Sony UBP-X800M2 rated: is that this the 4K Blu-ray participant for you?

What’s the Sony UBP-X800M2?

The £350 Sony UBP-X800M2 is Sony’s second stab at delivering a mid-range 4K Blu-ray participant. It sits between the model’s entry-level X700 (£230) and high-end X1100ES (£750) gamers.

As its X800M2 identify suggests, it’s extra of an replace than a totally new deck, mainly designed to place proper its X800 predecessor’s awkward lack of Dolby Imaginative and prescient assist.

Sadly, although, this seemingly easy step ahead doesn’t show fairly as easy because it sounds.

Sony UBP-X800M2 design and construct – Appears to be like are on the commercial aspect, however construct high quality is outstanding

How a lot you just like the look of the Sony UBP-X800M2 depends upon whether or not your style in design leans in direction of the commercial. Its angular, rough-textured metallic physique with a glassy black strip operating alongside the entrance edge is sort of brutal in its strategy.

Personally, I prefer it. Particularly because the construct high quality is outstanding, with a number of thick metallic countering preliminary considerations that the deck’s slender profile is perhaps a barrier to a quality-orientated format of the inner parts.

Sony UBP-X800M2
The Sony UBP-X800M2 4K Blu-ray participant’s design is pretty angular.

In actual fact, it seems that the X800M2 boasts the identical ultra-rigid “body and beam” chassis design you get with Sony’s flagship X1100ES. That is meant to remove the tiny chassis vibrations and electrical interference that may influence sound high quality.

The Sony UBP-X800M2 even sticks with the X1100ES’s metallic heatsink and disk drive. They’re included to maintain the participant cool and exact, even in case you resolve to have the film/music marathon to finish all film/music marathons.

Given the uncompromising high quality of the X800M2’s bodywork, the distant management is a disappointment. It’s a plasticky affair that feels prefer it’s been borrowed from a less expensive participant.

Sony UBP-X800M2 options – Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR included from the off

The large new factor on the Sony UBP-X800M2 is assist for Dolby Imaginative and prescient. The unique X800 didn’t provide this function, regardless of Dolby Imaginative and prescient being well-established (together with on Sony’s personal TVs!) when that deck was launched.

This was a scenario that began to look much more untenable when Sony’s entry-level 4K Blu-ray participant, the X700, acquired a 2018 firmware replace to assist Dolby Imaginative and prescient playback whereas the dearer X800 didn’t.

Associated: Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR – every thing it is advisable to know

Sony UBP-X800M2
Connections embody a USB port, twin HDMIs and a coaxial digital audio output.

However, at the least the arrival of the X800M2 means Sony’s mid-range participant not seems just like the poor relation in function phrases to the X700. Not that it will come as a lot consolation to individuals who purchased the unique X800, in fact.

As with all 4K Blu-ray gamers, the X800M2 may also play DVDs, HD Blu-rays, 3D Blu-rays and CDs, in addition to the newest 4K platters. Extra surprisingly and impressively for its cash, it could additionally play SACD and DVD-Audio discs – one thing its Panasonic UB820 is unable to do.

The audiophile aspirations revealed by the Sony UBP-X800M2’s construct high quality and in depth disc assist prolong to its multimedia playback too. It’s able to enjoying high-resolution file codecs together with DSD, FLAC, ALAC, AAC, and WAV. In addition to MP3s, in fact.

And all compressed audio codecs – even CDs – can profit from Sony’s DSEE HX function, which upscales the frequency response and dynamic vary to attempt to get again to one thing nearer to the sound of the unique recording.

As you’d count on, the X800M2 can play each Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based sound codecs.

Sony’s new 4K participant may also deal with an excellent number of video file codecs over community or USB drives, together with XVID, WMV, AVCHD, MPEG-2 and MPEG-Four. To allow this, the deck carries an Ethernet port, built-in Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, plus a front-mounted USB port.

Sony UBP-X800M2
The Sony UBP-X800M2 4K Blu-ray participant’s inner chassis.

Different connections on the deck’s rear comprise twin HDMIs and a coaxial digital audio output – and, lastly, it’s price mentioning that the Bluetooth connectivity helps LDAC know-how. This boosts sound high quality by delivering thrice the information of regular Bluetooth connections.

The X800M2 doesn’t carry a built-in multi-channel audio decoder such because the Panasonic UB820, so there’s no array of multi-channel analogue line-outs. I wouldn’t count on this to upset too many individuals, although, given the audio high quality you may get over HDMI these days.

