Is the addition of Darbee processing enough to keep the BDP-105 relevant in a changing world?
What is the Oppo BDP-105D?
It's never easy being at the top because as market's change there's often only one direction to go - down.Oppo probably know this better than anyone but in fairness to the US manufacturer they have done a remarkably good job of keeping their flagship player at the top of the Blu-ray tree. Kicking off with a superb initial model, each successive player has added more features and refinements and as a result Oppo have received Reference Status awards for both the BDP-95 and BDP-105. However there comes a point when such refinements can incur the law of diminishing returns and a manufacturer finds themselves running to stand still. Oppo may have added HDMI inputs, 4K upscaling and improved the streaming capabilities but it's still essentially the same machine.Oppo's latest flagship Blu-ray player is the BDP-105D and, like the cheaper BDP-103D, the suffix relates to the inclusion of Darbee Visual Presence. This isn't the only change, Oppo have also upgraded the USB DAC to support DSD 64/128 and added BBC iPlayer, but the addition of Darbee technology is certainly the main selling point of this new player. Of course regardless of the importance you place on Darbee image processing, there are still plenty of other reasons to consider the 105D including a reference audio and video performance. However the Oppo isn't cheap, so can it still remain relevant with 4K Blu-ray waiting in the wings?
Design and ConnectionsThe 105D uses the same chassis as the previous model, which means superior build quality, an attractive brushed metal design and a choice of black or silver. The Oppo sits on four large and sturdy feet, designed to reduce vibrations and thanks to the solid construction and fanless architecture, it is almost silent in operation. At the centre is the disc drawer which, thanks to the impressive engineering, is also extremely quiet and smooth as it slides in and out. There are some basic control buttons on the right hand side, whilst on the left is a well designed, informative and easy to read display that can be dimmed or turned off if so desired.
The Oppo badge on the far left is also the power button and next to it is a small power status indicator LED, whilst on the far right there is a USB 2.0 port, an HDMI input that is compatible with MHL (Mobile High-definition Link) and a 1/4-inch stereo headphone jack. As is customary for Oppo inside the solid and nicely padded packaging there is a well written and informative manual and a separate box for the player’s accessories. Aside from the remote control, the other accessories include a high speed HDMI cable, a Wi-Fi dongle, a USB extension cable for locating the dongle away from the player and a detachable kettle style power cable.
At the rear of the 105D there are two HDMI v1.4a outputs and one HDMI v1.4a input, a diagnostic (composite) video output, two USB ports, an Ethernet port, a connector for the external IR sensor and an RS-232C connector for custom installers. The player also includes 7.1 analogue audio outputs via RCA connectors, which are colour coded and are in a straight line at the top rear of the chassis. In addition the Oppo has dedicated stereo audio outputs using both RCA connectors and fully balanced XLR outputs. Finally there are digital audio inputs and outputs using optical and coaxial, as well as a USB (Type B) audio input.
The remote control is the standard Oppo model with large buttons, an intuitive layout and a backlight to make it easier to use in the dark. The remote feels solid and comfortable to hold, whilst the buttons themselves are easy to differentiate by touch and have a nice tactile response when pressing them. The buttons include all the usual controls for playing a disc and navigating menus, along with buttons for accessing the Home page, Netflix and the Darbee processing. There is also a Pure Audio button, which bypasses the video circuits for when you're just listening to music.
The 105D is built like a tank but as quiet as a mouse in operation.
Menus and SetupOppo have been using the same menu system for the last three years and it's well designed - intuitive, concise and very responsive. The Setup menu is broken down into six sub-menus - Playback Setup, Video Setup, Audio Format Setup, Audio Processing, Device Setup and Network Setup. The sub-menus are fairly self explanatory, with Video Setup covering all the necessary controls for correctly setting up the video features, whilst the Audio Format Setup covers the various audio options. The Audio Processing sub-menu is important if you intend to take full advantage the 105D's audio capabilities, whilst the Network Setup allows you to create either a wired or wireless network connection using the included dongle. The Playback Setup sub-menu covers various options covering disc playback and finally the Device Setup sub-menu covers options related to the player itself including firmware updates.
