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Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player Bench Test Review Supplemental

by August 25, 2009
Oppo BDP-83

Oppo BDP-83

It’s an extremely rare occasion when Audioholics reviews a product only to have another review take a second look at the product after our review is published.  With all of the positive press Clint DeBoer gave to the Oppo BDP-83 in his formal review, as well as the praise from our forum members, I just simply had to know what all of the fuss was about first hand.  So, I requested a review sample from Oppo.

A few days passed and a package showed up at my door.  It was a double boxed, well wrapped package which not only contained the BDP-83 player but FREE blu-ray demo discs and calibration disc, as well as an assortment of A/V cables including an HDMI cable which was a generic cable with a ferrite attachment that I don’t recommend using but storing away in case of an emergency. 

When I pulled the player from the box, I was pleasantly surprised at its heft for such a small package.  It seemed solid enough, especially at such a bargain basement price.  The remote control was both intuitive to operate and fully backlight for finding that critical “audio” button to select “TrueHD” on the Blu-ray disc you just popped in after you turned the lights out.

Set-Up

I literally had this player fully configured for operation within 5 minutes and that was without even looking at their user manual.  Virtually all of the choices were intuitive.  The player was extremely speedy to navigate.  Within 30 seconds of power up, I had a Blu-ray disc in the player and was playing the first chapter with “TrueHD” audio selected.  I currently have a $4,500 Blu-ray player in for review that takes longer just to open the tray to insert the disc. 

Oppo BDP-893 Speaker SetupAlthough I didn’t actually use the internal decoding of the BDP-83, I did peer through the setup options.  The analog bass management is a bit limited  in that the distance is set in channel pairs in 1 ft increments and the front channels must be placed further away from the listening area than the center and surround channels else you wont be able to properly time align them.   In most speaker configurations this won’t be a huge issue and it’s a total NON issue if you allow the player to simply pass the bitstream to your AVR (A/V Receiver) and allow that device to do all of the bass management, time alignment and decoding. 

In all honesty, if you’re buying a universal Blu-ray player to play all formats, I’d advise on mating it with an HDMI 1.3 AVR and utilizing a single HDMI connection to pass all of the audio formats via bitstream to allow the AVR to handle all of the decoding.  It took us years to get away from the 6 bulky analog cables and goofy bass management implementation of disc players.  Let’s embrace the digital age of the 21st century and use HDMI.   As such, most of my testing and actual usage of this product was in fact with the player passing bitstream through the HDMI connection, including SACD.  Oh yea, let me give kudos to Oppo again for offering the option of passing multi channel SACD via bitstream without doing any PCM conversion to allow the end user to decide whether or not their AVR should apply the bass management, or if they just want to be a purist and run DSD all the way through. 

In Use

Oppo BDP-83 w/ Yamaha RX-Z7I connected the Oppo BDP-83 to the Family Room system of the Audioholics Showcase home.  Up until now, we never had the ability to play all of the formats (ie. DVD-A, SACD, True-HD, DTS-HD) though this system.  I was in musical nirvana when I fired up some of my SACD’s for the first time on this system and got to hear the sweet multi channel tunes from the likes of Jaco Pastorius, Patricia Barber, Genesis and others.  In fact, I celebrated this occasion by listening to the entire “Trick of the Tail” Genesis SACD since nobody was around to disturb me or tell me to turn it down. 

I then proceeded to check out Dave Mathews – Live at Radio City Music Hall on Blu-ray which had me in awe at both the phenomenal audio (96kHz, 5.1 TrueHD) and video quality.  I had to remind myself that a $499 no-frills player was delivering flagship level performance you’d expect from a high end machine with a more prestigious brand costing 5x or more.

