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Pioneer Elite UDP-LX500 4K UHD Blu-ray Player Targets Audiophiles

Pioneer Elite UDP-LX500 UHD Blu-ray Player

Pioneer Elite UDP-LX500 UHD Blu-ray Player


  • Product Name: UDP-LX500
  • Manufacturer: Pioneer
  • Review Date: September 08, 2018 08:00
  • MSRP: $1,099
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Ultra HD Blu-ray Playback
  • Three-Block Internal Layout (Power Supply, Drive/Digital Processing, Analog Audio)
  • 6-Layered Main Circuit Board for High S/N Ratio
  • PQLS Jitter-less Sound Transmission
  • Power Requirements: AC 120 V, 60 Hz
  • Power Consumption: 28 W
  • Power Consumption During Standby: 0.4 W (Full)/1.2 W (Network Standby On)
  • Dimensions (W X H x D): 17-1/8 x 4-5/8 x 13-1/4 inches (435 x 118 x 337 mm)
  • Weight: 22.7 lbs. (10.3 kg)


When Oppo Digital announced its departure from the Blu-ray player business in April of this year, a huge question mark hung in the air. Who could step up and fill the void in the marketplace? Cambridge Audio would steer the would-be Oppo buyer to its CXUHD 4K universal disc player, which offers great performance at its $700 price point. But the CXUHD is a transport only, so it has no internal digital-to-analog converter. For audiophiles, one of the biggest draws of Oppo’s UDP-205 was that player’s superb DAC section, based on the flagship ES9038 Pro Sabre chip from ESS. Panasonic’s latest contender, the DP-UB9000, seems to have a lot to recommend it, but it’s not currently available in the United States, and doesn’t offer SACD playback. Now Pioneer has thrown its hat into the ring with the company’s first 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the Pioneer Elite UDP-LX500. Introduced at the recent CEDIA Expo in San Diego, the UDP-LX500 will sell for $1,099 and is expected to ship in October.

For the Audiophile

Like the discontinued Oppo players, Pioneer’s UDP-LX500 plays SACD and DVD-Audio discs, in addition to 4K UHD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, and CD, so audiophiles and videophiles alike should be satisfied. Also like the latest Oppo players, the new Pioneer has done away with built-in video streaming apps such as Netflix and Hulu (most people tend to access those services through their smart TVs, or via a separate streaming box from Roku, Apple, or Amazon). Instead, Pioneer has focused purely on AV performance. To boost audio performance, the UDP-LX500’s features an ultra-rigid chassis with individual blocks for the power supply and the analog audio circuitry, as well as a separate block for the disc drive and digital processing circuitry. This arrangement reduces electrical and magnetic interference, while the robust vibration-reducing construction of the chassis works with the rigid disc drive to ensure optimal disc reading. The chassis features 1.6mm-thick panels, reinforced by a 3mm-thick steel baseplate. When being used to play music via the stereo analog outputs, the UDP-LX500 can bypass its internal digital AV circuitry in order to maintain a pure audio signal. And when used in conjunction with a compatible Pioneer AV receiver, the player uses Pioneer’s proprietary Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS) to eliminate jitter-related distortion, resulting in more accurate digital-to-analog conversion. The player also features a Zero Signal Terminal connection, which connects to any unused audio or video RCA input jack on an AV receiver or processor. The Zero Signal connection aligns the reference ground level between the devices, providing “precise and high-quality signal transmission,” according to Pioneer. The UDP-LX500’s six-layer main circuit board reduces digital noise and minimizes ground impedance, yielding a higher signal-to-noise ratio for both audio and video signals.

For the Videophile

On the video side of things, Pioneer’s new 4K player supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR (but not HDR10+). The player also offers SDR/HDR (standard dynamic range, high dynamic range) preset modes, which allow the user to optimize video performance for both SDR and HDR sources. The player senses whether SDR or HDR video content is being played, and automatically selects the appropriate setting. These settings are pre-calibrated for different display types; the user simply selects from a list of options, including LCD TV, OLED TV, and Projector. The UDP-LX500’s dual HDMI outputs allow the player to send video directly to a TV or projector, while simultaneously sending an audio-only signal to older AV receivers and processors that can’t pass through 4K HDR video signals. Videophiles will appreciate that the player’s on-screen display shows mastering information (when available), including Maximum Frame Average Light Level (MaxFALL) and Maximum Content Light Level (MaxCLL). Finally, the player’s RS-232c and Ethernet ports allow for integration with home-control systems, such as those from Control4 and Crestron.

Carrying the Torch for Oppo?

So, does the Pioneer Elite UDP-LX500 have everything it needs to replace Oppo’s UDP-205? Not quite. The Oppo player works with the multi-room audio ecosystem Roon, which is a favorite among audiophiles. The Pioneer offers no multi-room audio capabilities. And while the UDP-LX500 does play high resolution audio files from USB-connected drives, it cannot accept a USB audio signal from a computer or music server, as the Oppo can. The Oppo also decodes and renders MQA files, and features 7.1-channel audio outputs (using a second ESS 9038 dac) — both features that the Pioneer lacks. The Oppo sports balanced stereo analog outputs, and an HDMI input which allows the user to take advantage of the player’s superb video processing when using a secondary video source, such as a cable box or digital media streamer. Frankly, the Oppo just offers an incredible amount of functionality, and it won’t be easy for Pioneer or any other company to step in and fill those shoes. But depending on your needs, the Pioneer Elite UDP-LX500 certainly looks to be a worthy competitor. Will Pioneer’s first 4K Blu-ray player earn a spot in your system? Share your thoughts in the related forum thread below. 

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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