By William Kallay
How does Oppo Digital continue to make such incredible
SOUND: Excellent on nearly anything you put into
TECH SPECS: 4K upscaling
2-D to 3-D conversion
Qdeo by Marvell
Dual HDMI outputs
USB Asynchronous DAC
SABRE32 Reference Audio DAC
Improved power supply
Plays numerous disc and audio file formats
RELEASE DATE: Fall 2012
REVIEW EQUIPMENT: Vandersteen Model 2ce
Signature II speakers, Onkyo Integra DTR 30.4 receiver, ATI
Amplifier Technologies AT1202 amplifier, HSU STF-1 subwoofer,
Vandersteen VSM surround speakers, MacBook Pro, AudioQuest
Rocket 33 bi-wire, AudioQuest Sidewinder RCA cables,
AudioQuest Mini-5 mini cable, AudioQuest Dragonfly DAC, LG
flat screen LED 3-D television (55-inch)
I am, by most accounts, a person of modest means. Cars with
six figure window stickers don't impress me. My house
doesn't have to be a mansion. I love a good steak as much as
the next person, but a dinner for two for $20 is plenty good
When it comes to electronics, I expect better than usual. Unlike
some lucky listeners, I can't
afford $100,000 turntables and pricey speakers. I wouldn't
spend that kind of money anyway. Yet I refuse to buy cheap
electronics. I don't mind spending more on a piece of
equipment, but I don't want to use my retirement savings to
Oppo Digital has been reading my mind. The BDP-105 is
the company's new flagship, and it is the most remarkable player the company has
yet produced. The Oppo might be more expensive than a
typical universal player, but it's more than worth it.
Because the BDP-105 offers so many features, this is an
extensive review. You may want to grab a cool drink,
kick back, and read about this remarkable universal player.
recommend visiting the
Oppo Digital site for more details on the BDP-105 not
To get the best performance out of the BDP-105, I highly
recommend checking the components and cables in your system.
As you'll read, this is one heck of a piece equipment that
really shows its chops with good audio equipment and cables.
The beauty is that you don't have to sell your house to get
high quality audio and video out of the BDP-105.
Oppo Digital shipped the BDP-105 almost immediately to my
doorstep. It comes beautifully packaged. The unit was tucked
nicely into a canvas bag inside of foam inserts. The
accessories, like the remote and HDMI cable, are housed
inside of a separate box. Worth noting is the high quality
Lifting the player out of the box, I was impressed. This is
no bargain bin Blu-ray player you can buy for under $100.00.
This player means business. Although the BDP-105 is large,
it's easily movable and fits perfectly inside of my
entertainment unit. It's handsomely built with an all black
exterior. The front looks completely cool with minimal lighting, yet
it's entirely user friendly.
Once plugged in, the player lights up and the Oppo logo
comes up on the television screen. Right away, the player's
multiple icons show up on the screen in sharp, colorful
detail. I've always been impressed with Oppo's menus because
they always look good and are easy-to-access. Owners can
also download a remote control app for Apple iOS or Android
Opening the tray with the remote, I was pleased to hear
virtually little sound from the tray. The tray has been
upgraded, thereby keeping discs more steady inside. After
popping in almost any kind of disc I could think of, the
BDP-105 loads the content incredibly fast. During this
review, I did not time the BDP-105 against the Sony
Playstation 3 on loading times, but the Oppo seemed
The Oppo remote seems to have been upgraded. In the past, my
only minor gripe about the Oppo remotes was a limited signal
range. The Playstation 3 remotes I've had contained
Bluetooth. I could change menus on the PS3 through almost
any solid object in my room at different distances. Previous
Oppo remotes wouldn't allow me to do that. The new BDP-105
let me change chapters and songs through an ottoman with no
NEWER THAN NEW
The BDP-105 has been upgraded quite a bit over the former BDP-95. I raved about
that player and would've been totally happy with it for
years to come. Yet Oppo Digital doesn't rest on it laurels,
especially since home theater technology progresses.
The new flagship has 4K upscaling, 2-D to 3-D conversion, a
USB Asynchronous DAC, the incredible
SABRE32 Reference Audio
DAC, and an upgraded toridal transformer. The player is also
fanless. This is a huge plus, as my earlier generation
Playstation 3 was noisy and ran very hot. The BDP-105
is not only silent, but it runs very cool. This is
especially nice during the summer months when I want to
The back panel of the BDP-105 has a very logical and clean
layout. The digital, analog, USB, and XLR two-channel output
jacks are very easy to use. I was able to switch out various
cables in the back without any problems.
All of the Oppo Digital DVD and Blu-ray players I've used
had exemplary picture quality. I upgraded to an LED 3-D
monitor and the BDP-105 demonstrated how well it produces a
stunning picture. Oppo recommends using one HDMI cable for
video, and another for audio to get the best of both worlds.
