Is Marantz UD5007 Universal Blu-ray player licensed to thrill?
IntroductionIf you're looking for a new Blu-ray player, there's never been a better time. There are some real bargains to be found at the moment, including decent players for under £100. But what if you're a fan of multi-channel audio and have a collection of DVD-A or SACD discs? Well in that case you'll be looking for a universal player and here your options are rather more limited. If you only have SACDs to play, Sony's excellent BDP-S790 is worth a look, offering fantastic performance at the attractive price of £200. If, however, you're looking for genuine universal playback including DVD-Audio, there's Oppo's superb BDP-103EU but it will set you back £499. Thankfully, for those on a budget, there is an alternative in the Marantz UD5007 which includes universal playback for a slightly more reasonable £399, positioning itself between the Sony and the Oppo. Those are two exceptionally good players, so let's see how the Marantz fares in an incredibly competitive market place...
Marantz have a history of producing attractive products and the UD5007 certainly won't buck that trend with its elegant and minimalist design. The player comes in a choice of either silver-gold or black but otherwise both are identical with a relatively large chassis that measures 440 x 320 x 108 and weighs 4kg. The unit sits on some fairly sizeable feet and because of this solid base and the robust construction, the player is very quiet in operation. There is a centrally mounted disc tray with a large and informative display below, that can be dimmed or turned off. The front facia has a very minimalist look with a few buttons either side of the display and a single USB port. On the left hand side there is the on/off button, along with the eject and pause buttons. There are also buttons for selecting the Pure Direct mode, choosing which layer on a SACD and setting the resolution. On the right hand side there are the play, stop and skip buttons and the USB port. The overall construction feels very good, with only the slightly plastic buttons letting the side down.
If we thought the front had a minimalist feel, that's nothing compared to the back, which has the least number of connections we've ever seen! There is a single HDMI output and an Ethernet port, along with downmixed analogue stereo outputs using RCA connectors, and that's about it. We're not surprised to see the legacy video connections get dropped but the absence of digital audio outputs is unusual, as is the lack of analogue multi-channel outputs considering the UD5007's price point. Of course if you're planning on just using the HDMI output then none of this matters but if you're looking for a more comprehensive set of connections, you're better off with the Oppo. Unusually there is no built-in WiFi and nor is there a wireless dongle included so, if you want a wireless connection, you're going to need to buy an adapter.
The black plastic remote is well made, comfortable to hold and intuitive to use. The buttons are sensibly laid out with the most commonly used keys in the centre. Along with all the usual Blu-ray controls, there is a Home key, a Pure Direct feature (which turns off the video circuits and display for audio-only playback) and buttons for directly accessing Netflix and YouTube. Usefully, Marantz have made certain controls accessible directly from the remote, rather than burying them in the menu system. So, for example, you can set the resolution, choose the layer of a SACD or access the picture adjustment menu directly from the remote.
Setup and MenusUnsurprisingly, given the lack of outputs, connecting the UD5007 is very straight forward and, thanks to a refreshingly simple menu system, it's also easy to set it up. There is a Home page from which you can access certain features such as Netflix and YouTube, although you can also access these directly from the remote. From here you can also access the media player and the Settings menu, although again this can be accessed directly from the remote.
Once in the Settings menu there are four sub-menus - General Settings, Video Settings, Audio Settings and Information. In General Settings there are sub-headings for System, Language, Parental Control, Network and Others. In Video Settings there sub headings for TV (Aspect Ration, Wallpaper and Progressive Mode), HDMI (Colour Space - the UD5007 appears to only output 4:4:4 - and Deep Colour) and 3D (Output and Screen Size). As mentioned previously you set the resolution using the dedicated button on the remote and the choices are Auto, Source Direct (handy if using the UD5007 with a video processor), 480/576i (useful for us reviewers when testing the deinterlacing and scaling on TVs), 480/576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p and 1080p24.
