Pioneer BDP-88FD and BDP-85FD Blu-ray Players
Chris Walker from Pioneer was able to speak with us about the two new flagship Blu-ray players from Pioneer that were shown at the 2014 CEDIA Expo, the BDP-85FD and the BDP-88FD. These are the first Blu-ray players Pioneer has released in about four or five years. Their last model, the BDP-09FD, while one of the best performing players to-date, was also possibly the world’s slowest BD Player at the time. The new Pioneer Elite BDP-85FD is priced at $1000, and the Pioneer BDP-88FD is priced at $2000.
Pioneer BDP-85FD Video Quality (also applies to BDP-88FD)
They both have the exact same video quality and circuitry, but they are doing something unique that no other Blu-ray player is doing. The first thing is that the video engine, a direct pixel driver with 4K converter, is new. Pioneer can take 8-bit video content and convert it to 12 bit color—but at up to 4K at 60 fps and with a 4:4:4 color space. Basically, Pioneer is squeezing every single bit of performance out of the Blu-ray disc format to deliver the best possible picture.
Pioneer is utilizing 16 Gbit/sec out of the maximum of 18 Gbit/sec possible with HDMI 2.0. Pioneer is seriously maxing out these players in terms of video output quality.
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Bumping Up the Pioneer BDP-88FD Audio Quality and Performance
Pioneer’s BDP-88FD Blu-ray player may share the exact same video processing and circuitry, but it differs vastly in terms of the audio section and its build quality. The BDP-85FD uses the ESS9018 DAC, a very high quality 8-channel DAC. Four channels are used in parallel, one for left and right in order to deliver great analogue audio. But the BDP-88FD goes even further. It completely separates the player into three copper anti-resonant chambers (which is what makes the interior look black instead of copper). The transformer is mounted to a cast iron chassis. The digital power supply is new, as is the BD loader mechanism—which uses a spring-loaded tray on stainless steel rails.
The dedicated analogue audio section provides balanced XLR outputs, the ESS9018 DAC, but with two different oscillation crystal frequencies at 44.1 and 48 kHz. This allows for custom playback settings for high resolution audio playback. It plays back DVD-Audio, SACD, and every other optical disc format. It also plays back nearly all high res audio files in digital format (DSD, FLAC, WAV… you name it). It can also do it from USB hard drive, from a network, or files stored on optical discs.
The Pioneer BDP-88FD is really a complete solution for those who want the best audio and video performance. Either model is essential if you happen to have a display that actually reproduce 4K at 60 fps with 4:4:4. Panasonic is one of the only display manufacturers allowing this and it requires a special model be engaged to make it work. Even the Oppo BDP-103 and BDP-105 players, as great as they are, can’t offer that…at least not yet.