So what does $4,500 buy you over, say, a $500 Oppo player?


The DVD-A1UDCI is one of those kitchen sink products. It basically has every latest feature on-board you’d expect from a flagship Blu-ray player, but no support for streaming services such as Netflix or Pandora. This was a huge oversight, and Denon has no foreseeable upgrade path for users in the future.  If sub-$300 LG and Samsung players can do this, why can’t a $4,500 player from Denon?

Although BD-Live is supported on this player, it doesn’t have the built-in memory required to use it. You must purchase an SD card and insert it at the front of the player.

So far we have a few strikes against this player in the features department, but just wait, redemption is on the way. The DVD-A1UDCI is designed with a heavy emphasis in high fidelity playback, but it also treats video with equal favor. Here are some of the key features of the DVD-A1UDCI:

  • BD, AVCHD, DVD-Audio/Video, SACD, CD, HDCD, DVD-R/RW, CD-R/RW, Divx, WMA, MP3, jpeg, gif, Kodak and Fuji compatibility
  • True SACD Native Output via HDMI or DL 4th
  • Fully Balanced Digital Output via DL
  • Fully Balanced Analog output via XLRs
  • 7.1 Analog outputs
  • All New AL32 Processing with 32-bit DACs for best possible audio reproduction
  • New DDSC-HD, decodes all Dolby and dts formats – even adds PLIIx and Neo:6
  • Dual, simultaneously active HDMI outputs capable of 1080p resolution and multi-channel audio
  • Vertical Stretch Mode for 2:35 to 1 Movies
  • 1080p/24 Scaling for SD material
  • Digital Noise Reduction & Enhancement

Basically if you’re running this player into an analog-only preamp via the 7.1 analog audio outputs, it can do all of the high resolution audio decoding and post processing you would ever need. We measured the analog section of this player, and it’s absolutely pristine. And the bass management is the most precise and feature-laden we’ve seen in any DVD or BD player, rivaling some flagship A/V receivers.

Design Overview

Leave it to Denon to come out with a Blu-ray player that outweighs many flagship A/V receivers. There are many reasons for this, including over-engineering, no-holds-barred construction and the fact that it has to be heavy to be considered high end.

Some of the design attributes of the DVD-A1UDCI that separate it from its competition include:

  • Direct Mechanical Ground Construction
  • Heavy duty drive Mechanism (weighs over 5lbs)
  • Multi-layer Chassis Construction
  • Separated Unit Structure

Denon placed the drive mechanism low in the chassis to lower the center of gravity and reduce external vibration influences. The top cover and side panels use “Bulk Mold Compound” that is said to be heavy in mass and reduces external mechanical vibrations. The bottom panel is triple-layered steel. This gives the player a bulletproof feel to it and Denon claims these design measures help to suppress internal & external vibrations and electromagnetic noises from affecting playback.

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Review: Denon DVD-A1UDCI Universal Blu-ray Player

Performance: 5 out of 5

Value: 2.5 out of 5

Price: $4,500


  • Phenomenal picture and sound quality
  • Superb build quality
  • Makes for a perfect combo with Denon Separates
  • High-end appeal


  • No audio/video streaming support for Netflix, Pandora, etc.
  • Very complex to set up
  • Excessive load times on some Blu-ray discs
  • Uber expensive

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