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Oppo Digital BDP-105D Blu-ray/SACD player Darbee Edition Review

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I own an Oppo BDP-105D. The D stands for Darbee which takes a standard hi-def picture and adds contrast where needed to give the picture a very “alive, you are there” look. The picture is very real and three dimensional-looking with no artifacts or problems. I have yet to find a DVD player at any cost that can produce a better, cleaner, life-like picture on my top-of-the-line Sony Projector and 94-inch screen.

As for the sound, I use this unit as a 7.1 preamplifier processor for surround sound and as a two channel pre-amp for 2.1 stereo. I listen mostly to hi-def recordings streamed to my computer and played via a Chrome unit that transmits from my computer to the chrome receiving HDMI device plugged into the front of the Oppo. The higher-definition transmissions sound amazing on my stereo and 7-channel home theater system. They produce a “you are there” very live sound with clarity in depth, width and realistic image. I have never experienced nearly this high quality sound through a $4,500 pre-pro I used prior to using the Oppo as one.

It’s amazing to spend only $1,300 for the Oppo (bought online) to act as a “state-of-the-art” CD and SACD and streaming player and enjoy the best, most realistic sound I have ever experienced on my $40,000 speaker system. The Oppo BDP-105D replaced the $4,500 pre-pro and a $3,500 top-of-the -line Sony SACD/CD/DVD player. I now have an additional shelf for other items. I run one 200-watt mono Anthem for each individual driver in my theater. My front speakers are tri-amplified and crossed over electronically. The Oppo handles all of the amplifiers’ power to the multitude of drivers built into the seven surround speakers plus two 1,000-watt, 15-inch sub woofers.

Meanwhile, my Oppo provides a 7.1 audio signal to 15 separate amplifiers used to power each speaker’s individual drivers. Hence, 200 watts RMS, 20 to 20,000 Hz of power is provided to each individual tweeter in each speaker enclosures. Ditto the mid range drivers, the bass drivers and the Sub Woofer amplifiers. Each of my speaker is either bi or tri-amplified. This is accomplished via an elaborate “electronic” cross over that is external (out of the cabinet and in the equipment rack) for each speaker and individual driver. This adds to the clarity of my audio system. My tweeter and mid range speakers are all Scan Speak speakers. The bass drivers and sub woofer drivers are Dayton speakers. The enclosures are custom designed via computer modeling, and weigh nearly 200 pounds each.  The sub woofers are in separate matching enclosures, which features 1-inch thick left, rear and right side MDF wood and 2-inch thick front baffles. They are porter. Each driver is equalized using a special calibrated microphone and a computer program. In this manner, each speaker (driver) is first equalized in free space to be flat within its working range. Then the speaker enclosures are placed in the room for best directivity  for general seating on an 8-foot wide sofa and equalized to the room. This is done with 7 separate speaker enclosures plus two sub woofer enclosures. My audio and theater room is 24 feet wide, 18 feet 4 inches deep and 11 feet high. The room has light sound improvements and is on the “live” side of reflectivity. The walls have been draped where first and secondary main reflections occur. The ceiling is flocked (pop corn) and the floor is tile, covered with a 9 x 11 feet carpet. The furniture is leather. The tables have glass tops. This gives the aliveness to the room needed to cause music to sound natural and not muffled (as is experienced in overly treated rooms).

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Finally, the Oppo is very attractive aesthetically. Mine is in silver to match the face plates of my Anthem power amplifiers which makes for a handsome high-end display on my home theater shelves which contains all of the items needed to run the theater’s visual and audio equipment. The Oppo IR remote is excellent, has a strong back light and is effortless to use.

When you remove a preamplifier processor and adjoining cables from your audio system and replace it with the Oppo 3-D Blu-ray DVD/CD/SACD player to act as your surround sound processor and as your stereo preamplifier, a great improvement in clarity is realized. Literally, hundreds and hundreds of electronic parts, processing chips, and many-many feet of wire have been eliminated between the sound source (CD, etc.) to the amplifier. The digital-to-analog conversion chip set in the Oppo is the high end Sabre D-to-A chip, considered one of the finest in the world. Their signal-to-noise ratio is an astounding 130 decibels with a full 2-volts of output. The Oppo has plenty of power using a heavy duty transformer to power any amplifier on the market today without clipping.

The Oppo is the quietest preamplifier and surround sound processor I have ever experienced. Turn the volume up to maximum, put your ear right next to any speaker and you hear nothing. It is dead silent. A full volume setting on my speakers will drive up to 130 db of sound pressure at 1 meter. That’s ear damaging loud! A quiet amplifier allows the instruments played to be heard in a manner that brings them across as “real.” I hear the saliva on the reed of a sax, the wood vibes of a bass viol, the resonance of a cello, the wood sound of a clarinet, the bite of brass and the ring off of a triangle disappearing into infinity. And, oh my gosh!… the bass. It is clean, not boomy. It is precise, clear and tuneful, yet so clearly deep I can feel the pressurization in the room as the molecules of moving air flood my inner ear. The Oppo is very close to neutral. It does not favor mids, highs or bass. It simply plays all octaves of music at the level in which it was recorded. Because of its quiet nature, I hear things on a CD never noticed before such as an air conditioner cycling on, the closing of a door quietly in the background, a motor vehicle driving by outside the studio…breathing of musicians, the turning of pages of music and things just not heard on any CD player I have experienced to date until I played my CDs, and rediscovered them, on my Oppo.

