At first glance, it’s difficult to tell Panasonic’s DMP-BD55 apart from its cheaper cousin, the DMP-BD35. It uses the same, high-quality picture processor, Panasonic’s PHL Reference Chrome Processor Plus; it can also bitstream and decode all high-definition audio formats, including DTS-HD Master Audio.
Like the entry-level ’BD35, this player is also Blu-ray Profile 2.0, DivX and x.v.Colour compatible. So why does it cost more?
The extra outlay gets you upgraded audio parts, including new capacitors, a new 192kHz/24bit DAC and a couple of tweaks to the HDMI output to help reduce jitter. It’s also insulated to help keep vibrations to a minimum.
Unlike the cheaper model, the ’BD55 also has a set of seven-channel analogue outputs. Should you use them, the player’s uncomplicated onscreen menus allow you to alter all the relevant setting such as speaker size, levels and distances.
And the audio changes reap instant rewards. There’s a noticeable increase in bass heft – the ’BD55 has great depth, and action scenes from DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are delivered with a sense of scale and authority.
Punches sound genuinely painful, and DolbyTrueHD offerings have the same character too – for example, the epic ding-dong between Megatron and Optimus Prime in Transformers is a floor-shaking event.
Great image quality
Picture quality is top-notch too. Blu-ray images look clean and unblemished, and there’s superb detail and solid edge definition, particularly when it comes to breathtaking CGI.
The ’BD55 is also an excellent DVD player. It does a great job extracting fine detail from the transfer of Iron Man. The desert landscapes that serve as a backdrop for Tony Stark’s capture show excellent clarity and definition, especially where the rocky outcrops are concerned.
In fact, there isn’t one area of performance where the player is found wanting – it’s a fantastic all-rounder.