I was wondering if anyone has the new Oppo BDP-83. If so what are your thoughts? How does it compare with the Panasonic DMP-BD55 with respect to picture quality, up-conversion and load times? Also how does it compare with Oppo's own DV-981 HD?
Below I pasted our evaluation of an the Oppo BDP-83 (of which there are more postings in the our original post). We have also tested out a DV-981HD before and found it to be a bit on the brittle side on top end (which can be heard in female vocals and guitars). It had punchy quick bass, but was lacking on the bottom end frequency. DVD upsampling was very good for an upsampling dvd player, but the BDP-83 has far superior upsampling capabilities (as does the Modified Samsung BD-P3600), as it seems to have a much improved chipset for upsampling regular DVDs; almost if you will semi-high def. Below is our posting with some descriptions of the Oppo Blu-ray player.
We were planning on posting an evaluation in March of the new Oppo Blu-ray Player (BDP-83), but unfortunately the Oppo player was not available to listen to until just recently. Oppo has had quite an extensive customer evalation period before releasing the new player. Luckily for us, a friend and customer of ours was among the few people who participiated in this evaluation. He liked many things about the new player, but was not totally satisfied with it. On some discs, the player seems to present a highly detailed presentation with a very pinpoint sound stage and superior dynamics, but on other discs, the player made his CDs seem almost unlistenable; in his words being much too "dry" (We will get to our theory about this later). As he knew we do modifications to receivers, players, and Blu-ray players, he wanted us to take it home and evaluate it ourselves on our system and see if there were any improvements we could make. As it happened the new Samsung Blu-ray player BD-P3600 came out just a month before this player (in Oregon) and we have not had a chance to evaluate this unit either.
We were able to evaluate both players side by side and came up with some interesting conclusions. The Oppo right out of the box, has stunning Blu-ray video, with some of the deepest blacks we have seen so far. The Samsung right out of the box was very excellent and is far better than its earlier model (BD-P2550), but we found at first it did not have quite the black levels or three dimensionality / detail, as the Oppo unit, which we were very impressed with. Later, we discovered that the difference in between players was mostly able to be adjusted out with black corrector settings on our TV; the Oppo player itself boosts up the black levels internally. But even with these adjustments on the TV, while playing the Samsung player, the Oppo was just a bit better in three dimensionality and detail when both units were factory units and not modified.
As for the sound of both units, the Oppo boasts the ability to play most any format available (Blu-ray, DVD, DVD-audio, SACD, HDCD, CD, etc), while the Samsung is strictly a Blu-ray / DVD / CD player. You do pay for the extra formats on the Oppo player, though, with the Oppo being reported to be around $600 and the Samsung being $375. The sound of the Oppo is greatly improved from previous Oppo units we have tested, which always had a characteristically brittle top end and shallowness of bass response. The unit appears to have been completely redesigned, with a completely different sound characteristic and much better build quality than previous players from Oppo. We compared theOppo to our reference player, which is a Modified Pioneer Elite DV-48AV Universal Player.
At first, we were very impressed with the Oppo player (BDP-83), as it has a very transparent mid range / lower top end range, but then on other CDs we started hearing some things that were not quite correct. For instance, on a Shirley Horn CD, there was a harmonica that just sounded hollow, lacking the usual body / tone of the instrument, which we thought was rather strange. After testing various formats and discs we started to see a pattern. The transparency of the Oppo in the mid-range and lower top end was due to a lack of very bottom end frequency extension and thinness on the very top end frequencies. Especially, with less bass extension, you will get the feeling of more transparency / a lighter feel to the sound, as there is less lower bass to mix in with your mid range frequencies. On the top end, the lack of extension at certain high frequencies, will tend to help with accentuating certain frequencies and give you a greater degree of transparency, as well, in those frequencies. But as stated earlier, this can lead to certain aspects of the sound that may be impressive, but not necessarily correct. I found the Oppo tended to sound better on CDs that had a warmer characteristic to them, than on CDs that tended to be a bit cooler/ neutral. The warmer CDs would sound cleaner and less warm and the cooler discs would tend to sound dryer / more analytical. This happened to several SACDs / DVD-audio discs, where the stage would sound larger, but at the same time, the instruments had lost their fluidity (became rather analytical) and the ambiance in the recording venue, was not as transparent at the very top, with the overall performance taking on a slightly unnatural characteristic. On DVD-audio the Modified Pioneer Elite unit, had more texture to the voice and more detail, as well as lower bass levels. These same characteristics seemed to follow the Oppo player into every sound format we tried, including Blu-ray high resolution formats, with the bass not extending as low and being thin on the top end.
