Over the last few years Oppo has developed a reputation among AV enthusiasts for producing excellent DVD players and providing superb customer service and after sales support. By the time the company released their DV-983H DVD player, they had created one of the best regarded machines on the market, capable of producing remarkable images from the humble standard definition disc format. So it was no surprise that when Oppo released their first Blu-ray player - BDP-83 - in the US towards the end of 2009 there was a great deal of excitement. Unfortunately whilst the BDP-83 garnered rave reviews both here at AVForums and on the other side of the Atlantic, its planned European release was cancelled at the eleventh hour. Well it’s eighteen months later and Oppo are back with their new BDP-93EU which not only includes many of the features on the BDP-83 such as Blu-ray, DVD-Audio and SACD playback but adds some new ones such as 3D compatibility and a new Marvell QDEO video processor. Oppo might be late to the Blu-ray party, here in Europe, but I guess that’s better than not showing up at all - the question is, was it worth the wait? Let’s take a look and find out...
The Oppo BDP-93EU is the European version of the BDP-93 released in the US late last year and as such there are minor differences which will be discussed in the main body of the review. Oppo will also be releasing an audiophile upgrade of the BDP-93EU called the BDP-95EU in March. The full length in-depth review follows after the summary and scores.
The BDP-83 was a big improvement on Oppo’s earlier DVD players in terms of build quality and the BDP-93EU is a step up again. The BDP-93EU offers a wonderfully solid chassis with an attractive brushed aluminium front and flush buttons, disc tray and displays that provide a very clean and stylish appearance. There is an on/off button on the left hand side, some basic controls on the right hand side and an eject button next to the disc try itself. The only downside to these flush buttons was that I found the eject button rather hard to locate in my deliberately dark home cinema so I tended to use the backlit remote instead. The disc tray itself operates smoothly and quietly and adds to the feel of a more high end player.
There are two displays, a main one on the left hand side showing the times, chapters and other text and an auxiliary display on the right hand side that shows icons related to audio formats, disc type and other useful information. I found the displays to be quite useful, genuinely informative and easy to read; of course, if you so wish, the displays can be dimmed or even turned off. Finally on the front right of the BDP-93 there is a concealed second USB port, the other one is at the rear.
The feeling of a high-end player even extends to the well written and informative manual as well as the solid and well padded packaging; inside which you will find the BDP-93EU itself wrapped in a rather nice bag and a separate box for the player’s accessories. Aside from the remote the other accessories include a high speed HDMI cable, a WiFi dongle, a USB extension cable for locating the dongle away from the player and a detachable kettle style power cable.
The BDP-93EU has an impressive array of connections including two HDMI v1.4a outputs, a composite video and a component video output both of which use RCA connectors. There are also two USB ports (one at the front and one at the rear), a LAN port (in case you don’t have a wireless router), a connector for the external IR sensor, a digital audio out using both optical and coaxial and an RS-232C connector for custom installers. One new addition is an e-SATA (external Serial ATA) port which allows for a faster connection when playing content from external sources. Finally the BDP-93EU includes 7.1 analogue audio outputs via RCA connectors for those that don’t have HDMI capable receivers. The only thing missing is a dedicated stereo analogue output but you can downconvert the 7.1 channels to two channels if for some reason you want stereo audio output.
The remote that comes with the BDP-93EU reflects both the build quality of the player and Oppo’s attention to sensible and user friendly design. The remote feels solid and comfortable to hold, it has backlighting and it includes an intuitive layout of the buttons that makes using it very easy. The buttons themselves are easier to differentiate by touch and have a nice tactile response when pressing them. My only complaint would be that due to its shape if it is lying on a flat surface and you push one of the buttons at the sides the remote can flip over. However this is a minor gripe and overall this is one of the best designed player remotes that I have seen in a while.
