If you’ve got a Sony PlayStation 5 do you really need one of the best 4K Blu-ray players too? If you’ve got the version of the console with a disc drive, then common sense would seem to suggest you don’t, since it’s perfectly capable of playing 4K Blu-rays.
However, there are compelling reasons for both. This is a classic example of convenience and value versus ease and quality of use. The PlayStation 5 cannot do certain things when playing discs. If you have invested in the best TVs, you want the best.
However, the PS5 can still play 4K Blu-rays. It’s not bad at the job. We’ll be explaining what it does well and where it is beaten by dedicated players.
What follows is not a totally fair fight – there are apples in one corner and oranges in the other – but we’re allowing both sides to show off their considerable advantages and disadvantages. When it comes down to the matter, we ask both sides to do the same job.
So here, we’ll talk about the PS5’s Blu-ray skills, but we’ll also compare it to the Panasonic DP-UB9000 Blu-ray player, which actually costs a lot more (about $1,000/£899 to the PS5’s $499/£449 – but they’re two players we’ve had a chance to compare through direct use, and it helps in terms of showing you just how good the PS5 is in places.
Specifications of the PS5 as a 4K Bluray player: Comparison
Let’s cut to the chase: the PlayStation 5 is an average 4K Blu-ray player overall. There’s no support for Dolby Vision HDR, and immersive audio playback is a mess.
Although the console will play Dolby atmos sound from discs from discs, it is difficult to use. The PS5’s default audio format is multichannel Linear PCM, which doesn’t include all the excellent object-based surround wizardry of Atmos. It can You can play Dolby atmos from a Bluray, but you need to find the right setting. Once you have found the right setting, you can make it passthrough the “bitstream”, which basically means that it will give all audio data to your TV rather than handling it.
There are two bitstream out settings available on the console. To access the relevant movie menu you’ll need to be playing your disc before hitting the Options button on the joypad and digging down into Settings. There you’ll find the bitstream out audio setting which will unlock Dolby Atmos.
The PS5 only has one HDMI port for connectivity. Some Blu-ray players have more. The premium Panasonic DP-UB9000 has two HDMIs, with one dedicated purely to audio (useful if you’re feeding a screen and an AV receiver). There’s also optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, stereo analogue phonos and a full 7.1 channel output, plus balanced Neutrik XLR stereo connectors – all perhaps of interest to home theater nerds. (OK, we admit we don’t use them all.)
It’s worth noting that the PS5 has no support for 3D Blu-rays (if you have them in your library).
The PS5 as a 4K Bluray player: Image and Sound Quality
We believe most users will be satisfied with their PS5’s video performance, regardless of the fact that they do not have Dolby Vision support. Amazing images show great detail and color fidelity. However, compared directly to the Panasonic DP-UB9000, it just doesn’t have the same subtle cinematic presentation.
Although a PlayStation 5 has a lot of processing power, its primary goal is not to process video discs. A dedicated player has one goal and chips that are designed around it.
The Panasonic DP-UB9000, for example, uses a second-gen HCX SoC that has a 4K High Precision chroma process and Multi-Tap filter which can interpolate a 4K video output from 4K content. Translated, the image quality is excellent.
The Panasonic supports Dolby Vision, HDR10+ dynamic metadata support, along with HDR10/HLG. The PS5 supports only HDR10+ dynamic metadata support.
Simply put, the PS5’s image performance will be adequate for a mid-range TV. But, if your home theater is large and expensive, a dedicated player will prove to be a worthwhile investment.
Audio quality is not a problem if you play Dolby-Atmos discs. As long as you can correctly output Dolby Bitstreams, there should be no difference between a dedicated Bluray player and the PS5. Performance is dictated by your speaker system and decoding electronics.
If you don’t have a Dolby Atmos sound system, then don’t bother selecting the bitstream output from the PS5. It sounds great, so stick with the default Linear PCM from the PS5.
A dedicated Blu-ray player will also have support for various high-end audio discs, with dedicated hardware to make the most of them – the PS5 can’t match this, but then, only hardcore audiophiles would be interested anyway, and would probably never consider the PS5 in the first place for this job.
Easy use of the PS5 4K Blu-ray player
A dedicated Blu-ray player is the best option for usability. A standard remote control is better for disc menu navigation than an optional joypad. You won’t be derailed by low battery warnings, or told to wait while firmware updates.
You can also pop a movie disk in the tray and hit Play. If you do need to navigate to a settings menu, it’ll only be a few clicks away.
You can still get the DualSense controller for better control, but you will have to pay more. You can also send some controls to your PS5 via your regular TV remote via HDMI-CEC. This means that you can use your existing remote for arrow buttons and play/pause control.
A dedicated 4K Bluray disc will work with Dolby Atmos or DTSX and PCM multichannel. Bitstreaming from a Blu-ray player is easy compared to the Settings hunting that you have to do in the PS5.
A dedicated deck also runs quieter (although the PS5 isn’t particularly noisy for a big powerful console).
PS5 as 4K Bluray Player: The conclusion
If all the above hasn’t convinced you that a dedicated Blu-ray is better at spinning discs, then nothing will. But this doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if you actually want a PlayStation 5 for, y’know, gaming.
The PlayStation 5 is clearly the best value for money when it comes down to value. A Blu-ray player doesn’t even begin to approach its overall functionality. While we wouldn’t advocate buying a PS5 mainly for its 4K Blu-ray powers, it’ll do the job just fine for most users.
But if you take home theater seriously, a dedicated disc spinner makes perfect sense, particularly if you’re partnering it with a premium display and lavish sound system.
It’s worth noting, too, that the PS5 is a better Blu-ray player then the Xbox Series X. Its image quality is better – it’s that simple. We have a separate guide that will help you determine whether the Xbox Series X is a great 4K Bluray player.