The latest stock, unmodified Samsung Blu-ray player (BD-P3600) out of the box had it's own particular characteristics. The bass right from start had lower bass extension than the Oppo (not quite as low as the Modified Pioneer). There was no thinness to the top end as we heard with the Oppo, but in our opinion, it could get a tad harsh on some frequencies (for classical music mostly), as it did not extend as high as the modified Pioneer player. An interesting observation is that on music CDs the player tends to favor rock / jazz much more than classical music, as classical music is often more difficult to play well. On our test of Jack Johnson on CD, it played it sounded rather remarkably good. It was quite a bit better than how the Oppo sounded on that disc, being thinner and shallower on the bass. On classical music, the Samsung did not fair as well, sounding a bit harsh and constricted.
Blu-ray playback was very good, with the video being quite excellent and an improvement over Samsungs last model, in terms of sound and video. The unit did not have built in boosted black levels so one had to adjust the TV to get near to how the Oppo looked, but for comparing unmodified units, I would still give the slight edge to the Oppo in detail and three dimensionality. Samsung's Blu-ray audio was very excellent. It had lower bass levels than the Oppo player and also lacked the thinness, which plagued the Oppo. With the Oppo player this thinness at times seemed to give the sense of more immediacy, but it cut back on the extension of the unit, leaving you with less ambiance and presence of "air" on the top.
We then modified both units to see how each took to the modification. The modified Oppo (BDP-83) player was definitely much less thinner. The thinness did not totally vanish (and I doubt it ever will), but it was greatly improved. The bass extended to a lower frequency, adding some warmth to the sound, but it was still not as low as the modified Pioneer player on many formats. In terms of the video, the playback for the Oppo was noticeably improved in terms of three dimensionality, and color balance.
The modified Samsung player (BD-P3600) took to the modification quite a bit better than the Oppo player. It's bass extended to an even lower frequency than it had originally been across all audio formats. And its highs extended higher as well, giving it more of a sense of air and being much less harsh. I would say that the modified Pioneer still has a slight edge in CD playback, but the Samsung player was greatly improved in audio playback after the modification. As for Blu-ray video playback, the Samsung caught up to the Oppo (with the proper TV black level adjustments) and in my opinion, was a bit more detailed / three dimensional after being modified. We did try to play the modified Oppo player at identical black level adjustments on our TV as the modified Samsung player, but found that it became too dark. Blu-ray audio on the Samsung playerwas also greatly improved, with the frequency levels going lower and extending higher as well, giving the player a quite stunning Blu-ray playback package.
As for conclusions, we would say that the Modified version of Samsung's latest Blu-ray player (BD-P3600) is a superior player than even the Modified Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player, especially when it comes to the Blu-ray audio. The Samsung goes lower, is more dynamic, captures the highs better and has none of the thinness of the Oppo. The video of the Modified Samsung player, is also quite stunning when the TV is properly adjusted and slightly edges out the modified Oppo player in terms of clarity and three dimensionality. We are not saying the Oppo Blu-ray player is a bad unit, in fact we think very highly of it as a very good effort by Oppo and a great improvement over their earlier generation units. The video is quite frankly stunning on the Oppo.
As this is a non-commerical forum, we will not post prices for modifications, but we will say that modifications for both players will be available shortly, as we know a fair amount of audiophiles will purchase the Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player for the multi-format playback capabilities and may have issues with a certain thinness or analytical quality on some recordings. Our friend had ribbon tweeters, which seemed to magnify these flaws to a certain extent. On our own speakers (custom single driver speakers and custom modified subwoofers), these shortcomings were even more evident. We hope this article has been both informative and interesting to those of you who have not got a chance to hear the new and much awaited Oppo Blu-ray player.
