It is true that the arrival of the best streaming services has made disc formats like Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray unnecessary for some. But studios continue to release new and old movies on disc on a regular basis, and there are plenty of independent labels that allow obscure and cult titles from the studios to be released in luxury packaging with plenty of extras.
Simply put, Blu-ray is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and we couldn’t be happier about it. But while there’s always a steady supply of new discs, the best 4K Blu-ray players have become scarce, with most AV manufacturers either ceasing to make new players or limiting production to just one model.
That’s why it’s always great to hear about a new 4K Blu-ray player hitting the market. Magnetar released its first reader, the UDP800, in 2022, and has now followed with a new flagship model, the UDP900. At €2,500 (about $2,700 / £2,200 / AU$4,100), the UDP900 costs about $1,000 more than the UDP800, making it the most expensive player we know of.
What’s in the Magnetar UDP900 to justify its high price? In this case, it is not only what is inside, but also what is outside. According to the company, the UDP900 has an “aluminum alloy body and reinforced double-layer chassis structure”. Its internal components are also independently protected by a metal enclosure to reduce vibration and noise, and two 60 W toroidal transformer power supplies are integrated for the player’s analog audio output.
Such sturdy build quality is said to be why Magnetar’s drive measures 17.5 x 5.2 x 12 inches (W x H x D) and weighs 34 pounds. In the declining world of 4K Blu-ray players, the UDP900 is a real beast.
Inside the UDP900 is an ESS9038PRO digital-to-analog converter (DAC) for the player’s analog stereo XLR output and an ESS9028PRO DAC for its 7.1-channel analog RCA output. High dynamic range Dolby Vision and HDR10+ formats are supported, and the UDP900 can play regular SACDs and CDs along with Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray and DVD discs.
In addition to its two HDMI outputs (one video/audio and one audio only), the UDP900 also has a USB Type B DAC input for connecting a computer for audio playback.
Analysis: Why Buy a Blu-ray Player, Especially a High-Priced Player?
There is no doubt that streaming is convenient and much of the world has chosen to go this route for their movie and music consumption. But the Blu-ray disc format remains viable, with new regular Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray discs released weekly. Some of these are deluxe editions aimed at collectors, like the recent 4K remaster of Terry Gilliam’s Criterion. The fisher king from 1991. But others are recent films such as Best Picture Oscar Nominees In the west, nothing is new And triangle of sadness.
If you’re a Blu-ray collector, it makes sense to own the best disc player possible to ensure that you have a reliable and robust machine to play your discs in the future. That’s why I don’t necessarily flinch at the exorbitant price of the Magnetar UDP900, although there are more reasonably priced high-performance drive options such as the Panasonic DP-UB900.
What the UDP900 brings to the table, in addition to unassailable build quality, is its focus on audio and video performance. Along with support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats, it features a balanced analog XLR output and a dedicated toroidal transformer power supply for each stereo channel. That means it should be an exceptional player for compact discs as well as Blu-rays and 4K Blu-rays, and it also supports the audiophile SACD format.
One of my precious audio-visual assets is a Oppo UDP-203 4K Blu-ray player, which was the last model made by Oppo before closing its Blu-ray player manufacturing plant, apparently because the installation was needed to produce phones for the Indian market.
Oppo Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players were sturdy and reliable, and their excellent build quality and performance justified their higher cost compared to other players. And while Magnetar’s demand for the UDP900 is undoubtedly high, I also have no doubt that it’s the kind of drive you’ll still be using decades from now.
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