Extra of a priority is the Sony UBP-X800M2’s lack of HDR10+ assist. Whereas Dolby Imaginative and prescient continues to be comfortably forward of its HDR10+ “dynamic HDR” rival, HDR10+ titles arriving extra frequently than earlier than.

So it’s a disgrace Sony nonetheless refuses to embrace the format – particularly when twin Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR10+ assist function in Panasonic’s newest UB820 and £179 UB450 4K Blu-ray decks.

In fact, the lacking HDR10+ assist received’t matter in case your TV doesn’t additionally assist HDR10+. Simply as the brand new Dolby Imaginative and prescient assist received’t matter in case your TV doesn’t assist Dolby Imaginative and prescient. However the shift to multi-format assist elsewhere within the 4K Blu-ray and TV world is beginning to make solely supporting one of many dynamic HDR codecs more and more arduous to tackle a mid-range participant.

Nevertheless, the Sony UBP-X800M2 does present a trio of streaming apps: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube. Maybe sensibly, Sony hasn’t tried to increase the X800m2’s streaming options past these three fashionable companies.

Associated: What’s HDR10+?

Sony UBP-X800M2
The Sony UBP-X800M2 4K Blu-ray participant helps the three hottest streaming apps: Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube.

For those who personal a projector or low-brightness TV, it’s possible you’ll be happy to listen to that the X800M2 has a function for changing HDR to SDR, so that you could take pleasure in the advantages of 4K Blu-ray’s additional decision with out having to fret about your show battling HDR.

Lastly, in case you’re questioning what separates the X800M2 from Sony’s flagship X1100ES participant, the chief variations are that the dearer deck carries an additional stereo audio line output, and varied customized set up options.

These embody additional management choices – together with compatibility with the likes of Crestron, Savant and Control4 – and further customized install-friendly connections reminiscent of IP management over Cat-5 or Wi-Fi, an RS-232C two-way management port, and an IR enter.

Sony UBP-X800M2 setup – Keep in mind to toggle Dolby Imaginative and prescient on and off, relying on the disc you’re watching, for the very best image

There are solely actually three issues it is advisable to watch out about when establishing the Sony UBP-X800M2.

First, bear in mind to toggle the Dolby Imaginative and prescient possibility on and off, relying on whether or not or not you’re watching a Dolby Imaginative and prescient disc. That is vital if you wish to ensure of getting the very best image high quality out of your 4K Blu-rays.

Associated: Greatest 4K Blu-ray gamers

Sony UBP-X800M2
Dolby Imaginative and prescient on or off? You’ll need to determine it out because the X800M2 doesn’t auto-detect.

Second, when you’ve got a Sony TV, think about activating the Bravia mode function. This produces barely crisper, cleaner photographs with non-4K discs when used with Sony Bravia TVs. The function makes no distinction to 4K playback, nonetheless.

Lastly, don’t use the Sony UBP-X800M2’s Auto 2 upscaling possibility, because it tends to make the image look moderately processed. Follow Auto 1.

Sony UBP-X800M2 efficiency – Dolby Imaginative and prescient points apart, it’s a superb performer

On condition that it’s the Sony UBP-X800M2’s foremost raison d’etre, it’s a disgrace to seek out the deck’s Dolby Imaginative and prescient playback affected by not one however two vital flaws.

First, there’s no automated detection of whether or not or not a disc you insert helps Dolby Imaginative and prescient. You due to this fact need to manually choose Dolby Imaginative and prescient “on” or “off” – an irritation made worse by the truth that it isn’t all the time straightforward to know if a specific disc has Dolby Imaginative and prescient or not.

By comparability, all different manufacturers of Dolby Imaginative and prescient-supporting 4K Blu-ray participant can routinely detect whether or not they need to be outputting Dolby Imaginative and prescient or HDR10.

Making this bizarre scenario worse is the way in which the X800M2, just like the Sony X1100ES and X700 4K Blu-ray gamers earlier than it, outputs every thing – SDR, HDR10, HLG, no matter – behind a Dolby Imaginative and prescient flag in case you go away the deck’s Dolby Imaginative and prescient mode switched on.

This implies your TV sees the incoming content material as Dolby Imaginative and prescient and tweaks its playback accordingly, leading to such issues as over-wrought pores and skin tones, raised black ranges, and a bent for the very large facet ratio photos to “glow” barely.

