Ken Krisel Subwoofers

I had a chance to listen to the Ken Kreisel Subwoofers subs recently, thanks to the warm welcome of some friends and also watch a couple of bass gurus at work.

They were also very kind enough to give a tutorial on bass, mid bass, and many other things.

They now belong in my Hall of Wow... along with some other speakers I have heard.

Just a pair of 8" ones, set up properly can give a very solid punch. That's in the higher frequencies than I expected, going up to 240 Hz, which was not what I had expected.

They exhibit speed and slam, and will be very impressive in our small homes.

If that's all you desire, then they will be able to show their superiority to some of our traditional favorites from Hsu, SVS, and even Rhythmik and JL Audio in this aspect.




In the same room we also had the JL Audio F 113, and it was a different kind of sub.

The JL Audio digs deeper, and gives that awesome rumble still, but will lose out in speed and because it can dig so deep, their mid bass and punch isn't able to keep up.

However shifting the JL Audio away from walls will help ameliorate their lower bass and give the mid bass a chance to shine. This can be combined with elevating the sub above the floor onto some solid stands or very heavy support, preferably the same weight as the JL Audio F 113 themselves.

Likewise, many of the traditional killer ID subs will dig deeper, but I suspect will also be lesser impressive than these newcomers in the punch factor.

So should you run out and buy them immediately?

Well, the main drawback is very simple:

One of these costs USD 1995. And for that special punch, you will be buying two or four of them. That places them in the premium category. And you can buy a few SVS, Hsu, Velodyne or Rhythmik subs for the cost of the small 8" subs. If you opt for the 12" ones, the cost is even higher.

So they are indeed impressive, but for those with smaller pockets, be happy with the other brands, especially the Hsu and Rhythmik family, which give very decent VFM.

 http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/subwoofers/subwoofers-reviews/ken-kreisel-dxd-12012-dual-12-push-pull-subwoofer.html



I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

As One - Korean Movie review

 As One - Korean Movie review


I like table-tennis and sports movies in general, and this combines the two into a movie based on a real story of the two Koreas, North and South combining in 1993 for the World Championships..






It's a simple premise, of two unlikely partners, so close and yet so different. The movie takes us through the throes of these foes, forced by political reasons to work together to defeat the mighty Chinese juggernaut, and bring home the gold medal.

A touching movie with plenty of action, which I suspect was CGI, but it brought back memories of the battle of the Chinese involving Singapore and the PRC in the recent Olympics.

Recommended for all Table Tennis fans and you don't need to know Korean to appreciate this movie.





I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Key of Life – movie review


Key of Life –

鍵泥棒のメソッド / Kagi Dorobo no Mesotdo




This is a Japanese comedy which garnered much praise in Japan, and even if you do not understand Japanese, and have to rely on the subtitles, it is a movie that you may want to consider.

The plot is relatively simply to begin with. A hitman loses his memory after a fall in a public bath, and a loser part-time actor capitalizes on the situation and tries to assume his identity. This is complicated by a magazine editor, who has set herself a goal of finding a husband in two months.

There is more than meets the eye to the hitman, and he and the editor begin an unlikely relationship, and it is complicated by the people who want someone dead, those who are supposed to be dead and those who want to avoid being dead.

The flow is rather good, and the choice of actors is impeccable, with a stone hard faced Teruyuki Kagawa playing the hitman in question, whilst the buffoon is played by Masato Sakai to perfection. And of course the lovely Ryoko Hirosue, who is still one of the hottest Japanese actresses in the land…

There is a series of misadventures, and you wonder if the classy, slightly stiff and romanced challenged Ryoko will get her man, and will the hitman continue his ways or will the goofy actor assume his identity.

Realism takes a back seat in some aspects, but there is a warmth and fun in this show with plenty of funny scenes.

If you are looking to get away from the typical American rom-com, this is a different take on this genre and is worth a rental or more likely a keeper if you are a fan of Ryoko.

Good to see her back in action.



I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Finding A Friend For The End Of The World




This one was another show which is outside of my usual Micheal Bay-esque actioner, but it was an interesting viewing at 4 am in the morning across the oceans.

Steve Carrell plays another 40-ish man whose wife leaves him and then he decides that he wants to go meet his first love.

