OPPO BDP-103 (NON Darby)

Hey all, (My mistake, I know it’s Darbee, not "Darby.")
I think I’m finally going to break down and buy a player that plays SACD disks. I know there are not all that many SACD titles available but I tried getting back into vinyl and was not all that happy with the $800.00 table I bought. Perhaps when I can afford a $3,00.00 PLUS turntable I will try again.
Anyway, I currently play DSD & FLAC files via thumb drive with my Marantz network player and CDR via a good Yamaha CD player. My amp & pre-amp are Emotiva and current speakers are B&W.
My thought is to buy an OPPO 103 - NON Darbee addition as I do not expect to use it for anything but 2 channel audio.
So, my qiestion is; how does the OPPO BDP-103 perform when playing Hi-Res audio and especially SACD? Does anyone have first hand experience with other players that may be a better choice for what I want in the same price range? I’ve read that the OPPOs tend to do better with Video play back than audio. Is this true?
I appreciate any & all replies!
Well, I'm not sure about better.  I will say the DAC's aren't all that, and SACD analog playback isn't much better.  It's not terrible, until you listen side by side with a good DAC.  Currently I'm listening to a Mytek Brooklyn, which is leagues better on the top end, imagine and decay of music and presentation of space.

I have a single SACD disk from Blue Coast but it's in a box.  Before I moved I listened to it via the Oppo and was not particularly moved. If there is magic in SACD playback I did not experience it via the Oppo.

I believe it may be possible to output DSD to the Mytek, but I am several boxes away from finding out.

I own an Oppo BDP-105 used as an SACD/CD player using the XLR output. I also play my Blu-ray movies and multichannel music discs through it. I only have one SACD disc (Vanessa Fernandez) so far but can clearly hear the difference. I believe you will be fine with the player. Now regarding your part about, " I’ve read that the OPPOs tend to do better with Video playback than audio. Is this true"? Of course it isn’t true! ;) Was that from actual owners that somehow were able to compare the video to the audio? How is that even accomplished? Please point me to those threads were actual owners stated that the video outperformed the audio? For that "price range" you’ll be just fine.
Looking again at your list, I put the Emotiva and Oppo sounds as aout equivalent. The Emotiva pre/pro I listened to were quieter, but kind of gutless, or soul-sucking quality. Seemed to have all the notes, but lacked the energy.

Personally I would replace your Emotiva with a Mytek Brooklyn which has a very good built-in phono stage and can act like a preamp, and keep your turntable. There’s a dealer on Agon who will give you a short trial.

For now, I would put DSD on the back burner for you. ;) Get your turntable and digital sources to sound great first, as opposed to spinning your wheels looking for a better source.


I am in agreement with Erik, take the money and upgrade your turntable. Just putting your turntable on a stable solid surface will help you with playback.
Remember please the 105 has separate "high end" outputs for stereo the 103 lacks. :)

