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Oppo UDP-205 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Review

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It delivers state-of-the-art performance but at a cost

by Steve Withers Jul 27, 2017 at 7:40 AM

  • SRP: £1,399.00

    What is the Oppo UDP-205?

    The UDP-205 is Oppo's new flagship 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and joins the UDP-203 in their line-up. It boasts the same universal playback as their earlier model but adds audiophile components and a serious level of build quality. When the 203 was originally released towards the end of last year, there was a feeling it had been rushed to market. The player had a number of bugs, some of the features were yet to be added and there were no streaming apps included. Since then Oppo has released a number of firmware updates that have addressed all the bugs, fixed the strip metadata feature and added Dolby Vision support. Aside from the fact that there are still no streaming apps on the Oppo UHD Blu-ray players, they are the most comprehensive in terms features but this does come at a cost. The UDP-203 has a retail price of £649 and the UDP-205 will set you back an eye-watering £1,399 as at the time of writing (July 2017). This raises an interesting question – given that you can now buy an Ultra HD Blu-ray player for less than £200 is there really any benefit from spending nearly seven times that much on the UDP-205? Let's find out.

    Design

    Oppo UDP-205 Design
    When you buy an Oppo player there's one thing you can guarantee, it will be very well made. The UDP-203 easily had the best build quality of any Ultra HD Blu-ray player that we had reviewed to date but the UDP-205 takes this to another level. The new model offers a staggering level of build quality that puts any other player we've ever reviewed to shame. The front is composed of a thick brushed aluminium panel, whilst the 205's chassis uses a double-layered all-metal construction coupled with four heavy-guage machined feet to increase stability and reduce vibrations. The UDP-205 has separate power supplies for digital and analog circuitry to eliminate unwanted interference and the analog audio circuitry is powered by a toroidal power transformer. This linear power supply provides a clean and robust power source to the audio components, providing better efficiency and significantly lower exterior magnetic field interference compared to traditional laminated steel core transformers. The internal layout and chassis design is intended to create effective air flow to naturally cool critical components, whilst strategically placed heatsinks and ventilation grilles allow the 205 to run both cool and quiet without the need for internal or external fans.
    Oppo UDP-205 Design
    The UDP-205 has a very clean and minimalist front panel with a centrally mounted disc tray and a display directly above it. The disc tray uses a high-precision, well-balanced laser optical disc loader with strong error detection and correction to ensure fast disc loading and smooth and reliable playback of all types of disc media. The display itself can be dimmed or turned off and it remains well designed, easy to read and informative. There's an illuminated power button on the far left and play, pause, forwards, backwards and stop controls on the far right. Just to the right of the display and disc tray is the eject button but, as with the UDP-203, it isn’t illuminated which makes it hard to find in the dark. There is a USB 2.0 port on the front, along with a headphone jack that allows for direct connection to the 205’s built-in headphone amplifier, which in turn is connected directly to the ESS SABRE PRO DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter). The 205 measures 430 x 123 x 311mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at a very impressive10kg. The disc loading was smooth and fast, the navigation was slick and quiet, whilst the player itself was almost silent in operation, although we did notice that it gets quite warm to the touch so make sure it is suitably ventilated.

    The level of build quality is incredible, with fast disc loading and near-silent operation

    Connections & Control

    Oppo UDP-205 Connections & Control
    Aside from the USB 2.0 port and the headphone jack, the rest of the connections are at the rear and it's here that the audiophile aspirations of the UDP-205 become apparent. As with the UDP-203 there are two HDMI outputs, one is HDMI 2.0a with support for HDCP 2.2 and HDR, whilst the second is HDMI 1.4 and is an audio-only output, thus offering the choice of running video and audio separately or, as is more likely, connecting the UDP-205 to an AV processor, AV receiver or soundbar that doesn't support HDCP 2.2 and HDR. There is also an additional HDMI 2.0 input, allowing you to connect other devices and use the 205 as a video processor. There are two USB 3.0 ports, digital audio outputs using both optical and coaxial connectors, in and out triggers, an RS-232C serial port for custom installers and a Gigabit Ethernet port, although the 205 also includes built-in WiFi (802.11ac).

