Samsung UBD-K8500 4K/UHD Player Settings Tips/Troubleshooting
(Added tips on player picture options and hidden Sony 4K UHD Disc HDR Test Patterns)
(Latest UBD-K8500 firmware as of November 2016 is v1009. Notes below used earlier firmware.)
I've seen many reports of HDMI or handshake problems with this player. Most were using a single HDMI cable to an AVR, vs the preferred (IMO) 2 cable option. (Video to TV, Audio to AVR - see notes below.)
If you have problems (no video, frozen, etc) - try resetting the player - eject any disc inserted, and then hold down the "Stop" button on the right side of the top edge for 5 seconds. This will reset the player to default settings (Auto Resolution, Auto Color format, etc.) If the Stop button reset doesn't work (not resetting/no video), try playing a blu-ray movie (insert disc, press play on remote) - the blu-ray 24fps playback should show video. You can then quit the movie and the player's desktop/home screen should appear, allowing you to change settings (like forced 4:4:4 that can cause 4K 60Hz home screen problems) back to "Auto".
If you see a blinking red LED on the K8500 (and no video on TV), double check that you have the HDMI cable connection(s) correct. (Ensure that the main HDMI output on the player is being used for Video. Some accidently used the 2nd/audio only port as main/video by mistake.)
I highly recommended using a direct connection to the TV - using HDMI 1 to TV, HDMI 2 for audio to receiver and keeping cables as short as possible. (Even some HDMI 2.0a/HDR and HDCP 2.2 compatible AVRs (and TVs) have had some issues with this player.) If you're using a 4k/UHD HDTV exclusively, I'd set the UBD-K8500 output resolution to "2160P" (vs Auto), which some said helped with mode switching/detection issues. (Of course the UHD TV's HDMI input port should be set for HDR. Some HDR TV's may call that HDMI setting "enhanced" IIRC. The 2015 LG OLED has that setting in the "Picture" menu, calling it "HDMI ULTRA HD Deep Color". (Not to be confused with the Deep Color setting on the K8500. The LG is a 10-bit panel.) If the TV's HDMI port setting isn't correct, you won't get HDR. The LG EF9500 momentarily displays "HDR On" in the upper right of the display when in HDR mode.)
In this setup the owner used a separate Blu-ray player (Sony S7200) for 1080P discs and the K8500 for 4K/UHD playback. Having the K8500 on a different HDMI port (direct TV connection vs through the AVR) allowed having different TV picture settings for UHD/HDR discs vs 1080P discs. (The ISF Expert 1 (day), Expert 2 (night) and Cinema mode settings can be different for each HDMI input, allowing for optimized settings (day, night, etc) for each player/disc type.)
General Tips for Samsung UBD-K8500 Users:
Don't set (force) the UBD-K8500 Color Format to 4:4:4 - use the (default) "Auto" setting. 4k/UHD (10-bit) and blu-ray (8-bit) discs are encoded 4:2:0. With the player desktop (home screen) at 4K/UHD 60Hz, even 8-Bit UHD 60Hz 4:4:4 is just under the 18Gbps HDMI 2.0 max and with many cables may not be reliable. (4K 60Hz 10-Bit 4:4:4 exceeds the HDMI 2.0 spec. For 4K/UHD 60Hz 10-Bit, only 4:2:0 is supported per HDMI 2.0 spec. 12-bit 4:2:2 is supported.) Some posts have said the Samsung should output 8-bit for the Home screen, but with some display's EDID it's outputting 10-bit? (Exceeding HDMI 2.0 spec, causing loss of video.) Even at 8-Bit, the problem with 4K/60Hz 4:4:4 home screen may be because the cable used can't handle even 8-Bit 4K/60Hz 4:4:4 (17.3Gbps IIRC). 