Reference SystemI wanted to find the Achilles heel of this player so I tried out two-channel CD via the analog connections.  I listened to various high quality recordings ranging from Jazz to Latin style music.  I compared the sound on the primary reference system in the Audioholics Showcase home to attempt to really discern the sonic differences.  Only when I carefully listened over and over via instantaneous switching did I prefer the sound of my AVR doing the decoding.  My AVR simply sounded richer and more detailed especially on the top end but considering the Oppo costs 15X less than my AVR, I’d say that speaks volumes for the Oppo’s analog capabilities.  SACD playback was a little more obvious than CD but the Oppo still did a great job nonetheless.

I also verified the digital COAX vs HDMI both sounded similarly good on CD and 5.1 audio, so HDMI audio pass thru was clearly not a limiting factor in this player.

I spent the last month or so living with this player connected to both the Audioholics Family Room and Theater room systems, dazzled by its performance.  My wife and kids absolutely love this player because it’s quick to turn on and play.  Unlike every other Blu-ray or HD DVD player I’ve used, the BDP-83 offers no extended wait times.  Instead, it’s instant gratification at the very best.  To add icing on the cake, it remembers where you left off on your disc even after you pulled it out to watch something else, and then put it back in again at a later time.  Why can’t all manufacturers offer this option?

Editorial Note on Disc Memory Feature of the Oppo BDP-83

While this feature works for most CDs, DVD-A, DVD-V and SACD's it does not work for Blu-ray discs authored with Java-based navigation.  Some studios are now starting to integrate a resume function in the Java programs on the disc so some upcoming titles will be able to resume, but the unfortunately most existing Blu-ray titles will start from the beginning.

It’s important to note that the BDP-83 properly passed all formats (ie. DD/DTS, DVD-A, SACD, TrueHD, DTS-HD) as bitstreams to both my Denon AVP-A1HDCI A/V processor and my Yamaha RX-Z7 A/V receiver without any problems.  The signals locked on instantly and I was able to test 192kHz audio when the software supported it.

On the Bench


HDMI Digital Audio Test

Unfortunately Audio Precision doesn’t yet support Bit Error Rate (BER) testing on the APx585 HDMI Audio Analyzer via the HDMI output for Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD test, so my testing was limited to real world usage tests in this regard.  I tested whatever was relevant via the HDMI output of the Oppo BDP-83 to determine its performance.

BER Test

Oppo BDP-83 Bit Error Rate (BER) Test for Dolby Digital

 This test result is rather boring upon first glance but what it tells you is that utilizing the HDMI output of the Oppo, it passes DD/DTS bitsteams bit for bit accurate to your AVR.  In fact, if any errors were present, the AVR wouldn’t be able to decode the formats.  Since I physically tested every format that the Oppo supports with actual software, it’s safe to assume the BDP-83 will pass BER with 0% errors for TrueHD and DTS-HD. 

Editorial Note on BER Testing

A BER of 0% is essential for all bitstreams (ie. DD, DTS, TrueHD, etc) to pass through the player to the AVR for proper decoding.  The same doesn’t apply for PCM data however as many players often upsample 44kHz, 16bit audio you get from a CD and thus alters the original data played from the disc.  This usually results in failed BER tests but not necessarily bad audio performance.  It’s important to check other aspects of the signal such as frequency response and THD after the digital to analog conversion stage to get a clearer picture of what is going on.

96KHz PCM Frequency Response Test

Oppo BDP-83 96kHz 8-channel Test

The Oppo BDP-83 passed an 8-channel 96kHz / 24 bit test signal via the HDMI output perfectly as can be seen by the above ruler flat frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz.

Analog Output Tests

For those rare users buying this player that don’t yet have an HDMI 1.3 AVR capable of decoding the latest surround formats, I tested the analog outputs of the Oppo BDP-83 to see how it performed that function.

TrueHD Frequency Response

Oppo BDP-83 Frequency Response with Dolby TrueHD

 The frequency response was ruler flat from 20Hz to 20kHz for all channels.