    There are 7.1-channel analogue outputs via RCA connectors, although you can also use these outputs for 5.1-channel setup or even in a 2-channel configuration as a Zone 2 audio source. The 205 includes a separate stereo audio output powered by a dedicated ES9038PRO DAC chip and specially designed buffer and driver stages. The stereo output offers both RCA single-ended connectors and XLR balanced outputs with a differential signal path all the way from the DAC to the 3-pin XLR connector. By transmitting a pair of differential signals, the balanced output provides better common-mode noise rejection and improves signal quality. There's also an asynchronous USB DAC input which supports sample rates up to 768 kHz PCM and DSD 512, along with coaxial and optical digital outputs that allow other digital sources to be converted to analogue using the ES9038PRO DAC.
    Oppo UDP-205 Connections & Control
    The UDP-205 has exactly the same remote as the UDP-203 but that's not a bad thing as it's a well designed and highly effective controller. The remote is fairly large but well balanced, with a groove on the back and big buttons, that make it comfortable to hold and easy to use with one hand. The remote is also backlit and motion sensitive, so the backlight comes on when you pick it up, and the layout and function of the buttons is very intuitive. As we found when we reviewed the 203, the 3D button has been dropped in favour of the Dimmer button and where that was there is now a button called Pic which provides direct access the Picture Adjustment Menu. Since the backlight is motion activated, there's no need for a dedicated backlight button and Oppo have replaced it with a new HDR button, whilst the direct access buttons for Netflix and Vudu have also been dropped.

    There are audiophile connections and the same excellent remote included with the UDP-203

    Features & Specs

    The UDP-205 is as feature-packed an Ultra HD Blu-ray player as you're likely to find but obviously it's primary function is the playback of 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. In conjunction with Mediatek, Oppo have developed the quad-core OP8591, which is a specialised 4K UHD Blu-ray decoder SoC (System-on-Chip), to deliver a superior performance. The 205 supports a resolution of 3840 x 2160, along with Wide Colour Gamut (Rec.2020) and High Dynamic Range (HDR) – it is one of the few players to support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The 205 can not only turn HDR off and output at lower resolutions, 8-bit and Rec.709 for older displays but also strip the HDR metadata and output at 4K, 10-bit and Rec.2020, which is handy for 4K displays that don't support HDR or projectors that, even when they support it, often struggle with HDR.

    MORE: What is High Dynamic Range (HDR)?

    The UDP-205 is also a universal disc player, so along with Ultra HD Blu-ray it can also play regular Blu-rays (both 2D and 3D), as well as DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD and CD. The 205 supports both stereo and multi-channel high resolution audio content and for SACD, users can also select whether to output the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) signal in its native format or convert it into PCM. The big selling point of the 205 is its audiophile capabilities and these are built around two ESS Technology ES9038PRO DACs (Digital-to-Analogue Converters) for both stereo and 7.1-channel analog audio. The ES9038PRO is the flagship of the ESS PRO series and sets a new benchmark with its 140 dB of dynamic range in a 32-bit, 8-channel DAC. The 205 also features a high-stability, high-precision HDMI clock and a special HDMI audio jitter reduction circuit. This significantly reduces jitter and eliminates timing errors when you use the audio-only HDMI output for connecting the audio signal. The HDMI audio jitter reduction circuitry can also help improve the sound quality of PCM and DSD audio, whilst compressed bitstream audio may also benefit from error-free transmission.

    MORE: What is Wide Colour Gamut (WCG)?

    Oppo UDP-205 Features & Specs
    Oppo UDP-205 Features & Specs

    The UDP-205 will support all the main audio formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, which means you can also enjoy immersive audio formats like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D. The Oppo 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 drive and the 205 even offered gapless playback in some cases.

    MORE: What is immersive audio?

    Oppo redesigned the home pages for their new Ultra HD Blu-ray players and they now use a series of images, one for each of the seven options – BD, Music, Photos, Movies, Network, Setup and Favourites. It's a nice touch that makes navigating the various home pages more visually interesting, although the menus are essentially the same as previous Oppo players. That's not necessarily a bad thing because we have always found the menus to be comprehensive and intuitive to use. What you won't find on the 205 are any third party streaming services, which explains the absence of the Netflix and Vudu buttons on the remote control, but it's possible that Oppo may add various services later. Finally Oppo provide a handy remote app for both iOS and Android that offers an effective alternative to the included controller.

    MORE: What is Dolby Vision?


