Launched in March 1997 in Tokyo, Japan, the DVP-S7000 began to hit UK shores six months or so later and was one of the most prestigious and exciting of first generation DVD players. As ever with Sony’s ‘first’ ever product – CDP-101 CD player, TCD-D3 DAT player, etc. – it was crazily over engineered. One look inside and you’ll wonder why most high end hi-fi disc players suddenly seem so meanly specified and badly made!
Capable of playing back CDs, Video CDs (ver. 2.0) and DVD video software, it drew on Sony’s extensive experience of optical disc players, and had bespoke optical pickup, semiconductor, and video compression technologies to deliver (at the time) very high quality sound and vision. The 110,000 yen machine – £700, although it sold for considerably more than this in the UK – was built in Japan at a rate of 5,000 units per month, and was initially offered in titanium grey and gold, although a black finish was later provided.
The DVP-S7000 featured Sony’s own ‘dual-discrete optical pickup’ which used a 780nm laser diode and a 650nm laser diode in one assembly, for CD playback and DVD playback respectively. The player featured ’tilt servo control’ which detected the incident angle of the laser beam and forced it to stay perpendicular to the disc. This improved the overall data read integrity for better video and audio performance. Its ‘Digital RF Processing LSI’ was said to digitally measure the jitter value of the disc and adjust the optics to minimise it. An ‘ultra-fast’ 32-bit RISC microprocessor gave smooth scanning in high-speed, slow motion, or frame-by-frame mode.
At the time, the video performance was exceptional, but what really interests us is the audio side. At the time, it was good, with a solid bass, smooth midband and crisp, detailed treble. The player is perfectly able to function as a decent hi-fi CD player, although it’s no replacement to a high end design. The point is though that it’s now available for just £50 or so on eBay. It’s staggering how the value of DVD players has dropped, and so if you’re looking for a good optical disc transport they’re brilliant value. This is made even more apparent by this Sony’s excellent build quality, right down to its copper chassis and back panel. Weighing 7kg and measuring 430x111x395mm it is a solid thing, but the specs don’t convey how superlatively well finished it is, including a gorgeous brushed aluminium fascia complete with slick motorised front access panel.
Sadly, although the DVD format was (and is) capable of 24-bit, 96kHz output, the Sony is only able to output 24-bit, 48kHz through its single optical digital output (although it can play 24/96 internally). Shortly after its launch, several companies introduced (expensive) mods to bypass this, but most machines are not thus equipped. So, buy the DVP-S7000ES as a good quality CD player or CD transport, but don’t expect it to do much more. A great machine, this fine music maker is a staggeringly good DVD spinner via its SCART outputs – but if only it had HDMI!