Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click here.

I have reviewed some excellent optical disc players recently, including the Technics Grand Class SL-G700M2 streaming SACD player–DAC ($3499.95, all prices USD) and the Rotel Diamond DT-6000 CD player–DAC ($2299.99), a recipient of a 2023 SoundStage! Network Product of the Year award in the Exceptional Value category. While I loved the sound of both of these players, neither has video-playback capability. This won’t be a showstopper for most audiophiles, but video playback is a welcome feature for those of us who have multiuse A/V systems.


I have also reviewed the Reavon UBR-X200 4K Ultra HD universal Blu-ray disc player ($1799) and found it to be a suitable option for those requiring a universal videodisc player. However, it lacks some of the flexibility and well-thought-out user interface found on the long-since-discontinued, but still relevant, Oppo Digital UDP-205. Since that time, another new brand, Magnetar, has released the UDP800 universal BD player ($1599) and now their step-up UDP900. Priced at a not insignificant $2999, the UDP900 is a universal BD player with high-end aspirations, and the features and build quality to back them up. While Magnetar is associated with the same parent company as Reavon, and both are distributed in the US by the same company, Let’s Get Physical Distribution Inc., the UDP900 is a unique design. It is much larger and more robustly constructed than any of the Reavon players, and even its less expensive sibling, the UDP800.

Reviews of optical disc players, like the Technics and Rotel models I just mentioned, still garner a lot of attention on the SoundStage! Network. This and my own abiding interest in high-end universal BD players encouraged me to request a review sample of the UDP900 from Let’s Get Physical. It wasn’t long before a sizeable and heavy box containing a UDP900 was delivered to my doorstep and I eagerly unboxed it, hoping that it would live up to the promise of being a true high-end 4K UHD universal BD player.

Shiny happy discs

There are some other exceptionally capable 4K UHD BD players available, including the Sony UBP-X800M2 ($329), which plays back both DVD-Audio discs and SACDs; but that player only offers digital outputs. The well-built, reasonably priced Panasonic DP-UB9000 ($1099.99) has separate ESS SABRE DAC chips for its stereo and 7.1-channel analog audio outputs and can decode DSD digital signals, but it does not support playback of DVD-A discs and SACDs.


The Magnetar UDP900 is a different animal. It is massively built like the DP-UB9000; has a USB-B PC input so that it can function as a standalone DAC; features separate, high-quality stereo and multichannel DAC sections; and can play SACDs and DVD-As, in addition to 4K UHD Blu-rays, DVD-Vs, and CDs. On paper and externally, the UDP900 appears similar to the Oppo UDP-205. Like the Oppo, the UDP900 has a full suite of video functions, but the main emphasis of this review is on the sound quality of its analog outputs—more specifically, its stereo outputs.

In addition to playing nearly every type of optical disc, the UDP900 supports many audio and video file types and formats, including PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD up to 11.2MHz, with audio-file support for AIFF, ALAC, APE, DSF, DFF, FLAC, and WAV. Along with the Oppo and Reavon models, it is one of only a handful of players to support Dolby TrueHD–encoded MKV video files to allow for uncompressed, high-resolution Dolby Atmos audio. Content can be streamed over a network, as the UDP900 is compliant with the DLNA and SMB/CFIS protocols. There is also a Pure Audio mode to disable video output and processing to reduce potential interference with the audio circuitry.

After reviewing and returning the unit, I learned that the UDP900 has seven digital-filter options. These are undocumented and difficult to find, as they are accessed by depressing the Audio P button on the remote, and not through the onscreen audio menu as would be expected. As I had no way of knowing about these digital filters, the default filter, named Brick Wall, would have been utilized for the review period.


The first things you will notice about the UDP900 are its size and weight. Measuring 17.52″W × 12.54″D × 5.24″H and weighing 34.2 pounds, the UDP900 is a beast of a player. The top and side panels, finished in a matte-black color, are rock-solid, but the 0.5″ front panel is even more impressive. It has a unique appearance consisting of quadrants with an asymmetrical, crisscross pattern of a brushed dark-gray color contrasted with a glossier black finish. The top-right quadrant contains the dot-matrix display; the plastic disc tray is dead-center between the four quadrants. The disc tray operates smoothly, but is a little thin and flimsy, especially when compared to the construction of the rest of the player. An illuminated power button is situated below the display, as is a row of disc-navigation buttons. Below those are a 6.35mm headphone output jack and a USB Type-A port for playback from an external storage device.