I used a WireLogic "Sapphire" HDMI cable plugged directly to
my LED, and an AudioQuest "Cinnamon" HDMI cable for sound
plugged directly into my Integra receiver.
Once I switched out an old HDMI cable with the WireLogic
"Sapphire," the picture quality suddenly jumped from very
good to reference level. The combination of the Qdeo chip
used inside the BDP-105 and the "Sapphire" was incredible.
On both film and digital-based movies, I was finally seeing
a lot of detail that had been missing before. Colors were
vibrant and sharpness (if applicable) was popping off the
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" is my all time favorite film and
I've seen it in nearly every film or home video format.
Paramount has done an outstanding job in keeping "Raiders"
looking good with its natural film appearance. In the Cairo
marketplace chase, the bright desert sun shines on Indy and
Marion's face with agreeable definition. The traitor
monkey's eyes glisten as he rats out
Marion. The sweat on Indy's fedora never looked sharper. The
BDP-105 handles good 'ol film transfers with ease.
Keeping within the spirit of fantasy, I played select scenes
from "Beowulf." Director Robert Zemeckis' motion capture
film polarized me and it still does. Part of me admires it,
yet part of me really doesn't like it. As a home theater
demo, it's outstanding. The BDP-105 produced a razor
sharp picture, highlighting both the beauty of the film's
visual effects, while underscoring the flaws of motion
capture and "dead eye" of the characters.
Going with 3-D, I viewed Ridley Scott's return to the
"Alien" universe with "Prometheus." Flawed and yet bold, the
film left me wanting more alien thrills. Visually, the film
is incredible in both 2-D and 3-D. I'm not a fan of watching
movies in 3-D. The format dims the picture
considerably and mutes the colors. It also leaves me with
eye strain. At home on a calibrated monitor, the experience
is much better. Shown from the BDP-105, "Prometheus" looks
gorgeous. The player renders immense detail captured in
Scott's film from the opening title sequence of alien-like
mountains, to the eerie caves of the alien planet. When David (Michael Fassbender) looks into Elizabeth
Shaw's (Noomi Rapace) dreams, the imagery pops out from the screen in
three dimensional detail. It may not be a great movie, but
it looks awesome.
SOUND QUALITY (Blu-ray)
Testing out the BDP-105's audio on movies was a pleasure. It
offers three choices on audio playback with Blu-ray and
DVDs. If you use HDMI, you can choose "LPCM" and let the
Oppo decode the audio, or you can choose "bitstream" and
have your receiver or surround sound processor do the
work. Your third option is to use the analog output on the
BDP-105 and let the
SABRE32 Reference Audio DAC convert the audio.
In my experience with the Oppo, I found that there were
differences in how sound played from the BDP-105. I'm not
sure how other receivers or surround processors "talk" to
the BDP-105, but the Integra handled the Oppo's signal in
its own way. Volume on movie sound played from HDMI with the
"LPCM" option checked, or from the BDP-105's analog output,
sounded low. When I chose bitstream to use the Integra's
DAC, the sound was much louder from HDMI. There was a
three-to-four dBs difference in volume compared to the
Oppo's HDMI (LPCM) or analog output.
Jason Liao of Oppo Digital explains, "The volume
difference between bitstream audio and the LPCM or analog is
most likely caused by the implementation in the AV receiver
or processor. We found quite a few receivers having higher
output level for bitstream input than LCPM or analog input.
When the player outputs LPCM, it outputs whatever is encoded
on the disc without volume adjustment, up to so called 0dBFS
– the maximum volume a digital signal link can carry. It is
up to the device that performs D/A conversion to decide how
much voltage that 0dBFS should be converted to. For the
analog output, we set 2.2Vrms for 0dBFS. This is already 10%
higher than the commonly used 2Vrms de-facto standard."
The BDP-105 and Integra were doing their jobs the way
they're supposed to.
"Iron Man" (2008) is one of the best super hero movies made
in the last few years, but with my old HDMI cable and old
Playstation 3, the movie's soundtrack sounded rather
lifeless. The BDP-105 and a new cable made a world of
difference. Switching to bitstream, "Iron Man" became
considerably louder and was excellent. By default, the
Integra will boost Dolby TrueHD soundtracks by 4dBs, which
is perfectly fine by me. I enjoyed hearing this soundtrack.
