OPPO 105; how to beat it and at what price?

I am in the process of building my reference system around my new Wilson Alexia’s. I am currently using the OPPO 105. How much would I have to spend to get a significant audible improvement? What would that unit be?
How about $800. That is what I charge for my basic mod plus the zero feedback fully balanced fet output stage for the 105 or 105D. Just had a customer get one and he loves it. Another $1000 in other advanced mods (linear power supply, low jitter clock, Audio Magic Pulse Gen ZX and more WA Quantum dots, etc.) brings even more to the table. Serious high end sound.
How will you use the Oppo -- to play CDs? As a DAC behind a server? As a preamp? Do you need the video?
You would not have to spend that much in the context of a 5 figure system to beat the Oppo 105. But you need to specify what type of setup you have in mind.
If it were me, I'd keep the 105, but send it to Ric Schultz at EVS. He has an extensive mod program for the 103 and 105. Roughly $2,500 to mod your 105 into an unbalanced, 2-channel player, but you can also get the balanced mods and/or multi-channel mods at additional cost. I have his modded 103 and it's fantastic - light years ahead in sound compared to stock - not even remotely close. Ric recommends the modded 103 for use mainly as a transport and the 105 if you want a world class CDP. Ric tells me his 105 is the best digital playback out there and I'm not inclined to doubt it! Modding does void the Oppo warranty, but he guarantees his own work for life or will repair a non-EVS fault for the cost of parts and $25/hr labor. Or he will sell you his own 2-year, complete warranty for $50. Just Google "EVS Tweak" and that should get you to his site. I've found Ric to be very easy to get to know by phone and he does great work. (EVS = Electronic Visionary Systems)
I guess there are a lot of questions that need to be answered first.

Is it used for a stereo system only or for multichannel?

Is it to be used for music or movies?

What will the Oppo be hooked up to?

What formats do you play? DVDA? SACDs? CDs? BDs?


If you are looking for an all in one system that can play BluRays (PureAudio music), SACDs in multi channels, DVDA in multi channels, movies on Bluray and DVDs, it's going to be hard to replace the Oppo.

You can get it upgraded - I'd consider the Modwright tube based output if you can ship your unit across to Dan.

Or for a sideways step, Electrocompaniet and Cambridge Audio use the same Oppo chipsets but have their own analog/DAC stages. I say sideways because they use different chipsets but some may prefer the Oppo's Sabre32 to these versions.

If you are willing to lose 3D and 4K capability, try to see if you can pick up the Ayre DX5. It is based off the Oppo 83 which is still a very capable Bluray player (and SACD/DVDA) but Ayre has a very very good analog stage and DACs that outclasses the Oppo 105, the CA and the Electrocompaniet. Plus it also works like a USB DAC (like the 105's USB input). There is an upgrade for the DX5 that adds DSD over USB (vs PCM only in the original spec).

If you don't care about Bluray playback or DVDA playback, and only play CDs and SACDs, I would look at something from EMM Labs (XDS1 v2) or Playback Designs (MPS5). Both IMHO outperform the 105 - including the modded ones because the custom built DACs are really really quite special.

If you don't care about BD/SACD/DVDA and only care about PC audio or just use CDs, I'd look at the PS Audio Directstream DAC. Just add a PC (or Mac) music server or a CD transport to play CDs.
Thanks for the comments. I will be using as two channel audio only. I spin 2 channel SACD and CD only. I am trying to educate myself on the alternative of a computer based server. Seems like many pros to this approach in sound and convenience. Also seems to be the future. I can say that in my new system SACD has never sounded better vs CD thus high res formats are very appealing.
Ricevs, Can you mod Musical Fidelity X-LPS phono to balanced in/out?

" .... I will be using as two channel audio only. I spin 2 channel SACD and CD only ..."

IMO go look at a quality hi-end 2 channel unit assuming the budget permits it -- e.g. REGA ISIS valve, NAIM, DCS, SIMAUDIO ... there are many great hi-end players out there that also have USB inputs to permit the use of their hi-end internal DAC for plug-in digital media playback, in addition to their world class disc playback.

Any one of these will significantly best the OPPO or Cambridge and other like players. I had the CAMBRIDGE before I moved up to the ARCAM BDP and it does its great job for Multi-channel music on Blu-Ray.

The performance level in 2 channel with my hi-end CDP is a quantum leap better; and it resides as the cd and digital source player reserved strictly for 2 channel. The improvement over an OPPO/CAMBRIDGE/ARCAM/U PICK 'EM multi-channel player is not subtle.
I have used most architectures under the sun to play 2 channel SACD:

Sony XA 5400 into SSO - digital over HDMI
Sony XA 5400 into preamp analog
Marantz ud9400 into preamp
Marantz ud9400 into Trinnov processer with D/A conversion
Moddel Oppo with digital out into Trinnov processor
Ripped SACD played from server with Dirac DRC directly into DACs

A top notch player with analog out (like modded Oppo) will sound just fine. You will get better results with an Oppo with vanity digital board into a top notch DAC.

