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MarkBryston
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Oppo BD95

As I pulled the latest issue from my mailbox I was excited to see that the new Oppo was on the cover!! Then as I noticed that KR was doing the review I thought ok this makes sense as it was Kals review of previous Oppos' that caused me to purchase two consecutive models( including the Integra AVR as well) for my HT setup.

I purchased the 95 the day it was available since this was clearly a statement product from the company that even the highest end of High end Audio have been using for their models. This product prmoised and in my opinion met all the expectations of what could be defined as a revolutionary productespecially at the price point it is listed at. It has brought the highest end of digital playback with the highest end of features that only multi kilo buck units offered such as state of the art dacs, balanced outputs, high end power supplies, etc.

as I read the review I was massively disappointed in the quality of the reveiw! Here we have a truely revolutionary product that barely gets reveiwed let alone any depth. Sure a perfucntory review comparing it to the Sony and an even more ho hum review comparing it to the 83SE left me wondering if KR has grown bored reviewing audio.

This product, again in my opinion, deserves a total review( good or bad) with JA measurements. In fact I wish JA would have reveiwed this product himself since this is a statement quality piece of kit that should have been put through the ringer with results good or bad listed. It should have been used with state of the art two channel equipment in an all balanced system...that is a good portion of how Oppo has marketed this product as n audiophile player. I really wanted to see jitter measurements, hell I wanted to read that pin two is hot for gods sakes.

Do I think that the product is the best digital kit out there...yes I do especially for the money..do I expect a JA review would come to a differnt conclusion than KR...probably not...but I think it deserved a real review not a perfunctory quasi review. I also own a Bryston BDA-1 that I also feel is the best Dac for the money out there and JA's measurements were less than flattering..I am still glad he did it. That product also deserved and recieved a proper review. An in talking to Tanner from Bryston it appears JA's jitter measurements were the only ones that didnt meet the specs that Bryston's own measurements came up with. Nonetheless, JA's a world class leader in digital audio and I think the Oppo deserved his attention.

Stephen Mejias
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Follow-Up

Kal Rubinson and John Atkinson are working on a Follow-Up.

MarkBryston
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Well that's great Steven and

Well that's great Steven and I look forward to the follow up but that still doesn't really answer the question on how or why the cover story review was so thin and ho hum..almost as if it wasn't even the real item under review but more an ancillary product for a different review...at least how i read it. How did the review get past the editorial staff?  Especially if the cover was chosen before the review was submitted. If the review came first what in that review could have prompted Stereophile to make it a cover review??

 

Guess I am just curious how such an important product seemed so glossed over??? 

Stephen Mejias
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answers

I honestly don't share the opinion that the review was "thin and ho hum."  Kal devotes over 1400 words to the Oppo—for perspective, Kal's full report on the KEF Q900 is just over 2000 words—and offers pertinent, insightful comparisons against the earlier Oppo as well as his reference Sony player. 

We base our decisions for the cover on several factors, including the popularity of the product, the looks of the product, the reviewer's thoughts on the product, the availability of an additional sample, the previous month's cover, and other considerations.  For September, we felt the Oppo was the best choice.

That said, the Follow-Up will include detailed measurements and should satisfy curious readers.

MarkBryston
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Stephen, yes I agree I think

Stephen,

yes I agree I think the choice of the Oppo for the cover was an excellent choice. Its an extremely popular statement piece that promises the ultra high end and truly affordable prices( if one considers a thousand dollars for a digital media player affordable) and as I mentioned before I am looking forward to the follow-up as well.

Where we seem to disagree is in the quality( quantity?) of the orignal review.  you point out the kef review numbers vs. the oppo and yet a review that is almost 1/3 less in size is hardly a glowing stat to claim its a complete review. as for the actual comparisons to his Sony and the 83 which is a big problem I have with the review I count only two paragraphs for the Sony at 226 words and three paragraphs for the 83 at 329 words. Of course these were hand counted so plus or minus a few words...so this means of the 1400 words about 850 words were the rest of the review. One paragraph for the conclusion and the rest for a brief system set up, brief description, brief history and how he set it up and a blurb on the video( the blurb on the video was just fine by me since this is Stereophile not HT).

So as I type these final words I have just now exceeded the total number of words of the review comparing the Sony!! really? so I have a legitimate in depth review of KR's reviewing skills comparing his review of the Oppo to his large body of work?? or maybe just a quick thin and ho hum concern by  a reader who really likes his reviews and has made purchases based on them and consequently passed on those recommendations to others who have also purchased Oppos and Integras!!!

