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Sony has been instrumental in the development of optical memory discs. This applies to the CD and SACD as well as to the Blu-ray and its successors with UHD resolution. It is not surprising that the Sony UBP-X800M2 (Check on Amazon.com) has mastered all disc formats.
You read this right: The Sony UBP-X800M2 plays all discs and yet not everything. This means all video formats, apart from Dolby Vision’s competitor, the HDR10+. Both formats represent a program-dependent improvement of contrast and color rendering, for which dynamic metadata is constantly transmitted.
Dolby Vision has established itself as a standard in many Ultra HD Blu-ray players. On the other hand, currently, only Panasonic manufactures HDR10+ Blu-ray players, like the excellent DP-UB820 (Check on Amazon.com).
Unlike Dolby Vision Blu-ray disks, HDR10+ disks are hardly available. Therefore, Sony’s other ability to reproduce SACD and DVDA high-resolution and other multichannel audio discs is more important, even if they are also scarcely produced. As a direct competitor to Sony’s UBP-X800M2 player, the Panasonic DP-UB820 does not play those discs.
Just for the sake of completeness: both players can reproduce CDs and DVDs.
Sony UBP-X800M2 – Low operating noise
Ultra HD Blu-ray discs operate at speeds up to 5,000rpm. Such high speeds will create vibrations, and to suppress them, the housing chassis is of enormous importance. Sony has taken this into account and we can testify that the operating noise is barely audible even when playing Ultra HD disks. In this area, Sony performs better than its competitor Panasonic.
Sony UBP-X800M2 – Dolby Vision with a but
We have already said that the UBP-X800M2 is basically an updated version of the original X800. In this sense, it incorporates improvements that we have seen in other models [like the Sony UBP-X700 (Check on Amazon.com)].
As far as video technology is concerned, the Sony UBP-X800M2 offers HDR10, which increases the maximum brightness levels while maintaining rich and detailed blacks. It uses an extremely wide BT.2020 color space, which has a wider range of colors than the SDR television signal. This enables filmmakers to create more saturated and realistic colors, from bold blue tones to natural greens to shrill shades of red.
However, the king in terms of image quality is, of course, Dolby Vision, which makes the blacks even more saturated and thus the colors look more vivid. The problem is that the Dolby Vision function must be turned on and off manually because the player doesn’t do it automatically when detecting a Dolby Vision disk.
Similar to Panasonic, Sony has also taken steps to improve the image quality of 4K HDR movies when being reproduced on TVs without HDR technology. For this purpose, HDR to SDR conversion intelligently converts the wide HDR brightness range into an SDR image.
In addition, the UBP-X800M2 is also equipped for the reverse path: for example, it offers 4K upscaling, which converts traditionally produced SDR films into an improved image quality similar to the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disks with 4K details.
In terms of image quality, the UBP-X800M2 shines with its sharpness, especially when scaling from HD to 4K. Nevertheless, this result is achieved by simple pixel doubling and is not comparable to the refined color output of the Panasonic DP-UB824, which uses an elaborate interpolation technique. In this regard, Panasonic is the reference in this price range.
Sony UBP-X800M2 – HDMI for video and audio
At (Check on Amazon.com), the price of the Sony Blu-ray player is quite low. Some corners had to be cut, thus there are no analog outputs, and this applies to both multichannel and stereo output. Sound output is done exclusively at the digital level.
The main connection type is, of course, the HDMI port, two of them to be exact, so there is a separate port for audio. This way you can still use an AV receiver with the older HDMI 1.4 interface. An HDR-enabled 4K TV, on the other hand, can receive the video signal via the HDMI 2.0 interface. Furthermore, this separation of audio and video ports can prevent “HDMI jitters”, and the sound quality does not depend on the player, but rather on the D/A converter of the AV receiver.
But the UBP-X800M2 has another ace up its sleeve since it can send audio signals via Bluetooth to a wireless speaker (or headphones), also in parallel with the HDMI output.
From Blu-ray 4K HDR to Netflix
So, both sound and image quality are actually excellent. Maybe even a little better than the previous model [X800 (Check on Amazon.com)]. The high-quality native encoding of 4K Blu-ray disks allows once again, by comparison, to highlight the shortcomings of our TV channels, too compressed by broadcasters and operators. The image is truly gorgeous! If you want to push image quality even further, you can choose a Blu-ray 4K Dolby Vision disk.
It’s also nice to be able to easily access Netflix thanks to the pre-installed application that lets you enjoy the latest series and some movies in 4K Dolby Vision as well.
From SACD to Hi-Res Audio
The same goes for the sound. The UBP-X800M2 allows you to listen to SACD and DVD-Audio in high fidelity provided that the digital-to-analog conversion is entrusted to high-quality hardware. Again, we think that Sony is right to insist on Hi-Res Audio and music quality.
Sony has also integrated an LDAC codec into its player for Hi-Res audio quality on compatible Bluetooth speakers and headphones, like the Sony WH-1000XM3s.
The Sony UBP-X800M2 (Check on Amazon.com) is the latest in a range of Ultra HD players that almost always satisfied us. Image quality is just excellent and, in this price range, this is the best sounding Blu-ray player, bar none. The lack of support for HDR10+ will frustrate some and Dolby Vision implementation seems overly complicated, but these are small sacrifices that little affect the overall value of a universal Blu-ray player that is highly recommended.