Most audiophiles don’t give a lot of thought to the playback of Blu-ray Discs, let alone 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs—or any other type of video format for that matter. But for some of us, our stereo rigs do double duty as multichannel home-theater systems, so an optical disc player capable of playing back a variety of high-resolution audio formats in addition to 4K Ultra HD video is a desirable commodity, even if it’s not exactly a necessity. And if you don’t have a high-quality external DAC or an integrated amplifier or preamplifier with a built-in DAC, you’re going to want a player with a capable DAC and analog output section.
Although a fair number of companies still produce high-quality stereo CD/SACD players, most specialty audio manufacturers no longer produce disc players that support both video and high-resolution multichannel audio formats. So, it was a bit unexpected when French manufacturer Reavon recently introduced the UBR-X200 4K Ultra HD universal Blu-ray player with multichannel and stereo analog outputs. Priced at $1799 (all prices in USD), the UBR-X200 is joined by two less expensive siblings, the UBR-X100 ($899), which lacks analog outputs and the ability to play SACDs, and most recently, the UBR-X110 ($999), which adds SACD capability to the X100’s feature set.
As the owner of Oppo Digital’s coveted but discontinued UDP-205 4K Ultra HD universal Blu-ray player ($1299, discontinued), I was interested in seeing if the UBR-X200 would be a viable alternative to the Oppo. According to the company’s website, the Reavon players are available from retailers around the world, including online resellers. To obtain a review sample, I contacted Zappiti, a US distributor owned by Reavon’s parent company, Groupe Archisoft, and they graciously agreed to send me the UBR-X200 to review.
Qu’est-ce que c’est?
The Reavon UBR-X200 is based on the MediaTek MTK8581 SoC (system on a chip), similar to the one used in the Oppo UDP-205, but although the menus appear somewhat alike, the Reavon’s overall design is very different from that of the Oppo. Like the Oppo, the UBR-X200 supports a range of disc formats, including SACD and DVD-Audio, and audio file playback, including FLAC (2.0/5.1), M4A, AIF, AIFF, DSF (2.0/5.1), DFF (2.0/5.1), MP3, OGG, and APE, in addition to a wide range of video formats.
Digital-to-analog conversion for the stereo outputs is accomplished using two TI Burr-Brown PCM1795 DAC chips, which have a dynamic range of 123dB, THD+N of 0.0005%, and a maximum resolution of 32-bit/192kHz. The unit uses a power supply with a large-capacity PCB-mounted toroidal transformer (described as “military engineering class”). Multichannel D-to-A is provided by a TI Burr-Brown PCM1690 DAC, which has a dynamic range of 113dB. Custom audiophile capacitors are said to be used throughout.
The UBR-X200 is a full-sized component measuring 16.9″W × 3.3″H × 11.8″D and weighing a solid 15 pounds. Much of the player’s weight is due to the 1.6mm-thick base, which is reinforced with a 3mm steel plate intended to reduce noise from the movement of the optical drive. The matte-black finish is similar to that of other high-end video players, as is its large, centrally located display. A Power button with an indicator light is located on the left side of the thick metal faceplate, along with an eject button, and buttons to control playback are on the right. Situated below the playback buttons is a USB-A 2.0 input to attach a storage device for playback of media files or firmware updates. The Reavon is handsome looking for an audio/video player, and both its sturdiness and the absence of plastic in its construction will instill confidence in its durability.
In addition to digital outputs consisting of coaxial RCA, optical TosLink, HDMI, and HDMI (audio only), the back panel includes both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) stereo analog outputs and unbalanced (RCA) 7.1-channel outputs. Digital inputs are limited to ethernet for playback from DLNA-connected devices, and USB-A 3.0 for storage devices and firmware updates. An RS232C connection and IEC power inlet are also included, as well as a main power rocker switch. A couple of features that would have been useful but which have been omitted are other types of digital inputs and a headphone output.
The backlit remote control is a good size and has large, easy-to-read buttons. Unfortunately, a video display is required to navigate the menus and to access information about the status of the player and the media being played, as the front panel display shows only track/chapter number and elapsed track time. The unit’s Pure Audio mode can be engaged via the remote to turn off the video circuitry and is intended to enhance audio performance. You can also use the remote to adjust the volume level of the analog outputs in one-unit increments from 0 to 100. (At the time I conducted my evaluation, the firmware only allowed volume adjustment in ten-unit increments, which was too coarse to use without a preamplifier. The same firmware update that enabled the fine volume adjustment added track and chapter numbers to the display, which previously only showed elapsed time.)
