Most helpful positive review
169 of 188 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2012
The dmp-bdt500 is Panasonic's answer to the audiophile's desire to have a machine that offers superb video AND audio playback--they have succeeded. The highlights of this machine are the four Burr-Brown 192kHz/32-bit DAC's, 7.1 channel analog output, higher end capacitors and a more robust construction. I will express my opinion(s) about the design, engineering and performance. This machine is a Blu-ray player (and dvds of course), a cd player and is has built-in Wi-Fi for streaming movies, music and such. Therefore, it has the potential of being a 'one stop' solution for all of our home media needs and desires. And hopefully, it will have the ability to satiate the needs of the audiophile without sacrificing performance for the sake of convenience.
This machine is handsome, if not understated. It is sleek without being tiny. It is elegant--not ostentatious. It 'hits the mark' without trying too hard. Panasonic, though a quality brand, has not always had the prettiest components. For many years (of late) I found myself scratching my head at the eccentricities of some of Panasonic's designs. There were weird, translucent stripes buried within the skin(s) of their televisions and disc players. Panny's had conservative looking shapes in a market rife with "pretty" electronic sculptures, and digital displays that featured antiquated sticks rather than the more aesthetically pleasing dot matrix variety. For these reasons, I am very impressed with the design of the dmp-bdt500. The deck is a well built machine with a mirrored facade; the bottom third of the front facade fades from a mirror to a nice brushed silver finish. The "Panasonic" logo is centered onto the mirrored section of the faceplate. The top of the machine is sort of blackish, with four touch-sensitive buttons and a brushed appearance. The brushed look gives the machine a feeling of cohesion (with the faceplate) and will serve to obscure any future scratches. Another welcome design feature is the bright metal feet--they look elegant, but also serve to stabilize the deck. These circular feet are the best I've ever seen on a Panasonic disc player.
My critique of the design has to do with the look of the player once the faceplate drops down to reveal the disc tray. The look of the front panel is dull in comparison to the mirrored faceplate. It is a sort of washed out black color which does not seem to gel appropriately with the aesthetic of such a high-end machine. Keep in mind--this is Panasonic's highest end offering--her flagship deck. It is not terrible though...just nearly so. But, once the disc tray closes and the faceplate swings back into place, it is like a so-so looking wife who transforms into gorgeousity (ok...so it is not a word) once her face is painted. The player is pretty though, but not perfect because of the previously mentioned reasons. But, it will not look out of place in the company of higher end components--it's a classy deck.
I am not an engineer--or a scientist (this is why I am so charming). However, spec-wise this player is a tremendous value. In order to get Burr-Brown 192kHz/32-bit DAC's into a disc player, the consumer usually has to spend about a thousand bucks or more (do the research if you are inclined to disagree). The dmp-bdt500 also has 7.1 channel analog output, high end capacitors, gold plated terminals (a gimmick as far as I am concerned), and nice, stabilizing feet. The construction of the deck is hefty and substantial. The touch sensitive buttons are also a nice addition to this player (although many BD players have this these days). Just by looking at the spec sheet, it should be evident that this is Panasonic's best offering yet. On paper, it is the best deck Panasonic has ever built...and it is only $350 (or less). Value-wise, this player is simply untouchable, one would have to spend three times the amount to get the same "stuff".
But how does she play? I am here to tell you...she plays like buttuh.....this deck is n-i-i-i-i-c-e. Although music is most important to me, I popped in a Blu-ray. Since I really dig classic movies on Blu-ray, I played Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief". This disc is already great looking, but I have never seen it look like this. Wow...it is evident that, although most BD players look excellent, it IS possible to bring it up a notch. This is just an arbitrary rating with no basis in objective metrics, but I have a really good eye, and I will say with confidence that this player will make your Blu-rays look about 20% better; remember, all Blu-ray players look "good", so this is really sayin' something. I then popped in "North By Northwest"----stunning. "The Ten Commandments" looks so good, it got me reading my Bible again. So, I will say that videophiles will love this machine.
I l-o-o-o-v-e music. The cd playback is the most important aspect to my satisfaction with this deck. My taste is eclectic. I love reggae/ska, classical (Bach fanatic), punk rock and have a lot of new wave cds (hey...I'm in my thirties man). This player plays everything good. With reggae the sound is tight with fast base (not too fast though); there is nice punch to the base. The sound is smooth, but dynamic. Dynamic range is very important to the audiophile...this aint no 'run of the mill' dvd player here, this deck is good...really good. All of Bach's cello suites sound fantastic--good enough for any audio snob. This player has very good punch and attack (the leading edges of notes). I have B &W speakers and a good, clean HK amp, so I am able to extract the goodness from this player. I tested the dynamic range (which rates at a respectable 105db) of this deck by playing "Seed" by Sublime, "Beverly Hills" by Weezer and "Darkness" by Black Uhuru. She is dynamic. As you may know, the biggest appeal of SACD's is the dynamic range. Although this deck does not play SACD's, she is good and dynamic. Highs are top notch, mids are tight and composed and the base is deep and punchy. The sound is neat and dynamic...not sloppy at all. Classical will sound classy, punk will sound, uh, punk-y, reggae will sound exceptionally IRIE and and you will certainly be able to 'rock out' with any hard rock stuff you choose to play--as long as you have good speakers and a good, clean amp or receiver. For a $350 (or less) deck, you will not be able to do better with movies and music--period. You will find yourself breaking out all of your favorite cds. If you are reading this, you probably know that you should use analog cables to listen to cds...just checkin'...all the kids now are listening to compressed music--I only do that on the go.
How does she stream...is the wi-fi any good? I recently upgraded from the Panasonic dmp-bdt320. This player (the 500) is better with movies and MUCH better with cds. But, she broke my heart a bit with the wi-fi. I really like to listen to Pandora. This player sounds great with Pandora, especially when you activate "high clarity sound" and have it in "digital tube" mode (number 5...you'll see). Pandora (or other digital files) will sound like nectar if you use the previously mentioned enhancements. Just make sure you use no sound enhancements when you are listening to cds via analog inputs. I always make sure sound enhancements are turned off when I listen to cds--it makes a huge difference...just let the sweet Burr-Brown DAC's do their thing.
The wi-fi on the 320 is better than the wi-fi on the 500. This player is more inconsistent with wi-fi, especially Pandora. After a few songs, I keep getting an Error message "-6". It just bugs me. I do not have the patience to dance around with some Panasonic customer service rep on the phone! The 320 streamed Pandora for hours without issues. Perhaps it has to do with the placement of the wi-fi unit inside of the component itself--I don't know. But, the fidelity of the Blu-ray and CD playback is good enough to temper my aggravation with the quirky wi-fi in the 500. I guess you cannot have it all for $350.
Video Score: 10/10
CD Playback Score: 10/10
Wi-Fi Score: 5/10
If CD playback is very important to you, this player will please you. If a top-notch Blu-ray image is what you are after, buy this deck. If you want a fantastic wi-fi streamer, and do not care about CD playback as much (some do not) then the dmp-bdt320 is all you will need. It has a fantastic Blu-ray image and is a very good wi-fi player..cd playback is just adequate--not audiophile caliber, because the dynamic range is not as good as the 500. But, if you want an audiophile caliber CD player, a videophile caliber Blu-ray player and do not care about wi-fi as much, the dmp-bdt500 will 'blow your hair back". You can always get a separate unit for wi-fi and many people have it built into their tvs. For the low price, the audiophile on a budget could do no better, especially if s/he does not have a SACD collection and does not want to start one.