Oppo BDP 105 review - audio performance

Oppo BDP 105 review - audio performance

Partnering equipment

Musical fidelity A5.5 stereo amplifier
B&W 804D
QED XT 300 speaker cables, kimber I/C, wireworld oasis power cables

The Oppo official website has plenty of info on the various features:

Details of the various functions of this versatile machine can be found elsewhere, but key audio features include:

Sabre 32 DAC - no longer stacked, but it remains to be seen of that was a better arrangement
Inputs coaxial, optical, hdmi and USB to use the internal DAC
Wi fi playback of a variety of formats

The latest flagship Oppo has evolved into more than just a simple universal player and has a long list of functions, which give it capabilities beyond even the new generation of cd players with one or two digital inputs.

Oppo has been quick to recognize that it cannot win the pocket rocket Blu Ray player, or even merely on the pedigree of the components, but it has tried to embrace the digital age where more and more media is hard disk based instead of just on a cd.

For a universal disc player disc loading is impressive, but it's still slower than a regular Red Book player. Build quality is good for the money but no one will mistake this for some cast out of iron high end high cost machine and the remote is still the same rubbery job.

However once you look under the hood, you will see where the money went. There is a toroidal transformer, which is now developed inhouse instead of an off the shelf one from Rotel.

The caps and power supply will embarrass a budget amplifier and all inputs are gold plated. This year there are no rubber RCA protectors, unlike the older 95.

In stereo, using a variety of well recorded CDs, you find that imaging is solid and locked to the centre. 

I did this subjective listening review with mainly Red Book CDs, and through a stereo system. I also tried SACDs in stereo, and some of the digital inputs.

The 105 is what I can an 'anything' machine. If you just want some background music, it can stay out of sight, and let you play some quiet jazz and allow you to listen for hours without feeling fatigued.

On the other hand, when you are in the mood for details, it can then give you plenty to listen to.

The Oppo has details when you sit down and pay attention. The image locks itself just between the speakers and it's what I call a wysiwyg speaker, or what see is what you get... Throw it a bright poorly recorded cd and that's what you will hear. But if you have a well recorded piece, it will reward you with solid sound. It sounds quite neutral, probably more so than the 95, which I felt was a little warmer. The details available are impressive, and given a well recorded session, you will really feel its live.

It sounds very neutral with no emphasis of any part of the sonic spectrum, and how the entire system will hang together will largely depend on the other partnering components. If you favor a warmer sound, spend more on the speakers and choose something of that ilk. The bass is solid, and the mids are detailed, but you won't find a slant towards either end of the sonic frequencies.

I heard the song “Riders in the storm” on a Fringe Episode and bought the song. In this song, you will hear real thunder and rain, and the Oppo / B&W 804 / MF combination delights in bringing out the details, so much so that I had to check if it was really raining outside. The tunes were smooth and liquid, and the voices were realistic. It is no wonder that an Abbey Road studio uses the 800 series. You don’t get the same scale with the 804, but the soundstaging and pinpoint accuracy is there.

I felt the partnership of the B&W with MF and Oppo gives a detailed and neutral sound. For a warmer sound, I would swop out the B&W for something like the Sonus Faber Lueto series, or use a tube amp that can drive the B&W.

For a warmer cd player, I would use a Roksan M series, but that is a pure cd player with no additional capabilities.

So how would it compare to cd players? IMO, the Oppo is probably performing around the level of a $1-2000 cd player, but what you get for the extra cash is all the other enhancements. It's not some super killer player which will make you throw away your top end $10k player, but if you need a good player for a mid to mid-high HT system but you still want solid music playback, then this is a good choice. 

Using the internal DACs via the digital inputs is very much source dependent. Not all sources are created the same, despite what naysayers at certain forums love to say. Using an Apple TV in optical out, the sound was terrible, and devoid of soundstaging, bass and shrill. Switching over to the HDMI output, the sound was much better but when I played the same song on a CD, that was the best sounding by far.

It has video capability and other features that no cd or sacd player has, with many input and output options, that make it a highly flexible player, but bear in mind that you will need higher level partnering equipment than merely your average $1000 AV amp can show, so if you really want to make this system sound great, be prepared to get a separate stereo amp and some decent speakers.

I would suggest the Monitor Audio GX series for starters, or the B&W CM series and the Marantz Pearl Lite. These can be added to your Ht system as well. If you give it better amps and better speakers, this player will reward you with even better sound.

The same caveat applies to this Oppo as to the 103: if all you do is play Blu Ray discs, and use the Hdmi output, you can be better served with a basic Sony player for a quarter the cost and not miss much. On the hand if you wish to explore the music limits of your HT system, this player with the analogue output capabilities can elevate your listening experience to a new level.


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