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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

    Written by John Darko

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

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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