Setting up the BDP-93EU is very straightforward, especially as most people will be using HDMI to connect the player to either a display or a receiver. The addition of two HDMI outputs is a nice touch and allows the BDP-93EU to pass video to two displays simultaneously or to pass video to one display and audio to a receiver if perhaps that receiver is unable to handle 3D. Alternatively you might want to connect one HDMI output to a display and one to an external video processor if again that processor is unable to pass 3D. Whichever combination you choose, however, it is important to remember that the output labeled HDMI1 is the one that uses the dedicated Marvell DE2750 chipset; the second output HDMI2 uses an alternative Mediatek/Oppo OP8531 decoder chipset built into the player. The BDP-93EU also includes a Source Direct function which allows a user with an external video processor to output the original video content without any processing, so for example Blu-rays will be output at 1080p24 and PAL DVDs will be output at 576i.
For audio the set-up procedure is also fairly straightforward and largely depends on what kind of system the user has. If the users' receiver can decode the high definition audio formats (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio) then the BDP-93EU can pass the audio as bit-stream via HDMI. Alternatively the decoding can be done internally and the BDP-93EU can pass the audio as PCM, either via HDMI or using the 7.1 analogue outputs. If you have DVD-Audio or SACD discs the player can also pass their audio as PCM via HDMI or the analogue outputs and in the case of SACD the audio can be passed as bitstream using the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) codec if your receiver can decode it. The same is true of HDCDs, which the BDP-93EU can either decode internally or allow the receiver to decode.
The menu system is very well designed - it is intuitive, attractive and very responsive. When you first turn on the BDP-93EU there is an Easy Setup Wizard that guides you through the basic setup of the player for settings such as the primary video output, the resolution, the aspect ratio and the audio settings. All the more detailed setup menus can be found by pressing Setup on the remote. As with the BDP-83, before, pressing Setup brings up the relevant menu screen, even if a disc is playing (you don't have to leave playback mode to alter the settings). This flexibility is wonderful for comparing the impact of different options and makes any changes in settings much easier to detect. It is certainly an improvement on many other machines which force the user to stop a disc before entering the setup menu and then starting the disc again after the changes have been made; this can be especially time consuming with certain Blu-rays.
The Setup menu is broken down into six sub-menus - Playback Setup, Video Setup, Audio Format Setup, Audio Processing, Device Setup and Network Setup. Within Playback Setup are the controls for SACD and DVD-Audio playback as well as functions such as languages and parental control. The Audio Format sub-menu allows the user to set the secondary audio used for commentaries etc. and whether the HDMI output will pass PCM or bitstream. In addition you can set the optical or coaxial to pass either PCM or bitstream as well as choose if the DSD decoding for SACDs and any HDCD decoding for CDs is done in the player or passed directly to your receiver for decoding. Whichever combinations you choose, the BDP-93EU is capable of passing audio up to 192kHz at 24-bit over 7.1 channels. The Audio Processing sub-menu is used for setting up the speaker configuration, distance and levels as well as the crossover frequency if you are going to decode the audio in the BDP-93EU and pass via the 7.1 analogue audio outputs. There is also a dynamic range control for smoothing the audio during low level listening.
The Video Setup sub-menu offers all of the controls related to the image including selecting which HDMI output is the Primary Output. There is a 3D Mode setting which is best left to Auto and you can also set the diagonal screen size of your 3D display. There is a control for the aspect ratio as well the TV system and since most modern displays can handle PAL, NTSC and 1080p24 content I would advise putting the setting on Multi-system. The default is PAL but this converts everything to 50Hz including 1080p24 content unless you have selected On in the 1080p24 Output menu. In this setting the default is Off but I would recommend the Auto setting and then the BDP-93EU can automatically detect 1080p24 and pass it to your display. There are also a number of Display Options, the most useful of which is the Subtitle Shift which allows the user to move the subtitles up. This is a very handy function if you have a constant height setup with a 2.35:1 screen and the subtitles appear in the black bars on a particular disc. I believe Oppo is one of only two manufacturers that provide this feature - the other is Philips - but without this function you would not be able to read the subtitles. So if you have a constant height setup and watch a lot of subtitled movies you might consider buying the BDP-93EU for this feature alone.Within Video Setup there is also an HDMI Options sub-menu which allows the user to select the Colour Space for both HDMI1 and HDMI2. This setting defaults to Auto which allows the BDP-93EU to select the colour space supported by the user’s display. If you wish you can select a specific colour space such as YCbCr 4:2:2 which is closest to the YCbCr 4:2:0 colour space that discs are encoded in. There is also an option to select Deep Colour for both the HDMI1 and HDMI2 outputs which can transmit the video image at up to 12 bits per a channel as compared to the standard 8 bits per a channel. Since the discs are encoded at 8 bits per a channel I would recommend leaving this setting at its Off default position.