    This audiophile universal player has extensive features including Dolby Vision support

    Picture Performance

    HDR10 Playback

    The UDP-205 is a superb Ultra HD Blu-ray player that delivered a flawless performance when it came to HDR10 content. Although we should point out that the cheaper UDP-203 is identical in this regard and that players a fraction of the cost of the 205 can also deliver a video performance that is equally as impressive. If your primary interest is in playing Ultra HD Blu-rays over HDMI then the 205 will struggle to justify its price tag because it won't be able to deliver a picture performance that is any better than the cheaper players. However the 205, like the 203, is a classy performer with extensive options in terms of setup and a few handy features that other players don't offer.

    First of all it's worth mentioning that we had absolutely no issues with the UDP-205 in terms of disc compatibility, playback or lip-syncing, all problems that were experienced by owners of the UDP-203 when it was first launched. It's fair to say that Oppo rushed the 203 to market in order to meet their Christmas deadline and as a result the player had a number of bugs that needed to be addressed. Oppo have now had six months to iron out any problems and as a result we found the 205 to be rock solid, just like our 203 which is running the latest firmware. The images were pristine and free of any backdoor processing. We also had no problems with HDMI handshaking and the playback of 24p content was excellent with no judder, motion issues or other problems observed.

    Although other manufacturers now provide this option as well, Oppo were the first to offer the choice of 10- or 12-bit output and they also allow you to force the HDR output, which is useful for some older displays that don't always detect the HDR flag correctly. If your display doesn't support 4K and HDR then, like every other Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the 205 can down-convert the signal to SDR and it can also do this if you have a 4K TV that doesn't support HDR. However what if you still want the benefits of 4K, 10-bit and Rec.2020 but don't want HDR, either because your TV doesn't support it or your display is a projector and doesn't handle HDR very effectively? Well Oppo's 203 and 205 are the only players that currently have a solution built-in.

    In the HDR sub-menu there is a Strip Metadata option which strips the HDR element of the image but leaves everything else intact, so you can still benefit from 4K, 10-bit and Rec.2020. We have found this feature to be very useful with our JVC projector which, despite supporting HDR, does struggle with the peak brightness requirements of the format. Whilst the Strip Metadata feature initially crushed the blacks, Oppo has now addressed the issue and we have found that it works extremely well, delivering some lovely images. You also have the option of selecting a peak brightness setting that matches your display's capabilities, so for a projector you might choose 150 nits.

    As we mentioned earlier the UDP-205 is nearly silent in operation, with quick loading of discs, responsive navigation and quiet playback. Although this isn't directly related to performance, it's certainly a nice thing to have and goes some way towards justify the price tag. Another really useful feature is that if you hold down Info button on the remote for three seconds you get an information window that includes some really useful additional information about how the disc was encoded. So for example you can see what minimum and maximum luminance levels were used for the HDR metadata. The Oppo also allows you to move subtitles which can be very handy if you use a 2.35:1 screen and the subtitles are in the black bars because you can move them up to appear in the image instead.

    Dolby Vision Playback

    The final useful feature is Dolby Vision support which isn't exclusive to Oppo, the LG UP970 also supports the format, but does set it apart from most of the competition. Since the UDP-205 has now been updated to support Dolby Vision and since we had access to both the LG 65G7 and the 55B7, we took the opportunity of testing the player with our four Dolby Vision discs - Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, Power Rangers and The Fate of the Furious. The 205 played all four discs without a hitch, detecting the Dolby Vision layer and outputting it to the LG OLED which in turn detected it and immediately switched into the Dolby Vision mode. If we pressed the Info button we could see that the player was identifying the disc as Dolby Vision and in this case didn't show the minimum and maximum luminance levels. Although if we connected the player to a non-Dolby Vision display and then pressed the Info button, we could see that all these discs had a minimum luminance of 0.05 nits and a maximum of 4,000 nits, which is what we would expect. The images were very impressive and although the difference compared to HDR10 is minimal it's still a nice feature to have and puts the Oppo players above much of the competition for those who want Dolby Vision support.

    4K Upscaling

    This is an area where one manufacturer can be better than another and the upscaling in Oppo's players has always been excellent, with the UDP-205 being no exception. The player can upscale sources, of any resolution from 480i and up, to Ultra HD which means that when you're watching DVDs or Blu-rays you can still benefit from the superior processing capabilities of the Oppo. Since the 205 has an HDMI input as well, you can also use it as a video processor and scale another connected source. Depending on the native resolution of your display, you can either use the Auto option or select a Custom resolution and overall the Oppo performed exceptionally well. We tested the upscaling of the 205 with high definition content from regular Blu-rays, as well as standard definition content from DVD and it was an extremely capable performer, with the player handling lower resolution content very well, delivering upscaled images that were detailed and free of unwanted artefacts or backdoor processing. There is also a Direct option, which means the player will output the source at its native resolution, which can be useful if you decide to use the player with an external video processor.

