Pioneer UDP-LX800 Review: Plays better than regular Blu-ray players
The universal player of the top-class Pioneer UDP-LX800 plays all disc formats existing today: CD, DVD, DVD-Audio, DVD-Video, SACD and Ultra HD Blu-ray. The device supports the latest technologies, including Dolby Vision and HDR10. The floating suspension is housed in an anti-vibration case with a stamped honeycomb cover; all functional units are isolated from each other. HDMI uses patented PQLS (Pioneer Quartz Lock System) technology to minimize jitter when working with compatible Pioneer AV receivers. Two HDMI outputs allow separate video and audio streaming.
The optical drive chassis is made of a steel plate with a thickness of 4.6 mm, and the entire assembly is additionally enclosed in an anti-vibration box. Inside the UDP-LX800, there is also a rigid frame divided into three parts, each of which is completely isolated from its neighbors. Three sections are intended for the power supply, digital and analog parts of the path. By the way, the analog part of the audio section is completely borrowed from the top-end SACD player by PD-70AE, including the use of 32-bit ESS Saber DACs.
The Pioneer UDP-LX800 can play SACD very well, but its main talents are still in video. There is HDR support here, including Dolby Vision, as well as separate video processor settings for HDR and SDR signals. The device weighs 13.8 kilograms, which today has become a rarity for video sources. Among other things, it provides for work as a digital transport, when the Transport Function mode is activated, the power of the analog part is turned off. There is also the traditional Direct mode, in which all unnecessary circuits not related to music playback are turned off.
Adding a 3mm steel plate to a 1.6mm steel plate provides incredible rigidity. This double-layer enclosure structure provides a low center of gravity and overall rigidity that prevents external vibration from being transmitted to the inner chassis and provides superior disc readability. Ultra HD Blu-ray is the latest disc format with a resolution of up to 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, four times the size Full HD 1080p resolution.
One of the most important things that distinguishes a mediocre digital audio player from a truly exemplary device is stable synchronization (so-called jitter). The owner of one of the many Pioneer AV receivers that are compatible with PQLS (Precision Quartz Lock System) technology will benefit greatly from its use by dramatically improving the stability of the digital output signal.
The main PCB uses a 6-layer IVH to completely eliminate digital noise, it optimizes digital signal wiring and minimizes GND impedance, as well as greatly improves the S / N ratio in audio / video signal processing, and 18Gbps transmission over the latest HDMI standard becomes even more accurate. In addition to the Video Guide to reproduce the original master quality, you can select LCD TV, OLED TV, or Projector for the video quality best suited to your display. There are SDR / HDR presets for each video parameter that automatically switches between SDR and HDR presets according to the output signal.
In principle, a detailed study of the Pioneer UDP-LX800 could not have been carried out, it is enough just to lift the box in which the player is located. The weight of the component in the package is 17 kilograms, when was the last time you saw a video player so imposing? For the sake of fairness, it should be noted that the video path is, although an important, but not the only part of the player’s design.
Externally, the Pioneer UDP-LX800 is a classic expensive turntable of the firm with a minimum of controls on the front panel. Only the power button illuminated by a blue LED stands out a little, next to which one of the USB ports is located (the second is located behind the rear wall of the case). The right side of the front panel contains playback control buttons, as well as an interesting key labeled Direct / Transport. It allows the player to be set to either pure digital transport mode or pure analog audio source. As you might guess, in the first case, power is turned off for all analog circuits of the player, and in the second – for the entire digital video path. The display located under the transport tray shows basic service information,
The rear panel of the player has a very austere look. For audio output, there are analog outputs on RCA (unbalanced) and XLR (balanced) connectors, as well as digital coaxial and optical outputs. There is also a separate HDMI audio output – an indispensable attribute of a universal player from the major league, which allows you to separate digital video and audio streams already in the source. The video signal is output exclusively through the HDMI 2.0 port, there is not a single kind of analog video terminal.
A Gigabit Ethernet port on an RJ45 connector is provided to connect the device to a computer network. Another interesting connector found on the rear panel is called ZERO SIGNAL. It is designed to open intermittent parasitic ground loops in the system, but it should be used depending on how your installation is susceptible to this phenomenon.
In general, outwardly everything looks strict and solid, however, in order to understand why the manufacturer is asking for such serious money, you need to remove the top cover from the device – all the most interesting is hidden under it. The internal space is divided into several compartments, each of which is reliably shielded. The far right side, viewed from the front panel, contains all the analog audio circuits, including a DAC built on two eight-channel ESS SABER ES9026PRO chips.
Reliably damped transport and all digital circuits are located in the center, and the left side is occupied by two separate power supplies – one for the analogue part of the player, the other for the digital one. A solid transformer is hidden under a copper-bonded screen, also covered with a special anti-vibration paint. By the way, the same coating is applied to the lattice covering the transport in the form of a honeycomb. Together, this helps to significantly reduce the level of mechanical noise and vibration of the structure, providing close to ideal conditions for data reading and signal transmission.
The main processor board has a six-layer structure and provides an exact match of the HDMI data transfer rate of 18 gigabits per second, and the sound card is borrowed from the top proprietary PD-70AE player with fully symmetrical arrangement of right and left channels. The vehicle has a “floating” mount, which drastically reduces the transfer of mechanical energy to the hull. In addition, the double chassis with a wall thickness of 1.6 mm, additionally reinforced with a solid 3 mm steel plate, provides the entire structure with a low center of gravity, as well as provides a reliable barrier to the penetration of external vibrations. The net weight of the player is 13.8 kilograms.
As already mentioned, our main task was to evaluate the work of the player as the ultimate signal source for video and audio disc playback, so we prepared a solid program for it, consisting of fresh releases on Ultra HD Blu-ray, as well as our standard selection of audio material in different formats. including Blu-ray Audio, SACD and CDs. First of all, I want to upset those users who think that they “grabbed God by the beard” with the help of streaming services showing content in 4K. Nothing of the kind – just put a disc with the release on Ultra HD Blu-ray of the same “Ratatouille” or “Yesterday” in the tray and compare them with what is offered to watch online. The difference is obvious not only, as they say, by eye, but also by ear. And there is nothing surprising in this,
At the same time, the user can even see the maximum level of frame brightness in the material recorded in HDR – the player supports Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HDR10 + – by pressing the Display key on the remote control. All in all, the player delivers incredible picture quality that only 8K installations can surpass today. For which, as you know, there is not only content, but also a data transfer interface, and the timing of their appearance is very vague.
The speed of loading the disc and navigating through the menus and chapters of the disc is not satisfactory – everything happens quickly and smoothly, without noticeable lags and brakes. If you have a collection of Blu-ray or DVD, then the device will read it without hesitation, including discs of different regional encoding.
And what about the sound, you ask? Since the audio part of the player is similar to that of the Pioneer PD-70AE SACD-player, you cannot make any complaints about it, unless you fall into an audiophile rage. The sound of both SACDs and CDs deserves to be able to “make friends” the analog output of a model with a good stereo amplifier. Music Pioneer UDP-LX800 plays better than regular Blu-ray players.