This week we reviewed the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR network media player, an audiophile model designed for storing, indexing and playing audio and video files. Presented as an ultra-comprehensive solution, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR is compatible with all audio and video formats, including ISO Blu-rays and UHD 4K HDR (with menu display), M2TS, MKV (2D and 3D), multi-channel formats including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X up to 11.2.4 channels, as well as high resolution lossless audio files. Sold for €799, this latest-generation Zappiti is powered by an advanced version of Android with the renowned proprietary indexing system and the latest Magic Pixel 2.5 video enhancement system.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: the brand
Founded in 2009, the French brand Zappiti originally specialized in developing an indexing and management system for movies and TV series for the Russian brand Dune HD. In 2013, the company launched its first three media players: the Zappiti Player, Zappiti Player Mini and Zappiti Muse Edition. Three high-end models based on Dune HD’s players but featuring the Zappiti Media Center jukebox. These models were very successful and received many awards from the world press, notably for their high-end design, their compatibility with all multimedia standards of the time and their cover indexing system.
Encouraged by this success, Zappiti kept this simple management system for its following players. Today, the French manufacturer’s range of network players includes the Zappiti Mini 4K HDR, Zappiti One 4K HDR, Zappiti One SE 4K HDR, Zappiti Duo 4K HDR and the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR that we reviewed this week. An optimized version of the latter is also available under the reference Zappiti Pro 4K HDR Audiocom Cinema Edition. This version is enhanced by the iconic English company Audiocom, who specializes in the optimization of Blu-ray players. The enhancements include a new filtered power supply, an upgraded motherboard, as well as extremely reduced jitter. These players are accompanied by the Zappiti NAS RIP 4K HDR, a NAS that allows you to losslessly back-up a large collection of CDs, DVDs and UHD 4K HDR Blu-rays, which are then accessible on all of your home’s Zappiti players.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: packaging and accessories
The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR media player comes in a large cardboard box and is protected from damage by thick pieces of foam. It comes with a user manual, two WiFi antennas, a category 5 RJ45 cable, a power cable, a backlit infrared remote control (batteries aren’t included) and an infrared extender. The latter allows you to place the player inside a closed cabinet and still be able to use the remote control. An HDMI 2.0 cable with gold-plated connectors is also included. However, Zappiti warns that this cable may not be able to display certain UHD 4K HDR videos with a high bandwidth. Therefore, you may want to consider purchasing an ultra high-speed HDMI cable.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: presentation
The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR is an imposing box measuring 430x330x85mm (WxDxH) and weighing 7.5kg. It has a solid chassis that is 1.6mm-thick and is reinforced with a 3mm-thick steel top cover. This structure is optimized to reduce external vibrations so that they don’t affect the electronic components. This protection is reinforced by four feet that decouple the box from the A/V cabinet or stand.
Media players have become increasingly minimalist over the years with boxes featuring the bare minimum, but much to our delight, Zappiti defies this trend and offers a device with multiple connectors. The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR features two HDMI outputs: a 2.0a standard port to connect a television, projector or A/V receiver, and an HDMI 1.4 standard port dedicated to audio that can also be connected to an older A/V receiver that doesn’t feature HDMI 2.0 inputs. This dual HDMI output can also be used to separate image and sound to ensure optimal performance in each area. The HDMI Audio output features a high-precision clock that considerably reduces jitter, therefore eliminating synchronization errors. An HDMI input is also included to record the image and sound from an external source such as a game console or set-top box, provided that the source does not incorporate an HDCP protocol.
Additionally, there are three gold-plated audio outputs: two digital (coaxial and optical) and one analog. There is also a mini-jack input to connect the infrared extender, a 6.35mm headphone output on the front panel, and five USB ports on the front and back of the device to connect hard drives and USB flash drives.
As proof of its audiophile nature, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR media player boasts a high-end power supply that uses an R-Core transformer. The latter provides superior efficiency as well as a clean and continuous power source. Thanks to this power supply, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR’s audio outputs are free of noise, providing more natural tones, perfect balance between channels and better dynamics.
