|Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Player Review|
|Home Theater Video Players Blu-ray Players|
|Written by Thomas Spurlin|
|Friday, 29 May 2009|
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Standard Definition DVD:
Next, it was time to enter OPPO’s safety zone in the standard definition realm. By comparison to several other up-scaling machines – including OPPO’s older models – the BDP-83’s Anchor Bay VSR de-interlacer / scaler handles up-conversion to 1080p signals exceedingly well. Though locked to Region 1/0, tested by attempting to play the Edko Region 3 copy of House of Flying Daggers to no avail, it does play Region Free PAL DVDs. Though a very pleasant surprise, it’s also a curious decision. With the processor inside to handle PAL DVDs, it’s odd for the now-famous brand of versatile players to limit their capacity to handle multi-region discs since the equipment’s there. Still, as seen through giving the Region Free PAL copy of A Bittersweet Life a go, it spins both the film and the special features with exceptional quality.
Along the way, several other discs were tested: Disney’s DVD (and Blu-ray) of Pinocchio, Paramount’s Sunset Boulevard Centennial Collection – a test for grayscale, 1.33 images – and Universal’s DTS edition of Jurassic Park to give the legacy higher-resolution track a run around the track. Of course, the quality of the image largely depends on the transfer itself; however, OPPO’s BDP-83 delivers a sharp, fluid upscale experience with practically anything thrown at it. Black contrast levels looked outstanding in Billy Wilder’s film, handling the limited Stereo / Mono track with strong buoyancy, while the hand-drawn image from Pinocchio holds up comparably to its Blu-ray counterpart. Jurassic Park delivered a very pleasing aural experience, exercised primarily during the iconic “tyrannosaurus” sequence at the heart of the film. When compared to some of the modern tracks, this DTS option might seem a little on the “rumbling” side by today’s standard. OPPO’s audio processing, however, helped the bass sound tighter than with previous screenings. To match that, Universal’s video transfer is relatively dated as well – but the BDP-83 helped it feel fairly solid, wrangling some of the flatness and lackluster digital quality of its age into an impressive screening.
Along with the BDP-83’s home entertainment capacities, it boasts the “universal” moniker largely due to its ability to handle audio devices as well – including files via USB drive. As a media device, OPPO’s player has impressed once again. When tapping into the flash drive to access MP3 files, it loads an intuitive interface that automatically finds designated files of that format. Playing Enigma’s Sitting on the Moon was a strong sounding experience, resonating to all of the channels in surprisingly clear fashion. It didn’t, however, register MP4 files, so accessing those will require conversion from MP4 to MP3 before carrying them over. The interface, when given the proper files, even contains the capacity to build a “Playlist” among the options – a show of real concentration in engineering from OPPO on the software side of things. Moreover, after popping the jump drive into the player’s front-loaded USB, the data loads fast.
In addition, the OPPO player also navigates well through SACD and DVD-Audio files – tested extensively here with The Nordic Sound 2L Audiophile reference disc for SACD. Starting at the top of the SACD disc included in the two-piece package (Blu-ray being the other), Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major sounded astounding, sending violin flutters across the 5-channel sound stage in scintillating fashion. Nordheim: Colorazione (excerpt) takes things into a more abstract direction, showcasing the mid-range pitches and lower-extremity capacity of the disc nicely – all while exercising the upper shelf with chimes, drum taps, and sweeping sound effects aplenty. The sound level pinches ever so slightly in higher-range elements with the electronic portions, but that’s only with heavy concentration on individual points; processing the higher-resolution audio files from the SACD proved to be quite a sweeping experience. The Gregorian Chant – Crux Fidelis, however, can really knock a few socks off. The echoic properties of the singers swooning through the soundstage proved to be a near-perfect listening experience, handling mid-range, subtle bass effects sumptuously with no distortion.
CD Playback, however, has a few issues. First, the sound quality was very strong with few audio issues; bass rumbles a little harder than expected, especially during rock riffs from the likes of the Across the Universe soundtrack, but vocal clarity and mid-range quality were very satisfactory. Issues exist with fast-forwarding and rewinding, of all things. When going forward and back along an audio track, the fluidness and timeliness to move across points are both erratic. Progressions from track to track works just fine, but skipping to particular points in lengthier tracks – which some lengthier concerts and such could carry – might be rather unnerving on the senses.
OPPO’s BDP-83 has three big factors working in its favor: it’s versatile, it’s quiet, and it’s outstanding at displaying the aural and visual properties of the Blu-ray technology. Stepping forward and investing $500 into the high-definition home video market is still taking a sharp shot – especially considering the large, jet black elephant in the room, fondly referred to as the Playstation 3. No matter the type of Blu-ray discs that it’ll be purchased for, whether it’s high-impact action flicks or world cinema, it’s capable at displaying a crisp, properly saturated image with plenty of “pop” in all the right places. But it’s most impressive in, interestingly, the DTS HD Master Audio / Dolby TrueHD audio department, taking this reviewer aback more than once with the capacity to sound off with some incredibly natural, echoic, starkly dimensional blasts of sound from several discs. Simply, it’s a stellar Blu-ray player when screening films -- even if it has a trek ahead in refining its firmware, particularly the issue with PiP hiccups.
Cascading off of that notion, The BDP-83 also stands out impressively as an upscaling DVD player, helping to ease the high-definition fiscal blow by keeping standard-definition DVDs looking and sounding stellar. As most audio/video people know, it won’t make them look exactly like Blu-ray discs – but it will flex its muscle enough to make them feel somewhat comparable. Plus, it’s just sound thought that some discs won’t require a supplemental (or introductory) purchase in native 1080p resolution, let alone the concept that more obscure discs might not receive a boost into the high-definition arena. For that, the upconversion becomes another integral part to consider in a purchase – and this OPPO, of course, acknowledges that whole-heartedly, all within packing in its Anchor Bay VSR scaling chip currently available in its current 983 model DVD player. On top of that, the OPPO earns some of the “universal” marker on its marketing by handling a broad range of audio and video files – including SACD, DVD-Audio, and doing a strong job with MP3 files via its USB hub to the front – with barely a stumble to dwell on.
All points considering – the limited verbose behind its “universal” playability claim, the earmarks implemented to compensate, and its overall prowess with handling its core function as a Blu-ray player – the OPPO BDP-83 earns easy acknowledgement as a stellar machine within the high-definition home video front. It fights to earn its price tag by offering a sublime Blu-ray and DVD experience, along with supporting several other audio components as well. Though it’s a bit pricier than some of the other models on the market, the nudge in price positively echoes in both technical and tangible quality. OPPO’s introductory Blu-ray player hits the nail on the head in cinematic quality, which helps in justifying a purchase for this substantial, exciting piece of Blu-ray equipment that needs just a hair or two of additional refinement on the software side of things. In short, OPPO has done an impressive job with their preliminary Blu-ray player, one that delivers the high-definition goods to pleasing degrees.