First Look: Oppo BDP-105 Universal/Blu-ray Player & DAC (Hi-Fi+)

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OPPO BDP-105
First Look: Oppo BDP-105 Universal/Blu-ray Player & DAC (Hi-Fi+)

Looking back over the last four or five years, you could build a strong case for the claim that Oppo Digital has worked harder than any other firm to produce versatile, affordable, audiophile-friendly, and undeniably overachieving universal disc players.  Indeed, those who are long-term readers of our US-based sister publication The Absolute Sound will already know that Oppo’s players have, over the years, won both critical acclaim and numerous awards for delivering killer performance at a budget price. More importantly, Oppo players have prevailed in the marketplace, earning an enviable reputation as the almost automatic go-to recommendation for those who want disc players that can provide “the good stuff” sonically speaking, but that don’t cost the proverbial “arm and a leg.” One even more telling indicator of Oppo’s success (and acceptance within the industry) is the fact that—at audio trade shows—surprisingly large numbers of exhibitor’s use Oppo players in their displays. My thought: there is probably no higher accolade than the respect and admiration of one’s peers.

Historically, many of Oppo’s most popular players have sold for roughly $500 or less (an amazing price point, really, when you consider how very many things Oppo players can do well). However, with the 2011 release of the BDP-95 universal/Blu-ray player ($999), the firm began to explore a more upscale market—one where players are evaluated not just in terms of value for money, but in terms of absolute performance. Despite its higher price tag, the BDP-95 was a runaway success (as evidenced by the fact that more than a few high-end manufacturers keep one or more BDP-95’s at their factories to use as references). 

Now, however, Oppo has launched a replacement for the well-loved BDP-95 in the form of the brand new BDP-105 ($1199). The arrival of any new flagship is always a bit of a big deal, and that goes double for the BDP-105 since it has some very big shoes to fill. My review sample of the BDP-105 has recently arrived, so that I thought I might take this opportunity to share the unboxing experience with you, and then to briefly review the key differences between the BDP-95 and 105.

Unboxing: What’s In the Box

When you first unpack the BDP-105 you’ll discover that, at a hefty 17.3 pounds, it is the largest and beefiest universal player Oppo has produced to date and one that comes with a lot of cool accessories. Thus, the carton contains:

  • The BDP-105 player itself, complete with a protective fabric bag.
  • A thorough and very well written product manual.
  • An all-new, backlit remote control that looks like a cross between one of the earlier-generation Oppo remotes and the control for an AVR. (The remote comes, of course, with its own batteries.)
  • A beefy power cord.
  • An also beefy HDMI cable (not one of the those cheapie thrown-in-as-an-afterthought jobs, but rather a serious HDMI cable).
  • A USB extension cable with small, pedestal type USB port (this accessory is handy if you’d like a remotely located point where you might plug in USB memory devices, a USB cable from a computer audio system, or the—included—USB Wi-Fi dongle).
  • The aforementioned USB W-Fi dongle.
  • An HDMI-MHL adapter cable (useful for those who wish to connect HD devices—for example, certain smartphones—that support MHL interfaces).

Oppo BDP-105 vs. BDP-952: What makes the 105 different and better?

Given the BDP-95’s already sterling reputation, reasonable readers are bound to ask what makes the BDP-105 genuinely different from and potentially better that the BDP-95 it replaces. Let me tackle that question by highlighting for you differences between the players in terms of expanded video and audio capabilities, with some mention of the 105’s greatly expanded connectivity options.

Video Performance:

  • Upscaling to “4k” Resolution: Unlike the BDP-95, the BDP-105 can upscale signals from all video sources (that’s right, “sources” plural) to 4K (that is, 3840 x 2160) output resolution. Yowza, that’s a lot of pixels!
  • 2D-to-3D Conversion: Unlike the BDP-95, the BDP-105 can convert 2D material for 3D playback with adjustments for depth and eye convergence levels.
  • Multiple Video Inputs: With the BDP-95 the main input sources were A) the disc player onboard, or B) various network content streams such as Netflix. The BDP-105 retains those inputs, but adds two more in the form of a pair of HDMI inputs (one of which is MHL compatible).  This new wrinkle means that you can connect other video source devices, such as network streaming devices, set-top cable boxes, etc., to the Oppo, so as to take advantage of the BDP-105’s incredibly powerful onboard Marvell Qdeo Kyoto-G2H video processing engine—an engine much more powerful than those typically found in other source components or typical AVR’s.

