Denon DVD-1940 review

Denon’s player offers wide compatibility as well as a reasonable scaler

TechRadar Verdict

Despite some noisy pictures, this is a competent and likeable player


  • +

    Relatively tidy scaling up to 1080p

  • +

    strong SD images too


  • -

    Stereo playback doesn’t quite match the Cambridge

  • -

    some jagged lines caused by scaling

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

This is a step-up DVD deck for Denon, a company that already has an enviable reputation for high video processing, so this should be the player to watch.

The DVD-1940 does indeed have a more expensive video chip inside than the entry-level DVD-1740, not to mention DVD-Audio and SACD playback, but the machine itself is a lightweight when compared to some of the competition, and it can't claim the same build quality.

Dull design

Boringly, Denon never changes the design of its separates much. The face-plate is functional and sedate, with a crisp display and a neat symmetrical layout.

The array of logos on the front is reassuring too, including a new legend, DivX Ultra, indicating it can read enhanced DivX features like subtitles and menus.

Noisy images

With both component video and HDMI outputs at the back, the DVD-1940 can deliver deinterlaced standard-def and upscaled hi-def respectively.

The SD feed provides a steady, noise-free image to my reference Optoma projector. As you'd expect with standard-def sources, the image tends to lose detail, like the lines on actors' faces being lost.

Switching to HDMI and increasing the output to 720p results in a modest improvement in detail. The player only just scrapes through our jaggies test.

Some breakup occurs as the processor struggles to keep up with the sweeping image, but not enough to fail totally.

Good motion handling

Cranking up to 1080p is a bigger challenge, but the Denon again passes, delivering fairly smooth motion with few hiccups.

Noticeable on the Optoma's projected image is how detail at the back of the room in each scene appears to be more focused, rather than the soft mush of the unscaled feed.

It's still obvious that this isn't real high-definition, but there is a subtle improvement at the highest output resolution. The more expensive Denon scaler clearly works.

Strong SACD playback

Sonically, the player is variable. The basic analogue stereo output is unimpressive on its own, sounding less expansive than that on some of the competition.

But its DVD-Audio and SACD performance, using the analogue multichannel outputs, is much more entertaining. Likewise, the surround soundtrack on Sunshine sounds similarly open.

This is not Denon's most musical player, but it handles SD video well and more importantly, its 720p and 1080p output bring modest improvements to the picture quality.

On this model we rate the scaler as not just another cynical selling point.

The TechRadar hive mind. The Megazord. The Voltron. When our powers combine, we become 'TECHRADAR TEAM'. You'll usually see this author name when the entire team has collaborated on a project or an article, whether that's a run-down ranking of our favorite Marvel films, or a round-up of all the coolest things we've collectively seen at annual tech shows like CES and MWC. We are one.