oppo bdp 105 review 


PLAYER: How does Oppo Digital continue to make such incredible players?   


Excellent on nearly anything you put into the BDP-105  

4K upscaling

2-D to 3-D conversion

Qdeo by Marvell

Dual HDMI outputs

USB Asynchronous DAC

SABRE32 Reference Audio DAC

Improved power supply

Plays numerous disc and audio file formats

Internet streaming


Fall 2012

REVIEW EQUIPMENT: Vandersteen Model 2ce Signature II speakers, Onkyo Integra DTR 30.4 receiver, ATI Amplifier Technologies AT1202 amplifier, HSU STF-1 subwoofer, Vandersteen VSM surround speakers, MacBook Pro, AudioQuest Rocket 33 bi-wire, AudioQuest Sidewinder RCA cables, AudioQuest Mini-5 mini cable, AudioQuest Dragonfly DAC, LG flat screen LED 3-D television (55-inch)

By William Kallay

I am, by most accounts, a person of modest means. Cars with six figure window stickers don't impress me. My house doesn't have to be a mansion. I love a good steak as much as the next person, but a dinner for two for $20 is plenty good eatin.'

When it comes to electronics, I expect better than usual. Unlike some lucky listeners, I can't afford $100,000 turntables and pricey speakers. I wouldn't spend that kind of money anyway. Yet I refuse to buy cheap electronics. I don't mind spending more on a piece of equipment, but I don't want to use my retirement savings to do so.

Oppo Digital has been reading my mind. The BDP-105 is the company's new flagship, and it is the most remarkable player the company has yet produced. The Oppo might be more expensive than a typical universal player, but it's more than worth it. 

Because the BDP-105 offers so many features, this is an extensive review. You may want to grab a cool drink, kick back, and read about this remarkable universal player. I recommend visiting the Oppo Digital site for more details on the BDP-105 not mentioned here.

To get the best performance out of the BDP-105, I highly recommend checking the components and cables in your system. As you'll read, this is one heck of a piece equipment that really shows its chops with good audio equipment and cables. The beauty is that you don't have to sell your house to get high quality audio and video out of the BDP-105.


Oppo Digital shipped the BDP-105 almost immediately to my doorstep. It comes beautifully packaged. The unit was tucked nicely into a canvas bag inside of foam inserts. The accessories, like the remote and HDMI cable, are housed inside of a separate box. Worth noting is the high quality HDMI cable.

Lifting the player out of the box, I was impressed. This is no bargain bin Blu-ray player you can buy for under $100.00. This player means business. Although the BDP-105 is large, it's easily movable and fits perfectly inside of my entertainment unit. It's handsomely built with an all black exterior. The front looks completely cool with minimal lighting, yet it's entirely user friendly.

Once plugged in, the player lights up and the Oppo logo comes up on the television screen. Right away, the player's multiple icons show up on the screen in sharp, colorful detail. I've always been impressed with Oppo's menus because they always look good and are easy-to-access. Owners can also download a remote control app for Apple iOS or Android smart phones.

Opening the tray with the remote, I was pleased to hear virtually little sound from the tray. The tray has been upgraded, thereby keeping discs more steady inside. After popping in almost any kind of disc I could think of, the BDP-105 loads the content incredibly fast. During this review, I did not time the BDP-105 against the Sony Playstation 3 on loading times, but the Oppo seemed faster.

The Oppo remote seems to have been upgraded. In the past, my only minor gripe about the Oppo remotes was a limited signal range. The Playstation 3 remotes I've had contained Bluetooth. I could change menus on the PS3 through almost any solid object in my room at different distances. Previous Oppo remotes wouldn't allow me to do that. The new BDP-105 let me change chapters and songs through an ottoman with no problem. Nice.

The BDP-105 has been upgraded quite a bit over the former BDP-95. I raved about that player and would've been totally happy with it for years to come. Yet Oppo Digital doesn't rest on it laurels, especially since home theater technology progresses.

The new flagship has 4K upscaling, 2-D to 3-D conversion, a USB Asynchronous DAC, the incredible SABRE32 Reference Audio DAC, and an upgraded toridal transformer. The player is also fanless. This is a huge plus, as my earlier generation Playstation 3 was noisy and ran very hot. The BDP-105 is not only silent, but it runs very cool. This is especially nice during the summer months when I want to watch movies. 

The back panel of the BDP-105 has a very logical and clean layout. The digital, analog, USB, and XLR two-channel output jacks are very easy to use. I was able to switch out various cables in the back without any problems.


