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May Midmonth Update 2009
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
World Premiere!
Audiolics Anonymous Chapter 116
OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player Review
First Review Anywhere

Article By Dr. Bill Gaw

 

Best Audiohpile Products Of 2009 Blue Note Award  "Welcome to the June edition of our tome for the insatiable tweak. I'm writing about the OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray disc player (review) here at the end of April in between trying to clean up the yard from major tree damage from last winter's ice storm, and reading through the navigation system guide for my new car, a Ford Fusion. This car manual beats just about any I've seen from the audiophile world for obtuseness and difficulty of interpretation. No wonder American car-makers are going down the tubes. The one for my last car, a Nissan Infiniti M35 was much clearer in syntax even though it came from a Japanese manufacturer.

OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc PlayerThe same thing is occurring in the high-end audio field. The foreign companies have taken American derived technology and are running with it, producing equipment like the OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray disc player that would put most of the American products to shame and for a price hard to beat. Others are mixing and matching; engineering product in the USA and then farming out the manufacturing to other countries, such as China. This allows the best of both worlds, American smarts with foreign low expense and for the most part quality manufacturing, something we used to be known for.

One such producer is OPPO as they have come up with a business model of American design, foreign production and direct sales in the United States, cutting out middle men and reducing costs. Their product line has consisted of three DVD players and an HDMI 3x1 switch at very reasonable prices for their quality, and they will even guarantee extended warranties for only about 10 percent of the list price of the product. While I haven't previously had the chance to evaluate any of their products in my system, they have been held in high esteem by members of the AVS Forum and the buzz on their newest product has been phenomenal.

For the first time in recorded history, we have a piece of audio-video equipment which actually does far more than advertised by the company. I am speaking of the

 

OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player
OPPO BDP-83 BluRay Disc PlayerThis unit has been the talk of the AVS Forum section on Blu-ray and Universal players for about a year now. The company has been very slowly developing it to make sure (unlike other players that have come out on the market) to deliver what they promised, and in this case far more at an unbelievable price point. Instead of releasing a unit with multiple problems requiring one update after another, they decided not to release any of these units to the general public until they felt the hard and software were close to perfect. Over the past several months, they gave out small numbers of them, first to a group of evaluators, then 50 so-called early adopters culled from long list of interested parties, and finally to another 300 individuals once the first 50 voted on its functionality. Only when a super majority of the testers voted that the unit reached expectations did they go to the next level.

Unhappily for me and possibly you, your esteemed reviewer was not one of the chosen few. I petitioned them a few months ago to be one of the early testers but I think my reviewer status scared them away, as one bad review can really damage early sales. I probably should be bitter about that fact, but I can understand their reluctance. Also, I received this unit late February and had most of this article completed by mid March, but they begged that it not be published until now so that it would coincide with the release date to the general public of the unit.

Happily for me, and hopefully you, they finally felt the product was ready for prime time and sent one out to yours truly. And I must say, it's been worth the wait. Why? Because until now, I've needed three different units to play all of the various types of digital discs available. My Esoteric DV-60 will do SACD, DVD and DVD-Audio but not Blu-ray or HD-DVD. The Samsung BD-UP5000 will do the Blu-ray  and HD-DVD but not SACD, DVD-Audio or Blu-ray  audio discs, and my home theater computer does all, but only at a maximum of 48 kHz., and with many flaws in the software requiring constant fiddling.

As this is a pre-production model with the software still having some quirks, please look at this as a preliminary report on a very exciting product for audiophiles. A follow-up will be forthcoming once they finalize the software.

So what's so special about the BDP-83? First, for the first time in recorded history, we have a piece of audio-video equipment which actually does far more than advertised by the company. They only list it as a Blu-ray  player, but in fact, it's the very first player on the market that can be called "Truly Universal" to present standards. I say present, as the only failing I've found so far is the inability to play HD-DVD discs, the high definition DVD standard that bit the dust last January. This would require another laser which would make for considerable difficulty and cost. This is understandable as it's a defunct standard with no further discs or players being produced, but the inclusion of the software and extra laser would be a great boon for those with large collections and would certainly make the unit the first to do all previous and present 5 inch disc standards.

