OPPO has been building quality electronics at reasonable prices and the company keeps getting better in product development. OPPO Digital is located in California and meticulously builds all there players in China. The quality control on every unit is among the best in the industry. The company also excels at building players that are future proof and offers world class firmware upgrades regularly at no cost to the consumer. The company firmware updates are legendary and easy to do with any monitor and internet connectivity or a USB stick. The UDP-203 unit I own for my home theater setup updates automatically when it is turned on with the smart TV. The 205, which is a centerpiece for music playback, has to be connected to a TV monitor for updates but this is simple and easy to do. The quality of the players is among the finest in the industry and many consider their 4K Blu-ray players the finest in the industry for video performance.
The company flagships the OPPO UDP-205, which was designed both as a universal player and video Blu-ray player, with world-class sound quality in addition to its stellar video capabilities. The audio and build quality of the $549 OPPO UDP-203 and the $1299 UDP-205 is a significantly different, and the flagship will play a wide variety of music discs and movies. People who own a substantial CD collection will appreciate the attention that OPPO has put into the UDP-205. The UDP-205 also can stream all your music servers, computers and discs, in addition it can be used as a separate DAC or be used as a reference universal player. The $1299 price is a bargain, especially with a product that is built like a battleship and can play CD, SACD, DVDA and stream with its separate built in ESS DACs. OPPO Digital left no stone unturned in its product development with this special product making sure it would be easily upgradeable for music and video and offer years of trouble free service.
As a previous owner of the UDP-105 I was anxiously awaiting this unit to see what improvements were made with the new Sabre DACs that were installed in the unit. The improvements to the 205 were made to the digital analogue converter and added 4K video. Streaming is a major source for music and OPPO spent lot of time to make sure that the UDP-205 can stream and compete with the best digital sources in the world regardless of price.
The new dual Sabre Pro ESS 9038P DACs have a best in class 140DB of dynamic range and have a 32 bit 8 Channel configuration. The new-patented ESS technology 32bit Hyper-stream DAC offers outstanding clarity and soundstage. OPPO paid attention to reducing digital noise (jitter) by using a high quality HDMI clock, which eliminates timing errors. The USB DAC supports sample rates of up to 768 kHz PCM and DSD 512. The DAC can convert digital signals from cable and satellite, TV, digital transports, and video game consoles.
The high quality HDMI clock eliminates timing errors and reduces jitter. The UPD-205 also can do 7.1-surround sound if you choose to use it in a full home theater setup for both movies and music. The UPD-205 also has a headphone amplifier that is significantly improved over the previous UDP-105. Increased power and the ability for the headphone amp going directly to the ESS DAC resulted in a major step forward in sound quality.
The brushed aluminum chassis is substantial and designed for long term and rugged usage. The player offered at $1299 is amazing and no other player that I am aware of in this price range is built like the UDP-205. Remote control is standard in the package and is packed in a specially designed bag specifically to transport the player if you choose to take it out of your system and on the road.
OPPO players for audio have always sounded excellent. The new UDP-205 does not disappoint with the new ES 9038 Pro DACs. The sound in my system was never bright or etched. The UDP-105 had a reputation in some circles for being a bit etched in the highs. The sound from the UDP-205 is substantially improved with the new ESS DACs and noticeably more transparent than the UDP-105 that served as my reference for 2 years. The new sound was particularly more revealing and had top-flight musicality. Using SACD disc from the famous RCA Golden Age, Heifetz the Violin Concerto 1 composed by Max Bruch sounded detailed without any sense of etch in the violin strings. The SACD is well recorded and the sound from the world’s greatest violinist was musical and breathtaking. Using Audioquest Wind interconnects ($2k /meter) the sound was spectacular. The piece at times is so delicate and the bow across the violin was magical. The sound and tonality was delicate yet musical coming off the UDP-205. There was only the music, and the soundstage had Heifetz slightly off center with layers of the orchestra layered all around him.
The instruments inner body sound was apparent and the wood tone and sound of the instruments was alive and crisp but never harsh or strident. The tonality of the instruments and the beauty of the music was captivating and had me totally focused with the performance. If you never heard the RCA SACD shaded dogs your missing a treat and the OPPO UDP-205 never falls short in delivering the spectacular sound of this legendary recording.
