Oppo BDP-95 Versus Bel Canto DAC 3.5

I am interested to hear opinions from those who have heard both.

I look forward to your comments.

I haven't heard these, but I would think other readers would find helpful if you described what would be feeding the DAC 3.5, so they can provide better feedback.

You do know the BDP-95 has no digital inputs, right? I ask because I was once interested in this, but then realized that was not a feature in the 95. Too bad, it would be an even better buy with that feature!
Lewinskih01: "You do know the BDP-95 has no digital inputs, right?"

Wrong. The '95 has a USB port on the front panel and on the back, plus an e-SATA port on the back. I'll send images of the '95's manual pages which address use of these to anyone who asks...at jeffreybehr(at)cox(dot)net.
Thanks for your inputs.

I currently have the Oppo which is a great product and one of the best values in highend. I was wandering if I would realize a significant sonic upgrade with the DAC 3.5.

I was aware that the Oppo does not have a digital input. I have used the usb input for music from a flash drive. It sounds good however, I think the user interface could be improved.

As far as what would be feeding the DAC 3.5, it would be either the Oppo thru SPDIF or a Mac Mini USB (configured wtih Pure Misic)--> Empirical Audio Off-Ramp USB Converter.

The Oppo 95 does not have a direct PC connection.

The USB ports are USB-host, i.e. designed to connect the Oppo to HDD or flash drives, just like the eSATA.

I've found that playing a CD rip on AIFF vs the same CD on the Oppo is vastly different. The spun disc is clearly superior.

I also have the Bel Canto DAC3.5VB which I recently upgraded to MkII.

Even in MkI form, it's a better DAC (to me) than the Oppo's Sabre32. The Sabre32 sounds sweet at first but seems to mask some details.

With Pure Music, SSD, 8GB of RAM and memory play, it's still not quite as good as the same disc spun on my Bel Canto CD2 but it is very close.
Doggiehowser, thanks for your response. A couple of questions. I gather from your post that the bel canto is more revealing. In what other areas (e.g., transparency, imaging, soundstaging, high frenquency, bass,...etc) do you think the bel canto improves on the 95 and to what extent? Second, would you consider the upgrade to mark ii status significant? And, in what areas?


I've found the Sabre32 designs have a very close familial trait. They are a bit mellow, a bit less detailed in transients but easy to listen to.

The Bel Canto has that bit better resolution and detail. The last mile, I guess.

The MkII upgrade lowers the noise floor further and is more resolving in more complex pieces. Not as close as the EMM Labs XDS1 in terms of resolution but like with most hifi components, the law of diminishing returns applies.
Thanks Doggiehowser. Your responses have been helpful.

BTW I am using the DAC3.5VB with the VBS1 power supply and the VB REF cables and I found it still sounds better with good power, courtesy of a Sound Application RLS240 and ASI Liveline power cords.
Thanks. Out of curiosity, did you compare the performance between lns1 and the vbs1? Did the Ref cable make a significant difference over the standard cable? It sounds like you have an extremely resolving system. Are you using the dac direct to amp? What type of speakers do you use?


I had the LNS1 for a while. Then I got the CD2 so it made sense to buy the VBS1 which could power both the DAC and the CD2.

I didn't think the improvements to the VBS1 and VB REF cables were day and night differences. It's quite subtle But then, I use a PurePower battery regenerator and a good conditioner so I am not sure if those have a bigger contributory effect.

When I had the DAC3.5 (mkI), I found that the soundstage was a bit flat and going through the Pre3 improved the depth and height of the soundstage.

After upgrading to the Mk II, I actually found the Pre3 seemed to have masked the improved details so I prefer running it direct, at the expense of soundstage expansiveness.

But I don't have any adverse effects using it with the ARC Reference 5SE to get the benefit of the upgrade and the soundstage.

At the moment, the Bel Canto isn't getting its due because I have run out of space of my main racks so I have had to stack them up on an IKEA shelf which I don't think is doing it enough justice :(
Doggiehowser, thanks for taking the time to thoroughly answer all my questions. You were very helpful.