However the main kicker is that this show is set in the last days of the earth. In a scenario not unlike Armageddon, a large meteor is about to end life on earth. In three weeks time, to be exact, at the beginning of the show.

So he journeys across USA looking for his first love, and he travels with a hypersomniac in the form of the Kiera Knightly, who looks very different from her Pirate days.

Their travails form the main part of the story, as they look for old long lost parents, loved ones in the midst of an interesting portrayal of how people would be in the midst of impending doom.

An interesting vignette is that of his cleaning lady, who doggedly continues her weekly cleaning of his apartment, even as definite doom and destruction approach. This certainly contrasts to the mayhem as others find it easier to go about their last days with wild abandon.

It’s supposed to be a romantic movie, so this part of the movie isn’t as fleshed out as one would like, say as in an apocalyptic kind of movie.

Nevertheless, portraying love amidst such doom is an interesting plot and makes for at least one viewing.

There is genuine depth in the acting, although the viewer continues to struggle to see Kiera and Steve as an unlikely doomsday couple.

A bit unrealistic, but it still has it's appeal to the romantic at heart..

The Odd Life of Timothy Green – movie review





Something make you feel good, leaving a warm fuzzy feeling inside of you, such as chocolate, a warm glass of milk, lying in a pile of autumn or a good old Disney movie. Disney movies are meant leave you with this at the end of the show.

The last movie I saw with this was “Up” and of the live action ones, I recall “The Rookie”. And Timothy Green comes in the same genre.

Stanleyville, a non-descript little town in the middle of nowhere, with a population of 5197 forms the backdrop of this story, and it’s mainly famous for making pencils.

A close-knit couple lives in it. Cindy works at the pencil museum, and Jim at the factory. They long for a kid, but have no success at this. Then comes Timothy, after they had written down what they hope to experience with the kid, and bury those notes in a wooden box in the garden. Timothy springs to life all grown up at 10 years old and he is full of life, albeit a spry wiry frame one. And he has leaves growing on his legs.

He brings the Green family together, allows his new found family to fulfill their wish of a kid, and adds much more to the extended Green family.  He even meets a girl..

Does all of this sound too far fetched? Well if you want realism, this might not be a good movie to watch, but it is played very well by all the actors, and they bring to life this simple yet delicately warm story of how a little boy sprang to life and touched everyone around him so positively.

This movie will withstand quite a few viewings, and as you can expect, it’s low on chick factor and action, but it is such a sweet story that you can quite easily suspend disbelief and just soak in the warm joy of celebrating the joy he brings to all in the movie.

I recommend this for a quiet night, when you just need something to pick you up.


Red Light – movie review




Sigourney Weaver plays a psychology professor who specializes in debunking those who claim they have powers or abilities to heal, predict the future or have special mental powers.

Robert De Niro plays her nemesis, a sharp and dark power who claims he truly has special powers and in the course of the movie is willing to be subject to tests to prove his powers.

The premise is decent, but the plot pacing is slow, and the kicker at the end comes too late.

This is a more unusual movie, which doesn’t seem to be sure whether it wants to be a dramatic movie or a suspense thriller. And despite the presence of some heavyweights, they can’t quite save the movie from being a rental movie at best.

To Rome with Love – movie review



To Rome with Love – movie review




Firstly I must declare that when I watched this, I thought of a friend, who goes by the nickname of WEB, yes you bro, when  I saw this show.

Woody Allen is famous for using foreign locales for his shows, and he adds a sterling cast to the main protagonist in this movie: Rome.

This is a romantic comedy, and it’s set in the perfect city for such a yarn. The city has a real old world charm, and is the venue for the intertwining lives of 4 couples, and brace of other characters, as we observe their lives in this city.

We have a visiting girl who falls in love with not only the city, but a Roman, and his parents, including his father who just happens to sing beautifully in the shower. Then there are the girl’s parents, and Alec Baldwin, who plays this architect that bumps into a young American, who just happens to be staying at where he was too, many years ago when he was young.

