I’m embarrassed to admit that it crossed my mind that this player could be a jack-of-all-trades and a master-of-none. Thankfully, that thought couldn’t have been further from the truth. The sonic character of the Oppo was persuasively musical with all media. It conveyed a slightly cooler sound—one that placed a greater priority on catching the leading-edge transients of wind instruments—but was of a refinement that consistently wore well throughout my listening sessions. The extension of Edgar Meyer’s acoustic bass was weighty with resonance and good pitch definition. During Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” there was a hint of added bloom to the kettledrums and bass drum but overall the player’s control and grip remained solid. Its SACD performance maintained a clear sonic advantage over well-recorded Red Book discs by permitting micro-dynamics to emerge, enlivening tonal color, expanding ambient space, and breathing more timbral realism into the bass. Compared to a top-notch player like the dCS Puccini, the Oppo narrowly missed the mark in its noise floor and its ability to reproduce the physical dimensions of a venue. There was just a hint of digital sheen that glossed over inner detail and reduced the tactile elements of musical instruments—sonic cues like the skin of a kettledrum.
Functioning as a media player over my home network, the BDP-105D stepped up its game considerably by digging into high-resolution PCM titles like The Eagles’ Hotel California and Yes’ 90125 with a harmonic ease and dynamic pop and explosiveness that CD playback couldn’t match. During “Hotel California,” it captured the personality of the flexing drumhead from Don Henley’s loosely tuned tom fills and the ringing drone strings from the lead 12-string acoustic. On Yes’ “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” a track filled with ear-popping acoustic and electric contrasts and channel-pinging effects, the sound cues were pristinely defined and layered. A couple of other noteworthy sonic impressions would be the Oppo’s ability to reproduce tiny volume gradations from the delicate hi-hat figures that open Shelby Lynne’s “Just A Little Lovin’” or the fragility of a concert harp or triangle or the pastel colors from a mark tree. Still, in comparison to the more costly dedicated media player like the Cary Audio DMS-500 (review forthcoming), the BDP-105D didn’t capture the full spatiality of a recording, such as the air flaring outward from a crash cymbal, or fully differentiate the subtle timbral distinctions of an electric bass and a kick-drum beat.
The headphone amp was musically solid and satisfied the extended demands of the Audeze LCD-X and the less finicky HiFiMan Edition X planar-magnetic designs I had on hand. The sound was quick, extended and tonally neutral. During Vanessa Fernandez’s cover of Led Zepplin’s “The Lemon Song,” the Oppo slightly attenuated the bottom-end air and skin impact of Jim Keltner’s anchoring kick-drum patterns, and the articulation of the acoustic steel vamp was less individuated. During the Rutter Requiem there was also a sense that the boundaries of the venue were closed in, and the vast chorus and hall ambience sounded somewhat congested as a result. Finally, the BDP-105D couldn’t quite match the crystalline resolution and depth of focus of a stand-alone headphone amp like the formidable Pass Labs HPA-1, but as is the case with most of my observations about the flexible Oppo player, the unit performed far better than a typical pre-packaged headphone amp.
For the cineastes among us, Oppo equips the BDP-105D with Darbee Visual Enhancement or DVP. Although TAS doesn’t cover video technology per se, as a movie enthusiast I would be remiss in failing to lend my own seat-of-the-pants impressions of the Oppo with and without DVP. While purists might think of this enhancement in the same way that audiophiles fret about the use of tone controls, DVP, as I understand, is not to be confused with the broader brushstrokes typical of television’s global sharpness or contrast controls. We’ve all experienced the pronounced digital artifacts these leave in their wake. DVP is said to be a great deal more measured and to operate narrowly on a pixel-by-pixel basis. Indeed it does sharpen picture detail where it appears to need sharpening, gently refocusing soft, mushy backgrounds and strengthening edge detail. Since it’s easy to adjust or disengage using the on-screen menu, I tended to use it selectively. You can overdo it, but applied conservatively it’s a nifty tool in the Oppo’s set-up box.
For the devotee who likes his audio/video just like he likes his pizza—with everything on it—the BDP-105D makes quite an impression. Of course, depending on your tastes and listening habits, Oppo’s “everything and the kitchen sink” approach may not appeal. However, if you’re looking to regain control of an unruly system while adding A/V formats (old school and new), Oppo’s affordable, one-box, crossover solution should get a lot of enthusiasts’ mouths watering.
Specs & Pricing
Inputs: Digital, one USB-B, two USB-A, one HDMI, one coaxial, one optical
Outputs: Digital, two HDMI; analog; 7.1-channel RCA, stereo RCA and XLR
Formats: PCM up to 24-bit/192kHz, SACD, DSD64/128, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital
Dimensions: 16.8" x 12.2" x 4.8"
Weight: 17.3 lbs.
OPPO DIGITAL, INC.
2629 Terminal Blvd., Suite B
Mountain View, CA 94043