Oppo as transport

Looking to hear from those who have tried Oppo DVD player(any model) as a dedicated transport to feed an outboard DAC.

1. How is the performance of this DVD player as a transport?
2. What DAC are you using with it?
3. What have you compared the Oppo to?
4. What is the reason why I would need to go with a dedicated transport instead of the Oppo.

In addition to the Oppo, I will also be running a Squeezebox connected to the DAC3(or whatever dac I decide on).

I've been contemplating to put together a digital front end consisting of Oppo(probably their mid-line model) as a transport with most likely Marigo or Virtual Dynamics digital cable, into Bel Canto DAC3. Just looking for ways to have more flexibility than I have now with a dedicated CD player.

I used to have Bel Canto DAC2 with Sony DVP-S7700 dvd player as a transport. I liked that combo and Sony was a very good transport.

If anyone did any comparison between Oppo and any other dvd player, or a dedicated transport, please share your thoughts.

Thank You.
The Oppo universal player is good as a transport. Running its signal into a quality DAC can greatly improve its two-channel performance. My only problem with it relates to playing DVD-As and hybrid-SACDs. I've had trouble with it reading the correct layers when there's multi-channel SACD and two-channel SACD or CD. I've set mine up for two-channel preference, but it'll often read the CD layer when I want two-channel SACD. With the little tiny screen you basically have to blindly toggle around trying to find the right layer. It's really designed to be used in conjunction with a TV rather than as a stand-alone transport.

My Pioneer DV-58AV is much better in user interface friendlyness. I set it up for two-channel audio preference so now it always chooses the highest two-channel resolution option on any SACD. So, as a CD-only transport the Oppo is pretty darn good, but if you're into SACD then it may fight you and annoy you some. I'd recommend going a further step up to something like the Pioneer if you want a friendlier user interface.

I've got an expensive Playback Designs MPS-5 as my main digital source. It's got a custom, proprietery DAC, claimed zero jitter clock and really beefy output circuit and allows for digital-in from transports and other devices. When I use the Oppo and Pioneer as transports I get 90% of the improvement from the stock Oppo and Pioneer, which is to say it's a relatively huge improvement. Mating your Bel Canto with a really top line transport like an Esoteric (as in the MPS-5) will gain you more SQ than the Oppo or Pioneer, but it's only incremental. IME the big gains seem to come from the DAC. As you continue to improve your DAC you'll continue to gain with those basic transports.

Going from Oppo's basic transport to their midline or even to the Sony, I'm not so sure that you'll gain much. I'd focus on the user interface in these price ranges. If you go upscale, maybe look for a used Esoteric or an ond PS Audio Lambda transport. The transport IS important, but IME the DAC seems to be about nine-times more important, given at least a decent level of transport performance.

Interesting and timely question. This weekend I visited a friend and had a Bel Canto DAC 3 and Rega Apollo (for transport use)with me. He has the universal OPPO and when we did a comparison the OPPO sounded weak in every aspect of the listening experience. It was very noticeable and didn't require and straining to hear the differences. My friend is now looking for another option for his 2 Ch listening experience.

We were both surprised since OPPO has had many very positive comments. In his system it didn't do well against using the Apollo as the transport.
According to Doug Schneider at Dagogo it makes for a poor transport, he mentions the Oppo in his Cambridge 840c review.
I purchased a Bel Canto DAC2 through an Agon auction about a year ago (got a great deal as I think I was the only bidder). At the time I was using a Resolution Audio CD-50 and a Linn Genki as sources. Got the Bel Canto just to try it.
I used the Linn as transport and spent a lot of time comparing all three dacs. I thought the Bel Canto had a more robust and lifelike sound than the Linn stand alone. The though Linn was too much cdp to just use as a transport so I sold it and went looking for an inexpensive transport. After much searching I bought the Oppo new.
Sonically, I could not tell the difference between the Oppo and Linn as transports feeding the Bel Canto. But I will say the Oppo isn't the most friendly operationally. I think dvd players in general aren't as friendly for music.
I recently sold the DAC2 as I don't really need two sources and the CD-50 is so much better than any of the others I've owned. I mean SOOOOOO much better, night and day.
If you looked at my threads you will see I frequently recommend the DAC2 as it does sound very good for the used price.
07-17-08: Lngbruno said:
"This weekend I visited a friend and had a Bel Canto DAC 3 and Rega Apollo (for transport use)with me. He has the universal OPPO and when we did a comparison the OPPO sounded weak in every aspect of the listening experience. It was very noticeable and didn't require and straining to hear the differences. My friend is now looking for another option for his 2 Ch listening experience."

