Magnetar UDP800 Universal Blu-Ray Disc Player Review
Tony O’Brien spins up a seriously capable new universal 4K Blu-ray player…
UDP800 Universal Blu-ray Player
AUD $2,599 RRP
Reviewing a 4K Blu-ray player without referencing Oppo is nearly impossible. Highly respected by reviewers and enthusiasts alike, this brand left an indelible stamp on the industry that continues to this day. When it exited the market in 2018, it left a void that others have attempted to fill with varying degrees of success. The newest to try its hand at a reference 4K Blu-ray player is Hong-Kong-based Magnetar Audio, with its new UDP800.
Touted as a reference grade universal player, it is encased in a 1.6mm thick double-layered chassis, reinforced with a 3mm steel base plate to reduce vibration and playback noise. All major internal components, such as the power supply and CD mechanism, are individually shielded to reduce magnetic fields. The power supply has a two-stage filter design utilising Japanese-made Rubycon electrolytic capacitors, designed to meet the lightning transient response of high-resolution audio, the manufacturer says.
The brains of the UDP800 is a Media Tek MT8581 quad-core 64-bit chipset, the very same chipset used in Oppo 4K Players. With it comes support for HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and 3D Blu-Ray. In addition, the machine supports DVD-Audio, AVCHD-SACD, CD, Kodak Picture CD, CD-R/RW, DVD±R/RW, DVD±R DL and BD-R/RE. As for audio, the UDP800 will happily decode Dolby Digital/True HD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio and Dolby Atmos/DTS:X (bitstream only). Meanwhile, its dual independent premium Burr-Brown PCM1795 DACs enable the player to decode AIFF, ALAC, APE, FLAC, and WAV. In short, it’s hard to think of something this silver disc spinner cannot handle.
Magnetar understands that unboxing a piece of high-end audio/video equipment should be an experience. It should reinforce the buying decision, and I also believe it reveals a lot about the manufacturer’s attention to detail. Open the box, and you are immediately greeted with a placard featuring a picture of the UDP800, just in case you’ve forgotten what you’ve bought. Nestled within packaging foam – which has an embossed Magnetar logo – is a black felt bag containing the UDP800. Overall then, it’s a very Oppo-like experience!
The unit is a pretty standard size, measuring 90x430x300mm. It sports a brushed aluminium two-tone, silver and black finish, giving a distinctive yet luxurious look. It’s a welcome addition in a market that’s dominated by black boxes, but I suspect the quirky styling will draw as many detractors as it does fans.
The disc transport and a large LCD display dominate the brushed aluminium front of the UDP800. Transport controls are located on the player’s right side, while a USB 2.0 input is hidden behind a cap, maintaining the machine’s smooth lines. A distinctive electric blue logo adorns the top left of the player.
Weighing 8kg, there’s a reassuring heft to the machine – and its solid chassis didn’t flex when I my pressed my fingers hard against it. The back of the unit is equipped with two HDMI outputs (video and audio, or audio only), a USB 3.0 input, optical and coaxial digital inputs, stereo balanced and unbalanced connections, an RS-232 input and an Ethernet/LAN port. The UDP800 doesn’t provide wireless connectivity. The box also includes a power cord, user manual and remote. At fifty-odd pages, it provides a comprehensive dive into the player’s features.
Like the player, the remote is a little unorthodox in terms of styling, with a light grey finish and rectangular buttons. For the most part, it’s easy to navigate, although the buttons can be a little on the smaller side, and the backlight button is awkward to locate in a darkened room. This can be circumvented by pressing one of the arrow buttons, which lights the remote.
Setting up the UDP800 is a breeze – just connect it to your display via HDMI, and you’re done. Powering it on for the first time, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re looking at an Oppo. The only thing setting the two apart is the backdrop images used in the menu screens. Under the settings tab, you’ll find an abundance of video and audio options, such as colour space and resolution. The UDP800 also provides a source direct option, which passes through the content‘s native resolution, allowing the display or another device, such as a video processor, to perform the scaling.
Unlike the Panasonic UB-9000 we reviewed, the UDP800 doesn’t offer tone mapping. As such, the display or a video processor must do the tone mapping. Given that most, if not all, televisions and projectors are performing their own tone mapping, it’s not as necessary as it once was unless you own a legacy display, such as some of the early 4K projectors.
Likewise, the UDP800 doesn’t support streaming apps like Netflix or Youtube. In my experience, however, such built-in apps are often clumsy, if not altogether broken, and better left to dedicated streaming devices like Apple TV. Once connected, there is little, if anything, that needs to be done in terms of setup. The UDP800 defaults to 4:2:2, and that’s exactly where I’d leave it; unless you have a copy of the Spears & Munsil HDR Benchmark Disc, which will help you select the appropriate colour space.
