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Jan112010

Sony BDP-CX960 400 Disc Blu-ray Disc / DVD MegaChanger Listener Review by Dennis Comfort

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Here's a short review that I've thrown together on the BDP-CX960 Blu-ray changer by Sony.   I recently bought this to replace my existing BDP-550 Blu-ray (single disk) player.  I have been very happy with the 550 (as of now, it's the only Sony Blu-ray player that will output in 6 channel analog audio), but as my collection of movies has grown, I was becoming interested in a changer.  I own 3 Sony DVP-CS777EX changers (400 DVDs/CDs, SACDs) connected to an Escient DVDM-100 movie server, but I really wanted something to handle Blu-ray.



Sony makes two Blu-ray changers; the CX960 that I own, and the higher end (and price) BDP-CX7000ES changer.  Both players will support up to 400 Blu-ray disks (and/or CDs or DVDs), but the EX model is priced more than 2X of the CX model.  For the additional price, you get a 5 year warranty (as is with all ES products from Sony), the ability to string multiple changers together or control them from an external source (I'm guessing that one of the days, Escient will figure this out), and a few other features that I won't go in to.   There is a more detail comparison between the two at http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SYCompareProducts.  Frankly, I don't own 400 Blu-ray movies (yet), and when i do, i can buy (at least) two for the price of one ES changer and deal with those issues.  For now, I'm very happy with the 960.

I've included a few pictures of the unit.  I've also included shots of the user interface, something that I was particularly interested in prior to purchasing the unit.  As you can see from the shots, the UI is very PS3-ish as are the other new Sony Blu-ray players.   That's fine, and that UI works fine for what we tend to do with these players.


The player sports a "quick start mode" so that when i start it up (via my Harmony One remote which controls my whole theater), it is seconds before it's ready to show me my catalog of movies.  No complaints on start up time.   Loading movies is a breeze by opening the door, and then placing the movies in vertically.   There is a "load" feature that forces the player to access the Gracenote database for movie metadata including title, cover art, director, actors, release dates, genres, and a host of other items.   I've loaded 148 movies in mine so far, and of those 148 movies, it only failed to "find" 3 of them on Gracenote, and those were clearly due to the fact that they were either extra disks in a movie pack, or an obscure movie such as a  concert or music video.  All in all, I had to make very few updates / corrections in my catalog.

Once the movies are loaded, the are initially listed by slot number in the catalog, but you can opt to sort / group them other ways.  i typically group mine by genre as shown below:

When you return to the list of genres, it shows each genre along with the number of movies / genre.  You can rename or create genres to suit your needs, by the way.



The one thing I did spend a little time doing was updating the genres.   I suspect that this is simply an issue with inconsistencies in the Gracenote database, but several times it would mix and match the same movie and it's sequels in "action" versus "adventure".   i went through all my films and put them in the genres that I felt were most accurate.   The dialog to change genres is shown below:

I've also included a few screen shots of the menus to adjust the audio and video parameters.  One thing I did immediately was to set my audio output to Dolby Digital, SOLELY that I could see the words DOLBY HD and/or DTS Master HD show up on the display of my Onkyo prepro.  I think I heard Ara say a similar thing on a recent Podcast; i chuckled when I heard that because I too did it just to see the word.  Hey, the way I look at it is i spent all this money to get these new audio formats and play this fancy movie formats; I sure as heck want people to see that I did; at least I want to see it :-)



One thing that I've loved in the process of upgrading to a prepro which supports HDMI and having HDMI devices is greatly reducing the clutter of cables.  It's quite nice to have TWO cables coming out of the back of this unit; the RJ45 network cable, and the HDMI cable.   What a treat compared to my 3 777ES changers that EACH have a component cable (so, red, green, blue), a digital coax cable, an RS232 cable, and a mini-phone trigger cable, all so that I can get audio, video, and control each changer from the Escient.  One of these days I'll write another email and send you before/after pictures of my wiring closet to show how much my cable mess has been simplified.