Is it "fine?"  Yeah, it's fine.  If however you just spent $800 on a turntable and didn't like it, SACD playback probably won't sound good either. You have other issues going on.
The Emotiva amp I have is the newest Gen 3. "Gutless?" "Soul Sucking?" I guess I can see how you might say that on some level, but what are you comparing it to? Granted, it's not an Esoteric or the like! The Mayback looks interesting and I was not familiar with it before your suggestion. But, as you should be able to tell, I'm on somewhat of a budget. And the best I've heard out of my system is probably a re-mastered FLAC of Diana Krall. Some DSD (Kenny Burrell, Dave Brubeck) sound quite good also. But, with these B&W speakers I'm at a disadvantage to start.
As for "High End Outputs" I assume you are referring to the XLR connections. Do you really think they would make all that much difference? Balanced connections between my amp & pre did help so perhas a used BDP 95 would suffice and a cheaper alternative to a 105?
"Statman;" I believe I read that about better video to audio from a owners review. So of course that should be taken as it is worth. Not sure where I read it but I do not believe it was only a single review.
Wcc10, please post your mailing address, and Erik will put a check in the mail for $1500.  That's the difference in cost between the $500 Oppo and the $2000 Brooklyn, and as cavalier as he was about the recommendation of a piece of gear priced 4x higher than the one you were looking at, I'm sure he'd be glad to send you the $1500.   And the best part is, after listening to your new Mytek Brooklyn, Diana Krall will actually sound like a human being who hasn't been attacked by vampires and had her soul sucked out, because you can totally tell when the equipment makes the artist sound like someone who has been accosted by creatures of the night.   Or, you can do nothing, and only use your system one day a week, to scare the local kids on Halloween?  Just a thought...
Ha, ha, ha. Tough crowd.
Perhaps I should wait until evening to post when the grown ups are on line.
I wasn't actually being tough on you wcc10 - I was trying to make light of the fact that you were given a recommendation for a piece of gear 4x the price of the one you were asking about without asking about your budget, and I think it's nonsense to use terms like "soul sucking" in regards to musical gear.  I could have been more serious and criticized those recommendations blatantly, but I opted to use humor and sarcasm instead.   If that means I'm not a grown-up, I'm ok with that.  As someone who's done the stand-up comedy circuit here in Phoenix the last few years, I will often resort to humor as that's just my personality, but I understand that not everyone likes that.
No problem bcgator. I understood where you were coming from with the quip about the check & all. And the soul sucking went right off my back! ;-)
Sorry about the comments, but the point is, if you have 3 different sources and still aren't happy it may not be your sources at all.

The common demonstrators are between the preamp and the room. There are less expensive solutions than the Mytek Brooklyn, obviously, I threw that in there seeing it as the 1 solution to improve the sound of your existing 3 sources.  Compared to a single source, yes, it's pricey, but thinking of it solving 3 problems at once, not so much. ;)

In any event, if you aren't happy now, I don't think any Oppo player will make you happy. The issues are elsewhere.

In a year come back and tell me I was totally wrong and it was the Oppo you needed, or that you ended up trying a bunch of other things until you finally got a different preamp. I'll be quite curious to see which you end up feeling was most satisfying.

Best of luck (really!)


Regarding the Emotiva comments, I have had extensive experience with Emotiva equipment. I have not heard the new gen 3 amp, as it is a completely different beast using a switching power supply, but their previous generation amps have been excellent. However, I have found their dac/pre equipment to sound very closed-in and dull/subdued. This may be described as gutless or soul sucking, so I can generally agree with Eric’s comments. There are definitely better dac/pre equipment to select, though the Emotiva stuff is cheap.  

@wcc10 - which specific Marantz player do you have? I have heard the oppo 105 (which is a lot more money). Overall, the oppo is excellent for the money for everything it delivers (video, audio, processing, features, etc.). There are probably better options if you are shopping only for a dac. I highly suspect that the Marantz that you have is going to sound a lot warmer/richer than the oppo 103/105. The 105 is great, but may sound a little sterile compared to the Marantz stuff. The 103 is not going to sound as good as the 105, of course.
Thanks for the comments, everybody. They all make sense. I have two Marantz pieces; UD 7007 which I am returning now as I was not aware I could not play DSD via thumb drive and NA 8005 which does accept DSD via thumb drive. (the price of these two & I could afford the Mytek!)
When I bought the Emotiva(s) I wanted to pair the pre/amp same brand. I thought of doing a tube pre but as has been said, the Emotiva(s) are "cheap" compared to others.
My room has a lot of furniture in it and I know this affects sound. Also speakers are now B&W CM5 s2, small book shelves but put out a lot of sound for their size. Maybe this is the place to start although everybody is really impressed with how they sound.
My biggest desire now is achieving separation between the instruments I am listening to. Position is critical with these speakers but still just can’t get it right!
Please tell us what your $800 turntable is.  85% of my dedicated listening time is spent with a turntable due to the ability to connect with the tunes and enjoy the music.  I play digital for background music and I have a very good digital playback system.
I wanted to say that the pre-amp I have is the Emotiva XSP-1 and Amp the newest Gen 3 (2 channel). So if anyone has any suggestions I'm all ears. I think that Erik makes a good point insofar as 3 sources not getting me to where I want to be and it seems logical that throwing money at an Oppo would probably end up right where I started. So, I can't change the room would replacing the pre-amp make such a big difference. Obviously speakers are a whole other issue with potential results.
You have the higher end Marantz player. Excellent power supply and audio stages, in my opinion.  I actually think the Emotiva pre is your weak link at this point.  They definitely suffer in the "separation of instruments" quality.  I don't believe you are hearing the true resolution of the Marantz.  I don't know what your budget is. Maybe a Wyred4Sound mpre?  Or maybe look for a used Adcom GFP-750 on eBay.  A tube preamp may or may not be what you are looking for.  It depends on the model and type of tube.  They can be slow sounding and may not give you the resolution for "separation of instruments" that you are looking for.  I would look for a solid state fully discrete preamp (no op amps).  Fully balanced is better as well.
The turntable was Music Hall MMF 5.3 with Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge. As I said, I did send it back.
I sold my oppo 103 as I was really not happy with the sound and replaced it with the oppo 105. Big difference in 2 channel sound. The difference with the dual Sabre DACs is huge and it's nice to be able to use the XLR outputs.
Yea lance, I've heard that from other people too. Makes sense, thanks.