1080P players usually had a 4:2:2 option, but not the UBD-K8500 although it reportedly outputs 4:4:4 with "Auto" Color Format setting when playing 24fps (24P) content like Blu-Ray and UHD movie discs so why force 4:4:4 when it has the potential for problems at the player 60Hz home screen. (4K/24P 10-bit 4:4:4 is a HDMI 2.0 supported format, as well as 4:2:2 but not 4:2:0 so the player has to convert the disc's 4K/24P 4:2:0.) But if you set Color Format to 4:4:4, it will always use that, even for the 60fps (4k/UHD) player's desktop/home screen - which caused loss of video with his setup when outputting 4K 60Hz. (4K/60Hz 10-Bit 4:4:4 IIRC is appx 22Gbps.) 4K/24P 4:4:4 was reliable ("Auto" setting), but not 4K/60Hz 4:4:4. Tested 4K 60Hz 4:4:4 (home screen) again with a more expensive 3M cable he had on hand (brand name I won't mention, but infamous for outrageous prices) - instantly resulted no video. (4K/24P playback wasn't a problem even with the amazon high-speed 6ft cable.) Changed (reset) from 4:4:4 back to "Auto", no problems. (I'm sure some say they had better results with different cables (maybe BJC), but I lost count of how many have had problems after forcing 4:4:4 with the player 4K/60Hz home screen.)
I had no way to check if the K8500's home screen was outputting 4K 8-bit 4:4:4 with this setup, but none of the cables on hand were reliable with forced 4:4:4 at the 60Hz player home screen. (A better cable certified for 18Gbps rates might, but forcing 4:4:4 was still a problem with claimed "Up to" 18Gbps 6ft and 3M cables he had using a direct connect to an LG 55EF9500 with HDMI port set for UHD, and working reliably for 4K/HDR discs.) Using "Auto" vs forced 4:4:4 was reliable for the 4K/60Hz home screen. (Again, "Auto" setting uses 4:4:4 for 24P discs without the 60Hz desktop problems seen with forced 4:4:4 using the cables he had.)
I kept the K8500's "Deep Color" option Off. (No current UHD Discs use Deep Color/12-Bit. Dolby Vision supports 12-Bit, but no DV players or discs are sold yet as of mid-2016. The UBD-K8500 doesn't support DV either.) Also some "10-Bit" displays may actually be 8-Bit + FRC dithering but that's another topic. Just saying there's usually no reason to use 12-bit from the player and some display owners said enabling the UBD-K8500's Deep Color option resulted in banding. (Not on the EF9500 OLED's 10-bit panel, but no still no reason to enable Deep Color in the UBD-K8500 player settings.)
The "Movie Frame (24Fs)" option should be "Auto" default. And check that Audio (Sound Menu) "Digital Output" is set to Bitstream (unprocessed), as it wasn't the default. (Bitstreaming is required for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio decoding by an AVR.) I also turn off Dynamic Range Control.
I left (Sound Menu) "HDMI Audio Output" set to "Auto". (Even though this setup used separate HDMI cables for Video and Audio, the Auto setting allows for cases when the wife didn't want to power up the AVR and used just the TV speakers.)
Even if you use a Samsung TV, I'd set BD Wise to Off. (It's a feature that works with Samsung TVs, but I avoided it even when I used a Samsung player and TV - it set things like sharpness to 50 IIRC. Not sure if it's been improved since then, but even if I used a Samsung TV I'd leave it off.)
I'd also ensure HDMI Control (Samsung calls it "Anynet+") is Off in the player's System settings.
Use good quality (not necessarily expensive) "high speed" (18Gbps) rated HDMI cables, as short as possible. When I did the recent DTS:X PCM bug tests with blu-ray players, the UBD-K8500 was connected to a (4K/UHD) 55EF9500 LG OLED using a 6ft, good quality "high speed" HDMI cable. (A 6ft Amazon Basics per logo on Connector. Now they actually list "HDMI 2.0, 4K Video at 60Hz" for their 'latest standard' cable, under $6 for 6ft. Disc playback typically is at 24Hz/24P.) If you have to use very long cables, you're much more likely to have HDMI issues at higher rates. (I've never had to use 15+ft HDMI cables, but know some that have went through various brands of 'certified' cables trying to find reliable ones.) HDMI 2 (audio out) on the player was connected to the Yamaha RX-A3050 for audio playback.