We're pleased to see that Marantz have resisted the temptation to include any picture modes, opting instead to just output the video signal unmolested, aside from any deinterlacing and scaling. However there is a Picture Adjustment menu, again accessed directly from the remote, that offers a number of image controls. Here you can, if you wish, set the noise reduction features or adjust the contrast, brightness, gamma, sharpness, hue or chroma. Thankfully the default setting for all these controls is zero and that's where we'd leave them, as any such adjustments are best made on the display itself.
In the Audio Settings sub-menu you can choose whether to output PCM or Bitstream over HDMI and turn the Dynamic Range Compression on or off - we recommend leaving it off. If you are listening to a SACD, the UD5007 can output as Direct Stream Digital (DSD) but if the the connected device cannot support DSD over HDMI, then the UD5007 automatically switches to PCM. The System Information page just shows the MAC address, so we're not quite sure why Marantz bothers with it. Finally, on the remote control there is a button marked Option, where you can select secondary video, audio and subtitle settings.
FeaturesAs far as features go the UD5007 is fairly limited, especially when compared to much of the competition, so if it's smart features you're after there are much better and far cheaper alternatives. In terms of its internet platform, all you have is Netflix and YouTube, although the Vudu button on the remote would suggest that particular service is also available in the US.
Despite the lack of built-in WiFi once you have connected the UD5007, using either an Ethernet cable or with a wireless adapter, the networking performance was actually quite good. We used an Ethernet cable and once attached the UD5007 connected immediately with our network and downloaded a firmware update. So as with the rest of the setup, it all seems quite easy and intuitive. The UD5007 worked well in our testing and appears to support the majority of media and file formats including MP3, WMA, AAC, LPCM, FLAC, JPEG, PNG, DivX, MPEG, WMV, AVI and AVCHD files. All these audio, video and picture files can be accessed via your home network, discs or USB drives.
1080p PlaybackThe digital nature of the content on a Blu-ray means that if a player is operating properly and is set up correctly, it should be able to output the content exactly as it is on the disc and the UD5007 didn't disappoint, delivering a flawless performance. When it came to 3D Blu-rays the images were free of any artefacts or other issues with excellent rendering of the 3D encoded on the discs we tried. They all played first time, with no hand shaking problems or other unexpected issues and navigation and playback was equally as effective.
The same was true of 2D 1080p/24 discs, with the UD5007 outputting the signals from the disc perfectly. Of course although any correctly setup Blu-ray player should be identical to any other player over HDMI, that's assuming the manufacturer isn't doing anything they shouldn't. We checked and thankfully Marantz have resisted the temptation to 'enhance' the 1080p output or add any unnecessary picture modes. We also checked there was no backdoor processing going on by comparing source direct to the 1080p output and once again everything was perfect. There are some Picture Adjustment controls but as long as they are left at their default settings they did not impact on the output.
1080i PlaybackThere is however an opportunity for the player to add value when it comes to playing back 1080i content and the video processing can differ from player to player. The ability of the player to detect film content inside the interlaced signal and correctly deinterlace it without introducing artefacts is dependent on the quality of the processing in the player itself.
The UD5007 passed every single cadence and deinterlacing test on both the Spear & Munsil and HQV Blu-rays. The UD5007 also had no problems with the video resolution loss test and was also able to handle discs with film content that's encoded at 1080i/50Hz without any problems. Whilst there isn’t a great deal of 1080i content on Blu-ray it's good to know that the UD5007 was capable of such an excellent performance and if you do have any 1080i content the player will be able to output it perfectly.
480i/576i PlaybackOverall the UD5007 performance with both NTSC and PAL content was excellent, being able to fully reproduce the SMPTE colour bar tests and correctly scaling the images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. With the video deinterlacing tests the results were also excellent and the UD5007 had no problems with the film detail test, correctly locking onto the image and in the cadence tests it also performed extremely well, correctly detecting the most common types 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European).
The UD5007 also had no problems with the test displaying film material with scrolling video text, the text was always clearly readable without any shredding. Overall this was a fantastic performance by the UD5007 and means that even when it comes to your old DVD collection it can give them a new lease of life.
Subjective Audio TestsUnlike the video performance which can be more objectively measured using a series of established tests and viewed on a calibrated display, things are a little more subjective when it comes to the audio performance. In addition since the UD5007 is essentially a digital transport connected via HDMI, this means that the digital to analogue conversion will be performed by your receiver or audio processor.