This one is in Canada, but I have had excellent results with the Krell KAV-280p:


This one is in Canada, but I have had excellent results with the Krell KAV-280p:

Too bad about the remote. I see High Performance Stereo has two of these available with remote for $1450.00. Krell is generally great stuff from what I've always read but is the remote worth an extra $351.00? Probably not if able to program a generic. Were I to sell the Emotiva Pre I could swing more probably. But under $2,00.00 for sure. Is there anything from bel canto that isn't too old that might fit?

The typical price for the 280p has generally been $1200-1500.  You can sometimes get the proper Krell remote on eBay for under $100. My cousin may have an extra remote that he might sell.  I could ask him, although he might decide to buy that 280p off eBay as he is looking for a backup preamp. He uses the 280p.  We both originally used the Krell HTS 7.1.  He used the HTS as a preamp only and it blew away the Emotiva dac/pre stuff.  The 280p was definitely an improvement over the HTS 7.1 (which was soft in comparison).

Be aware that you might pay extra in import duties since it is shipping from Canada.

i don't have any experience with bel canto.
Here is is another option I would highly consider


Yes "aux" that's a nice one. But I don't think I could go with that specific copy as there is some damage. Not at that price. It seems not to be a readily available item as I can't find one anywhere else right now. Will have to keep my eyes open!
I have a 103 running a Krell Foundation to Krell TAS to Revel F52 based surround system with JL Audio F112 sub. Using decent, non outrageous, power cords, interconnects and speaker cables. It sounds spectacular. But all the components contribute to the final result. Have ordered a ModWright Oppo 105 to replace the 103 at 8 times the cost of the 103. Won't sound 8X better however. Already have one ModWright Oppo 105 and a couple of 95s. For the price you will never find a better rig than the 103 IMHO. But the rest of the links in the chain are crucial.
leotis, I was looking for a simple (& not too expensive) answer to my situation. You are correct that all links are crucial and the OPPO alone is not going to solve my issue. Too bad for me! Not sure how I am going to proceed at this point, makes a lot of sense to fool around with the pre-amp to start and go from there.
I just got oppo 105. Using yamaha 675 receiver and rega b for 2 channel. 

Will I get better multichannel audio through analogue cables vs hdmi?

also will my audio video be better connecting cable box to oppo vs Yamaha ?

appreciate any thoughts 

You still need a source  and whatever preamp you use  the 103 plays way better than anything else for the price. I use it for SACD and hi res streaming. You can download hi res onto a flash drive even and plug and play. I'm going to have a spare 103 soon and will give you a good price if you want to message me. I've already sold 3 of them to family and friends.
For all the 103s out there you don't find many on the used market for a reason. Owners can always find someone they know who wants it.

wcc - You'll have to keep your eyes open, like you said.  I don't see any other items in the price range that I could recommend, other than those two.  There is a Rotel RC-1570 up for sale, but I don't know what that is going to sound like.  Based on a brief look, it seems that Rotel has a similar approach to Emotiva, but they use higher quality components (such as capacitors, op amps, etc.).  Hence, the price is somewhat higher as well.  You can see the use of polystyrene caps in the Rotel preamp on the op amp feedback circuits (much better than the metallized caps in the Emotiva).  The Rotel also has much better local power filtering on the op amps (you can see the higher number of electrolytics mounted next to the op amps)  The Rotel may have better resolution than the XSP, or it may be somewhat equal).  It might just be a sideways move, I cannot tell.

