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The best Blu-ray players 2020: top movie and music machines from £100

The best Blu-ray players 2020: top movie and music machines from £100
(Image credit: Panasonic)

If you demand the best in sound and vision, you need one of the best Blu-ray players in this list. Sure we all love the convenience of streaming, be it Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or one of the many other services available (shout out for Crunchyroll!), but for consistent, pristine picture quality unhampered by sluggish broadband or flaky Wi-Fi, physical discs still rule, particularly when it comes to 4k UHD (Ultra High Definition).

4K represents a revolution in the world of home cinema. Offering up to four times the clarity of regular HD, and the kind of image quality reserved for premium cinemas. So, whether you’re watching Spinal Tap for the millionth time, or digging into your new Bohemian Rhapsody Blu-ray, the players on this list are well worth exploring.

Best Blu-ray players: The Louder Choice

There’s no shortage of high performance Blu-ray players to choose from. Whether your budget is tight or generous, we’ve found some crackers to consider. If you’re on a budget we rate Sony’s UBP-X800 as the best value. It’s not only well built, it boasts excellent picture quality and real Hi-Fi chops. A good disc spinner should be just as useful when it comes to music playback, and this talented performer won’t let you down. For less than 250 notes it’s brilliantly well specified.

If you’re after the best picture performer on the planet though, be prepared to spend more. Panasonic’s DP-UB9000 is a luxe player that has the best image processing engine available. It’s pricey at £850, but that buys you a player with battleship build quality and superlative high-res audio playback too.

Best Blu-ray players: buying advice

A 4K UHD Blu-ray player doesn’t just tempt with extra pixels. HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology is used to elevate peak brightness, creating a more realistic sparkle when it comes to bright highlights in an image – sunlight looks warmer, explosions brighter, superheroes more heroic! 

Buyers should note that HDR comes in a variety of flavours. Standard HDR, known as HDR10, is common to all HDR TVs. But there are two more sophisticated varieties, known as HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. These offer greater picture accuracy, but require compatible TVs to deliver the goods.

4K UHD Blu-ray discs also boast a wider colour gamut than regular Blu-ray, which means images have great colour vibrancy. Reds are deeper, greens more lush, blues more intoxicating. The bottom line is UHD Blu-ray offers hands down the best image quality possible right now.

UHD Blu-ray discs also offer superior sound, specifically Dolby Atmos immersive 3D audio. You don’t just listen to movies, you’re engulfed by them. Dolby Atmos doesn’t just surround you with sound like old school 5.1, it incorporates height information too. Sounds can pan from front to back, travel up high, and then rain down from the ceiling. 

Even better, these high-spec players make kick-ass music players too. Most, if not all, are compatible with high-resolution audio formats, which means they’ll play back files with the same clarity as artists heard in the mixing studio.

Obviously, to realise AV nirvana you’ll need a 4K HDR telly and suitable amplifier and speakers, but we’ll assume you have those already.

Read on for our guide to the best Blu-ray players you can buy right now, from budget bargains from LG and Sony, to a high-end heavyweight from Pioneer you’ll want to save up for...

The best Blu-ray players you can buy right now

Best Blu-ray players 2019: Sony UBP-X800

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony UBP-X800

Sony’s superb budget Blu-ray player is all kinds of awesome

Price: £239 | HDMI outputs: Two | Digital audio: coaxial audio | Analogue audio output: No | SACD/DVD-A disc compatible: Yes | Built in Wi-Fi: Yes | Dimensions (whd): - 430x50x265mm

Sensational specification for the money
The best budget Blu-ray player for music lovers
No Dolby Vision HDR
No analogue outputs

Proof that you don’t need to take out a mortgage to buy a stonking Blu-ray player, this sublime Sony combines solid build and cosmetics - the chassis uses Sony’s Frame and beam design, adding extra rigidity with 1.2mm struts -  with a tempting spec for the cash.

Not only is it a universal player (amazing for the price), it’s also high-res audio capable too.  Frustrating then that there’s no analogue output, so we’d certainly recommend investing in a decent desktop DAC for some analogue stereo warmth.

Streaming support is good and it also has some more unusual talents. With Bluetooth onboard, you can pair wireless Bluetooth headphones for when you want to crank up some Slipknot late at night.

