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More than just a disc spinner: OPPO Digital’s UDP-203

  • The universal. 4K Ultra HD; UHD Blu-Ray. 3840 x 2160 pixels; High Dynamic Range (HDR10); Wide colour gamut;  Dolby Vision (via firmware upgrade) – such image-focussed specifications, landing as features of OPPO Digital’s all new UDP-203 player, remain beyond DAR’s purview – the A is for Audio.

    2016’s long awaited update to the Chinese-Californian company’s supremely popular BDP-103 player comes loaded with digital audio fortitude.

    The UDP-203 is a Blu-Ray Audio player, a DVD-Audio player, an SACD player and a CD player. Internal D/A conversion for each of the unit’s analogue output channels comes courtesy of AKM. That’s a departure from the BDP-103’s use of Cirrus Logic silicon. So much for the ‘analogue sunset’. 

    But that’s not all. The UDP-203 is also a soft-media player that will play content from any connected USB storage device (3 x USB ports offered) or streamed across the network from servers or NAS devices via 802.11ac Wi-Fi or Gigabit Ethernet. We assume OPPO Digital are still using the UPnP protocol.

    On the lossless file format front, the UDP-203 will decode AIFF, WAV, ALAC, APE and FLAC. It will also handle stereo DSD64/128 and multi-channel DSD64.

    End users wanting to run the UDP-203 as a disc transport only can connect an existing external DAC to the rear panel’s TOSLINK or coaxial outputs.

    A single HDMI 2.0 port presents for connection to suitably equipped UHD downstream devices and a single HDMI 1.4 port for legacy devices. Think: your average A/V receiver.

    On inputs we get a single HDMI 2.0 port for adding third party streaming devices like an Apple TV or Google Chromecast.

    It’s worth emphasising the UDP-203’s ability to serve as an ‘audiophile-grade’ DAC for HDMI-only devices but not USB devices – for that you’ll need the forthcoming, higher spec’d but more costly UDP-205 which OPPO Digital Stateside mainman Jason Liao has confirmed will feature an ESS Sabre Reference PRO (ES9038PRO) DAC chip.

    Whatever your choice in OPPO Digital disc spinner / media player, these incoming models are proof positive that optical media, especially the CD, is a long way from dead. This despite the ongoing efforts of those who would kick lossy codecs as a means to promote hi-res content (in spite of its wafer-thin library).

    Let’s face facts: DVD-Audio, SACD and even Blu-Ray Audio are marginal concerns. 16/44.1 remains the meat and potatoes of digital audiophile-approved formats. Whether you stream it or spin it from a CD, you’d be hard-pressed to find a network streamer and disc transport of this (on paper) calibre elsewhere for the money.

    Further information: OPPO Digital

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. I guess the UDP-205 will be the player for the gotta-have-its. The specs on the ES9038 Pro DAC are insane.

    2. BTW, several months ago when first announced, several sites wrote that the UDP-203 would decode two-channel DSD256 and multi-channel DSD64/128. Now that seems to have been reduced to two-channel DSD128 and multi-channel DSD64. Can you confirm if that has changed or the original spec was wrong? Will there be an upgrade? Will the UDP-205 be able top decode DSD256?

      • This is all the info I have right now, Larry. My guess is that it changed but confirming as much seems to be a little pointless.

    3. The orientation of the last photo plays a cute trick with the company name – perhaps a lingering effect of “down under”?

    4. Aaah, the serendipity – I commented on Oppo Digital’s ability to keep some kind of Dolby certification in place on their gear despite tiny volumes compared to the big boys in your latest Schiit thread, and voila ! I know this is the kind of product announcement you feel duty bound to pass on to the faithful, but I’m still stunned that they can continue to play in what must surely be a marginal niche in 2016. I guess for the folks who have to have a 4K TV, the high cost of BD discs isnt a disincentive, but for all the months I owned my BDP-105D I would have owned less than 10 Blu-Ray titles. I bought it for much the same reason as many audiophiles – it’s the Swiss Army knife of the AV world and saved me buying a box that only played silver discs. All power to Oppo Digital though – what they do, they do very well indeed.

    5. Just wondering what the issue is with using the USB input as compared to the forthcoming, higher priced unit?

        • Indeed it does, no need to use rare PS3 any more. Search the Computer Audiophile site on the basics. The only additional hardware you need is a small blank USB thumb drive and connected to a LAN.

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