Funny as I now type these words I am approaching the review length comparing the Oppo BD83!  Thanks for listening Steven...oops 8 more words than that review!

Kal Rubinson
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A few more words.
MarkBryston wrote:

......... hardly a glowing stat to claim its a complete review.

I don't know who made such a claim.  In fact, I chose to focus only on certain matters and said so pretty clearly.  JA and I will be preparing a Follow-Up and will use that to look at other aspects of the player that, frankly, are not germane to MITR.

MarkBryston
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Kal....dont get me(totally)

Kal....dont get me(totally) wrong...your reviews have been THE basis for my surround sound/HT systems...and well many customers and friends...but this review disappointed me...and well maybe others( i dont know but suspect). whereas Mikey is our goto guy for Turntables/analog...JA our goto guy for Digital you are the goto guy for Surround/hi end HT...obviously I respect your reviews and taste since my electronic equipment was a result of your reviews leading me to check it out for myself and came to the same conclusion..which even with Mickey and JA I rarely do compared to you. So yea wow is me that you let me down...like that matters I get that...but....

Here is my conclusions along with your review...

Its is incomplete review for a statement product that you yourself have been a huge fan of. yes you compare it to your reference Sony...I also have the Sony...my opinion the Sony is slightly better with SACD's than the 95( maybe 95-98% of the Sony which is class A+)..the 95 about the same as the Sony with redbook cd's...course the Oppo is what $500 cheaper...so maybe it is fair to say the Oppo is also an A+ given the price..maybe an A...CD's are close...but here is where I don't get it...

 

We are now in the digital file age..Computer audio is moving in to be king..hi rez downloads are growing exponentialy. I Remember calling Oppo before buying the 83 asking can it play 24/96 files...nope only mp3 FAT files...well that was disappointing...then the 93 came out..I called Oppo can it play 24/96 files...nope but the 95 will...so I waited.  So the Sony versus the 95 with hi rez files from external hard drives...ummm where was that in the review??????????????? That is HUGE..and the extra USB port extender where was that...how did the Oppo playing 24/176 RR HRX files compare..ooppss..nothing...remember RR says NOTHING can play their files except a special computer...where was the mention that the 95 plays them FLAWLESSLY!!!!!!!!!!!! 24/176 files are playable with the new oppo not the 83 and not the sony....WHY??? How about hooking up ANY external hard drive like a Western Digital or Seagate loaded with hdtracks 24/192 , 24/176 , 24/88 or 24/96 files that plays flawlessly( save gapless..mention that!) does our Sony do that???? How does it sound?????????? oh yea the SONY DOESNT!!!! how about the 83???? oh yea it doesn't!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you starting to see my concern...how about DVD-A which is becoming popular again do to hdtracks...it is now pretty cheap software to burn 24/88 files up to 24/192 to DVD-A which the Oppo plays!!! where is that...how does it compare tp the Sony and 83...oh yea neither does....Oh at lest i forget how about blue ray music discs like Tom Petty and Rush...maybe the wave of the future for HiRez commercial physical media...where was the mention that the Oppo does that....flawlessly...how about the Sony or 83...the 83 does but not he Sony...how does the 83 and 95 sound playing the hi rez blu ray????  How about more in depth discussion on the Rotel power supply??? how about the balanced outputs that the 83 doesn't have...how about how the 95 sounds as a dedicated stereo kit....this is why I am concerned...

 

Your past reviews of Oppo products are much more thourogh than this...hell I have just about typed as much as your whole review...yes you never said it was a complete review...but shouldnt we expect as reader especially when we see its a cover review that it IS A COMPETE REVIEW?????

 

Really the tone typing seems harsh but really there are much more important things in life than one review...and if we were talking in person my inflection would be more pleading than bitching...cuz really I respect and love reading your column..this one out of the 23 years I have been reading stereophile leaves me shaking my head...

 

Sorry to sound like a jerk...

 

Mark

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I agree with Mark

Mark, you don't sound like a jerk, you sound like a customer of a product whose needs and value proposition for said product are not being addressed. And you have many folks myself who agree with you. Here's what I wrote about what I consider piss-poor depth of coverage of the BDP-95 in the issue announcement blog:

I was really disappointed to see the Oppo on the front cover, only to find out that it was not a full review of the Oppo BDP-95, but only a portion of Kal's Music in the Round column. To say I was pretty crestfallen is an understatement, and personally think it is disingenuous to feature a product on the cover that only comprises a portion of a monthly column. Given the significance of last year's Oppo BDP-83SE, I was hoping a for full-on comparison between the 83SE and the 95....instead, what we got was a short paragraph comparing the relative sonic attributes of the two. That being said, I found the blog-level intelligence insufficient with respect to making an informed judgement about whether 83SE owners should upgrade to the 95. 