I then used HDMI (LPCM) on the BDP-105. I turned up the
volume on the Integra to match the levels of the HDMI
bitstream. All I heard was outstanding audio. The analog
output and the bitstream sounded identical. The Oppo and
Integra have outstanding DACs, so if you have either an
analog preamp or an HDMI compatible receiver, you can't go
wrong. The BDP-105 will accommodate you based on your
"The Police: Certifiable - Live in Buenos Aires" Blu-ray has
a powerful recording of the band's reunion concert. I chose
the two-channel Dolby TrueHD version to hear the BDP-105's
analog output. I jumped out of my chair and I frantically
fumbled for my remote to turn the volume down. The Oppo
produced stunningly clear sound. A good test of a DAC's
ability to render music correctly is by listening to cymbals
from a rock song. A bad DAC, in my experience, will make
cymbal crashes sound tinny and fragmented. Stewart Copeland
hits the cymbals with power throughout the concert and they
sounded natural and free of any jitter. That's a huge plus
to my ears. Regardless of the sound format on Blu-ray, or
choice of output, the BDP-105 played them flawlessly.
SOUND QUALITY (Digital Audio Files)
To find out how the BDP-105 sounded on digital audio files,
I used various digital audio formats. Music files were
transferred from 16-bit compact discs, then copied onto an
external hard drive as WAV files. The hard drive utilized a
standard USB cable. I did not to use a higher end cable for
this review. The hard drive's USB cable was plugged into the
front jack on the BDP-105. I used the Oppo's analog (RCA)
two-channel output into the Integra.
Right away, I was totally impressed by how the BDP-105 lets
the music flow beautifully. Using the player as a DAC, I was
immediately drawn into the music. I've had a number of
compact disc players and DACs over the years and each has
had its own sonic personality. The Oppo gets out of the way
of the music without imposing its own sound, which to my
ears, I much prefer. It simply sounds excellent.
I played some outstanding recordings and the Oppo Digital
did not disappoint me. One of my favorite recordings is
Allison Krauss & Union Station's "So Long, So Wrong" (1997).
The CD was transferred to a hard drive as WAV files. Krauss'
soft voice on many playback units is buried behind the
banjos and guitars. Not so on the BDP-105. Her voice is
clear and beautiful, and the band sounds tight. I don't care
much for country and bluegrass music, but this recording
makes me appreciate the incredible musicianship.
Digging deeper into my eclectic music files, I came across
one hit wonder, Ace, and their song, "How Long." It's one of
my guilty pleasures on a CD, "70s Greatest Rock Hits - FM
Hits, Volume 6" (Priority Records). This is one of those
rare CDs from the early 1990s that actually sounds very
good. Converted into a WAV file, all I can say is, "Wow!"
Played through the Oppo, it sounds so good. The bass line
is simply addictive and Paul Carrack's lead vocals are
incredible. I can even hear the hiss of analog tape in the
opening bass line.
"Message In A Box" is a compilation of nearly every song
recorded by The Police. Released in 1993, the sound quality
of this "remastered" set was always underwhelming on my past
sound systems. As much as I love listening to The Police, it
has always been difficult to listen to this set. It was
almost as if it was filtered with heavy noise reduction.
Thankfully, the BDP-105 gives the WAV files a lot more life,
making them sound a whole lot better than before. Almost all
of the recordings sounded wonderful. I won't say that the
compilation's sound rivals the original LPs, SACDs and
remastered 2007 CD in my collection, but the sound is much
I mention poorly mastered recordings to point out that
BDP-105 will make everything sound as good as possible. As
with the previous Oppo Digital flagships (BDP-83SE and
BDP-95), the BDP-105 can only bring out what is on the audio
file or disc. If the recording sounds poor in the first
place, the BDP-105 is going to play it as it sounds. If the
recording or re-mastering is bright or overly compressed,
the BDP-105 will showcase those flaws.
Getting back to excellent sounding recordings, The Beatles
"Stereo USB" features the group's albums in their entirety
on a tiny USB stick. Presented here as FLAC files, the
entire catalog sounds incredible. I was generally pleased
with the CDs released in 2009, but the FLAC files blow them
If there is one minor "gripe" about the BDP-105, it does not
allow for continuous or gapless playback on songs. Select
tracks on "Abbey Road," for instance, segue into each other
with a natural flow. I used to have the LP version of "Abbey
Road" and one of the joys was listening to side two. Most of
that side's songs blend with one another. The BDP-105 allows
for the USB to contain a slight, but unnatural gap between
songs. I didn't have an opportunity to try it, but this can
probably be bypassed by using software that has gapless
SOUND QUALITY (Compact Discs)
Diving into my now ancient compact disc collection, I kept
the spirit of Sting's songwriting in play. "Nothing Like The
Sun" (1987) was Sting's second solo album after The Police.
I recall that the album was criticized for being
too dark and somber. As a young adult, I was going
through the heartache of a girlfriend who dumped me, so the
album had an impact on my young psyche. I hadn't listened to
it for years and to my surprise, the album still has an
impact on different levels outside of failed young love.
Unfortunately, the sound of the original 1987 CD is abysmal
on almost any CD player I've had.