The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR also has a 6.35mm jack headphone output on its front panel. The latter features a high precision and ultra low distortion wideband amplification circuit paired with a fully discrete output stage. Zappiti claims that this amplifier can power any headphones, even those with a high impedance and/or low sensitivity rating. We verified these characteristics with the Grado PS500e hi-fi headphones. The sound was very good, with both music and movies. The soundstage was wide, the bass deep and the dialogues clearly perceptible and well-centered. However, the volume control is very sensitive and it’s tricky to adjust the sound level precisely with a highly sensitive pair of headphones such as the Grado PS500e.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: network media player and internet storage
Compatible with the DLNA network sharing protocol, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR features a double dual-band WiFi and Ethernet network controller to play content shared over the network or on the internet. As the Ethernet network controller uses the Gigabit Ethernet standard, it is highly recommended to use a high-quality RJ45 cable with this wired connection to fully enjoy UHD 4K and HDR content.
In addition to playing files over the network, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR also features five USB inputs: three USB 2.0 inputs, one USB 3.0 input and one USB-C input. The user can therefore connect up to five external hard drives at the same time.
Better still, the front panel of the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR media player features a dual storage bay to accommodate two 3.5” SATA hard drives up to 16TB, for a total storage capacity of 32TB with the SATA drives alone. This capacity can be multiplied thanks to the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR’s five USB inputs. As a result, 52TB of storage can be reached simply by adding several 4TB flash drives. This is enough to store almost 5200 movies in 1080p, with an average of 10GB per movie, or 1300 UHD 4K HDR movies with an average of 40GB per movie.
Here is a table illustrating several configurations with external hard drives, without taking into account the unlimited capacity of DLNA:
|SATA hard drives||2.5” hard drives||3.5” hard drives||Total storage capacity||Average capacity |
(10GB 1080p movies)
|Average capacity |
(40GB 4K HDR movies)
|1 x 16TB||0||0||16TB||1600||400|
|2 x 16TB||0||0||32TB||3200||800|
|2 x 16TB||1 x 4TB||0||36TB||3600||900|
|2 x 16TB||2 x 4TB||0||40TB||4000||1000|
|2 x 16TB||3 x 4TB||0||44TB||4400||1100|
|2 x 16TB||4 x 4TB||0||48TB||4800||1200|
|2 x 16TB||5 x 4TB||0||52TB||5200||1300|
|2 x 16TB||4 x 4TB||1 x 10TB||58TB||5800||1450|
The content stored on the internal hard drives and external hard drives connected to the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR via USB can be easily accessed on a computer or any device compatible with the DLNA protocol. By default, the Zappiti’s FTP server is deactivated and must be activated manually, in Android’s advanced settings.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: Android 6.0
Like all of the French brand’s media players, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR runs the Android 6.0 operating system. Although it is somewhat outdated, this version of Android is perfectly stable on the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR player. Its biggest advantage is without a doubt the integration of the Google Play Store, which allows the user to install any of the applications available in the catalog. Therefore, it is possible to enjoy VOD services such as Netflix, YouTube and Mycanal, but also online music services like Deezer, Spotify, Qobuz and Tidal. However, it is important to note that some third-party apps aren’t optimized to work on this type of device and that using a Bluetooth mouse and keypad is recommended.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: compatible video formats
The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR media player can play just about any existing video format, ranging from SD, Full HD, UHD 4K, HDR and even 3D files. As a result, the AVC (h264) codec is supported, along with the HEVC (h265) codec up to 400 Mbps. The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR can even read DVD and Blu-ray ISO files with the disc’s original menu display to access bonus content. Better still, compatibility with “Seamless Branching” technology ensures seamless playback of movies that are divided into several files.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: compatible audio formats
Concerning audio, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR can read all formats used in movies and TV series: DTS, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD HHRA, DTS:X, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos up to 11.2.4 channels. By default, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR media player transfers the audio signals in their original format to the UHD television or A/V receiver. If the TV or receiver aren’t compatible with an audio format, the Zappiti player can carry out a stereo downmix. The sound can then be transferred via HDMI, or through the optical or analog output.