The big difference between the 105D and the 105EU is in the Picture Adjustment sub-menu where, along with the existing picture controls, you'll also find the new settings for the Darbee Visual Presence and VRS ClearView features. As with the previous model, the Picture Mode includes Brightness, Contrast, Hue (Tint), Saturation (Colour) and Noise Reduction controls. The Darbee controls give you a choice of Mode (High-Def, Gaming, Full Pop) and Level, with a Demo Mode for comparing the before and after effect. The VRS ClearView controls include Detail Enhancement, Edge Enhancement and Video Smoothing. As with the Darbee controls there is also a Demo Mode for before and after comparisons. The Picture controls can be applied to either HDMI1 or HDMI2 but the Darbee and VRS ClearView features only apply to HDMI 1. You can create and save up to three different Picture Modes.
FeaturesOppo have expanded their streaming services this year and from a UK perspective the ones you will probably find most useful are Picasa, Netflix, YouTube and BBC iPlayer. The latter is a welcome addition to the line-up but there's obviously still a number of key services missing. The 105D is a great performer when it comes to streaming content over your home network. It includes both Digital Media Player (DMP) and Digital Media Renderer (DMR) features, enabling wired or wireless access of audio, picture, and video files stored on DLNA-compatible digital media servers. The Oppo worked well in our testing and appears to support the majority of media and file formats including JPEG, AVCHD, MP3, MP4, DivX, MKV, FLAC and WAV files. All these audio, video and picture files can be accessed via your home network, discs or USB drives.
The 105D is a universal player which means it can handle almost any disc you put in it including BDs, DVDs, CDs, HDCDs, SACDs and DVD-Audio discs. For SACD and DVD-Audio, the player supports both stereo and multi-channel high resolution audio programs and for SACD, users can output the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) signal in its native format or convert it into PCM. The player can also access Gracenote's global media database over the Internet, offering an enriched playback experience by displaying Cover Art, Title, Artist, Genre and other media information for CD, DVD, Blu-ray and a wide range of digital media files. Oppo also offer a remote control app for use with a smartphone or tablet. This app works very well, easily connecting with the player and creating a facsimile of the physical controller, thus offering a certain level of convenience and a handy alternative to the provided remote.
The inclusion of the BBC's iPlayer is a welcome addition to the feature list.
Oppo BDP-105D Audio PlaybackIf you plan on using your player as a digital transport, then the BDP-105 is probably not for you as one of the main reasons for buying it would be to take advantage of the reference DACs. Cosmetics and build differences aside, you would instead be better off buying the equally impressive but much cheaper BDP-103. However, for the purposes of the review, we tested the digital outputs of the 105D with a number of lossless formats from Blu-rays and lossy versions from DVDs. We also listened to multichannel audio from SACD and DVD-Audio discs as well as two channel audio from SACDs, HDCDs and CDs. We tried different methods of connecting the Oppo to our reference receiver, including HDMI, optical and coaxial and also switched between bitstream and PCM. The player was also able to detect all the different discs and audio formats without any problems and played each one back flawlessly. The 105D is clearly a very capable digital audio performer and, regardless of the format or disc type, it sounded fantastic.
What sets the 105D apart is its analogue performance and Oppo has gone to great lengths to ensure the player's audiophile credentials. The 105D uses two ESS Sabre32 Reference Audio Digital-to-Analogue Converters (DAC), one for the 7.1 output and one for the stereo output, both of which use a 32-bit Hyperstream DAC architecture which provides a greater dynamic range and reduces jitter and distortion. The 105D also uses toroidal power transformers to provide a clean and robust power source to the critical audio components. The 2-channel analogue stereo uses a specially optimised DAC and output driving stages to achieve even greater audio performance and includes both RCA single-ended connectors and XLR balanced connectors. By transmitting a pair of differential signals, the XLR balanced output provides better common-mode noise rejection and improves signal quality. All of these improvements are contained within a rigid chassis that provides solid support to reduce vibrations and also adds greater shielding.