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I can’t say enough good things about Oppo’s customer support. A phone call to their west coast office puts you in immediate touch with a technical person who can walk you through any issue, and answer questions in such a manner you don’t have to be an electronics engineer or technical type to understand what is being said. The Oppo user’s manual is, without question the standard of the industry for use, clarity, and appearance. It dots every i and crosses every t in a manner that can be understood by the novice, and appreciated by the audio video enthusiast. Finally, buying on-line is risk free. When you buy online direct from the factory or an authorized Oppo dealer as I did, you have a 30-day trial period to experience the Oppo. If you are not completely delighted, send it back for a full refund. There is no risk when you buy this Oppo player.

I hope telling you readers out there about my experience with the Oppo player over the past year is of benefit to you. If you are short on funds to buy a decent CD player and a stereo preamp/processor, then get the Oppo for hundreds of not thousands less and get a unit that equals or exceeds most other high end players out there costing many-many thousands of dollars more. Also, the Oppo will not go obsolete on you. Hooking it up to your wi-fi allows for update downloads to keep it current with meaningful changes and self-improvements created by the Oppo engineers. This is a fantastic piece of primary audio gear you will enjoy for many, many years.

 

Copy editor: Laurence A. Borden
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3 Responses to Oppo Digital BDP-105D Blu-ray/SACD player Darbee Edition Review


  1. Don says:

    Thought provoking review. I am considering the Oppo, modified by David Schulte at The Upgrade Company. Here’s his take on using it without a preamp:

    “Oppo players sound awful directly into a power amplifier without a preamplifier. Just because the volume goes up/down does not make mean the input/output impedance’s match nor the current & voltage delivery out of the little Oppo is anywhere near adequate. It isn’t. However it will outperform stock naked preamplifiers.”

    Love to hear your comments….

  2. Robert Dean says:

    Don, thanks for your comment and request for a response regarding David’s remark that the Oppo sounds awful when used, sans naked as a standalone premap or prepro.

    As a doctor, I look at things from a scientific “measured” point of view so I can understand, as a 50-year audiophile hobbyist, what I’m hearing and why I am hearing that way. Everything the human ear can hear, including how the ear itself works, can be measured. When every measurement reflects perfection, and if one’s hearing is perfect (such as a very young child), then perfect reproduction of the sound is heard. This translates into the brain as the music the microphone picked up (or being there at the musical venue).

    Below are some of the laboratory measurements done to the Oppo BDP-105D that reflect issues regarding its audio side and are pertinent to David’s remark, “Oppo sounds awful as a prepro”. If the Oppo sounds awful, then precision calibrated measurements will disclose why. Now, look at the results of measurements made via calibrated precision test instrument to the Oppo. Can you find any that would cause the Oppo to sound awful when used as a preamplifer or preamplifier processor? Have a look…

    The output specifications of the Oppo BDP-105D Darbee Blu-ray, DVD/CD/SACD player

    The Oppo puts out a high quality and quantity of current, like most other “high-end” preamplifier: It specs out at (RCA) 20Hz to 20kHz +or- 0.2 dB. 20Hz to 96kHz – 1.5dB. (XLR) 20Hz to 20k Hz +or- 0.3dB, 20Hz – 96kHz -1.5dB.

    Signal to noise ratio: 130 dB, (A-weighted, auto-mute), >115 dB (A-weighted, no auto-mute).
    THD+N: <0.0003% or – 110 dB, 1kHz (48k/24bit, 0dBFS 20kHz LPF), 110 dBV
    Channel separation: 110 dB.

    I use my Oppo BDP-105D as a stereo and 7.1 channel preamplifier/ surround sound processor. It powers 13 individual Anthem monophonic, 200-watt RMS, “state-of-the-art” power amplifiers. Each amp powers an individual driver within the driver/speaker cabinet. My L & R speakers are tri-amplified, thus requiring six amplifiers to drive 3 left and 3 right channel speakers within their respective cabinets. The center channel is bi-amplified. The surrounds are singularly amplified, and my two 15-inch sub woofers (each self powered by a 1,000 watt plate amp) make up the 19 individual speaker/drivers powered by the 13 amplifiers. The amps can handle up to 2.1 volts INPUT. The Oppo puts out 2.1 volts via RCA outputs. Therefore, each amp can be Pre-Amplified to its maximum output via the Oppo without breaking a sweat. I have never heard the Oppo cause clipping and have never heard any of the 13 mono Anthem amps clip, either whilst powering 8 ohm @ 1 watt, 89dB efficiency at 1 meter speakers. So, it is clear the Oppo could not, and does not sound awful due to a shortage on current (voltage and wattage) into any amplifier with a normal impedance range. The Anthem amps my Oppo amplifies are rated at 10k Ohms (RCA) and 15K Ohms (XLR). I have yet to hear any Oppo I have auditioned have an impedance miss match with the amplifier it was driving.