The XSP does have one discrete circuit, but this preamp is just littered with tons of op amps all over the place.  Emotiva likes to use the OPA2134 op amp, and this is the primary reason that the Emotiva dac/pre do not have the higher resolution we want.

There are some Brystons for sale, but I have had lackluster results from Bryston.  Either the Brystons are too bright with no body and decay, or the sound is too slow/subdued.  It is all a power supply issue I believe.  There is a Krell KAV-250p that may be okay, but it is not going to have the resolution of the newer KAV-280p.

auxinput - Good info. I did some research on the Rotels before I bought the Emotiva and didn't really like what I heard. I thought it was too sterile or bright. I do like the idea of a Marantz and appreciate their sound. (mostly)
There is an "Audioholics" review of the XSP-1 that, frankly, persuaded me to buy the it. As I stated earlier I was thinking of going with a tube pre-amp. Of course I had never heard the XSP-1 before and sending it back was an option maybe I should have attempted. Live & learn! Well at least I got 1/2 of the equation right with the Gen-3! :-) Thanks for your input and I am going to keep my eyes open!
I wondering if you (or anyone else) has experience with Classe CP-50 or CP-65 preamps? I see some input here on Audiogon and it is favorable but I'm wondering if the CP-65 is $700 - $800 better than the CP-50? Not exactly new items but they do get good reviews even if limited. Do you think these might be preamps to consider?
My cousin had an older Classe preamp like that.  I can't remember the actual model number (something like CP-35, 45, or something).  It was very slow and warm compared to Krell/Bryston stuff.  More like a lush warm tube type sound.  I don't know about the CP-50/65.  I have heard the newer Classe stuff is a lot different (like CP-700 / CP-800).
You might also try a Conrad-Johnson PV10 or similar.  Very good sounding, well-made, straightforward.  From your description of Rotel the CJ could be a better way to move forward. 
Thanks for the input. There is a Audio Research LS-2 available here on Audiogon that I have my eye on. Gets great reviews and there are upgrades available the supposedly make it even better. Any thoughts?

Also, if I were to decide to go even a little further, what do you all think of the Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE in standard configuration as compared to the mPRE?
The ARC is a very good preamp.  I suggested CJ based on what you wrote about finding the Rotel to be a bit sterile.  There's also a CJ PV14L on Agon; along with a Classic 2 (new, from an authorized dealer); both are well worth considering. 

NB - I'm not affiliated with or connected in any way to any of the sellers. 

wow, we are going off on a tangent! lol.  I would like to say that I am totally NOT a tube preamp expert.  That being said, in the choices that naimfan has suggested, I would probably lean towards the AR LS-2 because of it's balanced outputs (though it is not fully balanced/differential internally).  The newer CJ PV14L looks to have a much better power supply and circuit layout of the three different preamps.

That being said, if I was in the market for a tube preamp, I would really look at the Balanced Audio Technology (BAT) stuff, as it has fully balanced/differential circuits (like the Krell KAV-280p and every other preamp I have suggested).  There's a BAT VK-3i for $999.  But I would probably be trying to push my budget to the BAT VK-31se for $1800.  It has a much beefier power supply section, which translates into stronger bass/midbass punch. It also has both a remote and a phono stage (you mentioned an interest in a turntable).  I would then look at trying different tubes to try to get the most resolution I could out of it. 

Personally, I would probably still go after the Krell KAV-280p from Canada and deal with the remote problem.  It is entirely possible that it just needs a new battery.  You had an interest in the AR LS-2, which is full manual control without any sort of remote, so it may not be a big deal.

