Home theater enthusiasts have long dreamed of owning disc players that could handle virtually every type of material one might want to play—movies in either DVD or Blu-ray format, CDs, and even specialty audio discs in formats such as SACD, DVD-Audio and HDCD. What’s needed, of course, is a combination Blu-ray/universal player, but building one is something easier said than done—in part because the technical requirements of the various disc types vary considerably. But despite the technical challenges involved, a Blu-ray/universal player is precisely what Oppo Digital set out to create in its new BDP-83. And now that we’ve lived with Oppo’s new brainchild for the past few months, we’re pleased to report that it is quite possibly the most universal “universal player” of them all.
Few products have been more eagerly anticipated than the BDP-83, and it’s easy to understand why. First, few disc players at any price offer the format versatility the Oppo does (at present, we know of only one other player offering similar functionality, and it is a Denon model priced at $4500), whereas the BDP-83 sells for a much more manageable $499. But second, and perhaps more importantly, Oppo enjoys a reputation for building “giant killers”—players whose video and audio quality far exceed most customers’ expectations given their modest prices. As you’ll learn in a moment, Oppo has pushed the performance/dollar ratio envelope further than ever before with the BDP-83, so that the player establishes a new benchmark in terms of value for money.
Consider this Blu-ray player if: you want an exceptionally versatile and affordable player that taps the full video and audio capabilities of the Blu-ray format, that provides a strong onboard video processor for playing (and upscaling) DVDs, and that beautifully handles CD, HDCD, SACD, and DVD-Audio discs, consistently delivering a rich, smooth, natural sound.
Look Further if: you were hoping for a low-cost player that could magically trump the sound quality of great audio players in the $2k-4k range; Oppo’s BDP-83 is plenty good, but not that good. But consider this: the BDP-83’s video performance is essentially faultless, while its sound quality surpasses (by a wide margin) anything else I’ve heard at or near its price.
Ratings (relative to comparably priced Blu-ray/universal players)