The back panel is equally impressive, but for different reasons. The stereo outputs are separated from the multichannel outputs as their respective circuit boards are far apart within the chassis. Both XLR and RCA outputs are provided for stereo use. For multichannel use, there are eight RCA outputs: three front, four surround, and one LFE. Next to the multichannel outputs are both coaxial (RCA) and optical (TosLink) S/PDIF outputs as well as an RS-232 control port, and, above the RS-232 port, a USB Type-B input for the DAC. Two HDMI outputs are provided, one labeled Main and the other Audio Only. The ethernet port is situated to the left of the HDMI outputs; to their right is a USB 3.0 port for playback from storage devices. A standard IEC power receptacle for the provided cord and rocker switch for mains power are situated to the extreme right.Magnetar

The chassis interior is highly compartmentalized to provide isolation of the various sections, which makes for a very rigid structure. The power supply is fully enclosed and is said to have a dual circuit design with both a switching section and an analog section featuring its own 60W toroidal transformer. The Sony KEM481AAA disc mechanism is also fully enclosed and separated from the power supply and audio and video boards with internal walls running the entire length of the player.

The multichannel audio outputs utilize an ESS Technologies ES9028PRO DAC chip on its own circuit board. The stereo outputs have their own ES9038PRO DAC chip on a much larger circuit board that also includes the headphone-amplifier section. Premium parts are said to be used throughout, including high-quality, oxygen-free copper wiring; capacitors from Murata, NCC, ELNA, WIMA, and Rubycon; and TDK magnetic devices—all on four-layer PCBs. Video processing is provided by a Mediatek MT8581 SoC (System on a Chip), which is used by many BD player manufacturers. It’s situated on a separate video board underneath the two-channel audio board. Overall, both the internal and external design and construction of the UDP900 appear to be on par with what I’ve seen on audiophile SACD players from manufacturers such as Denon, Marantz, Technics, and Yamaha.

We built this city

Inserting the UDP900 into my system was relatively straightforward. As with other A/V disc players, you will need to connect it to a video monitor for initial setup. This wasn’t a problem for me as my system includes a television for watching movies, but keep that in mind as you will likely want to confirm settings such as the priority for multichannel or stereo playback of SACDs. Also, if you are planning to use the variable-level capability of the analog outputs, output level is visible only when using a video monitor—it is not indicated on the front-panel display.


I connected the UDP900 to both the XLR and RCA analog inputs of my Anthem STR preamplifier and used the Audio Only HDMI output for connection to my Anthem AVM60 surround processor. I used the Main HDMI output for connection directly to my Samsung S90C OLED television. The rest of the system comprised Anthem M1 monoblock power amplifiers, MartinLogan Masterpiece Classic ESL 9 loudspeakers, and dual JL Audio E-Sub e112 powered subwoofers integrated into the system using the bass-management and ARC Genesis room-correction capabilities of the STR preamplifier. Other sources included an Oppo Digital UDP-205 4K UHD universal BD player and Pro-Ject X1 turntable with Pick it S2 cartridge. I connected my Intel NUC PC, which I use to run Roon and Tidal, to the player’s USB-B port.

Everything functioned well as I played various types of optical discs and streamed Tidal from my MacBook Air as I let the player settle into my system. But an odd thing happened when I installed the Windows USB driver for the UDP900 on my Intel NUC PC—both the XLR and RCA analog outputs began outputting white noise that was loud enough to mask the music and make it unlistenable. The digital and HDMI outputs seemed to act normally, although the video was now unstable and flickered when displaying menu screens. I restored the factory-default settings thinking that something may have become corrupted, but to no avail. It was then that I noticed a recent firmware update on Magnetar’s website, so I installed it through the network connection. This solved the problem. I also reached out to my helpful contact at Let’s Get Physical Distribution. He had not heard of this problem before, but suggested I use a different HDMI cable to address the video instability issue, in addition to updating the firmware. Whatever the issue was, the unit functioned perfectly after the update. And it seemed to operate even more smoothly when accessing files and displaying menu options after a further firmware update near the end of the review period.