Finally within the Video Setup sub-menu there is a Picture Adjustment menu which includes Brightness, Contrast, Hue (Tint), Saturation (Colour), Sharpness, Noise Reduction, Colour Enhancement and Contrast Enhancement controls. These controls can be applied to either HDMI1, HDMI2 or the Analogue Video outputs and up to 3 different Picture Modes can be saved. Personally if your display is correctly setup then you should leave the Brightness, Contrast, Hue and Saturation controls at their default setting of zero. I would also leave the Colour and Contrast Enhancement controls at their default setting of zero for similar reasons. Increasing the Sharpness control to 'sharpen' the image will only add ringing and other artefacts but reducing the sharpness control will slightly blur the image which could prove useful to hide compression artefacts on standard definition DVDs. The Noise Reduction control could also be used to to reduce compression artefacts such as mosquito noise on standard definition DVDs. However when it comes to a properly mastered Blu-ray always make sure these settings are all set to zero because a pristine 1080p image just doesn’t need any additional processing.
The Device Setup sub-menu includes information about the latest firmware as well as the option to be notified of any new firmware upgrades. Oppo are very good at continually upgrading their software in an effort to provide the best possible performance so I recommend you always have the Firmware Notification set to On. I was using the latest firmware during my review but I know that a new one will be released very soon to address some minor issues. These upgrades can be done a number of ways, either via disc, USB or through your network (LAN or WiFi). There is also a control for the Remote Code in case the default setting interferes with other devices, as well as a control for HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control). Finally there is the control for dimming or turning off the display as well as a menu for the persistent storage. The BDP-93EU has 1GB of internal storage but more can be added via USB. At present the *.mp3 playback is disabled in EU firmware but it will be enabled as soon as Oppo finish obtaining the correct licences. However only the file extension is disabled, so video files with embedded *.mp3 audio will play without any problems. In fact the BDP-93EU appears to support just about every media and file format I’ve ever heard of including Kodak Picture CD, AVCHD, MP4, DivX, MKV, FLAC and WAV files. All these audio, video and picture files can be accessed via discs, USB or eSATA drives.
The Network Setup sub-menu allows the user to set up the network connection either through a LAN cable or using the provided WiFi dongle. Once set up the user will have access to BD-Live content via Blu-ray as well as other streamed media. In the US the BDP-93 can stream both Netflix and Blockbuster On Demand but here in Europe there is a serious lack of European wide streaming services. Unfortunately if the BDP-93EU had access to LoveFilm or BBC iPlayer it would only apply to the UK which might annoy other European users, so Oppo are currently working on a European wide solution. In the meantime, YouTube will be added to both the US and European BDP-93 in the near future.
As with any system the quality of the image is only as good as the display device the player is attached to but using a calibrated JVC DLA-X3 projector resulted in some breathtaking 3D images. Obviously any 3D Blu-ray player should be able to output the content on the discs equally as well over HDMI because it is a digital signal but the overall 3D performance of the BDP-93EU was excellent with the content playing flawlessly on the DLA-X3. The BDP-93EU handled the high definition audio equally as well and the resulting experience was incredibly immersive with the added dimensionality of the 3D image and the enveloping surround sound. I tried a number of 3D Blu-rays and they all played first time without any compatibility or handshaking issues.
