Sensational home cinema picture and sound
Best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players Buying Guide: Welcome to Seven Review’s round-up of the best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players you can buy in 2020.
Let’s face it, Blu-ray discs provide a whopping improvement to picture and sound quality over standard DVDs.
But, if you up the ante with a 4K player that plays 4K Blu-rays you not only get extra resolution, you also get HDR (including Dolby Vision and HDR10+), and object-based surround formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. There are loads of 4K discs to choose from, so now is a great time to upgrade, and in our experience, picture and sound quality tend to be better than watching a 4K equivalent on Amazon Prime Video or Netflix
4K players still spin normal Blu-rays and DVDs (remember them?) so there are no problems with backwards compatibility. Some 4K players are also universal decks that can play more niche audio disc formats such as SACD and DVD-Audio.
The best Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players all serve up brilliant picture and sound at their respective price points, and you can find our definitive list of tried and tested machines below:
A fantastic 4K Blu-ray player with an attractive price tag.
Type: 4K Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: Yes/No/Yes | Outputs: HDMI x2, Coaxial digital | Dimensions (hwd): 4.5 x 32 x 21.7cm | Weight: 1.4kg
- Crisp, natural-looking picture
- Excellent detail and colours
- Dolby Vision support
- Sound could be grander
- No HDR10+ support
If you want an affordable route into the world of 4K Blu-ray, the Sony UBP-X700 is a great shout. It’s one of the most talented 4K players we’ve seen at this kind of money. It’s a fun, involving performance – pictures are stacked with detail. The Sony displays a wonderfully subtle picture that’s impeccably judged while being hugely entertaining. Sound quality is equally stirring with its zippy, dynamic character complimenting that class-leading picture.
The Sony ticks most of the boxes you’d expect a player to at this price, and includes both Dolby Vision and HDR10 support but no HDR10+.
Despite not flashing the hi-res audio badge, the X700 can also play up to 24bit/192kHz files in all popular formats, including WAV, FLAC and DSD. There’s also smart functionality and twin HDMI outputs. This Sony machine is good enough to boost all manner of home cinema systems, so you can buy with confidence.
Read the full review: Sony UBP-X700back to menu ↑
A great player for the money, despite a couple of peculiar traits.
Type: 4K Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: Yes/Yes/Yes | Outputs: HDMI x2, Coaxial digital | Dimensions (hwd): 5.4 x 43 x 26.5cm | Weight: 3.8kg
- Crisp, detailed picture
- Rhythmic, musical sound
- Supports SACD and DVD-A
- Lacks HDR10+
- Odd Dolby Vision execution
- Could be more vibrant
This mid-range Sony is a bit more capable – and a bit more expensive – than those at the budget end of the market. While it lacks a display on the player itself, its feature set more than makes up for it. It even has Bluetooth, for streaming audio to a pair of wireless headphones – a godsend for late-night viewing.
There’s no HDR10+ support, but otherwise it’s a very versatile player, playing nice with such niche audio formats as DVD-Audio and SACD. You have to manually enable Dolby Vision for supported content, which is a bit annoying (it should just happen automatically), but this player’s superb performance still makes it easy to recommend.
Read the full review: Sony UBP-X800M2back to menu ↑
This Pioneer 4K Blu-ray is a super-talented, high-end machine.
Type: 4K Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: Yes/Yes/Yes | Outputs: HDMI x2, stereo RCA | Dimensions (hwd): 11.8 x 43.5 x 33.9cm | Weight: 10.3kg
- Crisp, insightful picture
- Natural colours
- Dynamic, expressive sound
- Few smart features
- Still waiting for HDR10+ update
Some home cinema set-ups demand a player with even more focus than the Sony mentioned above. At this level, premium build quality and high grade components are par for the course, as is the attempt to bring you the best picture and sound possible. The Pioneer UDP-LX500 is such a player.
Feed the player a 4K disc and the picture that greets you is breathtaking. It paints a balanced picture, packed with sensational levels of detail. And the Pioneer sounds as good as it looks, displaying weight, power and a fine sense of musicality and timing.
There’s no smart functionality, nor is there a set of multi-channel analogue outputs for legacy AV receivers, but if you’ve got the budget and a suitable home cinema system to play it through, this 4K Blu-ray player will blow you away.
Read the full review: Pioneer UDP-LX500
A hugely capable 4K Blu-ray player, not without its quirks.
Type: 4K Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: Yes/Yes/Yes | Outputs: HDMI x2, optical and coaxial digital, analogue | Dimensions (hwd): 5.4 x 43 x 26.5cm | Weight: 3.9kg
- Crisp, clean 4K picture
- Entertaining, immersive sound
- Universal disc support
- No HDR10+
- Strange handling of Dolby Vision
- Lacks a premium finish
There’s no shortage of excellent 4K Blu-ray players to choose from at the premium end of the market, and the UBP-X1100ES also deserves to be on the list. Like the Cambridge above, it’s a universal deck which means it can handle all manner of disc formats, including 3D Blu-ray, SACD and DVD-Audio. It supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR, but there’s no support for HDR10+, which is a little disappointing.
Its picture is anything but, though. The Sony serves up a balanced, natural and nuanced image, which displays great depth and an impressive amount of detail. It’s a musical player too, with excellent timing and a fine sense of rhythm with music and movies alike.
Read the full review: Sony UBP-X1100ES
A seriously capable machine for home cinema enthusiasts.
Type: 4K Blu-ray | SACD/DVD-A/3D Blu-ray support: No/No/Yes | Outputs: HDMI x2, optical and coaxial digital, 7.1 multi-channel analogue, RCA Phono, XLR | Dimensions (hwd): 8.1 x 43 x 30cm | Weight: 7.8kg
- Crisp, insightful picture
- Dynamic expressive sound
- Good selection of features
- Very little at this price
The DP-UB9000 is another player to throw into the mix if you’re in the market for a premium machine. Nestled between the Pioneer and Cambridge in this list, the Panasonic is a feature-packed option with excellent picture and sound quality.
Its menu system is a little overcomplicated, but once you’ve got the Panasonic set up for your particular display, it serves up an entertaining and attention-grabbing image, bursting with colour. There’s a great sense of depth and realism to 4K images that makes you sit up and take notice.
Soundtracks are delivered with plenty of weight and power, which is just what you want from a premium player like this. The Pioneer just about pips it for outright musical ability, but the Panasonic DP-UB9000 is still well worth auditioning.
Read the full review: Panasonic DP-UB9000