Sinatra’s Swinging Sessions, on Mobile Fidelity, is the crooner’s magical Capital monaural recordings, delivered in its purest mono format. The SACD on When your smiling brought me to the studio where Sinatra was in spectacular form with a world class orchestra. The UDP-205 once again delivered a magical performance and brought my favorite crooner to my listening room. His vocal was clear and articulate and I was able to notice the delicate phrasings and the orchestra was all around him. The soundstage performance was special with air and separation between Frank and his musicians. I felt as if I could reach out a grab him as the focusing and imaging was spectacular. The UDP-205 had dynamics and detail rare in this price range, and delivered a stellar performance playing this disc. Playing this on my home system had my sister-in-law Fran commenting on how amazing the sound of the system sounded, especially with Sinatra doing Blue Moon. The monaural recording was a treat and the musicality of the UDP-205 was off the charts good. The sound was exceptional and always had me totally involved and was never bright and offered the highest quality of musicality.
The Doug Macleod CD of Brand New Eyes on the Reference recording Label, brought Doug to the listening room. I was especially surprised at how good this Redbook CD sounded on the UDP-205. The OPPO played this Redbook CD without compromise and it sounded spectacular. Even though the new OPPO UDP-205 does not decode the HDCD the music still was amazing on this disc.
Listening to the Hugh Masekela Hope CD, Hope, I had more of the same experience. Track 3, Mandela, always is a treat to listen to and on the UDP-205 I was not disappointed. The flugelhorn sounded spectacular and the magical vocal of Masekela had my foot tapping and the bass was deep and extended on the kick drum. I completely forgot I was listening to recorded music and the sound once again was amazingly good for a product built to price point. Hearing amazing detail without etch or brightness in this price range is hard to find but the UDP-205 delivered the musicality and nailed the tonality of the instruments.
USB DAC and Tidal streaming from the iMac
Moving over to Tidal using the the Audioquest Chocolate USB DAC cable inserted into the UDP 2-5 USB input was another revelation. Alison Krauss’ vocal on Baby Now that I Found you from her greatest hits collection sounded alive and was realistically transparent. The musicality once again was all there and the clarity of her angelical voice was special. The DAC was delivering music as good from the iMac as it was coming from the SACD disc of this recording. The DAC omitted nothing and I could tell no differences from the streaming version. Adele’s vocal on Send My Love from her 25 album has a deep and grunting bass line and the UDP-205 delivered the masterful performance. I could feel the bass lines and her vocal was clear and articulate and her vocal never felt like it was anything other than live and realistic. The music was alive and Tidal streaming from Aurdirvana sounded amazingly transparent. I could hear subtle inner detail of the music and hear everything the recording had to offer, the performance was sensational.
Switching to Bob Marley’s Natty Dread and listening to the Woman No Cry track once again delivered exceptionally good musicality. The bass lines were all there on this track with exceptional extension especially at the price point of the UDP-205. The sensational vocal and dynamics were all there in this recording and the OPPO UDP-205 delivered all the music with speed, dynamics and finesse. The musicality soared on this recording and brought Marley back to life. The sound once again had me totally consumed with the music.
OPPO Digital has been manufacturing Blu-Ray players for a bunch of years now and always provided quality products at an affordable price. Their business model is mostly selling direct to the public at affordable prices. Owning various OPPO products in the past has never disappointed me. I use their Blu-ray players in home theater systems to play movies and watch Blu-Ray and 4K movies and always have been satisfied. Their special attention to the high-end audiophile market for delivering outstanding products at these prices, with this sound quality and build, is amazing.
The UDP-205 is vastly improved over its predecessor the UDP-105 and the ESS 9038 DACs are far more musical. The delivery of instruments with tonal accuracy was spectacular. The new DACs offered musicality with dynamics and had everything you could want in your music system. The UDP-205 can decode any disc and also stream from a wide variety of sources. The fact it can do all this and do it as good as it does in this price category is a magnificent achievement for OPPO.
Listening with headphones with the built in amplifier never disappointed me and it competed with standalone amplifiers costing many hundreds more. The OPPO UDP-205 is a special product that will satisfy the most critical audiophiles and can be the cornerstone of your system. The fact that you can buy this reference player for $1299 makes this one the greatest values in high end audio. The UDP-205 is an amazing player that never disappoints. Highly recommended for any music lover and my hats off to OPPO Digital for offering this amazing player at a price any music lover can afford.