As with the 3D performance, the digital nature of the content means that any Blu-ray player capable of outputting 1080p24 should be identical to any other when using the HDMI output. The BDP-93EU performed just as well as all the other Blu-ray players that I have tested and it correctly output the video without any issues as demonstrated by the multiburst and zone plate patterns on my Spears & Munsil disc. That doesn’t mean that the BDP-93EU’s performance wasn’t excellent because it was, my point is that all correctly performing Blu-ray players are capable of the same performance in the digital realm. To satisfy my curiosity and ensure that the Marvell QDEO video processor wasn’t performing any unwanted processing I measured a [tip=Greyscale]greyscale[/tip] pattern using both the 1080p setting and the Source Direct setting which bypasses the processor. Thankfully the results were the same so there is no back door processing going on with 1080p content.
When it comes to 1080i content the opportunity for the player itself to add value is far greater than it is with 1080p content. The ability of the player to detect film content inside the interlaced signal and correctly deinterlace it without introducing artefacts is dependent on the quality of the processing in the player itself. The BDP-93EU uses Marvell's Kyoto-G2 video processor combined with second generation QDEO technology and it is exceptionally good, passing every single cadence test on both my Spear & Munsil and HQV Blu-rays. This is the first player I’ve ever tested that has passed every single test and whilst some of the cadences are rather obscure it doesn’t detract from the quality of the processing in the BDP-93EU.
I also used the HQV Blu-ray disc to check the quality of the video deinterlacing. This disc has a jaggies pattern that uses three rotating bars and with the BDP-93EU all three bars were smooth with no jaggies. The BDP-93EU also had no problems with the video resolution loss test, correctly processing the moving portion of the image and leaving the background free of artefacts. The BDP-93EU was also able to handle discs with film content that is encoded at 1080i/50Hz without any problems. Whilst there isn’t a great deal of 1080i content on Blu-ray it is good to know that the BDP-93EU is capable of such excellent performance and if you do have any 1080i content the player will be able to output it flawlessly.
Previous Oppo DVD players and their BDP-83 Blu-ray player were able to handle NTSC (480i/60Hz) content flawlessly but they struggled with PAL (576i/50Hz) content and specifically 2-2 cadence detection. This issue was usually addressed by manually forcing the player to deinterlace PAL material correctly. Thankfully, this problem has been addressed with the BDP-93EU and with its new Marvell QDEO video processing the player was able to correctly detect PAL 2-2 cadence without the need to use a manual setting.
In fact overall the BDP-93EU’s performance with both NTSC and PAL content was of reference quality. Using the HQV DVDs the BDP-93EU was also able to fully reproduce the SMPTE colour bar tests for both PAL and NTSC, correctly scaling the full 576i/50Hz and 480i/60Hz images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. With the video deinterlacing tests the results were also excellent, the BDP-93EU reproduced the rotating line without producing any jaggies, even at the most extreme angles. In the motion adaptive deinterlacing test the performance remained superb with all three moving lines being reproduced correctly, even on the bottom line. The BDP-93EU also had no problems in resolving all the fine brickwork in the detail tests on both the PAL and NTSC discs.
The BDP-93EU’s performance was equally impressive with the film detail test, correctly locking on to the image resulting in no aliasing in the speedway seats behind the race car. In the cadence tests the BDP-93EU also performed flawlessly, correctly detecting the most common types 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European) format as well as all the more obscure variations. The BDP-93EU also had no problems with the test displaying film material with scrolling video text, the text was always clearly readable without any shredding. This was a superb performance by the BDP-93EU and represents some of the best processing, deinterlacing and scaling that I have seen, not only from a player but even from some dedicated video processors.
Subjective Audio Tests
Unlike the video performance which can be measured using a series of established tests and viewed on a calibrated reference monitor, things are a little more subjective when it comes to the audio performance. As with video, the audio will also be subject to the quality of the system being used, how it is setup and how it has been calibrated. In addition since most people will be sending the audio as a digital bit-stream over HDMI, this means that the digital to analogue conversion is actually being handled by their receiver or audio processor.