Best Blu-ray players 2019: Panasonic DP-UB9000

(Image credit: Panasonic)

2. Panasonic DP-UB9000

One of the best Blu-ray players combining brilliant performance with high-end build

Price: £850 | HDMI outputs: Two | Digital audio: Optical and coaxial audio outputs | Analogue audio output: Yes | SACD/DVD-A disc compatible: Yes | Built in Wi-Fi: yes | Dimensions (whd): - 430x81x300mm

Sensational image quality
Panasonic’s best-sounding CD player
It deserves to be partnered with a high-end system
Not compatible with Super Audio CD or DVD-A

It may look pricey, but when it comes to bang for your buck, this premium Panasonic player is one of the best Blu-ray players out there. It offers best in class picture quality, superior CD sonics and sports more body armour than Gene Simmons’ wardrobe.

The specification is top notch. HDR covers HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. It’s also the best sounding CD player in the Panasonic fleet. You can tell it’s serious about sound. 

It sports a pair of Neutrik XLR stereo connectors (only found on top-end Hi-Fi gear).

Niceties include all the main streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube), and advanced video processing tech able to make the most of every Blu-ray disc you play. Indeed, we haven’t seen a Blu-ray player that looks better.

Best Blu-ray players 2019: Pioneer UDP-LX500

(Image credit: Pioneer)

3. Pioneer UDP-LX500

Unbeatable value for music lovers looking for a serious Blu-ray player

Price: £999 | HDMI outputs: Two | Digital audio: Optical and coaxial audio outputs | Analogue audio output: Yes | SACD/DVD-A disc compatible: Yes | Built in Wi-Fi: No | Dimensions (whd): - 435x118x337mm

Formidable picture quality
Universal disc player player
No streaming services onboard
You’ll need a serious AV rack to accommodate it

Tipping the scales at 10.3kg and selling for the best part of a grand, the UDP-LX500 is (amazingly) the cheapest and lightest of Pioneer’s two premium 4K UHD Blu-ray players. 

A chassis cast reinforced with a resonance-defeating 3mm steel plate, plays host to an array of refinements designed to maximise sound and vision quality.

HDR covers all three key formats, so you can be sure you’re seeing everything the director intended. Significantly, the player also has universal audio playback, which means it’ll spin SACD and DVD-A discs so beloved of audiophiles, as well as vanilla CDs.  

In a picture quality shoot-out with the Panasonic DP-UB9000, the Pioneer runs a close second, but it clearly trumps its rival when it comes to audio. Expensive, but exceptional. 

Best Blu-ray players 2019: Xbox One X

(Image credit: Microsoft)

4. Xbox One X

Let your 4K gaming console double as a Blu-ray player

Price: £375 | HDMI outputs: one | Digital audio: optical audio | Analogue audio output: No | SACD/DVD-A disc compatible: No | Built in Wi-Fi: Yes | Dimensions (whd): - 300x60x240mm

One 4K box does it all - gaming, streaming and discs
Saves a heck of a lot of space
Operational noise higher than a dedicated Blu-ray player
Having to navigate disc menus with a joypad is a faff

The PlayStation 4 may have turned its back on Blu-ray, but Xbox is far more game. This is a great multimedia entertainment machine. Just download the Blu-ray player app, and your games console is good to go.

UHD picture quality, with HDR10 support, is great, and it’ll deliver fully immersive Dolby Atmos 3D audio too.

The only caveat is console noise. For this reason we don’t rate the Xbox One X as a CD player; it obviously doesn’t handle esoteric audio disc formats either. But who cares? When you run out of movies to spin, you can always go wild with Gears 5.

Best Blu-ray players 2019: Panasonic DP-UB820

(Image credit: Panasonic)

5. Panasonic DP-UB820

High-spec mid-range UHD Blu-ray player boasts Dolby Vision HDR

Price: £399 | HDMI outputs: Two | Digital audio: Optical audio output | Analogue audio output: Yes | SACD/DVD-A disc compatible: No | Built in Wi-Fi: yes | Dimensions (whd): - 430x62x204mm

Compatible with Dolby Vision HDR
Netflix and Amazon Prime on board
If you don’t have a Dolby Vision TV you might as well save your cash
Not an audiophile CD player

The DP-UB820 is a high-end Blu-ray player with an upper mid-price ticket, aimed primarily at owners of Dolby Vision enabled 4K TVs. Unlike its DP-UB420 stablemate, it’s a full-width player.

