This high-end player from Pioneer is not an average Ultra HD Blu-ray player. With its sophisticated chassis, an audio design that supports all types of audio discs, and an excellent video player that also supports Dolby Vision, the UDP-LX500 seems to have everything for the audio/cinema.
Pioneer UDP-LX500 – specifications
- What: Ultra HD Blu-ray player
- Connections: 2x HDMI, 1x digital coaxial audio out, 1x digital optical audio out, 1x network connection, 2x USB, 1x stereo cinch out, RS-232c
- Disc formats: Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, BD-R / RE, DVD-Video, DVD + R / RW, DVD-R / RW, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD-Audio, CD-R / RW
- Extras: HDR10, Dolby Vision, USB / DLNA media player, specific audio design
- Dimensions: 435 x 118 x 337 mm
- Weight: 10.3 kg
- Consumption: 28 / 0.45 Watt
- List price: 999 euro
Pioneer UDP-LX500 – design
This player sees and feels particularly impressive, not least because it weighs a little over 10kg and in a particularly large ch assis sitting, finished in a combination of brushed and matt black. You also provide quite a bit of extra space, because it is even slightly bigger than the big ones Panasonic DP-UB9004.
These two devices look very similar to each other. The Pioneer also got a nice and clear display, and a limited number of black keys. With the exception of the power key, they are not illuminated and can hardly be found in a dark home theater. Everyone probably uses the remote control, so a real problem is not.
The construction and finish are top class. The chassis is built with an eye on total reduction of vibrations. The steel top cover is strong enough to set something up. The disk reader itself is therefore phenomenally silent.
The Pioneer is equipped with two HDMI connections. One is a HDMI 2.0 with full bandwidth for maximum image quality. You can use it for image and sound. The second HDMI connection is for sound only.
There is also an optical and coaxial digital audio output, and a stereo cinch audio output. No analog multichannel output, but given the rise of formats with even more channels such as DTS-X or Dolby Atmos, this is not necessarily a downside. Anyone listening to multichannel audio will probably have an AV receiver.
A second USB connection, network connection and RS-232C complete the list. A special Pioneer addition is the Zero Signal terminal. You connect it to a free input on your AV receiver to improve the signal quality.
Pioneer UDP-LX500 – ease of use
He looks fantastic on the outside, then frankly we also had a modern and handsome interface expected. Unfortunately, you have to put it with a particularly banal text interface that is probably many years old. After startup you will only see a menu that gives you the possibility to select the source or to adjust settings.
The menus with settings are clear, but there is no word explanation. So keep the manual during the installation. You get a lot of choice about how to send the HDMI signal outside. The two HDMI connections can be activated in three modes: Single (image and sound via the HDMI main output), Separate (image via HDMI main, sound via HDMI Sub) and finally Pure Audio where you only get sound via the HDMI sub output (you can then activate the image by pressing Display).
The remote control initially seems quite overwhelming and if you are a fan of simplicity it is certainly not a high flyer. But you quickly learn that the seeming overabundance of keys makes it possible to activate the main functions of the player with a single key.
There are separate keys to adjust the HDMI resolution, choose the HDMI mode (Single, Separate or Pure Audio), adjust picture and sound parameters, and select audio track and subtitles. The remote is illuminated, so it can also be used perfectly in the dark.
Pioneer UDP-LX500 – features
Did you, when reading the specifications, wonder why there is no WiFi on this unit? The explanation is simple, because the device does not have any streaming application on board. So no, no Netflix, YouTube or other and no music streaming services.
The only network functionality is updating the firmware and the DLNA media player. Obviously, that player also has to put up with the lousy text interface and was certainly not fun to use. The device usually reacts slowly, which makes browsing through the DLNA structure very uncomfortable.
The media player via usb also provides varying work for video: it did not play files containing DTS soundtracks, and Dolby Vision files did not play in HDR . These are two strange mistakes for a device that clearly supports both standards (via disk). He does play all subtitles. His strong side is audio, where he supports almost all formats, including hi-res FLAC, ALAC and DSD.
The real asset of this Pioneer UDP-LX500 is that it is an all-player for disks. In addition to Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD and CD, including all (re) writable variants, it also plays SACD and even DVD Audio discs. An excellent excuse to top up our DVD Audio version of Queen, A Night at the Opera.
