Reviews SACD/CD/NETWORK PLAYER

PIONEER UDP-LX500 Review: Universal Choice

PIONEER UDP-LX500 Review: Universal Choice

Martin Pipe will get to grips with Pioneer’s UDP-LX500. A participant for all seasons?

Till fairly lately, Oppo was the default selection when it got here to high- efficiency Blu-ray and common disc gamers. However regardless of having the standard market largely to itself, Oppo dropped a bomb final April. It introduced that it will be ceasing improvement of disc gamers to focus on cell phones. Since then, hi-fi and AV lovers all over the world have been looking for out worthy successors.

Lately, Pioneer launched two new Extremely HD common Blu-ray gamers – the UDP-LX500 and UDP-LX800 (£2000). Each LX500 and LX800 solely have stereo analogue audio outputs; multichannel listening necessitates an HDMI connection to your AV receiver. I’ll talk about this shortly.

Will these new Pioneers fill the hole as soon as occupied by Oppo’s choices? The overall consensus amongst home-cinema lovers is that they do, however I’ll take a look at what the UDP-LX500 is like with music.

This machine is especially fascinating as an audio supply as it should play DVD-As and SACDs, each stereo and surround, along with Blu-ray audio discs. Music saved on USB units, audio CDs and CD/DVD-ROMs are additionally inside the LX500’s grasp, whereas an on-board DLNA shopper will decide songs out of your servers. Codecs listed as suitable embrace MP3, FLAC, WAV, AAC, DSD64/I28, MP3 and OGG Vorbis. The machine is suitable with hi-res FLAC/WAV information with 24- bit quantisation and sampling charges of as much as 192kHz.

For sure, Pioneer’s DLNA implementation additionally covers video (MPEG/WMV/MP4/AVI/FLV) and photographs (JPG/GIF/PNG); the disc participant will deal with DVD-Video, video CDs and the complete gamut of visible Blu- ray content material – together with 3D and 4k titles. Many user-recordable codecs are catered for (CD-R/CD-RW/DVD- R7DVD-RW/DVD+RW) though DVD-RAM isn’t on the record.

The LX500 is suitable with the newest and biggest video applied sciences akin to Extremely-HD Blu- ray, 36-bit color depth, HDR (excessive dynamic vary) and low-latency Dolby Video; totally different visible ‘preset modes’ are offered for SDR (commonplace dynamic vary) and HDR.

It’s in fact suitable with the accompanying hi-res soundtracks (e.g. Dolby True HD and DTS Grasp Audio) in addition to ‘legacy’ ones like DVD-type Dolby Digital and DTS.

The LX500 is certainly visually-smart in a conservative and understated means; it might simply be mistaken for a I990s-vintage CD participant, with its front-loading mech and fluorescent show. Solely the USB socket provides the sport away! It’s nevertheless awkward to make out the black buttons on the black entrance panel. Till familiarity units in, you may by accident interact ‘direct’ mode – a video-free mode, optimised for music playback by way of the analogue audio outputs – when your intention was to eject a disc! To drive the subtle LX500 absolutely its distant management is important.

There are two HDMI ports across the again. One will carry each sound and imaginative and prescient, whereas the opposite is sound-only. Once I first put in the evaluate pattern, my AV receiver (an Onkyo TX-NR906) was resolutely silent. It turned out the earlier consumer had disabled audio on the primary HDMI port. I discovered an ‘HDMI Mode’ choice in one of many settings menu had been set to ‘separate’. After correcting this, all was nicely. Having separate audio and video HDMI outputs allegedly helps to take care of efficiency, and may additionally be of sensible profit in case your amplification doesn’t help the later variations of HDMI wanted for 3D, 4k and so forth.