My cousin has a Jolida tube CD player that we have modded the heck out of (black gate capacitors, upgraded diodes, internal silver wiring, Furutech RCA connectors, Electro-Harmonix tubes).  It does sound very nice, but it does not quite have the resolution of the Oppo 105 (which has an edge on excitement and snap).  In my opinion, the Oppo 105 is lacking in resolution with what I am currently used to.  We have found that the Electro-Harmonix tube has very good resolution.  Some others have mentioned the Genelex tube being very good as well.

There are many people who love tube based stuff.  It is definitely a personal preference.  If you have listened to tube preamps and love them, by all means go after what you love!

I didn't originally put forth the idea of the STP-SE because of the price and I was thinking of your inherent budget.  However, the STP-SE has a lot of great point.  Fully differential, massive power supply.  It looks fully discrete as well (but I can't completely confirm).  The STP-SE appears to have a very fast response (high resolution), but also is able to keep a lot of "tone" characteristics.  I would probably say I would highly consider this particular preamp.  Between the Krell KAV-280p and this Wyred4Sound STP-SE, I'm not sure which one of these would actually be better.  I'm definitely going to be reading up more on this STP-ES preamp, just out of curiousity.

I wrote this right before you posted your last entry, auxinput. Sorry I didn’t see your post first!

We may be getting too far into the tube realm and away from balanced (or at least XLR) connections. I mentioned the Audio Research LS-2 as it is considered a hybrid and maintains balanced connections. It has, as you know, been around for more than a few years but gets great reviews all around. Not sure how it would pair with my Gen 3 Emotiva power amp tough.
Yes, I was not all that impressed with the Rotel line I listened to at a local stereo store.  (RC-1590 / RB-1582 MKII) I thought they sounded too sterile & fatiguing. I’m sure someone else might have an opposite experience with Rotel. But fatigued is how I feel sometimes after listening to the Emotivas.
Between the $1999.00 STP-ES preamp  and the highly recommended $1099.00 Krell KAV-280p at this point I think I would rather save the $900.00 and go with the Krell.
I did email the guy in Canada and he assured me that since the Krell is made in USA there would be no import duties/fees. I was able to confirm this via the Internet as well.
So, it will be interesting to see how serious the seller is interested in negotiating. I'll let you know!

Heh, just read your posts. I did some additional research on the STP-SE. It’s amazing that people will have many opinions on "what is the best preamp". Most people don’t understand that system synergy is critical and a particular preamp may shine in one system and sound poor in another.

Repeated comments on the STP-SE say that it is very transparent and act much like a passive pre. However, it also has the beefy power supply and gain circuit that is able to "push" difficult bass/midbass waveforms into the amp. This means you have a highly transparent and fast/dynamic preamp. The key word here is "transparent". The Krell, on the other hand, has 2 Class A circuits (input and output) that the audio signal will travel through. The Class A circuit will definitely color the sound somewhat, but the Krell implementation is still very fast and dynamic.

Your Marantz is going to have a warm/rich sound. The Emotiva Gen 3 uses the XPR amp board which is on the smooth/refined side of sonic signature (though I don’t know how it will sound with the Gen 3 switching power supply). But it’s nowhere near the smooth/slow/lush of a tube amp. (still definitely strong solid state).

The STP-SE will probably reveal the full resolution of your Marantz. On the other hand, the Krell will have a little color to the sound (could be translated into fully midrange body and bass/midbass). Since the Marantz warmth may be similar to a Class A circuit, it may be pushing too many Class A steps in the audio path for my own personal preference. However, I believe the Krell is going to be significantly better than the Emotiva in resolution, dynamics, excitement and clarity anyways.

I guess it depends on what you want, and it may be impossible to know without trying. Based on what I have read, I would say that the STP-SE definitely has an edge over the Krell on speed and transparency. But like you said, it is $900 more. Wyred 4 Sound does have a 14-day trial program. The end-cost is shipping plus 5% ($100 in the STP-SE) if you return it without purchasing.

