Oppo BDP-105 Universal Blu-ray Player Introduction
We found the prior Oppo BDP-83-SE and BDP-95 players really did offer upscale performance in their analog outputs while still retaining the great video prowess of their less expensive offerings (the BDP-83 and BPD-93, respectively). Like the BDP-95, the new BDP-105 has balanced analog outputs along with a host of other upgrades. These upgrades apply to both of the new models, the BDP-103 and BDP-105, respectively. Our review of the BDP-105 focuses solely on analog audio performance since the HDMI audio and video performance between the new BPD-103 and BDP-105 players are identical and have already been covered in our BDP-103 Video Review.
The BDP-105 does come with a slightly higher price tag of $1,199 than its $999 BDP-95 predecessor and is more than double the price of the new BDP-103 model. Is it worth it? Let’s take a deeper look at the analog performance of the BDP-105 so you can answer that question for yourself.
The DAC Layout
For the BDP-103, Oppo hired the designer of one of the popular BDP-93 aftermarket modifications to help them improve its analog audio performance. The new design is said to have a warmer, more open and lively sound comparing to the BDP-93. This was achieved by a novel configuration of the Cirrus CS4382A 24 bit DAC and a new analog buffer and filter stage following the DAC output.
Oppo BDP-105 Internal View
The same designer also contributed to the BDP-105’s analog audio section. The BDP-105 is said to retain the BDP-95’s very detailed and accurate sound, and the performance measurements are almost identical to the BDP-95. The BDP-105 uses the same dual ES9018 Sabre32 Reference DAC chips as the BDP-95. In the BDP-95, they ganged the 4 pairs of the stereo DAC outputs to increase the current output. The higher current output enabled them to use a smaller current to voltage conversion resistor, and a smaller resistor has less thermal noise than a larger resistor. In the BDP-105, Oppo initially tried to use the same ganged DAC outputs design, but found that the performance became worse. The additional USB DAC, coaxial, optical input and headphone output made it impossible to design an optimized PCB layout if they continued to stack the DAC channels. The suboptimal layout was the cause of the degraded performance. After many attempts and revisions, Oppo decided to no longer stack the DAC channels. The new design assigns one pair of DACs for the RCA output, one pair for the XLR, and two pairs stacked for the headphone amplifier. The new configuration allowed Oppo to create a clean layout that minimized the interference and crosstalk. The downside is they lose the benefit of the lower thermal noise from the I/V resistor, but by beefing up the power supply and separating the stereo and multi-channel boards, Oppo was able to maintain the excellent bench test performance. The BDP-105’s stereo audio specification is listed to be the same as the BDP-95, and their internal test results actually show that the BDP-105 is slightly better. This design approach resulted in increased cost and manufacturing complexity, but enabled them to better route the signals, power and ground so they could ensure a high level of performance for all modes of operation.
For more information on this chipset, see:
The Chassis Cooling
Unlike the BDP-95 player that utilized a ventilation fan on the back panel, the new BDP-105 player utilizes passive cooling only. This was accomplished in two ways: reducing heat generation and improving heat dissipation. The new dual-core SoC produces less heat than the previous decoder chip thanks to its advanced semiconductor fabrication process. Oppo added a separated winding to the new Toroidal transformer so they could get +5V and +3.3V power for the analog section from low voltage drop regulators instead of from the +15V rail. The BDP-105 chassis is taller so it has more volume for air space and is slower to heat up. The ventilation grilles on the top, bottom and back of the player complete the passive cooling design by allowing cool air to come in and warm air to escape. This was a welcome improvement as I was sometimes able to hear the cooling fan turn on in the BDP-95 in my acoustically controlled theater room. Lowering and preferably eliminating all mechanical noise sources in my listening space is always of paramount importance.
Set-Up & Configuration
Oppo Blu-ray players are really easy to setup. This can be attributed to their excellent OSD navigation menu and user manual, which in my opinion is second to none in the business. The remote control is also great. It’s based on the previous generation players’ remote but with some minor enhancements including hot keys to the Netflix and Vudu options and a few new added features. The remote is fully backlit with the hit of the bottom right button. I would have preferred a sidebar button but that’s a small nit to pick. The “home” button takes you to all of the streaming options including Pandora, Netflix, Vudu, etc. Access to the input source options is just one click away via the “input” button and all of the OSD functions are easily navigated via the central up/down, left/right and enter buttons.
Oppo BDP-103/105 Remote Control
I configured the BDP-105 to pass bitstream HD signals via HDMI and disabled bass management for the analog outputs by setting all speakers to “large”.
The BDP-105 was connected directly to the Pass Labs X350.5 two-channel amplifier via Bluejeans balanced cables to the dedicated two-channel system in the Audioholics Showcase Home Theater system. I also tested the unbalanced outputs plugged directly into my Marantz PM-11SE Integrated Amp used in preamp mode. Kimber 8PR speaker cables were used between the amplifier and Status Acoustics 8T reference speakers.
