Add an external DAC. Make my Oppo UDP-205 a true top player


I am not sold on my Oppo UDP-205 audio reproduction.  .  It plays all formats, but audio needs improvement.   Looking for audiophiles that have felt the same a bought a DAC..  Which one did you buy.  What works really well?
dcaudio
What’s your budget? I have a 205 as well and still stock that I don’t really use as my Cambridge 851C to my ears sounds more refined so I agree the Oppo is really good for audio but not really, really good. I use the DAC in my 851C as well for my Bluesound Vault 2 as it punches above the DAC in the Vault, but I’m considering adding a DAC that beats my 851C so I’m reading all the reviews here and one thing I’m considering is sending my 205 into ModWright and let Dan do his thing. I have a ModWright preamp and one before so I trust Dans work.

Dacs I am considering are the MHDT Orchid, Denafrips Pontus, RME ADI-2 and to name a few. These DACS can be had for less than the cost to upgrade my 205 so I’m kind of leaning this route. If I didn’t already have my Cambridge spinner then the decision to send my Oppo to Dan would probably be a little easier.
I felt the same about my 105, which I only used for SACDS, DVD-A etc and had a separate trans/dac for redbook. After many years my Pioneer PD 65 with level 3 Musical Concepts mod (+ outboard PS) , alas,about 2 years ago the laser died and is no longer made. This forced me to use the 105 for both and I was not happy. While I searched for a new trans, I came across replacement Oppo 105 power supplies on Ebay and a replacement IEC with pure silver tail that attached directly to the OEM PS board. It was pricey, but damn what a revelation. Now that I had the lid off I could see how easy it would be to upgrade the PS. Ebay options ranged from ~ $150-$300+. I went somewhere in between

I eventually got a new player/trans- a Marantz HD CD-1 which is excellent and was plugging it into an Audio Alchemy DDP-1 + PS 5. After several months I was jonesing for some DVD-A & SACD, but to play SACDs I had to plug the 105 direct into my then new amp (EVS 1200 dual mono class D: see my AGon thread) using the 105s VVC. Now my system is 100% Dif balanced (which in spite of the ignorance spewed in audioland is the only way to go) it sounded great. So great in fact that I have not gone back to my AA DDP-1 + PS 5. FYI, I use WireWorld Series 8 XLRs, and speaker cables which allows everything in front to shine
BTW, I owned quite a few Class D amps over the last 10 years, none compare to the EVS 1200, but I haven't heard GaN yet, but coming soon


hth
You REALLY need to give a budget. That being said, I’m really happy with my W4S DAC.
I am extremely happy with my Modwright Oppo 205. It has a very good DAC to begin with and after Dan hot rods the output stage it’s killer.

You don't mention a budget, but neither do you specify in what respects the Oppo is lacking.  Resolution?  Air? Warmth?  Spatiality?

There are dozens, no, hundreds, of DACs out there that will take you in one or more of those directions.

