In 2006, Internet-direct merchant Oppo Digital caught a lot of attention by serving up super high-performance video and audio playback with its DV-970HD up-converting DVD player. Since then, Oppo has taken its success and poured it into improving and refining its products, year after year. Now, Oppo takes its brand of excellence and brings it into the Blu-ray disc age with the BDP-83 Blu-ray player. A true universal disc player, it will play SACD, DVD-Audio, HDCD (as well as just about anything else you can throw at it) – and will do it faster and better than most rivals. Though the Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray disc player is missing a couple of today’s popular streaming media features and costs a bit more than its competition from LG, Samsung and the like, fear not. The device delivers where it counts and can hang with some of the most expensive high-end players available.
Out of the Box
As an Internet-direct company, Oppo needs to package its wares well lest they arrive in less than beautiful condition after a cross-country voyage. The manufacturer succeeds here by thoughtfully protecting the BDP-83 with a cocoon of charcoal-colored E.P.E. foam. To up the “class-act” factor a bit, Oppo also places the universal disc player within its own carrying bag. Though we can’t imagine hauling this rather heavy player around to our buddy’s place for an evening of beer and Blu-ray films, we do appreciate the thought given to the out-of-box experience. Included with the BDP-83 is an accessory box filled with a full-sized remote control, detachable high-gauge power cord, the ubiquitous “A/V cables” and (we love this!) a 6’ long, gold-plated HDMI cable from Phoenix Gold. The option to purchase longer HDMI cables to be included with your unit is also available from Oppo’s website.
As soon as you lift it out of the box, the weightiness of the BDP-83 is apparent. While 11.2lbs may not seem like much on paper, when compared to some of the 6-8lb players we’ve tested, it feels pretty hefty. This weight is due to a generous 35 watt power supply, brushed metal face and all metal chassis.
Generally speaking, it is a bit larger than the majority of slimmer Blu-ray players we’ve seen recently, but at 16 7/8” x 13 ¼” x 3”, it’s still a huge improvement on the bulk of first generation players.
Features and Performance
Under the hood of the all-black chassis are some of the best available video and audio processing chips. Anchor Bay’s popular VRS chip handles video processing, while Oppo’s audio section enables extremely clean playback of virtually any disc-based audio source. In addition to HDMI output, the BDP-83 Blu-ray player is fitted with component and composite video, coaxial and optical digital audio and 7.1 analog audio output with a special two-channel output for enhanced stereo playback of music sources.
For purposes of our audition, we connected the player to a Marantz SR6004 receiver via both HDMI and 7.1 channel analog connections. We also connected the dedicated stereo output to one of the two-channel inputs on the receiver.
As we first hit the power button, it was a pleasure to note the super fast boot-up time of the BDP-83. The total time elapsed from mashing the “on” button to player readiness was about 15 seconds, roughly 50% faster than the competition. Loading a Blu-ray disc was equally fast, and clocked in 30% faster than our comparison machines. Cheerfully, just as speedy was the player’s response to remote control commands. Unlike other players we’ve tested, the Oppo reacted immediately. This held true for the setup menu too, which is conveniently available at any time during disc playback
The Oppo’s superior video output was immediately apparent as well. Even casual viewers will probably notice the Oppo’s cleaner edges, more accurate color and lack of artifacts. While viewing J.J. Abrams’ newest edition of Star Trek on Blu-ray disc, we noted a smoothness of motion not achieved by our Samsung and LG Blu-ray players. The difference, while subtle, was noticeable and worthy of appreciation. This difference was also apparent in upconverted DVD playback. While clearly not as high resolution as Blu-ray disc, upconverted DVDs also looked excellent.
To test audio playback, we utilized some SACD, DVD-Audio and HDCD content and delivered it to our receiver by both digital and analog means. The first thing we noticed was what we didn’t hear: the fan. So often the fans in these hard-working machines are distracting to music listeners and therefore deemed intolerable. Though audible, the Oppo’s fan was clearly quieter than those found in other comparison units while managing to keep the BDP-83 reasonably cool.
Once we got over the quiet fan, we enjoyed some impressive audio performance from the BDP-83. Though slightly brighter than our Marantz’s built in digital-to-analog converters, the Oppo had a depth of sound we might expect from a stand alone D.A.C. Stereo SACD had a way of wrapping us in sound the way the surround tracks on the same album did. Surround-encoded music was also well-balanced and provided a deeply immersive experience. It would be accurate to say that we felt we spent most of our time listening to the music, not the player.
On the downside, there is no built in WiFi capability in the BDP-83 and you won’t be streaming any Netflix movies or YouTube videos either. Still, we don’t feel it is necessary to add clutter to an otherwise great machine. This player packs the kind of punch in the performance department that we usually see only in the more expensive, esoteric models. As such, we think the Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player is going to make for a lot of very happy cost-conscious audiophiles and videophiles.
The Oppo BDP-83 offers solid construction, lightning-fast response, sensational audio and video quality, and can play just about any type of disc. Though it lacks the streaming media features we’re coming to expect in modern Blu-ray players and may seem a bit pricey for those just getting into the format, take note. We feel that the device’s stellar performance and considerable build quality more than make up for any shortcomings.
- Superb picture and audio quality
- Extremely fast
- Plays back SACD, DVD-Audio and many other formats
- Solid build
- 6’ HDMI cable included
- Lacks streaming media support (Netflix, Youtube, etc.)
- No built-in wireless support
- Price tag may be a bit steep for some