In 2006, when the Blu-ray Disc was introduced, the player of choice for many A/V enthusiasts was Sony’s PlayStation 3, for its many features, frequent firmware updates, and reasonable price. That all changed when Oppo Digital released their first Blu-ray player, the BDP-83, which built on the reputation of their universal DVD players. For $499, the BDP-83 offered a speedy and stable user interface (something that couldn’t be said for many early BD players), support for SACD and DVD-Audio, and state-of-the-art video processing. Ever since then, Oppo players have been the standard for high-performance BD players at reasonable prices.
Oppo has continually advanced the performance standards of first their DVD players and now their BD players. Their latest product, the BDP-105, is the premium offering in their third generation of Blu-ray products. Priced at $1199 USD, it costs a little more than its predecessor, the BDP-95, but adds some useful and unique features, including upgraded video processing.
To say that the BDP-105 is a universal Blu-ray player doesn’t begin to describe its flexibility as a source component. It supports content providers such as Netflix, Vudu, and others, can stream media files from your home network via Ethernet or the provided wireless adapter, plays files directly from attached USB drives, and plays BDs, DVD-Vs, DVD-As, SACDs, and CDs. New for the BDP-105 is the inclusion of both audio and video inputs, so that its high-quality audio DAC and video processing can be used with other sources. Like the BDP-95, the ’105 uses the highly regarded ESS Sabre DAC chipset; this means that it can be used as a high-quality DAC and preamp with the built-in, 32-bit digital volume control that is internal to the DAC. It has only a limited number of inputs and lacks a room-correction system, but those are the only drawbacks to using the BDP-105 as the centerpiece of a multichannel audio/video system, in lieu of an A/V processor or receiver.
The BDP-105’s digital audio inputs include asynchronous USB, RCA coaxial, and optical. There are two HDMI inputs. The three USB inputs are for use with outboard storage devices for playback of media files; one of these is on the front panel, as is one of the two HDMI inputs, this one doubling as a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) input for connection to mobile devices. There are also RS-232 and Ethernet ports, for connection to your home network, or you can use the aforementioned, provided Wi-Fi adapter. An IEC power inlet accepts the supplied power cord.
The analog audio outputs comprise a 7.1-channel set on RCA jacks, stereo outputs on RCA and XLR jacks, and a headphone jack. The BDP-105 actually has two of ESS Technology’s ES9018 Sabre32 Reference 32-bit, eight-channel audio DAC chips. One is used for the multichannel output and the other for the stereo outputs, including stacking two sets of DAC channels for the headphone output. According to Jason Liao, Oppo’s CTO and VP of Product Development, the ESS chip-design team provided suggestions and improved the BDP-105’s analog output stage. Digital audio outputs are provided on RCA coaxial and optical jacks. The BDP-105 has two HDMI outputs, but no other video outputs. It utilizes Oppo's two-stage video processing that incorporates MediaTek's dual-core decoder running custom firmware and Marvell’s Kyoto-G2H video processor with their latest Qdeo technology. New video-processing features include upscaling to 4K and 2D-to-3D conversion.
The BDP-105 is stoutly constructed and weighs 17.3 pounds. The 16.8”W x 12.2”D x 4.8”H case contains a sizable toroidal power supply and is fronted by a heavy-duty, aluminum faceplate. Owners of earlier Oppo models will be familiar with the backlit remote control, which has been slightly reworked to add large Netflix and Vudu buttons. Considering the BDP-105’s sturdy construction, state-of-the-art audio and video processing, media-server capabilities, and ability to be used as a video processor and as an audio DAC and preamp, Oppo has once again raised the bar for what can be expected in an affordable high-end Blu-ray player.
While the BDP-105 is Oppo’s top-of-the-line player, it should be pointed out that if you plan on using it strictly as a digital transport for an audio/video system, you’d be better off buying the BDP-103 and saving $700. The BDP-103 has exactly the same video circuitry as the BDP-105; better audio performance will be realized only if you use the BDP-105’s upgraded analog outputs.