So, let me get this straight, you used the Oppo as a transport running through the DAC 3 and it wasn't even close to the Rega through the DAC 3?

While I appreciate all the things the Oppo does reasonably well for a very cheap price, I wouldn't recommend it as a transport. I recently compared the Oppo 970HD with an old Rotel RCD-971, both feeding a California Alpha DAC through the same coaxial cable, and the Rotel was the obvious winner, with better focus, clarity and weight; the Oppo signal sounded leaner, more artificial and less relaxed.

I can't understand why someone would want to use the Oppo as a transport in a high quality rig, like some Stereophile review suggests.

Well... to be true, the reviewer used the Oppo to feed high-rez material to a 24/96 DAC (something the old Alpha can't take); anyway, I wasn't particularly impressed about its performance with 16 bits material.
I have discussed this very question with several Audiogon members in private messages recently. My experience was the comparison between a modified Jolida 100A, stock Oppo 980 through a PS Audio Digital Link III, and the Jolida through the DL III. The Oppo alone was good, the Jolida alone was better, the Oppo through the DL III was even better and the Jolida through the DL III was the best. Each step was noticeable. I don't know for sure why the Jolida was a better transport but I suspect it has to do with the large power supply. What the Jolida-DL III combo brought to the table was spatiality, soundstaging, articulation and realism. So far, it is the best I have experienced in my home and I am content (for awhile!). I suspect that the Oppo is a decent transport but you can certainly improve upon it. The PS Audio Digital Link III is simply superb. The DAC makes all the difference. The transport helps get it to a higher level.
Yes, I think that the higher the quality of the DAC the more it makes up for any shortcomings in the transport. My discussions earlier in this thread were all about feeding a signal to an upsampling to DSD DAC, with a very robust output stage and a zero-jitter clock (claimed by the maker and I'm waiting to see the test results).

Wow...I'm surprised at the number of responses! Just got home and checked this thread and have so many answers already. Awesome!

What I was worried, but kind of thought this to be the case, is that Oppo's abilities are blown out of proportion a bit. We tend to get overly excited about a newcomer product. This happens often. Seems like Oppo's popularity as audiophile transport is a bit hyped.

I remember when I had Bel Canto DAC2 and was using my $60 Philips dvd player as a transport it was good. When I switched to Sony 7700 it was really a nice improvement.
When I auditioned Bel Canto DAC3 recently, I tried Slim Devices Transporter as a transport into DAC3 and it was good. but when I used my Audio Research CD3MkII cd player as a transport into Bel Canto DAC3 it totally blew away the Transporter in a performance as a pure transport.

I guess I was day dreaming when I was thinking that Oppo can provide adequate performance as a transport. I guess I'll have to research other options. Perhaps another Sony DVP-S7700 would be a good choice, except these things could be quirky with reading CD-Rs. I'll have to re-think this approach a little now.

Thanks to all who responded.

I've used my mod'd Oppo 971H as a transport and it is about the equal of the dedicated CD players and transports I've used. However, it is highly modified, so I can't compare it to a stock unit. BTW, the mod is so good that I didn't notice any improvement by adding an external NOS DAC.

In the past I've tried using a Sony S7700ES, S9000ES and NS999ES as transports and none of them equaled the performance of the dedicated CDP (used as transport) that I had in the house at the time.

If you really want a transport and DAC, I would highly recommend picking up a dedicated transport or high-ish quality CDP instead of a DVD player. In my experience, they sound better and are much less hassle in that they don't require any configuration, video screen, etc., and they typically load the CD much quicker.

