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OPPO Digital’s UDP-205 – an audio/visual man machine

  • 12345678. Eight full-album live performances recorded between 2012 and 2016 during Kraftwerk’s world tour of venues less ordinary will be released on May 26th by Parlophone in both expansive box set and abridged versions.

    3-D The Catalogue will land in a wide variety of formats including vinyl, CD and download. Most exhaustive / feature-packed of the bunch will be a 436-minute, 12″-boxed, 4-disc Blu-Ray set – two discs of live album performances and two discs of the films and animations used by the band as back projections during the shows. All video will be in 3D (and will be 2D compatible). The audio layer of each disc will feature 5.1 surround, stereo and ‘Headphone Surround 3D’ (binaural?) mixes.

    And such a meticulously compiled Blu-ray set demands decent playback hardware. Your US$99 Walmart-bought disc spinner probably isn’t going to cut it.

    Our Kraftwerk playback wishlist might include Blu-ray 3D support, decent surround sound and stereo reproduction and headphone connectivity. A lot to ask from a single device box? Perhaps not.

    When purse strings are tight, we might consider OPPO Digital’s UDP-203 (US$549). As covered previously, it’s way more than just a disc spinner. U = universal.

    However, the newly announced UDP-205 adopts the 203’s video capabilities (deep breath) as its foundation: “Playback of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, SACD, Audio CD and many other formats; High Dynamic Range (HDR10) and firmware upgradable to Dolby Vision; dual HDMI outputs – HDMI 2.0 for UHD and HDMI 1.4 for audio; and an HDMI 2.0 input port for external streaming devices or set-top boxes”…

    …but soups up its audio performance via the deployment of a pair of ESS Labs’ flagship DAC chips, the 9038Pro, a more precise HDMI digital audio clock and, according to OPPO Digital, a beefier, better headphone amplifier when compared to the outgoing BDP-105/D models.

    Shown the door on the new version is the device’s app layer that kept Tidal, Netflix and Pandora (among others) on the machine itself. Why? It’s possible that OPPO Digital felt they were fighting a losing battle in keeping on top of API updates and regional (app) variations.

    Readers are reminded that D/A converter design is far more than just choosing a chip. We must also consider the design of the power supply and output stage.

    Says the press release: The UDP-205’s audio circuitry is powered by a massive toroidal power supply, which provides a very clean and robust power source to the audio components.”

    Balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs affirm the UDP-205’s position as high quality stereo playback device as well as a 5.1/7.1 channel handler – ideally suited to the new Kraftwerk Blu-ray box set.

    However, much like the UDP-203 before it, the UDP-205 can also be run as a standalone D/A converter. Inputs include asynchronous USB (that takes care of PCM up to 768kHz and DSD 512), coaxial and the more mainstream/ubiquitous TOSLINK that a) keeps games consoles and legacy streaming devices in the picture and, perhaps more importantly, b) allows us to spruce up the sound quality of our existing TV.

    More information spills from OPPO Digital’s press release thusly: “The brushed aluminum front panel and metal chassis continue the tradition of excellent workmanship found in previous generations of OPPO universal players. Four heavy-gauge machined feet provide a stable foundation for the UDP-205, and isolate it from outside vibration. A new double-layered chassis further enhances the rigidness and vibration-canceling capabilities. The internal layout and chassis design promote healthy air flow so critical components can be naturally cooled. Strategically placed heatsinks and ventilation grilles allow the UDP-205 run both cool and quiet without the need for internal or external fans.”

    Pricing on the UDP-205 lands at US$1299.

    Further information: Kraftwerk Official | 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 hope this player/DAC gets a KO award. Because it will help to keep physical formats live. Video formats on disc kill downloaded crap. Also shows that a DAC loaded with goodies including two flagship DACs doesn’t have to cost 6 grand.

      Granted good implementation is important but high end companies are obsessed squeezing every last drop of performance from the least expensive parts so they can have a BOM that looks like a $10 sound card.

    2. I ordered a UDP-205 yesterday (4/22); should be delivered shortly. Needed to replace a BDP-83SE that’s getting long in the tooth, so to speak. When I acquired it in 2010, I couldn’t stand the bright (maybe even shrill) sound it rendered, so I sent it to Modwright for their analog board upgrade and balanced OUTs, and have loved every minute listening to it since then. That will also be my strategy for the 205, when it arrives. I can’t imagine it will sound near as good as the departing, mod-ed 83SE, but once mod-ed, will most likely surpass it. By the way, I must say OPPO Customer Service is a terrific organization to deal with – very much “customer-focused in the cause of retaining customer loyalty”.