For products as significant as the entire industry acknowledges Oppo's product portfolio to be, your readers deserve more.

Disappointed, very disappointed. 

Personally, I find the rather defensive response that Kal wrote 1400 words comparing it to the Sony to be useless and typical of American mag journalism. Given the significance of the BDP-83SE to the market last year, a significance that Stereophile noted and gave the product a Class A rating, I was expecting an in-depth comparison between the two. Instead what we got was larege amounts of body copy to discussing technical specs that would be covered more succinctly and effectively in a table in a sidebar, and a short paragraph comparing the BDP-95 to the 83SE. Nothing informative be of use to someone considering whether they should "upgrade" to the Oppo 95. 

Oh, wait, I forgot, one of the unspoken rules of audio reviewing, in case you didn't know, is to never compare in any depth any component to another component that costs exactly the same; it must be compared to a significantly less expensive or significantly more expensive component. The Sony the 1400 word were devoted to is 50% more expensive than the Oppo; see my point? 50% more. That's not insignificant, but in most cases, most products under review are compared to products costing 3 to 5 times as much. 

Kal Rubinson
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  As Stephan has posted,

 

As Stephan has posted, there will be a follow-up and it will cover much of what Mark has asked about.  Note, however, almost all of it is irrelevant (at least, at the moment) for multichannel sound and that multichannel reproduction is the defining topic of the column.  

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IRRELEVANT?

Kal,

therein lies the problem...IMO. The 95 has been designed and marketed as an Audiophile player and as I mentioned in the first post is why it should have been reviewed as such either by JA or yourself but NOT then in MITR...the simple fact that it does do surround sound doesn't mean it has to be a MITR review. I point to page 96 of this issue and the Oppo ad copy running in Stereophile. First Bullet point is " A universal player for AUDIOPHILE( my emphasis) users" In fact of the 10 bullet points video is number 9 and that it can be rack mounted number 10...EVERYTHING else is how an audiophile would use it....so I and others feel it deserved to be reviewed as such...as a dedicated audiophile piece that HAPPENS to play surround sound...please look at the ad copy and you will see what I am talking about.  This piece should have had the same kind of review JA does when he gets his hands on an Ayre digital product. It should have been pages not paragraphs and full measurements and serious listening.

I point to Mikey as an example...when he gets a product that is or could be something special to him or his readers but cant dedicate more than a paragraph or two and can only give a perfunctory quick review he tells us that a complete review is forthcoming in such and such issue. Had you said something like that in your review..." as a MITR piece here are my initial observations but as this product was designed to be an audiophile piece a complete review will be forthcoming"...I think the concerns would have changed from what is this review to oh I cant wait for the complete real review.

You say my points are irrelevant....??? really...the whole basis for the product is irrelevant??? so the product is irrelevant??? again look at page 96 of stereophile and you will see that Oppo doesn't think its irrelevant...they list EVERYTHING I asked about...everything...its TOTALLY relevant, its why the piece exists.  Irrelevant for MITR??? perhaps but since the damn thing was designed for ALL the points you say are irrelevant maybe that just PROVES the review did not belong in MITR!!!!!!  Which is what I/we have been saying all along!!!!!

 

As for your finding based on the three paragraph comparison to the 83...well again I have even issues with that. First would be duh! running say identical HDMI cables which I am sure you did right? to the Integra and letting the Integra handle the processing should have yielded almost no change if any...but then again as the 95 uses 1.4 and the 83 uses 1.3 why not mention that fact...maybe say that there was no audible difference...i don't care...but why wasn't that mentioned???  Or how about the fact the the 95 now offers 2 HDMI outs so that one can handle the video and one can handle the audio??? in MITR I would like that would be a huge topic to discuss!!! Since it is said that video in the hdmi can distort the audio signal separating them should yield better sound...right??? or no??? maybe that's all snake oil....why didn't you cover that???? That is truly an MITR topic...I could go on but that's not the point...the point is the review is seriously lacking for a statement piece. My concerns are irrelevant when the piece exists BECAUSE of the points..

