Denon DBP-2012UD review

Best Blu-ray player £300+, Awards 2011. The Denon DBP-2012UD Blu-ray player is a stunner to take on all comers Tested at £500

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Best Blu-ray player £300+, Awards 2011. An Award-winner at £750, it's a positive steal at this price


  • +

    Excellent picture with standard and 3D discs

  • +

    superb sound

  • +

    formidable build and perceived quality


  • -

    Only one HDMI out, which may be an issue

  • -

    has only limited streaming support

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This Blu-ray player was already a hit with us at its original price of £750, so much so that it earned an Award in 2011.

Now it costs £500, the DBP-2012 is clearly an even more attractive buy. Its styling is elegant, if a little conservative, while the quality of its construction is beyond serious criticism at the price.

Connections are reasonably extensive, with one significant exception. On the upside, Denon provides analogue outputs for eight channels (including surround-back speakers for a 7.1 system), so it’s easily integrated into an older home cinema set-up.

There’s a separate set of analogue outs too, so connecting to a stereo system is a doddle.

However, neither the Denon nor its Marantz UD7006 stable mate includes twin HDMI outs, unlike the other players here. And that may be a deal-breaker for owners of home cinema amps of a certain vintage.

That would be a shame, because the 2012UD is an exceptionally talented disc player in other regards.

Spin Captain America on 3D Blu-ray and you’ll be thrilled by the stable image and assured handling of the potentially dizzying camera work.

Move to a 2D transfer of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the good news continues, the 2012UD conjuring considerable depth and exceptional insight into textures and skintones.

A star with pictures and sound
DVD, meanwhile, benefits from the Denon’s Anchor Bay ABT2015 upscaling to deliver a wonderfully involving picture with Super 8.

The dark backgrounds to the memorable train crash sequence are consistently dense and free from undesirable noise, while edges are rendered with sharpness and impressive stability, even with fast motion.

Switch to Star Trek, and it’s the sound quality that most amazes. The Blu-ray’s lossless audio and the 2012UD’s ability as a disc transport combine to create a formidable home cinema experience invested with monstrous dynamics and a huge, richly textured soundfield.

It’s a clear notch up on the experience you’d enjoy from a budget player.

A rhythmic music player too
As is the Denon’s facility with music. Its 32-bit/192kHz Burr-Brown DACs stand it in good stead, so while it could be leaner and a shade more articulate – its bass is occasionally warmer than we’d prefer – the 2012UD is certainly rhythmic.

Its innate transparency is given ample expression too, particularly with our oft-used SACD of Eric Bibb’s Good Stuff.

The Denon’s comparatively limited range of online services does irk us a little: there’s YouTube access, but not (at time of writing) support for a movie- streaming service such as Netflix, even though it is available through the same player in the US. The DBP-2012UD won’t handle FLAC music files either.

Taken together, that’s a fair list of irritations. Nevertheless, the Denon’s sheer ability carries it through, especially given its new price. It remains a truly exceptional Blu-ray player.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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