Oppo 970 sounds better than HDDVD player on DVDs?

Hi all,

I have both an Oppo 970 and RCA HDV5000 HDDVD. I had been using the RCA in the main system to watch both DVDs and HDDVDs, using the digital output into my Sony DA4ES receiver. I was at that time using the Oppo in the bedroom to watch some DVDs on a TV we have back there.

I decided I wanted to put the Oppo in the main system so as to be able to get into some DVD-Audio and SACD listening.

But since I had the Oppo and the HDDVD player connected via component to my Mits TV, I thought I would compare the picture quality on regular DVDs at 480p(the Mits has no HDMI input). It turned out that, at least to my eye, the image quality was a bit better with the Oppo.

But what astounded me was that reciever-decoded 5.1 movie tracks seem clearly superior with the Oppo. The sound is clearer, dialog is more intelligible, musical instruments sound more real, the surround channels are more active, there is more dynamic impact to transients. The movie experience is definitely better with the Oppo.

How can this be? I would have thought both players would be sending the exact same digital stream to the receiver. The only difference is that the Oppo is connected via coaxial cable, while the RCA is connected via glass optical cable. Could the cable differences explain this difference? I have been told that for movie 5.1 audio, it wouldn't matter whether I connect with coaxial or optical.

Any ideas? One thing is for sure. That Oppo is a bargain.
Disclaimer: I'm not a Videophile, so to a certain degree I'm speculating based on the bit of reading I've done.

That said, I'm guessing that since you are using component video for both video connections that you have yet to actually see HD-DVD. I think the HD players (and upsampling players) only display the higher resolution via HDMI. There were a few first generation upsampling players that did output upsampled 1080i output over component, but those were quickly killed off by the digital security police. So, for video, I'm not surprised that the Oppo is better considering 480p is its forte.

About the audio portion, it could be that the Oppo is simply a better transport or it could be that the different cable connection is responsible for the difference. There's lots of post on all of the audio and video web forums that say coax is better than optical. If you want to try to improve the optical connection, you may want to try a glass optical cable if you are currently using a cheap plastic optical cable now.

It is well documented that all of the Oppo players are great bargains and compete with units that are much more expensive.


For what it is worth by far the worst sound I ever heard from a player was an RCA unit I owned. Are you sure the Optical is glass, many think it is but they are Plastic.
Coax is usually better than any Toslink but I dont know if it is why the Oppo sounds better.
You are correct in not seeing the full potential of the hd-dvd player when using component outputs. The ICT flag prohibits it from upsampling to 1080/720 and outputting over the component inputs. Some players do not honor this flag (samsung early hd series) but the RCA does so you are not seeing it's upsampled output which is very good. Also, make sure you have the same settings enabled for both inputs (dynamic range compression, audio output mode) and the correct settings on the hd-dvd (downmix settings-it can output a lot of different ways) player. You could always try reversing your digital cables to see if that makes a difference if the oppo has optical out.
Thanks for the replies. I am going to connect the RCA HDDVD player via coaxial as well, then compare the audio to the Oppo. But I had the RCA connected via coaxial for months after purchase, and I don't think it ever sounded as good as the Oppo.

Don't get too hung up on the RCA thing. The RCA HDV5000 is simply a re-badged Toshiba HD-A1 HDDVD player.

Reuben, the RCA outputs HD 1080i or 720p very beautifully over component video.
that is correct, it will output hd-dvd's at 1080i/720p over the component but it will not output upsampled sd-dvd at anything above 480p on compenent. You need hdmi to output upsampled sd-dvd.
If you have DVI can you use an adaptor for HDMI/DVI and still get the top picute....less the audio?
I recently compared sound from an Arcam DV79 versus a Toshiba HD DVD player HD-A2 playing 5.1 music. The Arcam was hooked up via Coax and the Toshiba was hooked up via HDMI
I was hoping they would sound the same in 5.1
BUT I found the Arcam sounded better; bass hit harder, more powerful sound
I have heard people say that the sound should be the same when using Digital out but there was no doubt the Arcam was better

I would love to hear opinions on that
I also just ordered an Oppo 970 player
any experience with the Modified Oppo's

would love to hear
Oppo just announced a new player the the 980H yesterday.
I've got my eye on the Oppo DV-981HD, which can read/process HDCD-encoded CDs, SACD, and DVD-A, and on the video side has Faroudja DCDi. Read about it here.
Has anyone heard the Modified Oppo units that cost over 1,000 dollars to Mod? I would like to hear peoples opinions on if it is worth it to pay and modify those units

I'm currently inquiring with Ric Shultz at EVS concerning his Oppo mods. Ric has a great reputation as a manufacturer/mod'r spanning many years. Also, If you send Ric a brand new unit, he will offer a 30 day trial period.

Oh, his basic mod is $350, goes to $440 with the plus mod and you can add the Superclock4 for an additional $350.

Check out his site at tweakaudio dot com


yes please do let me know if you demo the modded Oppo units

has anyone tried the Reference Audio Mods versions of the Modded Oppo units?

they charge more money than EVS
I connected the HDDVD player via coaxial and did some more comparison of audio quality vs the Oppo. I don't know if my ears were playing tricks on me originally, but with both players connected via coaxial I can't tell much difference.

I auditioned The Hunt for Red October(DTS) and Star Wars episode VI, as well as some audio CDs. There may be just the slightest bit more spaciousness to the sound with the Oppo.
I emailed Oppo yesterday to ask their tech people about the new DV980H. I use the 970HD currently and wanted to know if (and why) the DV980H would give better audio performance.

They stated:

"The DV-980H has the capability of producing a higher quality audio output than the DV-970HD. The main reason for this is that we are using a new decoding chipset for higher quality audio processing, a new 7.1 channel DAC, and higher quality capacitor and resistors. The end result should be a higher quality sound stage."

So, maybe the chaps at RAM will be taking a look inside the new one and seeing what can be done with it. Would love to hear about comparisons as soon as anyone gets their hands on a 980H.
My comparison may be unfair, however Ive used the oppo for both video and audio before. I was very dissapointed with the 970, but i think unjustly so. I tried comparing the unit to my Rega Planet with same IC same Power same everything. Rega sung and the oppo died. However im not sure if maybe the oppo was trying to output 5ch since the cd i was using was an SACD hybrid. Didnt show up as SACD on the screen but it wasnt hooked up to a monitor. I have a feeling it might have been as i hear people RAVE about 5.1 audio quality with this unit. It is now being used in one of my other systems for both audio and video hooked up to my B&K reciever, only thing ive yet to do is try it with 5.1 properly with 5.1 analog IC. Speaking of which does anyone know where to find descent budget 5.1 cable?? I suppose i could try with my AR Master Series Digital coax but i think im better off with 5.1 analog. Oh and to support the theory, rca is a terrible company with almost no quality control, you can get good units and bad units like good and bad apples there. Oppo is far from the same, they are a company for young audiophytes and audiophiles dreams, quality quality quality, and only where it will give you the best return for your money. Videophiles alike. GL with your oppo.