So, how does this player look and sound via the Onkyo?  FANTASTIC!   I'm thrilled.  I was thrilled using my single disk 550, but it's so nice to just fire up the changer and pick a movie.  I have kept my Escient system for standard DVDs (there's still about 300 slots free between the 3 changers), and I'm dedicating the 960 to Blu-ray movies (and audio) only.  But I am very thrilled with it.

What don't I like about it?  Well, there is one feature I'd like to see Sony add (and i'm betting it'll come in the form of a new changer to obsolete this one in no time), and one thing I'd like changed.   The new feature i'd like is the ability for these changers to play SACD and multi-channel SACD audio disks.  The 777ES does this and Sony just announced at CES a few new players that do it; but so far, their Blu-ray changers to not.  Will I get rid of this one and rush out to buy the "newest" model when they announce it?  Not likely, since I just bought an Oppo DV-981HD DVD/CD player so that I can play my DVD-Audio and SACD audio disks (via HDMI, even).  But I wish they had included it.

As for the change, the ONE thing that does annoy me is the fact that when i put in a new disk, the changer decides to play it immediately.  I don't WANT to do that most of the time, so I usually stop the playback, then push the "load" button on the remote which forces the changer to hit the Gracenote database for the metadata.   I've searched the menus and I cannot find any option to override this.   So, either it's pilot error, or I need to write to Sony and beg for a change (yeah, I know, THAT's not gonna happen, but I can hope).

But other than that, I love the unit.   It retails for $799, although Amazon typically sells it for around $569.  I was about to buy one via the HTGuys store, but I stumbled upon an unopened box on eBay for $490, local sale, no tax, no shipping, no Paypal fees, so I jumped at that chance.  But even at $569, this is a bargain, in my opinion.  IF one owns a bunch of Blu-ray movies.

I guess the other thing that would be nice, but not necessary since I can use my Xbox 360 for this, would be Netflix streaming.  Again, Sony recently announced that too at CES on some of their new players, but as of today, the changers don't support it.

The Sony remote also has a small (1.5" or so) hidden slider that slides down from the bottom of the remote to expose buttons to "load" movie data, adjust the dimmer on the display, and open the "rental" slot.

Oh yeah, i forgot about the rental slot.  Slot #1 is designated as the rental slot, and ALL that means is that if you press this rental button, it will rotate the changer to slot #1 so that you can toss in your Netflix (or whatever) Blu-ray rental disk and watch that, rather than find a free slot.  There is no other difference between that slot and the rest.   As such, you can use that slot as a "normal slot" if you wish, but I have chosen to keep mine empty except for rental movies.

So guys, there ya have it - an amateur product review on the Sony BDP-CX960 Blu-ray changer.  It does support BD LIve if you insert a USB stick in the back, but I haven't done that yet as I seldom use BD Live and probably won't until Sony demonstrates that there is content there worth downloading.

 

Reader Comments (3)

How is the noise when cycling through your dics and during loads? Is it pretty quiet?

January 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

It's very quiet. i can't even barely hear it. My 777's are quite a bit louder, but this is really quiet. Great unit.

January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDennis

Hey Dennis,

Thanks for the review. I'm wondering two things about the changers interface.

First, can the movies have multiple genres associated with them? For Example, my daughters favorite movie is Pixar's Monsters, Inc. and I would set the genre for this movie something like "Animated, Comedy, Family". Also, if you can attach multiple genres, does the changer correctly split them up and list the movie in each (ie if I choose to sort by genre, I shouldn't see "Animated, Comedy, Family" as one listing but as 3 different listing and under each Monsters, Inc should appear.)

Second, I know you can change some of the data it gets from Gracenote if you don't like what it loads but I'm assuming you can't change the cover art? Also, in the screenshots you show, the cover art always shows up as small sized, is there any views for seeing big cover art (like Apple's Coverflow)?

Thanks.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill

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