The young man stays with his girlfriend, and they are happily in love, that is, until her girlfriend’s good friend turns up and she is strange, exotic and hot, all at the same time…

Next, there is a young Italian couple who comes to Rome for their honeymoon, and also to look for a job with his uppity relatives. He is shy and reserved, like a typical image of what we think an engineer is, and his wife, who on the surface is a Madonna, but in reality has plenty of repressed sexual urges. They both get into interesting situations with members of the opposite sex, all in a single afternoon.

Finally there is the average Italian family with Mr Leopoldo, who plays a middle class and we are told he is the epitome of boring, and staid. His life is turned upside down when he is suddenly transformed into a celebrity.

In between we have Woody and Judy Davis playing the young American girl’s parents, and Woody applies his directing and creative touch to this to spin a yarn about love, fidelity, opera and repressed desires.

Does each one of them get what they want? Well you have to watch the movie to find out, and I have no spoilers here for you.

The plot is relatively simple, yet with enough twists to get you involved. There are plenty of trysts, but no R-rated actual action is seen. The humor is very Woody which can polarize you into those are fans, and those who aren’t too fond of his brand of humor. Think Mighty Aphrodite, or even the recent Night in Paris movie for an idea of what the flavor is like.

I am not too fond of the infidelity on display, but others may see it as part of the plot.

There is plenty of good chemistry and a very nice mixture of young and older talent on display, and their work very well together to form a good yarn with many good scenes of Rome in the background, enough I dare say to make one feel like getting onto a plane right away bound for Rome. I dare say that this movie will work better than anything the tourist promotion board of Rome can conjure up.

There is no action, such is the genre, but the chick factor is high, and the curvy and hot Penelope Cruz plays a prostitute with great aplomb, and there is plenty of other eye candy around. The dialogue is snappy, albeit half in Italian, but it’s easy enough to follow.

If you are a fan of Woody’s work, this is a keeper, but if you are a casual viewer, it is still worth a rental to see if you like his style.



I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Oppo BDP 103 - audio performance


I have previously given my initial impression of the player, and this is a more in depth review of the audio performance, mainly using the RCA analogue outputs of the player.

You can read up about the specs of the DACs in the Oppo from their website:

http://www.oppodigital.com/blu-ray-bdp-103/ 

The DAC is the same as the BDP-93, the Cirrus Logic CS4382A (8-ch, 24-bit, 192khz).

For the purpose of the audio test:


Partnering equipment:

Musical Fidelity A 5.5 stereo amplifier
B &W 805s speakers
Audioquest Sky cables

I used a combination of Cds and SACDs:

Diana Krall’s The Girl In The Other Room SACD; Peter White’s Playin' Favorites CD  and Oshio Kotaro’s Hand to Hand CD.

These discs are well recorded and have excellent tracks with bass, good mids and resolution.

As a CD player in analogue, you can compare it against CD players around the $3-600 range or basically one that will cost around half it’s selling price. As a transport to the AV amp, if you have a AV amp with a solid DAC and amplifier section it will be quite competent. But make no mistake, you won’t be expecting this unit to sound as good as a CD player costing the same amount.

The sound you get is fairly neutral, with no hint of warmth, slowness and neither will it be treble happy, so what you put into it will be the kind of sound you get out of it. There is a certain dryness to it, but it won’t make violins excessive screechy. The bass is impressive and tight.


The imaging is stable, and the soundstage is dead centre, with good separation and depth. Resolution is decent, but again, we are comparing it to the budget CD players on the market.

So if you have a decent Home Theatre system, that has pretty good speakers and a musical amplifier which won’t embarrass your CD collection, and now you want better music playback for not too much outlay, then this Oppo could be what you are looking for.

Basically, you get a very solid Blu Ray player, with a decent transport that will also handle your CDs, SACDs, DVD-As, and even songs on external media quite nicely. And it does all this within a single package.


I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Oppo BDP-103 review

 
Oppo BDP 103 review

This is a review of a new freshly minted Oppo BDP 103 unit, and I have no financial interest in it, nor do I work for Oppo or any related company.

First the technical blurb off the official Oppo Website:




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I have highlighted the interesting bits in RED.

High Definition Video and Audio from All Sources.

