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February 2013
Best Audiophile Product Of 2013 Blue Note Award
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
World Premiere!
Audiolics Anonymous Chapter 160
OPPO
BDP-105 3D Blu-ray "Disc Player"
I'd call it more of a disc player A/V processor.

Article By Bill Gaw

 

Oppo BDP-105  When you read this I'll be sunning myself during my three month semi-retirement in the Caribbean. Why do I mention that? Because I'll probably be lying back on a chaise lounge with headphones on listening to this newest and best player that OPPO has produced. There, I've probably ruined the rest of the article for readers familiar with the units from this company. In the past, they've always shown up on lists for best "Product of the Year" especially for the price, and this one is no exception.

I do have a gripe with OPPO over the naming of this unit which will become clearer as you read further; thus the parentheses in the title. Over the past several years, I've reviewed just about every one of their top of the line players (here, here, here, and here, and in each case have found them to be equal to or better than products two to three times their price. I really don't know how they can consistently produce such excellent players for their sale price, even though they sell directly through their web site.

The unit with its packaging, chassis, and front panel is almost an exact match to both the BDP 95, their previous top of the line, reviewed above, and the BDP 103, their present second tier unit .They all use QDEO video processing and the 95 and 105 both use the same ESS Sabrer32 DACS, with the 103 using one Cirrus DAC to put out analog, using the HDMI and S/PDIF outputs primarily for the digital audio to be decoded by an external preamp-processor. But that's where you'd be wrong.

Oppo BDP-105 InsideOn the video side, while the BDP 95 was one of the first players that could do 3D playback, the 105 is the first player that I know of that can do 2D to 3D conversion, and can also output 4K; that is 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution, the future standard for high definition video, basically what most movie theaters with video projectors are now using. Thus if you have the Sony projector and their new 4K flat screen that can now do 4K you're in business, or at least you'll be ready for the future.

I'm still in the analog video era with the top of the line Electrohome 9500LC projector, which in my opinion except for brightness puts out an image better than any digital projector out there. But as it won't do 3D due to its HDMI 1.2 level input, won't accept a 24 Hz refresh rate and maxes out at 2500 x 1200 resolution, I can't comment on these two video parameters. But on direct comparison with my BPD 95 and my home theater computer, the image is as good if not better at 1080p with possibly slightly better color saturation.

After breaking in the unit for two weeks of continuous playback of a Blu-ray disc, the 7.1 and balanced two channel output of the BDP-105 is a perfect match to the BDP-95, with for me and my system no discernible difference, although on the AVS forum site there are supposed owners which have stated an improvement in resolution. That doesn't sound like much of an endorsement, but when you figure that the BDP-95 won accolades from just about every audio magazine out there, including this one, that's saying something.

The BDP-95 is still available from OPPO for $999, and the BDP-105 costs $1199, so why would one opt for the BDP-105? For the 4K video? I think not at this point unless you have one of the three projectors that allow it at present. But maybe for any of the following improvements:

1. Three USB host ports to connect thumb or hard drives and one USB audio port to connect to a computer, passing information to an Asynchronous DAC. With an app downloadable from OPPO, you can use your home theater computer, server or even external hard drives or thumb drive's USB output to stream up to two channel 192kHz bit rates to the OPPO for  PCM decoding  D/A conversion and analog output.

2. Front MHL HDMI and rear HDMI inputs to allow playback from other HDMI sources and charging of cell phones, etc.

3. Digital Media Player (DMP) and Digital Media Renderer (DMR) for playback of wired (Ethernet) and wireless (using the included wireless receiver) of both video and audio files from servers or computers, or the web.

4. The ability to access video, audio and picture files shared by computers on the local network via the Server Message Block (SMB) or Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocol.

5. Headphone output which is directly connected to one of the Sabre32 DACS through a built-in headphone amplifier.

6.Ethernet or wireless web support for NetFlix, VUDU, Pandora, Rhapsody and Cinema Now, with easy to use VUDU and Netflix buttons on the remote.

7. Support for all disc types except HD-DVD. SACD can either be internally decoded or sent as DSD or PCM stream to a pre-pro.

8.RS232 and Remote apps so unit can be controlled by various control units including android cell phones.

9. Gracenote Audio and Video ID for gathering information from the web on music or video recordings.

 

So what does the above mean? Simply that the OPPO BDP 105, when setup properly, could replace the majority of both your preamp-processor and video controller's functions. On the video side it can adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, sharpness, noise reduction. It has the ability to store three different picture control modes for three different sources.

