Our Panasonic DP-UB9000 Blu-ray player review proves there’s plenty of life left in physical media yet. Beautifully built, this Ultra HD flagship player will make the most of both 4K and HD Blu-rays, offering both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic metadata support for advanced HDR, alongside regular HDR10 and HLG.
It’ll also upscale DVD and makes a decent noise with CDs. If you have a disc library that goes back years, this deck is truly worthwhile upgrade, despite its high cost.
The sheer quality of its images is unimpeachable, and if you're looking for something to get the ultimate image quality from one of the best TVs, then this is absolutely what you need. Hook it up to one of the best AV receivers for surround sound, and you've really got the cinema at home.
Panasonic DP-UB9000 review: Price & release date
Officially selling for £850/$1,319/AU$1,799, the DP-UB9000 tops Panasonic’s Blu-ray range and has a predictably lofty price point, but still feels like it must be pretty good value when you heft it out of its box, because this thing feels premium.
It has the same quality of finish and comparable weight (important in any device that spins discs with precision) to Pioneer’s high-end UDP-LX500 and UDP-LX800 models, both of which are currently out of stock, and the newer Reavon UBR-X200, which sells for nearly twice the price.
In such a rarefied company, that price tag actually looks like a bit of a bargain…
The UB9000 was originally released in late 2018, but was refreshed in 2021, though with no change in features or obvious change in quality – so we're not expecting a replacement version for it any time soon. Not that there's any need, since it supports the key technologies we want to see already. Speaking of which…
Panasonic DP-UB9000 review: Features & what's new
This Panasonic deck offers a smattering of streaming apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, but probably not enough to tempt you away from your media streaming stick of choice, or any polished smart TV platform for that matter. Sadly, there’s no streaming music apps, which would have seemed a logical addition. So while the smart features are limited overall, it just doesn't matter.
Connectivity is best in class. There are two HDMI outputs (one for audio only), two USBs (one a fast v3.0), optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, stereo analogue phonos and a full 7.1 channel output, plus balanced Neutrik XLR stereo connectors. Ethernet is available in addition to Wi-Fi.
Our favourite feature attraction has to be the in-depth Playback Info screen. This rather helpfully reads HDR10 metadata, revealing Maximum Frame-Average Light (MaxFALL) and Maximum Light Level (MaxCLL) data from discs. If you’ve ever wanted to know that Pacific Rim Uprising was mastered for 1000 nits, this player will oblige. It’ll also reveal that it has a MaxFALL of 863 nits. Did you also know that Despicable Me 2 boasts a max average HDR brightness of 553 nits? Probably not, but at least you can gauge just how true to the creative intent your HDR display is getting when Gru blows something up..
On the down side, this isn’t a universal disc player. It won’t play Super Audio CDs or DVD-A platters. It’s vanilla-flavoured CD compatible only. That's no problem at all if you just want it for movies, but might disappoint some audiophiles. All is not lost on the Hi-Res Audio front, though: the player will handle DSD and 24-bit FLAC files.
Panasonic DP-UB9000 review: Images & sound
Boasting THX 4K Source component certification, the picture available from this player is jaw-droppingly good. It uses Panasonic’s second generation HCX video processor, and offers up images that are beautifully detailed, with almost 3D depth and wide, smooth colour.
It also boasts an HDR Optimizer which can be used to match the player output to your display. Selectable options include OLED, High Luminance Projector, Basic Luminance Projector, Super High Luminance LCD, Middle or High Luminance LCD and Basic Luminance LCD.
This Optimizer sets out to prevent clipping by setting a tone map target (the default is 1000 nits), and carrying out conversion for lower brightness displays that enable them to better handle extreme HDR highlights without clipping.
Not all TVs can accurately tone map, particularly when content has been mastered above 1,000 nits. Clipping can blanch out cloudy skies, disguising detail, as one example. In theory, watching in Dolby Vision should solve this, but this Optmizer should mean that you get the best dynamic range in anything you watch, Dolby or no.
The DP-UB9000 will also interpolate a 4K 4:4:4 video output from standard 4K 4:2:0 content; this actually works with both UHD discs and streaming services. Onscreen images are vibrant and dynamic as a result, with expertly saturated colour and smooth gradations.
The DB-UB9000 may not play legacy hi-res audio discs, but Panasonic hasn’t skimped on the sonic spec. Beneath the hood, a 768KHz/32bit AK4493 DAC handles two-channel duties, while a dedicated power supply and dedicated circuit board for the analogue audio output sends left and right channels through a low noise op-amp to the Neutrik balanced outputs.
Panasonic DP-UB9000 review: Design & usability
When it comes to style, the DP-UB9000 looks every bit the audiophile thoroughbred. A two-layer steel construction means the deck is reassuringly weighty at 7.8kg. The double layer top plate and aluminium side plates are separately bolted, while the base of the chassis, also dual layered, consists of 1.2mm and 1.6mm sheets.
Attention to detail is high. The corners are seductively rolled, while a hairline finish on the front panel gives it a minimalistic, up-market demeanour. There’s a quartet of isolating feet, with anti slip pads, to keep everything firmly in place.
The user interface is clean and easy to use, with buttons for Video, Music, Photos, Home Network, Network Service and Setup. The remote control, which is large and a bit plasticky, gets you around without too much effort.
Panasonic DP-UB9000 review: Verdict
If you’re looking for the best premium Blu-ray player for under a grand, then your search surely stops here. The DP-UB9000 is a fabulous disc spinner, with a build quality that inspires confidence, and a performance that wows.
Image quality is excellent, helped by clever HDR optimisation technology. Support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+ will make the most of any UHD discs you feed it, and that Playback Info screen is pure AV catnip. Audio quality isn’t too shabby either.
We rate the DP-UB9000 as the must-have player for AV enthusiasts.
Panasonic DP-UB9000 review: Also consider
Priced some way up from the DP-UB9000, the Reavon UBR-X200 adds support for both SACD and DVD-Audio discs. It’s also enviably built, with a 1.6mm thick chassis and 3mm thick steel plate, and has an XLR analogue audio output option. An eight-channel Burr-Brown DAC does the heavy audio lifting, and hi-res file support is comprehensive. There's not really a meaningful visual improvement, so this is one for audiophiles, really.
If you're looking for something more affordable, the Sony UBP-X800M2 is a great pick. It's the latest iteration in a range of high-performance, relatively inexpensive disc spinners from Sony. It supports Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG disc playback, and even boasts Super Audio CD support. There’s also a limited number of streaming services built-in, including Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.