The BDP-103 represents a marked evolution in OPPO's design and engineering. New to this model are exciting features such as 4k video up-scaling, 2D to 3D conversion, dual HDMI inputs and MHL compatibility. A new dual-core System-on-Chip processor delivers quick startup and fast disc loading speed. With improved network streaming applications and an enriched media playback interface, the BDP-103 is a versatile player that delivers quality picture and premium sound.
Features
Diversified Media Support:

  • Blu-ray Disc - The high definition Blu-ray Disc™ format provides pristine video and audio quality for your home entertainment.
  • Blu-ray 3D – Experience high definition in all new dimensions. The BDP-103 supports the Blu-ray 3D specifications and is fully compatible with Blu-ray 3D discs1.
  • 2D to 3D Conversion – Take your standard DVD, Blu-ray, and other video content to the next dimension by converting them into 3D with the simple press of a button. The BDP-103 can also adjust the depth and eye convergence levels to suit your personal preference.
  • SACD - The BDP-103 plays Super Audio CD (SACD) and supports both stereo and multi-channel high resolution audio programs. Users can select whether to output the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) signal in its native format or convert it into PCM.
  • DVD-Audio - The BDP-103 plays DVD-Audio and supports both stereo and multi-channel high resolution audio programs. Users can select whether to play the DVD-Audio or the DVD-Video portion of the disc.
  • Netflix Instant Streaming - Instantly watch TV shows & movies streaming from Netflix3. Netflix "Just For Kids" is a special selection of kid-friendly TV episodes & movies for younger viewers. It is included with your Netflix unlimited streaming membership. Selected titles support features including 1080p video, 5.1ch audio, subtitles and alternative audio languages.
  • VUDU HD Movie Streaming - Stream thousands of movies instantly the day-and-date they are released on DVD/Blu-ray in stunning 1080p video, rich 7.1 surround audio and even in 3D2.
  • Pandora Internet Radio - Personalized music streaming using the Music Genome Project, staying true to their mission: "Playing only the music you'll love".4
  • Comprehensive Internet Streaming - In addition to Netflix, VUDU and Pandora, the BDP-103 provides access to popular entertainment network services from Film Fresh, YouTube Leanback and Picasa, with more to come.
  • BD-Live & BonusVIEW - The BDP-103 supports BD-Live™ (Profile 2.0) and contains all necessary hardware - audio/video decoder, Ethernet and wireless networking, and 1GB of internal storage - for BD-Live. It also supports BonusVIEW (Profile 1.1) enabling "picture-in-picture" and audio features for viewing director or actor commentary while the main movie is playing.
  • Additional Disc & Media Formats - Additional disc and file formats, such as DVD, audio CD, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD, AVCHD, MP4, AVI, MKV and other audio/video/picture files on recorded discs or USB drives can be played back on the BDP-103. The BDP-103 fully supports high-resolution lossless WAV and FLAC audio formats.5

Unparalleled Video Quality:

  • Qdeo by Marvell - The BDP-103 incorporates Marvell's Kyoto-G2H video processor with the latest generation Qdeo™ technology. Qdeo video processing delivers a truly immersive viewing experience by rendering quiet natural video free of noise and artifacts for all types of content. For high-quality Blu-ray content, the BDP-103 faithfully reproduces the program just as the director intended; for DVD, the up-converted picture quality bridges the visual gap from your current DVD library to Blu-ray discs; for network streaming and user-encoded content at a variety of formats and quality, the BDP-103 offers enhancement options including video noise reduction, compression artifact reduction, intelligent color, contrast, detail and edge enhancements. To learn more about the Qdeo video processing technology, please read the Qdeo Extended Technology Brief.
  • 4K Up-scaling - Enhance the home theater experience with four times the resolution of Full HD 1080p by up-scaling all video sources to 4K (3840 x 2160) output resolution.
  • DVD Up-Conversion - Per-pixel motion-adaptive de-interlacing and advanced scaling transform the standard definition image on DVDs to high definition output on your TV. Additional Qdeo video processing options help to deliver a clearer, smoother, and more true-to-life picture free of noise and artifacts.
  • Full HD 1080p Output - The BDP-103 features user selectable video output resolutions, including 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, and 4K.
  • True 24p™ Video - Many Blu-ray Discs are recorded at 24 frames per second, the same frame rate as the original movie's theatrical release. The BDP-103 can faithfully redeliver the original frames using 1080p 24Hz output (compatible display required) for smoother motion and a flicker-free, film-like home theater experience. It can also restore the original 24 frames per second progressive-scan video from well-authored DVDs and output 1080p 24Hz.
  • Source Direct Mode - For users who wish to use an external video processor, the BDP-103 offers a "Source Direct" mode. The original audio/video content on the discs is sent out with no additional processing or alteration.
  • Multiple Zoom Modes - The BDP-103 supports multiple levels of aspect ratio control and image zooming. Users can watch a movie in its original aspect ratio, fit to the full screen, or zoom in to remove the black bars on some titles.
  • Vertical Stretch Mode - For customers with a 2.35:1 CIH (Constant Image Height) display system, the player's zoom options include a vertical stretch mode to work nicely with an anamorphic lens. A unique subtitle shift feature allows the user to move the subtitle up and down, making it possible to see all subtitle text when using a 2.35:1 CIH display.
  • Advanced Picture Control - Users can have fine control of brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, sharpness, noise reduction, color and contrast enhancements.  The player can remember and apply three custom picture control modes to suit a variety of viewing conditions and content types.

