Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player Review
Oppo’s previous DVD player, the discontinued DV-983H, used video processing created by Anchor Bay Technologies (ABT), a highly respected video processing chip manufacturer. As a result, the video quality of its DVD playback was second to none. So, it comes as no surprise that the BDP-83 uses a newer version of ABT’s processing chip, featuring its Video Reference Series technology used in their high end video processors. The result, used with DVD or Blu-ray sources, is stunning.
As expected, the BDP-83 easily passed my battery of test disks, both DVD and Blu-ray. The combination of rock solid deinterlacing and scaling of DVDs was a near match of the DV-983H (which was unsurpassed by any competitor), but the presentation Blu-ray material is at a completely different level. Popping in some of my recent favorites, like Quantum of Solace and The Dark Knight, I was struck by how finely detailed the picture looked. Colors were deep and motion sequences did not reveal any artifacts as you might see with some players. A note here about load time: The BDP-83 goes from disk insertion to playback ready faster than any other Blu-ray player I’ve seen (even my Playstation 3, the previous champion). No need to start up this player well in advance of your viewing. Also, individual track access is very quick as well, making it easy to jump to your favorite parts of a movie or concert.
Early firmware versions of the BDP-83 had some problems with specific BDs, but I had no problem with any of the ones I tried. Each one played flawlessly, but it should be mentioned that most of the evaluation for this review was done with the latest firmware which addressed many of the initial issues.
Next, I switched back and forth between the Auto and Source Direct (which just passes through the video at the source disk’s native resolution) resolution settings to see if there we any differences. With a normal 1080p Blu-ray disk, I saw no difference between the two on my 1080p display. However, with lower resolution sources like DVD, the advantage of the BDP-83’s VRS processing over my projector’s Gennum VXP processing became apparent. While DVDs will never look as good as a properly authored Blu-ray disk, upscaling of DVDs with the BDP-83 was still a revelation. Even DVDs processed to 1080p/24 output looked very good in nearly every case. While the success of this processing is a function of the DVD authoring quality, I didn’t experience any of the usual quirks in any of the DVDs I viewed. If you find a DVD that experiences judder or other anomalies, just switch out of the 1080p/24 mode.
Finally, I tried some high definition trailers, both 720p and 1080p, transferred to a USB thumb drive. These played flawlessly and the front panel USB port makes it easy to change whenever you get some new material to display. In a nutshell, the BDP-83 makes every video file or disk (BD or DVD), look as good as it possibly could on your HD display.
The BDP-83 has the ability to handle nearly every audio format, in that it can play SACDs, DVD-Audio disks, CDs and music files of various types on CD or USB drive. It can also either decode or bitstream (to allow your receiver/preamp to do the decoding) the new high-definition sound tracks (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio). This can all be output over HDMI to a properly equipped receiver or preamp. Decoded HD audio can also be output over the BDP-83’s 7.1 channel analog outputs. The analog outputs also feature full bass management and speaker size and distance input. Finally, the coaxial and optical digital outputs can be used for standard stereo, Dolby Digital or DTS sound.
With Oppo’s previous universal DVD players, a lot of attention was paid to achieving the highest quality sound from SACDs and DVD-As. I’m happy to say that the BDP-83 has continued with this tradition admirably. Once again, the BDP-83 presents an enveloping, same clean soundstage, with sharp transients and solid bass. Those who have read my other Oppo reviews know that one of my favorite DVD-As for evaluating sound is Diane Krall’s “The Girl in the Other Room”. Solo voice and piano are always a good test for audio performance and the tone of Diane’s voice and piano often can be particularly revealing. The BDP-83 took it in stride, displaying with excellent clarity and not a hint of edginess. SACDs were equally excellent and it should be noted that the BDP-83 has to ability to output SACDs in their native DSD stream (to an HDMI-equipped receiver or preamp that can handle it), as well as converting the DSD to linear PCM for use with the HDMI or analog outputs.
Moving to BD audio, Chris Botti’s “In Boston” BD features a stunning Dolby TrueHD track. Botti’s trumpet is accompanied on each track by a variety of musicians and singers on recording that will test the audio reproduction capabilities of your entire system. Guest musician Yo-Yo Ma’s cello never sounded sweeter and the bass and drums rocked the LFE channel. I’ve played this disk a number of times on a PS3, with my receiver doing the decoding. Switching to the BDP-83, I tried both bitstreaming the audio to the receiver to decode (same as when using the PS3) as well as letting the BDP-83 do the decoding. As I expected, there was virtually no difference between the two, but it’s nice to have the option, depending on the capabilities of the rest of your system.
I did connect the analog outputs to my receiver to listen to both DVD-As and BDs and again, the sound quality was beyond reproach. If I was being picky, I’d say the HDMI connection provided slightly more detailed sound, but that’s splitting hairs. I highly doubt that anyone will be disappointed with the BDP-83’s sound quality.
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