For my review, the Magnatar UDP800 Blu-ray player was connected directly to a Lumagen Radiance Pro 5348, with a Sony VPL-XW5000ES projecting images onto a Severtson 100” Cinegray 16.9 screen. My speaker set-up consisted of VAF Signature i91 front and centres, four VAF i90s used as rear surround, ceiling-mounted Atmos speakers, and two Ascendo SV12 subwoofers.
The UDP800 produced reference-grade images that surpassed my own Oppo in terms of sharpness, clarity and noise. Colour reproduction was likewise excellent; the Magnetar produced accurate colour and skin tones. Not only is Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves a hugely enjoyable romp, the 4K Blu-ray disc boasts first-class picture quality with an equally impressive Dolby Atmos Soundtrack. The UDP800 produced the stylised palette and bright colours of the transfer with aplomb, while detail was abundant.
Moving to the more familiar 4K Blu-ray of No Time To Die, this machine put in an equally impressive performance – but the images on the UDP800 actually appeared sharper than on my Oppo UDP-203. As Bond’s Aston Martin winds its way through the countryside towards Matera, the long shots, in particular, offered more clarity and sharpness when played back on the Magnatar.
This was all the more evident with the 1080p SDR Blu-ray of The Wolverine. With the legacy SDR content, the UDP800 once again produced wonderfully clean, crisp and detailed images that surpassed my own Oppo in terms of clarity. Interest piqued, it was time to visit the new 2023 Spears & Munsil UHD Benchmark Disc. With the sharpness patterns, I couldn’t detect any extra ringing or other sharpness that indicated the player was artificially sharpening images. The Blu-ray of 2017’s Anabelle Creation has near-black scenes that fall away into complete darkness. With the challenging material, the UDP800 produced clean inky blacks, without video noise.
Having Samsung’s S95C 77” television in for review provided the perfect opportunity to see how the Magnetar performed with this big OLED. With the 1080p SDR Blu-ray of 2004’s House of Flying Daggers, the UDP800 worked wonderfully. Colour reproduction was excellent, with both foliage and the light grey trunks of trees incredibly convincing. Skin tones were likewise accurately rendered, with the splurts of blood in the closing battle wincingly realistic.
Connected via HDMI, the audio performance of the UDP800 was identical to that of my own Oppo UDP-203. I did experience some minor playback issues – for instance, after dimming the front display, it turned back on the next time the player powered up. Likewise, once the screen saver is engaged, there’s a surprisingly short window before it goes to sleep. I reached out to the supplier on this, and in no time, a firmware release was sent out, addressing (and fixing) my complaints. Great service!
Built like a battleship, the UDP800 is a reference-grade universal disc player. It produced outstanding images that outperformed my superb, reference Oppo UDP-203 4K player. While colour reproduction is first-class, where this machine really shines is the sharpness and clarity of the images that it produces. Meanwhile, blacks are deep and inky, devoid of any video noise. Of course, it is early days for Hong Kong-based Magnetar, but the company has certainly hit the ground running with an outstanding reference-grade optical disc spinner. I am very much looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this talented industry newcomer.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.
JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION
Want to share your opinion or get advice from other enthusiasts? Then head into the Message Forums where thousands of other enthusiasts are communicating on a daily basis.
CLICK HERE FOR FREE MEMBERSHIP
Each time StereoNET reviews a product, it is considered for an Applause Award. Winning one marks it out as a design of great quality and distinction – a special product in its class, on the grounds of either performance, value for money, or usually both.
Applause Awards are personally issued by StereoNET’s global Editor-in-Chief, David Price – who has over three decades of experience reviewing hi-fi products at the highest level – after consulting with our senior editorial team. They are not automatically given with all reviews, nor can manufacturers purchase them.
The StereoNET editorial team includes some of the world’s most experienced and respected hi-fi journalists with a vast wealth of knowledge. Some have edited popular English language hi-fi magazines, and others have been senior contributors to famous audio journals stretching back to the late 1970s. And we also employ professional IT and home theatre specialists who work at the cutting edge of today’s technology.
We believe that no other online hi-fi and home cinema resource offers such expert knowledge, so when StereoNET gives an Applause Award, it is a trustworthy hallmark of quality. Receiving such an award is the prerequisite to becoming eligible for our annual Product of the Year awards, awarded only to the finest designs in their respective categories. Buyers of hi-fi, home cinema, and headphones can be sure that a StereoNET Applause Award winner is worthy of your most serious attention.