Of course he can perfectly bitstream or decode all audio formats for disks (to PCM), from Dolby Digital and DTS to the lossless versions Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio. If you have an older receiver you can convert all Dolby formats to standard Dolby Digital by selecting the ‘reencode’ setting and for DTS versions you get the DTS core version. Dolby Atmos and DTS-X are supported when you put the player in Bitstream (and your audio equipment can display them of course).
Pioneer UDP-LX500 – Image quality
We are very pleasantly surprised by the image quality of this player. That may well be called excellent. It quickly and accurately detects all possible film and video frame rates and provides perfect deinterlacing. Jagged lines, moire effects, or comb effects will seldom or never disturb your viewing experience.
Through the image settings there is also noise suppression available that eliminates random noise, but some block noise (compression noise) ) leaves behind. Do you want some extra detail and sharpness in the picture, then you can increase the sharpness. The player does that without introducing false detail, a great achievement. You can also tinker with brightness / contrast / chroma / hue, but we generally do not recommend that. In addition, there are two additional settings: TV type and HDR-SDR adjustment
TV type lets you choose from four options: Reference, LCD, OLED and projector. The image will be slightly adjusted based on your selection. Reference keeps the picture unchanged. LCD TV makes the entire gray scale slightly darker, and OLED TV makes it slightly brighter. Projector only brightens the darkest shades. Whether this institution makes a useful contribution is questionable. A good television, which you undoubtedly want to use with this excellent player, is correctly calibrated and does not need the necessary adjustments. Although the adjustments are small, you can experiment with them without too many problems.
With HDR-SDR adjustment, you naturally influence how the player performs the conversion of HDR to SDR in case you are watching an SDR television. You select the maximum brightness of your screen. For older LCD sets, 200 is a good choice, for modern LCDs you can go up to 400 or even 700. OLED screens that do not yet support HDR are best around 300.
You have three memory slots for settings, so you can quickly switch between picture modes, for example DVD can give a different treatment than Blu-ray.
The Pioneer supports HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision but unfortunately no HDR10 +. The latter format, however, must still see its first content appearing, so it remains doubtful whether that will be a big problem.
With a long press on the Display key you make all the information from the source visible (metadata like MaxFALL, MaxCLL, Mastering Display data and so on). For the average consumer it is not important, but the hobbyist who likes to get the bottom out of the can or wants to tweak the picture as much as possible is useful information.
The HDR reproduction is also excellent. As with SDR, you can adjust the display slightly using the TV mode. Here, too, the LCD TV setting slightly darkens the image and hides some black detail, but it does produce some white detail. The OLED TV setting makes the image clear and shows a bit more black detail. The projector setting only pulls the black detail upwards, but may cause a bit of banding in red or blue tones.
Pioneer UDP-LX500 – Audio
In addition to support for almost all audio formats (on disk and via file ) this player is also an excellent audio player. The analogue cinch output delivers pleasant and pure sound that undoubtedly can please audiophiles. To disable all possible faults you can use the ‘Direct’ button (remote or at the front of the player). This switches off the digital video and audio output.
The Zero Signal Terminal is a simple cinch connection that connects you to an unused cinch input on your AV receiver. This allows the player to align the reference level (the ground (GND)) of both devices. This avoids any potential differences and guarantees the player the best possible transmission. We tried this with our Onkyo AVR and a music file that contains silence. However, when we connected the ZST there was a very soft hum in the speakers, a deterioration rather than an improvement. For that we had to set the amplifier very loud, so in practice the impact seems very limited. Anyone who doubts leaves the ZST connection away, the player also delivers fantastic sound.
Pioneer UDP-LX500 – Conclusion
You get this Pioneer in the first place because you are looking for an audiophile all-player. As a bonus, it is also an excellent Ultra HD Blu-ray player with support for Dolby Vision. But he has made a number of important compromises. Although it is an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the Spartan user interface is more reminiscent of audio player. All internet streaming applications are omitted and the video media player may be slightly more complete. On audio level, there is no analog multichannel output and those wishing for balanced XLR outputs should choose the higher model (the UDP-LX800).
The high-end character is reflected in an extremely robust and silent disc player all your disks play (and yes we also mean SACD and DVD Audio). The picture and sound quality are excellent. We can be clear about the price, which is very high. You also need to be sure that you absolutely want this feature set. The Panasonic DP-UB9004 is a better alternative if you find SACD and DVD audio less important, and in exchange want a number of useful picture functions, analog multichannel outputs and XLR stereo.