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Oppo Universal 3D Blu-Ray Player BDP-105D 
SRP: $1299

Oppo Universal 3D Blu-Ray Player BDP-105D
SRP: $1299

Specs:

Firmware Version: BDP10X-38-1220 (Jan. 2, 2013)

Dimensions: 16.8” W x 12.2” D x 4.8” H
Weight: 17.3 pounds

Voltage: 120/240 (for use anywhere in the world)

Passive Cooling (i.e., no fan)

Power Consumption: 55W, .5W (standby)

Warranty: 2 years

Rating: *****

Full Specs: http://www.oppodigital.com/blu-ray-bdp-105/blu-ray-BDP-105D-Overview.aspx
Oppo Digital 
2629 Terminal Blvd., Suite B 
Mountain View, CA 9404 
(650) 961-1118 (650) 961-1118 
http://www.oppodigital.com

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Audiophile Audition has already published an excellent review of the Oppo 105 player. I will be reviewing the 105D version of the player. The main difference is the addition of the Darbee video enhancement chip and the USB asynchronous DAC. I will also give my opinions of the sound and video quality of the unit. For features and special abilities, you should read the above review or go to the Oppo web site above.

Oppo is an audio company that has my highest regards. They always produce quality equipment at a very good price. I did my first Oppo review in 2007 on their DVD-970 DVD-based universal player. In some areas it out-performed players costing up thousands of dollars more. Its price was $149. Now you see Oppo players in systems of audiophiles with systems costing tens of thousands of dollars.
It plays the following disc types: BD-Video, Blu-ray 3D, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, AVCHD, SACD, CD, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD, CD-R/RW, DVD±R/RW, DVD±R DL, BD-R/RE. It can stream audio and video from computers, the internet and USB storage devices. I’ll be comparing this unit with my current reference Oppo 83SE with an $1100.00 Jena Labs modification. The first thing you notice is the new unit is much heavier and higher. The toroidal transformer power supple is a nice upgrade from most players. The build quality is very good and better than many units costing 2 or 3 times as much. Some manufactures are rebranding the Oppo and charging thousands of dollars more. The increased internet capacities make it a much more versatile player. Its ability to play 3D discs can be useful to some, but I do not care for 3D. I do not do much streaming of media. I must admit that I really like streaming Pandora through the player, before I could only stream it through my TV or cell phone. I’m thinking about trying NetFlix. I, however, feel that streamed material is inferior to Blu-ray especially in the audio portion. I may in the future also download high quality music to a USB storage device to be played over my system. The unit can up sample to 4K. I do not have a 4K set at this time to be unable to comment on this feature. I have seen the 4K sets and they are very good. I have also seen the OLED sets which are even better. There are rumors of a 4K OLED set coming out, which would be even better. I am waiting for a larger than 55 inch OLED to come out to upgrade my monitor.

The system I will be using for my review is the following. The room is 20 x 20 feet with a door opening at the back right corner. The room is halfway towards being anechoic chamber. The corners have tube traps. There is also two tube traps behind the speakers and between the speakers and the corners. The room also has corner tunes, Sonic Hallographs, sonic wall treatment, double layer of carpets, and an acoustic ceiling. The listening position is about 8 feet from speakers and between them. The speakers are about four feet out into the room. The front speakers are Eminent Technology LFE-8 ribbon hybrid speakers with AV123 ribbon super teeters. Front channel and subwoofers are mass loaded with several 25 lb. bricks of lead. The center channel speaker is an RCA Linaeum tweetered center channel with AV123 ribbon super tweeter. All three of the above have Tekna-Sonic speaker dampeners attached. The two main speakers are connected to the amp by Cardas Hex Gold speaker cables. The center channel is connected by Kimber TC8 cable. The side speakers are Chapman mini monitors. The rear speakers are RCA Linaeum Tweetered speakers. They are connected to the amps by standard 10 gauge stranded wire. I use Two Thorough Bass subwoofers. The front amp is a Crown Macro Reference. The center channel amp is a Parasound bridged to mono. The side channels are powered by a Sumo amp. The rears are powered by an Adcom stereo amp. The preamp is an Audio Control Maestro M4. Wiring from player to preamp is Cardas Hex Gold. Power is provided by two dedicated circuits with a separate from house deep ground. These feed two custom power conditioners. All power cords are Marigold.

All major components have Bright Star type sand boxes under them with Shatki Stones and various audiophile feet. Lead sheets are used for mass damping on most major components. Because of the increased height of the new Oppo, I could not use this with the new 105D. Shatki Onlines are used at the receiving end of all cables. A Shatki Stone is also on dedicated circuits at circuit box.

Also do a five step treatment of most discs that makes them sound better and sometimes transforms the sound of a disc. For those who have read about the treatment, a change in the color of the zylene based marker, should be changed to orange for Blu-Ray discs. And on Blu-Rays as on DVDs only the top side should be beveled. Those listening to non-treated discs do not know what the disc can sound like. I do not try to just impress you with this paragraph, but to say this is a much more tweaked system that is capable of higher quality than might be expected from a system. This is a system built on multichannel audio, which can do video also. I have spent 20 years on this system making it sound as close to real music as I can get it to. The things I find wrong in most systems is a lack of macro and micro dynamics. The tendency, as things get louder, that the instruments get larger and lose a sense presence. They mostly play loud but fall short in the light delicate stuff that makes music beautiful. Many systems that have strong high frequencies, that tends to be on the bright side of sound. I love high frequency carry out and airiness. Now you know my areas of prejudgements.

