Oppo may not yet be a household name in consumer electronics, but the company has come a long way in just a few short years. Because it has managed to issue one top-notch product after another, Oppo has earned some hearty recognition and respect from A/V reviewers, industry pros and dedicated fans alike. Now, Oppo enjoys a special sort of brand recognitionamongst the tech-savvy –one that can only be achieved by consistently offering products with extremely disproportionate price-to-performance ratios.
We’re not privy to Oppo’s actual mission statement, but we’re willing to bet that it reads something like, “Do one thing and do it well.” Oppo makes universal disc players and that’s it. The Chinese company started out with upscaling DVD players that also played CDs, SACDs, DVD-Audio discs and just about every disc under the sun. Now that includes Blu-ray as well.
The BDP-95 Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-ray disc player is Oppo’s most recent and most expensive player. Some might initially balk at the $1,000 price point, particularly since network Blu-ray player prices plummeted below $100 this past holiday season. What needs to be understood, however, is that the BDP-95 is so much more than just a Blu-ray player. It plays almost anything and promises to sound better and look better doing it than its competition.
In our review of the Oppo BDP-95, we dig into what makes this player special, cover what it can (and the few things it can’t) play and rank its performance amongst the competition.
Out of the box
Yeah, we’re still on our soap box preaching about the importance of the out-of-box experience, because that first few seconds of exposure to a new product can really set the tone for the years of use to come. It’s all about feel-good-factor these days, and if you aren’t on board with that as a CE company, you’re lost.
Oppo gave us a great out-of-box experience with the BDP-95. Straight away, you get a sense that your money was well spent. Included in the box with the well-protected BDP-95 was a carrying satchel, a separate box containing a USB Wi-Fi dongle, a USB extension cable for easy rear-panel USB access, a power cable and the unit’s remote control. The player’s RCA jacks were even covered with protective plastic caps. Nice touch, Oppo.
The BDP-95’s heft offers a tactile confirmation of its superb build quality. Its heavy-gauge steel chassis and aluminum faceplate combine with a toroidal power supply and other high-quality parts to rack up an impressive 16 pounds.
All those premium components take up space, so the BDP-95 is a decidedly non-slim piece of gear. According to Oppo, the unit measures 16-7/8 x 12-1/4 x 4 inches.
Features and Design
We’ll do our best not to go overboard here, but the BDP-95 does so much stuff–almost all of it worth covering–that it’s going to take a little more page space than usual to fit it all in. Here we go.
The BDP-95 lives up to its name as a “universal” player. It plays Blu-ray, DVD, SACD, DVD-Audio, HDCD, CD, Kodak Picture CD, DivX, DivX plus HD and just about any burned CD or DVD you can create, though Oppo does say it can’t account for all hardware and software factors involved in burned discs.
That covers the physical media, but this player can also handle all sorts of digital media through some clever connectivity. The BDP-95 sports two USB 2.0 inputs (one front, one back) and an eSATA port for connection of external hard drives or thumb drives. Any of these connections will allow the player to stream high-resolution photos, music and video with support of most major file types; that list includes FLAC and WAV music files,plus AVCHD and MP4 video files. The advantage to the eSATA port is speed. Using it, navigating a large catalog of hi-res music files is a snap; way better than DLNA.
An Ethernet port and built-in Wi-Fi adapter offer access to content stored on a local network, as well as multiple video and audio-on-demand services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu HD, Blockbuster on Demand, Pandora, YouTube…the list goes on and will likely grow as future firmware updates expand app availability.
That covers how content goes into the player; now let’s dive into how it comes out. We can start with the dual HDMI outputs, which have a few potential uses. For those without a 3D-compliant A/V receiver, having two HDMI outputs allows for 3D video enjoyment without necessarily having to miss out on the best available surround sound. Just run one cable to the TV and another off to a receiver. Also, dual HDMI outputs allow the player to serve up a TV in another room without necessarily relying on an A/V receiver’s multi-zone complexities.
For additional audio options, Oppo has built in coaxial and optical digital audio outs and provides a full 7.1 set of pre-outs with all decoding and digital-to-analog conversion done on board.
Now for a little surprise: Oppo’s BDP-93, which costs $500 less than the BDP-95, offers every single one of the features we’ve listed so far. That begs the question: what does the other $500 go into?
To cut right to it, the additional $500 goes toward all the parts and connections necessary to make an “audiophile” component out of the BDP-93 design. We suspect a big chunk of change is going to the massive Rotel toroidal power supply that Oppo uses in the BDP-95, but we know there’s more to it than that.
In addition to that toroidal transformer from Rotel, Oppo uses a very high-quality DAC chip (SABRE32 Reference ES9018) for a dedicated stereo audio signal that comes as an addition to the front left and right outputs that are part of the 7.1 pre-out section. This special output can be tapped by way of a pair of RCA jacks or a pair of balanced XLR connections (AKA microphone cables).
If $500 seems like a lot of bread for what sounds like some simple modifications, consider that competing manufacturers such as Cambridge, Denon and Marantz charge anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 for high-end universal players, and that’s just scratching the surface. McIntosh, for example, makes one that goes for $8,000.
We’re running out of space here and we haven’t even touched on the BDP-95’s killer backlit remote, its excellent Qdeo video processors or its PAL/NTSC conversion capability! For a more detailed list of specs, be sure to visit Oppo’s website.