 

As for the follow up yes I am looking forward to it...but I am also concerned because most follow ups maybe reach a page...most of the time I just scan them because they usually aren't much more complete than what I already know unless they are to either correct a finding or address a concern good or bad a reviewer has...I would instead like to see JA just take the review and do a real article like he did in the same said issue of the Musical Fidelity AMS100...SIX pages of review and complete measurements...that's what this product deserves and with so many audiophile features I would think he would struggle to keep it under SIX!!!!!

Kal Rubinson
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Mark, I have read your

Mark,

I have read your comments and think that making any further response would be pointless.  As the English say, "The field is yours."

Kal

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Follow-Up

May I suggest KR include comparison with his recently (and, apparently, favorably) reviewed Yamaha player? It's something I missed in his otherways usually pleasant piece...

TIA

Carlo Iaccarino

Kal Rubinson
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That's easy.

That's easy.  As should be apparent from what I wrote about it, the tonal balance of the Yamaha is quite distinct from the Sonys and the Oppos.  The Yamaha is clean and almost bright with great detail and clarity.  The others, by comparison, are more subtly transparent and less analytical.  Choosing between them would depend on your room's acoustics, your speakers and your personal preference.  I do not think I will revisit these issues in the update.

Kal

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RE: Follow-Up

Thanks a lot for your prompt and kind reply.

I am sorry that language barriers may have played a role, here: I simply didn't catch the "brigthy" side of the Yamaha player that, in my reading of your words, appeared as a linearer and more accurate player except for the midbass, not caring, but neither warm (like for many of us should...wink).

Maybe I should add that I am interested only in the players' analog 2-ch output. I understand that this aspect isn't properly addressed in a MITR piece: that's why I hoped that it could be rightly investigated in a four-hand follow-up. Anyway, consider that (as someone before me better explained) expectations of the "stereophiles" among us are (were) great about the "new" Oppo player. When I read your Yamaha review, it seemed that a possible - and unexpected - competitor had arrived: it was even cheaper, and maybe this could have been related to its poorer video performance, mantaining good audio performance.

See, here in Italy the Yamaha player is easily found, also in the big chain stores; not so for the Oppo, whose importer is also his main reseller. Therefore, its' hardly found in the - even scarcer - local shops. This may also account for its poor coverage from local magazines. Thus, the evenience of such a review was (is) very good news. And let me add a personal comment: I was glad that the player was assigned to your examination, since I like very much your reviewing style (although it seems I must read more carefully...)

In the meanwhile,  I hope I can "meet" those player in a couple of week, during the Top Audio Show in Milan. BTW, will ST or MF (or someone else from your magazine) make their usual appearing there?

Thanks again and regards,

Carlo Iaccarino

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Thanks, Mark, for the

Thanks, Mark, for the information above (some of which I could not glean from Oppo's website or the user's manual). In my case, I read the whole review and moved on without realizing that this is possibly the piece of gear that I have been looking for.  I want to be able to play hi-res surround (and mono!) wavefiles as simply as possible. I am currently using a PC with Samplitude and an RME FF800, which is surely overkill.  A full review should inform me whether or not I can just plug an external drive into the BR-95 and play hi-res files without too much messing about.  Granted that Kal said he was going to confine himself to three aspects, but a device as versatile as this appears to be needs a thorough review to do it justice, and I look forward to reading it.

 

David

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David..the Oppo works great with Hard drives
david-p wrote:

Thanks, Mark, for the information above (some of which I could not glean from Oppo's website or the user's manual). In my case, I read the whole review and moved on without realizing that this is possibly the piece of gear that I have been looking for.  I want to be able to play hi-res surround (and mono!) wavefiles as simply as possible. I am currently using a PC with Samplitude and an RME FF800, which is surely overkill.  A full review should inform me whether or not I can just plug an external drive into the BR-95 and play hi-res files without too much messing about.  Granted that Kal said he was going to confine himself to three aspects, but a device as versatile as this appears to be needs a thorough review to do it justice, and I look forward to reading it.

 

David

 

 

David,

yes you can just plug an external hard drive into the 95...I know that all the oppos will play FAT passive drives( like thumb drives) but the 95 will play powered external hard drives like WD or Seagate...This was one of the big reasons I bought one...other than using a computer, M Audio sound card and various software to play wave files I wanted a simple solution...the squeezebox touch does a great job btw( but stick with version 7.6.0...the upgrade destroys the ability to use "music folder" files...I went round and round with support but got them to resend me a link to 7.6.0) however the SB cant exceed 24/96...but the 95 can and very well!!...you will need a monitor hooked up however if you have large number of files in a particular organizational pattern...I bought a cheap one a china-mart for $130...I also found the handy USB extension port very useful...plugged a 2 TB WD hard drive into it and within just a few seconds the Oppo read the entire HD..

