Review: Panasonic DP-UB9000: 4K HDR10+/Dolby Vision Blu-ray player

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After Oppo stopped the production of the famous Oppo UDP-203 and Oppo UDP-205 players last spring, it felt like the Blu-ray market lost its uncontested leader. Panasonic is currently the only manufacturer to offer a high end 4K UHD Blu-ray player with the Panasonic DP-UB9000, until the release of the Pioneer UDP-LX500 player announced for Fall of 2018. It took nearly two years after the Panasonic DMP-UB900, the brand’s first 4K UHD Blu-ray player, hit the market to release the Panasonic DP-UB9000.

We had the opportunity to briefly test this beautiful (and very heavy) EISA award winning 4K Blu-ray player. We put the image quality to the test with the 4K UHD Blu-ray version of The Revenant, and the least we can say is that we were in for a visual treat.

The Panasonic DP-UB9000 4K UHD Blu-ray player (on the left) and its predecessor, the Panasonic DMP-UB900 (on the right).
The Panasonic DP-UB9000 4K UHD Blu-ray player (on the left) and its predecessor, the Panasonic DMP-UB900 (on the right).

Panasonic DP-UB9000: 4K Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, and DSD

The Panasonic DP-UB9000 is a versatile 4K UHD Blu-ray player which is compatible with 4K UHD Blu-ray discs, 1080p HD Blu-rays, 3D Blu-rays, DVDs, and audio CDs. It may also be used to play high resolution audio files (DSD, FLAC, WAV, ALAC) shared over the local network or stored on a USB drive, and it is fitted with an optimized audio section: dual HDMI outputs to separate the audio and video signals, 7.1 pre-out audio outputs compatible with the Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio formats, high end Asahi Kasei DAC, and high-quality balanced analog circuits with audiophile-grade stereo RCA and XLR line outputs. The Panasonic DP-UB9000 UHD Blu-ray player is also compatible with Netflix (4K and HDR with a Netflix button on the remote control) once connected to the local network and to the internet (Ethernet port and Wi-Fi connection).

Panasonic DP-UB9000 : menu d'accueil
Le menu d’accueil du lecteur Blu-ray Panasonic DP-UB9000.

Panasonic DP-UB9000: THX 4K HDR Source

The Panasonic DP-UB9000 4K UHD Blu-ray player received its Ultra HD Premium and THX 4K HDR Source certifications from the UHD Alliance and THX laboratories. These certifications ensure optimal image quality when paired with a compatible 4K UHD TV and 4K UHD projector. The HDR Optimizer function allows the Panasonic DP-UB9000 to adapt to the associated TV in order to transmit a picture specifically adjusted (colors and brightness) for the HDR specs of the TV, particularly for peak luminance. Simply adjust the type of TV to which the player is connected during the installation process.

Panasonic DP-UB9000 : menu de réglage du type de TV
An option in the settings menu of the Panasonic DP-UB9000 4K Blu-ray player lets you select the type of TV connected to apply the HDR Optimizer treatment.

Panasonic DP-UB9000: HDR10+, Dolby Vision

The Panasonic HDR Optimizer treatment adapts in real time to any HDR10+ and Dolby Vision video content to enhance the image on any screen. In practice, if a movie encoded in HDR with luminance peaks rated at 2.000 nits is displayed on a TV with a luminance rating of 1.000 nits, the Panasonic DP-UB9000 actualises the grey scale in real time to adapt the image to the screen. By doing so, it avoids any risk of clipping the video signal (overexposed whites, loss of nuances with high and low brightness levels) or displaying too dark of images. The color balance and the brightness of the original video signal are respected, which results in a restitution faithful to the director’s vision.

Panasonic DP-UB9000 : mode HDR Optimizer
This scene from Mad Max Fury Road benefits from the HDR Optimizer function, the restitution of the light around the sun is enhanced. This area of intense light benefits from more nuance than with the HDR Optimizer mode deactivated. The darkest areas of the picture are also a bit clearer.