All of the Oppo Digital DVD and Blu-ray players I've used had exemplary picture quality. I upgraded to an LED 3-D monitor and the BDP-105 demonstrated how well it produces a stunning picture. Oppo recommends using one HDMI cable for video, and another for audio to get the best of both worlds. I used a WireLogic "Sapphire" HDMI cable plugged directly to my LED, and an AudioQuest "Cinnamon" HDMI cable for sound plugged directly into my Integra receiver.

Once I switched out an old HDMI cable with the WireLogic "Sapphire," the picture quality suddenly jumped from very good to reference level. The combination of the Qdeo chip used inside the BDP-105 and the "Sapphire" was incredible. On both film and digital-based movies, I was finally seeing a lot of detail that had been missing before. Colors were vibrant and sharpness (if applicable) was popping off the screen.  

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" is my all time favorite film and I've seen it in nearly every film or home video format. Paramount has done an outstanding job in keeping "Raiders" looking good with its natural film appearance. In the Cairo marketplace chase, the bright desert sun shines on Indy and Marion's face with agreeable definition. The traitor monkey's eyes glisten as he rats out Marion. The sweat on Indy's fedora never looked sharper. The BDP-105 handles good 'ol film transfers with ease.

Keeping within the spirit of fantasy, I played select scenes from "Beowulf." Director Robert Zemeckis' motion capture film polarized me and it still does. Part of me admires it, yet part of me really doesn't like it. As a home theater demo, it's outstanding. The BDP-105 produced a razor sharp picture, highlighting both the beauty of the film's visual effects, while underscoring the flaws of motion capture and "dead eye" of the characters.

Going with 3-D, I viewed Ridley Scott's return to the "Alien" universe with "Prometheus." Flawed and yet bold, the film left me wanting more alien thrills. Visually, the film is incredible in both 2-D and 3-D. I'm not a fan of watching movies in 3-D. The format dims the picture considerably and mutes the colors. It also leaves me with eye strain. At home on a calibrated monitor, the experience is much better. Shown from the BDP-105, "Prometheus" looks gorgeous. The player renders immense detail captured in Scott's film from the opening title sequence of alien-like mountains, to the eerie caves of the alien planet. When David (Michael Fassbender) looks into Elizabeth Shaw's (Noomi Rapace) dreams, the imagery pops out from the screen in three dimensional detail. It may not be a great movie, but it looks awesome.


Testing out the BDP-105's audio on movies was a pleasure. It offers three choices on audio playback with Blu-ray and DVDs. If you use HDMI, you can choose "LPCM" and let the Oppo decode the audio, or you can choose "bitstream" and have your receiver or surround sound processor do the work. Your third option is to use the analog output on the BDP-105 and let the SABRE32 Reference Audio DAC convert the audio.

In my experience with the Oppo, I found that there were differences in how sound played from the BDP-105. I'm not sure how other receivers or surround processors "talk" to the BDP-105, but the Integra handled the Oppo's signal in its own way. Volume on movie sound played from HDMI with the "LPCM" option checked, or from the BDP-105's analog output, sounded low. When I chose bitstream to use the Integra's DAC, the sound was much louder from HDMI. There was a three-to-four dBs difference in volume compared to the Oppo's HDMI (LPCM) or analog output.

Jason Liao of Oppo Digital explains, "The volume difference between bitstream audio and the LPCM or analog is most likely caused by the implementation in the AV receiver or processor. We found quite a few receivers having higher output level for bitstream input than LCPM or analog input. When the player outputs LPCM, it outputs whatever is encoded on the disc without volume adjustment, up to so called 0dBFS – the maximum volume a digital signal link can carry. It is up to the device that performs D/A conversion to decide how much voltage that 0dBFS should be converted to. For the analog output, we set 2.2Vrms for 0dBFS. This is already 10% higher than the commonly used 2Vrms de-facto standard."

The BDP-105 and Integra were doing their jobs the way they're supposed to.

"Iron Man" (2008) is one of the best super hero movies made in the last few years, but with my old HDMI cable and old Playstation 3, the movie's soundtrack sounded rather lifeless. The BDP-105 and a new cable made a world of difference. Switching to bitstream, "Iron Man" became considerably louder and was excellent. By default, the Integra will boost Dolby TrueHD soundtracks by 4dBs, which is perfectly fine by me. I enjoyed hearing this soundtrack.

I then used HDMI (LPCM) on the BDP-105. I turned up the volume on the Integra to match the levels of the HDMI bitstream. All I heard was outstanding audio. The analog output and the bitstream sounded identical. The Oppo and Integra have outstanding DACs, so if you have either an analog preamp or an HDMI compatible receiver, you can't go wrong. The BDP-105 will accommodate you based on your preferences.   