There is one little drawback though....the Oppo does not do gapless very well( if at all)....there is an obvious changing of tracks...the squeezebox does gapless perfectly as does just about any computer software programs from ITunes to media monkey....However the Oppos plays back 24/176 and 24/192 files without a glitch!  Now if you really need gapless playback you could burn your high rez files to DVD-A using DVD-A solo( around $40) and of the course the Oppo plays them back in perfect resolution...

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There is one little drawback though...

> the Oppo does not do gapless very well( if at all)....there is an obvious changing of tracks...

I believe the technical term for this is "a bummer".

> the squeezebox does gapless perfectly as does just about any computer software programs from ITunes to media monkey....

BUT it's not multi-track.

> However the Oppos plays back 24/176 and 24/192 files without a glitch!

So does my 6 year old laptop with the FF800.

>  Now if you really need gapless playback you could burn your high rez files to DVD-A using DVD-A solo( around $40) and of the course the Oppo plays them back in perfect resolution...

I can already do that with Samplitude, but one of my aims is to reduce the number of CDs/DVDs I have.

A remarkable piece of gear though it clearly is, I regrettably do not yet see the BD-95 as the answer to my prayer.

David

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sadly no...
david-p wrote:

> the Oppo does not do gapless very well( if at all)....there is an obvious changing of tracks...

I believe the technical term for this is "a bummer".

---yep...for me the biggest drawback since I wanted to use the external hard drive feature as my main source of digital playback

> the squeezebox does gapless perfectly as does just about any computer software programs from ITunes to media monkey....

BUT it's not multi-track.

---yep again....

> However the Oppos plays back 24/176 and 24/192 files without a glitch!

So does my 6 year old laptop with the FF800.

---possibly true...does the FF800 have dual balanced( xlr) outputs?     without such  a sound card that does not have dual balanced outputs it suppossedly cannot play 24/176 without truncating the bits...thus the reason the RR website mentions you need a special sound card( ie one that has dual balanced outputs to play their HRx files...one reason( albeit small) is that the Oppo actually can play the dvdr file they come on..it has dual balanced dac/outputs...now granted how many 24/176 files do you own and how many do you plan on buying is another question....

>  Now if you really need gapless playback you could burn your high rez files to DVD-A using DVD-A solo( around $40) and of the course the Oppo plays them back in perfect resolution...

I can already do that with Samplitude, but one of my aims is to reduce the number of CDs/DVDs I have.

---yep you did say that was the goal...my point however was that a fairly small percentage of discs really need gapless...like live discs or discs with run on songs...you could make dvd-a of those files unless you already had the discs and use the other files through any system including the Oppo and you would still reduce significantly the number of discs...you just couldn't eliminate them which sounds like that is your goal

A remarkable piece of gear though it clearly is, I regrettably do not yet see the BD-95 as the answer to my prayer.

---no..and not really mine either...I bought it for 2 channel use...I like that it can play every disc out there including blue ray...I use it as a transport mainly for CD-r's which the CEC dedicated transport I use doesn't do so well with CD-r's, DVD-A's which my dedicated SACD player doesn't do period...and of course Blue Rays...I like that it can do any bit/sampling size through an external hard drive( just wish it was gapless)...and like that I can pull down a screen and have instant home theater in the listening room now and can stream movies in HD without a cable/internet wire set up...but it is lacking in a few things I think should be basic....like gapless..and they even did an "auto upgrade" by the way hopefully not everyone is set for these because the last one stopped the ability to flow Blue Ray audio at bitstream...and since I run mine into the Bryston BDA-1 I now cannot bit stream blue ray 24/96...it truncates to 24/48??? WTF???   really bummer...and pissed me off..playing it directly from the Oppo plays at 24/96 according to the audio display feature...but the Bryston now flashes 24/96 for a second then changes to 24/48...maybe not a deal killer for most but I was "bummed" ...while it was marketed as an audiophile player and at a thousand dollars it is a steal for someone wanting to get into the real high end game...I think its best as a doubling unit for a system that is used for both audiophile and HT in the same set up so you can take advantage of the video side of the 95 while still getting a hell of a good digital player....but not quite the answer to my prayers to remove the other players from my system and just go with one...not yet at least maybe Oppo BD 105????

David

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