I just read that you sometimes feel fatigued after listening to your Emotivas.  I don't want to derail this topic (which is on dac/pre), but in my experience, I have found that an improvement in power cords, interconnects, speaker wire, and definitely fuses will help reduce listening fatigue.  Depending on what you get, they all work towards removing the glare and mid/high-frequency harshness.  These items can also help improve the resolution from your system(as some interconnects are not good enough to reveal the true resolution of the source).
Sorry, one more topic.  My cousin DOES NOT have any extra 280p remotes.  The HTS remotes will not work.  The Ebay seller is saying that the Krell RC codes are available for programmable remotes.  I would ask him -specifically- where to find these.  If the battery replacement does not work, you could be out of a remote for a long time if the RC codes are not actually available.  I searched and could not really find anything.
The Ebay seller is saying that the Krell RC codes are available for programmable remotes. I would ask him -specifically- where to find these.  
Thanks for that info and for searching for Krell RC codes. I will definitely ask him where he thinks they are available. For me the remote makes a big difference but not necessarily a deal breaker.
Actually, I was saying that I felt fatigued listening to the Rotel amp/preamp I auditioned a while back NOT the Emotiva. I do have upgraded power cords, speaker cables & interconnects, etc. They all did help a lot of course! I have not played with fuses yet although I am sure that they can help. I'm a little afraid to open the Emotivas up as I do not want to harm the warranty. But that could be a fairly inexpensive upgrade I will try in the future.

Aha!  it looks like you get a remote programmed specifically to support the 280p here:



Great! Good searching! I'm waiting to hear back from the seller.

Well, you’ll be happy to know that I think the XPA Gen 3 does not use any fuses. It looks like it uses a circuit breaker instead. I would advise you to wait until you got a new preamp before trying fuses (don’t spend any effort on the XSP). I have tested several different fuses and think that the Isoclean fuse is actually the best all around. It’s actually the cheapest, and you can get it for $32 on ebay direct from China (I’ve purchased many Isoclean from the ebay seller hongkong_basket). I have not tried the very expensive Audio Magic fuses.

I’ve been participating in another thread and this guy went from the XSP-1 to a Parasound JC2 (way above your budget), and had significant improvements:


Yes, the JC2 is above my budget. I had thought about some of the used Parasound preamps offered here on this site. Always heard good things about the brand.
I was thinking  fuses for the XSP-1 but at $50.00 -$75.00 a copy I couldn't justify. Glad to now be aware of a cheaper alternative for future reference. The XSP came with 2 spare fuses that I wouldn't consider "audio grade." But then what can you expect for $900.00?
I'd like to see the discussion continue on the subject of best 2 channel SACD/CD player (with DVD-A and HDCD) bang for the buck. The OP has, I believe an SA 8005 - I've never heard of a Marantz NA 8005.

I have an Oppo DV-980-HD, which was my introduction to non-redbook. I really like the formats and am looking to upgrade as cheaply as possible. I have a middling receiver, Rotel RX-1052; but I like it with my Canton Ergo 1002DCs. The DV-980 does not play redbooks quite as well as my NAD C546BEE, IMHO.

My research strongly suggests that the Oppo BPD X5s are better for audio than their BDP X3 counterparts. I think a BDP 95 is about as rich as I could go at present. There is a Marantz SA 8003 I could get for $300 less. Better deal?

It seems used Marantz and Oppo command top dollar. Has anyone heard a Denon DVD-5900 or DVD-3910? Or an Arcam DV-135 or DV-137?
What about connecting an external DAC to the Oppo DV-980-H? Does anyone have any experience with that? Are there any good ones with RCA analog out for around $400 that handle DSD? My local dealer suggested an "inexpensive" Ayre. Only $2,500!!!

Hey 2channel - the older Oppo players were not actually good transports.  The digital output on those were really bright/harsh.  If you wanted to get into a stand-alone DAC, I would highly suggest a better player.  Even a really cheap $100 Sony Bluray player has better digital outputs than the old Oppo.  The new Oppo (103/105) have good digital outputs.

You're probably better off getting an Oppo 95 or that Marantz SA 8003.  I think the Marantz is going to sound better.  Be aware that you're paying for 12 audio circuits on the Oppo 95, where there are only 2 audio circuits on the Marantz SA 8003.   The Marantz has fully discrete audio output buffer circuits, where the Oppo uses SMD dual-channel op amps.