However, if you really need to cut down on the total devices in your system, I understand the desire to combine CD and DVD playback into one device. But if the goal is to cut down on audio shelf real estate, maybe a quality mod'd player would give you enough performance for all types of shiny disc and you could replace both the transport and DAC with one box that has even more total functionality.


thanks Reubent

I only need a transport for redbook CDs. Have no DVD-As and only about 2-3 hybrid SACDs.
OK, if you only need Redbood CD then you might seriously look for an older Esoteric, TEAC or other CDP known for their solid transport, to use with your DAC3, making sure you've got digital-out that matches the DAC.

If you use jitter rejecting DACs like Benchmark then DVD player is a good transport - excellent tracking (and cheap).
Even Stereophile says it as good of a transport as anything at any price, as long as you are using it as a TRANSPORT. My 981 arrives tomorrow. I am used to $3k-$5k cd players, Ill let you know how it holds up as a transport as that all I will be using it for. The only thing it has to do is deliver a clean signal to my DAC via hdmi, coax, or optical.Used with Legacy focus 20/20's(Ill use my paradigm 100 v.3 also have now) and a Bryston 9bsst amp.

I am suprised at the people that just dont get how high quality cheap players are now days. WAKE UP! Spending $3k and up for a cd player now days is rediculous, you are gaining little, if anything from much cheaper pieces of equipment. The only place you still cant cut corners is Speakers. Even cables are way over done. A clean signal is a clean signal, you cant get cleaner then clean.If you are spending more then $200 a pair on cables,you are out of your minds!
Some DVD players might be not "bit transparent" (with digital volume control etc) while some others like my Sony have absolutely crazy logic (other than that good player). Every time I send command stop, play, open it displays it for 5 sec before starting execution. At start-up displays "Welcom" for 10 sec - it drives me crazy. Check also how noisy it is.
Yes you cannot get cleaner than clean but you might dirty the signal. Expensive cables use foamed oversized teflon to lower dielectric constant, zero crystal 7N silver or copper, double shileding (foil and braid), have capacitance in order of 5pF/ft and inductance of 0.02uH/ft. Stereophile that you mentioned highly regards expensive cables and I wouldn't say they are out of their minds.
Sthomas12321, I would appreciate if you keep me posted on how that dvd player does as a transport.
Also, transport can make a huge difference as I just experienced in my own system going between using Slim Devices Transported into Bel Canto DAC3 or using my Audio Research CD3MkII cd player, that blew the Trasnporter away basically, when used strictly as a transport. I've discussed it above.

I'll be looking forward to hearing from you again when you get your Oppo.

What people fail to realize is the tonal differences, dont make a player better or worse as long as its acurate and has a flat response. Remember 2 different components can have flat responses and sound completely different. A few +-2 here and there changes the sound completely. Also less bass makes speakers appear to have better imaging. All equipement sounds different, that is why some love a component, someone hates it. And regarding cables, take a simple good Canare cable, put a Neutrik end on it, or even a 75ohm Canare end, you are getting a top of the line cable that will loose little to no loss or change in the signal(tiny bit in LONG runs). How will you beat this? A cables job is to get out of the way. The best cable is no cable. the Canare also features GREAT sheilding. Take the extra $1k that is spent on wire and put it into a better speaker. I know everyone has there opinion on this, but I honestly feel, someone puts a cable in that changes response, and makes there system sound brighter, warmer, what ever and its looked at as the cables awesome. Guess what, IT JUST PLAYED WITH YOUR FLAT RESPONSE! Is this better? Not if it sounds much different then the Canare/ Van damme cables. They are built to get out of the way, so you would have to wonder, why the big sweep in frequencys? This is the same as bass, added bass isnt better, neither is subttracted bass. You want a nuetral cable or you will be changing them everytime you change a component.

