Magnetar UDP900 4K Blu-ray player review

hccrefstatusbadgePhysical media fan Jon Thompson celebrates the no-stone-unturned philosophy of this heavyweight disc-spinner

We are often told physical media is dead, so 
when a new-on-the-scene manufacturer, Magnetar, announces a £2,699 universal disc spinner – one 
that's also a streamer for the media on your server 
and a high-end DAC to boot – we're both somewhat surprised and excited. Enter Magnetar's UDP900.

Since the demise of Oppo and its UDP-205 flagship, there's been a lack of a genuine premium BD player. Pioneer filled the gap with the (now unavailable) 
UDP-LX800, while others – including Panasonic, French company Reavon and Magnetar with its own UDP800 – have all released 4K decks that count 
as 'beyond entry-level'. Yet this new player from 
the Chinese manufacturer is something else.

The weight gives you a bit of a clue. At 15.5kg, the UDP900 is the heaviest 4K disc spinner I can recall, due in part to the all-metal casework and double-layer chassis, which have benefits regards shielding the player's audio 
and video circuits from electromagnetic interference and providing a solid foundation for the optical drive. Further adding to the unit's heft is its twin power supplies, one a switch-mode for the main digital board, the other a toroidal transformer for the UDP900's analogue audio stage.

Not that it matters much in the big scheme of things, 
but Magnetar's overall presentation helps this feel like a premium product. Inside the box the deck is wrapped in a black velvet bag with the company logo embossed on top, next to a power cable, setup guide, and reassuringly hefty remote handset. There's also a sheet telling you that the UDP900 is multi-region/multi-zone capable. This feature 
is not quite 'out of the box' as it still requires some button pushes on the remote control, but is fairly straightforward.

Exotic engineering
For this range-topping model, Magnetar has seemingly gone out of its way to over-engineer the hardware design using high-quality components. Read through the brand's literature and there's lots of talk of six-layer PCBs, exotic capacitors and 'high precision, ultra-low phase noise temperature-compensated crystal oscillators'. The approach reminds me of the modded players from Cinemike, yet here undertaken by the original manufacturer.


The UDP900's interior keeps power supplies, disc mechanism and AV circuits separate

The UDP900 has a hard on/off switch at the back in addition to the standby button at the front. This is always useful if you need to power cycle, as you won't need to pull wall power. Once on, the first thing you are then greeted with is the familiar MediaTek-delivered home screen; this disc player is based on the chipset also favoured by Oppo's earlier machines, so its subsystem is basically the same, but it of course runs fresher firmware.

On the menu From initial bootup everything is on Auto, apart from the audio output which is not configured for optimum playback as the HDMI is set to PCM – you will need to change it to bitstream if you want to enjoy any of those lovely Atmos and DTS:X mixes on disc.

The UDP900 supports all HDR formats that matter 
– Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HDR10+. It has no truck with HLG or Advanced HDR by Technicolor, otherwise known as SL-HDR2, but as no commercial discs are encoded in these, you won't be missing out.

For a machine built like a tank, the drive tray seemed very flimsy, which let down the overall premium feel. 
A metal tray would not have gone a miss. I also experienced a few load issues with the disc not sitting correctly in the tray. Apart from that, when playing a movie, the drive was whisper-quiet to the point I couldn't hear it, damped by 
all the metalwork.

Let us Prey
The UDP900 is capable of a reference-quality picture performance, and as such is really crying out to be used with a projector. It will look good if you have a 55in OLED, but you are not doing it justice. That's like having a Ferrari stuck in second gear.

A favourite 4K HDR workhorse, The Greatest Showman's Jenny Lind sequence, shined visually – contrast, colour 
and picture information all first-rate. I then switched to the Predator prequel movie Prey, which premiered on Disney+ last year and has since been afforded a 4K Blu-ray release due to Disney realising ‘there be money in those physical media hills’. To watch it on 4K BD is like seeing it again 
for the first time, and on the Magnetar UDP900 it blew 
me away. The image appears three-dimensional, with wonderful depth and clarity. Streaming won’t meet this level of performance for years...