Just one final question: How does the Oppo compare to the Bel Canto CD2 as a transport?

I hope to one day own a great system like yours. Keep enjoying this great hobby of ours.

Thank you.

To be honest, I never found the Oppo to be a world class transport the way the CDPro2M is on the Ayon CD5S or Bel Canto CD2.

But it is very versatile and able to read just about any disc, so in a pinch I do use it to read my DVDA discs so I can send the 24/96 PCM to my XDS1 DAC.
Doggiehowser, thanks for the followup.

Have heard both, to be honest the Oppo was described in such glowing terms in Stereophile that I had expected much more. I was quite disappointed.
I have the VB3.5 with the new analogue board upgrade, for me it's far better than the Puccini I used to own.
Hooked to a MacMini using an external 3Tb time capsule for storage, iTunes and PureMusic. For me, an excellent combo.
Had the Oppo in my system for a one on one, no comparison, Bel Canto better on every level. Strangely the only thing missing sometimes is that tactile involvement of changing disc, likened to picking what vinyl you will play next.

+1 Doggiehowser, Ricketysmurf. Use BDP-95 as a universal disk source and for great home theater. Go elsewhere for computer audio playback, and a fully configured BC DAC 3.5 system is near top-of-the line, imo.
Doggiehowser, is the Mac Mini a superior digital source than the Oppo? If yes, what USB converter are you using? Also, how does the Mini compare to the Bel Canto CD2 as a digital source?
You mean using the Oppo as a transport? That would only work with DVDA and RBCD I think.

For RBCD, the CD2 has an up sampling mode that outputs 16/44 to 96kHz. In conjunction with the jitter reduction circuits on both the CD2/DAC3.5VB, there seems to be a great synergy. I still think the CD2 is better than a MacMini.

I use a Wavelink HS with the bundled BNC cable (I found that if I used a better coax with adaptors, there are some drop outs with 24/192). I use a Locus Cynosure USB and the software that sounds best to me is Amarra.
Thanks. I think I will sell my Oppo and get a Mac Mini. Bel Canto is coming out with a new line of asynchronous USB converters which I will consider. I will miss the Oppo for it's ability to play SACDs (I have a small collection) and for its excellent video. Hopefully this will be a step forward in sound quality and overall convenience.
I still have my Oppo.

I use it for 3D BR playback and for stereo DVDA playback (output optical to my XDS1).

If i have the time, I might compare DVDA transport comparison between my Denon DBP4010 vs the Oppo 95.
"I think I will sell my Oppo and get a Mac Mini. Bel Canto is coming out with a new line of asynchronous USB converters which I will consider."

Given your budget considerations, do you happen to have an extra laptop or other pc that you can dedicate to computer audio, at least for starters? I ask this because for some, a Mac mini is only incrementally better than a well-integrated pc system. And your Oppo is perfect for not only those SACDs, but also those times when you want great audio and video from DVD or Blu-ray.

Also, consider existing versions of Bel Canto USB converters, typically selling at half retail, that are Centronics-based and excellent for resolutions through 24/96.
After reading Sterophile off and on for a few years and after subscribing for awhile, I feel like they hype things too much and seldom have anything bad to say about equipment they review. If the unit under review does have some bad points, they tend to say, "well, yes, but for the money..." or "well, yes, but you can't really expect..." - they hedge.

It seems like even if the unit has some significant drawbacks, the wrap-up paragraph of the review always tells us that the unit is still "amazing".

I have yet to see one where they review something, say "this is amazing", AND say "I'm going to replace my reference unit with this one!".
Sandstone good point. I will hold on to the Oppo. I have been planning to make the move to computer audio for awhile but resisted because I never thought the sound quality was good enough until now. Good idea on the laptop but unfortunately I don't have one. I selected the Mini because of the interoperability with other apple products which I have. If the Mini can equal or best the sound quality of the Oppo as a digital source into a high quality DAC like the Bel Canto, I will be a happy camper.