It’s true that the arrival of the best streaming services has rendered disc formats like Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray unnecessary for some. But studios continue to issue movies both new and old on disc on a regular basis, and there are plenty of independent labels that license obscure and cult titles from studios for release in deluxe packaging with loads of extras.
Put simply, Blu-ray is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and we couldn’t be happier about that. But while there’s still a steady supply of new discs, the best 4K Blu-ray players have become scarce, with most AV manufacturers ceasing to make new players, or limiting production to a single model.
That’s why it’s always great to hear about the arrival of a new 4K Blu-ray player on the market. Magnetar released its first player, the UDP800, in 2022, and has now followed up with a new flagship model, the UDP900. At €2,500 euros (around $2,700 / £2,200 / AU$4,100), the UDP900 is priced around $1,000 higher than the UDP800, making it the most expensive player we know of.
What does the Magnetar UDP900 have going on inside to justify its high price? In this case, it’s not just what’s inside, but also what’s outside. According to the company, the UDP900 has an “all-aluminum alloy body and a reinforced double layer chassis structure.” Its internal components are also independently shielded by metal casing to reduce vibration and noise, and dual 60W toroidal transformer power supplies are onboard for the player’s analog audio output.
Such rugged build quality would be the reason Magnetar’s player measures 17.5 x 5.2 x 12 inches (W x H x D) and weighs 34 pounds. In the dwindling world of 4K Blu-ray players, the UDP900 is an utter beast.
Inside the UDP900 is an ESS9038PRO digital-to-analog converter (DAC) for the player’s analog stereo XLR output and ESS9028PRO DAC for its 7.1-channel analog RCA output. Dolby Vision and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats are supported, and the UDP900 can play SACDs and regular CDs along with Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray, and DVD discs.
In addition to its dual HDMI outputs (one video/audio and one audio-only), the UDP900 also has a USB type-B DAC input to connect a computer for audio playback.
Analysis: Why buy a Blu-ray player, especially a high-priced one?
There’s no dispute that streaming is convenient, and that much of the world has opted to go that route for its movie and music consumption. But the Blu-ray disc format remains viable, with new regular Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray discs being released on a weekly basis. Some of these are deluxe editions aimed at collectors such as Criterion’s recent 4K remaster of Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King from 1991. But others are recent movies such as Best Picture Oscar Nominees All Quiet on the Western Front and Triangle of Sadness.
If you are a Blu-ray collector, it makes sense to own the best disc player possible to ensure you will have a reliable, ruggedly built machine to play your discs on well into the future. That’s why I don’t necessarily flinch at the Magnetar UDP900’s sky-high price, though there are more reasonably priced high-performance player options such as the Panasonic DP-UB900.
What the UDP900 brings to the table, aside from unassailable build quality, is a focus on both audio and video performance. Along with support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats, it has a balanced analog XLR output and dedicated toroidal transformer power supply for each stereo channel. That means it should be an outstanding player for Compact Discs along with Blu-rays and 4K Blu-rays, and it also supports the audiophile SACD format.
One of my treasured AV possessions is an Oppo UDP-203 4K Blu-ray player, which was the last model that Oppo made before shutting down its Blu-ray player manufacturing operation, reportedly because the facility was needed to produce phones for the Indian market.
The Oppo Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players were rugged and reliable, and their excellent build quality and performance justified their higher cost compared to other players. And while Magnetar’s ask for the UDP900 is undoubtedly high, I also have no doubt that it’s the kind of player you’ll still be using decades from now.
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Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.
When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.