(I always power up devices in this order - Display (TV), A/V Receiver and finally the Player.)
Some owners of HDCP 2.2/HDR/HDMI 2.0a AVRs and TVs have had intermittent problems at times using the UBD-K8500. The 2 cable method, using good cables (as short as possible) and not using maxed out player settings can help minimize problems. Also check for new firmware updates for your TV and AVR. Even recent models may need updates for better UHD/HDR support or bugfixes.
And for the record, this early production K8500 has been reliable so far. (No problems reading discs, no dropouts/handshake problems during playback, no infant failures or drive noise.) I did see it quit playback once after repeated FF/Reverse testing a scene on a UHD disk with a message about the disc being dirty/unreadable. (I'd seen other reports of this message, but it only happened after repeated FF/Rev. Not sure if that's been addressed in a later firmware.) The included remote is too narrow (buttons too condensed, frustrating to use), so I used the remote (AK59-00167A) from my Samsung BD-F7500 instead.
After testing players for the DTS:X AVR "PCM" bug (later fixed in AVR FW update), I tested about 1/2 dozen UHD/4K discs using the UBD-K8500 and the LG 55EF9500 (fw 4.20.75). No issues other than the (common complaint) of Expendables 3 and Enders Game 4K/UHD Discs having washed out (raised) black levels. With the EF9500 OLED TV, the Expendables 3 UHD disc also showed very oversaturated ('sunburned') faces in the movie's main menu with firmware 1003, but not during video playback. (Update - firmware 1005 seems to have fixed that?) One early suggested fix for those UHD discs with elevated black levels was changing the player to RGB Enhanced, but I ended up just lowering brightness setting to compensate with those titles. (For this 55EF9500, brightness around 40-42 seemed good for those discs, but that can vary by sample.) Setting brightness (black level) is critical for OLED TVs - if set too high, you lose 'perfect black'. (No 'glow' on a black screen - really black, not a dark gray.) With room lights off, pause a 4K/UHD disc on the end credits (or other primarily black screen) and adjust brightness down until the blacks are truly black.
When playing HDR UHD Discs, the LG EF9500's OLED and Contrast (as well as Gamma) settings are locked and can't be adjusted. (Existing values are shown as grayed out and can't be changed. Both OLED and Contrast are said to be at max 100 setting in HDR mode, at least on the 2015 models.) IIRC 2016 model OLEDs have 3 HDR modes to choose from (as well as having Dolby Vision support). HDR-10 (static) in my opinion is not well suited to these displays as it doesn't adapt to the TV's limits. (Maybe I should have said the reverse, as the TV's brightness and color range are the real limiters, but IMHO static HDR was too rushed to market.) Don't get me wrong, most UHD movies looked very good, but so did the blu-ray version and many UHD movies are just 2K upscales. UHD movie reviews (using better HDR displays than the EF9500) have also noted improvements over the blu-ray release are often minor. I'd definitely read as many UHD reviews as possible before buying/double dipping. In some cases Atmos (or DTS:X) audio is only on the UHD disc, which is a plus. (I later saw 4K "Lucy" & "Pacific Rim" - both were stunning.)
UHD Player Settings Tip for TV's without high Nit (brightness) capability
For users of HDR TV's that can't hit 1000 nits peak (that many HDR titles are mastered at currently - some even higher at 4000), experiment with lowering Contrast setting in the Player. The UBD-K8500 (and some others) have Video/Picture Mode options that include Contrast (and other) settings. (Picture mode options are only accessable during playback, not at the disc menu or player desktop. User Mode settings are retained once set, so don't forget to change the Picture mode back (to Standard or Movie) when playing non-HDR discs.) For the K8500, press "Tools" on the remote, scroll to "Picture mode" option and select the "User" mode. You'll see a list of adjustable picture options, including Contrast. Since some HDR TV's (like this EF9500) don't allow adjusting the backlight/OLED or Contrast in HDR Mode, lowering the Contrast at the Player may help reduce some blown out HDR highlights at the stock settings. Not perfect but for some UHD titles, it helped to show a bit more detail in bright objects. YMMV of course.