The Sony UBP-X800M2’s different Dolby Imaginative and prescient difficulty is a efficiency moderately than implementation one. Particularly that as with the Panasonic UB820 and Sony X1100ES, it performs Dolby Imaginative and prescient titles too brightly.

Sony UBP-X800M2
The Sony UBP-X800M2 4K Blu-ray participant’s common construct high quality is fairly good.

This will truly look fairly efficient at occasions, elevating the additional dynamism often related to Dolby Imaginative and prescient. Sadly, the raised brightness signifies that the lightest elements of Dolby Imaginative and prescient photographs can seem devoid of element and delicate firming data.

Pictures of the solar can flip into photographs of a white gap within the sky, as an example, or shiny reflections on a rippling sea can flip right into a bizarre white patch torn out of the ocean’s floor.

I’ve raised this difficulty with Dolby, however are but to listen to answer is on its means.

The Sony UBP-X800M2 is in any other case a superb performer. Its HDR10 4K Blu-ray photos look fantastically refined, filled with positive element and freed from seemingly any type of electrical or processing noise.

Colors, too, look exquisitely wealthy but in addition gorgeously nuanced, contributing to an image that does just about every thing it could to promote 4K Blu-ray’s HDR, color gamut and determination advantages over the common-or-garden previous HD Blu-ray.

Sony UBP-X800M2
The Sony UBP-X800M2 4K Blu-ray participant’s glassy entrance panel is clean-looking.

Even the Dolby Imaginative and prescient photos look lovely when there isn’t an apparent space of shiny “clipping” drawing your eye away from the remainder of the motion.

Movement is completely delivered, no matter whether or not you’re watching a 24p film on a disc or 50/60Hz streams from the built-in apps. On this latter respect the X800M2 simply outperforms Panasonic’s UB820, which suffers unwatchable quantities of judder when utilizing its streaming apps.

The Sony UBP-X800M2 additionally proves to be a superb upscaler of sub-4K content material, significantly from HD Blu-ray discs. Upscaled photographs look sharper and extra detailed with out wanting noisy or tormented by “ringed” or compelled object edges.

Sony UBP-X800M2
Sonically, the Sony UBP-X800M2 4K Blu-ray participant excels, dealing with sources with precision.

The Panasonic UB820 upscales barely higher, nevertheless it’s a slight distinction. I’d say the Sony X800M2 performs marginally higher – at the least the place sharpness is worried – than the UB820 with HDR10 sources.

A much bigger distinction could be seen between the HDR-to-SDR conversion techniques of the Panasonic UB820 and Sony X800M2. And this one doesn’t go in Sony’s favour. For whereas Panasonic’s conversion course of works remarkably properly, Sony’s strategy crushes element out of darkish areas, and makes some colors – particularly darker hues – look unnatural.

Sonically, the Sony UBP-X800M2 is great. It handles its highest-quality sources – Hello-Res audio information and, particularly, DVD-Audio and SACD discs – with a lot aplomb and precision that it deserves to be partnered with as high-end an audio system as you may handle.

It doesn’t flip its nostril up at extra typical music sources, although; fairly the other. Its DSEE HX function does a exceptional job of constructing compressed, digital audio sound richer, fuller and extra dynamic. In actual fact, the extra compressed the supply, the extra spectacular DSEE HX’s influence.

Associated: What’s Hello-Res Audio?

Ought to I purchase the Sony UBP-X800M2?

For those who don’t want its Dolby Imaginative and prescient or HDR-to-SDR conversion options, the Sony UBP-X800M2 is a powerful possibility. Its playback of HDR10 4K Blu-rays, HD Blu-rays and all varieties of audio disc and information is great for its value level.

For me, although, the shortage of automated Dolby Imaginative and prescient switching is a headache you actually shouldn’t be confronted with on a mid-range 4K Blu-ray participant in 2019.

It will be good if the present Dolby Imaginative and prescient image high quality points have been resolved by a firmware replace, too. Lastly, now that Panasonic is providing HDR10+ playback in addition to Dolby Imaginative and prescient on each mid-range and funds 4K Blu-ray gamers, I can’t assist however want that Sony had taken such a consumer-friendly path, too.

Ultimately, all issues thought-about, it appears to me that the Panasonic UB820 is a greater all-round mid-range possibility than the Sony UBP-X800M2. Until you occur to have a group of SACD and DVD-Audio discs you need to play.

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