Sony has certainly been busy of late, at CES 2017 unveiling a plethora of products for the home cinema market (including this brand new 4K HDR home theatre projector, and by adding Dolby Vision’s HDR technology to its TVs). Joining this launch is the UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc player, the HT-ST5000 Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar and the STR-DN1080 AV Receiver (also with DTS:X).
With these launches, Sony has 2017 home cinema must-haves covered: 4K HDR for picture, and immersive audio with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
4K Blu-ray Player
Available in Spring 2017, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player is priced at approximately £400 / €520, making it cheaper than Oppo’s UDP-203 and pretty much on par with Panasonic’s DMP-UB700. This isn’t Sony’s first 4K Blu-ray player however, as the manufacturer also launched the X1000ES player at the end of 2016, although only making it available to the custom install market.
Happily, consumers will be able to get their hands on the new UBP-X800, which has been created in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment to ensure the best possible playback from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs as the creators intended, with the added benefit of 4K picture quality.
The manufacturer says that the X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player utilises a Sony-developed Precision HD drive to help maintain consistent performance with virtually every optical disc format, including DVD Video and DVD Audio, CD and Super Audio CD, Blu-ray 3D and BD-ROM media in additional to almost any format available via USB.
Naturally, the player incorporates a variety of video codecs that can deliver 4K streaming from video streaming services such as Netflix, along with Sony’s own video processing that upscales SD and HD content to near 4K resolution.
Additionally, when playing 4K HDR content on a 4K SDR TV, the X800 utilises a unique Sony algorithm to reproduce the proper brightness and colour gradations with the aim of providing the best picture possible.
Key to its appeal is its ability to ensure that sound quality is uncompromised, splitting audio and video signals and routing them to separate HDMI outputs to reduce electrical cross-interference. (Most Blu-ray Disc Players send both audio and video to a TV via the same HDMI output.)
Hi-res audio playback capability is included, while DSEE HX upscales the original signal’s sampling frequency and bit-depth, rewarding the user with higher fidelity and wider dynamic range.
And its not just its sleek exterior that stands out, on the inside is full complement of audio codec compatibility, letting users enjoy High-Resolution files encoded right up to 192kHz/24-bit and DSD up to 11.2MHz.
And that’s not all, due to its integrated Bluetooth, users can utilise wireless headphones for private listening, while the sound can continue to play from the TV for the benefit of anybody else watching. Wireless speakers can also be paired with the Blu-ray player.
Dolby Atmos Soundbar
Sony wasn’t going to let LG be the only manufacturer to launch a Dolby Atmos soundbar at CES 2017, offering up its own HT-ST5000 soundbar to the masses, again, created in partnership with Sony Pictures.
Also available in Spring this year for approximately £1,500 / €1,900, its connectivity features offer compatibility with the latest 4K, HDR and HDCP2.2 standards, working perfectly with the new Blu-ray player.
As with the new LG 4K player, this too features two upward firing Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers at either end of the bar, offering a 7.1.2 channel listening experience. The height speakers are paired with coaxial High-Resolution Audio speakers, featuring separate woofer and tweeter drivers.
Music can be played back using Chromecast built-in and Spotify Connect, providing access to over 100 music-streaming Apps.
Also new from Sony at CES is the STR-DN1080 AV Receiver, boasting support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X (no mention of Auro-3D, despite the Auro Technologies’ CEO stating that 2017 would be the year that sees more AV receivers supporting all three formats), alongside 4K HDR pass-through and upscale as well as High-Resolution Audio capability, including DSD native playback.
Offering a 7.1.2 surround experience for the home cinema enthusiast, this is available from (you guessed it) Spring 2017, priced at approximately £650 / €840 and is compatible with the new BT.2020 wide colour gamut broadcast standard.
A key feature is a flexible speaker solution to ‘relocate’ sound to simulate the optimal position and angle for the best audio experience, which reportedly works around any physical space restrictions, while the ‘Phantom Surround Back’ setting adds an extra two ‘virtual’ rear speakers for a full 7.1.2 channel experience, with a 5.2.1 set up.
Multiple connections make it possible to connect various devices, with six HDMI inputs and two outputs that provide full HDCP 2.2 compliance, supporting the latest 4K 60P (4:4:4).
Other key features include USB, Bluetooth, Chromecast built-in, Spotify Connect and Wireless Multi-Room.