High Fidelity Audio:

  • Dolby® TrueHD - Dolby TrueHD delivers lossless studio master quality audio designed specifically for high definition entertainment.  The BDP-103 supports bit-stream output of Dolby TrueHD via its HDMI 1.4a output. It can also internally decode Dolby TrueHD into LPCM and output via HDMI or the 7.1ch analog audio output terminals. Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus audio formats are also supported.
  • DTS-HD Master Audio™ - DTS-HD Master Audio delivers an auditory experience that matches the lifelike images of high-definition video with up to 7.1 channels that are bit-for-bit identical to the studio master. The BDP-103 supports bit-stream output of DTS-HD Master Audio. It can also internally decode DTS-HD Master Audio and output via HDMI or the 7.1ch analog audio output terminals. (DTS-HD High Resolution Audio and DTS Digital Surround are also supported.)
  • 7.1-Channel Analog Output - Individual analog 7.1-channel surround outputs are ideal to connect to a 7.1-channel or 5.1-channel surround sound system. The BDP-103 delivers an incredible sound stage and an immersive surround experience. For users with stereo speakers, the 7.1-channel analog output can be configured to a stereo down-mix mode.
  • Digital Optical and Coaxial Outputs - For simple and easy connection to more traditional A/V receivers, the BDP-103 features both optical and coaxial outputs for digital audio.
  • Rigid Chassis Construction - Built around a steel chassis, aluminum faceplate, and center-mounted disc loader, the BDP-103 is designed to impress as well as to provide a stable base for the highest quality reproduction of your favorite media.

Ultimate Convenience:

  • Dual HDMI Outputs – Two HDMI v1.4a output ports are provided to offer the most versatile installation options to both older and newer HDMI equipment. You do not have to upgrade your A/V receiver to a 3D model in order to enjoy 3D. One HDMI output of the BDP-103 can be connected to a 3D TV and the other can be connected to a pre-3D HDMI v1.1-1.3 A/V receiver. For projector users, you can connect one output to a projector for home theater use and the other to a TV for casual viewing. For a multi-room installation the BDP-103 can output audio and video to two 3D or 2D TVs simultaneously.
  • Dual HDMI Inputs – Connect external devices such as set-top boxes and network streaming devices to take further advantage of the excellent audio and video processing functions by the BDP-103. The BDP-103 offers two HDMI inputs, one on the front and one on the back.
  • MHL Input – Simplify connecting smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices to the home theater by using the MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) input port of the BDP-103. Display high resolution pictures, 1080p video and listen to pure digital music all while simultaneously charging the connected mobile device. The front HDMI input port of the BDP-103 doubles as the MHL input.
  • Wireless & Ethernet – Using the included wireless-N adapter or the built-in RJ45 Ethernet port, users will be able to interact with BD-Live content, watch instant streaming programs from providers such as Netflix or VUDU, playback contents stored on their home network, and keep the BDP-103 up-to-date with firmware releases to ensure maximum Blu-ray compatibility.
  • Triple USB Ports - Three USB 2.0 high speed ports are provided, one on the front panel and two on the back. Users can enjoy high definition video, high resolution photos and music directly from their USB drives.
  • PAL/NTSC Conversion - The BDP-103 supports NTSC and PAL systems for both disc playback and video output. It can also convert content of one system for output in another. (Subject to DVD and BD region restrictions.)
  • Back-lit Remote Control - The BDP-103 comes with a fully back-lit remote control for ease of use in dark home theaters. With its ergonomic button layout and clear labeling, operating the Blu-ray Disc player is easier than ever.
  • Universal Power Supply - The BDP-103 features a wide-range world power supply that is compatible with AC power from all regions. No worries about damaging the player due to incorrect power voltage.
  • External IR - For integration into home theater control systems, the BDP-103 provides an external IR IN port to use with an IR distribution system.
  • RS232 Control - For custom installation, the BDP-103 offers an RS232 control port with a rich control and communication protocol. Installers can easily program their favorite control systems to operate the BDP-103.
  • Remote Control Apps – For additional user convenience, the BDP-103 can be operated using remote control apps running on compatible smartphone and tablet devices. The remote control app for Android is already available. An app for Apple iOS devices is coming soon.
  • HDMI CEC - HDMI Consumer Electronics Control simplifies the home theater by allowing a single remote control to operate multiple devices.
  • Gracenote MusicID® and VideoID™ - By connecting to Gracenote's global media database over the Internet, the BDP-103 can offer an enriched playback experience by displaying Cover Art, Title, Artist, Genre and other media information for CD, DVD, Blu-ray and a wide range of digital media files.
  • DMP & DMR - Digital Media Player (DMP) and Digital Media Renderer (DMR) features enables wired or wireless access of audio, picture, and video files stored on DLNA-compatible digital media servers such as a computer or network storage device (NAS).
  • SMB/CIFS Access - The BDP-103 comes with an experimental feature that can access video, audio and picture files shared by computers on the local network via the Server Message Block (SMB) or Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocols.

Notes:
1Requires proper 3D television and glasses.
2Service available in the United States only. A VUDU user account is required to rent or buy movies and TV shows.
3U.S. - Netflix unlimited streaming membership required. International - Netflix is available in certain countries. Unlimited membership required. More information at www.netflix.com
4Service available in the United States only.
5Compatibility with user-encoded contents or user-created discs is on a best-effort basis with no guarantee due to the variation of media, software and techniques used.

Specifications

Designs and specifications are subject to change without notice.
Disc Types
BD-Video, Blu-ray 3D, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, AVCHD, SACD, CD, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD, CD-R/RW, DVD±R/RW, DVD±R DL, BD-R/RE
BD Profile
BD-ROM Version 2.5 Profile 5 (also compatible with Profile 1 Version 1.0 and 1.1)
Internal Storage
1GB (Actual space available for persistent storage varies due to system usage)
Output
Analog Audio: 7.1ch, 5.1ch, stereo.
Coaxial/Optical Audio: Dolby Digital, DTS, up to 2ch/192kHz PCM.
HDMI Audio: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio, up to 7.1ch/192kHz PCM, up to 5.1ch DSD.
HDMI Video: 480i/480p/576i/576p/720p/1080i/1080p/1080p24/4Kx2K, 3D frame-packing 720p/1080p24.
Input
HDMI Audio: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS, AAC, up to 5.1ch/192kHz or 7.1ch/96kHz PCM.
HDMI Video: 480i/480p/576i/576p/720p/1080i/1080p/1080p24/1080p25/1080p30, 3D frame-packing 720p/1080p24.
MHL Audio: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS, up to 5.1ch/192kHz PCM.
MHL Video: 480i/480p/576i/576p/720p/1080i/1080p24/1080p25/1080p30, 3D frame-packing 720p/1080p24.
Audio Characteristics
(Nominal specification)
Frequency: 20Hz – 20kHz (±0.05dB), 20Hz – 96kHz (-4.5dB ~ +0.05dB)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >115dB (A-weighted)
THD+N: < 0.006% (1kHz at 0dBFS, 20kHz LPF)
General Specification
Power Supply: ~100V – 240V, 50/60Hz AC
Power Consumption: 35W (Standby: 0.5W in Energy Efficient Mode)
Dimensions: 16.8 x 12.2 x 3.1 inches (430mm x 311mm x 79mm)
Mass: 10.8 lbs (4.9kg)
Operating Temperature
41°F - 95°F
5°C - 35°C
Operating Humidity
15% - 75%
No condensation
Parts & Labor Warranty
2 Years

