Later, I moved forward to the “El Bayo de Negro (Stanley’s Solo)” sequence, where Stanley Clarke plays a brilliant acoustic bass solo that stands as a master class of sorts, showcasing a stunning array of plucking, strumming, slapping, and muting techniques. As Clarke works his way up and down the fingerboard of his bass, the Oppo resolves even the smallest shifts in touch and the resulting attack and decay of individual notes, so that you not only see onscreen but also hear and feel the sonic impact of minute variations in Clarke’s playing techniques. This is where the heightened resolution of the Special Edition becomes vital, as it gives you the sonic equivalent of a “zoomed-in” perspective on the music.
CD and High Resolution Music Discs
For a beautiful example of what the BDP-83SE can do for you, try listening to the opening 30 seconds or so of “The Mermaid”, from Norma Winstone, Klaus Gesing, and Glauco Venier’s Distances [ECM]. During this brief passage, you’ll hear Gesing strike a few piano notes, playing them in the conventional way, but then shifting styles to play the piano in an unconventional way, softly drumming on the instrument’s frame, striking and then plucking strings from above (producing a haunting sound reminiscent of an autoharp) and finally setting up a rhythm with gentle hand slaps to the piano’s case. All the while you can hear these sounds reverberate within the recording space, establishing an intimate feel for the song that is shortly to unfold. Now these delicate and, yes, somewhat peculiar sounds can be reproduced by almost any good player, but what happens with the BDP-83SE in the system is that they become explicit, clear, and sharply focused. You’re not left to wonder how the sounds are being produced, because the Special Edition player simply takes you by the ears and shows you what’s happening. If you love this kind of heightened musical lucidity, as I do, then you can immediately grasp the appeal of the BDP-83SE.
For another demonstration of the Special Edition’s finesse, try listening to “Walter Pigeon” from John Abercrombie and Eddie Gomez’s Structures [Chesky SACD]. The track opens with Gomez providing a lilting theme on his acoustic bass, playing arco style rather than pizzicato, as Abercrombie delicately sketches chords on his electric jazz guitar. A certain hush has fallen over the room, so that you can almost hear the players intently listening to one another, while percussionist Gene Jackson supplies incredibly tasteful and subdued commentary, deftly sweeping his brushes over the surfaces of his snare drum and—occasionally—his cymbals. In a way, it is at very quiet moments like these that the Oppo BDP-83SE is at its best, neatly threading its way through tricky territory where delicate sounds are present, but only just barely so. Where lesser players can sometimes lose the thread of such intimate musical conversations, the Special Edition retrieves precious musical information that other players miss, in the process allowing you to feel like a firsthand witness to rare moments of musical communication.
Oppo’s BDP-83SE Special Edition universal/Blu-ray player builds upon the rock-solid platform of the firm’s proven BDP-83, making changes that dramatically enhance the already very good sound of the standard player. For audiophiles, the level of improvement is neither small nor subtle; rather, it is essential. This is the Oppo built by and for serious music lovers, and if you are one you may find this Special Edition Oppo is an even bigger bargain than the standard model. I certainly do.
Oppo BDP-83SE Special Edition universal/Blu-ray Player