    3. Hi John
      Thanks for the heads up on both items in this article. Although I wont be buying a 205, as much as I would like to, I can imagine the Kraftwerk set will sound fabulous on it. I will be going with the much cheaper Sony X800, who sold me when they announced DVD-Audio support. Having a Marantz UD 7007 in the arsenal along with a 2QUTE DAC I feel the 205 would be overkill. However I will be looking forward to your review of the machine as I am interested to see how this machine compares both on sound quality and functionality to other components and whether it has a place in the future fi world.

      As a Kraftwerk fan I cannot wait for this release, I was at the Royal Opera house and the Oslo concerts, but it is the quality of Minimum Maximum, that has me dribbling about the quality of the sound. Hope you might write a few words about the sound quality of the set if you can find a relevant moment.

      Thanks Gordon

      • Hey Gordon. I’m not yet in possession of either but if I buy the Kraftwerk it will probably be the vinyl. 🙂 I’m keen to give the 205 a listen though. Perhaps review units should ship with the Kraftwerk Blu-Ray 3D box in tow? 😉

    4. I don’t see why the Oppo will keep the physical formats alive.

      Most friends aged between 25 y.o. and 40 y.o. have no devices to play blu-ray, dvd, cd, sacd,…

      They are streaming Netflix (standard resolution), Spotify (free account) and illegal content with Google Chromecast at best. Or the settop box from their providers.

      They don’t care about picture- or soundquality at all. They don’t want to pay for these kind of things, even those who can easily afford high end-gear. It’s just fashionable these days to say you don’t want to pay for audio/video and don’t care about quality.

      • I don’t think OPPO are kidding themselves that physical format sales are on any trajectory other than down but that doesn’t mean their hardware won’t retain niche appeal for those with expansive optical disc collections.

    5. Oppo has carved itself a niche position as the highest profile provider of quality universal players. Failing to support these physical formats would effectively remove this extremely valuable differentiator of their products, and would be a classic case of shooting themselves in the foot.

    6. The 205 arrived this afternoon. With less than 1 CD under its belt, the tonality is lean and bright, but wonderfully detailed. The “lean and bright” are characteristic of the BDP-83SE I bought in 2010, but subsequently had upgraded by Modwright. That made an enormous difference, taming the brightness and delivering a smooth, fleshed-out, more “natural” tonality that I still enjoy today.

      I’m quite anxious to send the 205 to Dan for further work, because I’m confident it will sound wonderful as a result. Nevertheless, I continue to wonder how OPPO can build a player with this much techno-good stuff embedded in it, yet still produce such mediocre sound quality. Well, for all that, it’s not expensive, by any means, so once again, it’s a case of “you get what you pay for”, and, of course, all the nice video functions are included, to boot.

    7. I have an Oppo 105 and an Oppo HA-1. Both contain the ESS Sabre 9018 DAC chip and both sound harsh and brittle and exhibit the infamous Sabre glare. The 9038 is better from what I’ve read but says the D/S Sabre DAC is still bright and lean. I’ll bet Modwright can fix that though…

      • Bottom line is ESS based DACs need good implementation to sound their best. But when done properly are hard to beat for detail retrieval.

        I don’t understand why Oppo doesn’t do a better job with it. I guess video quality is a higher priority for them. The ESS chips are there so they can put it on the list of features.

        I’ll bet Larry Ho from Light Harmonic could come up with some good mods for the audio circuitry. He’s good at taming ESS DACs.

    8. Well, I’m at a point with the 205 that is about 36 hours of continuous play at low volume, beyond where I was when I submitted an “immediate” 1st CD playback upon receiving the unit via FedEx (those guys are Good!), some days ago. That comment was somewhat negative.

      First, I must thank Larry B. for his comments above for alerting me to the phrase “bright and lean”, to describe my precise initial feelings, that mimic-ed my experience with the older BDP-83SE.

      But, at this juncture, I must apologize to OPPO for “jumping the gun” on my initial review of the 205 – it was not a fair evaluation, for obvious reasons. Today, 4/29, I must say that this beast sounds totally unlike my initial impression 2 days ago. The “shrill and glare” are Gone!, with a capital G. I’m shocked at the rounded, authentic tonality, sans the brightness & glare of yester-year, of John Holloway’s violin in Biber’s “The Mystery Sonatas” on Virgin Classics Veritas, VCD 7 90838-2.

      Still, the evolution to warm-ish, rounded, authentic tonal characteristics in so short a time is astonishing. And even beyond that, the retrieval of recording venue detail is absolutely marvelous. It promotes the audible awareness of the exchange between “most-prominent instrument”, within and across the sound-stage, during any musical track, which leaves me shifting my head from left-to-right to focus on the soloist-of-the-moment, yet keeping the overall sonic, wall-to-wall heft of the performance audibly in-tact.