I have an Oppo 93 with Vanity board and linear powersupply. The vanity board does reclocking and proprietary DSD->PCM conversion at 176/24, which will cream the onboard conversion available on the standard (or modded) Oppo.
I appreciate Ivan's enthusiasm but there are a couple of errors in his post. First, the all out 2 channel unbalanced/balanced mod it $1730. Secondly, I would never tell anyone that I have the best digital playback out there.....just not my style or belief. The 105 is certainly seriously high end modded but is not as good as the best DACs out there. However, you would have to spend several thousand on a DAC to do better. What sets the modded 105 apart is the fact that it is a great CD/SACD player, a great DVD/Blue Ray player, a great DAC (double DSD and 352K), a great multichannel player, has a great headphone amp, 32 bit digital volume control so you can run it directly to amps...etc. It is so versatile and reliable that you would want to keep it for years....even in a second system or as a back up....years from now.
Take a look at the MSB universal transport and Analog DAC. Several times the Oppo's cost, but you can play any kind of disc and the sound will be better than stock Oppo. There are also any number of Oppo modders out there, Modwright and The Upgrade Company both got Postive Feedback Online Brutus Awards
Another option. Send your Oppo 105 to Dan Wright (Modwright) for his $2500 mod which includes an outboard tubed power supply and tubed (6SN7) output among many other improvements. I further treated mine to NOS rectifier and output tubes. Couldn't be happier. And dealing with Modwright was a real pleasure.
Ricevs I’m impressed with your response. Very balanced. I have decided since I am a two channel audio guy I should focus on that. I’m now looking at the Esoteric K-01 new or used. I am also very keen on learning about High Res download/player capabilities (i.e. computer based music server). My new system is so revealing that my SACD’s are the the only thing I enjoy any more. Perhaps redbook on OPPO is not that great. In any event its clear I need a big step up to match my new system.
Sorry for my fact error above and if I overstepped my bounds, Ric...not out to put words into anyone's mouth, but I still get carried away when I gush sometimes - especially during happy hour...(sigh)
I highly recommend that you contact Ric Schultz at EVS (tweakaudio.com) I had him do an all out mod on my 105d and I am very pleased with the results. I now have a world class very versatile player. See my post from June 12.
Ditto a Ric Shultz modified Oppo 105. It beat an Esoteric I had for an in house addition.
As an end note to this thread my Esoteric K-01 arrived today and right out of the box my reaction was WOW. I didn't think it was possible to get that kind of improvement. Obviously one would expect this for the price difference. I often think some of this crazy high end gear is more hype than real improvement. Maybe I'll start believing that cables make a major difference (not there yet)?
You might find it interesting to audition an MIT Oracle AC2 powercord with your Oppo. The improvement in sound will not be at all unremarkable. (I know the AC2 is expensive). I would be very interested to hear how much closer the sound is to your Esoteric on its regular power cord!
Question to Rick, with all honestly, what is better sounding as a 2 chanel CDP: your fully modified OPpo 105d or unmodified esoterick k-03 or k-01. What modified esoteric will sound like? Thank you
I think Dsper had the $5000 Esoteric.....but I nor anyone I know have had a $13,000 or $20,000 Esoteric to A/B with. If my modded 105 beats a $5000 Esoteric it does not mean its as good as the way more expensive ones.....I kind of doubt it. The Esoterics are super well made. If you have unlimited money then fine but seems to me you could get a super DAC (for way less money) and run it from a modded Mac/PC or server and get even better sound. There is the DSD only Lampizator that could be used with software to upsample all PCM to DSD, for instance. I bet I would like that better than a super expensive Esoteric.....but who knows? Digital is changing fast. I personally would not want to spend a lot of money on a player. What is so nice about the modded Oppo is that it is a great player (CD, SACD, DVD-A, HDCD, whatever), a great DAC (including double speed DSD and 352K input), a great headphone amp (with all the mods), a great multichannel player, can stream various things and has great HDMI inputs, and a great DVD and Blue Ray player (with fantastic picture and Darbee enhancement capabilities). It is the kind of thing you would keep for years and years and it will always sound good and can be used in any number of ways in any number of systems.
My friend recently bought a used EVS Mod 105d. I compared it with my Oppo 105, I can’t find any different. My friend can’t find either. I use Audio Note Soro SE and Focal Electra 1027be.
My $.02.

Rather than modify anything, find yourself a good separate DAC. You have many to choose from and a lot of opinions as well. For the time being, for your PCM music you will use the digital output of your Oppo and play through the separate DAC. With any sound choice at all you should notice a substantial improvement in SQ. There are too many to choose from for me to make a suggestion of a DAC. I only know what I like and I do not know your budget. Do some research. Also, depending upon what and where you buy, you may have the option of listening to a DAC in your system before buying.  Your SACD disks will still be playing through the Oppo.

Over time, if you are serious about digital, you will rip your CDs (and with the help of the Oppo--your SACDs) put them on a hard disk and send them directly to your separate DAC. The convenience cannot be beat and the SQ will increase noticeably as well.

Moreover, you will maximize your resale potential and also your upgrade potential.