AFAIK, none of the mods affect the VC and that VC is digital. Thus, it is lossy and how effective it will be will depend on how much lossy attenuation you need in your setup.
The 83SE is already upgrade from a stock 83 by Oppo. When a friend was going to upgrade from is 83 to the 83se or NuForce a tech at nuforce told him to just do the 83se upgrade. The Nuforce was not really that much of an improvement. The Modwright upgrade with tube out pute may well be worth it. Contact Modwright about the volumn control issue or I am sure someone has direct experience about this and will come forward
So Kal, have you actually heard the Oppo driving an amp directly? I recall HiFi+ doing a Wadia review awhile back and fearing that their volume control (also digital) would compromise sound at lowish levels but they didn't detect any sonic degradation.
I'm looking for opinions of those with the upgraded Oppo BDP-83 (modwright, upgrade company, others) who have used them to drive their amp(s) directly, please and thank you.
Yes, I have used the Oppo volume control (whether driving an amp or a preamp is not relevant). The only issues are the the gain of the amp and the sensitivity of the speakers. The Oppo VC was just fine in the upper range from about 75 and up. Below 50, the sound was increasingly grainy. In between, it was tricky, generally OK and depended on the program content.
So, if all you need is a bit of attenuation, it is OK. How much do you need?
Sandstone-my amps are VAS Audio Citation Sound II which are Cayin's upper end (upper end for Cayin anyway) EL34 monoblocks based on Harmon Kardon's originals. See the ToneAudio online review to get an idea of quality of these amps. 12au7's are Amperex Globe Logo and 12ax7's are GE blackplate 5751's. EL34's and 5ar4's are Shuguang (for now). The input impedance is 47k ohms.
Kal-my speakers are Legacy Focus clones using Eton drivers though I have the woofers disconnected in favor of dedicated subs. I'd estimate sensitivity in the low-mid 90's and I don't have info on the amps' gain.
I must disagree with you as to whether driving an amp or preamp is relevant with regards to my question/situation. It is the point of my inquiry. I won't be making this purchase of a modded Oppo presently if the Oppo's volume control isn't sonically up to driving my amps. As mentioned in the body of post, I've used a player w/vc that really needed another volume control in front of it to sound in control while a couple of others were clearly NOT in need of such. If the Oppo volume control compromises the sound, I'll keep my Upgrade Co Denon 3910 for now and have a suitable passive built.
And please forgive my ignorance but what do you mean by the upper range from about 75 and up and below 50? Sorry to be a fool and thanks for your input!
I used an Oppo without a preamp and found it to be generally good. A slight loss of lower frequency weight and dynamics. Less "full" in the mid range (vocals). A bit of soundstage flattening. I thought the top end was excellent and all frequencies were very transparent and "fast." Unless you buy a very good preamp ($2K+ used), and assuming that the amp matching (sensitivity) is satisfactory, going direct is a good thing. My experience is that a "lesser" quality preamp never improves sound. So IMHO, unless you want to spend some dough on a good preamp, going direct to the amp can be a good thing (and assuming that this is the only input).
It is not that the VC is good or bad. It is simply that it is a digital attenuator and, as such, must lose resolution with attenuation. Almost all do. (There are some that get around this by DSP.)
So, a little attenuation means a little loss and that is usually OK. A lot of attenuation means a lot of loss but it may not be an issue if the listening level is very low.
So, again, it is a question of how much attenuation you need and I cannot estimate this for you as it requires knowledge of your speaker's sensitivity, the gain of the power amp and what listening levels you use.
The numbers refer to the Oppo's volume indicator scale which ranges from 0 to 100 but is uncalibrated.
I have had the Modwright tube Oppo 83 for over 6 months now and absolutely love it. When I plugged it directly into my Pass Labs amp it opened up the sound and revealed that my preamp was holding my system back. So from that point forward, I removed the preamp.
I also found that the Oppo's volume control jumped too far for each click on the volume button, so that the music was either too loud or too low. Which for me was a mild inconvenience compared to the sound. My previous sources include Sony 5400, Marantz SA-11S1, Bada HD-22 and a NAD c542.
I loved the "direct" sound so much that I eventually decided to get a transparent preamp because I have a subwoofer and multiple inputs. I ended up with a Placette Active.
For more info about the Modwright Oppo 83, check out a thread I started about my experience with it on the Audio-circle website: http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=86327.0