The 205 is great for a multichannel.  Lots of better 2 channel DACs out there.  For 2 channel, my Chord Hugo has it beat.
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I have an Oppo UDP-203; I think the only difference between that and the 205 is the DAC.  I'm bypassing the built-in DAC by connecting the coax output to a PS Audio DirectStream DAC.  I really like the DirectStream; it's very noticeably better than the DAC in the Oppo.
Now I’ve not heard the Topping D50s but it does get some buzz, but I’d be surprised if it surpasses the Oppo. The 205 is still pretty dang good but it’s just not the dragon slayer some say it is, but it’s still pretty good. I suspect ones going to have to still drop some coin to better it; probably going to spend what the listing price of the 205 was and then some maybe.
The must haves for me were a linear power supply, ultra low noise JFET at the input stage, Balanced & SE outputs and it needed to function as a reference quality preamp with precise volume attenuation (ladder) and a remote.  Most good stand alone DACs get this right now.  Life is easier when we have multiple digital and analogue inputs on our DAC. The Oppo measures at the top of the class regarding signal distortion but I do not know anything about it's topology regarding noise/jitter reduction at input. Having the flexibility of multiple inputs, a couple of gain choices for outputs as well as type of output gives me a lot of future options.  Lastly the sound of my DAC10 is sublime.  Good Luck!
I have the Oppo BD 105 and I went with the Exogal Comet plus DAC and I must say I'm very happy with the improvements 
I had the local "Best Ear" over to advise me on an amp I was trying.
My source was the Oppo 205. His comment was " I think the source
is holding you back".  
I am unsure if it is the DAC or the Player itself. I plan to borrow a better
DAC and see if that does it.
Maybe someone else has experience here?
Thanks for the input.  I prefer a DAC over a Modwright upgrade.  A DAC is a natural fit, can easily be swapped out, would be easier to sell separately, as well as something that be used beyond the Oppo itself.  My budget is $ 3,000.  I was thinking to pick either iFi Audio Pro iDSD, Benchmark DAC3, MyTek Brooklyn DAC+, or a Lumin D2.   Thank you
Happy RME ADI-2 DAC FS user here. Upgraded from internal Bluesound Node 2i' DAC. Now playing Node 2i and my old CP player through the external DAC via digital cables. And balanced XLR interconnects from the DAC to good amp. I am not considering any further improvements :-)
curious why you are set on keeping the Oppo... for the price you could sell the Oppo for, and the money you are willing to spend on a DAC ...lots of listeners don’t like the Oppo for 2 channel music, either as an all in one player  or  as a transport
For less than $3000, get the ps audio DS jr dac, today it’s better than the other dacs (most of them that I have heard) and with the free upgrades, it will sound better after every update. If you can spring for $4000, get the os audio DS sr dac which is better than the jr. Then forget about usb/toslink, and go ethernet
OP, you’re going to get LOTS of DAC recommendations, most of them for highly rated units. Like everything else in our hobby, once you get to a certain level all the choices are good. It comes down to system synergy and your ears to determine the best fit. Try and buy from a vendor that has a decent return policy so that you don’t get stuck with something that isn’t a good fit. I happen to be fond of my W4S DAC, plus their DAC’s are upgradable.
What specifically are you looking to improve upon, are what overall sound and performance characteristics are most important to you?
Jrwaudio, got the PLUS power supply,  upgrade power cords and USB, umbilical? If not, you have some potential improvements on horizon.  :)
Truthfully that oppo measures incredibly well.  If you don't like it's sound signature, I would go in the opposite direction to get a different flavor.  

Look at an R2R, or something that doesn't use Sabre Chips.  Heck, maybe a tubed unit.

But the Oppo uses killer chips, and has a nice power supply.  
Prior to selling my 205, I found a large improvement in sonics by placing a Vibrapod 4 under each foot. I never found Vibrapods to do anything particularly worthwhile in the past, but they seemed to make a significant improvement on the Oppo. You might even have some lying around. Cant’ hurt to try. Well, I guess you would be out $25 or so, but that’s not much in the audio game.
Holy S&^$t, I forgot to mention Machina Dynamica New Dark Matter. It looks like smoked mylar, costs ~ $40. The user cuts the pieces to fit in the cd tray. It magically removes/absorbs/eliminates... the scattered laser light inside the player/transport. I guarantee your jaw will drop


Absolutely a must have product. Try it before buying anything else

The issue with an outboard dac is everything matters; the type/quality of the cable, the power cord, of course it will need to be properly isolated= mo money mo money mo money