Sean and Rick
Stereo Dave's Audio Alternative"
Sean and Rick
Stereo Dave's Audio Alternative
Sean and Rick: I couldn't tell from your review whether you were describing the sound quality through the analog or digital outputs of these Blu-Ray players...
Yes, we should have clarified that and we did post another comment to do so further down in the thread. I hope this makes things clearer. In a nutshell, we tested both. We found that many of the same characteristics in sound of a Blu-ray player would come through in both output types, which is what had found earlier when a while back we tested out different DVD players . The exception to the rule seems to be the last Panasonic Blu-ray player we tested, which was one model back from the one you mention. It had excellent CD sound (through analog outputs), but was rather subpar on its blu-ray disc playback through the HDMI. The bass frequency depth just did not seem to go that low and it was lacking some clarity in the picture and sound. Below is our second comment on that post that relates to part of your question of Analog and digital outputs.
stereodaves -- Sat, 07/04/2009 - 05:04
First off, our apologies for the lack of attention to this thread. We were under the impression that we would be notified in our email if there were any responses to our post. As we did not receive any such notifications, even though it is checked in our profile to do so (and we have received others prior to this), we were under the impression there was very little interest regarding our post / review. When we just checked the forum out of curiosity (as both of our latest posts seemed to generate no feedback), we were surprised to see the number of responses.
Getting back to the post at hand, we would like to make a few clarifications. The testing of these two players (Stock and Modified Samsung BD-P3600 and Stock and Modified Oppo Digital BDP-83) was conducted with pieces of well recorded classical and popular music on both HDMI and Analog outputs respectively. We did tests of two channel CD selections, as well as multi-channel and stereo high resolution (DVD-A / SACD) selections. We also played Blu-ray movies to test sound and video. I should have mentioned this in the post / review. On both players, through HDMI, we did test out the Bitstream digital option, as we have found all of the Blu-ray players we have tested consistently sound the best through the Bitstream mode. And to respond to GuyR’s comments, a difference can be heard between two players even on Bitstream. Maybe it’s the sound of the transports or something deeper…but the interesting thing is that we heard the same character of sound from both units on all outputs we tried, but this is not particularly surprising, as we have run across the same phenomenon in other players, Blu-ray and DVD alike.
Our modification to both players was done with our proprietary process, that has been at least 5 years and counting in the making. This proprietary process began with our late friend and my late boss, Mr. David Herren. This process is improved on a continual basis after many late night listening sessions. By this proprietary process, we improve the functioning and efficiency of all the capacitors and other electronic components of the modified unit, affecting not only specific signal paths, but also improving the electron flow, functioning and performance of the entire machine. This change in facilitation of the electron flow results most often in the frequency range expanding on both ends of the spectrum, resulting in more “air,” clarity, wider staging, better location, deeper more tighter bass and an overall more musical, yet clearer presentation. Video is also improved, with the blacks becoming “blacker,” three dimensionality being improved, as well as clarity of picture and colors becoming more correct. With the Samsung BD-P3600, this is exactly what happened, as there was quite a substantial difference between the unmodified and modified units in terms of sound and video. The Samsung started off a bit softer looking in the video, with less three dimensionality and shallow black level than the Oppo, but when modified, it is virtually identical, if not ever so slightly better. The Oppo player’s video improved to a goodly degree, but it was at such a high level to begin with that it did not have as far to go as the Samsung player. In terms of audio, the modification to the Samsung caused the unit to extend to a higher frequency level, giving it more detail, air, and better location and go to an even lower bass floor. The Oppo became much more musical, with almost all of the thin sound we heard being mitigated. The bass level on the bottom also was extended to a much lower degree, but not quite as low as the Samsung or on other formats our modified Pioneer Elite DV-48AV. In terms of price, as keeping with this being a non commercial forum, you can go to our site and take a look or email me privately. As of yet, we have not had a person return a modified unit. Many times, we have had people email us or call us up to tell us how pleased they were with the modification or how much difference they heard.