Audio Performance:

  • Improved Chassis: The BDP-105 features a steel chassis that is significantly more rigid than the chassis used in previous Oppo players (including the BDP-95). Does improved chassis rigidity make a difference? While some skeptics might scoff, my personal experience has been that improvements in chassis rigidity (and thus freedom from resonance) are far more audible than you might ever expect.
  • Passive Cooling: Unlike the BDP-95, the BDP-105 is designed around a fanless architecture, meaning that it is entirely passively cooled. While the BDP-95’s cooling fan was never obnoxiously noisy, the BDP-105 is quiet as the proverbial tomb in operation, which is a pretty major improvement for those of us who might use the player in desktop systems where we would be seated at arm’s length from the player.
  • Headphone Amplifier: Unlike the BDP-95, the BDP-105 provides a built-in headphone amp that runs straight off the player’s ESS Sabre32 Reference DAC.  No matter what source(s) you listen to through the Oppo, you can monitor them through your high-performance headphones. Cool.
  • A high res DAC with multiple, user selectable inputs: The audio section of the BDP-95 offered terrific onboard DACs, but it pretty much functioned with a limited array of inputs:  A) the disc player onboard, B) USB and/or E-SATA storage device, or C) various network-accessible content streams.  The BDP-105, however gives users a greatly expanded set of options including: 3 x USB ports—one accessible from the faceplate, one each Coaxial and Optical digital inputs, and two HDMI ports—one accessible from the faceplate. The point, and it’s a huge one, is that the BDP-105 is now more than just a disc player or network streaming device; it’s a full-on, high resolution, multiple input DAC.
  • Asynchronous USB: Just to be clear, the BDP-105 offers an asynchronous USB DAC—the arrangement most audiophiles prefer.

Connectivity: we’ve touched on many of these points above, but they do bear repeating, as the BDP-105 is substantially more versatile that the BDP-95 ever was. Changes include:

  • HDMI In: Dual HDMI inputs (one that is faceplate accessible and MHL-compatible).
  • HDMI Out: Dual HDMI outputs, where users can select options that route video signals to one HDMI output while audio-only signals routed to the other HDMI output for lower noise.
  • USB: Three USB 2.0 ports (one that is faceplate accessible).
  • Digital Audio: One coaxial digital audio input and output; one optical digital audio input and output.
  • Network Connectivity: Ethernet (RJ-45) and Wi-Fi connectivity (via included USB Wi-Fi dongle). In fairness, the BDP-95 shared these connectivity options with the BDP-105, but the fact is that the 105 can do more with them.
  • DLNA-compatibility: Support for DMP (Digital Media Player) and DMR (Digital Media Renderer) protocols, meaning the BDP-105 can access audio, picture, and video files stored on DLNA-compatible digital media servers (for example, computers or network attached storage devices). Many of the computers in my office are set up as DLNA-compatible servers and the BDP-105 found them all, meaning I could share music (and other) files with many of my office peers.

What's the Difference Between US and Euro-spec BDP-105s?

According to Jason Liao, Oppo's chief technology officer, the US and Euro-spec BDP-105's are very similar, but with these small differences:

  • The EU model has Blu-ray region B and DVD region 2 compatibility.
  • The EU model conforms to CE safety standards (where the US model conforms the UL standards).
  • In the EU model the default video mode is PAL at 50Hz (as compared to NTSC for the US model).
  • Power supplies for the EU models are preset for 230V.
  • In the EU model the default for analog outputs is fixed-level (where the default for analog outputs in US models is variable level).
  • Jason Liao also adds that, "Among the streaming apps, so far YouTube, Picasa and Netflix are useable in Europe.  Netflix is adding service to European countries gradually, and users will be able to use the app when Netflix starts to provide service in their country.  We are also working with BBC to add BBC iPlayer but that has not been completed yet.  Once completed it will be available to European customers.  It will not be available for the US version."

If you step back a bit and consider what you’ve just read, I think you can appreciate what a capable and versatile machine the BDP-105 promises to be. Then, add in the fact that it uses the proven audio playback and video-processing circuitry from the BDP-95 and the BDP-105 looks to be an audiophile- and videophile-pleasing source component.

I’m looking forward to putting the BDP-105 through its paces and will report my findings in upcoming reviews for The Absolute Sound and Hi-Fi+.  Watch for them.

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