hth
I was able to reserve a spot on the last production list. The Oppo-205 did everything I had read about audio wise. But I had some frustrations arise pretty quickly. As I purchased to use this exclusively as a stand alone DAC, I did not like having to run HDMI out and having to have a monitor on to be able to easily see whats going on deep in the players menu. I also missed easily transitioning between my various sources. As I rarely watch DVDs or play CDs  (mostly stream at this point), I went in search of other options. I know, then why did I buy it?! Like a lot of the hot items we read about ...I had to have it to see if it lived up to the "press". It did in many ways and best of all it was highly sought after putting it up for sale.
After establishing that I wanted a DAC that also was easy to stream with, I settled on the Cary DMS-500. As I never can sit still without messing with knobs and other features on a given product, I LOVED the TruBit™ DSD & PCM Upsampling.  Now I can hear and compare how any given song is effected instantly switching from 48kHz--->up to DSD256 with a simple remote button push.. I don't have to choose a side in this debate on what sounds best or why! They ALL can sound GREAT. Best of all I can hear them all very quickly. Just a hint-many sound exactly the same. But sometimes.......wow. And instead of having to hook up a TV I can look at the large screen found on the Cary......But it doesn't end there.  On the days I feel the need to hear NOS and tube warmth I have also added the MHDT Orchid. It is awesome in its own respects. I told you -it never ends.
dcaudio
It would be difficult to improve upon the 205.  I have one and it is approx equal to my W4S Dac (latest model- but sold).  It is however behind the Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro that I now have. All three of these run the latest ESS chip.  As a suggestion you can get a small - very small - improvement in your Oppo if you (1) open it up and place some dynamat inside, especially over the drive unit; and (2) place the unit on Sorbothane footers.  (3) Ensure it is level. (4) Depending on your preamp and other gear there may be some benefit in using the balanced XLR connection. 
I had an Accustic Arts Dac in my system for a two week trial.  It had tubes and produced a very polished sound.  It also looked good on the shelf.  In the end I did not go for it as the improvement over the W4S was not sufficient to justify the large price. 
For a sideways move you can try a Marantz or, better still, a Dac by Gieseler Audio.  They are based on the AKM chip.  
Apart from that you have to move to FPGA or Ladder resister type.  I have not heard either of these types but they are expensive.  
Andrei
i bought a NAD D1050 DAC that i use in conjunction with my Oppo 103. much better than the DAC in the 103. the pair sound phenomenal, but i would be interested in what others in the Oppo community have experienced. i originally considered the 105 but the 103/NAD combo sounded better and cost was about the same.  i heard the 205 and think it's much better than the 105, maybe less edgy, very textured, full sounding.  the 205 would be hard to beat, but just try and find one now.  the prices have gone through the roof.  RIP Oppo
I have a small room for video so I made that system compact and 2 channel. In addition to a 65 inch OLED panel hanging on the wall, I use a UDP 205 going straight into JBL 705P monitors on stands via XLR. Results are very impressive. I also have an NAD M-10 in the big system in my living room and a Bluesound Vault 2i in the TV room. Everything is tied together by CAT 8 ethernet cabling. 
Naturally I wonder, at times, about what might be achieved by upgrading the DAC in the TV room beyond what OPPO has provided but, since I'm very impressed by sound I'm getting and I feel no need this late in life to chase SOTA, I never get past musing.
Try those little JBLs if you have a 205. I think you'll be shocked to find out what you are sitting on from OPPO.
Bel Canto 2.1:  $2,795 on amazon 
Take a look at the Lampizator Amber 3 DAC or read some posts on Audiogon and reviews in general.  I am using this DAC with my Oppo 205 for redbook CDs and for Tidal/Roon streaming via the Nucleus+.  To my ears it is the best DAC within a reasonable price point.
Hello,
I am not sure if this is helpful but here is what I am doing. I have an Oppo 203 (not a 205) and use it for movies only.

For two channel audio, I use a Rega Apollo with an external DAC. I have tried a bunch of DACs and my NAD M51 DAC is superb. I will not replace it.

Slightly different story with the Rega Apollo, which I use as transport. It is highly sensitive to sound wave sand it skips if the volume is loud. The Rega service mgr says it is because it has less error correction and tries to be bit-perfect. I am not sure that makes sense as error correction and buffering should, in theory, get the bits back.
I certainly recommend an external DAC and mine happens to be the NAD M51.
PS - I use it in fixed mode. I am considering using it as a preamp and bypassing my Musical Fidelity A308cr preamp.
Stay safe friends - all I have is music now - which is not bad.