On Disney+, Prey's Atmos audio presentation is via the Dolby Digital+ codec. On disc it's full-fat TrueHD Atmos and it sounded superb through the UDP900 – all Magnetar's work on shielding, components, and superior power supply subjectively paying off. It reveals the soundtrack's fine detail so you end up as scared as the film's novice warrior, while solid bass lets you feel every painful blow.

I'm not surprised the UDP900 sounded so authentic and immersive. It should at 
this price and its main selling point is arguably its audio. 
Not many will buy Magnetar's new player 
just to only watch movies.

Private music listening is supported by a reasonable built-in headphone amplifier 
with a full-size jack, which is the best you can have 
for headphones before 
you move up to balanced outputs. A digital volume control appears on the UDP900's display, which occupies the top-right portion of its two-tone fascia, when you plug in your cans. The volume is 
controlled using the remote, and the deck powered my Sennheiser HD650s like a champ. These are hard-to-drive headphones, but here played loud with no distortion.


The UDP900's stereo analogue outputs (RCA and XLR) are fed by a dedicated ESS9038PRO DAC chip

XMOS marks the spot
Adding more weight to the notion of the UDP900 as a do-it-all device is that it will function as a standalone DAC, with a USB-B input favoured by the audiophile community lurking on its rear panel. Hit the XMOS button on the handset (XMOS being the developer of the player's USB solution) and the UDP900 switches into DAC mode (up to 192kHz PCM and DSD128), outputting over RCA and XLR analogue or the headphone socket.

A word on its audio connections. Adjacent to that USB-B port are RCA and XLR stereo pairs powered by a Sabre ES9038PRO chip, for two-channel listening. But it also 
has a 7.1 output via RCA sockets, fed by a separate 
eight-channel ES9028PRO device. The latter performs admirably, but you would be foolish to own a UDP900 and not have it hooked up to a decent AV processor, making use of its second, audio-only HDMI socket.

Super Audio CDs sounded very good out of the player's two-channel XLR output, both with the prog rock magnificence of the 50th anniversary edition of Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon', and Tchaikovsky's '1812 Overture' on a Japanese import disc, where the cannons had some real kick. But it won't only play from a disc or digital input; there's network playback too. This is useful if you have moved your music library to a NAS, or even your films, as it's au fait with .ISO files.

Naturally there's 3D Blu-ray playback for the one or 
two discs that still pop up from time to time like Avatar: 
The Way of Water. Full HD Blu-ray playback is generally excellent, although in a genuine high-end setup an external scaler will give it a boost. Those still watching DVDs are rewarded by a solid performance, and there's a 24p playback option for US DVDs encoded in 3:2 pull-down 
to give you a pure 24p output.

Fine dining
A display or projector is only as good as the signal you 
feed it, so you need a reference player if you want 
a reference performance from your home cinema. Magnetar's over-engineered UDP900 fits the bill – it's the Blu-ray player equivalent of fine dining, and will show you what you have been missing from your disc collection. You might not make use of all its features, and might hanker for a more robust disc tray, but I can't imagine any who acquire one will be disappointed.

HCC Verdict: 5/5

Magnetar UDP900
Price: £2,699

We say: From the extravagant build quality to its myriad features and top-flight audio and visual performance, Magnetar's UDP900 is a Blu-ray player like no other.


3D: Yes 4K: Yes HDR: HDR10; Dolby Vision; HDR10+ UPSCALING: Yes. 2,160p MULTIREGION: Yes, via some button pressing... HDMI: 2 x outputs (one audio-only) MULTICHANNEL ANALOGUE OUTPUT: Yes. 7.1. DIGITAL AUDIO OUTPUT: Yes. 1 x optical digital audio; 1 x coaxial digital audio ETHERNET: Yes BUILT-IN WI-FI: No SACD/DVD-A: Yes/Yes DIMENSIONS: 1445(w) x 133(h) x 321(d)mm WEIGHT: 15.5kg

FEATURES: Balanced XLR and RCA stereo analogue outputs; USB-B DAC input; USB-C; -232 control port; file playback over a home network; dedicated ESS9038PRO stereo DAC; HDR-to-SDR conversion; Pure Audio mode; twin power supplies; dual-layer chassis