CAN IM­PRES­SIVE SOUND & VI­SION MAKE PANA­SONIC’S DP-UB9000 FLAG­SHIP UHD BLU-RAY PLAYER KING OF THE 4K JUN­GLE?

SmartHouse - - FIRST LOOK // PANASONIC - Writ­ten by STEVE MAY

Pana­sonic is pulling out all the stops for its up­com­ing DPUB9000 high-end 4K Blu-ray player.

At a preview of the ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated disc spin­ner, due to launch in Oc­to­ber, it re­vealed some of the tech­nol­ogy that it hopes will en­able it to mo­nop­o­lise the premium Blu-ray player mar­ket, in­clud­ing a high-per­for­mance DAC and an HDR Op­ti­miser which im­proves play­back of HDR by re­duc­ing the amount of dy­namic tone map­ping a TV is re­quired to do, be it

a high per­for­mance panel or low bright­ness UHD dis­play.

The DP-UB9000 ar­rives only months af­ter the re­treat of Oppo from the con­sumer elec­tron­ics space. Chief video en­gi­neer Kazuhiko Kouno says that while that pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for Pana­sonic, he was sad to see Oppo leave the mar­ket. “Com­pe­ti­tion is good for ev­ery­one.”

The preview of­fered a closer look at the player, with both video and au­dio demon­stra­tions. As with the DMP-UB900, the model is built around the brand’s sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion HCX (Hol­ly­wood Cin­ema Ex­pe­ri­ence) im­age pro­ces­sor. How­ever, build qual­ity is a mag­ni­tude more im­pres­sive.

It comes with bal­anced XLR stereo out­puts and a full set of mul­ti­chan­nel ana­logue out­puts. There are two HDMI out­puts.

The player will of­fer sup­port for HDR10, HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Vi­sion. When it launches it will also have THX cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Al­though there has been no of­fi­cial state­ment on the mat­ter, Kouno-san con­fided to me that the DP-UB9000 would also be com­pat­i­ble with the Dolby Vi­sion over HDMI im­ple­men­ta­tion in­tro­duced by Sony on its ‘X1 Ex­treme’ OLED and LED LCD TVs.

Demon­stra­tions of the HDR Op­ti­miser in ac­tion proved im­pres­sive. The sys­tem is for use with static HDR10 con­tent only. When dy­namic meta­data is de­tected, it’s by­passed. Us­ing a se­quence from Pan, the Op­ti­miser was switched in and out. When en­gaged, colour sat­u­ra­tion im­proves and bright de­tail was re­stored. HDR Op­ti­mi­sa­tion isn’t just for discs, it also works with stream­ing ser­vices too.

The Op­ti­miser in­vites users to match the player’s HDR out­put to their dis­play, through the use of tonemap lu­mi­nance tar­get­ing. If an HDR10 source has a peak lu­mi­nance of 1,500 nits, the HDR Op­ti­mizer will un­der­take meta­data con­ver­sion, out­putting HDR at 1000 nit. This min­imises the po­ten­tial for clip­ping, where de­tail can be lost on screen.

The de­fault op­tion is for screens of­fer­ing 1000 nit peak bright­ness, but there is also a 500 nit set­ting for ba­sic lu­mi­nance LCD TVs and pro­jec­tors, as well as a 1500 nit set­ting for Su­per High Lu­mi­nance LCD, as well as a ded­i­cated OLED 1000 nit op­tion.

There is yet more to come on the pic­ture pro­cess­ing front, as Pana­sonic’s en­gi­neers con­firmed that more work, specif­i­cally for this model, was be­ing un­der­taken.

Where the player may well sur­prise is its twochan­nel au­dio per­for­mance. Hooked up to a Tech­nics am­pli­fier and floor­standers, the player spun CDs with warmth and mu­si­cal­ity. The deck em­ploys a 32-bit 768KHz AK4493 DAC for stereo du­ties and has com­pletely sep­a­rate power sup­plies for au­dio and video. High-Res file sup­port in­cludes all key 24-bit for­mats, and DSD. DVD Au­dio and SACD is not sup­ported.

Pric­ing for the DP-UB9000 is yet to be con­firmed with its launch later in the year.

All of Pana­sonic’s 2018 Blu-ray play­ers sup­port high-res­o­lu­tion au­dio, and 4K video play­back for stream­ing ser­vices such as Net­flix and YouTube.

HDR OP­TI­MI­SA­TION ISN’T JUST FOR DISCS, IT ALSO WORKS WITH STREAM­ING SER­VICES TOO.

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