For UHD Amazing Spider Man 2 (peak 4000 nit mastered IIRC) with a LG 55EF9500 (400 nit max rating w/10% window IIRC), I used -6 Contrast on the K8500. (In HDR mode the TV's Brightness setting can be adjusted, but not Contrast.) You may not like this workaround, but it's easy to try as an experiment. (It may have some negative effects, I was just trying to reduce blowouts in HDR with this 400 nit rated TV. Some newer Samsung and Sony HDR TVs are designed for very high peak brightness - over 1000 nits.) It's a pipe dream, but I wish UHD Players had an HDR option to adapt/compensate for lower peak nit displays. (Enter your TV's max/peak in the Player's setup/options, and it would tone map the HDR output.)
There's a new "dynamic" metadata HDR in the works, but no word if it's possible to add support for it via a firmware update. (IIRC a Samsung rep at a trade show said that some 2016 HDR-10 Samsung TVs could get Dynamic HDR support with a firmware update.) And although no discs or players use it yet (as of mid-2016), there are some streaming services that have Dolby Vision movies for TVs that support DV. (Dolby Vision certification and licensing.) From what I understand, it basically maps HDR to the capabilities of the specific TV, unlike static HDR-10. (HDR movies are encoded/mastered for 1000, 1100 or 4000 nits peak (the values I've seen in checks of some Sony, WB, Lionsgate, Universal UHD HDR discs) and if the TV displaying is not capable of that peak brightness level, you get clipping/blown out highlights and loss of detail.) This is why LG's OLEDs lost a HDTV comparison test with HDR, but won for SDR content. (And looked much better with Dolby Vision content than static HDR.) Hopefully dynamic metadata HDR and better tone mapping will become standard in the future.
Tip: Hidden HDR Test Patterns on Sony 4K UHD Discs:
(Not sure if all Sony 4K UHD Movie Discs have this hidden HDR test, but verified the Amazing Spiderman 2 and Hancock UHD discs do. I didn't have any other Sony 4K discs to try.)
To access the hidden test patterns, while at the disc's main menu press 7669 on the remote. The screen goes black and the following appears in sequence during a 3:36 video:
- Small primary/secondary color squares (centered on screen, one color at a time), displaying the colors in 100 nits Rec2020, then P3 and finally Rec709 color spaces.
- Following that, (HDR) test patterns appear with 10 vertical bars:
- 0 to 100 nits (0.000, 0.001, 0.005, 0.010, 0.100, 1, 5, 10, 50, 100)
- 100 to 1000 nits (100, 200, 300, etc.)
- 1000 to 2000 nits (1000, 1100, 1200, etc.)
- 2000 to 10,000 nits (2000, 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000, etc.)
I hit pause on the remote for each pattern to examine them as they are short duration.
(Remember Emissive displays like OLED have built-in ABL and ASBL. The latter can be disabled in the Service Menu. And in HDR mode the 2015 LG OLED TVs have OLED light and Contrast fixed at max 100 setting, so ABL is more prone to kick in.)
Getting off topic of this page so I'll leave it at that. I'm a big fan of OLED, and hopefully LG can eventually solve uniformity at low drive levels (near black banding), deliver higher motion resolution, and add dynamic HDR/Tone mapping. (The 2016 OLED models have Dolby Vision support, higher DCI P3 color gamut coverage and significantly higher peak brightness than earlier models. They're also said to have reduced banding, although some still consider it a panel lottery. Some improve over time/compensation cycles, but not all.)