In recent years Oppo Digital has followed a simple recipe for success: Just build universal disc players that offer greater versatility, more audiophile-friendly features, and more sensible pricing than the competition does, and then give them decisively better sound and picture quality than their peers. Naturally, this laudable goal is a lot easier to describe on paper than it is to achieve in the real world, but Oppo has made good on its promises, year after year and player after player, in the process earning a reputation as the nearly automatic “go-to” source for players that will satisfy discerning music (and movie) lovers on a budget.
Historically, many of Oppo’s most popular players have sold for around $499. But with the 2011 release of its BDP- 95 universal/Blu-ray player ($995), the firm began to explore a more upscale market. What set the BDP-95 apart was that it was not merely a “hot-rodded,” sonically tweaked version of a standard Oppo player; rather, it was a unique, dedicated high-end model with a distinctive configuration all its own.
The award-winning BDP-95 sounded remarkably good both for its price and in a broader sense. Never a company to rest on its laurels, however, Oppo has recently announced the successor to the BDP-95; namely, the BDP- 105 ($1199)—a player that promises to do everything its predecessor could do and then some.
Like its predecessor, the BDP-105 can handle virtually any format of audio or video disc, including Blu-ray Video, Blu-ray 3D, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD, HDCD, and more. But with the BDP-105 the universality theme doesn’t end with disc playback because the new player is also designed to serve both as a network-streaming player and as a multi-input high-resolution DAC (complete with asynchronous USB).
To really “get” what the BDP-105 is about, think of it not so much as a powerful multi-format disc player (although it is that and more), but rather as a multi-function digital media playback hub whose bag of trick includes, but is in no way limited to, disc playback. In practical terms, this means the BDP-105 neatly resolves debates about whether it is better to listen to discs, to stream content from the Internet, or to enjoying audio files stored on computers, because it can quite happily do all of the above.
The BDP-105 comes housed in an all-new steel chassis said to be significantly more rigid than the chassis used in previous Oppo players (including the BDP-95), and it benefits from a fan-less architecture, meaning all internal components are convection-cooled (most previous Oppos required fan-cooling). Do such seemingly small detail changes like a more rigid chassis or a fan-free design make for meaningful sonic improvements? My opinion, based on extensive comparisons between the BDP-105 and 95, is that they do. Specifically, the new player offers a noticeably more solid and “grounded” sound with quieter backgrounds, improved resolution of low-level transient and textural details, and superior three-dimensionality.