Compare OPPO BDP-105 to Anthem D2 on DAC. My impression. What is yours?

I had an Anthem D2 for several years before I purchased an OPPO 105. I was always wondering, can I really replace D2 with OPPO 105 as a preamplifier?
I searched on-line and only found very few comparisons, none of them in details.  So, I purchased an OPPO 105 and did my own comparison work. Equipment used:  Vandersteen 2CE Signature I, Classe Ten, AudioQuest Forest+/Clear (original, as bass wire in biwire set-up).  Here is the impression for their sounds.
1. If I connect 105 and D2 separately to Classe amp, i.e. connecting 105’s dedicated stereo out to Classe line in, via Cardas Cross RCA, then connect 105 to D2 through Audioquest's HDMI 3 cable, I would hear clear and detailed presentation from both setups.  But they had obviously different sound characters.  Compare to $6000 D2, the $1000 105 actually had a slight margin on smoother sound and more detailed highs.  Also, the mids from 105 sounded a bid fuller.  D2 by comparison had some edges on highs.  However, D2 sounded with more authority, with tighter bass and stronger dynamics (sounds puncher) overall.  This difference between the sounds from two setups made me prefer listening to music (classical, light pop, jazz...) with OPPO and hearing movies with D2.
2. Using the same setup, comparing the headphone amp from OPPO and that from D2, I found that, D2 has obviously more power for my Hifiman HE560.  The characteristics from 1 using speakers would be further emphasized.  I am guessing the “stronger dynamics” from D2 is due to D2’s better or higher powered analog stage.
3. Because 1 and 2 above, I am thinking the preamp section of OPPO is not good enough.  The professional reviews raved OPPO as “with $1000 headphone amp”, I am not sure about that.  I didn’t have a $1000 headphone amp at the time doing 1, 2.  But later I did get an used LH Labs Geek Pulse Infinity DAC/Headphone amp, and the combined performance clearly surpassed the OPPO’s own DAC/headphone out, using OPPO itself as the source.  But, the Geek Pulse has a $3000 retail, although I purchased it for $600 used.
4.  Then I tried another setup.  This time, I directed 105’s stereo out to Anthem’s 5.1 analog in.  The “under-power” doubt on the preamp section of OPPO was solved.  Now I could use OPPO’s full level out.  This way, I could easily switch between OPPO’s DAC out and D2’s DAC out.  The difference between two DAC’s became less apparent. OPPO was not as “soft”.  However, I could never make them the same no matter how hard I tried to adjust the input levels (D2 has input level adjustment for each individual input.)  That means, I can still hear the difference from two DAC’s.  Still the same characteristics.  I still prefer listening music via OPPO’s analog out and hear movies/Netflix shows sounds via OPPO’s digital out (meaning D2 is doing the DAC.)   Notice that I was comparing OPPO with a $6000 first-tier home theater component (at least used to be), of course the OPPO holds well on its own.  I kept the 105 and I still use it, but just that I don’t use it as a pre-amp.   Not sure it is a $1000 pre amp neither.  Later I got a Modwright mod version of 105.  The impression for that one comes next.


Showing 1 response by big_greg

The Oppo is a great piece at its price point, but it's designed to be an audio swiss army knife - it's good at a lot of things, but not particularly outstanding at any.