More than just a simple video player, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR is also a powerful audio player. It ensures high-precision playback of high-resolution audio formats including AIFF, ALAC, WAV, APE, AC3, DTS and FLAC up to 32 bits. The signal can then be decoded by the Zappiti’s internal DAC or by an external DAC connected to the player’s coaxial, optical or HDMI output.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: MagicPixel v2.5 and 4K upscaling
The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR network media player features the latest Zappiti MagicPixel v2.5 image processing system. According to Zappiti, this new version provides a more dynamic image, colorimetry that respects video standards and greater detail. Characteristics that we didn’t hesitate to check during our review of the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR player, but that were likely to be confirmed in light of the very impressive results provided by the 2.0 version present on the Zappiti One Se 4K HDR.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: setup
The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR player is very easy to set up. First, you must choose the menu language and enter the WiFi password if the device isn’t connected using an Ethernet cable. Then, you’ll arrive on the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR’s home screen which features three huge icons: Zappiti Video (navigation and playback), Zappiti Explorer (management and indexing) and Zappiti Music. To get the most out of these applications, it is important to create a Zappiti account. The account will mainly be used to control a smartphone, tablet or computer remotely. It is important to note that your account must be associated to the player’s token number. The latter can be found underneath the device, so it’s a good idea to write it down before the player is installed. That way, you won’t have to turn the device upside down to read the number once the different cables have been connected.
Once you have created an account, the Zappiti Video, Zappiti Explorer and Zappiti Music applications can be used. The Zappiti Video app is the best platform to use to enjoy a comprehensive visualization of your content with covers, summaries, etc.
However, it is necessary to index the files so that they are visible with the app. To do this, Zappiti recommends that you create two separate folders on the hard drive where the files are stored: a Movies folder and a Series folder. You can do this directly on the player, but if you have a lot of files, it will be a lot quicker to use a computer. Once the folders are created, you simply have to select them in the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR menu for the indexing to start. The covers, visual elements and summaries are automatically downloaded from Zappiti’s servers, which contain high-quality images that are optimized for display on an HD or 4K television.
The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR uses the same indexing system for movies and TV series as the previous Zappiti players, and for good reason, as it was perfected several years ago. Consequently, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR player features a presentation by cover, with a detailed description that specifies the characteristics of the file (resolution, soundtrack, etc.) for each movie, as well as a short summary of the movie and press reviews. It is also possible to access the movie’s trailer, deleted scenes and making-of.
The movies and TV series are correctly indexed as long as the files include the title and release date (Avatar.2009.mkv for example). If this isn’t the case, it is sometimes necessary to correct the file name by hand. This can be done on the player or via the Zappiti Explorer app for computers, smartphones and tablets.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: impressions
UHD 4K HDR
We connected the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR to the Onkyo TX-RZ840 A/V receiver using an Audioquest Cinnamon HDMI cable. The receiver was connected to an LG OLED television with a Norstone Jura HDMI cable. We played files shared over the network and stored on a hard drive connected to the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR’s 3.0 USB input. With an uncompressed, UHD 4K HDR10 version of the movie Interstellar, the image was spectacular. The level of detail was impressive and colors were very natural. The HDR images were displayed perfectly, with a very high level of detail in light and dark areas. The different scenes were smooth and worthy of a high-end Blu-ray player.
With an uncompressed, UHD 4K HDR10 version of the movie Avatar, the finesse of the details and the excellent image contrast displayed by the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR allowed each element in the scene to be perfectly delineated, adding depth to the image. These characteristics are mostly due to the latest Zappiti MagicPixel v2.5 image processing system. The latter succeeds in delivering an even more impressive image than the v2.0 version of MegaPixel that wowed us during our review of the Zappiti One SE 4K HDR player.
1080p to 4K upscaling
We then tested the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR player’s performance when upscaling 1080p files to UHD 4K. On the movie Promise at Dawn, the upscaling system proved to be particularly efficient. The image was more precise and detailed. The MagicPixel v2.5 processor also provided better contrast and more natural colors. Naturally, there was less finesse than there would have been with a UHD 4K file, but it is better than the original 1080p file. However, we weren’t quite as impressed by this upscaling system with heavily compressed files. On older movies, noise had a tendency to accumulate in the dark areas of the image and the colors weren’t as natural. Consequently, it is preferable to deactivate upscaling for this type of file.
5.1 channel home theater
To test how well the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR player could restitute movie soundtracks, we set up a 5.1 channel system by associating the Focal Chorus 726 HCM speaker pack with the REL Acoustics T-9i subwoofer. We continued to use the Onkyo TX-RZ840 amplifier. With a 24-bit/48kHz DTS HD Master of the movie Interstellar, Hans Zimmer’s iconic soundtrack was perfectly reproduced. Each detail was perfectly spatialized and different sound effects materialized all around the room. Dialogues were also very detailed and remained intelligible, even during action scenes.