The Oppo BDP-105 spent some time in my usual reference home-theater system, connected to an Anthem Statement D2 A/V processor via one of its HDMI outputs. However, I primarily used the Oppo to directly feed the inputs of a five-channel Axiom ADA-1000 power amplifier, so that the BDP-105 could act as both a multichannel source component and a preamplifier. Not only did I use it to play BDs and DVDs in this manner, I also used it as a USB DAC with my Acer Aspire One 770 netbook computer running Windows 7 and foobar2000. Other than lacking a room-correction system, it had all of the functionality I could have wanted for a basic home-theater system.
Configuring the BDP-105 for multichannel analog output and adjusting speaker distances and bass management were simple and straightforward. My laptop computer had no problem identifying the Oppo as a DAC through the USB connection and prompting me to download and install the drivers, which are available from Oppo’s website.
The rest of the simplified multichannel system that I used for the bulk of the review was made up of KEF’s R900 (main speakers) and R600c (center channel), Definitive Technology’s BP-8080ST (surrounds), a Paradigm Signature Servo-15 v.2 (subwoofer), various cables from Analysis Plus, and power-conditioning products from Essential Sound Products, Blue Circle Audio, and ZeroSurge.
Each generation of Oppo BD players has supported a greater number of media file types than its forebears. The BDP-105 could play just about every type of file I threw at it, including the Dolby TrueHD audio track of an MKV file that my BDP-93 couldn’t decode.
There were some things that I didn’t like about the BDP-105’s ergonomics. First, you select a source by pressing the Input button and then scrolling through a list. I would have preferred direct access to each input via buttons on the remote, though admittedly, the remote would then have been a lot more crowded. The blue LED display on the front panel is easy to read, but I was distracted by the name of the active input continually scrolling across the screen. I would have preferred that the display remain static once the input was selected. Disc information such as time remaining and audio sample rate for video media files was available only on the video display and not on the front panel, and there were similar limitations to the information available when playing audio files. Considering all of this player’s functionality, these are minor quibbles; hopefully, they’ll be rectified in a future firmware upgrade.
Sight and sound
The BDP-105’s audio and video performance with all manner of optical discs and media files was spectacular. As previously mentioned, its video circuitry is the same as that found in Oppo’s BDP-103 ($499), which was reviewed by our own Wes Marshall and which he called “something special.” I concur with Wes’s assessment of Marvell’s new Qdeo Kyoto-G2H video processing, which seems to be flawless. In fact, its performance on the “Jaggies Test” from the HD HQV Benchmark was slightly better than that of my Oppo BDP-93 ($499 when available), which uses an earlier version of Qdeo. With the “Film Detail Test” and movies on both BD and DVD, I couldn’t tell the difference between the BDP-105’s and the BDP-93’s video processing. Both players had simply outstanding picture quality.
With compressed video files with resolutions of only 1080i or 720p, the BDP-105 still produced a smooth and acceptable picture, even on my 56” 1080p RPTV. There was very little blockiness or aliasing with compressed MP4 or FLV files downloaded from YouTube, though occasionally there was a little breakup of the picture when there was a lot of onscreen action. For example, when watching the hilarious “Test Drive” YouTube video, in which disguised NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon takes an unsuspecting car salesman on a test drive in a Camaro, there was some occasional breakup of the picture when the car crazily does donuts in a parking lot. Even with this compressed 720p MP4 video file, the BDP-105 produced a decent picture that was not distracting on my 56” RPTV.
While the BDP-105’s video performance was spectacular, as expected, its upgraded analog audio output stage, which features two of ESS’s ES9018 Sabre32 Reference 32-bit, eight-channel DAC chips, is what sets this player apart from its less expensive sibling and most other BD players. Connecting the analog outputs of the BDP-105 directly to a five-channel Axiom Audio ADA-1000 power amplifier to use it as both a digital source and a preamplifier, I quickly found out how good a player-DAC-preamp it was.
High-resolution audio discs sounded impeccable. Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms (SACD, Universal) had excellent pace and exhibited a pure, easygoing rhythm in “So Far Away.” Each masterfully crafted riff from Mark Knopfler’s guitar was tremendously detailed, and the saxophone in “Your Latest Trick” was intoxicatingly smooth. While Dire Straits showed off the BDP-105’s ability to reproduce cool jazz riffs, Seal’s Best 1991-2004 (DVD-A, Warner) certainly had bite. Bass was tight in “Killer,” with concise percussive effects originating from all five channels. The harmony vocals in “Kiss from a Rose” were sublimely clean, as was the distinctive sound of a sparkling oboe. “Don’t Cry” and “Love’s Divine” demonstrated the BDP-105’s ability to place Seal’s voice precisely within a complex arrangement, with an overall level of transparency that was exceptional considering that this is a multichannel A/V player that sells for not much more than $1000.
