Oppo DV-980H Universal DVD Player

by | Nov 14, 2007 | Component Reviews | 0 comments

Oppo DV-980H Universal DVD Player
SRP: $169

Disc Types
DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD
Analog Audio: 7.1ch, 5.1ch or stereo
Digital Audio: Coaxial, Optical, HDMI
Analog Video: Composite, S-Video (Y/C), Component Video (Y/Pb/Pr, 480i/480p)
Digital Video: HDMI v1.2a with HDCP (NTSC: 480i/480p/720p/1080i/1080p, PAL 576i/576p/720p/1080i/1080p)
Video Characteristics
Composite Video Amplitude: 1.0Vp-p (75Ω)
S-Video Amplitude: Y: 1.0Vp-p (75Ω), C: 0.286Vp-p (75Ω)
Component Video: Y: 1.0Vp-p (75Ω), Pb/Pr: 0.7Vp-p (75Ω)
Audio Characteristics
Frequency: 20Hz – 20kHz (±1dB)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >100dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: < 0.01%
General Specification
Power Supply: ~ 100V – 240V, 50/60Hz AC
Power Consumption: 14W
Dimensions: 16-7/8 x 10-1/2 x 2 inches / 430mm x 267mm x 49mm
Weight: 5.10 lbs / 2.3kg

OPPO Digital Inc.
453 Ravendale Dr., Suite D
Mt. View, CA 94043, U.S.A.



This is the fourth universal player from Oppo and achieves new heights in both quality of audio playback and cost value.  We reviewed in the past the DV-970HD, which is suggested for those using an external video processor with HDMI input and 720p/1080i resolution or smaller screen size. The DV-981HD (which we also reviewed) is slanted more toward the DVD movie fan with its DCDi Faroudja processing , whereas the 980H has enhanced audio playback circuitry, including DSD output over HDMI cable to AV receivers/processors with DSD decoding. (This may be the very first SACD player to offer that – only possible with v1.2a or 1.3 of HDMI.) The 981 is recommended for users with very large RPTVs or front projector setups. It also includes the best conversion between NTSC and PAL – although the other two models do play back PAL DVDs. Cross Color Separation, Inverse 1:1 pull down for PAL movies, noise reduction and TrueLife detail enhancement are offered only on the Model 981HD.  A detailed comparison of all three current models is found on this Oppo website page.

The appearance of the 980H is more stylish and attractive than the other two models.  A useful new feature is the frontal display of the resolution you have selected: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i or 1080p.  Though the video chipset does not include Faroudja processing, it effectively upconverts 480i sources to 1080p for display on 1080p-capable screens. It is especially recommended for larger DLP displays, which I have. There is also a USB input right on the front, which accepts a USB cable or a USB thumb drive directly. The display is very easy to set up, and accepts almost any video or still image files for showing on the big screen, including hi-res sources (which the other two units do not accept). It also features a variety of different wipes and dissolves for the slide show feature.

If you have a 7.1 channel receiver or preamp and all the proper rear speaker hookups for that system (I can’t imagine why anyone would want to go to the bother, frankly) the 980H should definitely be your choice since it is the only Oppo player offering 7.1 directly from the output jacks on the rear. The 980H has Cirrus Logic 24-bit, 192K hi-res audio D/A converters onboard, as does the 981HD, but the 970HD doesn’t list the D/A converters, so they must be only 96K. The versatile compatibility of the 980H outscores the other models with the abilities to handle not only PAL and USB sources but also every possible variety of DivX media files.  Another nice attribute of the 980H is the automatic decoding of HDCD CDs, since this process is currently used on many standard CDs to upgrade the sonic quality using a compatible encode/decode system that sounds find if not properly decoded. But it sounds even better when it is.  This feature is being currently omitted from most AV preamps and receivers, so it is a pleasure to be able to audition all my Reference Recording and other HDCDs properly without any fuss.  The frontal display merely shows HDCD, SACD, DVD-Audio, Dvix or whatever when you load the disc into the tray.  You don’t have to struggle with any special menu selections. There is even an ability to play back Xvid files, which I haven’t the foggiest what they are.


I first set up the 980H using the HQV Benchmark DVD Image Quality Assessment Tool disc. I went thru all the tests for noise reduction, video, motion noise reduction and the film test. I had first done the basic setup menu on the player, leaving all the video controls at 0 except for setting the brightness at +4. (The Oppo players always seem to produce a slightly darker screen image with my display than other DVD players.) What I found was that although the results were in the Very Good area on most of the tests, on the moire pattern 3:2 detection the 980H achieve an excellent rating, with the player switching almost instantly from the video to the film mode, eliminating the moire pattern, whereas my Integra DPS 10.5 universal player took up to one second to switch. However, on the rotating white bar test, the jaggies at some points of the compass were somewhat worse on the Oppo than on the Integra. Both DVD players rated high on noise reduction tests, added video titles over  3:2 film sources, jaggies and picture detail.  I frankly noticed little difference between the playback of any DVDs on the 981HD vs. the 980D.