    The Oppo has a huge power transformer in it and operates in the digital domain via its “state-of-the-art” sabre DtoA converters. Those sabre DtoA chips (considered to be the best DtoA chips in the world) put out an analogue signal with an ultra quiet 130dB signal to noise ratio. So, the Oppos is an extremely quiet pre-pro into ALL channels. Once again, measurements tell me what I hear… a dead quiet amplifier with plenty of muscle to power all of my amps without any strain. My amps play my Scan Speak custom drivers in computer modeled 210 pound speaker cabinets to 130dB (ear splitting) volume level at 1KHz at 1 meter. The Oppo is THX licensed (it meets or exceeds all of its specifications. My measurements and “hearing” concurs with what the instruments testify to).

    Please tell David two things. His claims that an Oppo 105 sounds awful as a preamp processor or stereo preamp is simply not so when used to play high rez 96kHz/24b of a well recorded or streamed, CD or SAC or Blue Ray DVD. This is especially so when audio is produced through state of the art speakers in a properly sound conditioned room. Like any modern, digital, analogue, “state of the audio art” preamplifier, the Oppo should be heard with its signal digitally crossed over into each speaker driver, equalized, pulse controlled, and phase corrected then fed through low capacitance, low resistance audiophile grade cables into powerful low noise (120dBN) 200 watt amplifier, (one for each individual speaker driver) in multi-amplified speaker arranged 210 lb. acoustically correct cabinet to produce a flat frequency from 16Hz to 25kHz, + or – 2dB, @ 1 meter @ 80dB.

    Hearing the realistic sound quality produced through the Oppo’s can only be experienced when associated with the high-end connected components, cabling and speakers in a good sound conditioned room featuring high rez music played at the venue’s decibel level. This assures that any “awfulness” as David indicated that he heard could not be heard because if all that is heard measures correctly right right into clear hearing 20Hz to 15kHz ears of the human being sitting in an ideal position in front of the speakers.

    If all meaningful measurements from the recording to the pressure made on the eardrums by the moving molecules of air generated by the speakers reflect no indication of what is known to cause a distortion in the sound recorded at the live music venue that can be perceived by the human brain, then you have a “state-of-the-art” stereo/surround sound system to die for. Remember, garbage in equals garbage out throughout the entire signal production chain and its transference system. the Oppo does not distort of modify the sound in any manner which alters the signal fed into it. It is not a warm, cool, zingy or soft or hard sound. It is simply transparently ‘NEUTRAL and dimensionable as it should be. This is the only way to experience what the music sounds like if you were personally at the music venue (studio, hall, etc.) during a “live” recording session.

    For a real test, eliminate the speaker drivers, cabinets, multi amplification of speakers, cables, digital EQ, phase control, pulse control components and simply plug in a very high quality set of earphones (try Oppo’s cans which have received many rave reviews) plug them in to Oppo’s front panel earphone inlet and listen to them over a dedicated sabre DtoA converter chip set and an extraordinarily clean headphone amplifier. Then you hear the Oppo in its bare bones state. No room, speakers or related auto equipment in the stream between the Oppo and your ears to change what the Oppo produces. Spin up a high rez CD or streamed recording and what you will hear, my friend, will be what the microphone picked up in the recording venue which will put you face to face with the performers. It’s thrilling!

    As a dedicated fellow audiophile, my ears don’t lie to me and my instruments, measuring what I hear, tell me I’m hearing the truth in sound. Your reply, if any, is welcome. Audiophiles (good ones) speak the truth and that is what makes this amazing hobby so entertaining. I despise the hype out there online and in some audio/video rags. I am only interested in being entertained as if I was at the live music (be it a 110 piece orchestra) or bolting straight up from my seat shocked by the sound plane crash in a movie. Such exotic home entertainment has proven to be excellent through a $1300 Oppo which takes care of all DVD and CD playing chores masterfully, and provides “state-of-the-art” performance as a stereo preamplifier and surround sound processor. It is the most cost effective audio/video component I have ever owned.

    Dr. Robert Dean

  3. Ned Wolfe says:

    I have been using an OPPO-105D as my primary source of music for the last 2 years. My system is all digital sourced for 2-channel . However, I had my OPPO fully modifies by EVS-Ric Schultz who is a dedicated master tweaker. After much research into OPPO mods, I could find no one that offered such extensive mods and was willing to provide such detailed explanations. This replaced my previous solid state modified OPPO-95 by Modwright.
    The performance of my new OPPO is outstanding. At $3100. total cost, it would outperform anything near its price range.

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