Alongside more expensive CD-only players, such as the Rega transport and Musical Fidelity DAC combo I had on hand, the DV-970HD was less smooth in the upper midrange/treble region, a touch more forward and less fine-grained in the midrange, and somewhat less full-bodied and three-dimensional. But these drawbacks seem minor considering that the Oppo is the more versatile player, and that it cost less than one tenth what the CD combo does.
The Oppo fits equally well in home-theater or two-channel audio systems, though for best results in the latter, connect the player to a display when performing initial setup, and consider leaving the display connected to take advantage of the Oppo’s graphical user interface. And use high-quality interconnects—ironically, its sound merits cables that may cost more than the player does. Finally, the SACD controls are a bit unorthodox. When SACDs are loaded, users must first press the Play button before using the traditional Skip Forward or Skip Backward buttons.
Despite its few quirks and sonic imperfections, the Oppo DV-970HD is the best low-priced universal player I’ve heard. It does so much, so well, for so little, that it makes many higherpriced players seem like underachievers by comparison. Whether you are a newcomer looking for an excellent starter player or a veteran looking to sample high-resolution formats, the Oppo represents a fine way to get in the game.