"The Police: Certifiable - Live in Buenos Aires" Blu-ray has a powerful recording of the band's reunion concert. I chose the two-channel Dolby TrueHD version to hear the BDP-105's analog output. I jumped out of my chair and I frantically fumbled for my remote to turn the volume down. The Oppo produced stunningly clear sound. A good test of a DAC's ability to render music correctly is by listening to cymbals from a rock song. A bad DAC, in my experience, will make cymbal crashes sound tinny and fragmented. Stewart Copeland hits the cymbals with power throughout the concert and they sounded natural and free of any jitter. That's a huge plus to my ears. Regardless of the sound format on Blu-ray, or choice of output, the BDP-105 played them flawlessly.

SOUND QUALITY (Digital Audio Files)

To find out how the BDP-105 sounded on digital audio files, I used various digital audio formats. Music files were transferred from 16-bit compact discs, then copied onto an external hard drive as WAV files. The hard drive utilized a standard USB cable. I did not to use a higher end cable for this review. The hard drive's USB cable was plugged into the front jack on the BDP-105. I used the Oppo's analog (RCA) two-channel output into the Integra.

Right away, I was totally impressed by how the BDP-105 lets the music flow beautifully. Using the player as a DAC, I was immediately drawn into the music. I've had a number of compact disc players and DACs over the years and each has had its own sonic personality. The Oppo gets out of the way of the music without imposing its own sound, which to my ears, I much prefer. It simply sounds excellent.

I played some outstanding recordings and the Oppo Digital did not disappoint me. One of my favorite recordings is Allison Krauss & Union Station's "So Long, So Wrong" (1997). The CD was transferred to a hard drive as WAV files. Krauss' soft voice on many playback units is buried behind the banjos and guitars. Not so on the BDP-105. Her voice is clear and beautiful, and the band sounds tight. I don't care much for country and bluegrass music, but this recording makes me appreciate the incredible musicianship.

Digging deeper into my eclectic music files, I came across one hit wonder, Ace, and their song, "How Long." It's one of my guilty pleasures on a CD, "70s Greatest Rock Hits - FM Hits, Volume 6" (Priority Records). This is one of those rare CDs from the early 1990s that actually sounds very good. Converted into a WAV file, all I can say is, "Wow!" Played through the Oppo, it sounds so good. The bass line is simply addictive and Paul Carrack's lead vocals are incredible. I can even hear the hiss of analog tape in the opening bass line.

"Message In A Box" is a compilation of nearly every song recorded by The Police. Released in 1993, the sound quality of this "remastered" set was always underwhelming on my past sound systems. As much as I love listening to The Police, it has always been difficult to listen to this set. It was almost as if it was filtered with heavy noise reduction. Thankfully, the BDP-105 gives the WAV files a lot more life, making them sound a whole lot better than before. Almost all of the recordings sounded wonderful. I won't say that the compilation's sound rivals the original LPs, SACDs and remastered 2007 CD in my collection, but the sound is much more listenable.

I mention poorly mastered recordings to point out that BDP-105 will make everything sound as good as possible. As with the previous Oppo Digital flagships (BDP-83SE and BDP-95), the BDP-105 can only bring out what is on the audio file or disc. If the recording sounds poor in the first place, the BDP-105 is going to play it as it sounds. If the recording or re-mastering is bright or overly compressed, the BDP-105 will showcase those flaws.

Getting back to excellent sounding recordings, The Beatles "Stereo USB" features the group's albums in their entirety on a tiny USB stick. Presented here as FLAC files, the entire catalog sounds incredible. I was generally pleased with the CDs released in 2009, but the FLAC files blow them away. 
If there is one minor "gripe" about the BDP-105, it does not allow for continuous or gapless playback on songs. Select tracks on "Abbey Road," for instance, segue into each other with a natural flow. I used to have the LP version of "Abbey Road" and one of the joys was listening to side two. Most of that side's songs blend with one another. The BDP-105 allows for the USB to contain a slight, but unnatural gap between songs. I didn't have an opportunity to try it, but this can probably be bypassed by using software that has gapless playback.

SOUND QUALITY (Compact Discs)

Diving into my now ancient compact disc collection, I kept the spirit of Sting's songwriting in play. "Nothing Like The Sun" (1987) was Sting's second solo album after The Police. I recall that the album was criticized for being too dark and somber. As a young adult, I was going through the heartache of a girlfriend who dumped me, so the album had an impact on my young psyche. I hadn't listened to it for years and to my surprise, the album still has an impact on different levels outside of failed young love.

Unfortunately, the sound of the original 1987 CD is abysmal on almost any CD player I've had. It has never sounded good. Much to my delight, the BDP-105 gave this recording some much needed life. I know the original recording sounds excellent, as I've heard remastered versions of "Englishman in New York" and "Fragile." All I can say is that the BDP-105 made this album very listenable.  


