Yamaha’s range of DVD decks may not explore the depths of pricing like some (this is the lowest-specified model and it still costs £130), but it has an aura of quality that is confirmed when you take a careful look at the spec sheet.
Topping the bill is a comprehensive set of connections, with component video outputs rubbing shoulders with an RGB Scart and S-video socket. The component outs deliver PAL and NTSC progressive scan signals, offering greatly enhanced picture quality for those with a prog scan-capable TV.
Digital audio outputs come in both optical and electrical varieties, so you will be able to hook up to your amp without any problems.
This deck does not handle DVD-Audio or SACD discs, but just about everything else is on the menu, including dual-layer DVD+R discs. You can even play JPEG and MP3 files at the same time, giving your photos a nice musical accompaniment.
DiVX playback is becoming a common feature on new DVD decks, and the Yamaha also offers official registration, so you can download and play video-on-demand files, which greatly increases the range of material available.
CD upsampling uses digital signal processing to boost the sampling rate on an ordinary CD from the standard 44.1kHz to 88.2kHz or 176.4kHz, which should put a bit of extra life into your CD collection.
The design of the deck is verging on the retro, with sharp corners instead of the now common smoothed edges, and ease of use is hampered by a poorly translated manual, but that’s about all that can be fairly criticised.
When fired up, the DVD-S557 delivers a wonderful image via its component video outputs and the RGB Scart does a consummate job for those without a prog scan TV. There is a high level of detail and the deck also handles some tricky test sequences (featuring murky shadows) with ease.
Audio performance is excellent as well. We tested this deck in harness with a brand new Yamaha DSP-AX757 receiver and the two might have been made for each other.
Both movie soundtracks and CD performance impressed - that makes it an even bigger oversight that this deck won’t play DVD-Audio discs!
There's no denying that Yamaha's new DVD player is a wonderful deck. It excels at both picture and sound delivery and deserves to be partnered with similarly accomplished components.
Yes, it's a touch more expensive in comparison to today's ultra-budget offerings and there's at least one Pioneer deck in the same price range offering playback of the missing formats, but to be honest both DVD-Audio and SACD look set to flop so it's not a complete disaster that they're missing, just strange. Also, the range of connections and generous feature count should mean that the DVD-S557 answers most questions for most people.