For multi-channel usage, the BDP-105 was connected to my Denon AVP-A1HDCI A/V processor using two Sonicwave HDMI cables. The reason two HDMI cables were used was because the BDP-105 only passes SACD in its native DSD format via the HDMI2 output. This is caused by hardware limitation on both the decoder chip and the Marvell video processor. Only the HDMI1 output gives you 4K up-scaling and color, contrast and detail enhancements. As a result, I configured my A/V processor’s Blu-ray input to accept video and audio from the HDMI1 output of the BDP-105 and utilized a different HDMI input on my A/V processor connected directly to the HDMI2 output of the Oppo BDP-105 Blu-ray player when playing back SACD to preserve the native DSD format.
Consumers able to only to utilize 1 HDMI connection would be best served using the HDMI1 output and setting the BDP-105 SACD output to PCM conversion or if they prefer to keep SACD in native format, to utilize the HDMI2 output if 4k upconversion and enhancement features aren’t important for their application. Since the end user applies bass management in virtually all multi-channel installs, DSD has to be converted to PCM anyways. I ran comparative listening tests and found it to make little to no discernible difference whether the PCM conversion happened at the Blu-ray player or in my Denon AVP-A1HDCI A/V processor. When I quickly came to that realization, I disconnected the 2nd HDMI cable and shelved it. For two-channel sources, I mostly listened to SACD via the analog outputs which preserved the format in DSD so I could maintain my bragging rights to my audiophile friends that I was a purist.
Oppo BDP-105 OSD Input Selector
Back panel Views of Oppo BDP-95 (top) & BDP-105 (bottom)
As you can see in the above photo, the BDP-105 is slightly taller than the BDP-95. Both players measure 16.8" wide by 12.2" deep but the BDP-105 is almost 1” taller, measuring in at 4.8” high. The hefty BDP-105 weighs in at just a little over 17 lbs. Notice the absence of the fan for the BDP-105. The BDP-105 also has a thicker top cover which increases rigidity and gives it that high end look and feel.
The BDP-105 has the most extensive set of connections I’ve seen in a Blu-ray player. It carries over all of the same connections as the BDP-95 minus ALL analog video connections. The BDP-105 is the first player, other than its smaller BDP-103 sibling, to offer HDMI inputs. This allows you to use the BDP-103/105 players to switch between sources though the player itself eliminating the need for an A/V process in more modest setups. Think of the scenario where an audiophile may have a kicking good two-channel rig that they adopted for multi-channel. Since the BDP-105 has a master volume control, they could run the analog outputs directly into their multi-channel power amplifiers and the HDMI output of the BDP-105 into their display. They can also run their cable box directly into the BDP-105 via HDMI and it will decode the 5.1 Dolby Digital bitstream and send it out of the analog audio outputs while also upconverting the 1080i video signal to 1080p sent directly to the display. In a modest setup like this, one simply doesn’t need an A/V processor or receiver, especially since the BDP-105 also acts an internet media streaming device with all of the latest widgets (ie. Pandora, Netflix, Vudu, etc) and can also interface both via Ethernet and wirelessly with your computer through Windows Media Player to play music and video files.
To simplify connecting smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices to your home theater system, Oppo included a dual function front panel HDMI input on the BDP-103 and BDP-105 that also operates as an MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) input port. This allows one to display high resolution pictures, 1080p video and listen to pure digital music all while simultaneously charging the connected mobile device.
Netflix DD+ & 1080p Support!
A pleasant surprise I discovered was when I entered the Netflix menu and not only found a better response time than this model’s predecessor but some enhanced audio and video features too. Since the BDP-103/105 has a new improved DRM scheme, it is able to support 5.1 Dolby Digital+ and up to 1080p video stream when Netflix supports it. I tested this out on the movie Lorax and was very happy with the audio and video performance, which rivaled what I could get from Verizon FIOS. If Netflix would only improve its on-demand selection, I’d unreservedly recommend fellow BDP-103/105 owners to become a subscriber too.
Oppo BDP-105 Home Menu
Streaming Services & Disc Info
Pandora worked just like it did with the older Oppo players. I was a bit disappointed there was still no option to alphabetize your stored stations or target selected stations for a random play. This app could use a little work. I didn’t test Vudu or Rhapsody since I do not subscribe to those services.
I did have a blast copying music off my iTunes account to a thumb drive and playing it back via the front panel USB connector of the BDP-105.
Oppo BDP-105 OSD playback from USB device
I thought it was pretty cool that I could get artist and track info along with product year for the album. I’m not sure why iTunes pulled meta data on Pat Metheny (one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time) as Opera Genre, but at least it didn’t list him as Country Music
Oppo BDP-105 OSD Readout of King Crimson DVD-A Disc
The BDP-105 gives you all of the data regarding a disc being played in the machine with the hit of the info button. It was pretty cool seeing the disc data rate, type of signal, aspect ratio, etc while jamming out to Steve Wilson’s wonderfully remastered DVD-A disc of the King Crimson Discipline album.
If I connect the BP-105's balanced stereo outputs directly to a stereo amp that powers my floorstanders, could I then connect the subwoofer RCA output on the BP-105 to my powered subwoofer then use the subwoofer crossover to manage the bass frequencies the floorstanders are not capable of producing?
Not sure if they improved the bass management on the 105, but on my 83SE, there was only one x-over frequency fixed at 80Hz. Otherwise you just run it full range and adjust the sub manually. So theoretically, I'd say you should be able to do this.