Arcam UDP411 Blu-ray player review

Inside CI 4 Rating

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posted on Saturday, 30th May 2015 by Steve May

home cinema  Hi-fi  Blu-ray  Arcam  High-end 

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Arcam has won plenty of plaudits for its disc players over the years, both CD and Blu-ray. The company’s ability to extract musicality from its hardware is second to none. But for this model, it’s taken a different development route. The new player is built upon the MediaTek platform, also used by Oppo and Cambridge Audio. Consequently some of the menus will be familiar when you start to dive deep. However given that both of its rivals are highly regarded, this is by no means a bad thing. The good news is there’s still plenty of Arcam magic onboard.

Arcam UDP411: Build quality and features
Unboxed, it’s clear the UDP411 is a beautifully built component. A full width 430mm unit,  it sports a centred disc mechanism with transport and Power conrolled to the right, and weighs a substantial 6.2kg. Unsurprisingly given the substantial chassis, the player proves to be extremely quiet in operation.  

Arcam -udp 411 Cutout

Interestingly the deck isn’t a universal player. There’s no DVD-Audio compatibility offered. This is worth noting if the user has a significant legacy disc collection. The player does spin high resolution Super Audio CD discs though, along with Blu-ray, DVD and CD. SACD offers both multichannel and stereo compatibility.

Connectivity should cover most bases. There’s a single HDMI ouput, plus two balanced XLR jacks, a phono stereo output, Ethernet jack, digital and coaxial audio outputs and USB. The deck also has integrated Wi-Fi, with attachable antenna. The remote is a lightweight plastic IR. For system integration, there's a 12v trigger and IR in, as well as RS232. The UDP411 implements virtual IR Commands, so any IR remote control operation can be achieved over RS232 using the Simulate RC5 IR command.

Arcam clearly subscribes to the less is more philosophy. The user interface is unapologetically uncomplicated, with just two selectable options on the home screen: Settings and My Media. Hit the My Media button and the player scours the network for DLNA compatible media sources, as well as connected USB device and physical media.

We found file support to be pretty good. Video compatibility covers WMV, AVI, MKV, MPEG and VOB, while audio embraces WMA, MP3 FLAC and DSD. If you encounter a codec the player can't handle though, it does have a habit of locking up in consternation. However don’t expect to find anything in the way of embedded streaming audio or video services. While some rival Blu-ray players have evolved into streaming entertainment hubs, offering treats such as iPlayer and Spotify, things are kept rather more minimal here.  

Naturally the UDP411 is smart enough to look for its own software updates, prompting when one is available. Once updated the player reboots – it does all this really fast. There's some speedy silicon onboard.

It should be noted that Cinavia copy protection is integrated. If an encoded unauthorised watermarked file is detected, playback will be compromised or stopped. There's also a screen saver which kicks in if required from five minutes, as well as CEC control.

Rear Panel (3)

RS232

Arcam UDP411: Performance
Picture quality should be considered outstanding. The player does a wonderful job presenting fine detail; image depth is considerable with no sense of exaggerated processing, while colour fidelity is high. The UDP411 proves a good match of UHD displays, and can upscale all sources to 3840 x 2160 4K. It can also be persuaded to Auto select or output at 1080p, 1080i or 720p as required.

While 1080p Blu-rays look marvellous, it’s upscaling talents are not to be underestimated. Jaggies are artfully disguised when playing back SD DVDs. While it would be unreasonable to expect a genuine HD performance from DVD, this up-rezzed performance is eminently watchable. Good news for those with a large legacy disc collection. The player is also fast on its feet. Discs load without undue faff. We had uncomplicated Blu-rays go from tray in to menu in less than 30 seconds while more complex Java heavy platters took around 40 seconds.

As an audio source the deck is first rate. Multichannel soundtracks are delivered to decoding electronics without missing a beat, allowing for immaculate presentation of both DTS HD MA and Dolby TrueHD. Many will doubtless be drawn to this player because of its audio heritage – and they won’t be disappointed. The player’s at its best with Super Audio CD. The multi-channel SACD release of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust is a wonderful listening experience, and well worth using as a change of pace for system demos. Spin Five Years to surprise people with the rear placed guitar breakout – it works every time.

Both the analogue output and HDMI are entirely acceptable for listening to two-channel stereo sources in high-end systems. The player employs a TI/Burr Brown PCM1794, supported by sub-regulated power supplies for the drive, audio and DAC boards.

For top flight file fidelity, DSD via USB can't be beat. The acoustic folk of David Elias, Rodeo on a Ridge has a transparency that's almost holographic. The track has a live timbre, with precision imaging and clarity; while you can virtually smell cowboy boots during Morning Light/Western Town. The player itself is largely transparent to what it streams. MP3-encoded metalcore from Falling In Reverse is delivered as is; there's no sonic upscaling onboard. Fun but rough.

Don’t bank on the onboard Wi-Fi though. In our listening room, the deck failed to locate the Wi-Fi signal of an Asus router located just a few metres away. It did, however, lock onto a BT Home Hub operated slightly nearer. Inevitably the best course of action is to opt for a wired network connection. 

Disc Menu

Menu 2 (1)

Arcam UDP411: Verdict
Arcam’s best CD spinners have traditionally been able to elicit an emotional response with music, and that trait is here too. You can hear the classic Arcam alchemy at work. But this is also a stonking Blu-ray player, fast and impressive in use. It’s a particularly fine choice if it’s going to be used with a big legacy DVD collection. Consequently, those speccing an Arcam amplified music system should have few qualms about adding the UDP411. There are some caveats, but this is classy Blu-ray player, that also happens to be great music source.

The Arcam UDP411 is available now.
Retail price: £1,000
For more on Arcam’s home cinema and music solutions, visit our partner page here.

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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