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Panasonic DP-UB9000 UHD Player Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed audio measurements of the Panasonic DP-UB9000 UHD streaming 4K disc player. It was kindly purchased by a member from my friend @Robert Zohn of Value Electronics. The DP-UB9000 costs US $1,000.

The moment you grab the DP-UB9000 and feel its incredible heft you forget about all the bargain UHD players:

Panasonic  Streaming 4K Ultra HD Hi-Res Audio with Dolby Vision THX Certified Blu-ray Player A...jpg

The weight is evenly distributed telling me it is the chassis that is heavy and not just one single transformer in a corner. The back panel is where the difference becomes clear between this unit and mass market players:

Panasonic  Streaming 4K Ultra HD Hi-Res Audio with Dolby Vision THX Certified Blu-ray Player B...jpg

We have dedicated balanced and RCA outputs for left and right channels!

There is also an "audio-only" HDMI output which is a misnomer as you cannot have audio without video with HDMI. You have to at least send a black video signal for it to carry the audio samples (in the "invisible" parts of the image data). The main purpose is to send the video to a projector and then have another output to go to your AVR or processor if it can't handle 4K/UHD (which they all do today anyway).

There is USB input to play files but not for it to act as a DAC. The former is how I tested it which limited me to static test signals (i.e. no sweeps).

UHD Player Audio Measurements
I put my reference 24-bit 1 kHz tone on the USB drive and played it while capturing the output from XLR connections:

Panasonic  Streaming 4K Ultra HD Hi-Res Audio with Dolby Vision THX Certified Blu-ray Player A...png


I was disappointed that the output was just 2.1 volts and not the nominal 4 volts. That likely hurt it a bit, reducing its otherwise very nice SINAD (sum of noise and distortion) to 112 dB. This puts the DP-UB9000 squarely in the excellent section of all devices with DACs in them tested so far:

best UHD Blu-ray player audio dac review.png


Zooming in for better clarity (click for larger image):

best UHD Blu-ray player audio dac review zoomed.png


As you see, the now discontinued but beloved Oppo UDP-205 does a bit better with its 4 volt output. Still, there is a ton to celebrate as other AV products have done nothing but disappoint us when it comes to noise and distortion of their DACs.

Here is the same test but with RCA unbalanced outputs:

Panasonic  Streaming 4K Ultra HD Hi-Res Audio with Dolby Vision THX Certified Blu-ray Player R...png


At first I thought the left and right in the multi-channel output section would be the same. But then puzzled why you can turn them on and off independently. So I turned them on and was disappointed to see this:

Panasonic  Streaming 4K Ultra HD Hi-Res Audio with Dolby Vision THX Certified Blu-ray Player M...png


This is the type of performance we typically see in AVRs/AV Processors. Likely an 8-channel DAC was used to produce this showing the stark difference in distortion and noise compared to much better implementation for stereo connectors.

Going back to the first graph, I forgot to note that turning off video and front panel in the so called "High Clarity" modes made no difference. So might as well leave the displays on so you know what the unit is doing.

Next I ran my dynamic range test:

Panasonic  Streaming 4K Ultra HD Hi-Res Audio with Dolby Vision THX Certified Blu-ray Player D...png


Not state of the art but within the performance envelop already established.

32-tone test signal to resemble "music" shows very good performance:

Panasonic  Streaming 4K Ultra HD Hi-Res Audio with Dolby Vision THX Certified Blu-ray Player M...png


Finally we have the jitter test:
Panasonic  Streaming 4K Ultra HD Hi-Res Audio with Dolby Vision THX Certified Blu-ray Player J...png


Yes you can have "jitter" even though I am using a USB connection. Most noise and unwanted signals in DACs is generated internally by noise and interference than anything coming over the wire. We see that here with a sequence pulses in low frequencies. Fortunatley they are below -130 dB or way under threshold of detection by any human being so not a problem.

Conclusions
Panasonic DP-UB9000 shows that when AV companies put their mind to it, they can produce excellently performing and engineered products when it comes to audio performance. Despite having HDMI in there whaling away and the rest of the streaming bits, we have high performance desktop class DAC results.

Performance is almost the same as Oppo UDP-205 so for people mourning the loss of that unit, be sad no more. No, you don't get that units HDMI input and "mini AVR in a box" features but you do get a very performant and supported UHD player.