It has never sounded good. Much to my delight, the BDP-105
gave this recording some much needed life. I know the
original recording sounds excellent, as I've heard
remastered versions of "Englishman in New York" and
"Fragile." All I can say is that the BDP-105 made this album
SOUND QUALITY (SACD)
"JT" was James Taylor's 1977 album that turned the folksy singer into a
true pop star. "Your Smiling Face"
and "Handyman" were instant hits on the radio. Mobile
Fidelity remastered "JT" and on my old SACD player, the sound of the album was underwhelming. In fact, most of the Mobile
Fidelity SACDs in my collection sounded this way. I guess I
expected Taylor's voice and his band to resonate out of my speakers.
The sound was subdued and the album didn't sound remastered
to my ears.
To compare, the 2004 Elton John SACDs sounded like they had
more heft. Perhaps the Elton John SACDs were simply remixed
at a higher volume and I was perceiving "better sound."
Nonetheless, I've always enjoyed the Elton John SACDs. I didn't
enjoy the Mobile Fidelity discs as much.
Once I changed out some components in my audio system and installed the Oppo Digital
BDP-105, what a difference the tweaks made. At the same
volume as Elton John's "Captain Fantastic and the Dirt Brown
Cowboy" SACD, "JT" suddenly sounded right. The dynamics of
this excellent recording came alive. The sound was better balanced and opened up. His
voice resonated, the band sounded great, and I got back into
his music. The same held true for the other Mobile Fidelity
titles in my SACD collection.
The BDP-105 can play music via HDMI. I listened to select tracks from Analogue
Productions' "The Nat King Cole Story" on SACD. This is a
splendid remastering and on a modest sound system like
mine, Nat's voice should have presence within the room. You
should be able to hear the depth of not only his voice, but
of the musicians spread across the sound stage. The BDP-105
via HDMI doesn't disappoint. Using the BDP-105 via HDMI,
with LPCM selected in the player's menu, the sound was very
engaging. Nat's voice caught my attention.
The BDP-105 can also output DSD directly to a receiver or
surround sound processor that can decode it. The Onkyo
Integra DTR-30.4 used for this review decoded DSD* without a
hitch. I was surprised that HDMI sounded identical to the
analog output on the BDP-105. The addition of a new HDMI
cable really made a difference. I was very pleased with what
I was hearing from the BDP-105.
OPPO VERSUS THE DRAGONFLY
Finally, in reviewing the BDP-105, I was intrigued with how
it compared to the AudioQuest DragonFly DAC. This little
device has an ESS
chip and contains Gordon Rankin's Streamlength asynchronous technology.
Plugged into my MacBook Pro with Pure Music software to
upconvert my 16-bit audio files to 24/96, I was immediately
impressed with the DragonFly's ability to render clear,
beautiful music. For only $249.00, the
little DragonFly is excellent.
Because the BDP-105 offers different ways to use its DAC, I
experimented with three methods. I used Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" WAV files
from my external hard drive plugged into the BDP-105. That
same audio file was copied onto my MacBook Pro and I played
it through the DragonFly. I also plugged in an AudioQuest
USB cable from the Mac into the back of the BDP-105. All
music from the Mac went through Pure Music software.
"Signe" opens the album with the crowd clapping and Clapton
warming up with his band. It's one of those recordings that
instantly captures your audio attention. Once the
instrumental begins, the sound becomes magical. The guitars
are engaging and there is quite a lot of bass coming from
behind the guitars. I first listened to the song through the
DragonFly and it sounded incredibly good.
Playing the same song from the Mac through its USB output
into the Oppo produced identical sound. Both the DragonFly
and BDP-105 contain ESS DAC chips and asynchronous
technology. I went back-and-forth between both DACs and I
made sure that the settings in Pure Music were correct. The
DragonFly and BDP-105 sounded exactly alike in this
particular set up. Then I went back to my initial impression
of playing WAV files directly from the external hard drive
into the Oppo.
When I played the song directly from the external hard drive
into the BDP-105, it was as if the song got a turbo boost.
Listening to the song, I noticed a few things. "Signe" now had
more control and confidence. There was less congestion in
the sound of the guitars playing. Bass had more presence and
power. Music was much more engaging directly through the
Oppo's DAC. In my experience with the DragonFly versus the
BDP-105, the Oppo pulled ahead with both grace and
I may not hang out with the country club set, but the
BDP-105 makes me feel rich. I can playfully scoff at their
six-figure speakers and turntables layered in gold. Spend
your thousands on equipment, if you must. No sir. Not me.
Right here in my living room is a stunning piece of
electronic brilliance called the Oppo Digital BDP-105. It
gives me pristine picture quality, superb audiophile sound,
awesome user menus, and hours of enjoyment. Best of all,
I've got enough change left over for dinner and a romantic
movie to watch with my honey.
Special thanks to Jason Liao, Oppo Digital, and Richard
Photo: © Oppo Digital. All rights
In order to utilize DSD, use the "HDMI Out 2" jack on the