Editorial note: This is Part 2 of a two-part review of the Oppo Digital DV-970HD universal player.
Oppo Digital is earning a reputation for building products that are modest in price and appearance, but turn out to be giant killers. The $149 DV-970HD supports DVD-Audio/Video, SACD, HDCD, and CD, and provides HDMI outputs with 720p/1080i upconversion. What makes it unexpectedly good—and not just “for the money”—is sound and video quality characterized by excellent overall transparency and detail, a good measure of treble smoothness, taut, clean (though occasionally too lean) bass, and a persona that emphasizes clarity more than it does warmth. As a result, the Oppo effortlessly reveals variations in production techniques from album to album and song to song.
On Sheryl Crow’s The Globe Sessions [A&M, multichannel SACD], “My Favorite Mistake” offered the focused, up-close perspective of a studio recording. But “There Goes the Neighborhood” presented an altogether different soundscape whose huge, raw, reverb-soaked sound created the illusion of hearing Crow and her band performing in a giant garage. The Oppo’s ability to delineate the textural and spatial differences between tracks was impressive.
Better still, the Oppo delivers evenly-balanced performance across all disc formats—something that can’t be said of many inexpensive universal players. For instance, it sounded equally masterful on “At the Gazebo,” from Trey Anastasio’s eponymous solo album [Elektra, DVD-A], simultaneously capturing Anastasio’s delicate plucking and the buttery sonority of the bowed strings, and giving each instrument its proper place on stage.