Overall, the UBR-X200 is well constructed and has a comprehensive feature set for both audio and video playback. The build quality may not be as robust as that of the UDP-205, but I was impressed by the tidiness of the boards and the internal construction even though the interior of the player is more sparsely populated than that of the Oppo. And while there are a few features that I would have liked to have seen included, like additional digital audio inputs, the Reavon UBR-X200 is almost as complete an audio/video optical disc player as you could hope to find these days.
Set up and use
As with most audio/video players, the UBR-X200 requires some initial set up involving the use of a video display to view onscreen menus. The menus are pretty basic, so they’re easy to navigate and provide intuitive access to the usual cadre of options. Obligatory video options include setting the output resolution to Auto, manually selecting an output resolution, or choosing Source Direct to bypass the player’s video processing; audio options include setting the digital outputs to Bitstream or PCM, the maximum sampling frequency to 48kHz, 96kHz, or 192kHz, and the number of speakers supported by the analog outputs from two for stereo to up to seven, not including the subwoofer output. When set to six speakers, both surround back channels will output the same signal. There’s no option to set a crossover frequency for any of the channels.
SACD playback priority can be set to stereo or multichannel and DVD playback to DVD-Video or DVD-Audio. While I had no issue with SACD playback, DVD-Audio playback did not function properly when I used firmware version 2.14 or the updated 2.19 version, both installed via a USB storage device. All of the DVD-Audio discs that I tried displayed either a blank screen or garbled colors, and I was unable to navigate the discs further. Elvis: 30 # 1 Hits on DVD-Audio, a disc with no video content, played back correctly, but this was the only DVD-Audio disc I could get to work on this player. During the review period, I was in contact with a Zappiti US representative who assured me that they were working on a firmware update to address the DVD-Audio issue. Reavon seems to be responsive to feedback from their users, and the company has already released a couple of firmware updates, including the one mentioned above that addresses the volume and display issues. I am hopeful that they’ll be able to implement DVD-Audio playback in a future firmware update, but this functionality was not available during the review period. Consequently, in my listening sessions with the UBR-X200, I used a combination of audio files saved to a portable USB hard drive and optical discs, including CDs and SACDs.
For 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs, the UBR-X200 supports Dolby Vision and HDR10, but not HDR10+. It was also able to play back just about any video file format I could throw at it, including MKV files encoded with Dolby TrueHD audio. About the only things it had trouble with were some Dolby-Vision-encoded MKV and MP4 files; these were hit and miss on playback. Like other players that adhere to official SACD playback standards, including later Oppo models, the Reavon does not play burned SACDs. I was also able to use my iPhone 6s to send audio via UPnP using mconnect Player Lite and Qobuz.
Because I was most interested in assessing the UBR-X200’s performance as an audio player, I listened primarily with it connected to my Anthem STR Preamplifier using Clarus Aqua Mark II XLR interconnects and an Essential Sound Products MusicCord-Pro ES power cord. The rest of the system consisted of Anthem M1 monoblock power amplifiers, MartinLogan Masterpiece Classic ESL 9 loudspeakers, and dual JL Audio E-Sub e112 powered subwoofers using the crossover and Anthem ARC Genesis room correction built into the STR Preamplifier. Because I was unable to discern any noticeable performance differences with the Pure Audio mode engaged, I did not use it; this allowed me to see track information on my television monitor and more easily navigate playback from USB storage devices.
After using the UBR-X200 for a few weeks to watch some movies and play a few CDs and SACDs, I started my critical listening with a track I’m very familiar with, Billy Idol’s “White Wedding (Part 1),” from his eponymous album (24-bit/192kHz FLAC, Capitol/HDtracks), and the Reavon performed extremely well. The screeching guitar lick that opens the song tracked perfectly from right to left, followed by the solid bassline keeping perfect time. The bass guitar doesn’t go exceptionally deep, but it was punchy and so well defined that I could almost picture the strumming of individual strings; it was presented with superb articulation, clearly differentiating it from the kick drum that was also providing a great sense of rhythm. Lead guitar was placed slightly to the left of center, and it cut through the blasting rock mix like a razor blade. Rhythm guitar was situated hard right and came through with a ferocity bested only by Idol’s growling vocals. When played through the Reavon, the instruments and vocals were all perfectly layered; this was a fantastic example of how great a cleanly produced ’80s rock album can sound. I totally cranked the volume on this cut, and it was great fun.
Although the Reavon did an excellent job of soundstaging on classic rock mixes, as it had with Billy Idol, to get a better idea of how it could paint a more subtle aural picture, I turned to another old favorite, “High Life,” from Jazz at the Pawnshop: 30th Anniversary (24/88.2 FLAC, Proprius). The specificity of placement in the opening moments—the clapping and crowd murmurs intermingled with the tambourine and piano—laid everything out in front of me so convincingly, I felt as if I were present at the Stampen jazz club witnessing the recording of this album. The vibraphone solo with the audience clapping along is my favorite part of the track and with the Reavon, there was as much precise timing and pacing as I have heard with any digital source in my system.