For our home theater review, we then decided to use the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR’s dual HDMI output to separate the image and sound. The benefits were undeniable, both in terms of image quality and audio precision. These two elements were previously spectacular, but using the dual HDMI output, they reached their peak. With a 24-bit/48kHz DTS HD Master of Avatar, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR and Onkyo TX-RZ840 pairing was very dynamic. The spatialization and depth of the soundstage were exceptional. The machine gun fire was perfectly restituted and even became oppressive. The roars of the different animals were remarkable and perfectly handled. The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR player was able to skillfully extract the biggest explosions as well as the smallest details from quieter scenes. We were truly immersed in the atmosphere of the movie!
Pure Audio Blu-ray and 24-bit/192kHz FLAC files
Lastly, we tested the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR network media player’s audiophile performance. As a reminder, the device benefits from a solid power supply that uses an R-type transformer to prevent any parasitic noise. On Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell in Blu-ray Pure Audio and ripped in 24-bit/96kHz stereo PCM and 24-bit/96kHz 5.1 channel PCM, the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR player demonstrated great precision. The soundstage was wide and spacious. Each tiny detail was perfectly reproduced and even the highest guitar notes seemed soft and smooth. These characteristics were present throughout our listening sessions with our Pure Audio Blu-ray and 24-bit/96kHz and 24-bit/192kHz FLAC files. The only downside is that the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR cannot handle DSD files via the native apps Zappiti Music and Zappiti Explorer. That said, it is possible to read this format if you install the HiBy Music app.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: compared to…
Zappiti One SE 4K HDR: sold for €349, the Zappiti One SE 4K HDR provides very similar features to the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR. It is compatible with the same audio and video formats, features an HDMI audio output and integrates Android. The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR has the upper hand with its MagicPixel v2.5 image processor; the Zappiti One SE 4K HDR features the previous version. As a result, the image quality provided by the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR is slightly better. The latter also provides enhanced audio quality thanks to its R-Core power supply. When it comes to storage options, both of these Zappiti players are able to read files shared over the local network (DLNA), saved on a USB flash drive or 3.5” hard drive. The Zappiti Pro 4K HDR features a double bay, while the Zappiti One SE 4K HDR, only has one. However, this means the latter is more compact.
Zappiti Mini 4K HDR: Zappiti’s most compact model, it provides a very similar image to that offered by the Zappiti One SE 4K HDR, as it features the same MagicPixel v2.0 image processor. However, the connectors are reduced to an HDMI input and output, along with a mini-jack and optical output. It can play files that are shared over the network or stored on a hard drive or USB flash drive, but there is only one available input and no hard drive bay. Instead, the Zappiti Mini 4K HDR features a SATA port.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR Audiocom Cinema Edition: this model is an Audiocom optimized version of the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR. This English company that specializes in Blu-ray player modification has added an even more precise power supply with filtering, an enhanced motherboard, as well as an ultra-high precision clock to reduce audio and video jitter. Thanks to these improvements, the Audiocom version of this Zappiti player goes even further, with improved image depth, deeper blacks, higher contrast, more accurate colors and astonishing sound quality. However, this adds an extra €1000 to the price tag. Other than that, the two players are identical. They feature the same connectors, the same options, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatibility up to 11.2.4 channels and the same MagicPixel v2.5 image processor.
Zappiti Pro 4K HDR: conclusion
With the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR, the French brand provides an ultra-comprehensive solution compatible with the vast majority of audio and video formats. The image is always smooth, clear and perfectly detailed. The MagicPixel v2.5 image processor works wonders, bringing more finesse and subtilty to the image. The upscaling system also proves to be very effective when optimizing the display of native 1080p videos, as long as the original file isn’t excessively compressed. The excellent movie and TV series indexing system is very efficient and makes the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR incredibly easy to use. All of these reasons make the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR media player the perfect companion if you wish to get the most out of your movies and TV series on a UHD 4K television or 4K projector. It is important to note that the Zappiti Pro 4K HDR can also be used with a 1080p television, in which case it can downscale UHD 4K HDR files to 1080p SDR resolution. Although the end file is displayed in 1080p, this process enhances the video quality by almost 30% compared to a classic 1080p Blu-ray.
What we liked:
- The finesse of the image
- The indexing system
- The ease of use
- The sound quality
What we would have liked:
- Native DSD support
- A more sophisticated mobile app