I know I mentioned Stereophile, but if theres one truth to high end audio nobody wants to admmitt its, Dealers and audio magazines have to make money. When is the last time you read a review that said this speaker sucked, dont buy it? Thats one thing that stuck out in the oppo transport. This is not a high dollar product by any means. Its actually priced/marketed to lower audio listeners(even that of best buy products). yet even Stereophile couldnt say bad about this player. Thats why Im giving it a shot. It may stink. I will now it looks like on Monday what to expect. Ill do my best to say exactly how it does, with no suger coating.
Sthomas12321, I don't mean to be rude, but let's please stick to the subject. You're about to start a whole new discussion here. That's not the purpose of my post.
Yes I've heard similar arguments about super $1/ft cables from Home Depot and diabolic secret arrangements between reviewers and manufacturers. Somebody even suggested that millions of audiophiles enjoying expensive cables must be under some kind of hypnosis. I can only say that I had $10, $100 and $1k speaker cables and there is a huge difference. What is happening inside of the cable is extremely complicated and I don't know what makes sound "silky" for example or why some interconnects add bass extension.
As for reviews in Stereophile - nothing is bad in absolute terms but they are pointing to differences between different brands like "This speaker has better extension but is more forward and has less precise imaging". I'm not saying that puting $1k into cables is better than into speakers but it's wise to put about 10% of total value into cables. There is a difference.
Audphile - Your are right. I won't mention cables again.
Audphile - let me answer point number 4 of your original post. Dedicated transports, often very expensive, offer very low jitter of digital signal. Average cheap player exhibits up to 3ns peak jitter what corresponds to about -85dB in sidebands it creates. Sidebands are very audible in-spite of extremely low levels, because they are not harmonically related to root frequencies. It creates "fuzzy" sound.
Many modern Dacs like Benchmark DAC1 have jitter suppression built in and almost completely ignore jitter (Benchmark has 3 Hz jitter bandwidth). Other than jitter and better mechanics I don't know of any other difference between expensive dedicated transport and cheap DVD player as long as it is bit transparent. DVD player might even have better tracking.
Kijanki thanks. I don't like Benchmark dac. Tried it. Not to my liking.

I know about cables. I've experienced a big difference switching from Acoustic Zen Silver Bites to Virtual Dynamics Master when I had the Bel Canto DAC2. That was something I wasn't ready for.

Anyway, if I decide to proceed with the plan I had in mind, I think I will give Oppo a try.

Audphile - Benchmark should not be sensitive to cables at least in theory. Early Benchmark used Phillips OP-Amps before factory burned down. After that Texas Instr. bought license and started making them with increased die size. Phillips OP-Amps sounded tiny while TI amps sound rounder. Early Benchmarks had way to high output impedance on RCA outputs. I'm not advertising Benchmark - according to review in Stereophile newer Bel Canto DAC sounds a little better (more organic) but costs twice more. I think I heard something as well about built-in jitter suppression. Be sure that you take this into account. Dual PLL and FIFO buffers won't help if internal clock has jitter.

My Benchmark serves as preamp as well driving power amp directly - it saves a lot of money (preamp, ICs) and simplifies - less is better.
Thanks K.
I auditioned Bel Canto DAC3 at home and really liked its sound. Also, the Benchmark I tried was several years ago and it wasn't the newer version. May be I'll give the new version a try if they offer home audition.
BTW, I don't recall Stereophile reviewing Bel Canto DAC2. i think they just did a review of DAC1. DAC2 and DAC3 to me are totally different animals. DAC3 offers versiatility that DAC2 did not. Also, DAC3 is balanced, which is improtant for me because I run the system balanced. I just think that the DAC3 fits the bill. Both performance and price wise.
Sounds like a great plan to me, and the transport will be....?
I'll give Oppo a try if I can't find a cd player I can use as a transport.
Sorry for the late response, but Dave aka Dcstep wrote, “So, let me get this straight, you used the Oppo as a transport running through the DAC 3 and it wasn't even close to the Rega through the DAC 3?”


Audphile1, IIWY I would find a different transport to use than the Oppo, seriously. You must know someone who will lend you one of their spares...we all have back-ups. LOL
Thanks for the follow-up Lngbruno. That finding is VERY interesting to me. My Playback Designs has an Esoteric VOSP transport, reputed to be one of the very best available and the Oppo gives me roughly 90% of what I get using the PD's internal transport. The difference is some added solidity in the bass and a slight increase in image size going to the PD transport.

I'm not disputing your finding, just observing that with the PD's DAC the diffences caused by transports seems to be greatly reduced. There's a jitter correction process in the PD's DAC that may account for this. PD claims zero jitter using the internal transport, but I haven't read anything about jitter correction from other sources. If they're accomplishing that with external sources, then that could explain the small difference.