"JT" was James Taylor's 1977 album that turned the folksy singer into a true pop star. "Your Smiling Face" and "Handyman" were instant hits on the radio. Mobile Fidelity remastered "JT" and on my old SACD player, the sound of the album was underwhelming. In fact, most of the Mobile Fidelity SACDs in my collection sounded this way. I guess I expected Taylor's voice and his band to resonate out of my speakers. The sound was subdued and the album didn't sound remastered to my ears.

To compare, the 2004 Elton John SACDs sounded like they had more heft. Perhaps the Elton John SACDs were simply remixed at a higher volume and I was perceiving "better sound." Nonetheless, I've always enjoyed the Elton John SACDs. I didn't enjoy the Mobile Fidelity discs as much.

Once I changed out some components in my audio system and installed the Oppo Digital BDP-105, what a difference the tweaks made. At the same volume as Elton John's "Captain Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy" SACD, "JT" suddenly sounded right. The dynamics of this excellent recording came alive. The sound was better balanced and opened up. His voice resonated, the band sounded great, and I got back into his music. The same held true for the other Mobile Fidelity titles in my SACD collection. 

The BDP-105 can play music via HDMI. I listened to select tracks from Analogue Productions' "The Nat King Cole Story" on SACD. This is a splendid remastering and on a modest sound system like mine, Nat's voice should have presence within the room. You should be able to hear the depth of not only his voice, but of the musicians spread across the sound stage. The BDP-105 via HDMI doesn't disappoint. Using the BDP-105 via HDMI, with LPCM selected in the player's menu, the sound was very engaging. Nat's voice caught my attention.

The BDP-105 can also output DSD directly to a receiver or surround sound processor that can decode it. The Onkyo Integra DTR-30.4 used for this review decoded DSD* without a hitch. I was surprised that HDMI sounded identical to the analog output on the BDP-105. The addition of a new HDMI cable really made a difference. I was very pleased with what I was hearing from the BDP-105.

Finally, in reviewing the BDP-105, I was intrigued with how it compared to the AudioQuest DragonFly DAC. This little device has an ESS SABRE32 chip and contains Gordon Rankin's Streamlength asynchronous technology. Plugged into my MacBook Pro with Pure Music software to upconvert my 16-bit audio files to 24/96, I was immediately impressed with the DragonFly's ability to render clear, beautiful music. For only $249.00, the little DragonFly is excellent.

Because the BDP-105 offers different ways to use its DAC, I experimented with three methods. I used Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" WAV files from my external hard drive plugged into the BDP-105. That same audio file was copied onto my MacBook Pro and I played it through the DragonFly. I also plugged in an AudioQuest USB cable from the Mac into the back of the BDP-105. All music from the Mac went through Pure Music software.

"Signe" opens the album with the crowd clapping and Clapton warming up with his band. It's one of those recordings that instantly captures your audio attention. Once the instrumental begins, the sound becomes magical. The guitars are engaging and there is quite a lot of bass coming from behind the guitars. I first listened to the song through the DragonFly and it sounded incredibly good.

Playing the same song from the Mac through its USB output into the Oppo produced identical sound. Both the DragonFly and BDP-105 contain ESS DAC chips and asynchronous technology. I went back-and-forth between both DACs and I made sure that the settings in Pure Music were correct. The DragonFly and BDP-105 sounded exactly alike in this particular set up. Then I went back to my initial impression of playing WAV files directly from the external hard drive into the Oppo. 

When I played the song directly from the external hard drive into the BDP-105, it was as if the song got a turbo boost. Listening to the song, I noticed a few things. "Signe" now had more control and confidence. There was less congestion in the sound of the guitars playing. Bass had more presence and power. Music was much more engaging directly through the Oppo's DAC. In my experience with the DragonFly versus the BDP-105, the Oppo pulled ahead with both grace and authority.  

PURE MAGIC             

I may not hang out with the country club set, but the BDP-105 makes me feel rich. I can playfully scoff at their six-figure speakers and turntables layered in gold. Spend your thousands on equipment, if you must. No sir. Not me. Right here in my living room is a stunning piece of electronic brilliance called the Oppo Digital BDP-105. It gives me pristine picture quality, superb audiophile sound, awesome user menus, and hours of enjoyment. Best of all, I've got enough change left over for dinner and a romantic movie to watch with my honey.

Special thanks to Jason Liao, Oppo Digital, and Richard Hardesty

Photo: © Oppo Digital. All rights reserved.

* In order to utilize DSD, use the "HDMI Out 2" jack on the BDP-105.
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