Is Oppo 83 outputting to a DAC as good as 83SE outputting analogue

stewart kiritz -- Sat, 07/10/2010 - 21:20

 Hi All,
I am trying to figure out whether it is worth an extra $400 to buy Oppo 83SE over the 83.  The better internal DAC of the SE is not going to benefit me, is my guess, since I plan to output the Oppo digitally to my Dacmagic DAC.  I am wondering what people think.
Also, I am buying this thing to play SACD's but also 24/96 discs I burn from hi res download sites.  Anything I should be aware of?
Many thanks in advance.
Stewart Kiritz

Sam -- Sat, 07/10/2010 - 21:31

according to the oppo website..... If you will use the Oppo 83 ONLY as a CD Transport outputed to the DAC then you don't Need the SE version and regular is recommended. If you will use the analog outputs then SE is better.  when you use digital output of the player to a DAC you will not hear the SACD quality. SACD has other codes and things that don't allow that kind of play.

stewart kiritz -- Sun, 07/11/2010 - 14:15

 I'm confused.  If you use the digital output to a DAC, why would this be worse than using the inboard DAC which converts to analog for SACDs?  There is going to be a conversion to analog either way.

Sam -- Sun, 07/11/2010 - 16:56

There is something to do with SACDs.  I am not sure.....other experts can explain it.  From What I know, SACD doesn't work like a regular CD and when you are using digital output on a SACD its not playing the SACD quality. Im guessing it has to do something with the laws/rights and DAC's........I brought it up not to confuse you or spread rumors but to bring on a discussion on it.  Lets see if others who are experts in SACD can give their views.

ilxman99 -- Mon, 07/12/2010 - 10:41

The Oppo is a universal player, meaning it can decode sacd and cd internally. However, thanks to the blockheads like Sony who control the sacd format, sacd bitstreams cannot be sent digitally to an outboard dac as can cd bitstreams. Thus, even if you you think the dacmagic is superior to the internal oppo dac for CDs, you will still be left with the internal Oppo dac and output stage for sacd playback.

stewart kiritz -- Mon, 07/12/2010 - 11:25

 Thanks!  So am I correct that I should purchase the 83Se to have the best level of SACD playback?  I am willing to do this.  It's just a bit confusing to someone who is mostly a musician and not completely adept at all this technology!  And when Oppo themselves say the 83 is recommended if using an outboard DAC, it sounds like they are incorrect when it comes to SACD.  Am I getting this right?

Sam -- Mon, 07/12/2010 - 11:42

Yes. Get the 83SE and play SACD through the analog outputs and if your external DAC is better sounding then the oppo then use the opo digital output to play regular CD's like that.  If not use 83SE for everything.

RanaKabir -- Mon, 07/12/2010 - 19:16

Stewart, I have the Standard Oppo BDP-83, the BDP-83SE and the very good Benchmark Media DAC-1 HDR. (I am also a musician and an audio consultant. My specialty is designing/building high-end HTs and Recording Studios.) In my high res system (Magnepans, Pass Labs, & JPS Labs wiring) I can definitely tell a big difference between DSD SACDs as converted by the 83SE from the SACD bitstream as opposed to feeding the converted PCM to an external DAC. SACD is based on DSD which is quite different than PCM (which is what the Redbook CDs are). They use different methods for converting analog to digital and vice versa, with DSD being superior. I have used both formats in the recording studios and can tell you with certainty that DSD is superior to ALL PCM. Also note that there is always a loss of transparency going to outboard DACs in general due to flaws in the interface. This happens due to several issues arising from electromagnetic and temporal fluctuations as well as quantum interferences within the digital interconnect itself.

The SACD output from the 83SE is superior in every way. Also the output of the 83SE sounds better when it is set up (from the settings menu) to convert directly from SACD stream rather than from PCM. You will lose significant resolution listening to SACDs by using the DacMagic as well the benefits of the next generation lossless high definition formats such as DTS-HD Master Audio which the Oppo can decode (but not the DacMagic). The 83 Special Edition is very special in this regard! Nothing in its price range comes even close. I would highly recommend that you try the 83SE. Also don’t forget the 83SE is wired/wireless network aware, allowing use as an outboard DAC over the network with media server, etc.  (Read my excerpt below from another forum discussing what the extra $400 is buying you. It’s considerable and worth every penny!)
Also note:  It is NOT true, “…thanks to the blockheads like Sony who control the sacd format, sacd bitstreams cannot be sent digitally to an outboard dac…”
SACD/DSD streams CAN be sent digitally to an outboard DAC and the Oppo 83SE does this!  However:
A. It is done over HDMI interface and not coaxial/toslink because the bandwidth required to stream DSD data is significantly higher than 16/44.1 Redbook CDs, therefore CAN NOT be done over coaxial/toslink due to bandwidth limitations of that interface (and has NOTHING to do with Sony’s reluctance).
B. The outboard DAC must be able to accept/convert a DSD stream, (which your DacMagic can’t).