Back to the Samsung and Oppo Post. We should also note that we tested in two rooms / systems. One system had ribbon tweeters and dual subs. I would like to say they were Thourough Bass Subs. At first, I wondered if it was his system, as the Oppo did very well on some CDs, sounding very clear and transparent, while on others, especially with a female voice of a certain frequency, it had this odd, rather unnatural “dryness” and certain strange sibilance. Some CDs were very unmusical sounding, while others sounded great. Then we tried it on another system that was made up of custom made single driver speakers / extremely low custom modified very fast subs on each channel to test it out. At first we too thought it was more transparent, until we played a vocal track with a harmonica and just heard a hollow sound to it and started hearing the lack of body. We also started to hear that dry, unnatural, analytical sound that we heard at the other system on a decent amount of our tracks. We then played some lower bass tracks and found the player was lacking low frequency response at a certain very low level.
And in response to “sf_doc,” the Oppo player we tested had the latest firmware and is the currently released player. And the bass that we are talking about is on the very lowest fundamentals. We could not hear this lack of very low bass the in previous system, but on our system, if a person listened carefully, the bass of the Oppo had quite a bit of “pop” to it (which we did not find objectionable at all), but at the very lowest frequencies did not have the same darkness, or as much feeling in the floor at certain very lowest frequencies as compared to what we were testing it against. And we did test this when it was unmodified, but burned in, and also when it was modified.
And in response to “Kelli’s Husband,” that was a very astute comment you made about rooms and equipment being a significant factor to how a piece will sound. That is why we wanted to listen to this unit in two different places and systems. And we do, to a certain degree, agree with your comments about matching up equipment and rooms. We do know and openly acknowledge that for some people who have rather warm (I will abstain from saying muddy :D ) bass / mid bass heavy systems, we think the Oppo with it’s slight lack of the lowest fundamentals will cause the person to feel the bass is being cleaned up because there is less of the lowest frequencies, while at the same time the top end having that “thinness” will tend to cause some systems to have an illusion of transparency, detail and openness / width to the soundstage. It is very seductive. But this level of detail / transparency (which is quite impressive at times) seems to come at the price of primarily a natural, musical sound. On many CDs there is almost a feeling like you are getting every single detail, but its like listening to your music through a fine toothed comb. A certain overall musical picture is lost in the process, with some instruments / vocals having a processed sound and we found lacking “air” on the top. For a few CDs we were taken in and really thought the Oppo had done a great job and still do to a certain degree. This is by far Oppo’s best player and we have been testing Oppo players from the beginning. We hoped they would come out with a good, musical player that did not have the characteristic brittleness we and others kept hearing from each of their players. This is definitely a new and much improved player over the older models. We do believe many Oppo customers will be very much pleased, once again, depending on their systems. We would also like to acknowledge, as others have on this board, Oppo’s very stellar customer service. They are very nice people to deal with and we would have had no problem if their player did test out better than the Samsung Blu-ray player or our Modified Pioneer player, but the problem is that just because a company is full of “nice guys” (who do a good job on packaging the unit), doesn’t mean this niceness is necessarily going to translate into the highest level of the excellence in sound. And on that note, I have updated firmware with the previous model and this model of Samsung and have never had any problems, albeit I did just burn a firmware update disc and stick it in the unit.
Also, we did notice that “warmer” recordings benefited greatly from the Oppo, whereas, more neutral recordings tended to become on the “dryer” side. And while we do acknowledge that much will depend on a person’s system, we would like to point out that in both systems we tested, we did hear many of the same characteristics to one degree or another. Some characteristics were accentuated in his system and others came to light in ours. And being in the modification business, if we didn’t think anything we did would make a difference in a variety of rooms and equipment, we would quite frankly not bother, but we do know that typically a neutral, musical, spacious piece, with tight low bass extension will sound very good in most every room and equipment combination (baring of course outright hideous rooms with strange anomalies).
Also in response to “markbsigler,” There are a few rudimentary tips to adjusting the Blu-ray players. First, off in terms of audio, always look to disable anything that says dynamic sound / compression, which will take away from frequency range and also turn off any “downsample PCM” setting. Also, as noted earlier, Bitstream setting on the digital out through the HDMI always sounds the best typically. In terms of video, we did not adjust the video settings of the Oppo or Samsung. What we have found is that a well adjusted HDTV will help out a Blu-ray player to a large degree. Particularly useful are the Iris adjustments (if your TV has an iris) and Black level settings (sometimes known as the “Black Corrector.” What we noticed is that most Blu-ray players can benefit greatly from these settings, especially the Black level settings, which give the player often an even greater degree of Three dimensionality and clarity.
