Sony UBP-X1100ES UHD 4k Dolby Vision Blu-ray player review

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posted on Saturday, 26th October 2019 by Steve May

home cinema  Dolby Atmos  Dolby Vision 

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Sony continues to contest the 4k Blu-ray player high ground with the UBP-X1100ES, a Dolby Vision update on its popular Sony UBP-X1000ES model.

Hailing from Sony’s professional division, the UBP-X1100ES isn’t intended to court mainstream buyers. It’s unapologetically CI centric, designed to be integrated into key CI control systems, including Control4, Crestron and Savant. It also supports IP Control over Cat5 cable and Wi-Fi, RS-232C two-way control and IR.

Integrators can also manage the player via a web browser interface, or via Ihiji, the cloud-based network management solution which offers remote maintenance.

Front View  Pr

Sony UBP-X1100ES UHD Blu-ray player: Build Quality and Features
Unlike high-end rivals from Pioneer and Panasonic, this slimline Sony doesn’t claim overmuch rack space (dimensions are 430(w) x 54(h) x 265(d)mm). It’s also reassuringly well made. The deck features Sony’s familiar Frame and Beam chassis, which enhances structural rigidity. Beneath the lid is a honeycomb top plate, with heatsink. Offset feet are used to reduce unwanted vibration.

Rear connections include HDMI, coaxial and optical digital outputs, analogue stereo, RS232c for system control, IR remote port and Ethernet.

Wireless functionality covers dual-band Wi-Fi, plus Bluetooth with wideband LDAC support. There’s also Bluetooth support for wireless headphones. 

For those that need it, there are Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube streaming apps, accessible from the Home screen, all of which stream content up to 4k. There’s also media server and USB playback. The UBP-X1100ES had no trouble seeing and playing from Twonky and Plex Media Servers. The deck will allow users to MiraCast.

HDMI Inputs (3)

Owners of Sony Bravia TVs may take comfort from the provision of a Bravia viewing mode, and there's the provision to move subtitles when viewing ‘Scope movies in an ultrawide aspect ratio.

The player is certainly well appointed when it comes to disc compatibility. It’ll spin all the usual Blu-ray and DVD formats, and claims universal audio disc support, which means SACD and DVD Audio discs are welcome too.

The deck is hi-res audio capable, utilising a192kHz/ 32bit DAC, and is compatible with a raft of file formats, including AAC, ALAC, DSD (up to 11.2 MHz), FLAC, WMA, MP3/MKV and MPEG.

HDR10 support comes as standard, but on this player iteration there’s also Dolby Vision compatibility. However, the deck doesn’t recognise rival dynamic metadata standard HDR10+, which is making tentative steps into the Blu-ray disc market, and has been widely adopted by Amazon prime for streaming HDR content.

Corner View

Sony UBP-X1100ES UHD Blu-ray player: Performance
Picture playback quality is outstanding. This shouldn’t surprise any integrators who specified this model’s predecessor. The deck makes full use of whatever information is presented on disc, interpolating 4k with 4:4:4 subsampling in order to best match the capabilities of any connected display device. It’s not just native UHD that looks fabulous. The player does a cracking job with standard 2k Blu-ray platters too.

There is a caveat though, which is either significant or largely irrelevant, depending on how you intend to use the player.

The caution comes from the player’s handling of Dolby Vision content. Unlike rival disc spinners, it can’t automatically recognise a Dolby Vision encoded disc when it plays one. It effectively ignores any DV guidelines, and just utilises static HDR10 metadata.

To exploit Dolby Vision, you’ll need to manually switch to Dolby Vision mode, accessible through the display menu.

Unfortunately, when this toggle is switched, all video from the player is output with a Dolby Vision flag, regardless of how it was authored. HDR10 discs and SDR Blu-rays are ‘upconverted’ into a Dolby Vision signal. To ensure it doesn’t do this, users need to revisit the menu and switch off the Dolby Vision output. when not required.

Those looking to specify a Blu-ray player for a traditional home cinema system, that's to say one that uses a Dolby Vision TV, will find this foible deeply irritating. However, if you are looking for a disc spinner to function within a projector based environment, this awkward Dolby Vision handling is irrelevant. Not least because there are no Dolby Vision home theatre projectors.

You can thus install and forget about this quirk completely, taking comfort from the player’s sublime AV performance. When partnered with a non HDR display, there’s HDR to SDR conversion, which down-maps brightness and colour.

Back Panel Main

As an audio disc spinner, the UBP-X100ES dances on the right side of superb. Two channel stereo performance rivals any high fidelity CD player at a similar price point, and its handling of high-res audio platters and files is thrilling. With multichannel SACD and DVD-Audio discs, the deck shines. For lower res sources, the player offers DSEE HX audio upscaling, which works surprisingly well, restoring a level of nuance and sparkle to recordings.

Disc loading times are good. A typical movie will take just 40 seconds to go from tray to menu.

Sony UBP-X1100ES UHD Blu-ray player: Verdict
For many integrators, this new iteration of Sony’s professional-edition is largely comparable to the model which came before. System integration and audio visual performance are peerless. The deck’s handling of Dolby Vision will limit its appeal if you’re looking for a player to partner a Dolby Vision TV - we’d suggest either the Panasonic DP-UB9000 or Pioneer LX500 might be a better choice - but for projection-based theatres, this shortcoming is no issue at all.

The Sony UBP-X1100ES is available now.
Retail price: £800

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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