BDP-105DinsideFirst I will discuss the sound of the 105D. The output of the 105 is about 6 Db lower than my modified 83SE. The 105D exhibits a much bigger dynamic range. It also has better bass control and definition. There is also a large improvement in its ability to reproduce surround-sound information. This is probably the biggest improvement that the 105D makes over the 83. The highs are more detailed and airy. There is better sense of depth and imaging is slightly improved. I often use percussion music to evaluate the sound of a system. On Nonesuch Percussion Music 979150-2 album, the sound was deeper, more detailed and better controlled of the sound stage. On the Golden Strings The All Star Percussion Ensemble GS CD 005 album, the 105D was especially beautiful. The high frequency information and carry out were spectacular. On Atmosphere Music’s album Canto General CD2-001 the chorus was well-placed in the soundfield and more detailed. Dynamics were better. There was much more control of the sound. For the first time, I heard the sound that I remember from the LP. On the Classic Records 24/96 DAD of the Glory soundtrack DAD 1008 band 10, there is a sonic crunch during a choral climax that I have heard on every system I have heard it on. The crunch always made me cringe. The 105D eliminated the crunch completely. I played numerous SACDs, there was a slight improvement on all of them.

OPPO105DBackThe improvement on surround sound discs was especially noteworthy. The 105D is forcing me to upgrade my opinions on the sound of a number of Blu-ray concert discs. The various Cheryl Crow Blu-Rays concerts have always sounded totally dull with no presence to me. The 105 made them sound listenable, but not audiophile. In the Creation scene of The Tree of Life, the sound is more controlled and enjoyable. With the 83SE it was kind of chaotic. On the battle scene in Master and Commander, you are put on the deck with things happening all around you, with great reality. On the DVD concert Nights from the Alhambra by Loreena McKennitt, the sound was very good for Dolby Digital. The picture was close to HD in appearance. The sound field was large, blended with the front channels and defined. There was a strong sense of dynamics in the sound field. One thing I really like on the 105D is the surround sound treatment of stereo sources. It uses DTS Neo 6 to add side, center and rear channel information to the stereo signal. It has three settings of off, music and cinema. I sometimes use the music setting. It creates ambience information. It is very subtle and from your listening position you will not overtly hear it. But it does add a sense of space. Before, if you used the 7.1 outputs, you could not get simulated surround without using a digital output from the Oppo. The USB DAC works as a DAC for computer or downloaded digital music. A good sign of the sound quality was that I would put a disc on for one cut, and end up listening to several. Another was that I had a tendency to play things louder than before. This was because of lack of distortion and listenability of the sound.

The main difference in the 105 and the 105D is the addition of Darbee video enhancement. The 105 was probably the best Blu-Ray player out there. That is until the 105D came out. When I first got the 105D, I took it to a local dealer that was using the 105. I compared the picture on the two players. I had the Darbee set at 45. The 105D had a slightly better picture. There was better detail and sense of depth with the 105D. The Darbee has four settings, Hi-Def, gaming, off and full pop. There is a Darbee level setting of 0 to 120. The easiest way to set this is with the demo mode. It has either split, off or swipe screen modes. In the split screen, half of the screen is processed with the Darbee enhancement and the other half is not. With the swipe screen, a line scans across the screen with one side of the line treated and the other not. Since pictures are constantly moving, setting the best level can be time consuming. I have upped the level to about 92 now. The Oppo 105 has a great picture on its own. The Darbee adds a little more detail, texture and depth to the picture. On close ups of faces you can see every pore, bead of sweet and blemish on the faces. In the diving of the ledge scene of The Fifth Element, there is a greater sense of depth and detail than I have ever seen before. On the Bali Blu-Ray, the scene with the native dancers and an old ruin in the background, the picture was near perfect. It is a night scene with lights on the dancers and a dimly lit background. Particularly impressive was the detail in the background and the bright colors of the costumes. Is the Darbee a worthwhile addition to the Oppo 105? My answer is it depends. If you do not have video in your system or a more modest video system it probably is not warranted. For only a $100 you get a picture improvement. The standalone Darbee processor is about $500.

The Oppo is a high-quality player. It plays almost every type of modern disc, except HD-DVD. It has good internet streaming ability. The audio and video qualities are exceptional. The 105D beat my 83SE with an $1100 Jena Labs modification. I talked to Jena Labs and they said there was very little to modify on the 105D. Oppo was paying attention to the mods that were being made to their previous players. Could you get better sound from another player? Maybe, but you would pay at least twice as much and be able to play only CDs and stereo SACDs. I feel that Oppo has a player for any discerning buyer. For the person that just wants good sound and video there is the 103 ($499). If they have a higher quality monitor, they might go for the 103D ($599). For the audiophile, there is the 105 ($1199). For audiophiles that combines quality audio and video, there is the 105D ($1299). Anybody that has a collection of SACDs, Blu-Ray discs or DVD Audios needs to own the 105 or 105D. Those looking for a under $200 Blu-Ray players need not apply.

—Clay Swartz

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