Pioneer UDP-LX500 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Review Page 2

Like the Oppo players (and Panasonic's DMP-UB820), the LX500 provides onboard tone mapping for use with projectors. Using a simple on/ off approach, it did a commend- able job on during my tests. The Pioneer can't match the Panasonic player on this front when it comes to adjusting for specific display types, but it did manage to make a wide range of content converted to SDR and fed to a JVC DLA-NX-9 projector look great.

519piouhd.remDuring playback, you can push the Picture Optimization button on the Pioneer's remote and toggle between any custom presets you've configured. Each memory provides a slider that determines how much dynamic range is used for HDR conversion. I set up three memories at 200, 400, and 600 nits to cover the majority of the Ultra HD Blu-rays I used for testing. As it turned out, 400 nits provided enough range to display most titles without visible clipping artifacts. A few really bright titles required more range, and in those situations the 600 nits setting helped to eliminate white crush in the image (The Meg and Starship Troopers come to mind). I did note some banding when using the 600 nits setting, which makes me think that the player's video processing chip was struggling with the tone map. (I've tested the same content with multiple solutions, including other players, and saw no artifacts.) Still, more often than not, image quality was quite good, and once I had my presets to toggle through, everyday use was easy breezy.

I spent a couple weeks using the Pioneer as my daily disc spinner and eventually grew accustomed to the interface, which I would rate as faster and more robust than the Panasonic's. When you load a disc, it displays related movie art during the initial load—a slick touch that I haven't seen in a player before. I did encounter a few playback issues, however. The LX500 had some difficulty loading a UHD Blu-ray of Lucy, a disc I spin regularly for testing, and one that has created problems with other players in the past. I also experienced freeze- ups and even image break-ups on occasion. These problems cropped up with a few titles, including Blade Runner 2049. Playing the same disc, which showed no signs of abuse or damage, in my reference Oppo UDP-203 player revealed no such issues.

More often than not, though, the Pioneer performed well. I watched quite an assortment of discs, including the latest titles from Sony and Disney. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an absolute must-own disc in my opinion, and the LX500 delivered its breathtaking 4K images and room-shaking Dolby Atmos soundtrack with aplomb. I saw nothing but reference-level image quality throughout the entire presentation, with eye-popping color and deep, inky blacks.

Mary Poppins Returns was another highlight, not just because of the Pioneer, but because my kids were snuggled up beside me as we watched. For this one, I let the Pioneer do HDR tone mapping and output SDR to the projector. Video quality ended up being fantastic, with no signs of clipping or unnecessarily dark images. The LX500 is definitely another player I'd recommend along with the Panasonic for those with projection setups who seek improved HDR tone mapping over what their projectors can deliver.

Movies weren't the only thing I enjoyed with the Pioneer. Since the LX500 is a Universal Disc player, I also made a point of dipping into my collection of high-resolution audio discs. Honestly, it had been awhile since I'd spun many of these titles, which run the gambit of DVD-Audio, SACD, and even DualDisc. My collection is large, and I experienced no issues at all with any title I threw at the Pioneer.

519piouhd.2

Revisiting the DVD- Audio of Queen's The Game was a real treat, especially after recently having watched the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. This disc contains one of my favorite surround mixes, one that makes aggressive use of surround channels and has a powerful low end. Listening to a DualDisc of Nine Inch Nails' With Teeth, I was mesmerized by the aggressive surround mix and made sure I turned it up to 11-plus! SACDs from Pink Floyd, John Mayer, Billy Joel, Elton John and more all saw action, and the LX500 never sputtered on the two-channel or multi-channel versions. I didn't see an option to output a DSD bitstream in the player's setup menus, but it worked just fine converted DSD to PCM before feeding signals to my Anthem AVM-60 preamp.

I also gave the player's analog stereo output a listen using CDs, FLACs, SACDs, and DVD-Audio discs. I didn't notice much difference here in comparison with using the digital output to feed the DACs in my Anthem, which speaks well for the performance of the Pioneer's built-in DAC.

Conclusion
The Pioneer Elite UPD-LX500 has joined my list of recommended Ultra HD Blu-ray players. I'm thrilled to now know of a solid option for universal disc playback. Also, the Pioneer's first-rate tone mapping makes it an excellent choice for projector owners. While its interface could use a bit of sprucing, disc playback was for the most part was reliable, regardless of the format being played. I wouldn't call the LX500 a perfect replacement for an Oppo, but it comes closer than most.

COMPANY INFO
Pioneer
844-679-5350
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
BrianDX's picture

I've owned this player for two months and the plus's and minus's are pretty much spot on. Coming off my Oppo UHD-205 this player comes pretty close in overall performance.

One extra note I'd like to make is to double-down on the strength of this player's D/A convertor. I own a Benchmark DAC3-B which costs more than this player does, and upon direct A/B comparisons the Pioneer compares very nicely with my Benchmark.

mns3dhm's picture

It's pioneerelectronics.com, not pioneer.com.

Puffer Belly's picture

Two of my old universal players do -- OPPO BDP-93 and Pioneer DV-578A -- but my new player, Sony UBP-X800/B, does not. Just wondering if this is becoming a trend.

X