Our test bench of equipment for this Oppo BDP-95 review included the Anthem Integrated 225, Marantz SR6005 receiver, Marantz SR6006 receiver and Aperion Audio’s Verus Grand speakers connected by way of Kimber Kable pbj and Monster XPHP speaker wire alternatively.
Before we get going here, we should mention that we did have a look at Oppo’s video output–both Blu-ray and unconverted DVD looked outstanding, by the way–but our real interest in this player was for its audio capabilities and that’s where we focused for most of our evaluation time. It does, after all, have the word “audiophile” in it, right?
Readers of either our Anthem Integrated 225 or Aperion Verus Grand reviews already know that the Oppo BDP-95 is an integral part of what we’ve decided to call our “audio triad of badassitude.” The three components together run $4,300 retail which, admittedly, is no small sum. Consider, however, that one pair of Focal Chorus 836v speakers will cost more than the entire aforementioned system, which as we’ll soon discuss, serves up some seriously majestic sound.
The Oppo doesn’t have to be paired with a 225 watt-per-channel amplifier to sound incredible, though. We connected it to the 7.1 pre-amp inputs of our SR6005 receiver and the difference it made to the Marantz’s performance was remarkable.
In our Marantz SR6005 review, we commented that we didn’t feel the receiver’s sound performance matched up with what we heard from the preceding SR6004 model. At the time we, theorized that the difference in sound was probably due to Marantz switching up the DACs (digital to analog converters) from the prior year. What we heard when we bypassed the Marantz’s digital processing in favor of the Oppo’s seems to confirm our suspicions. Our receiver instantly sounded considerably better.
The thing about the BDP-95 that first jumped out at us as we made our equipment comparisons was its significant improvement of bass response. As we listened to some of the surround music selections found on our 2012 DTS demo disc, we flipped back and forth between our receiver’s HDMI input (and its on-board processing) and its 7.1 inputs, which played back the audio as decoded by the BDP-95’s 7.1-channel DAC. The difference was stark. With all other factors being equal, the Oppo’s rendering of the soundtracks clearly sounded better than the Marantz receiver’s version, exhibiting more tightly controlled and punchier bass, which started and stopped with lightning-quick speed.
Of course, big improvements were made to the treble and midrange regions as well. We got vocals that bore a more distinguished presence, more accurate tonal quality, better definition of overtones and harmonics and gobs of well-exposed detail.
Our experience listening to Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon SACD provided plenty of opportunities to hear the BDP-95’s superior rendering. We queued up the multi-channel version of the fourth track, “Time” and sat back as the faint pandemonium of noisily ticking clocks slowly crescendoed into a disconcerting din of gongs, chimes and rings. With our receiver’s on-board decoding, we were able to hear each of the clocks sitting in a specific place within a 360 degree sound field, but with the BDP-95 we could pick out individual, dissonant notes within each of the clocks’ distinctive chimes. To be sure, the BDP-95 made what we heard more realistic and engaging.
Up until this point, we’ve been commenting on the BDP-95’s 7.1 pre-out stage. But what about the dedicated two-channel output for which this model charges an extra $500? Would this audiophile output stage provide performance that was substantially better than the already great-sounding 7.1 outputs that can be had an in Oppo’s BDP-93? We put the two in a head-to-head competition expecting to have to listen closely to subtle queues for signs of improvement. Instead, we were shocked by how obvious the differences were.
We pulled out Jamie Cullum’s TwentySomething SACD and zeroed in on “Singin’ in the Rain” to pit the BDP-95’s two different stereo outputs against each other. This track has plenty of fun stuff to listen to; textured brush work on the drums, a woody upright bass, congas laying down percussion and some muted guitar picking make this one of our go-to tracks for tough A/B tests. In the end, though, it was Cullum’s voice that told us just how different the BDP-95’s dedicated stereo output sounded.
While the standard stereo out had a more three-dimensional quality to it with the conga drums sounding well outside of the edges of the speakers, the special stereo output took Cullum’s vocal (and all of the other instruments as well) and snapped them in to focus, adding more body and depth. The output of each speaker was better paced as well. Timing was more accurate and the imaging much tighter, with Cullum’s vocal blasting from dead center between our speakers.
The BDP-95 is darn close to perfection but, like most things, has its weaknesses too. For instance, Internet media sources such as Netflix and Pandora can only be listened to via the BDP-95’s digital audio outputs. Also, we wish Wi-Fi didn’t require a dongle, let alone such a large one and, finally, we had no luck getting the player to stream media from any of our three readily available Windows 7 PCs. Granted, we’re not huge on DLNA anyway, but we expected the BDP-95 to find all three of our available media servers and successfully stream from at least one of them. Every other DLNA compliant device we’ve tested in the last two years had no problem with this. While it is possible some help from Oppo’s tech support stream might have yielded some results, the low return on investment kept us from digging deeper.
We did, however, have success streaming FLAC files from a USB thumb drive and found the BDP-95’s playback of these high-resolution audio files to be excellent. Navigating the different folders of music was zippy and we particularly liked the ability to create playlists easily through the simple but straightforward user interface. Assuming the experience playing music back from a networked attached storage device would feel similar, we have to say that the BDP-95 offers better a better network media interface than any other A/V device we’ve tested.
Through our review of the Oppo BDP-95 we came to learn that the company’s less expensive BDP-93 is an absolutely outstanding universal disc player in its own right. Taking that into consideration, as we progressed through our evaluations, we realized that the real question at hand was “are the BDP-95’s audiophile features worth the added cost?”
Having thoroughly tested the BDP-95, we can say with certainty that music-listening enthusiasts (be they self-proclaimed audiophiles or not) will find the return on their investment to be very handsome indeed. This piece’s audio performance earns its asking price all on its own. Toss in the fact that you get an outstanding Blu-ray machine with the ability to stream Internet media as well, and what you get is a terrifically nimble universal player with sky-high value. We highly recommend the BDP-95 (and BDP-93, for that matter) and bestow it with our Editor’s Choice award.
- Superb sound quality
- Excellent video quality
- Ruggedly built
- Backlit remote
- Dual HDMI outputs
- Balanced XLR outputs
- Audiophile stereo output
- Wi-Fi requires large USB dongle
- DLNA is buggy
- No Internet audio via analog audio outputs