      This is truly exceptional performance integration within the recording venue (which I rarely experience), as opposed what Howard Cosell might have phrased as, “…pain etched in his ears.”, with all the sonic variations thereof. Of course, much of that may be due to hearing details not previously decoded by my mod-ed 83SE, but whatever the case, for now, the Modwright upgrades I previously planned, are definitely on-hold, as I happily anticipate possible further improvement in the 205.

    9. Thank you Bil for your second thoughts on the Oppo 205.
      I’m interested to hear from you where you stand now.
      I just got my 205 yesterday and it also sounds quite ‘fresh’ to what I’m used to. I hope this will balance out the coming weeks.

    10. I’ve had the 205 for a week now, and at this point, I like its DAC a little bit better than my trusty old 2qute.

    11. The 205 needs some break in time. I’ve had mine for a couple of weeks now and it is really starting to bloom. Highly detailed and floats a larger sound stage than the BDP 95 or the 105 Darbee. I really notice the lower distortion rate. It’s very good. I don’t think I would spend the money on a mod.

    12. Three weeks ago I received my 205 and have played it (redbook CDs, SACDs, and a couple of Blue-rays) every day since then for an average of 3 hours per day, with 5-6 hours on several days, when the music moved me to do so. I submitted two previous evaluative comments (see above), which described the short-term evolution of the sound from bright to non-bright, with more-natural tonality of instruments. For the past two weeks I’ve enjoyed continued improvement toward more “natural”, rounded tonality of individual acoustic instruments (violin, cello, acoustic guitar, lute, theorbo), as well as the wonderfully detailed resonance from the lower registers of piano (on good recordings). All of this has been the “sweet spot” of my listening experience for the past decades, toward which I’ve tailored my selection of components to produce as “authentically” as possible. The journey, by and large, has been a slog, leading to equipment changes time and again. I can now say that addition of the 205 is enabling me to hear the true capability of my downstream components, by presenting a true (accurate and detailed) view of the recorded performance: the instruments and voices, thereof. Any modification, it seems to me at this point, would be a choice based on the need for a different(!), not a better, sound.

    13. I’m adding the following viewpoint as a separate comment on the 205. Firstly, I commend Vincent D Ritzert for his comment above, which mirrors my own impressions very closely, especially in regard to the 205s evolving improvement in sound stage. I would, however, reiterate my joy of tracking individual instruments within the sound stage, left to right, and front-to-back, which, of course, is a function of recording quality, as well.

      Secondly, I note here three recordings which the 205 has enabled me to enjoy in ways never previously possible with prior sources (Oppo 83SE, Sony SACD player, and all prior disc players):
      1) DG SACD 474-640-2, “Anna Netrebko, Opera Arias”, Vienna Phil., G. Noseda, cond.
      2) DG Blue-ray: “The Berlin Concert – Live From the Waldbuhne”; Netrebko, Domingo, Villazon; Orch. der Deutschen Oper Berlin, Armiliato, cond.
      3) Unitel Classica Blue-ray: “Beethoven Complete String Quartets”, the Belcea Quartet; Weiner Konzerthaus Mozartsaal, 4 discs.

      In all three cases, I attribute my new-found enjoyment of them, specifically, to the 205s combined tonality, detail, transparency, and (still evolving) sound stage, all as described more fully in prior comments here. In the two recordings above with Anna Netrebko, I was truly shocked at the utter clarity, free of glare, of her extended, demonstration high-Cs, that let me finally hear the quality and power of her voice at its maximum output, without wincing in pain – astonishing!

    14. Thanks Bill for your extensive update, appreciate it.
      With only week of use and (very) limited time to really listen to the 205; I still anticipate further improvement. Thats a nice perspective ;>)
      One of my favorite quality recorded CD’s is Roadhouse of Chris Jones, from Stockfisch recordings.
      They also have very good SACD recordings.

    15. I truly appreciate the time and energy of the contributors above. I’ve been driving my self crazy over whether to try this player. Especially Bill Hadney for his great follow ups. It looks to me that I’d better start looking for $1300.00 in the near future.

    16. When quality audio is your thing, besides looking for a UHD video player, and you are looking for maybe the last mutli-player you might buy, I definitely would give the Oppo 205 a try.
      It’s qualities are surely worth it.
      I had to grow a little bit into the Oppo 205 soundwise, but I really like what I’m hearing and have not regretted it for a second buying it.

      Last thing I did was a thorough comparison of the headphones capabilities using my Sennheiser HD800. Although the Oppo 205 is quite good with this; it is no match for my Musical Fidelity X-CAN V8P headphones amp.

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