The review gear:

PS64D8000FM Samsung plasma TV

Denon AVR 4520 – XT 32, 11.2 capable with nine amps inbuilt, twin sub out
Front channels - Musical Fidelity A 5.5 stereo amp in HT bypass driving the 804D (Coming December)
Rotel 1572: 2 channel power amp with 250W per channel
Oppo BR player BDP 95 as CD and HT source for comparison.
B&W 805s, HTM4s centre, Radius 90HD for height and wide channels
PSB Image 10S Bipoles for rear back
Monitor Audio RXFX in dipole mode for surrounds
JL Audio F113
QED XT 300 for front and centre speakers
QED Micro speaker cable for the rest
HDMI cables : Audioquest Cinnamon, Forest; Aiborg flat HDMI cable, monoprice
Audioquest Snake subwoofer cables
Kimber KCAG interconnects
Assorted Xindak, PS Audio and other power cables
MK wall power sockets
Auralex support under the centre speaker
Da lite screen
Glass optical cables
It’s been about two years since Oppo came out with their BDP 93 and 95. These were the second generation Blu Ray players after the 83, which was a real game changer. The 83 gave the world a taste of audiophile music performance, whilst combining it with a kick ass and speedy video player.

Then the 93 / 95 provided 3D, and they were all well regarded as highly reliable, good quality and in particular the 95 won accolades for providing top video performance in a very solid music player. In fact the 93 was used as a OEM platform for other high end makers, and even one who took the 93 and planted it into their far more expensive player.

So after a hiatus of two years, seeing fans around the world discussing, clamoring and finally lusting after a replacement, we get news of the 103 / 105 series.

In essence, what are the differences:

-       4k capability
-       USB Inputs, which support external hard disk based video players
-       HDMI inputs

Other niceties are a remote control app, and one unpleasant new addition is the Cinevera restriction. How this will affect you will be a whole new article, so do read it up elsewhere on the web, there are plenty of very comprehensive articles.

The 105 will also provide a means of using the Oppo as a DAC, as well as all the video capabilities of the 103.

So is this enough to please the fans and attract new ones?


When the first BDP 83 came out, it was a fast loader, had a very decent video chip and was well supported by Oppo. Given that Blu Ray was a very unfinished work at that time, it helped that Oppo responded quickly with firmware updates, and fixes for each disc that broke the player.



The key question owners of older Oppo players will need to ask is:

Are the new features worth your time in upgrading, or is it just a LAGS – “latest and greatest syndrome” short of thing?

4k ready discs are not going to be out for a year or more, and the feature of using the internal video chip of the Oppo via HDMI inputs is less important if you are using this with a current generation mid or higher level AV amplifier which may also have a very good quality chip.

If you are considering the Oppo as a top grade transport and sending your video and audio signals to the AV amp, this should suffice, but those who want better audio performance may want to see what the Oppo 105 offers.

The price gap is very significant, USD 500 versus 1200. In return you will get significantly better audio playback quality when using the analogue outputs and if you have external players with a digital output, they may benefit from the solid DACs built into the Oppo 105.

Interface, and response

I had a Oppo BDP 95 side by side, and there was minimal differences in the drawer opening time, with the Oppo 103 maybe just a hint faster. Both were very responsive, but the newer 103 responded to the remote presses just a bit better. Also the remote design is slightly different but you can use the remotes to control play functions interchangeably.

The 103 begins with a new look, which emphasizes it’s internet and social media roots, but reacts accordingly when you insert a BR discs, DVD or CD. It also allows you to insert an external media, like a USB drive to play.

A nice feature is that you can go to the setup menu without having to stop the disc playing. The interface is very intuitive, and if you have used any Blu Ray player before you probably don’t need to read the manual to get it going.

Remote

The Oppo remote is a competent backlight job, but the build quality will not win any awards. The rubber buttons, lack the quality feel, of the best, such as the Pioneer Kuro or even the older Toshiba XA2 HD DVD player, where the remote is seems to be hewn out of a single solid piece of metal.