Oppo BDP-105 Audio BoardOn the audio side, digital can be input through the above plus a TosLink optical and RCA S/PDIF input. It can decode and play back just about every audio file type or disc from just about any input source.

While the unit only has two HDMI inputs, one can purchase an inexpensive 1.4 HDMI switcher for $50 to 100, and other external sources can be input either through the USB, Ethernet or wireless inputs from the web, an external server or a USB drive. So with two HDMI inputs and most HDMI switchers having anywhere from two to eight inputs it's possible to have a true myriad of sources.

So is this unit perfect? Almost! While the analog output is excellent, besting some digital sources several times its price, there are units out there in the stratosphere price range that are better.

1. Allow Dolby True HD and DTS Master to be decoded by the HDMI inputs from external sources. This is probably a licensing thing or possibly against the law, but computers can do this so why not this unit as with the proper program they can spit out PCM from Dolby or DTS to the OPPO. This would allow the removal of a computer from the playback chain to a server.

2. Allow for audio playback through the S/PDIF and USB inputs while using the HDMI input for the video. At present, if one of these audio inputs is chosen, video cannot be input through the HDMI inputs.

3. Do room and speaker equalization correction. It already has the ability to do speaker volume, distance and size.

 

Those are the only improvements I've been able to find. Adding them would turn the unit into a complete player-preamp-processor-D/A converter eliminating several pieces of equipment. One would only need amplifiers, speakers and a monitor to have an excellent audio-video system.

Interestingly, there is already at least one company, ModWright, which is planning on modifying the 105's for tube analog audio output, which I may try to do once I return from the Caribbean, as they did an excellent job on one of my previous OPPO units discussed at AA Chapter 130

Oppo BDP-105 Rear PanelAs a final trial, I hooked up one of my 3TB external hard drives containing my Blu-ray music disc files and let them rip. The unit immediately recognized them and played them without a problem, up to 1080P video and 24-bit/96kHz with 7.1 audio. Interestingly, I found the audio to be somewhat more natural sounding than the original disc version played on the OPPO's transport. Go figure.

So now my desert island system for retirement to the Caribbean is complete. I've purchased the OPPO even though I was going to take my BDP-95, and would have been perfectly happy with it if this unit hadn't shown up. It will consist of:

1. A home theater computer (HTPC) containing three 3 TB hard drives containing all of my audio and video files, with the J River Media Center 18 and Win DVD programs for playback, which will be discussed next month.

2. OPPO BDP-105 outputting audio as both HDMI and 7.1 analog to a...

3. Smyth A8 Realiser which will convert the 7.1 audio to mimic the sound of my home theater.

4. 50" plasma monitor with HDMI input.

5. Stax model 404 headphones with their SRM-006tS amplifier. I would have taken along my Burson amplifier and Audeze LCD-2 headphones which are somewhat closer to reality but the Stax units are already in the Caribbean. If I had to transport these back and forth it would cost a fortune, as I'd have to pay import tax each time, and I'd rather have them at home for the 6 to 8 months I'll spend in New Hampshire.

 

So OPPO has once again come out with a Class A ahead-of-the-pack product that should be on every audiophile's short list of players, not to mention complete sources. How do they do it?

The article was originally complete here, but Mr. Liao, who I sent the article to for correction of facts, of which he found a couple, mentioned that I had not evaluated the headphone output. It wasn't for two reasons. First, as mentioned in previous articles I cannot stand to listen to headphones normally due to their between the ear soundstage, which has been removed through use of the Smyth A8 Realiser. Second, except for a small mention of the headphone jack where the front panel of the unit is discussed, I could find no mention of it in the otherwise superbly written user manual.

My curiosity wetted, my Audeze LCD-2 headphones output was evaluated between the output of the OPPO and the previously evaluated Burson Headphone amplifier and the direct stereo output of the Realiser's headphone jack sourced from the stereo analog and HDMI outputs of the OPPO, using the two channel DSD tracks from several SACD's. While this may not be a fair comparison, as the Burson costs north of $600, and the LCD-2 has a 60 ohm input impedance making it difficult to drive, it was informative.

Actually, the OPPO did very well, with the major difference being a rounding off of bass attacks, and a slight decrease in high frequency information compared to the Burson. On the other hand, I did prefer the sound compared to the straight stereo output of the Smyth, which sounded somewhat darker with less stage and ambiance sound, especially with the analog input. Thus the headphone output of the OPPO is an add-on that is certainly worth the price.

Finally, what would be a better name for this unit as it does so much more than just play discs? How about "Disc Player-Audio-Video Processor". While quite a mouthful, it certainly matches better the universal functioning of this unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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