Not only will it play Blu-ray, even BD –R/RE discs and standard video DVD's, but will also recognize and play the following:

 1. CD's, -R/RW

2. DVD +/–R/RW

3. SACD as either true DSD signal or 24-bit/88kHz PCM converted through the HDMI port

4. DVD-Audio (all the way to 24-bit/192kHz PCM if encoded as such)

5. Blu-ray audio discs using MLP

6. HDCD

7. Kodak Picture CD

8. AVCHD (HD video Camera format)

9. Audio and Video Computer Files from USB drives

 

Let us look at the unit itself. Unpacking the unit gave some surprises. While not as hefty as my Esoteric DV-60 Super DVD/SACD player, it weighs significantly more than the three other Blu-ray players I've had here. Packaging is excellent, being double-boxed and wrapped in its own black cloth bag. It even includes a superb Blu-ray test pattern disc for setup, which would cost about $25 if bought separately.

The front panel is thick, black anodized aluminum uncluttered by any except the most important controls, with a centralized disc drawer and screen, which can be left on or automatically turned off by the remote control to darken the room.

The rear has 7.1 and 2.0 gold plated analog RCA jacks for internal decoding, optical and coax digital audio outputs, S-Video, composite and component analog video outputs, a true HDMI 1.3a audio-video output, Ethernet and USB 2.0 jacks, infrared in and out jacks for remote control with home systems, and a 2 prong IEC AC input. There is also a small fan on the back to control internal temperatures which could not be heard from a foot away. There are four nondescript feet which could easily be elevated out of the way by decent feet. (Hint: See last month's article.)

The remote is well thought out and even has a button to light up all other buttons. Other important buttons for us include the ability to shut off all video transmission through the HDMI output for cleaner audio reproduction, an audio button to quickly run through the different audio codecs on the disc without having to go into the menu, and a mute button.

Setup is a snap, thanks to a well thought out ( and in perfect English compared to many other products from places unknown) owner's manual, and the ability to download the latest iteration of it from the web. When the unit is first turned on there is an Easy Setup Wizard which guides one through the important settings. The last step is setting the audio for either allowing the unit to work with all equipment in its compatible configuration or allowing all signal types to be transferred to a pre-pro in its advanced setting. In advanced, it allows up to 24-bit/192kHz at 7.1 channel digital pass-through, but it does then cut off any secondary audio channels.

Once the preliminary setup is done, one can enter the Setup Mode for fine tuning the unit. Audio Format allows one to choose between Bitstream for complete external decoding by your pre-pro, or LPCM for internal of the Dolby and DTS bitstreams. One can set up SACD to play back the various layers of the disc, and decide on whether to let the unit convert the signal to analog out through the 7.1 or 2.0 RCA jacks, or 88.2 kHz. PCM or DSD bitstream out to the pre-pro through the HDMI output for decoding by the pre-pro.

Speaker Configuration allows one to input the speaker types and number, set them for full range or small, their distance, and trim their relative volumes.

Firmware updating is a snap if one has an Ethernet connection as the unit automatically senses the network, sets itself up with the proper codes and will automatically download the updates if there is no disc playing. In the two months I've had the unit the software has been updated thrice. This has been a snap through my Ethernet connection to the web with the only minor problem being the necessity to repeat the setup of the unit each time. So theoretically the unit is future-proof as long as the manufacturers stick to the Blu-ray standards envisioned to this point.

On the video side, to get the less important features for audiophiles out of the way, the unit uses the Video Reference System by Anchor Bay, one of the two best out there for artifact-free video. It will do up to 1080P output at 50 or 60 FPS. and will also output 24 FPS  film standard pictures, and even supports 36 bit Deep Color, which is still not available on Blu-ray  discs. It is also one of the few units that totally supports the BD-Live, Profile 2.0 standard with its built-in 1 GB memory. It also has the ability to play back both NTSC and PAL discs on either type of television for those of us who get PAL type concert discs from Europe and Japan. I know of no other unit at close to its price range that will do all of this for Blu-ray.

OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc PlayerVideo quality is excellent with superb color. One can even correct all video parameters through a setting screen, except for Gamma. 1080P 24FPS movies, especially those from Blu-ray  discs from IMEX films give the best video reproduction I've seen in my system compared to my four other high definition sources. Standard DVD decoding and upsampling is at least on a par with the best Blu-ray units I've seen.

Now to the important side of the equation. While Sony and every other major manufacturer have abandoned SACD and DVD-A, this unit will transfer and decode both, with SACD being able to be transmitted in either the original DSD form, or decode them internally to 88.2 KHz multi-channel PCM, or decode to analog for output on 7.1 analog RCA jacks. With my Integra 9.8 pre-pro, when one transmits the DSD signal, it appears that the unit decodes it to 44.1 kHz, but in actuality it is doing DSD to analog decoding but presenting it as a PCM conversion because 44.1 kHz is actually a divisible number for the SACD 2.2 MHz rate.

