Test: Pioneer UDP-LX800

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This week we tested the Pioneer UDP-LX800 UHD Blu-ray player, the crown jewel of Pioneer’s range of optical disc players.

Test Pioneer UDP-LX800
The Pioneer UDP-LX800 UHD Blu-ray player, the crown jewel of Pioneer’s range.

Pioneer UDP-LX800: discs first

Weighing in at 14 kg, the 4K BD player features premium components, three separate power supplies for each section (audio, video, network) and provides high-quality performances. However, the Pioneer UDP-LX800 isn’t a connected player, even though it has an Ethernet connector. It isn’t compatible with DLNA streaming or Netflix, for example. That said, you can still play video files stored on a disc or a USB flash drive.

Pioneer UDP-LX800: settings

The Pioneer UDP-LX800 has a minimalistic interface. The OSD menu is comprised of only two lines: source and settings. For the source, the user simply chooses between a possible USB storage device and an optical disc. As for the settings, they allow you to choose the type of display connected to the player, in particular the kind of television used (LCD or OLED). The aspect ratio and output resolution can be selected manually, along with the different color spaces.

The UDP-LX800 automatically determines its settings, and does a good job of it.

The device also allows you to activate or deactivate the two compatible HDR formats: HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

Pioneer UDP-LX800: audio

One of the Pioneer UDP-LX800’s strengths is its audio performance. The RCA stereo line output, which is combined with two Tech Sabre ESS DACs, is excellent and allows hi-fi listening conditions for audio CDs. Pioneer seems to have applied the same amount of care to the HDMI outputs.

Test Pioneer UDP-LX800
This optical player is fitted with an audiophile-grade analog output, but also a double HDMI output to separately send high-quality signals to the display and receiver.

Pioneer UDP-LX800: HDR to SDR conversion

The Pioneer UDP-LX800 4K BD player is compatible with both of the HDR video formats used on Blu-ray UHD 4K discs: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. This player can obviously transmit unprocessed video streams to the display device, but it can also convert HDR content to SDR content. Thanks to Tone Mapping technology, the UDP-LX800 carries out a colorimetric and dynamic conversion. But in which circumstances should it be used?

With a first generation 4K TV

The first 4K TVs are not designed to handle HDR video streams. Therefore, in order to fully enjoy the 4K picture of movies and series released on UHD Blu-ray disc, a video conversion is necessary. To carry out the conversion, it’s very easy: just press the HDR button on the remote control. The SDR conversion is highly configurable, with the help of a cursor, in order to prevent the picture from being too dark. The results are simply excellent.

Test Pioneer UDP-LX800
The Pioneer UDP-LX800’s backlit remote control.

With UHD HDR10 Blu-ray discs

The HDR10 format is very common on UHD Blu-ray discs. Unfortunately, HDR10 technology isn’t consistent with the true capacities of televisions. Therefore, an HDR10 image is often too dark or too bright which results in a mediocre colorimetry. In this instance, it’s preferable to undertake an HDR to SDR conversion.

With a projector

Apart from a few ultra-high end models, hardly any projectors are compatible with HDR streams, therefore HDR to SDR conversion is mandatory. The Pioneer UDP-LX800 can combine HDR conversion with 1080p scaling.

Pioneer UDP-LX800: test conditions

We tested the Pioneer UDP-LX800 with an LG OLED65B6 OLED television, different UHD Blu-ray discs (HDR10) and multiple MKV files with HEVC HDR and AVC SDR video.

Test Pioneer UDP-LX800
The Pioneer UDP-LX800’s chassis is reinforced and is very solidly built.

Pioneer UDP-LX800: impressions

Firstly, the Pioneer UDP-LX800 player is very quiet. Apart from some sound at a short distance due to the motor starting to spin while the Blu-ray 4K disc is being analyzed, there is no mechanical motion noise while watching content. Even the disc tray is discreet and dampened. Our first test was with The Revenant. This classic has the advantage of having a genuine 4K master and the movie was shot by cameras with lenses of unbelievable quality. The opening scene, which takes place in the undergrowth of a forest, is therefore very difficult to render.

The Pioneer UDP-LX800 does a perfect job, never unsettling the eye with suspicious areas of color or mediocre fluidity during fast camera movement.

The viewer is in for a treat, if you will, with backgrounds that aren’t only profoundly rich, but also exceptionally precise.

The Pioneer UDP-LX800 always gives you the feeling that the perceived image is rigorously identical to the one captured during production. As you would expect, watching Mad Max: Fury Road is like witnessing a firework display: the dust kicked up by the vehicles is textured, dense, while the flares are a stark contrast against the blue sky.

Test Pioneer UDP-LX800

 

The sound is excellent with both the analog and HDMI output. The Pioneer UDP-LX800 efficiently handles digital data, skillfully transmitting it via the HDMI output. The 5.1 restitution is therefore very spacious and punchy. Surprising, but true.

There is a slight downside when it comes to handling MKV files on USB devices. Some of the files cannot be read and others have peculiar aspect ratios.

Pioneer UDP-LX800: compared to…

Panasonic DP-UB9000: A key player, the Panasonic offers the same video features and much more. Its high-quality 7.1 analog outputs and the integrated Netflix app in 4K are major advantages. The Panasonic, which is also THX certified, comes out on top.

Pioneer UDP-LX800: conclusion

Outstanding picture with sound to match, the Pioneer UDP-LX800’s audio and video performances are faultless. This 4K Blu-ray player also impresses with its HDR to SDR conversion. A prestigious source for any high end TV, even large 8K TVs (65” and up), as well as 4K and high-quality 1080p projectors.

What we liked:

  • The construction quality
  • The simplicity of use
  • The HDR -> SDR Tone Mapping
  • The outstanding picture
  • The great HDMI digital audio output
  • The Hi-fi analog audio output

What we would have liked:

  • Better handling of MKV files (on USB devices)

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