I feel that a sufficient amount of time has passed since I welcomed an Oppo into my system, that I may now talk about it in a meaningful way. I know there are curious members out there, especially the folks stopping by in The Entry Level. Hence, here are my impressions.
I have admittedly little experience comparing a wide range of disc spinners, from entry to reference, and will leave that to the professionals (Here's looking at you, Kal!) I have, however, listened to players that would be on the audition list of a potential Oppo buyer. I auditioned both the Marantz CD5001 and NAD C525BEE before deciding on the NAD. I lived with the BEE for awhile, and it rode out various system configurations. Sparing you the details, I will say that I've been consistently charmed by it. For someone who was recovering from harsh mid-nineties mass-market digital, it was a wonder drug. Wherever it was, it never failed to present music in a very natural and smooth way. As I gained experience, though, I realized that I could have sharpness without harshness, and started to find the NAD lacking in the detail department.
I wanted a DVD player, anyway, and figured the $170 Oppo was worth a shot.
Before I knew it, my player arrived, and it was time for the Opening of the Box, a momentous audio nerd occasion, indeed.
The first things you will notice about the 980 are:
1. Damn, this thing is light!
2. How did they make it so thin?
It's so thin, in fact, that a regular IEC power cord was not an option. The cord is, however, removable, though I have no idea why.
You'll soon get over how cheap it feels because you remember that it was cheap. The proof is in the pudding - err - playing. I was not disappointed in that regard.
My initial impression was "Wow, this sounds really good." After some light listening, I connected it to my Audio Alchemy DAC, which had endeared itself to me. I switched back and forth between the Oppo and the AA, and was surprised (and impressed) to find that I could hardly detect a difference between them. That's high praise for the Oppo in my book. I had been using the NAD to feed the DAC, but sent the cable (and the NAD) home after hearing my new toy.
This is really cliche, but it has made me go through my CD collection to hear what I had been missing before.
For its price, it's stupidly good, and a component that I'd classify as a "no-brainer" sort of item for the hey-tell-me-what-to-get-with-$1000 crowd, as well as the hey-I-was-thinking-about-this-stuff-what-do-you-think folks.
It's not all roses, though. Here are some negatives:
It's so light that button presses result in movement of the entire player. I solved this problem by putting poster putty under the feet.
Purists won't like having a TV in the listening room. It's a DVD player, though, so get over it.
The disc tray is very unresponsive to button presses, and the player may start loading a disc even after you tell it to eject. It's pretty irritating, but then I remember how awesome the Oppo sounds and how much I paid for it.
It has a general feeling of cheapness. I deal with it, though (see above rationale).
The transport is unrefined and noisy.
All in all, I'm very pleased. The DV-980H smokes $300 CD players, and gives the rest of the sub-$1000 club a run for their money. Based on my experience with it, the Linn Unidisk 1.1 isn't going to lose any sleep, but, at $11K, it ought not.
Oppo has made a great product, and I should also mention that customer support is absolutely top-notch.
(That makes me sound like a reviewer hahaha )