Moving on, the BDP-105 uses a beefy toroidal power supply and provides both 7.1-channel analog audio outputs plus two separate sets of stereo analog outputs (one single- ended and the other fully balanced). Interestingly, the BDP-105 (like the BDP-95) features not one but rather two costly 8-channel ESS Sabre32 Reference DACs, one to feed the 7.1-channel outputs and the other to feed the two sets of stereo outputs. ESS’s Sabre32 Reference DACs are used in some very pricey components, making it impressive that Oppo fits two of the devices into its sub-$1200 player.
Another new touch is that the BDP-105 provides a built- in headphone amp that runs straight off one of the player’s ESS Sabre32 Reference DACs. While the headphone amp offers relatively modest output, it has the undeniable benefit of being fed directly from one of the Oppo’s ESS Sabre32 Reference DACs, so that it gives listeners an unusually pure, uncluttered, intimate, and up-close perspective on the music (precisely what you would want for monitoring applications, for example). I found the Oppo headphone amp had more than enough output to drive moderately sensitive headphones such as the HiFiMAN HE-400s or PSB M4U1s, though it might not have sufficient “oomph” for more power-hungry top-tier ’phones (for instance, the HiFiMAN HE-6).
While the original BDP-95 offered a reasonable range of Internet-content options and could play digital audio files from USB storage devices or eSATA drives, it was never set up to function as multi-input playback device or as a high- resolution audio DAC. The 105 changes all this by offering a greatly expanded range of general-purpose inputs, including two HDMI inputs (one that is faceplate-accessible and MHL- compatible) and three USB 2.0 ports (one that is faceplate- accessible). Moreover, the BDP-105 also provides three dedicated DAC inputs: two S/PDIF inputs (one coaxial, one optical), plus one asynchronous USB input. Finally, to complete the connectivity picture the new player provides both Ethernet and Wi-Fi network connections implemented, respectively, through a rear panel-mounted RJ-45 connector and a handy USB Wi-Fi dongle.
To take full advantage of these network-connection options, the BDP-105 offers DLNA compatibility, complete with support for DMP (Digital Media Player) and DMR (Digital Media Renderer) protocols. In practice, this means the BDP-105 can access audio, picture, and video files stored on DLNA-compatible digital media servers (that is, personal computers or network-attached storage devices) that share a common network with the Oppo within your home.
From this technical overview, you can see that the BDP-105 is an extraordinarily flexible source component, but for most audiophiles the key question is, and always will be, “How does it sound?” Let’s focus on that question next.
From the outset, the BDP-105 struck me as being a very high- resolution player—one that made child’s play of digging way down deep within recordings to retrieve small, essential pieces of musical information that helped convey a sense of realism. To hear what I mean, try the track “O Vazio” from the Jim Brock Ensemble on Jazz Kaleidoscope—a sampler disc (in HDCD format) from Reference Recordings. Throughout this track the Oppo did a stunning job of rendering the distinctive attack and action of each of the instruments in the ensemble (accordion, bass, drum kit, guitar, trumpet, winds, and other more exotic percussion instruments), giving them a commanding sense of presence with precisely focused placement within a wide, deep, three-dimensional soundstage. In particular, the 105 showed terrific speed and agility on the leading edges of notes (especially on the drums), rendering them with the sort of clarity and impact that reminded me of the sound of far more costly players.