With optical disc playback, the Reavon’s main purpose, the sound of the UBR-X200 was just as captivating. Madonna’s electronica-inspired Ray of Light (CD, Maverick/Warner Bros. 9362468474) had a massive, room-filling quality as synth effects flew across the soundstage on the sweeping “Sky Fits Heaven.” The percussion at the 2:45 mark hit hard and fast, like a machine gun, starting and stopping with extreme precision and speed. “Frozen” was even more expansive, with electronic strings and percussion extending side wall to side wall and filling the entire space behind Madonna’s voice, which was placed slightly forward and sounded exceptionally clear even though this was merely a standard Red Book CD recording.
Switching to Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms (SACD, Vertigo/Universal 9871498), I found this high-resolution recording on optical disc sounded wonderful. John Illsley’s slow, brooding bass on “So Far Away” was beautifully melancholic yet very well defined. The wind instruments on “Your Latest Trick” were especially clear and expressive. The trumpet and sax can sound somewhat similar on this track, but with the Reavon, the moody reediness of the sax was clearly apparent and differentiated from the more open and towering sound of the trumpet. As expected from a high-resolution source, not only was the bass taut and responsive to go along with smooth highs, the midrange was also exceptionally lucid, as evidenced by female vocals. Whether it was Rebecca Pidgeon’s wispy spoken-word delivery on “Auld Lang Syne/Bring It On Home To Me,” from Retrospective (SACD, Chesky SACD242), or Diana Krall’s huskier, smokier vocals in her rendition of “Temptation,” from The Girl In the Other Room (SACD, Verve UCGU-9008), the vocals always had an arresting presence.
To perform A/B comparisons between the UBR-X200 and the Oppo UDP-205, I level matched the analog XLR inputs of the Anthem STR Preamplifier with the two players and synched playback of digital files from USB hard drives as I switched between them. To put it simply, the sounds of the Reavon and Oppo were nearly indistinguishable. While I was listening to “Tom Sawyer” from Rush’s Moving Pictures (24/96 FLAC, Mercury), Geddy Lee’s alto vocals came through with exceptional clarity on both players amidst the band’s driving 1980s prog-synth sound. While this isn’t the cleanest example of a rock recording, the vocals, lead and bass guitars, drums, and synthesizer were all very well delineated, and I couldn’t discern any significant changes in timbre or imaging as I switched between the two players.
On the more recently recorded “400 Lux,” from Lorde’s Pure Heroine (24/48 FLAC, Universal), the bass was massively deep and controlled. I thought it might have gone a little deeper with the Oppo player, but the differences were extremely subtle, and Lorde’s voice might have sounded a little clearer with the Reavon. But again, the differences were minor and difficult to detect even when I was switching rapidly between the two sources. On “Tennis Court,” I also thought that the vocals were a little clearer with the Reavon at first, but when I switched from the Oppo to the Reavon, I could not consistently detect a difference between the two players.
C’est la fin
The Reavon UBR-X200 will play just about any type of optical disc or audio/video file format, and it will sound wonderful through its analog audio outputs while doing so. That said, though I’m fairly confident Reavon will address the DVD-Audio playback issues in a future firmware update, you might want to hold off purchasing one if this is important to you. Otherwise, the UBR-X200 is an excellent choice for anyone who’s looking for a high-quality audio/video optical player that supports 4K Ultra HD video. Sure, the UBR-X200 costs more than the Oppo UDP-205 did, but it’s been four years since Oppo Digital ceased manufacturing operations, and if you don’t need analog outputs, Reavon does offer their less expensive UBR-X100 and UBR-X110 models.
. . . Roger Kanno
- Speakers: MartinLogan Masterpiece Classic ESL 9.
- Subwoofers: JL Audio E-Sub e112 (2).
- Preamplifier: Anthem STR Preamplifier.
- Power amplifiers: Anthem M1 (monoblocks).
- Digital sources: Oppo Digital UDP-205 4K Ultra HD universal BD player, Apple iPhone 6s.
- Speaker cables: Analysis Plus Silver Apex.
- XLR interconnects: Clarus Aqua Mark II, Analysis Plus Silver Apex.
- Power cords: Clarus Aqua, Essential Sound Products MusicCord-Pro ES.
- Power conditioners: Blue Circle Audio PLC Thingee FX-2 with X0e low-frequency filter module, Zero Surge 1MOD15WI.
Reavon UBR-X200 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Warranty: Two years, parts and labor.
7000 SW 22nd Ct
Davie, FL 33317
Phone: (954) 249-5809