This remarkable attention to detail and build quality has certainly paid dividends with the 105D delivering a phenomenal analogue audio performance. The stereo performance was breath-taking, with a clearly defined soundstage and a wonderful amount of detail and clarity. The sounds were nicely focused within three dimensional space and there was a real sense of envelopment, whilst the soundstage also showed a wonderful frequency response and an amazing dynamic range. With 5.1 and 7.1 soundtracks the 105D was equally assured and the additional speakers just added to the soundstage creating even more envelopment and greater focus. Sounds were perfectly positioned and there was a wonderful sense of detail and clarity. The frequency response and dynamic range were also impressive and the bass was smooth and controlled with a crossover at 80Hz. Overall this was an incredible performance and represented some of the best audio we have heard from a player at any price point.
The 105D includes a USB Asynchronous DAC input and the DAC itself has been upgraded this year to support DSD 64/128. This means you can turn your computer into a high performing multi-media source by converting digital audio to analogue through the 105D. Connecting our MacBook Pro to the 105D certainly paid dividends, with the player delivering a wonderful level of detail from selected tracks in our iTunes library. Another useful new feature is the addition of a Headphone Amplifier, allowing a pair of headphones to be connected directly to the 105D. The built-in headphone amplifier is connected directly to the ESS Sabre32 Reference DACs and offers a unique performance advantage over standalone headphone amplifiers. We found listening to music using our Sennheiser headphones to be a singularly enjoyable experience, providing tracks with an intimacy and immediacy rarely found with other headphone enabled devices.
Oppo BDP-105D Video Review
If you're looking for an audiophile Blu-ray player, the 105D should be at the top of your short list.
Oppo BDP-105D Video PlaybackAny 3D Blu-ray player should be able to output the content on 3D Blu-rays correctly and, as expected, the 105D delivered a flawless performance. All the discs played first time, with no handshaking problems or other unexpected issues and navigation and playback was equally as impressive. The digital nature of Blu-ray also means that any player capable of outputting 1080p should be identical to any other player over HDMI, assuming of course the player is not doing something it shouldn't. With all the picture features turned off, the Oppo again delivered a flawless performance with no unwanted processing. When it comes to 1080i content there is an opportunity for the player to add greater value and here the 105D passed every single cadence test. The video deinterlacing was equally as good and in the video resolution test the Oppo correctly processed the moving portion of the image, leaving the background free of artefacts. The 105D also includes 4K upscaling to a resolution 3840 x 2160 and although we were unable to test the feature on our review sample, previous Oppo players that we have tested have performed well in this regard.
The deinterlacing and scaling found on Oppo Blu-ray players is superb and sets a reference by which all other disc players are measured. So if you have a large collection of DVDs, the 105D can give them a whole new lease of life thanks to some truly impressive video processing. In our tests the 105D delivered superb results when it came to scaling and with the video deinterlacing tests the results were equally as good, eliminating jaggies and other unwanted artefacts. The 105D also had no problems with the test displaying film material with scrolling video text, the text was always clearly readable without any shredding. The motion adaptive deinterlacing was also excellent and in the cadence tests the 105D performed flawlessly, correctly detecting the 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European) formats. There is even an option to restore the original 24 frames per second progressive-scan video from well-authored NTSC DVDs and output at 1080p 24Hz. This is a handy feature if you've bought a lot of DVDs from the US in the past but remember to turn it off for video based content.
The 105D's major difference over previous models is the inclusion of Darbee Visual presence and VRS ClearView processing, although whether you feel the price premium is warranted will depend on how much value you place on these features. If you just want your Blu-ray player to output exactly what's on the disc then Darbee processing is probably not for you and you could just save yourself £100. However if Darbee processing is something you're interested in then the 105D provides this feature for a premium that is half the cost of buying a separate processor. So how does Darbee Visual Presence work? Well in simple terms in uses proprietary algorithms in conjunction with local pixel luminance adjustments to create a perception of greater detail and depth. Remember that if you're watching a Blu-ray on a 1080p display you're already seeing all the detail that's available, so what Darbee are doing is essentially a trick - whether you like the look of this trick is highly subjective and largely down to personal preference. For an in-depth look at the technology, we suggest you read our in-depth review of the Darbee device.