Setup and Control

The remote is identical to that of the 981HD.  I hadn’t noticed before that both players have volume level adjustment in the remotes.  You could conceivably hook up the 980H directly to basic power amps or powered speakers without any preamp for cleanest, most direct audio playback. If you have a disc of any sort in the tray and the tray closed, you will find some of the setup options greyed out, such as the 48K setting for PCM in the Audio page.  You need to open the tray in order to access all the settings. (The 48K will automatically change to 96K if you insert a 96K PCM disc in the tray and play it.) The remote is not backlit but it is quite easy to use and the buttons are well-labeled.



Aha, here’s where the 980H shines, and not just due to offering 7.1 channel audio or the fact that the unit supports HDMI v1.2a with multichannel PCM and DSD audio to AV processors and preamps that decode it.  I prefer the sonic advantages of separate analog six-channel cable hookups rather than running the multichannel audio on the same wires as the digital video information – especially considering the HDMI system’s frequent reliability failures and lack of compatibility between different brand components. (Also, I don’t cotton to the HDMI conversion of the DSD signal to PCM – even though that is required anyway for all the bass management, speaker distance and other processing done in a typical AV preamp.) The 980H also feeds Dolby and DTS-decoded signals thru the analog six-channel cable as well as bitstream thru the coax and optical jacks.  And there is a built-in ProLogic II decoder with all the trimmings, in case your AV receiver or preamp lacks that useful feature. Where the 980H exceeds even the performance of my reference Integra, as well as the other Oppo models, is in playing plain old standard 44.1K CDs.  I have a number of duplicate copies of CDs which I played in the two units (SRPs of $2500 vs. $169). Bear in mind my Integra sits on special carbon feet on an MSB isoplate with Walker lead/brass discs on top, and also has Bybee-filtered Kimber patch cables, whereas the Oppo was on its supplied feet on only the MSB plate, with fairly standard patch cables and no other tweaks. There is no two-channel output separate from the six-channel analog jacks, so if you want to run a purist none-processed analog stereo signal thru your preamp, you will have to use a pair of Y-connector-type adapters at the front channel RCA jacks. I used the very solid Vampire Wire one male-to-two female RCA adapters.

Oppo designed the DV-980H with a strong focus on precision rendering of all optical audio discs: SACD/DVD-A, HDCD and standard CDs. In addition to the 192K sampling rate and 24-bit resolution, the audio driving stage makes use of carefully-selected op-amps and caps. The design seeks to reduce quantization distortion and to reproduce the analog waveform accurately to achieve faithful and detailed sound.

The CDs were John Hicks Trio & Strings on Mapleshade, test CDs from Opus 3, and a BIS CD of Lecuona piano music.  In all cases there was a somewhat richer, more detailed and more analog-like sound from the Oppo player. The sonics were subtly just more sumptuous in general. I then switched to some DVD-Audio and SACD discs, finding the differences pretty much the same.  A NorthWest Classics stereo-only SACD of harp concertos by Ginastera and Monsalvatge offered a more harp-like timbre from the solo instrument, as well as sharper detail and a better impression of the acoustic of the recording venue. On multichannel SACDs, such as the Opus 3 Test CD 4, there was more air and richness in the sonics, as well as somewhat better bass support. In a concert band track recorded in a church environment, there was a stronger feeling of the space on the Oppo vs. the Integra. Lastly, I tried a source somewhat between the resolution of a standard CD and SACD – the sampler of the new F.I.M. K2 HD process of xrcd which I recently reviewed.  Its opening track of an excerpt from Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances definitely displayed more air and clarity on the Oppo, plus the early loud orchestral chords of emphasis were much stronger and richer in sound than on the Integra.

I have had a continuing problem with proper playback of certain SACDs and DVDs on my Integra player. For no apparent reason, it will occasionally display “No Disc” when I insert one of the many RCA 3-channel SACD reissues and some other SACDs. Sometimes pulling the AC plug at the player for 30 seconds and then reinserting corrects the problem, but not always. I could get no interest or cooperation from the manufacturer on this glitch. The discs always play perfectly on my alternate Sony 775 SACD changer. I dug out three of the recalcitrant RCA SACDs which displayed No Disc on the Integra; they played perfectly on the Oppo 980H.

Wrap Up

I should also mention that the player is very thin in heighth and if you’re crammed for space in your equipment rack it could possibly fit on top or below another larger component. Regardless, I would suggest some type of weight or resonance control on the top of the chassis since it is rather resonant, even if you don’t go the tweaky feet route.  All Oppo players are provided with a good HDMI cable, saving you a bundle right there. They have a good warranty situation and if you have any questions or problems at all you will find that their customer service is fast, direct and extremely helpful on the phone, without any hassle as experienced with so many manufacturers.  Hey, the 980H is even more of a value than the other Oppo players which have won acclaim widely on that count alone!

 – John Sunier


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