    Blu-ray Playback

    The UDP-205 is also an excellent Blu-ray player, which means it can take what is on the disc and deliver it precisely to the display. We tested the player with our usual selection of 2D and 3D Blu-rays and the UDP-203 played all the discs with ease, delivering great looking images that were detailed and judder-free. As mentioned in the previous section the 4K upscaling was excellent, so as a result the player was able to take the images and deliver every pixel with precision and without introducing scaling artefacts or back door processing. We tried a number of recent 2D Blu-ray releases, along with various 3D titles and they all looked excellent, with the player scaling them very effectively. The chroma subsampling was also extremely good and the 205 deinterlaced 1080i discs with skill, delivering impressive images.

    Standard Definition Playback

    Whilst it's unlikely you'll be watching many DVDs these days, if that's an aspect of a player's performance that is still important to you then the UDP-205 won't disappoint. It was a highly effective performer and had no issues playing both PAL and NTSC DVDs. The player exhibited excellent deinterlacing and cadence detection, with the interlaced signals being handled well regardless of whether it was film or video based or even a mixture of the two. In terms of motion there were no problems with our test discs, which appeared free of unwanted judder or other issues. As we mentioned in the previous section on 4K upscaling, the Oppo was also able to take a deinterlaced standard definition signal and upscale it with real precision, resulting in images that were free of unwanted artefacts or backdoor processing.

    Sound Performance

    As a digital transport the UDP-205 was exceptional but, despite it's claims to a dedicated, high-precision HDMI audio clock that is designed to significantly reduce jitter and eliminate timing errors, we were unable to distinguish between the 205 and the cheaper UDP-203. In testing both sounded excellent with digital content over HDMI and we were pleased to discover that despite early problems with lip synching and drop-outs, we experienced none of these issues with either the 205 or the 203. Since the Oppo supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio that means you can also enjoy the immersive audio formats like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D, assuming your processor, receiver or soundbar can decode them – just make sure that Secondary Audio is off.

    We tried a number of different audio formats including multichannel PCM, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA soundtracks from Blu-rays and Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks from DVDs. We also listened to Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D immersive audio soundtracks and the UDP-205 handled them all with ease. The same was true when it came to multichannel audio from SACD and DVD-Audio discs as well as two channel audio from SACDs and CDs. Although we weren't in a position test everything, the 205 can also handle multi-channel DSD64/128, as well as 192kHz/24-bit PCM used in high-resolution lossless formats such AIFF, ALAC, APE, FLAC and WAV. In the case of DSD64 it's played back in native mode or converted to PCM, whilst DSD128 is converted to PCM.

    As good as the UDP-205 is in the digital realm, if you primarily plan on using the player with a digital connection then you might as well buy a cheaper model because the deciding factor will be the rest of the system. You can send the digital signal directly to your processor or receiver via HDMI (we couldn't tell any difference when using the dedicated audio HDMI output but you have that option) and let the processor or receiver do all the decoding. Although if for some reason your receiver or audio processor can't handle a bitstream signal, you can also perform the decoding in the player and send the audio as PCM over HDMI.

    However, aside from the superior build quality, if you're buying the UDP-205 the primary reason will be its capabilities as an digital-to-analogue converter. There are surprisingly few Ultra HD Blu-ray players that offer an analogue option, most are restricted to digital outputs with some only including an HDMI output. So if you want analogue support you're basically looking at the Panasonic DMP-UB900, the Oppo UDP-203 or the UDP-205. In the case of the first two they include the ability to decode the bitstream and then perform the digital-to-analogue conversion for both stereo and multi-channel analogue outputs. The 205 also offers this but takes the performance to an entirely different level.