While the UDP900 functioned without incident after the firmware update, I still experienced a few operational idiosyncrasies. In addition to the volume level not being visible on the front-panel display, there is no option for setting a fixed output level, meaning that the volume control is always active with no way of confirming its level without using a video monitor. The display also does not indicate the sampling frequency or word length of incoming PCM signals, instead only indicating that the “XMOS PCM” input is selected—but it does show the resolution of DSD signals. The 11 individual dot-matrix digits generally only display track number and elapsed time; I could find no option to change that information. A small sub-panel to the left shows mostly video information such as video-output resolution and the status of the two HDMI ports.

While providing a full suite of controls, the backlit remote has many buttons of the same size and shape. These are not grouped logically, so the layout takes some time to get used to. That said, these are relatively minor niggles, some of which could conceivably be corrected by future firmware updates. They detract only slightly from the UDP900’s otherwise thorough design and high-quality construction.

You spin me round

Although I had some initial reservations about the UDP900’s functional quirks, once I set up this gorgeous player in my system and started playing music, I was wowed by its high level of performance. While the rest of my observations will be about the UDP900’s audio performance, it should be noted that the video performance was excellent, with the implementation of the Mediatek SoC providing consistently satisfying picture quality on my Samsung S90C OLED display.


With the UDP900, I was able to hear every minute detail in Mutt Lange’s squeaky-clean production of AC/DC’s Back In Black (24-bit/48kHz FLAC, Columbia Records / Tidal). The opening gong on “Hells Bells” was deep, wide, and reverberant, starkly contrasted by the wickedly fast, snarling guitars and super-taut drums, all displaying surprising specificity in their imaging. “Shoot to Thrill” exhibited even greater control over the guitars placed hard left and hard right, with the drums emerging from dead center and possessing a tight and fairly damped quality. Compared to “Hells Bells,” Brian Johnson’s vocals had a slightly fuller character on this track and more depth. On “Shoot to Thrill,” his voice was more closely miked and unadulterated, as were the drums.

The different recording and production qualities of the band’s 1990 album, The Razors Edge (24/48 FLAC, Columbia Records / Tidal), produced by Bruce Fairbairn, were readily apparent. The guitars on “Thunderstruck” were just as fast and precise. Angus Young’s wicked licks were easily discernible throughout the entire song, even during the portions where they are reduced in level. However, both the guitars and Johnson’s high-pitched, yet raspy vocals were positioned slightly more forward in the mix. The most noticeable difference was in the presentation of the drums. The entire drum kit, especially the kick drum, sounded as if it was recorded in a large acoustic space, providing a fuller and more expansive sound that gave the track a jubilant, arena-rock quality.


This was even more apparent in “Janie’s Got a Gun” from Aerosmith’s Pump (24/48 FLAC, Geffen Records / Tidal), which was also produced by Fairbairn. The drums sounded like rolling thunder, matching the thick throbbing cords of the bass guitar. With the UDP900, I was easily able to differentiate the contrasting styles utilized by the recording engineers and producers, and captured so exactingly on these recordings.

Optical disc playback was exceptional with discs being recognized quickly and playback starting within a few seconds of being loaded. Music for the Native Americans (CD, Capitol 724382829522), by Robbie Robertson & the Red Road Ensemble, was expansive with deep, rich bass, The smooth, lilting vocals on “The Vanishing Breed” appeared well back in the soundstage. Placed up front, the pipes gave the melody a slight sense of urgency when contrasted with the more laid-back vocals. The traditional drums on “Akua Tuta” sounded convincingly genuine, changing pitch as the skins were hit in differing locations and with varying strength. The transparent sound of the UDP900 allowed the many melodic elements of this album to complement each other while maintaining their individuality and providing a wide and detailed aural image.


An SACD of Jascha Heifetz’s iconic performances of Brahms’s and Tchaikovsky’s violin concertos with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Fritz Reiner (Sony BMG Music 828766789621) sounded excellent on the UDP900. I loved the lively and vivid sound of the remastered DSD signal on this album, which was converted directly from the original two-channel master tapes using a Studer Aria player. The orchestra was presented credibly and precisely in front of me with exceptional pace and tempo, as were Heifetz’s solos. His violin was afforded just the right amount of presence so that it was not overwhelmed by the orchestra. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this and other well-recorded SACDs on the UDP900.