It also supports HDR10 and HDR10+, and does a decent job with CDs. There’s also the usual streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.  

Picture quality is predictably excellent. We particularly like the brand’s HDR optimiser technology which lifts brightness and contrast without washing out an image. This makes movies easier to watch in a brighter viewing room.

Best Blu-ray players 2019: Pioneer UDP-LX800

(Image credit: Pioneer)

6. Pioneer UDP-LX800

Reference grade, money no object flagship Blu-ray player is the best there is

Price: £2,199 | HDMI outputs: Two | Digital audio: Optical and coaxial audio outputs | Analogue audio output: Yes | SACD/DVD-A disc compatible: Yes | Built in Wi-Fi: No | Dimensions (whd): - 435x131x339mm

When it comes to the best Blu-ray players, this is the GOAT
Not just about movies, this is an audiophile grade music machine
You’ll need to look for Netflix elsewhere
Terrifyingly expensive

Ludicrously over-engineered, and lumbered with a stratospheric price tag it may be, but that doesn’t dim our enthusiasm for Pioneer’s UDP-LX800. It’s really is the best Blu-ray player.  

Constructed with a 1mm thick steel plate top and noise deadening aluminium side panels, build quality is even more impressive than the stablemate UDP-LX500 or Panasonic’s DP-UB9000. At 13.8kg, you wouldn’t want to drop one on your foot.

Under the lid, Pioneer has painstakingly separated analogue and digital circuits, giving each their own power supply. This approach owes much to Pioneer’s highly regarded PD-70AE SACD/CD player. The results pay dividends. This is hands down the best sounding Blu-ray music player you can buy. 

It naturally handles all the HDR formats out there, and 4K picture quality is stunning. There’s no streaming services onboard, but frankly, we don’t care. This reference grade deck is pure class.

Best Blu-ray player 2019: Panasonic DP-UB420

(Image credit: Panasonic)

7. Panasonic DP-UB420

Cut-price UHD Blu-ray player boasts a high performance picture engine

Price: £299 | HDMI outputs: Two | Digital audio: Optical audio output | Analogue audio output: No | SACD/DVD-A disc compatible: No | Built in Wi-Fi: yes | Dimensions (whd): 320x45x197mm

Awesome image quality for the price
Built in Netflix and Amazon streaming
CD playback more functional than fantastic
Disc loading can be a bit clunky

Don’t let the stripped back, slightly ugly plastic chassis of this player fool you. The mid-range disc spinner boasts the same HCX image processing found higher up the Panasonic food chain.

In addition to Blu-ray playback (both 4K UHD discs and regular HD ones, including 3D platters), it’ll spin CDs and stream music from connected network storage devices. There’s also Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube apps on board.  

Image quality is great for the price. HDR support covers both HDR10 and HDR10+, but not Dolby Vision.   

As a music player, it’s more a mixed bag. The deck has no problem playing high-res 24-bit FLAC and DSD files, and while it’ll play regular CDs, they don’t sound as good as a dedicated CD player might for the same money.

Best Blu-ray players 2019: LG BP556

(Image credit: LG)

8. LG BP556

If you’re not fussed about 4K, this deck is all you need

Price: £100 | HDMI outputs: one | Digital audio: coaxial audio | Analogue audio output: No | SACD/DVD-A disc compatible: No | Built in Wi-Fi: Yes | Dimensions (whd): - 270x43x195mm

Cheap, compact Blu-ray player
Doubles as a decent media streamer
Hardly Hi-Fi when it comes to music
Rubbish remote control

If you haven’t invested in a 4K TV, there’s little incentive to buy a UHD Blu-ray player. Stick with regular HD and you’ll save enough cash to get you into Download next year.

It’s pretty basic to look at - there's no display, just a left-set disc draw and front-facing USB port - but the user interface is crisp and graphical, and it comes with plenty of streaming services to binge-watch between discs.

Blu-ray image quality is unfettered by the budget price tag. Video is rich in hue and detail, and the player is ready and willing to fill your room with Dolby Atmos audio. 

Perhaps even more surprising, given the lightweight build, our sample was refreshingly quiet in operation.  A genuine steal.