Panasonic Shows Off Its New Flagship DP-UB9000 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Panasonic first announced its forthcoming flagship DP-UB9000 Ultra HD Blu-ray player at the company’s annual Panacon product launch event in February. That announcement may not have made huge headlines at the time, but it gained more significance in April when Oppo Digital announced its departure from the disc-spinner business, which it had all but dominated in recent years. Would Panasonic’s new player be able to fill Oppo’s high-performance shoes? It looks like the answer to that question will depend on what kind of discs you like to spin.
At the recent EISA (European Imaging and Sound Association) convention in Antwerp, Belgium, Panasonic showed off the new DP-UB9000, which is scheduled to arrive in Europe this October for around €1,000 (US pricing and availability have not been announced). In what will certainly be a disappointment to some audiophiles, the company said that the chipset in the DP-UB9000 does not support the playback of SACD and DVD Audio discs, and the player is not expected to receive MQA capabilities. These limitations place the new Panasonic flagship beneath the do-it-all Oppo players when it comes to audio features, but the DP-UB9000 isn’t completely devoid of audiophile bona fides. It employs a 32-bit AK4493 dac chip, and will handle high-resolution audio files, including DSD. In addition to the 7.1-channel analog outs, the DP-UB9000 will offer a dedicated two-channel output via both unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR connections. A second (audio-only) HDMI output offers a significant reduction in jitter noise for users who choose to send a digital audio signal downstream to a receiver or surround processor. Finally, the DP-UB9000 has a separate dedicated power supply for the player’s audio circuitry.
Unlike the most recent players from Oppo, the DP-UB9000 features built-in streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, which will allow the player to serve up 4K content on demand. When a physical disc is spinning, Panasonic says the new player’s rigid, two-layer chassis will keep vibration and noise to a minimum. The centrally-mounted disc drive is affixed to the chassis via a thick steel plate, to further reduce noise. On the video side of things, the DP-UB9000 promises to be a real contender. The THX-certified Panasonic will support both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, and its second-generation HCX (Hollywood Cinema Experience) processing engine will perform chroma upsampling and a proprietary HDR-optimization process. According to Panasonic, the HDR Optimiser takes into account the brightness limitations of your display in order to improve static tone-mapping in an HDR10 picture. During initial setup, you select the (approximate) maximum brightness of your TV or projector. The HDR Optimiser uses this information to perform internal tone mapping when an HDR10 signal is detected, reducing the processing burden on your display. When dynamic HDR metadata is detected (from Dolby Vision and HDR10+ content), the HDR Optimiser is automatically disabled. This innovative HDR Optimiser will also appear on Panasonic’s less expensive DP-UB820 model, which will be released in the United States this summer with an MSRP of $499.
The Panasonic DP-UB9000 Ultra HD Blu-ray player may not have all of the audio capabilities of Oppo’s UDP-205, but its video performance should make it a hit with home theater enthusiasts. Will Panasonic become the new king of high-performance Blu-ray players, or will a rival such as Pioneer, Sony, or Cambridge Audio ultimately inherit the crown? Share your thoughts in the related forum thread below.
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I must tell you among all of my numerous advanced technology bleeding edge Beta testing and product development support that I've been honored to participate in, my relationship with Panasonic is one of the best business experiences I've enjoyed in my career.
DTV TiVo Dealer, post: 1285509, member: 10091
Let the really big games begin!
Pioneer call it a universal player but it won't even play the DVD Audio discs.