News Flash: Oppo now plays DSD files

There has been a lot of buzz lately generated by show demonstrations of DSD recordings played directly from files and as the opportunity to download DSD files is expanding. The reactions of our writers have ranged from "impressive," to an "epiphany," to my own delight reported in the upcoming May issue of Stereophile. The hardware used has been mostly professional (Sonoma workstation) or semi-professional (Mytek Stereo 192-DSD) or, at the very least, costly enough for the unconvinced to hesitate. Now, in one fell swoop, Oppo has made this possible at no cost at all for those of us who own an Oppo BDP-103 or BDP-105.

Oppo has just offered "Public Beta Test Release" firmware that provides a plethora of new features and fixes, most of which are addressed to audio matters. The players will now support AIFF files, exFat drives, and have enhanced support for CUE files and playlists. Most important, since it is at the top of the change list, is "support for Direct Stream Digital (DSD) file playback from local storage. The DSD files can be either stereo or multi-channel. Both the DFF and the DSF formats are supported."

A review of these Oppo players will appear soon in the May "Music in the Round" and I will be following up with a report on my experiences with multichannel DSD playback. However, I have been using this new feature for a month now and it is too important to hold back.

One simply plugs a USB drive (formatted FAT32 or, now, exFat) with DSF or DFF files into the front or back USB "A" jack on the Oppo and select it as source. The DSD files will appear on the track/album/artist lists on the video display (above). Just click and play as with the more familiar WAV, FLAC, etc. files.

Now, here's the really good news. The Oppo will play multichannel as well as stereo DSD and that makes the Oppo the least expensive multichannel DSD-file player by a wide, wide margin. I have been enjoying glorious multichannel downloads from Channel Classics' website as well as a couple of their spectacular "live" session files (Mahler Symphony 1 and #) made at the recording and without edits. Wow is all I can say.

Here are the caveats. Oppo warns that it "is not possible to revert back to any previous official or beta firmware releases once this version is installed on the player. There will be no problem upgrading to any future official or beta firmware releases." They add that "due to the extensive changes in this major firmware update, it is required that the user performs a "Reset Factory Defaults" operation after the firmware is installed . . . You may experience stability issues if this step is not performed." Also, streaming DSD files from a server is not yet possible.

But this is a big deal. So, at the moment, it is your move but an official release is undoubtedly just on the horizon.

Morten Lindberg's picture

As soon as the EU-version of this beta firmware is available, we'll test 5.1 surround sound DSD files with OPPOBDP-105. If positive, these audio files will then be added to our free Test Bench. DSD64 and DSD128 in stereo are already available:

Larry Ho's picture

multi-channels DSD... smiley

Greg121986's picture

How about DSD over PCM by way of Asynchronous USB, or Samba share? Putting files onto a USB flash drive is not quite as convenient as a properly setup MPD instance in Linux or network streaming.

Regardless, thanks, Oppo! I adore my BDP-105.  

Kal Rubinson's picture

Good news!  I was told that it would not work via the Ethernet or the asynch ports and, indeed, it would not work with DLNA.  However, just 20 minutes ago, I tried SMB and got it to play a multichannel DFF.

bitblender's picture

This seem to have DSD playback too and is about $250 cheaper than the 103. I am comparing the 103 and the 790 for making my media player purchase. Any suggestions to what kind of music would bring out the difference when I am comparing them in a store ?



Kal Rubinson's picture

As far as the Sony BDP-S790 goes, there is no indication in the manual that it will handle any DSD files via any of its ports.  It will play SACD, though.

wozwoz's picture

Seems like this (new Oppo) is a neat way to get into SACD, and have the option of having access to both physical DSD SACDs and download DSD. Thanks. I assume it does the DSD -> analogue natively (not via PCM)??

Kal Rubinson's picture

Not sure what wozwoz is referring to, the Oppo or the Sony.  I know the Oppo will play downloaded DSD files but I doubt that the Sony will.

Dan Moroboshi's picture

Dear Kar,

I believe that what woz is asking, if there is any conversion internally to PCM from DSD files, or like other DACs, like Mytek and Playback Designs MPS, they convert it natively from DSD to analog?

DSD > analog or

DSD > PCM > analog?

Kal Rubinson's picture

Sorry.  I thought that most people already know what the Oppos do.  They can, of course, go either way.  Since they are more than just DACs, they can do many things including bass/channel management and, if you select that, there is a PCM intermediary conversion.  OTOH, if you decline all that (and you do not connect the HDMI2 to a 2channel TV), you can get direct conversion from DSD to analog.

wozwoz's picture

Yes - spot on! Thanks for clarifying.

briang007's picture

Will the BDP-95 play DSD/AIFF as well? It essentially has the same Sabre DAC chips between the two, so it seems like this should be plausible. I've been having to convert my hirez .aiff files to FLAC to play them off a USB thumbdrive on my 95... so this would be welcome news, besides the DSD abilities. Now... if only someone would figure out a good way to RIP our personal SACD collections so that we can have native DSD files on our hard drives....

Kal Rubinson's picture

No.  These new features are for the 103/105 only, at least at present.  Sorry.

Morten Lindberg's picture

Our free Test Bench has now been updated with samples in 5.1 DSD:

Hook's picture

Am using a Korg MR-1000 to create needledrops at 5.6 Mhz.  Will this new firmware play these 128x DSD files?  Thanks!

Kal Rubinson's picture

Not for me.  Those files seem to play at half-speed, i.e., slowly and with lowered pitch.

Dr. AIX's picture

The revivial of DSD as a distribution format is dubious at best. The same noise shaping process is required in any 1-bit recording...something a simple spectral analysis will confirm. To keep the audio band clean, all of the noise is moved above 30 kHz.

And few fail to realize that many if not most DSD recordings have been processed using high definition PCM during the post production and mastering stages. Even after more than 10 years after the introduction of the SACD format, there are no tools for doing DSD mixing or mastering in the DSD format. And there are not likely to be. Record labels, including Morten's 2L company, do not record using DSD...he uses DXD, which is a high sample rate and longer word length version of PCM.

I had the chance to compare a native DSD, HD PCM and analog tape recording of the same ensemble a couple of weeks ago at a beautiful studio in Montana. The results were very interesting. I'll be posting them on the real HD-Audio blog very soon. Stay tuned.

I not saying that DSD cannot sound terrific! I have heard some tremendous recording that were done natively in DSD but they weren't "closer to analog" (whatever that means) or anything of the sort. In fact, they weren't any better than a 96 kHz/24-bit PCM recording done with care. The formats available to interested audiophiles have different attributes...some positive and some negative...but that all have a "sound". For me, I want to avoid the distortion and limited frequency response associated with DSD...and that means I will continue to record and deliver my projects in HD-Audio using PCM.

Morten Lindberg's picture

We have now implemented DSD 5.1 surround sound audio files in our new web shop. The MOZART Violin Concertos might be a good starting point. This recording was declared a ”Record to Die For” by STEREOPHILE Magazine back in 2008 and won the Norwegian GRAMMY as Best Classical Album.