    The UDP-203 features a 32-bit DAC from AKM, the AK4458VN, which is an 8-channel DAC with support for formats such as 192 kHz/32-bit PCM and multi-channel DSD64/128. The UDP-205 is equipped with two ESS Technology ES9038PRO 32-bit HyperStream DACs for both stereo and 7.1 channel analogue audio, with both offering a superior performance and a best in class 140 dB of dynamic range. The 205 not only has dedicated stereo outputs with the choice of balanced XLR connectors but it also has optical and coaxial digital inputs, along with an asynchronous USB port, which means you can use the 205 as a high-end DAC and network streamer with similar capabilities as the Oppo Sonica DAC and network streamer. It's at this point that the price of the UDP-205 starts to make sense because if you were to combine the UDP-203 with the Sonica DAC the cost would be similar but the 205 manages to achieve all this within a single box.

    As a digital transport the UDP-205 was excellent but as a DAC it is sublime. The Oppo proved to be supremely capable at both decoding and converting digital into analogue, resulting in a genuinely impressive level of sound quality. In subjective testing we found that the 205 was capable of retrieving more detail from a recording when compared directly with the 203. We have a number of Rolling Stones albums on SACD and the UDP-205 gave Gimme Shelter greater scope and an epic quality that we really enjoyed, whilst our multi-channel versions of a number of Pink Floyd albums revealed details we'd never heard before, which really impressed us considering how many times we've listened to Darkside of the Moon. The clock sounds that herald the start of Time were wonderfully defined and clear with pinpoint precision within the sound field.

    We did find the 205's DACs to be quite clinical in its precision, which often means the better the recording the more pleasing the results but there are seven filters available for those who wish to experiment, although we preferred the default Mini Phase Fast. One other area that's worth mentioning is that the 205 also makes for an excellent headphone amp which is connected directly to the ES9038PRO DAC and has greater power than previous Oppo players. When using this we once again found that the precision and detail retrieval of the DACs on the 205 resulted in a more involved and enjoyable listening experience. There's no doubt that if you're looking for an Ultra HD Blu-ray player with audiophile capabilities you won't find better than the UDP-205 but in actual fact, despite its apparent cost, you won't find a better DAC at this price point either and you certainly won't find one that also supports multi-channel audio.

    MORE: A Guide to Dolby Atmos in the Home

    MORE: What is DTS:X?

    MORE: What is Auro-3D?


    The superb UDP-205 sets a benchmark for analogue performance from a disc player

    Conclusion

    9
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Flawless playback
    • Universal disc support
    • Dolby Vision support
    • Impressive 4K upscaling
    • HDR metadata stripping
    • Reference audio performance
    • Twin HDMI outputs
    • Attractive design
    • Superb build quality

    Cons

    • No streaming services
    • Very expensive
    You own this Total 11
    You want this Total 2
    You had this Total 0

    Oppo UDP-205 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Review

    The Oppo UDP-205 is an exceptional player that sets a new benchmark for both audio and video performance. The build quality is second to none, whilst the construction ensures that the player is not only isolated from vibrations but nearly silent in operation. The remote is well designed, connections extensive, loading times quick, playback flawless, disc navigation responsive and HDMI handshaking reliable. The 205 is a universal player that can handle just about any disc format you can think of and the performance is often breathtaking. The Ultra HD playback is perfect, the scaling is precise and the deinterlacing impressive. The Oppo has an excellent selection of features, many of which are genuinely useful, and it's one of the few players to support Dolby Vision. The digital audio performance is as impressive as the video but it's in terms of analogue audio that the 205 sets new standards, with reference level digital-to-analogue conversion that not only applies to the player but other connected sources, making the Oppo a superb DAC, network streamer and headphone amp as well.

    In fact aside from the lack of any video streaming services it's hard to fault the UDP-205 and anyone looking for a high-end universal disc player won't find better. The only problem is that unless you're specifically looking for an audiophile Ultra HD Blu-ray player, everything great about the 205 also applies to the much cheaper UDP-203. There's no denying that £1,399 is a serious amount of money for an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, especially when you can get a highly capable player like the Panasonic DMP-UB300 for less than £200 these days. In fact if you're looking for universal playback or Dolby Vision support you don't even have to buy the relatively expensive UDP-203 because the Sony UBP-X800 does the former and the LG UP970 the latter. However if money is no object the UDP-205 is a remarkable piece of engineering that combines state-of-the-art disc playback with audiophile DACs and network streaming capabilities to create a sublime Ultra HD Blu-ray player. In the end the Oppo can take you to audio and video heaven but it will cost you the earth to get there.

    MORE: Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Reviews


    The Rundown

    Picture Quality

    9

    Sound Quality

    10

    Features

    9

    Ease Of Use

    9

    Build Quality

    10

    Value For Money

    7

    Verdict

    9

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