The HDR Optimizer mode is far from being a gimmick, and is extremely useful for enjoying optimal video restitution whether the movie was calibrated at 1.000 nits, 1.500 nits, or 2.000 nits. Regardless of the maximum luminance rating of the TV or video projector, the light gradation is preserved and, most of all, the overall balance of the picture is faithful to the director’s vision.

Panasonic DP-UB9000: multiple image setting options

The Panasonic DP-UB9000 UHD Blu-ray player features multiple image setting options as well as a selection of modes adapted to different situations.

Panasonic DP-UB9000 - Menu réglages image
At any moment during the movie, the Panasonic DP-UB9000 image settings menu may be used to adjust the HDR settings, brightness, colors, sharpness, and noise reduction.

An especially ingenious feature, the different HDR adjustment modes allow the user to adjust the dynamic range of the image depending on whether you are watching a film in a dark room, in a lit room, or with bright light shining in. The effect of ambient light on the perception of nuances of the image is thus reduced, ensuring optimal viewing conditions.

The image brightness peaks range from a low value to a very high value when switching from one mode to another (standard > natural environment > lit environment > bright environment).

In a dark living room for an evening viewing, the standard mode seemed to be the most appropriate. It allowed us to enjoy a wide dynamic range without excessive luminance peaks for an almost entirely dark room.

Unfortunately, the pictures we took with our camera do not do justice to the exceptional image quality offered by this player on our LG HDR OLED TV. But take our word for it, it’s a real festival of precision, piqué, natural colors, details…

Panasonic DP-UB9000: 4:4:4 4K upscaling

Another asset of this Panasonic DP-UB9000 UHD Blu-ray player, is its 2nd generation HCX video processor, capable of upscaling an SD/HD image (REC,709) to a 4K video signal on a 4:4:4 chromatic scale, but also to UHD 4K (BT2020) to improve the texture and depth of images. The upscaling of standard definition (SD) and HD1080p sources is perfectly handled, and even 4K UHD sources benefit from improved color scale, which contributes greatly to the overall definition and precision of the image.

Panasonic DP-UB9000 : la télécommande
Panasonic DP-UB9000: the remote control may be used to access the image setting menu during playback and features a Netflix button for direct access to the streaming service.

Panasonic DP-UB9000: Asahi Kasei 32/768 DAC

When it comes to audio restitution, the Panasonic DP-UB9000 Blu-ray player is just as impressive. It benefits from an audiophile-grade design comparable to that of high end network players. It features a dedicated power circuit with a copper coil transformer, high capacity electrolytic condensers, a noise filtering system (Ruby Mica condenser), and high capacity Schottky diodes. The analog audio circuits are symmetrical to ensure optimal channel separation and to avoid any risk of diaphony. The low-noise, audiophile-grade components are powered by an Asahi Kasei AK4493 DAC boasting an exceptional signal-to-noise ratio which is ideal for enjoying HD audio recordings with optimal quality via the RCA and XLR outputs of a hi-fi stereo amplifier.

Connectique Panasonic DP-UB9000 (en bas) et Panasonic DMP-UB900 (en haut)
The connectors of the Panasonic DP-UB9000 4K UHD Blu-ray player (bottom device) compared to its predecessor, the Panasonic DPM-UB900 (on top). One of the notable additions to the Panasonic DP-UB9000 is the XLR balanced outputs.

Panasonic DP-UB9000: reinforced chassis

To ensure optimal working conditions for the audio and video sections, Panasonic combined specific materials and technologies for the design of the DP-UB9000 4K UHD Blu-ray player. As a result, vibrations as well as interference are drastically reduced. The high-density chassis is made of two thick metal plates (1.2 mm + 1.6 mm thick) combined with a double-layer top panel (1 mm + 0.55 mm thick). The front and side panels are made of thick aluminium plates, which decreases the risks of interference which may affect the components. This massive design (over 7 kg) ensures excellent rigidity and lowers the device’s gravity center, which provides more stability to the optical player. The optical player is uncentered for a better weight repartition and enhanced damping. In addition, its specially designed structure ensures optimal isolation from vibrations and interference.