Interestingly, I preferred the internal decoding of the SACD to analog by the OPPO unit as the bass seemed a little more robust and tight and there seemed to be a little more of that "you are there" feeling to the music. Allowing the Integra to do the DSD decoding to PCM slightly decreased the above.

The 7.1 analog outputs on my still not completely broken in unit is excellent, matching the sound I've been getting from my $6000 list Esoteric DV-60 DVD/SACD player. Although I could not do instant evaluation of both, having only one multi-channel input on my pre-pro, the OPPO and Esoteric units were so close as to be indistinguishable to me. Interestingly, stereo CDs played through the 2.0 analog outputs allowed more ambiance information to come through than the 7.1 outputs. It turns out that the unit has separate DACs for the 2.0 and multi-channel analog outputs. Who says that all DACs sound alike?

The most amazing attribute of this unit is its ability to transmit full 24-bit/192kHz7.1 channel bitstreams from both video and audio Blu-ray discs to my Integra pre-pro for decoding. My Samsung player and my home theater computer downsample them to 48 kHz. before transmission, and the difference in audio "you are there" feel is significant. An especially good discs to evaluate this is Trondheim Solisten Divertimenti (reviewed here). The box contains both an SACD and a Blu-ray copy of the music, with the Blu-ray having tracks of 24-bit/192kHz PCM, DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD encoding in both surround and stereo. Using my Samsung BDP-UP5000 to the Integra, the 24-bit/192kHz signals were downsampled to 24-bit/48kHz and I had previously thought that it was the pre-pro that was the problem. Now I know that my pre-pro can receive the full 24-bit/192kHzsurround encoding and decode it, and I find these now so close to the SACD original as to be impossible to differentiate on my system.

Now for the most unbelievable part! The probable list price is going to be below $500, 9 times less than the only other Universal player coming out in the near future, the Denon A1-UDCI. I hope to get one in for evaluation to see if the major price difference brings any value compared the OPPO. "Such A Steal" for those of us with an HDMI 1.3a pre-pro. More in the future.

 

Now a few words from OPPO Digital:

Dr. Bill Gaw,

  This is a great review with a lot of details. Many thanks!  At this time we do not have comments to add for publication.

Jason Liao
OPPO Digital

 

Preliminary Features (Subject to Change)
Complete Media Support

Blu-ray Disc - The high definition Blu-ray Disc™ format provides pristine video and audio quality for your home entertainment.
BonusVIEW - BD "Profile 1.1" enables "picture-in-picture" and secondary audio features for viewing director or actor commentary while the main movie is playing.
BD-Live™ - The BDP-83 support BD "Profile 2.0" and contains all necessary hardware - audio/video decoder, Ethernet port, and 1GB of internal storage - for BD-Live.
DVD Up-Conversion - The BDP-83 uses the same VRS™ by Anchor Bay (DVDO) de-interlacing and scaling technology as in our award-winning DV-983H DVD player. The up-converted picture quality bridges the visual gap from your current DVD library to Blu-ray discs.
DVD-Audio - The BDP-83 plays DVD-Audio and supports both stereo and multi-channel high resolution audio programs. Users can select whether to play the DVD-Audio or the DVD-Video portion of the disc.
SACD - The BDP-83 plays Super Audio CD (SACD) and supports both stereo and multi-channel high resolution audio programs. Users can select whether to output the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) signal in its native format or convert it into PCM.
Additional Media Formats - Additional disc and file formats, such as audio CD, Kodak Picture CD, AVCHD, MKV, and other audio/video/picture files on recorded discs or USB drives can be played back on the BDP-83.

Video
VRS™ by Anchor Bay - The BDP-83 incorporates Anchor Bay's award-winning Video Reference Series (VRS) technology, and delivers a picture that is cleaner, smoother, true-to-life and free of artifacts.
Full HD 1080p Output - The BDP-83 features user selectable video output resolutions, including 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and up to 1080p 50 or 60Hz.
True 24p™ Video - Many Blu-ray Discs are recorded at 24 frames per second, the same frame rate as the original movie's theatrical release. The BDP-83 can faithfully redeliver the original frames using 1080p 24Hz output (compatible display required) for smoother motion and a flicker-free, film-like home theater experience. It can also restore the original 24 frames per second progressive-scan video from well-authored DVDs and output as 1080p 24Hz.
Source Direct Mode - For users who wish to use an external video processor, high-end audio/video receiver or display, the BDP-83 offers a "Source Direct" mode. The original audio/video content on the discs is sent out with no additional processing or alteration.
Multiple Zoom Modes - The BDP-83 supports multiple levels of aspect ratio control and image zooming, including a vertical stretch mode for customers with a 2.35:1 CIH (Constant Image Height) display system.
HDMI - HDMI is an all digital interface for the cleanest possible connection. It delivers high-quality digital video and audio through a single cable. The BDP-83 features an HDMI v1.3 output with 30-bit and 36-bit Deep Color support.