THD 10kHz

Oppo BDP-83 THD + N with Dolby TrueHD

Distortion and noise was commendably low out to about 10kHz where it peaked at around 0.01%.  This isn’t a stellar result but it’s not bad either.  This was a bandwidth limited measurement so the results above 10KHz should be ignored but its important to note that distortion would likely continue to rise exponentially to 20kHz, probably to 0.05%. 

Crosstalk Test

Oppo BDP-83 Crosstalk

With a single channel driven at each time, I checked adjacent channels and measured around -100dB or better at 10kHz which is excellent.  When running all channels but one as the disturbers, the channel under test was still under -95dB at 10kHz which again is a stellar result and shows the careful attention Oppo paid to board layout and signal routing.

Wrap-Up

The Oppo BDP-83 is everything and more that everyone has been claiming it to be.  It’s easy to setup and use and the user manual is among the most concisely written and organized I’ve come across for any DVD/Blu-ray machine. 

Without coming off as a pure fan boy for this product, I’d like to simply state if you’re looking for an all-in-one Blu-ray machine that will also play back high resolution multi channel audio formats, I can’t think of a better product at even 5x the cost.  It’s so good that “high end” companies are using the core of this player, slapping their faceplates and logos on it and selling it to their loyal customers for $3k more than Oppo is offering it up for. 

While its analog capabilities are truly respectable, I highly recommend mating this player with an HDMI 1.3 capable AVR and using a single HDMI connection to serve all of your audio and video needs.  Imagine for under $500, you can enjoy your entire collection of CD, DVD, DVD-A, SACD and Blu-ray discs on this affordable, highly usable dream machine!

 > Check out our Detailed Review of the Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player <

For more info, visit:  http://www.oppodigital.com

 

About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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Recent Forum Posts:

j_garcia posts on April 01, 2010 11:47
I installed the beta firmware last night and played one SACD with no popping (though I don't recall that disc popping before), and one movie. I don't know if they changed anything else, but my bass sounded a little different through the Oppo as well with the SACD. I was listening to this same disc a day or two ago.
j_garcia posts on March 30, 2010 14:19
New beta firmware out

http://www.oppodigital.com/blu-ray-bdp-83/bdp-83-firmware-50-0323b.aspx

This public beta version works for both the standard BDP-83 and the BDP-83 Special Edition. Comparing to the official release version BDP83-48-1224, the major changes included in this version are:

1.When there is no disc playing, the player shows the OPPO background screen instead of the “Home Menu”. The “Home Menu” can be accessed by pressing the “Home” button on the remote control.
2.Improvement to MKV compatibility. Some MKV files do not play or play with severe video artifacts when using previous firmware. This version improves the playback of such files.
3.Some users have reported hearing pops or crackles between SACD tracks. This issue happens to certain discs that have data frames that are not aligned with track boundaries. This version removes such pops or crackles.
4.Other general disc compatibility improvement based on recent and upcoming Blu-ray releases as well as user-submitted disc samples.
j_garcia posts on March 11, 2010 19:34
I have two players that can switch between layers on the fly and I only found it useful when I first got into SACD. Now I can't say that I ever listen to the CD tracks at all anymore. I have the Oppo set to default to multichannel and that works for most discs, but I have a few discs that the 2ch is better than the M/C so I would have liked to be able to do this more easily as well.
TFritz posts on March 10, 2010 20:05
BDP-83 Questions

Hi J Garcia-

Thanks for the info. Though you indicate that you don't feel the ability to switch between hybrid SACD layers using the remote alone to be personally useful, I do as I tried to convey. I don't find it convenient to have to turn on my front projector just to do this task (which can be accomplished via a remote as demonstrated by my Denon 2930ci).

Similarly, I feel that it would be far more convenient to have the BDP-83's display show the type of disc being played (along with the bitrate and frequency) than having to turn on my front projector to get this information.

Thanks again.
j_garcia posts on March 08, 2010 11:59
1) No. I don't actually see that as a useful feature. Technically, it is done with the remote via the setup menu, but it can't be done on the fly.

2)Yes. On screen, not on the player's display.

3) As far as I can tell, no.
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