The 83SE is the most high-value product I have bought in my 30+ audiophile career and is a really good sounding piece of hardware. You should absolutely give it a listen.

“There are three (3) distinct differences between the Standard BDP-83 and the Special Edition with ONE of them affecting every aspect of both players including video, HDMI clock/jittter etc.

1.As is common knowledge the audio board is different. The board itself has 3 distinct differences between the two. Standard board uses the Cirrus Logic CS4382A 7.1 channel DAC for multi-channel outputs while the SE uses the ESS Technology ES9006 DACs for improved multi-channel performance. Standard board uses Cirrus Logic CS4398, 1 DAC per channel for the Stereo outputs while the SE uses ESS Technology ES9016, 4 DACs per channel, providing probably 40% of the audible difference between the two in Stereo. SE’s analog section after the DACs uses superior audiophile quality components. This probably accounts for another 40% of the sonic improvements as compared to the Standard.

2. SE uses a much improved MAIN Power Supply which provides power to the ENTIRE unit. This means the video sections as well as the HDMI controllers/clock circuitry etc are getting tighter controlled power. This power section has two distinct differences when compared to the Standard unit. The analog audio power regulators use dynamic servos whereas the Standard does not. This combined effort is probably responsible for the remaining 20% of the audible difference. However the POWER supply’s contribution it is not only apparent in the Audio section. In my dedicated light controlled HT using a DLP DarkChip 3 projector which is carefully calibrated to ISF standards I fed both of them directly to the projector using high quality cables and could tell a slight difference in the picture quality of the SE as compared to the Standard. This slight difference can also be found thru the HDMI outputs. This HDMI difference between the two was much more apparent in my main audio system consisting of highly modified Magnepans driven by Neilson Pass mono-blocks connected by JPS Labs Superconductor wires but NOT so apparent in my bedroom system using an Onkyo receiver driving mid level speakers. So if you are not hearing it, blame it on the resolution of your system (and/or your auditory experience level) but it is there.

3. SE has a RS-232 port that the Standard does not (and has nothing to do with audio/video performance whatsoever).

SO the value proposition is answered in the first two points. Those of you above that are asking why bother going with the SE and spend the extra money or why bother with analog instead of feeding the HDMI into a processor/receiver need to consider the ENTIRE picture. For hardcore audiophiles on a budget with a vast collection of STEREO Discs it will be impossible to find a Receiver/processor anywhere near the OPPO SE’s sound quality for under a thousand dollars, period! A processor/receiver that has state-of the-art 32 bit processors, boutique style analog section, a tightly regulated power supply, and provide Direct decoding of DSD streams as well as latest crop of codecs such as Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio is going to cost you a minimum of $5-6,000. I realize this advantage will eventually disappear especially since OPPO has shown the rest of the industry how it should be done (Denon announced all their next generation products will employ 32bit convertors) but for now the best sound for the least amount of money is here in the wonderfully crafted Oppo BDP-83 Special Edition which is very special indeed.”

Rana N. Kabir
CEO, ENDS Technologies

stewart kiritz -- Mon, 07/12/2010 - 20:05


Thanks a million for your generosity in taking the time for this reply! It is very helpful. This morning I ordered the SE, based on what I had been able to determine so far. But your post really fills out the picture for me. I feel like by the time I finish with this process I will qualify for an honorary engineering degree. It is truly amazing how many technical issues come up when faced with the challenge of improving the listening experience through high end audio. I am hoping to get close to the listening I enjoyed with direct-to-disc vinyl years ago. Going to a higher resolution input hopefully will come closer to this. I originally thought about the Oppo because it would seem I can download 24/96 files, burn a dvd, and play it on this player. But I also have a lot of SACD's which have stayed on the shelf lately. It has just been more convenient to put Apple lossless files downloaded from CDs onto my ipod, and play back through Wadia Itransport and the Dacmagic. Now I will see what happens when I can play media in this new fashion.

stewart kiritz -- Tue, 07/13/2010 - 10:59

Rana, While I have your attention, if I play DTS-HD discs on a two channel system, will this still represent superior sound to SACD format, or is DTS-HD mainly valued for its 7.1 capability?


RanaKabir -- Tue, 07/13/2010 - 19:51

Yes direct-to-disc vinyl was the standard. I still get stunned by the dynamics of Sheffield Lab's 'James Newton Howard & Friends'. The current crop of the high-end SACD convertors comes very close to this. A word of warning regarding the "...lot of SACD's which have stayed on the shelf lately...” I have found that a lot of SACDs especially early ones were actually derived from 16 or 20 bit PCM masters (created to make the redbook CD) because the label didn’t want to sink money in acquiring the Original Studio Master AND use DSD Analog-to-Digital Convertors to create a virgin DSD master. So on those SACDs you will hear all the flaws of low bit PCM (very flat, harsh, uninvolving). A properly recorded SACD (Telarc) is magical, reminding me of direct-to-disc vinyl.