Don't get me wrong, it's not so small that I wouldn't use the PD at every chance. However, it is small enough that if I hadn't heard the PD with it's internal transport I probably would have been with the PD's DAC driven by an Oppo.

Audphile - It was DAC3 that Stereophile reviewed in November 2007. Read below:

Against the benchmark Benchmark
The Benchmark DAC1 has set the standard for affordable D/A processor performance for three years now, and has recently been updated to add a USB input. I will be reporting on the new version in a Follow-Up, but for this review, I compared the Bel Canto e.One DAC3 with the original version of the Benchmark DAC1, which I had purchased after writing about it.

To permit instantaneous comparisons, I fed the Ayre C-5xe's AES/EBU output first to the Levinson No.30.5, then from that processor's two AES/EBU data outputs to the two DACs under test using identical lengths of Madrigal AES/EBU cable. Levels were matched to within 0.05dB at 1kHz by keeping the Bel Canto's output at its maximum and reducing the Benchmark's with its analog level control.

No doubt about it, the Benchmark DAC1 is still an excellent-sounding product, with well-extended, well-defined lows, a natural midrange, and clean highs. And, of course, it doubles its utility by having two pairs of headphone outputs. But the Bel Canto DAC3 scored with its slightly silkier high frequencies and its wider, deeper soundstage.
Well, Ive been playing with my new OPPO-871 all day now. Ive only used it as a cd/dvd transport thus far, and have not played with sacd or dvd audio yet. That being said, so far the DVD picture is as clear as I have owned or seen on my TV set in standard definition. The colors look fantastic. The only complaint's I can possible think of, is perhaps a better menu system, with a cleaer read out. Its not a big deal. You will set this once and never enter it again, however the words arent as clear as they could be and Im not sure the layout is ideal.Also, the transport itself is a little flimsy. I would want to pull on it, or mistreat it.

Now, as a cd transport, so far I think it has done absolutely wonderful. The signal is as clean as I could hope for, easily as good as my Ayre cx-7 with digital output being used. I also think it has a great front panel look. No, its not constructed like a tank, it is very light, and reminds you of a mass market player. But it really looks fantastic, and is very small and unoticeable, and best of all sounds and looks fantastic.

I'll do a follow up after a while with the unit. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a cd transport, or dvd player. I now know for myself this player is as good as the reviews in the above regards. Now to try out dvd audio/sacd/ and 2 channel performance from the analog output of the player. If you are using a prepro to do the digital processing, this player should be on the top of your list as a cd/dvd transport!
Oppo 871? is this a foreign version or something, never seen this one!
The 2 channel out is awesome. I dont expect anyone to trust this review completely, but this is my new reference player, it is amazing!
thanks for the update! As you keep getting used to this player, please keep us posted on how it progresses, especially in its usage as a transport.
Had an Oppo DV-970HD paired with a Channel Islands Audio VDA-2 with matching VAC-1 power supply. With the CIAs on board, it greatly helped the Oppo but when I ran them with my Sony CDP-CX240 CD megachanger, it sounded better. More detail, richer bass and mids, more depth and less digital harshness over the Oppo.
slbenz I have stated in another thread somewhere the 970 was horrible as a cd or transport...
The new oppos are not even remotely close in performance to the 970, they are excellent transports and were designed now for the purpose 3 to 4 years later... Way better and very different machines so those looking at old reviews of these DVD players first generation like many are not too keen on believe me the current machines are not even the same animal especially on audio, the 980 or the 983 might be the best representations anybody has as a universal transport now.
We know there is no Oppo 871.
Could you please let us know which model you purchased please?
Undertow, I don't mean to doubt what you're stating here, but where did you find this info on a old vs. new Oppo players? Thanks
Not sure what you mean? No second hand info here, I owned them all! The 970 was a decent silver dVD player and thats it... The new ones are a whole different animal and sound great. I had a wadia CD player by the way while having the original 970, no competition, however the new 980 is 95% of the wadia and even better being its universal and great DVD on top of it, and thats without an external DAC.
981HD. Bought it new from oppodigital.com Website.
I want to add, there are more things I do not like about the oppo. None of which take away from sound/picture, but troublesome none the less. Why not have a disable option in the menu for the volume control on the remote. Also why include those horrible sound effect modes and buttons on the remote? All this can lead to accidently pushing one of those buttons and hearing aweful sound. They are useless, and I cant believe there isnt a way to disable them if you arent going to use them, its to easy to press one of those buttons on accident. I also didnt like the delay selection process. You dont have feet, you have inches, and its you input the difference in inches from the main speakers-lame!