I am happy to recommend the Panasonic DP-UB9000 to my recommended list.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

I make this short. Donations are welcome using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
So what is the intended market for these units, people with 5.1 setups wanting to connect these to external amps and thus bypassing the need for an AVR (while removing the ability to do crossovers and room EQ)?

As your measurements have shown, 80-90dB is around the SINAD of quality AVR amps, so bypassing their DACs isn’t going to do much.

EDIT: Or people with purely 2.0 systems that want to watch UHD Blu-rays?
 
So what is the intended market for these units, people with 5.1 setups wanting to connect these to external amps and thus bypassing the need for an AVR (while removing the ability to do crossovers and room EQ)?

As your measurements have shown, 80-90dB is around the SINAD of quality AVR amps, so bypassing their DACs isn’t going to do much.

EDIT: Or people with purely 2.0 systems that want to watch UHD Blu-rays?

I bought this from Value Electronics from @Robert Zohn

The stereo output uses the AK4497EQ (Edit: Actually it’s the AK4493)
The multichannel out uses the AK4458VN


1) Video performance
- Even though UHD BD is "all digital", chroma upsampling can make a difference in picture quality.
- UHD BD offers visibly superior quality over streaming

2) DLNA 2 channel streaming including DSD 256.

3) UHD and 1080p Blu-ray concerts in 2.0 =)

4) The Oppo-205 is no longer available
 

Attachments

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Direct connection to power amps makes no sense without a volume control.

The unit does have a digital pre-amp capability to control the analog volume.
 
@amirm
Quick question. If we look at the Oppo 205, it has lower THD, but there are more spikes around the fundamental. (between 1-2k). What is that?


1593110367023.png
 
The unit does have a digital pre-amp capability to control the analog volume.
I don't see a volume control for the player on the remote. Is there one and I am not seeing it?
 
@amirm
Quick question. If we look at the Oppo 205, it has lower THD, but there are more spikes around the fundamental. (between 1-2k). What is that?
They look like jitter. You can see them later in the jitter test.
 
I bought this from Value Electronics from @Robert Zohn

The stereo output uses the AK4497EQ
The multichannel out uses the AK4458VN


1) Video performance
- Even though UHD BD is "all digital", chroma upsampling can make a difference in picture quality.
- UHD BD offers visibly superior quality over streaming

2) DLNA 2 channel streaming including DSD 256.

3) UHD and 1080p Blu-ray concerts in 2.0 =)

4) The Oppo-205 is no longer available
Is the UB820 not identical in every way except the analog output? If so, it’s $500.
 
If you're only using the player watch movies, feeding an HDMI signal into an AVR, I suppose you wold be just as well off with the cheaper Panasonic DP-UB820?
Correct. This is for people who want to wire up an alternate analog path and get the best audio performance possible.
 
I don't see a volume control for the player on the remote. Is there one and I am not seeing it?
The manual only states adjusting the master output level, nothing about regular volume control.

Yes -- only has master output level adjustment. Not simple.

Would work better w/an integrated amp. Potentially, @Robert Zohn can convince Panasonic to consider adding volume control in a future Firmware update now that this review is out showing pretty competitive performance and offers a good single box solution for a 2 ch streaming DAC + UHD player.

Look at this comapred to the Topping D90 (first graph shown; second graph masking the -130 to -140 db range so you can more easily compare. D90 has more distortion at lower frequencies, but does better at higher frequencies. But the pattern is more gradual from lower to higher frequencies whereas it is fatter around 500 Hz where the voices are.

1593111371856.png
 
And that's a very nice looking unit and solidly built and well organized internally.
Care was given, and it shows by looks, by build, and by measurements (performance).

It's not made of plastic.

Because audio sounds (music) and visuals (movies) matter
 
Is the UB820 not identical in every way except the analog output? If so, it’s $500.

Someone can reach out to @Robert Zohn to buy one and have it drop shipped to @amirm first. Since there is no USB dac, he can only run an abbreviated set of tests.

1) Drive noise when playing UHD discs should be quieter on the UB9000 which matters if the player is in the same room as the audience. Some of it is insulation, some claim it's a different drive
2) Better backlit remote for UB9000
3) Fancier firmware for HDR tone mapping on projectors

Another weakness compared to the Oppo 205 is the lack of SACD disc playback, although it has better-than-Oppo DSD DLNA support.
 
How does this get a "home run" with only 2.1VRMS over XLR?

Probably because it still gets into the Blue Zone at 2V and beats the Topping D70 @ 4V. Not ideal of course.

Would be interesting to know if a firmware update can increase the voltage to 4V
 
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