Martin Scorsese's new masterpiece The Aviator [Warner Bros.] was a joy to watch at the local cineplex not for its audio playback (which my reference system could easily best), but for its story. After viewing the movie in the cineplex, I desperately craved to audition the sound quality of the DVD on my reference system. Well, I got what I asked for, because this DVD is definitely at the top of my list of new and exciting reference DVD titles. In scene after scene, different aircraft were sonic treats not only to my eyes but also to my ears. I particularly liked the scene titled "Time Trials," where a wealth of sonic goodness laced the soundtrack. The test aircraft flew back and forth over the runway, with each pass building more speed and increasing in loudness—a suitable test of dynamics. At one point in this scene the plane felt as if it flew at the screen and right through my listening position, because I could hear it first in front of me, then right next to me and finally behind me leaving a churning vortex of air in its wake. The sound panning is top-notch with the tonality of the surround channels remaining consistent as the plane passes from front to rear. The realism of the sputtering engine is a sonic treat with guttural- and lowbass harmonics whose character is stunningly realistic. Other entry-level DVD players could probably do a decent job with this scene just as loud, but when it comes to playing loud passages realistically without distortion (or loss of detail), it's hard to beat the Pioneer. Dialogue-intensive scenes were clear, intelligible, and free of timbral colorations.
When all is said and done, you'll be hard pressed to find an entry-level universal player that offers better performance in this price range. A puff piece this is not. The Pioneer DV588AS simply stunned me, with video that is downright good and audio playback that will have you immersed in natural sound. The Pioneer DV588A-S universal player is such a good performer, it's going in my secondary system in the bedroom.