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 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.
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
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.
On 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
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.
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
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.