Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player- Performance
7/24/2009 - Mike Rollet
Oppo BDP-83 General Performance
Once connected to your system (which can be done with the included 6’ HDMI cable), the first time you power up the BDP-83, you will see a six-step “Easy Setup Wizard” that makes it a snap to be quickly up and running. After the introductory screen is displayed and you select to continue with the wizard, the next four screens prompt you to select your primary video connection (HDMI or component), output resolution (including an “Auto” setting that matches the output to the display), aspect ratio and audio setting (which allows you to use HDMI for audio or the digital inputs). The final screen confirms completion of the setup.
From there you can go into the extensive setup menu and make all kinds of changes, or simply pop in a DVD or BD (Blu-ray disk) and enjoy. In addition to the usual menu items, the BDP-83 features the ability to set the output to 1080p/24Hz output (to match a 1080p/24Hz display), conversion of DVDs to 24Hz (also upscaled to 1080p) and a ton of picture adjustments including detail and edge enhancement, noise reduction, Y/C delay, CUE (chroma upsampling error) correction, HDMI Deep Color (not currently used on any source) and audio/video sync adjustment.
For those using an external video processor (although the BDP-83 processing is equal to or better than anything out there), there is a Source Direct mode, which allows you to output the disk at its native resolution (i.e.: 480i for DVDs, 1080i or p for Blu-ray). Another feature aimed at the home theater is the ability to stretch a 2.35:1 movie (which displays with black bars on the top and bottom when using a standard 16:9 (1.78:1) screen) vertically to remove the bars. This distorted image can them be projected through an anamorphic lens to properly display on a 2.35:1 screen. This is a very handy feature if you’re using an anamorphic lens with a projector that is unable to do this processing.
As the BDP-83 has a network connection for support of BD-Live, it can also obtain firmware updates from Oppo through this connection. As I mentioned previously, Oppo is constantly seeking to improve their products and does so with firmware updates. While you can do the update by downloading it to a USB thumb drive, it’s even easier to do via your home network. For those using a wireless network, Oppo offers a wireless bridge as an option for the BDP-83. Speaking of BD-Live, the BDP-83 has one GB of flash memory (required by the BD Live spec) built-in, but the USB port can be used with a higher value thumb drive to increase that capability. I’m not a fan of BD Live as the download time involved is too much for the minimal features available. This may change in the future, but for now it’s not much of a draw in my opinion. Suffice it to say that if you have the BDP-83 connected to your home network and have a BD Live-enabled disk, the BDP-83 will access all of its features.
In addition to its disk playback, the BDP-83 can play a variety of video, audio and picture files directly from a USB thumb drive. Unlike their previous DVD players that offered this feature, the BDP-83 also includes playback of high definition video files (supporting many of the current file types). This is a welcome feature for those with a library of HD home movies or other HD video files. Having a front panel USB port also makes this an easy feature to use.
For those who want to optimize their video performance, Oppo includes a new Blu-ray test disk created by video evaluation veterans Stacey Spears and Don Munsil. This disk features a number of excellent test patterns and video to calibrate your entire system. Not coincidently, this disk also demonstrates how good the video processing of the BDP-83 really is. Oppo sells the disk separately for $24.95, so getting it included with the player is a nice bonus.
Although its unlikely that anyone would buy this player to use with a component video connection, it should be mentioned that to reap the benefits of the BDP-83’s superior video processing, you must have an HDMI or DVI (w/HDCP) equipped display. Use of the component video outputs on the BDP-83 will result in a 1080i signal being output for BDs and 480i/480p for DVDs (unless they’re not CSS-encrypted). Also, unlike previous Oppo DVD players, there’s no ability to make the BDP-83 region-free for DVD playback.
Now that we’ve got everything dialed in, let’s take a look at how the BDP-83 performs.
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.
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.
NEXT: Oppo BDP-83 Summary