Introduction to Universal Audio Player Reviews

Audio players specifically for disk media are the standard CD, SACD and BluRay audio players. Although the redbook CD format has been labeled dead, it’s still probably the most common used format by audiophiles, vinyl argument aside. The CD player and/or transport will most likely disappear over time with the advent of digital file storage, but for the time being, still used in most systems. The sampling rate of 44.1 kHz is being challenged with the high-res audio offering rates at double 96 kHz and 192 kHz.

A CD transport player is merely a CD player without the DAC, it cannot convert the signal back to analog for playback without an external D/A conversion. The advantage is that a CD player may not use the best DAC and an external unit may do a better job, like a separates system might suggest.

The SACD or Super Audio format may have peaked but there is still a following. The DSD or Direct Stream Digital encoding has kept the SACD player popular. Additionally, the SACD format can be used to record in multi-channel, although few recording companies make the effort beyond 2 channel stereo. Some may recall the format war between DVD-Audio and SACD which ultimately became the preferred format, however most universal players will play both.

Finally the newest format in audio is BluRay. Although predominately known as a video format, BluRay disks offer huge storage capabilities and bandwidth needs of higher resolution audio. With the potential for lossless audio and multi channel, the BluRay format offers the potential with very high sampling rates up to 352 kHz and 24 bits. Additionally, the DXD or Digital Extreme Definition is the successor to the DSD format now used in high resolution recordings. DXD formatted music can be now downloaded from online sources.

Universal Players

Arcam UDP411 Universal Blu-ray Player Review

If you're looking for a high-end audio player that happens to play DVDs and Blu-rays, British boutique manufacturer Arcam has a new component for consideration, the UDP411 Universal Blu-ray Player. With premium Burr-Brown DACs and a balanced analog output, it might just be the ideal complement to an audiophile-grade system.

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OPPO BDP-105 Universal Blu-ray Player Review

OPPO continues its tradition of being leader of the pack with the introduction of the BDP-105 Universal Player. It has every type of input that one could want, making it truly a player that can handle all types of media and sources. The video quality is superb (video results coming in Chris Heinonen's review of the 103 which has the same video circuit as the 105), and the audio quality (tested in this review) is what we have come to expect from OPPO: audiophile-grade.

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OPPO BDP-93, BDP-93NE (NuForce Edition), and BDP-95 Universal 3D Blu-ray Players

OPPO has just released its first universal 3D Blu-ray player, the BDP-93, and will shortly release the BDP-95, which adds a pair of balanced outputs (having their own dedicated DACs). At the same time, NuForce has released two upgrade boards that the consumer can install in a BDP-93 player, or purchase the player direct from NuForce with the card installed (Called the BDP-93NE and BDP-93NXE). This review will cover the audio performance of the three players (only the BDP-93NE, not the BDP-93NXE), as well as the video performence using our Benchmark tests. As you will see, OPPO has overturned price/performance expectations, and especially the BDP-95 is reference quality for less than $1,000.

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Denon DBP-4010UDCI Universal Blu-ray player

Denon has long been a well-respected leader in the disc player market, producing some excellent universal disc players over the years. Just a few years ago, a universal disc player needed to tackle CD, SACD, DVD-Video and DVD-Audio. Today's disc player must now add Blu-ray to the list in order to claim the title of universal disc player. Such is the case for Denon's new BDP-4010UDCI. Read our review to see how it performs.

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Denon DVD-A1UDCI Universal Blu-ray Player

My wife often enjoyed making fun of how many optical disc players I had in my AV setup. When it was the most out of control, I had an HD-DVD player, a PS3 for Blu-ray movies, an Oppo Universal DVD player, and a Sony SACD changer for music. While DVD-A and SACD didn't catch on with lots of the public, some of us built up a collection of the titles that we want to be able to listen to, and we would like to avoid having an AV rack full of extra players like I do. Denon's new DVD-A1UDCI Universal Blu-ray player handles every format out there, including Blu-ray, SACD, and DVD-A, outputting the signals digitally through its HDMI port.