DTS-HD Master Audio has value beyond 7.1. The current specs (which I understand will change to even higher data density soon) allow serious data densities. The goal of the DTS-HD Master Audio format was to allow a bit-to-bit (lossless) representation of the original movie's studio master soundtrack. To accomplish this, DTS-HD MA supports variable bit rates up to 24.5 Mbit/s on a Blu-Ray Disc and up to 18.0 Mbit/s for HD DVD. The format supports 96 KHz/24bit resolution in multichannel mode with up to 8 channels. (However DTS-HD is capable of virtually any amount of discrete channels (over 2000) but is limited by the storage media.) Where Audiophiles can truly rejoice is the fact that DTS-HD supports a maximum of 192 KHz sampling frequency with 24-bit depth samples in 2 channel stereo mode. This higher sampling rate is closer to the data density of DSD and sounds very close to DSD (though not superior). And I have noticed more and more studios using this rate (as opposed to 96 KHz) for their stereo masters.

Rana N. Kabir
CEO, ENDS Technologies

ilxman99 -- Tue, 07/13/2010 - 10:31

Apparently I've missed something re sacd. The reason I and all the other sub-baby boomers ignored SACD was because we've long used computer-based servers for our (non-copy-protected) CDs, while SACD didn't allow it--that was simply a foolish, blockhead decision for the younger digital generation. It seems older audiophiles are finally now coming around too, judging by the flood of new high-end solutions now available. Are you saying SACD now allows bit-transparent transfers in native DSD to music servers? If so I'd certainly take a fresh look at the format.

RanaKabir -- Tue, 07/13/2010 - 20:59

Well, a bit transparent stream from a SACD can be had using a HDMI or proprietary interface from a SACD player such as the Oppos and Sonys for outboard processing/converting. However, not a lot of computer based servers/cards are supporting DSD. This may change due to the development of the type of digital amplification that uses a digital bitstream to amplify AND convert to analog, right at the speaker terminals, WITHOUT the need for a separate DAC! This significant development in amplification could push DSD as the format of choice for audio application. This was the biggest reason I was very excited reading Sony’s first bitstream white paper some 18 years ago. Bitstream showed the potential of amplification AND analog conversion to be done in one step right at the speaker terminals. I would like to see the entire planet go this route and kill analog (and PCM) for good. It would simplify/eliminate a great many components/interfaces while providing fantastic resolution & fidelity.

I am speaking of Digital amplifiers that are essentially high current DACs, or DACs that have enough current to directly drive a transducer, depending on your point of view. This does NOT work with PCM (without conversion). Read NAD's white paper here. Their new M2 amp based on this tech is nothing short of revolutionary (wrap your head around the idea of a bitstream DAC that outputs 500 watts).

So far, in the lower end more and more Receivers, but in the higher end only a handful of processors/DACs, notably Meitner/EMM Labs, DCS & Playback Systems are allowing DSD input. My current fav is the Playback Systems MPD-5 DAC. This is the least expensive DAC in the absolute best category. Not surprising considering its the brainchild of none other than Andreas Koch. Koch got his start working for Studer ReVox in Switzerland back in 1982. It was his task to build the world's first fully asynchronous digital audio sample rate converter, patent granted in 1984. From there he went to Dolby Labs where he built the digital signal processing of the AC-1 encoder and decoder (delta modulator). Then back to ReVox to develop a professional digital audio tape recorder which was a 48-channel DASH format on 1/2 inch tape. For the next two years he was involved in the market and technology research for hard disk (PC) recording in professional applications.

In 1993 Koch went to Sony where he started and managed the development for the world's first 8-channel DSD recording / editing / mixing machine. "Sonoma" is still used today in studios throughout the world and has been used for most SACD releases. He designed all the digital parts of A/D and D/A converters that helped establish DSD as a superior sounding audio format in SACD. He followed that up by expanding the Sonoma to 32-channels of DSD on a single PC. Andreas also participated in all standardization committees for SACD in conjunction with Philips. He then went out on his own and has done consulting/development for EMM Labs (considered by many to be the best DACs on the planet) before starting Playback Systems in 2008. If you can afford this DSD capable DAC then you have arrived. (And I envy you!)

Rana N. Kabir
CEO, ENDS Technologies

RanaKabir -- Sun, 07/18/2010 - 19:01

Stewart, I forgot to mention that you will need a good app to burn your downloaded hi-res files. I had some issues in the beginning getting several universal players including the Oppo to recognize burned hi-res files with generic software. I finally settled with HD-Audio Solo Ultra v.3 software from Cirlinca Inc.  and my 83SE has never sounded better, especially with 24/88.2 FLACs downloaded from HDTracks. Solo Ultra also allows Blu-Ray Audio (and video) authoring so you can fit a lot of tracks in one disc (25GB/50GB for dual-layer) for extended listening.

Rana N. Kabir
CEO, ENDS Technologies

stewart kiritz -- Sun, 07/18/2010 - 19:11

Rana! You are a gentleman and a scholar! Thanks for all this invaluable information.


JD -- Sun, 07/18/2010 - 18:43

Thankyou for your detailed and v well thought out posts.


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