There are three modes - Hi-Def, Gaming and Full Pop - with each offering a greater degree of processing. You can also adjust the level of each mode, increasing or decreasing the amount of processing. We found that if we were going to use the Darbee processing at all, we restricted ourselves to Hi-Def as the other two looked overly processed, and set the level at a lower percentage. Whilst we could see the pixel manipulation working well with video games, when it came to film and TV content and especially Blu-rays, we were less convinced. Ultimately we found that whilst the image initially looked sharper and had greater depth, we were also aware that it was being processed and film, in particular, developed a slightly 'digital' look that wasn't to our personal taste. The same was true with the VRS ClearView processing which adds a host of edge and detail enhancement controls, along with a video smoothing feature. Whilst these features could be useful for improving the look of lower resolution and heavily compressed material, particularly content from the internet, they should be left off when watching Blu-rays.
How useful you'll find the inclusion of Darbee processing depends entirely on how much you like the images it creates.
Disc Load TimesThe 105D includes a dual-core System-on-Chip processor and as a result it's impressively fast at both powering on and loading discs. In our tests it only took 5 seconds for the Oppo to power on and extend the disc tray and whilst the loading times of discs will vary from studio to studio, it was still extremely fast with most discs loading in less than 20 seconds. When it came to DVDs, the 105D was just as quick, with most discs loading in seconds. The player was also very nimble at navigating discs and extremely responsive to commands, making it a pleasure to use.
- Standby: 0.0W
- Idle: 31W
- Playing a disc: 32W
- Universal playback
- Reference audio
- Reference video
- Superb build quality
- Extremely quiet operation
- Fast load and response times
- Easy to use menu system
- Two HDMI outputs
- Dedicated stereo output
- XLR Balanced stereo output
- 7.1 Analogue audio outputs
- WiFi dongle included
- Well designed remote
- Limited internet functionality
Oppo 105D (BDP-105D) Blu-ray Player ReviewThe Oppo BDP-105D is, like its predecessors, a fantastic Blu-ray player that delivers a superb all-round performance wrapped up in a pleasingly high-end package. The stylish brushed metal chassis is well-designed, attractive and offers a choice of black or silver; whilst the tank-like construction is well-enginnered and solid, resulting in a player that is fast, responsive and incredibly quiet in operation. The rear connections are suitably audiophile in nature, with 7.1-channel outputs and dedicated stereo outputs that use both RCA connectors and fully balanced XLR outputs. There are also two HDMI outputs and two HDMI inputs, with the latter allowing you to use the 105D as a video processor. As with previous generations the menu system and remote control are well designed, sensibly laid out and intuitive to use. The streaming features aren't as comprehensive as some of the competition but most of the major services are covered now that BBC iPlayer has been added and the file support is excellent. There is also an excellent remote app that works well and provides a handy alternative to the provided controller.
In terms of performance the 105D can handle almost any disc you care to put in it and when it came to audio and video the Oppo didn't put a foot wrong. It delivered a flawless playback of 2D and 3D Blu-rays, whilst it also handled 1080i content with real assurance. The deinterlacing and scaling of DVDs was equally as impressive and thanks to the HDMI inputs, you can apply this superb video processing to two other sources, as well as video streamed from the internet. The value you place on Darbee image processing will largely depend on your personal preference but the £100 premium is certainly cheaper than buying the stand alone Darbee unit. The audio performance remains as impressive as ever and anyone looking for a flexible source with serious audiophile credentials need look no further. The 105D is undoubtedly a great universal player but at £1,099 it certainly isn't cheap and, with 4K Blu-ray around the corner, it's a sizeable investment at this stage in the format's development. Whether you feel the Oppo BDP-105D is worth its price tag is a largely a matter of personal choice but one thing is for sure, should you take the plunge you'll be safe in the knowledge that what you own is the current state-of-the-art.
Ease Of Use9
Value For Money7
Our Review Ethos
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