Modified Oppo Blu Ray Player Audio Listening Session



Disclaimer:
I have no financial interest in any of the products and I don't sell or endorse any of them for any company.


(photo courtesy of Paul)


Introduction

The emergence of the Oppo Blu Ray player as a tour de force in the Hi Def world of video is due to it’s combination of strengths in many fields and little weaknesses, for a rather decent price. If you opt for the top of the line BDP 105, you will get a very solid video player, plus a high end DAC which allows the Oppo to very well in both the video as well as the audio areas.

This has afforded Oppo a lot of converts from those who used to have separate BR players and CD players to have an all in one player.

However those with deeper pockets that want to wring the best out of their players or have a more audio-centric system with good stereo performance may want to eke more, and expect their disc spinner to to higher levels. Here is where the modified players come in.

The basic 105 gives a rather good account of itself, and if you have a HT centred system which is around 10k, you won’t want too much more. However if you have a audio system around 10k on the side, then you may crave the extra bits out of the Oppo and there are many options available.

There are many players in the aftermarket world of mods, both local and overseas. The usual caveats about buying overseas and shipping apply, and of these, the Modwright company has been around longer than many, and this company has it’s fans. Audiocom is another which is coming onto the market.

You can also get James from Sound Affairs to tweak your player too.

So we decided to put together a few of these and have a little listening session.

Methods

The equipment list:

Musical Fidelity A 5.5 Stereo amplifier
(250 w per channel, high current design)

B&W 804D floorstander speaker

QED XT 300 speaker cables

Wireworld Oasis RCA cables

The venue was my little HT living room :


Players on test:

Sound Affairs Mod BDP 105 (2 clocks, full array of regulators, capacitors upgrades and circuit changes)

Audiocom Mod BDP 105

Oppo 83 SE with additional mods by a DIY enthusiast. (Mod done on DAC audio board.(purely for Audio only - All e-caps replaced with Oscon. 5v regulator replaced with Dexa. Output Opamps replaced with Dexa Class D discrete type.



Bluray drive mechanism - Damped with 1.5kg of vibration treated steel plates.
SMPS -       All e-caps upgraded to Vishay mil spec type.
                 Cryo treated IEC connector.
DAC board- Dexa discrete Opamp.
                 5v Dexa discrete voltage regulator.
                 Sanyo Os-Con e-caps for digital.
                 Tellirium Copper RCA connector with silver hook up wire.
                 Vishay MKP1837 bypass caps.
                 Blu-tac on strategic area.


The base BDP 105 with no mods, not even a region free mod.
A previous review of the base model is located here:

We had four friends over, plus a member of the industry over too and I was the only person to know which player was on trial.

The rest were blinded to the players and the sequence of playback was randomised and the players were hidden from view during playback.

A SPL meter was used to ensure any differences weren't due to simply differences in volume, which can be perceived as differences in sound quality.

We used two tracks:

Oshio Kotaro’s “fly to the dream”

This track has good pace, rhythym and a bass line that is easy to follow and yet having a wood instrument means you will appreciate secondary and tertiary harmonics too.

We also used a violin track called “life is but a dream”.
This track tested the treble, to see how bright the system will sound and also the soundstage and ability to cope with a rather shrill and enthusiastic violinist.


Results


Each listener wrote their findings down and chose the player which they felt sounded the best in the system under test and after everyone had given their opinion, we then revealed the players ranking.

For those expecting a straight forward result or a resounding victory for one player will be disappointed.

The key words are: diminishing returns and Your Mileage May Vary…

Why so?

First of all, the USD 1200 base 105 gave a very decent account of itself. It had good separation, pace, soundstage and resolution. But it was still a tad bright, sort of like a diamond in the rough, with a sense that a well designed similarly priced CD player could best it.

So when the masks came off, everyone felt that the modified Oppos sounded different, and in most cases better than the base 105. Each had it’s strengths, and we have more details below…

Firstly the Oppo 83 SE with it’s DIY mods performed rather well, with a very prominent bass, and decent resolution. However, it’s less detailed than the base unit, a bit brigther, and the soundstage was more two dimensional. The 105 had more depth, more detail, and a more balanced sound..

Next up was the Audiocom. This unit performed better on all fronts, with solid pace, a deeper soundstage, and an even emphasis across the entire frequency spectrum. It wasn’t hard to hear the difference.

The Sound Affairs mod was warmer, yet not losing detail, and you could still percieve details despite a more smooth sound.

Both of the modified 105s seem to sound better than the 83 and base 105 model, and it’s a tossup as to which is better, since some will prefer a more smooth sound and others will want to eke more out of the treble.

System matching becomes more vital in such a situation, and personal tastes in sonic signature will come into play.

However what we did show was that if you have a capable audio system with good resolution, you will benefit from additional modifications to your Blu Ray player and this can take the audio performance to a much higher level, which will not be hard to discern.


To answer the inevitable question.. yes mods make a difference.

However, the issue is also that of diminishing returns. If one has a $100 BR player, and buys an Oppo BDP 103 or 105, you will be rewarded with a significant improvement, but it won't be ten-fold. Also it is dependent on the partnering gear.
If one has a system built on a budget, with limited resolving power, then the money spent on mods is better spent elsewhere.
On the other hand, if one has already invested in a decent hifi audio system, and intend to take advantage of the better DACs built into the Oppo BDP 105, then the 105 is a very decent platform to tweak to enhance the listening experience.
Translated into real world systems, if one has a $500 AV amp, and a modest HT based speaker system, it may not be the best bet to go for these mods.
If one has integrated a decent stereo system, say a Marantz Pearl Lite or KI amp with HT bypass, or even a separate audio system, then you will be able to use the same BR player for both audio and video enjoyment.
The challenge is that the mods aren't that cheap, and as a result, one has to weight the benefits of spending 1-2k on mods, instead of say a good CD player, or on better speakers.
IMO, the person who buys into mods is comfortable with his or her system, and wants to get the best out of each of his products, be it the BR player, speaker or amp.
Hence, Your Mileage May Vary...
 


A point that came up during our session was who to get your mod from.
I believe the consensus was to do due diligence and get your mod from reputable companies. 
For example The Upgrade Company doesn't seem to have a good rep.
Go local if possible and work with someone you can trust.










2 comments:

  1. thank you so much,
    i will try to modified my oppo blu ray player,
    oppo has a good player
    :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. JLTI has a good rep and awesome mods for the 105

    ReplyDelete

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