In response, to “Steve Dollar,” the reason you might not want to get a “less expensive player” is that the audio and video on these two players (particularly when modified), is stellar. The video, in and of itself, is at a different level than even the last model by Samsung, which we thought was quite excellent. In terms of audio, a good DAC may be helpful on players that could use some help, but based on some of our customer’s experiences, at times it can be a limiting factor if the unit itself is improved substantially through modification. We did have one gentleman who ended up by not using his “thousand dollar” DAC on a player we modified, as it sounded much better without the DAC in the signal stream after the modification. Also, one thing we have noticed is that with the right combination of Blu-ray players and HDMI receivers, the new high resolution audio formats (particularly DTS HD master), are stunning, and are worlds beyond 2 channel redbook CDs. Until recently, we were dedicated 2 channel audio guys, but DTS HD Master is stunning, especially on concerts like the “Berlin Concert” with Anna Netrebko or “Black and White Nights” withRoy Orbison.
Well, I hope this clarified a few things and thank you very much for taking the time to read our post / review. We hope it has been helpful. If you have any question feel free to post them or email me. Once again, my apologies for not posting back here sooner and I will have to look into why I did not receive any notification of replies.
Sean and Rick
Stereo Dave's Audio Alternative
I currently own a Oppo 983H and a Pioneer BDP-51FD Blu-ray player. The Oppo was purchased it's upgrade of Standard DVD and the Pioneer for Blu-Ray DVD's. I am really interested in picture quality not sound quality. It was not real important with my 9 year old Pioneer SD532as it had no HDMI or DVI imput. It just died from a lighting strike so I purchased a Mitsubishi projector. I am still waiting on my screen and HDMI cables. It is said that with the latest firmware the Pioneer line doubles as well or better than the Oppo. As I have not downloaded the latest firmware I don't know. What do you think of both picture qualities and what would your upgrades do to improve the picture? Thanks
Well, we cant really speak to the Pioneer Blu-ray firmware upgrade, but we can say what we thought of that model before the firmware upgrade, and honestly, it was quite disappointing. The BDP-51FD was clear enough in video, but lacked the three dimensionality or depth of the mid level Sony Blu-ray player, at the time, and is far behind the new Oppo Blu-ray player. Compared to our modified Samsung 3600 (which we think has better video than the Oppo player), there is no contest. The Pioneer Blu-ray also had quite wretched audio, being harsh and brittle on top and having a shallow bass floor. The Oppo Blu-ray player sounds quite a bit better. Our modification work would improve three dimensionality, black levels. and overall contrast of the Pioneer Blu-ray player you mentioned. The modification would probably effect the Pioneer more, as it definitely has farther to go in terms of the video, as compared to the Oppo Blu-ray unit. The Oppo would be improved, but it is already at a very high level in terms of the video of that player. I hope that answers your questions.
These are wonderful reading reviews, but please remember to take them with a grain of salt.
All rooms, most associated electronics and ears are different for everyone. Trust your own ears, you'll reach your Absolute sound sooner.
( I would love to see all reviewers have the courage to preface al their reviews with this disclaimer, but I doubt their advertisers would allow them).
Let the flames begin!
Well, in response to your comment, yes, rooms make a very big different to how sound is perceived, but that is why one must take pains to deal with room problems. Very rarely is there a room that does not have any problems, but simple measures and common sense can help to minimize these aspects. In terms of the Oppo, we had it in two different rooms entirely and it had the same problem in both. When we later modified the unit, it sounded much better in both as well, so one cannot always say that a room will be the number one factor. Some components / modifications and speakers do sound better than others.
Anyone hear the new BDP-83SE with the new ESS Sabre DAC chipsets and upgraded power supplies? Here's the link from Oppo: http://www.oppodigital.com/blu-ray-bdp-83SE/blu-ray-BDP-83SE-Features.aspx. There is an upgrade option for existing BDP-83 owners to SE status for $299, which puts the upgrade at $100 below the price of a new BDP-83SE at $899.
Didn't take long for an upgrade.
Not everyone was so enamoured of the original BDP-83's audip performance.
Why didn't they upgrade the HDMI stage too ?
IME that was weaker than the old analogue stage.