Although the BDP-105 is, first and foremost, an optical disc player, it spent most of its time in my system as a USB DAC and preamp playing audio files from my netbook. And with standard-resolution audio files, it still sounded fantastic. Cyndi Lauper’s closely miked voice on her Body Acoustic (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, Sony) can sound a little sharp; through the BDP-105 her voice had plenty of raw energy, but was relatively smooth without sounding rolled off. The shimmering strings of acoustic guitars, including some delightfully twangy Dobro, were infused with richness, as was the sound of a violin and viola on several tracks. The more I listened, the more I appreciated the BDP-105’s sound.
The Oppo sounded even more remarkable with well-produced, hi-rez, multichannel movie soundtracks. The resolution of detail in each channel of Resident Evil: Retribution was dazzling. The surprisingly transparent quality of the music of the opening credits, recorded in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio, was perfectly integrated with the rest of the soundtrack. As I sat blissfully lost in the fantastically immersive quality of the music, I was jarred back to the film by a massive rumbling explosion that sounded equally as impressive. The many explosions and gunshots in this film all hit me with realistic intensity, but it was how well the BDP-105 reproduced each perfectly crafted, individual incendiary effect that created such a captivating cinematic experience.
The case for analog
When the BDP-105 was connected directly to a power amplifier through its analog audio outputs, its sound quality was similar to that of the Anthem Statement D2 A/V processor ($7499, discontinued) that I use as my reference DAC-preamp. Whether I was listening to two-channel recordings or multichannel movie soundtracks, the BDP-105 always sounded musical, yet powerful and controlled, through all of its channels.
It was enlightening to compare the BDP-105 with AudioQuest’s overachieving DragonFly USB DAC ($249), which Doug Schneider found to have amazing levels of transparency, detail, and immediacy when connected directly to a Bryston power amplifier. I heard something similar when I connected the DragonFly to the Axiom ADA-1000 amplifier ($1340). When I listened to U2’s “One,” covered by Damien Rice on Ahk-toong Bay•bi Covered (16/44.1 FLAC, Universal), both sources provided exceptionally intimate renditions of this track that I was hard-pressed to tell apart. This served only to confirm my observation that the BDP-105 can function as a very high-performing DAC and preamp.
With its upgraded analog audio output stage, audio and video inputs, and high-quality digital volume control, Oppo Digital’s BDP-105 has some unique features that might not be useful to most -- but I loved using it. Not only did it perform at an extremely high level, it’s very solidly built, and was simple to set up and use.
At $1199, the BDP-105 is an easy recommendation as a state-of-the-art Blu-ray Disc player and basic media player/server. When you consider that it’s also a very good DAC and digital preamp, its value is off the charts. If you’re contemplating assembling a system with an all-in-one source component and preamp, I can’t recommend the BDP-105 highly enough. Oppo has yet another winner.
. . . Roger Kanno
- Speakers -- KEF R900 (mains), KEF R600c (center), Definitive Technology BP-8080ST (surrounds), Paradigm Reference Servo-15 v.2 (subwoofer)
- Amplifiers -- Axiom Audio ADA-1000, Bel Canto Design e.One REF1000 and eVo6
- A/V processor -- Anthem Statement D2
- Sources -- Oppo BDP-93 universal Blu-ray player, Acer Aspire One 770 computer running Windows 7 and foobar2000, AudioQuest DragonFly DAC, Musical Fidelity V-Link USB converter, Bel Canto Design mLink
- Cables -- Analysis Plus Black Oval 9 speaker cable, DH Labs Silver Sonic DV-75 digital interconnect, AudioQuest Carbon USB cable
- Power cords -- Essential Sound Products MusicCord-Pro ES
- Power conditioners -- Blue Circle Audio Peed Al Sea Thingee, Zero Surge 1MOD15WI
Oppo Digital BDP-105 Blu-ray Player
Price: $1199 USD.
Warranty: Two years parts and labor.
Oppo Digital, Inc.
2629B Terminal Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043
Phone: (650) 961-1118