High Fidelity Audio
Dolby® TrueHD - Dolby TrueHD delivers lossless studio master quality audio designed specifically for high definition entertainment. The BDP-83 supports bit-stream output of Dolby TrueHD via its HDMI 1.3 output. It can also internally decode Dolby TrueHD into LPCM and output via HDMI or the 7.1ch analog audio output terminals. Other varieties of Dolby Digital audio formats are also supported.
DTS®-HD - DTS-HD delivers up to 7.1 channels of surround sound and audio that is indistinguishable from (DTS-HD High Resolution) or identical to (DTS-HD Master Audio) the original studio master. The BDP-83 supports bit-stream output and internal decoding of DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio. Other varieties of DTS audio formats are also supported.
7.1-Channel Analog Output - Individual analog 7.1-channel surround outputs are ideal to connect to a 7.1-channel or 5.1-channel surround sound system. The BDP-83 delivers an incredible sound stage and an immersive surround experience.
Dedicated Stereo Output - The BDP-83 features a dedicated 2-channel analog output with specially optimized Digital-to-Analog Converters and output driving stage.
Digital Optical and Coaxial Outputs - For simple and easy connection to more traditional A/V receivers, the BDP-83 features both optical and coaxial outputs for digital audio.

Convenience
Dual USB Ports - Two USB 2.0 high speed ports are provided, one on the front panel and one on the back. Users can enjoy high definition video, high resolution photos and music directly from their USB drives.
PAL/NTSC Conversion - The BDP-83 supports NTSC and PAL systems for both disc playback and video output. It can also convert content of one system for output in another. (Subject to DVD and BD region restrictions.)
Back-lit Remote Control - The BDP-83 comes with a fully back-lit remote control for ease of use in dark home theaters. With its ergonomic button layout and clear labeling, operating the Blu-ray Disc player is easier than ever.
Universal Power Supply - The BDP-83 features a wide-range world power supply that is compatible with the AC power of all regions. No worries about damaging the player due to incorrect power voltage.
External IR - For integration into home theater control systems, the BDP-83 provides external IR remote IN and OUT ports.
RS232 Control (optional) - For custom installation, the RS232 control option can be special-ordered at an additional cost.
HDMI CEC - HDMI Consumer Electronics Control simplifies the home theater by allowing a single remote control to operate multiple devices.

Preliminary Specifications (Subject to Change)

Designs and specifications are subject to change without notice.

Disc Types* BD-Video, DVD-Video, AVCHD, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD, Kodak Picture CD
CD-R/RW, DVD±R/RW, DVD±R DL, BD-R/RE
BD Profile BD-ROM Version 2 Profile 2 (also compatible with Profile 1 Version 1.0 and 1.1)
Internal Storage 1GB (Actual available storage varies due to system usage)
Output Analog Audio: 7.1ch or 5.1ch, stereo
Digital Audio: Coaxial, Optical
HDMI Audio: Stereo, up to 7.1ch high-resolution PCM, up to 5.1ch DSD, bitstream or LPCM conversion of Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, and DTS-HD Master Audio.
Analog Video: Composite, Component Video (Y/Pb/Pr, 480i/480p, 720p/1080i available for non-restricted content only)
Digital Video: HDMI with HDCP (NTSC: 480i/480p/720p/1080i/1080p/1080p24, PAL 576i/576p/720p/1080i/1080p/1080p24)
Video Characteristics Composite Video Amplitude: 1.0Vp-p (75Ω)
Component Video: Y: 1.0Vp-p (75Ω), Pb/Pr: 0.7Vp-p (75Ω)
Audio Characteristics** Frequency: 20Hz - 20kHz (±0.4dB)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >110dB (A-weighted)
Total Harmonic Distortion: < 0.001% (1kHz at 0dBFS)
General Specification Power Supply: ~ 100V - 240V, 50/60Hz AC
Power Consumption: 35W (0.5W Standby)
Dimensions: 430mm x 336mm x 77mm, 16-7/8 x 13-1/4 x 3 inches
Mass: 5.1kg / 11.2 lbs
Operating Temperature 5°C - 35°C
41°F - 95°F
Operating Humidity 15% - 75%
No condensation

* Compatibility with user-encoded contents or user-created discs is on a best-effort basis with no guarantee due to the variation of media, software and techniques used.

**Nominal specification.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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