We tried a number of different audio formats on the UD5007 including multichannel PCM, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA soundtracks from Blu-rays and Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks from DVDs. We also listened to the multichannel audio from SACD and DVD-Audio discs as well as two channel audio from SACDs and CDs. The UD5007 proved to be a very capable digital transport and whether it was DTS-HD Master Audio or a stereo CD the audio it delivered sounded fantastic. The UD5007 was also able to detect all the different discs and audio formats without any problems and played each one back flawlessly.
Disc Load TimesIn its normal standby mode the UD5007 was a little slow to power on, taking nearly 10 seconds to get to the Marantz screen but you could speed this up by using the Quick Start feature, although that does increase the power consumption. The time taken to load Blu-rays depends largely on the studio but the UD5007 was certainly consistent with much of the competition but slower than the new Oppos. When it came to CDs, DVDs and SACDs the UD5007 was much quicker, only taking a few seconds.
- Standby (Normal): 0.0W
- Standby (Quick Start): 12W
- Idle: 18W
- Playing a disc: 20W
- Universal playback
- Impressive video processing
- Excellent build quality and quiet operation
- Fast load and response times
- Easy to use with well designed menu system
- Well designed remote
- No multi-channel analogue outputs
- Limited internet functionality
- No built-in WiFi
Marantz UD5007 Universal 3D Blu-ray Player Review
If there's one area where Marantz are particularly strong it's design and the UD5007 is another in a long line of lookers from the manufacturer. The player comes in either black or silver-gold and it uses the classic layout of a centrally mounted display and disc tray.
Aside from that the front facia is nicely uncluttered with a few simple buttons and a USB port. In fact minimalist is the word that best describes the UD5007, especially around the back, where you'll find the least number of connections we've ever encountered. The UD5007 is clearly designed to be used as a digital transport and aside from a pair of stereo analogue outs, the only other output is a solitary HDMI socket. That isn't necessarily a bad thing as HDMI is about the only connection you're likely to use but it's worth bearing in mind. However the build quality is excellent, resulting in a player that's extremely quiet when in operation and only the slightly plastic buttons let the side down.
The provided remote is well designed, comfortable to hold and intuitively laid out. Setup is very easy, partly because there's only one output and partly because the menu system is refreshingly free of needless features. In fact some of the key functions are setup directly from the remote, making the whole process as painless as possible. Whilst there is an Ethernet port at the rear, there is no built-in WiFi which is unusual these days. However, this isn't really an issue when you consider how limited the internet platform is, with only Netflix and YouTube available. Thankfully once you have connected the player to your router via Ethernet, the networking capabilities are actually very good. Whether its music, videos or photos, the file support is reasonably comprehensive. In fact when it comes to music, between CD, SACD, DVD-A, USB and streaming, the UD5007 has everything fairly well covered.
In terms of overall performance the UD5007 doesn't disappoint either, with a flawless delivery when it comes to 3D and 1080p/24 Blu-rays. The player was equally as adept when it came to 1080i content and thanks to some impressive video processing it will also get the best out of any PAL and NTSC DVDs. Whilst there are some picture adjustment controls, we're pleased to see that Marantz have resisted the temptation to add unnecessary picture modes. The audio performance was just as good and the UD5007 happily played back CDs, DVD-As, SACDs and Blu-rays without any issues, superbly rendering the audio regardless of whether it was stereo or multi-channel. Once you added added streaming audio from your network or music files on a USB drive, the result is a comprehensive digital transport that will have all your music needs covered. Finally the power consumption was low for a player of this size, disc loading was reasonably fast and navigation was very responsive.
In fact the only areas of criticism are the limited connections and internet features but even they aren't an issue if you plan to use the UD5007 as a universal disc transport. Once connected to your system via HDMI the UD5007 can handle just about any disc format you throw at it and is capable of delivering an excellent video and audio performance. If it's universal playback you're looking for, the Marantz UD5007 is definitely worth a demo - Highly Recommended.
Ease Of Use8
Value For Money8
Our Review Ethos
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