- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 21 November 2012
I tested the OPPO BDP-105 with a Classé CP-800 preamplifier, Classé SSP-800 SSP, Classé CA-5200 multi-channel power amplifier, HiFiMan HE-500 Headphones, Threshold ES-500 and Final Sound electrostatic speakers, and Paradigm Reference Signature C5 Center Channel Speaker. Subwoofers were Velodyne (crossover 60 Hz). Cables were Wireworld, Emotiva, and Marc Audio. I listened to stereo music through the XLR outputs of the OPPO BDP-105 connected to the Classé CP-800, and to surround sound recordings using the HDMI connection to the Classé SSP-800.
The video circuit in the BDP-105 is the same as in the BDP-103, which is being reviewed by Chris Heinonen, and which will be published shortly. In this review, I will focus on the audio performance. I used the HDMI output for all the movies and for SACD discs.
The Blu-ray release of Jaws is spectacular both visually and in sound, as the original audio tapes were remixed for discrete 7.1 surround. It is a collector's disc for sure, and the OPPO delivered everything on the disc. In the original stereo, at the theater, it was terrifying enough, but in full 7.1 surround, it makes you want to crawl under the chair. In spite of the current rage of blood spattered butchery in movies, Jaws remains one of the scariest films ever made. I suppose it is because we can easily distance ourselves in the audience from the mayhem on the screen, but with a shark, we are all afraid, and Spielberg knew how to bring us to our knees in fear.
Using the Bitstream option, and the HDMI connection, I listened to many SACD multi-channel discs in the player (I will comment on music played from a hard drive connected to the BDP-105 via USB later in the review).
The Nutcracker is one of my favorite holiday albums, and fortunately, there is an excellent multi-channel SACD version. You have to use the HDMI connection for SACD digital output to your processor, and you have the choice of output as a DSD bitstream, or letting the player convert it to PCM before output to your processor. As an audio purist, I chose the DSD bitstream. However, if your processor accepts only PCM, you will need to select that setting in the player's menu for the SACD output.
Tchaikovsky's masterpiece was rendered in all of its audio majesty by the OPPO. We also have a Blu-ray version with the San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, which we have seen in person. My wife, having been trained in classical ballet, obviously would prefer to hear and see it live, but the Blu-ray is very good, with full surround sound at a high sampling rate.
This SACD sampler disc is a recording that I had sitting around but never opened, until now. It is actually quite good, with selections by Purcell, Prokofiev, Beethoven, Grieg, Mahler, Stravinsky, as well as some tracks by The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Very entertaining. The vanishingly low distortion of the OPPO-BDP-105 makes digital music a joy to experience.
Connecting the HiFiMAN HE-500 Headphones to the headphone jack on the BDP-105 was quite a revelation. The DACs for this output are double-stacked to allow for sufficient output current to drive headphones that are typically low impedance. The HE-500s are unique in that they use planar magnetic drivers, which are extremely light in comparison to standard cone-type drivers, so they respond to the smallest detail and nuance. The BDP-105 has such low distortion, it represents the best headphone amplifier I have ever heard. Of course, I have not listened to all the headphone and headphone amplifier combinations out there, and I imagine that HiFiMAN's HE-5 headphones and EF-6 headphone amplifier have an edge over the HE-500 combo, but the HE-500 is a superb contender in its price category.
For example, Barbra Streisand's voice could be considered a standard by which female voices could be judged with hi-fi equipment, and this disc (Columbia 88697 57150 2), which is 16/44.1, is a good example of not only how beautiful her voice is, but that she can still sing like an angel 50 years after I first heard her. Through the headphone jack, her voice was mono, and center stage, while a full orchestra surrounded her. The violins caressed her like dozens of velvet covered hands, and they were absolutely crystal clear, without even a hint of glare or harshness. I used a headphone volume setting (in the menu) of 50. I would suggest setting it to that level or lower before you plug in your headphones, in order to prevent the sound from being too loud, and then adjusting it to suit your tastes.
To set up wireless streaming from your computer, you first must set up the network option on the OPPO. Connect the USB Wireless Adapter to one of the USB ports on the rear panel. Power the OPPO on and press the Home button and select "Setup", then select "Network Setup". I used the "Auto" option, which displayed the wireless networks within the range of the wireless adapter. I selected my network, typed in the password using the remote control. It displayed, "Connection Successful". Then, on my computer, I went to "Control Panel", "Network and Internet", "View Network and Computer Devices", and right clicked on "OPPO BDP-105", which displayed a menu, and I selected "Allow Streaming to this Device". Below is shown the menu after I did that (the option is now, "Block Streaming to this Device"). Go to your Music directory, right click on it, and select "Properties", then "Sharing" and "Share".
Once I set this all up, I clicked the "Home" button on the OPPO, and then "Network". It displayed the music directory, and proceeded to index it. The only problem I had was that the music files were all listed one after the other, rather than in the separate album directories that are on the computer.
The music streamed to the OPPO without any difficulty. There were no dropouts or audible change in quality of sound. With the addition of future firmware updates, perhaps the streaming indexing capabilities will be improved.
One other way of using the BDP-105 as a music server is to get a USB-powered hard drive. First, you connect it to your computer and drag and drop your music files onto the USB drive. Metadata are not used with this technique, so you can name the albums as you wish, as well as the tracks, and those names will show up in the menu of the OPPO iPad app (downloaded from iTunes) when you play your music. Create directories for the albums, such as Classical, Pop, Jazz, etc. You then connect the USB drive to one of the USB ports on the rear panel of the BDP-105. Turn on the player, click the OPPO app on your iPad, and you will see the contents of the USB drive. Click on a directory, and album, and a music track, and away you go. Here is a video explaining it.