Panasonic DP-UB9000 : THX 4K HDR Source
The Panasonic DP-UB9000 4K UHD Blu-ray player is THX 4K HDR Source certified.

Panasonic DP-UB9000: dual HDMI output and XLR output

The Panasonic DP-UB9000 4K UHD Blu-ray player’s connectors offers multiple possibilities for sound restitution, starting with a dual HDMI output with gold plated contacts which may be used to split the AV signal into audio and video. It is therefore possible to transmit the video signal directly to a 4K UHD television or 4K UHD video projector via the first HDMI output while connecting the second HDMI port to an AV receiver. The Panasonic DP-UB9000 also features two digital audio outputs (optical Toslink and coaxial RCA) as well as a range of analog connectors combined with an integrated Dolby/Dolby True HD and DTS/DTS-HD Master Audio decoder for 7.1 sound restitution. The Panasonic DP-UB9000 is also fitted with a dual stereo analog output (RCA and XLR) in order to fully enjoy the audiophile-grade circuits of the player by connecting it to a stereo amplifier and hi-fi loudspeakers.

Test conditions

For this test, we connected the Panasonic DP-UB9000 main HDMI output to our  LG OLED65B6V (the predecessor of the LG OLED65B8) using a NorStone Jura HDMI cable. The RCA analog audio output was connected the Yamaha CRX-N470D receiver using a NorStone Skye RCA cable. We used Viard Audio Silver HD12 speaker wire to connect a pair of Klipsch RF7 MKIII floorstanding speakers to the receiver.

Panasonic DP-UB9000: image quality

The Panasonic DP-UB9000 UHD Blu-ray player particularly shines with complex pictures and brilliantly reproduces their full intricacy.

With The Revenant, the multiple scenes shot in the woods are delivered with much refinement, and the darker parts of the picture are still detailed. When sunlight shines between tree branches, backlighting is handled masterfully, which results in an extensive dynamic range that the best 4K UHD TV and 4K video projector is able to fully render. The multiple close-ups on Leonardo DiCaprio’s face throughout the movie are restituted with surgical accuracy, which allows you to fully appreciate the extremely convincing acting, the tremendous work of the make-up team, and the scenery of the film.

The bright lights, extreme contrast, and warm colors of Mad Max Fury Road are also a great way to appreciate the full potential of this player. The picture benefits from lively colors with a perfect saturation level. The various shades of ocher and orange never look artificial and the intensity of the lights never results in bland tonal restitution. Impressive stuff! Never before did we enjoy such a realistic and lively picture with our OLED TV.

Whether you have a Samsung QLED TV, an OLED screen, a 4K UHD TV, or an HDR and Dolby Vision compatible 4K UHD video projector at home, the Panasonic DP-UB9000 UHD Blu-ray player is an ideal partner for taking advantage of the full potential of your display or projector and for enjoying outstanding image quality in your home.

Panasonic DP-UB9000: audio quality

Although we used a stereo amplifier during our test, we were able to enjoy a spacious and extremely detailed sound restitution via the analog stereo outputs powered by the high end Asahi Kasei audio DAC. The sound stage is wide, the lateral sound effects are very effective, and the voices are both well placed and perfectly delivered. The lows benefit from great energy and our Klipsch RF7 MKIII speakers were singing!

What we liked

  • The simplicity and the user-friendly design of this player, despite the numerous functions and adjustment possibilities.
  • The HDR Optimizer mode may be used to fully enjoy the richness of all HDR films with a picture adapted to your HDR TV.
  • The truly exceptional image quality: clinical accuracy with close-ups, natural color restitution, the level of details.
  • The analog audio section, which offers a rich, dynamic, and precise sound restitution.

We would have liked

  • Audio DVD and SACD compatibility
  • To have a much wider screen for an even more enjoyable experience

 

 

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