The 4K Blu-ray player for videophiles and audiophilesCall this a slight re-tooling of Panasonic's DP-UB9000 4K Blu-ray player — and our best audiophile Blu-ray player of 2021. This heavy-duty machine boasts the best picture quality available today for your 4K TV or 4K projector, thanks to Panasonic's advanced video processing and flexible adjustments. You'll get the most out of your 4K Blu-ray discs and upconverted 1080p discs. And the internal audio circuitry is still top-shelf. Panasonic has updated the built-in digital-to-audio converters to high-grade ESS Sabre DAC chips, so you won't skip a beat when playing your CD collection or high-resolution music files.Getting the best HDR picture qualityA big part of why 4K Blu-ray and streamed 4K content looks so lifelike is HDR — High Dynamic Range. It can provide a much wider range of contrast and colors than HDTVs ever could. But while all current 4K TVs can accept HDR-enhanced signals, many can't display the full potential of HDR due to their limited peak brightness.It comes down to "nits"...A TV's brightness is measured in "nits." Before TVs had HDR, typical peak brightness was around 250-300 nits, and most TV shows and movies were mastered at 100 nits. By comparison, today's OLED and midrange LED-LCD 4K TVs produce peaks of 700-1000 nits, and a handful of the brightest LED TVs can hit peaks of 1200-1500 nits. Meanwhile, 4K/HDR content is mastered at levels up to 4000 nits — way beyond the capability of any consumer 4K TV....and tone mappingSo how do you display 4000-nit content on a TV capable of only 25% of that brightness level? Tone mapping. This process helps a TV properly display content with higher peak brightness than the TV was designed to support. There's a lot of variation in the way tone mapping works from one TV maker to another, and what often happens on high-brightness material is the extreme highlights are "clipped," resulting in a "blown out" look that obscures detail.Panasonic has developed some unique menu controls that make it easy to improve the look of HDR-enhanced content on your 4K TV. For example, you can choose from several tone-mapping options that are customized for different TV or projector brightness levels: OLED, High Luminance Projector, Basic Luminance Projector, Super High Luminance LCD, Middle/High Luminance LCD, and Basic Luminance LCD.Selecting the appropriate setting for your display should provide better-looking HDR picture quality with more visible fine detail in bright and dark areas of the screen.You can further fine-tune HDR performance by adjusting brightness based on the light level in your room. These picture adjustments work whether you're watching a UHD Blu-ray disc or 4K streamed content using the player's built-in apps.Sound that keeps you rivetedPanasonic didn't forget about the sound — all the top movie formats are supported. There's built-in processing for the most common flavors of Dolby and DTS surround, and you can send three-dimensional audio formats like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X to a compatible receiver via HDMI. When it comes to music, the player delivers rich, detailed sound for your CDs, and its high-performance ESS DAC can handle high-res PCM and DSD audio files.Panasonic paid a lot of attention to the construction of this player, for better sound with hi-fi home theater and stereo systems. This is one of the very few Blu-ray players you'll find with a vibration-reducing metal chassis, and the disc drive is rock solid. Panasonic's engineers separated the power for the audio DAC and analog output circuit, greatly reducing noise generated by the optical drive and video signal processing.The DP-UB9000's versatile design includes a 7.1-channel set of RCA outputs for getting great surround sound even when connecting to A/V receivers that lack HDMI.