Do you ever think you’ve lost control of your audio system? I know the feeling. Yes, it was a simpler time back then in BC (before computers). Digital sources were mostly limited to compact-disc players, and perhaps a DVD player to liven things up during family movie night. But the dawn of high-resolution music and computer audio changed all that. New partnerships were formed as network audio and cloud storage and Internet streaming encroached on the territory normally reserved for traditional source components. They also brought with them controller apps via smart devices, and an expansion of formats and options perhaps unparalleled in audio’s history. Ultimately, it has become a really deep dive trying to keep up with the blitz of gear and peripherals and then making them all play nicely together. That’s where Oppo Digital comes to the rescue—providing hope for the hard to cope.
The actual idea of a universal-format player is not new, but in actuality most were known for their multi-format audio capability or their video chops—rarely for both. It was at this intersection of audio and video that Oppo made its name. The BDP-105D is the latest expression of its philosophy. The brand’s top-line multi-format audio and Blu-ray disc player is, like they say in the car biz, “Loaded, baby!” Like its lower-priced sibling, the BDP-103, the new 105D offers hi-res stereo and multichannel audio, as well as a panoply of cinema surround-sound options like DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. Its Blu-ray video side comes with 4k upscaling and 2D-to-3D conversion, and sports a plethora of inputs and outputs that includes dual HDMI.
However, it is at this point that the BDP-105D diverges from the rest of the Oppo line. Oppo has seen the writing on the wall regarding the decline of the optical disc. In response it has added computer-audio capability to its formidable battery of format firepower. Thus the BDP-105D is a true media player in the most widely expressive sense of the word. Its new, asynchronous USB input, feeding an ESS Sabre32 Reference DAC, now supports PCM audio up to 24-bit/192kHz and DSD in standard rate (DSD64) or double rate (DSD128). Additionally the BDP-105D courts the server/cloud crowd with hi-res network capability, allowing users the option of streaming from an external NAS drive. There is also wireless capability and media support for Tidal, Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, and Rhapsody.
In keeping with its recent entry into the personal-listening market with acclaimed planar-magnetic headphones and headphone amps, Oppo has also included an internal headphone amp, accessible from the front panel via a ¼" input jack. The headphone amplifier is connected directly to the DAC, which offers a unique performance advantage over many stand-alone headphone amplifiers. There’s a nicely graduated volume control on the remote for level control.
The Oppo’s front panel is spacious but spare. The front-loading disc drawer in the center separates the player-control buttons on the right and the fluorescent display on the left. At the bottom right edge of the front panel resides a USB port, an HDMI port, and the headphone jack input.
True to its roots, the BDP-105D also remains a physical media lover’s dream. Beyond DVD, Blu-ray, and Red Book CD with HDCD decoding (quick show of hands—anyone remember Pacific Microsonics?), the Oppo continues to support hi-res formats like DVD-A and SACD. (Dang, I knew I shouldn’t have sold my Donald Fagen Nightfly DVD-A.) Now, I won’t belabor the fact that these two hi-res formats didn’t gain much market traction. (I have never met a non-audiophile who didn’t look at me cross-eyed when I exclaimed, “Wow, did you know this is a hybrid-CD/SACD disc?”) However, the simple fact remains that with a player like the Oppo we can all still enjoy the terrific audio quality of these moribund formats. I do, and in the case of SACD, I continue to add to my modest collection.
After connecting the Oppo directly to my flat panel using the HDMI 1 output, I found the on-screen menus extensive and well laid out. It’s well worth the time getting to know the myriad set-up options and preferences on both the audio and video side. Connectivity on the whole was excellent. Once the unit was linked to my home network via the LAN input, I downloaded the Oppo MediaControl app to my iPad, and it promptly identified my external NAS drive, and wirelessly I was off to the races. The app itself was visually workmanlike, not very sexy, but stable and intuitive to navigate. Personalizing the GUI layout wasn’t in the cards, however—it’s a one-size-fits-all proposition. Operationally, the BDP-105D was a screaming-fast disc loader. SACDs, even data-heavy Blu-ray discs booted up to their respective home pages in well under ten seconds or less.