Build Quality

The build is above average, and the player is silent, unlike the older 95, which uses a lot of relay switches, causing a lot of clicking sounds. The set I had, did not come with any RCA protectors, otherwise the packing is impeccable as usual.

Video playback

Comparing BR playback to the older 95, I did not see significant differences, especially if you rely on the Direct function. Even on DVD playback, there are little differences. But the player is good enough to justify an outlay in cables. There are distinct differences between my old monoprice cables and the newer Audioquest Cinnamon or Forest cables and you can clearly see these differences. BR offers superb clarity and details, and the Oppos are very good at showing off every single pore.

Your yield on the video quality will depend on the screen. If you only have a 50” or smaller screen, most decent BR players under $300 USD will allow decent video quality from BR discs that are well recorded. And if you only watch BR discs and do not need excellent upscaling, then that’s enough.

I also used a well recorded THX rated DVD – “Titan AE” to see how is the upscaling performance of this set. The picture is pretty decent on my 64” TV, but and at 2.8m from the screen, it will give you much pleasure in keeping those DVDs especially for shows that have not yet come to Blu Ray.

So if you have a good DVD, and wish to keep it, it will be worth investing in a better upscaling chip, like what you can get in this Oppo.

The 103 manages judder, jaggies quite well, and it will be hard to find another player costing under USD 500 with such a video performance.

Audio

The 103 is a more basic player than the 95, and if you intend to use the analogue channels a lot for music, it may be better to wait for the 105. But if you just need a transport, for music to a DAC and for BR disc viewing, this is a very solid deck, with the chops to make for a every decent transport.

It comes equipped with optical, co-axial and of course HDMI output options, plus those HDMI inputs for things like an external media, or even an Apple TV to enjoy better picture quality.

Conclusion:

So how does it perform in the grand scheme of things? Let me quote something I had written a little earlier about the Oppo 83:

“So who should buy this? This player is in a slight awkward position. There are scores of cheaper BR players around, some of which are less than a tenth the price of this baby. …
  The money goes towards the sound so this one is for the discerning audiophile who wants better video performance.”

This player isn’t for the budget home theatre aficionado; who wants maximum value for money. He may be want a budget BR player that costs under USD 300, and mainly uses it for BR discs and DVDs. His system will be less than $3000 for everything and may not upgrade. There are other options. For example, a Sony S 790 player can also do most of the formats, including SACD and 4k. That Sony costs around USD 250. So what do you get for USD 200 more?

This is what I call a “more” player…

This is a player that does every format, and adds good video performance, plus the HDMI input capability, 4k upscaling, and the ability to play from your hard disk and it also makes a solid transport if you wish to add a good DAC later on. So if you have a larger screen, and you want more in terms of video quality, and don’t want to ponder if there is a significantly better player out there for similar or even twice the money, this is it.

So this player will suit those who have an eye for detail, appreciate better quality, be it video, sound and wants the ability to upscale other components. This videophile will also have a projector or large flatscreen TV, and wants the a much better player for his collection of BR discs, and may also have some legacy DVDs which he would like to upscale well.

The person also wants a bit of everything, and he is not sure if SACD, DVD-A are what he wants, and wants a finger in each pie for not too much. This player will not need to be upgraded for a while, even in the home of a discerning home theatre enthusiast. The ability to play SACDs via the HDMI or the analogue outputs will be a great asset for those who want to experience high quality sound.

For previous Oppo fans, they can take comfort that this new player can perform as well as their older players, so if the older player such as the 83 needs replacement or the owner is upgrading to 3D, this will definitely satisfy them.

For new potential owners, they will be buying into a very well built player that does everything well and in particular has a solid video section.


Footnote:

The results my testing of the audio quality of the player will be posted later on when I have run in the player a little more.

Pros:

Solid Build
Excellent video chip
Responsive menus and interface is very intuitive
Will be a good transport for those who want to add a DAC later
Locking on of the HDMI signal is very swift

Cons:
Poor quality remote – rubber buttons don’t inspire
If you have an older Oppo, you won’t get as much wow factor
Cheaper players for just BR playback on a small screen so the cost conscious buyer may shun this player

That’s it!









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