Goin back and forth between my Anthem avm 30's DAC's and the the oppo's with direct mode, its almost like anthem built the oppo.For the first time Ive came across, switching back and forth between the two pieces lead to both sounding so closely the same, I couldnt consistantly tell which was which in a blind test with my wife changing inputs at will.Something I have never not been able to do in the past. The oppo was slightly preffered in the end I guess, but just ever so slighly with 2 channel. Thats really saying alot. Is Anthem's 2 channel the very best out there? Maybe not, but its very very good! And to get the same sound out of a $225 player is crazy! Im going to order a ps audio $49 power cord for it, and also buy some preffered RCA interconnects(I never use rca anymore and only had some rca mit terminators laying around to use) and see what happens.

Ive found some good bargains lately with component sources.

-PS3 BLU RAY/upconversion
-OPPO 981hd cd/dvd/dvd audio/sacd
The most annoying thing about the oppo is the Autoplay function on the unit, even if you turn it off the encoding on like CD's and DVD's still make it play as soon as you close the drawer, add that to the feature's gone bad section.. but for

The 981 is only about 75% of the audio performance of the 980 the 980 was built with audio in mind, the 981 was not, so look into that the info is available...
Audphile: I've had the Pioneer PD-65 and Sony ES 555 changer hooked up to the Adcom 600 DAC. The Oppo 983h
sounds better than both. I even tried the same DAC with
the Oppo. Oppo sounds better on its own.
Hope this helps!
I can't state how good the Oppo 970 is as a transport or not, but the reason this lowly source gained a lot of good press when it came out was that it had a smooth non-digital sound for $150 dollars. Incidentally, the discontinued HD970 sounds better than the newer Oppo 980 and their other models as a stand alone source according to reviewers because of its smooth non-fatiguing nature.

Obviously a good DAC will make a big improvement. Using it as a transport will suffice until a better transport can be had.

I bought my Oppo as an interim product for music while my system was in change, and kept it for movies too. At its price it is good to have around while my system changes. I'm currently using its variable output into a tube power amp until I decide my next move.
The auto play doesnt bother me, I like it. Theres no reason for me to put a dvd/cd in and not play it right after. It does bother me on my PS3 which does other things besides playing discs.
Well the autoplay for an audio guy is a problem as you can sit down adjust volume, or walk off do something come back and hit play when your ready to do some more critical listening vs. auto just blasting out of the speakers and your not even sitting there that’s all..
It's annoying to me for undertow's reason, but i just hit the "stop" or "back" buttons on the remote.
annoying, either way.
the way I have solved the little in-conveinence is even better than the stop or back, luckily one thing the oppo does have is a remote controlled drawer, I got in the habbit of simply using the remote to open the drawer before going up to the unit, then drop in the new disc, leaving it open all together, then when ready hit the close drawer button or play.. Now I would just simply forget to even hit the close button on the unit all together anyway so it works out, I always use the remote drawer option at this point as it is...
undertow: although a great idea, that wouldn't work for me because mine is behind a swinging glass door, and i hate looking at the cabinet
with open doors. i'm full of peculiarities, man.
i drive myself nuts. but i appreciate the suggestion.
Ha, I have the same problem, however the oppo machine is SO shallow in depth, I simply set it back further in the cabinet, it closes with over 1" clearance from the drawer still open and door closed :-) And with Glass doors you will still see it just fine set back a little like this.. By the way I don't have glass but metal grate and wood, but standard depth of most of these units are at least like 17.5 " or something and the oppo should still clear easily setting it back about 6"... Also this is easier if you have no back on the unit or reasonably sized holes for your cables not to get bound up.