There’s an Ethernet jack (no wi-fi) for community playback and BD- Reside performance, a RS232 port for distant management, the aforementioned two-channel analogue audio output (no analogue video outputs) and a grounding terminal known as ‘zero sign’. This ‘barrel-only’ (the

Within the center is the transport, beneath which is a screened part containing the participant and video circuitry. On the decrease proper is the switched-mode energy provide; its reverse quantity is the audio board, which is predicated on the premium ‘Velvet Sound’ AK4490EQ DAC from AKM.

centre-pin is unconnected) socket can be related by way of a phono- to-phono cable to a spare enter or output on the rear panel of your audio gear, bringing the LX500 to the latter’s floor potential; I observe that though the LX500 has an IEC mains socket, it lacks an earth pin and so it’s ‘floating’.

USE AND PERFORMANCE

On the entire, the LX500 is simple to arrange and use – the menu system appears to be logically- structured, simply correctly given all the quite a few cutting-edge choices associated to audio and video alone! I see that technological progress has manifested itself elsewhere – the consumer interface is much more responsive than earlier high-end gamers I’ve tried. Trendy electronics is highly-integrated, with fewer chips doing extra. Even so, I used to be stunned to notice how a lot empty area there’s on this participant – which is heavy at I0kgs, on account of the metalwork that Pioneer has used to maintain issues secure.

Which brings us to the audio aspect of issues. Oppo gamers have been among the many first to take advantage of the ESS Sabre vary of audio DACs. In its LX500, Pioneer is championing an alternate high-performance system, AKM’s two-channel premium ‘Velvet Sound’ AK4490EQ. This can settle for 11.2MHz DSD and 768kHz/32-bit PCM alerts, is claimed to supply a I20dB dynamic vary and boasts 5 digital filter modes (Pioneer’s

setup menus present three – sharp, brief and delicate – which are, underneath most circumstances, too delicate to differentiate between). Mounted on an audio board, the chip is surrounded by high-quality surface-mounted passive elements and NE5532 op amps – ample in skilled gear.

Let’s begin with the visuals. They’re fairly the perfect I’ve so far seen from a home disc participant.

DVDs are given a brand new visible sheen, and even sub-standard discs (house films, for instance) look higher, with extra vivid colors and fewer digital noise. Common Full-HD discs I attempted have been delivered with readability and depth.

The landscapebending of Inception was, for example, as astonishing as I keep in mind from cinematic viewing. This participant additionally did justice to the movie’s bombastic DTS HD-Grasp multichannel sound monitor; it swung dynamically as required and in sound staging phrases managed to persuade by way of my Onkyo receiver and Rogers ‘speaker system.

There will not be multi-channel analogue outputs, however these with surround-sound DVD-A discs and

The sensibly laid-out distant has a dated look. It’s straightforward sufficient to make use of and the buttons are backlit for straightforward location at the hours of darkness.

Two HDMI outputs – permitting audio and video to be carried by way of separate digital paths – are offered, though the UDP-LX500 solely caters for stereo analogue audio. The ‘zero sign’ is, principally, an earthing terminal. Typical digital terminals are current for exterior DACs, and for non-disc playback there are Ethernet and USB ports. No digital inputs although; it can’t be used as a DAC.

SACDs will have the ability to take pleasure in them by way of HDMI if the LX500 is partnered with appropriate off-board gear. You’ll be able to configure the participant to ship the disc’s audio bitstream to your amp by way of HDMI. Excellent news if it will probably cope with DSD natively – as my venerable Onkyo can! Some 24- bit transfers of previous quadraphonic materials have been performed. Amongst this was The Buddies of Distinction cowl of Mild My Hearth, from the 1969 album Extremely Distinct – I’ve by no means heard it sound so gutsy…or soulful; it’s somewhat shiny, however that’s in all probability right down to the unique recording. Its fascinating (and extremely discrete) quad combine emerged intact too. The participant additionally did justice to the delicate 5.1 surround mixture of reggae-tinged Message in a Bottle, from The Police compilation-SACD Each Breath You Take – The Classics. The allimportant bass was well-defined, and backed up by percussion that was well-timed.

