Oppo BDP-83SE Universal 
Blu-ray Disc Player, Special Edition

by | Dec 5, 2009 | Component Reviews | 0 comments

Oppo BDP-83SE Universal 
Blu-ray Disc Player, Special Edition
SRP: $899; Upgrade to Standard Player: $299

Disc Types: Blu-ray, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio (multichan.), SACD (multi-chan.), CD, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD, CD-R/RW, DVD+-R/RW, DVD+- R DL, BD-R/RE
BD-ROM version 2 Profile 2 (compatible with earlier versions)
Internal Storage: 1 GB
Outputs =
Analog Audio: 5.1 or 7.1 & stereo
Digital Audio: Coaxial, Optical
HDMI Audio: Stereo, up to 7.1 PCM, up to 5.1 DSD, DD bitstream, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio
Analog Video: Composite, Component (480i & p, 720p, 1080i)
Digital Video: HDMI with HDCP (both NTSC & PAL)
Video Specs: Composite Video Amplitude: 1.0Vp-p (75Ω); Component Video: Y= 1.0Vp-p (75Ω); Pb/Pr=0.7p-p (75Ω)
Audio Specs: Frequency: 20Hz-44kHz +- 0.2dB; S/N: >110dB; 20Hz-96kHz (+-1.1dB); 7.1CH 20Hz-44kHz (+-0.4dB); S/N Radio: >117dB (A-weighted);  Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.002% (1kHz at 0 dBFS, 20kHz LPF); Dynamic Range: >104dB (24-bit unweighted); Channel Separation: >106dB (24- bit unweighted)
General Specs: Power Supply: ~100V-240V, 50/60Hz AC; Power Consumption: 35W; Dimensions: 16 7/8 x 13 1/4 x 3 inches; Weight: 11.2 lbs.

OPPO Digital Inc.
2629 Terminal Blvd., Suite B
Mt. View, CA 94043, U.S.A.


We’ve already rave-reviewed the excellent standard BDP-83 Blu-ray player from Oppo. Now Oppo is offering an upgraded version of the basic player – already well known for its fine audio and video performance – concentrating on two areas: an improved multichannel analog audio stage and an improved power supply. The enhancements will not be realized for those using the HDMI connection for both the audio and video to their displays/receivers/preamps, or (says Oppo) for those using the coaxial or optical bitstream/PCM output.  The primary user to whom this upgrade is directed would be those using separate six-channel analog connections for their multichannel output of both videos and SACDs/DVD-As, and/or the two-channel analog outs for standard CD playback or stereo SACDs.

The Special Edition player uses the state-of-the-art Sabre32 family of DACs from ESS Technology. The Sabre32 family is often found in high-end audiophile and pro components. The Special Edition uses an 8-channel Sabre Premier DAC chip for its 7.1 multichannel output. The dedicated analog stereo output jacks use another 8-channel Sabre32 Ultra DAC chip stacking 4 DACs for each of the left and right channels to achieve even greater audio performance.

Those who already own a BDP-83 purchased before Nov. 9 of this year can ship it to Oppo together with $299 and have the Special Edition upgrade installed.  It will consist of replacing the Audio Board, Power Supply Board and the Back Panel with a RS232 port. The front panel is left untouched.  This upgrade is only available to customers within the U.S. and payment must be made in advance.  The unit’s warranty will be extended by resetting the clock; in other words the warranty starts all over again.  You place an order for your upgrade at the Oppo site, and you then receive an email with an RMA number and instructions for sending in your BDP-83.

Listening Tests

I’ve long been a purist about mixing of video and audio signals in cables or components, and have shied away from using HDMI cables for both audio and video connections and from running video signals thru my Sunfire AV preamp, expect for the upscaling of vintage Beta and Laserdisc video signals. (Although I can’t say I hear any improvement using the Pure Audio option of turning off the video in my AV preamp or on the Oppo.)  I auditioned several SACD multichannel discs as well as standard stereo CDs on my standard BDP-83, and then broke in the Special Edition player for several days using both an Opus SACD Sampler and a F.I.M. K2HD stereo sampler.

The Opus 3 Test CD 4 has 17 tracks of acoustic music in authentic environments, some actually recorded in four channels and others derived from Blumlein-recorded two-channel original tapes.  The First Impression Music K2HD Sound compilation disc is two channel and mastered from sources upsampled to 100KHz/24-bit but playable on standard CD decks.

The Opus 3 track of a Mendelssohn movement by the Stockholm Guitar Quartet had a much more extended low bass end via the Special Edition player, as well as better soundstaging and clarity.  The opening track of the Drottningholms Music by Roman had a more palpable feeling of the venue acoustics, plus a more realistic soundstage.  On the F. I. M. K2 CD, the opening track of the Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances excerpt had more clarity, and even better soundstaging than on the basic Oppo Blu-ray player.  The dynamic contrasts were almost overwhelming vs. the standard player. The second track on this sampler, of flamenco guitar, had the guitarist somewhat obscured on the standard player by the loud and extremely reverberant zapateado foot-stamping of the flamenco dancer. It almost reminded me of Stan Freberg’s Elvis parody, where he complains “Too Much Echooooo!” On the Special Edition, the guitar sound seemed to come forward and be in perfect balance with the exciting footwork of the dancer and its reverberations.  On the third of the K2HD tracks, a jazz number featuring the erhu as the solo instrument, the bass extension of the opening is strong thru the Standard Edition, but with the Special Edition it is much more pronounced and impactful.  The general improvements are in the area of richness, clarity and both frequency and dynamic extension.

Wrap Up

These improvements when using only the coaxial digital output demonstrate that there is enhancement to the coax and optical digital outputs as well as to the analog outputs.  This must be a result of the upgrading of the power supply.  I found in switching between the front channels of the analog six-channel outputs of the Special Edition player and the coaxial output feeding my Benchmark DAC1 processor, I could discern little difference.  Previously, in comparison with the standard Oppo player analog stereo outs, feeding the coax via the Benchmark DAC made a noticeable improvement in clarity, resolution and soundstaging over straight out of the analog RCA jacks.

While I didn’t do a comparison, I would think the improved coax and optical out quality would carry over to the playing of soundtracks on video DVDs if your preamp or receiver is doing the bitstream decoding.  Otherwise you can just use the  enhanced multichannel analog outs and let the Oppo Special Edition internal decoder handle all the lossless and lossy bitream codecs.

 – John Sunier

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