However I tried a number of different audio formats on the BDP-93EU including multichannel PCM, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA soundtracks from Blu-rays and Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks from DVDs. I also listened to the multichannel audio from SACD and DVD-Audio discs as well as two channel audio from SACDs and CDs, including HDCDs. I tried different methods of connecting the BDP-93EU to my Denon amp, including HDMI, optical, coaxial and analogue multichannel cables and I also switched between bitstream and PCM. I even tried splitting the HDMI using the two outputs and sending video to my projector with one and just audio to my receiver with the other.
The result of all these experiments was that I could not detect any differences between any of these modes and every format sounded wonderful. The BDP-93EU is clearly a very capable audio performer and whether it was DTS-HD Master Audio or a stereo CD the audio sounded fantastic. The BDP-93EU was also able to detect all the different discs and audio formats without any problems and played each one back flawlessly.
Disc Load Times
The BDP-93EU is incredibly fast at both powering on and loading discs, in fact the only player I’ve seen that is faster is Sony’s Playstation 3. It only took 5 seconds for the BDP-93EU to power on and extend the disc tray as compared to the 20 seconds that my current player takes. The loading times of discs will vary from studio to studio and depend on how much BD-Live and Java content there is on the disc but on average discs were loading up in about 25 seconds which is excellent.
- Universal playback (2D & 3D Blu-ray, DVD, SACD, DVD-A, CD)
- Reference video processing
- Excellent build quality and quiet operation
- Very fast load and response times
- Easy to use with well designed menu system
- Two HDMI outputs
- 7.1 Analogue audio outputs
- WiFi dongle included
- Well designed and high quality remote
- No dedicated stereo analogue outputs
- Limited internet functionality
- More expensive than many other 3D Blu-ray players
Oppo BDP-93EU 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Oppo are to be congratulated for raising the bar yet again, the BDP-93EU is a fantastic player that is genuinely universal. The addition of 3D Blu-ray compatibility to a machine that can already play 2D Blu-ray, DVD, SACD, DVD-Audio and CD means the BDP-93EU can handle any format you might care to throw at it. Not only that but the BDP-93EU does so with ease and authority, producing excellent video and audio from all these digital formats. The wonderful build quality and sensible design makes the BDP-93EU a pleasure to use and the load times are among the fastest I have seen. The new design and improved build quality also result in very quiet operation and the BDP-93EU is almost silent during playback.
As you would expect from a player capable of 1080p24 playback, Blu-rays look fantastic with the BDP-93EU producing a clean and unadulterated image. The new Marvell QDEO video processing is equally impressive and results in some of the best deinterlacing and scaling that I have seen from any player. The BDP-93EU passed every test I threw at it and it could even handle 2-2 cadence, an area that has tripped up Oppo players in the past. The video processing is so good that it might well give your old DVD collection a whole new lease of life. Of course, even if you have an off-board video processor the BDP-93EU’s ability to pass content directly from the source is also an advantage and you will still benefit from the speedy response time, quiet operation and ease of use.
The BDP-93EU also offers a great deal of flexibility when it comes to connectivity and the inclusion of a second HDMI output is an especially nice touch. The BDP-93EU also offers improved networking capabilities, two USB ports and 7.1 analogue audio output. Whilst the audio performance of the BDP-93EU was excellent, especially in the digital realm if you are interested in greater audiophile performance you might want to consider the soon-to-be-released BDP-95EU.
Whilst there are cheaper 3D Blu-ray players available the price of the BDP-93EU is still very reasonable, especially when you consider that you also get SACD and DVD-Audio compatibility. Once you include the build quality, the speed, the ease of use and the incredible video processing the BDP-93EU becomes a very attractive proposition and if you’re in the market for a new Blu-ray player or are thinking of making the jump to 3D, I would strongly recommend that you take a look at the BDP-93EU. Oppo’s first European Blu-ray player may have taken a while to arrive but it was definitely worth the wait.
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