@dcaudio- I am also in a similar situation like you and I am looking for a good DAC to connect to Oppo 205. I am trying to find out how good Oppo 205 is as a transport. Does anyone have any feedback/opinion on this? One of my shortlisted DACs is Bricasti and they support ethernet connectivity for playing music from hard drives/network. Does anyone have a preference of playing music over network/ethernet against using a transport? I would appreciate your feedback.
I would replace the Oppo power supply with a linear power supply and use it as a transport. A good digital coax cable like the DH Labs D-750, though an ifi audio SPDIF iPurifier into a Black Ice Audio Tube DAC, Chord Electronics Mojo or Qutest DAC; all great, reasonably priced options.
@vinylvalet- Thanks for your feedback and I agree that a good linear power supply would definitely make Oppo 205 player sound good let alone being a better transport. But how do I do that? I am not comfortable opening the top cover and replace parts from inside the box. I don't want to send the unit to a 3rd party and spend a fortune for that upgrade...
Do folks have any comment on playing music over network/ethernet against using a transport?
If you get the ability to stream a near unlimited world of new music in hi res while just sitting in your chair for 15 bucks/month, I’d say that pretty much kicks the crap out of having to get up to change and listen to the same discs over and over. Buying a pricey LPS to power an Oppo to use as a transport or otherwise doesn’t seem like a wise use of funds to me — better to put that money into a DAC and maybe a reclocker IMHO.
I found the use of an Equitech 2Q  for isolation plus an MIT Oracle AC power cable made a nice difference. (I had them prior to picking up my near the end of the line 205-- a little pricey relative to the Oppo; but it shows the 205 has potential beyond what you get from standard ac power, by quite a bit.). I felt lucky to get my Oppo and continue to be highly pleased with DVD's and Bluray's and streaming from my cable provider. Going to move up to a Samsung 4K and kind of excited about that as well :)
While the Oppo might not outperform a really nice DAC or a dedicated SACD/CD player, one thing you might want to do is keep the player "on" for at least an hour before listening. Another thing is to use a good power conditioner. In my system it made a big difference and I like what I am hearing. Even Spotify played through Chromecast Audio through the Oppo's optical input sounds pretty neat.
andrei_nz Read your post w/great remembrance of the changes I experienced w/my Oppo 205 doing very similar changes you suggest. My base system (NPS 400 Counterpoint amp into Aerial 7b’s then, now 10mkII) was driven w/the 205 as source & pre-amp. My 1st upgrade was to use a Shunyata Delta NR PC for the 205 (beyond my Shunyata loom), which had some nice subtle changes.
By luck the Counterpoint had XLR inputs which the Oppo could drive, I added the base Bionics IC’s and it was glorious.
Experimenting internally w/the 205 I found the addition of the dampening material and a Bybee IQ over the power supply were nice upgrades. BUT Having been an old AQ Sorbo foot user for years, at the encouragement of my audio guru Duane @ Automated Lifestyles/Bettendorf I bought some StarSound Tech Brass feet and cups (the idea to drain energy out of chassis) WOW that made the 205 musical again. Am now looking into next step of DAC combo & like ideas various members have offered regarding outboard vs upgrade etc.
Oppomod transformer is said to give nice sonic improvement.
Cheap over the long run.
@dcaudio  -

With your budget, you could try a Naim nDAC combined with a Teddy Pardo TeddyXPS power supply.  Excellent sounding and very well built, both by companies with long excellent track records re service.  The pair would be under $2500.  The combination will see off any of the standalone DACs mentioned above. 

If you really wanted to go nuts and add streaming, you could do a used Naim NDS with the same Pardo TXPS; though an NDS would be $3-3.5K on its own (the Pardo TXPS is $1099 new) and requires a separate power supply. 
Agree that a separate DAC is a much better deal than an expensive mod of your Oppo. My Oppo is a 105 and I chose an LKS MH-DA004. Monster linear power supply, dual DAC chips, 3 femtoclocks, discrete jpeg analog stage and built like a brick. About $1500 with Amanero USB board. There’s a long thread here about it. I see now that it has a US distributer.
Did I say discrete jpeg?  It's been a long day:  Discrete JFET.
i have a Oppo 105 and would like to add a external DAC that would rival the SQ of a 205 without the huge price upgrade of a used 205. this is 2020 4 years after the introduction of the 205. for a grand their must be something? any 205 owners find anything?  btw, the LKS is no longer available.  
@jag

You write: "btw, the LKS is no longer available"  

But I see it is available from Amazon, apos.audio, shenzhenaudio and various ebay sellers.  How did you come to this conclusion.  And why?

Also the LKS mini dac (similar but just one DAC chip) for under $1K.