HHB UDP-89 Compact Universal DVD/CD Player

The UDP-89 is a universal DVD/CD player that delivers broadcast-quality video and audio playback. It incorporates professional interfacing features and is suitable for mobile and fixed installations.

What do you use the UDP-89 for?
The UDP89 is HHB’s disc player and it really seems to do what it says on the tin. We’ve fed it CD, CD-R, CD-RW, SACD, DVD-Video, DVD-R, DVD+R and DVD+RW all without a hitch.

What do you like about it?
In a word, versatility. We’re using it in a wide variety of roles from retro lo-tech living-room to state of the art high-tech production studio.

By day it lives under the family telly, feeding composite video and mono sound to an old CRT TV along with stereo analogue audio to wall-mounted Genelec 6020s… But by night it moves into the studio. It feeds high quality video from the HDMI output to a flatscreen and sends between two and six outputs to various analogue configurations, plus S/PDIF or AES digital output to and from a PC and iBook. Signals are sent in anything from mono to Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 depending on the project being worked on. A large number of features are directly accessible from the remote, with everything else available via a clear and well thought out menu structure.

What we would change
Very little, frankly: removable rack ears would assist a higher wife acceptance factor and a couple of visitors have noted that there’s no Blu-Ray, but other than that it’s a bit of a struggle to criticise.

One thing we initially thought could do with an upgrade turned out to be a deliberate feature. At first sight the disc tray seemed a little flimsier than we were expecting given the overall ‘military spec’ build quality. However, we soon found out this is so that if the tray is knocked or catches on clothing or cabling it will bend or, in an extreme case, snap, without taking the rest of the transport mechanism with it. You might also feel there’s something of a slow transport response but the 5.1 balanced D-sub and the RS-232 control make this a unique product for professional surround installations.

In Use
All sorts of features make this unit a pleasure to use: volume control from the remote control is invaluable in the studio.

The terrific variety of audio outputs (balanced left & right, unbalanced L & R and 5.1 analogue both via Wolfson 24-bit/192kHz audio DACs to phono & XLR, S/PDIF on CoAx and optical, AES) make audio hook-ups a breeze. And, with a similar variety of video (everything from composite to six 14-bit 165MHz video DACs providing progressive scan 480p/576p, plus upscaling to 720p and 1080i available from both HDMI and component outputs) it’s all good.

Another nice little wrinkle is that everything is available from every output all the time – much less menu-munching to get what you want where you want it. A bright and clear front panel display is very welcome, as is the ‘clean screen’ feature which keeps all brand logos and similar material out of the video output (essential for broadcast and presentation use). Furthermore with menu commands and transport status appearing only on the front panel display you have a clean plain grey when no content is being played – yet another well thought out aspect.

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