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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

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts 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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