OPPO’S “GROUND­BREAK­ING” BLU-RAY PLAYER

Oppo hits new heights with its UPD-205 Uni­ver­sal 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player, of­fer­ing ro­bust ver­sa­til­ity and im­pres­sive per­for­mance

SoundMag - - Contents - Writ­ten by Steve May

If you’re build­ing a home the­atre, Oppo will prob­a­bly be high up your list of pre­ferred Blu-ray deck man­u­fac­tur­ers. It has an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion of pro­duc­ing premium disc play­ers, build on foun­da­tions laid by a clas­sic run of uni­ver­sal DVD ma­chines.

The UHD-205 is the cul­mi­na­tion of that de­vel­op­ment - an am­bi­tiously spec­i­fied mul­ti­me­dia de­vice for both phys­i­cal me­dia and file play­back. The disc trans­port is smooth and sta­ble, there’s a class lead­ing DAC on­board, and con­nec­tiv­ity is best in class.

Build qual­ity and fea­tures

Oppo has a de­served rep­u­ta­tion for over-en­gi­neered play­ers. The UDP-205 doesn’t buck the trend. It tips the scales at a hefty 10kg and build qual­ity is im­pres­sive. The player fea­tures a new dou­ble-lay­ered chas­sis with sep­a­rate power sup­plies for sound and vi­sion. The front fas­cia is cast alu­minium.

Around the back are three HDMIs, a main v2.0 ter­mi­nal, sec­ond au­dio only v1.4 out­put, plus an HDMI loop-through in­put (you could use this to route an STB, games con­sole or me­dia streamer).

Son­i­cally it of­fers both bal­anced and un­bal­anced stereo ana­logue out­puts, as well as a full bank of 7.1 ana­logue outs. These are pro­vided for mul­ti­chan­nel au­dio use, and can de­liver any­thing up to 7.1 Dolby TrueHD and DTS MA di­rectly to a suit­ably equipped AVR or di­rectly into a mul­ti­chan­nel power amp; That said, the adop­tion of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X has re­moved much of their ap­peal for videophiles.

The bal­anced out­put utilises a dif­fer­en­tial sig­nal path all the way from the DAC to the 3-pin XLR con­nec­tor, re­sult­ing in less noise and an im­prove­ment in sig­nal qual­ity. We’ll take that as read, as this was not part of the sys­tem used for eval­u­a­tion. The player’s stereo out­put can pro­vide a down­mix of any mul­ti­chan­nel con­tent. There’s also op­ti­cal and coax­ial dig­i­tal au­dio out­puts.

The player has a trio of USB in­puts, two to the rear, and one on the front. With a USB hard drive at­tached, you can ef­fec­tively use the deck as the front end of a mu­sic juke­box. There’s also an asyn­chro­nous USB-B in­put, which ac­cepts sam­pling rates up to 768 kHz PCM and DSD 512.

A 12v trig­ger and RS-232 port are avail­able for con­trol sys­tem in­te­gra­tion. Dual band Wi-Fi is stan­dard, and there’s an Eth­er­net port for wired LAN con­nec­tion.

In ad­di­tion to UHD BD, reg­u­lar (and 3D) Blu-ray and DVD/CD play­back, the UDP-205 is also com­pat­i­ble with Su­per Au­dio CDs and DVD-Au­dio discs, good news if you have a large legacy disc con­nec­tion. It’s a well-equipped net­work streamer too. The player is DNLA com­pli­ant and will play DSD up to 11.2MHz, as well as 192kHz 24-bit on down - PCM, ALAC, AIFF, Ape, FLAC, WAV and MP3. Video sup­port in­cludes MKV and mpeg.

Per­haps the big­gest sur­prise about the deck’s fea­ture set is that there are no apps. Ex­ist­ing Oppo own­ers, used to lis­ten­ing to Tidal via their Oppo player will be dis­ap­pointed, by its ab­sence.

Per­for­mance

Both au­dio and video per­for­mance is out­stand­ing. UHD im­age qual­ity and de­tail retrieval is peer­less. If it’s on the disc, this player presents it to the screen. While the deck’s out­put res­o­lu­tion will typ­i­cally be set to Auto, a Cus­tom set­ting per­mits ad­just­ment of res­o­lu­tion and fram­er­ate, should you need it. There’s also a Source Di­rect mode. Colour Space and bit-depth is ad­justable be­tween 4:2:0, 4:2:2 and 4:4:4, and 8-, 10-, or 12-bit. This should en­sure no dis­play is­sues.

The player sup­ports both stan­dard HDR10 and Dolby Vi­sion en­coded UHD Blu-ray discs. The HDR out­put is ad­justable be­tween HDR Auto, Forced, Off or Strip Meta­data. In Off mode, all HDR is con­verted to SDR. A Tar­get Lu­mi­nance set­ting al­lows in­stall­ers to op­ti­mise HDR to SDR con­ver­sion. The idea is to set the out­put to best match a TV or pro­jec­tor. The de­fault is 300 nits, ris­ing to 1600. Strip re­moves HDR meta­data but pre­serves the na­tive colour gamut.

The deck isn’t all about 4K. Reg­u­lar HD Blu-ray play­back looks fab­u­lous too, and up­scal­ing is ac­com­plished, of­fer­ing nu­ance (if not ac­tual de­tail) and den­sity. You can out­put discs in 1080p if you pre­fer, if you have a bet­ter pro­cess­ing fur­ther down the chain.

The UDP-205 also in­tro­duces a high-pre­ci­sion clock on the Main HDMI out­put, a fea­ture not seen on the ear­lier UDP-105. In truth, I thought the player sounded darn fine with au­dio de­liv­ered overHDMI. But there’s a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence be­tween the ana­logue out­put and HDMI.

The UDP-205 is ev­ery bit an au­dio, as well as video, player and stands com­par­i­son with ri­val au­dio­phile CD so­lu­tions. Ja­panese re­lease A. Pi­az­zolla by Strings and Oboe, by the Una­mas Pi­az­zolla Septet, (ac­tu­ally the first MQAen­coded CD, but that goes un­recog­nised here), sounds lush and spa­cious. Vi­o­lins, cello and bass play across a wide sound­stage, the air be­tween be­lies the fact that this is a 16-bit record­ing.

There are no less than seven fil­ters for the DAC. The de­fault is Mini Phase Fast, which I’m told Oppo en­gi­neers con­sider the best gen­eral op­tion.

Ver­dict

I gen­uinely think the UDP-205 is ground­break­ing bit of kit. It’s the most im­pres­sive disc spin­ner we’ve yet seen from Oppo; per­for­mance and build qual­ity are top notch. The player is a wor­thy re­place­ment to the highly re­garded UDP-105, and jus­ti­fies its price hike with the pro­vi­sion of an in­te­grated high­end DAC and sonic re­fine­ment. There’s no Dar­bee Vis­ual Pres­ence pro­cess­ing in­cluded this time around, al­though I hardly think you’ll miss it.

The lack of stream­ing ser­vices is an in­con­ve­nience, but given their gen­eral ubiq­uity it’s not a deal breaker. Any high-end sys­tem will have ac­cess to Net­flix, Ama­zon, Tidal et al some­where else in the sys­tem.

The only ri­val disc player that ap­pears to come close to the ver­sa­til­ity of the Oppo UDP-205 is the Sony UBP-X1000ES. But as a premium home the­atre com­po­nent, this player sets a very high bar in­deed.

Avail­able now. Price: $2,199

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