To take a look at the analogue two-channel efficiency, I drove a Chord Etude energy amp (reviewed elsewhere this challenge) and Quadral Aurum Wotan VIII audio system, by way of a ‘passive pot’ field (quantity management). CD materials initially impressed; a 2010 Chandos recording of the BBC Philharmonic enjoying works by Britten was given the required depth, verve and pleasure. Particularly, the 4 Sea Interludes (from the opera Peter Grimes) are filled with environment and detailed throughout the tonal vary. Oddly, the luxurious Trevor Horn manufacturing of Seal’s ‘The Starting’ appeared a tad congested and missing in guts though the lead vocal retained its emotional influence. Regardless of Pioneer’s claims, the DLNA participant rejected DSD64 content material. Nevertheless, my 24/96 FLAC of Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick rewarded me with its analogue heat, robust dynamics and instrumental texture. Supertramp’s Breakfast in America, on Blu-ray audio, additionally sounded excellent; standing out above all else is the sheer readability.

CONCLUSION

As a house cinema supply, there’s a lot to advocate the Pioneer UDP-LX500 – it doesn’t actually have a lot competitors. To get the greatest from it, although, you’ll want an honest processor and amplification – particularly on the subject of surround. The shortage of multichannel analogue outputs means it’s not the only option for house owners of older gear (particularly quadraphonic). When it comes to its analogue phrases, the UDP- LX500 places up a very good battle – however an honest purpose-designed CD participant shall be extra clear.

MEASURED PERFORMANCE

With CD frequency response measured flat to 21kHz and distortion at -60dB got here in at zero.three%, a tad larger than the zero.22% that’s typical, primarily on account of noise. In consequence EIAJ Dynamic Vary measured 97dB, an inexpensive determine if under the 102dB potential from high quality hi-fi DAC chips. Output from the phono sockets was excessive at 2.3V. With CD an honest efficiency all spherical.

FREQUENCY RESPONSE

DISTORTION

Distortion (-60dB, 24bit)          zero.16%

Dynamic vary (EIAJ)             102dB

Output                                      2.3V

Noise                                    -100dB

With hi-res learn from a USB Flash Drive the image modified in uncommon style. With 24/192 WAV a Format Unsupported message appeared. Nevertheless, 24/96 was performed, yielding mediocre outcomes. Distortion measured zero.16%, EIAJ Dynamic Vary 102dB – no higher than CD – while frequency response was flat to 46kHz, near the theoretical restrict. Curiously, output fell to 1.6V most, making it -3dB down on CD, suggesting a separate part for hi-res or USB processing degree misaligned with the CD part.

In comparable style SACD additionally gave 1.6V out at full scale, making it -3dB quieter than CD. Distortion at -60dB measured zero.33% and EIAJ Dynamic Vary a poor 99dB, the place 110dB is feasible (Arcam CDS50). Frequency response prolonged to 35kHz earlier than rolling down quick to 48kHz, suggesting the Pioneer internally converts DSD to 24/96 PCM; pure DSD processing doesn’t give a brick-wall cut-off.

The UDP-LX500 gives mediocre audio high quality in measured phrases, little higher than CD when enjoying hi-res from Flash Reminiscence or DSD from SACD.

Frequency response (-1dB) 4Hz-46kHz

PIONEER UDP-LX500

EXCELLENT – extraordinarily succesful.

VALUE – keenly priced.

VERDICT

eight Complete Rating

Positive, it isn’t good – the sadly-extinct Oppos are a tough act to comply with. However if you’d like a versatile disc participant that may deal with absolutely anything, this Pioneer warrants critical consideration

PROS

  • broad disc compatibility
  • image high quality
  • can sound convincing

CONS

  • no analogue multichannel outputs
  • DSD DLNA points
  • no analogue video outputs
Consumer Score: Be the primary one!

The place to purchase?

Pioneer

+44 (zero)203 936 8086 www.pioneer-audiovisual.eu

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