The UDP900’s sonic character leaned slightly towards being more vibrant and less to the warmer side of things. This manifested itself in the orchestral passages of the Brahms concerto sometimes sounding a bit overpowering during the opening movement. I would have liked it to sound a little smoother, but even the best players I have had in my system struggle somewhat in that regard with this disc, so it is inherent in the recording. In any event, I would much rather have a player that is more dynamic and exciting, as opposed to one which is too laid-back.

The brusque drums on “Suspicious Minds” from the DVD-Audio release of ELV1S 30 #1 Hits (RCA / BMG 078636505398) were extremely clean, with each beat sounding remarkably taut and meticulously defined. However, when I switched to the Oppo UDP-205, the drums had a tad more weight and the bass line was a touch more prominent. The Magnetar presented the strings more lucidly, but again, I would have appreciated a bit more warmth. My experience was the same whether I was listening to ripped 24/96 FLAC files from this album through Roon or the original DVD-A disc.


I also loved the UDP900’s ability to unravel the pulsating bass from the overlapping kick drum on “White Wedding (Pt. 1)” from Billy Idol’s eponymously titled first album (24/192 FLAC, Capitol Records / HDtracks). Through the Magnetar player, Idol’s growling voice was placed more holographically in front of me, directly between the speakers, and Steve Stevens’s guitar had more bite. Admittedly, the bass guitar and kick drum were not as full-bodied as they were with the Oppo, but conversely, the Oppo could have benefited from a bit more transparency. Ultimately, both the Oppo and the Magnetar are excellent-sounding sources for two-channel use, especially considering they are also fully featured A/V disc players.

About the only area of audio performance where the Magnetar could not match that of the Oppo was its headphone output. With my HiFiMan HE400se headphones connected to the Magnetar’s headphone output, the wonderfully expansive sound of Music for the Native Americans was somewhat reduced. Mind you, this track still sounded quite good with the Magnetar powering the HiFiMan ’phones, but the Oppo’s headphone output was better able to differentiate between the intertwining melodies of the many instruments and vocals while providing added layers of depth and dimensionality. However, with easier-to-drive headphones like the PSB M4U 8s, the differences between the two players were significantly reduced.

I’m a spaceship superstar

If you were to ask me today what my favorite audiophile disc player is, I would have to say the Rotel Diamond Series DT-6000. Sure, the only optical disc type it supports is CD, but I don’t play many discs these days and would use it primarily as a DAC. It’s built well, sounds great, and is an incredible bargain at $2299. However, the cinephile in me needs 4K UHD BD playback in my system and the Magnetar UDP900 is the best widely available A/V disc player with audiophile-quality stereo analog outputs. The Magnetar has sound and build quality similar to high-end audio-only players in its price range and adds 4K UHD BD playback as well as support for both DVD-A discs and SACDs. At $2999, it’s not cheap, but it is what I would buy today if I needed such an optical disc player for my system.

. . . Roger Kanno

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click here.

Associated Equipment

  • Speakers: Martin Logan Masterpiece Classic ESL 9.
  • Subwoofers: JL Audio E-Sub e112 (x2).
  • Preamplifier: Anthem STR.
  • Power amplifiers: Anthem M1 (monoblocks).
  • Digital sources: Intel NUC computer running Windows 10, Roon, and Tidal; AudioQuest JitterBug jitter reducer, Oppo Digital UDP-205 4K Ultra HD universal Blu-ray player.
  • Turntable: Pro-Ject Audio Systems X1 turntable with Pick it S2 cartridge.
  • Speaker cables: Shunyata Research Venom-X.
  • XLR interconnects: Shunyata Research Venom-X.
  • RCA interconnects: Nordost Quattro Fil.
  • USB link: AudioQuest Carbon.
  • Power cords: Clarus Cable 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.

Magnetar UDP900 4K Ultra HD Universal Blu-ray Disc Player–DAC
Price: $2999.
Warranty: Two years, parts and labor.

US distributor:
Let’s Get Physical Distribution Inc.
7000 SW 22nd Ct, #132
Davie, FL 33317
Phone: (470) 800-9933