oppo's volume control

Any Oppo owners out there who have tried routing them directly to a power amp using their volume controls instead of a separate preamp or integrated? Would like to know how that has worked for those who have tried it.
I don't know which Oppo you have, but direct to the poweramp/s will be the most transparent/dynamic sound you will get, if the Oppo you have has it's analogue volume control before it's output buffer. Or if it has a digital domain volume control then you should use it within the top third of it's full output as not to chance "bit stripping"
If you don't like this uncoloured sound then an active preamp may give the colouration that suits you, but that's going to be a bit of a hit and miss merry go round to find a preamp that suits what your colouration preference is.

Cheers George
Oppos do not have an analog volume control. My experience with the 103 straight to amp was mixed. Oppo has said that the unit is designed to have an avr or preamp between it and the amp.

My experience with the Oppo 95, which IS designed to run straight to an amp, was much better. I do prefer a preamp in the mix, however. Others may prefer it straight to amp, it depends on your preferences and speaker characteristics I'd say.
I tried this with my 103. This is a digital volume. I ran it into my Mac 7106. Transparent-Yes. The sound was better through a preamp. An analogue volume sounded better and most preamps have some gain which can make a tremendous difference.

I run my Oppo 105 direct to my class D amp via its 'Dedicated Stereo' xlr outputs. Prior to the 105, I used a tubed VTL 2.5 preamp with NOS Mullard tubes. The sound of the class D amp with the tube pre was excellent for music and never thought I'd take it out of my system.

However, I was forced to remove it while I sent it for repairs. I thought the tubes were giving me the touch of warmth and bloom on my favorite music cds. But, to my surprise, my favorite cds sounded just as sweet without the VTL.

I cannot recommend the Oppo 105 highly enough. Mine has turned into my 'master source' component for both 2-ch music and multi-ch ht listening. The 105 is even user configurable so that it plays stereo cds in 2-ch (either with or without sub contribution) and Bluray discs in multi-ch mode automatically, with no system switching necessary. It also serves as an excellent preamp and surround processor/decoder. So, I have eliminated my Parasound AV2500 processor from the signal chain, along with the VTL.

But your question was about the efficacy of the Oppo's remote volume control. Again, Oppo has you covered; the digital volume control actually operates using 32 bit processing to make sure no audio information is lost or negatively affected. This gives you an extra 18 bits to work with on cds and 8 bits on hi-res 24 bit/96 or 192 kHz music files. I've been using the remote volume control on the Oppo for months now and have nocomplaints. It has worked flawlessly and everything is very low noise.

Hope this helps,
The newer Oppo units (BDP-93/95/103/105) all process the volume at 32 bits internally in the DAC chip(s). This means that you can safely attenuate the volume quite a bit without losing any bits.

I have a BDP-93 which I connected directly to my amp when I had to send my processor in for repairs. This setup worked great and sounded terrific. Go for it, you have nothing to lose...

Let me add that, if you connect the Oppo directly to power amps and you use the Oppo's settings for individual distance/delay settings, you must install the newest beta firmware. Earlier versions have a bug which will actually implement the inverse of what you want (e.g., a longer distance when you set it for a shorter one) and this will have a significant impact on stability and imaging.
From what I've read from the main Oppo experts on AVSForums is that the Oppo always sounds better with a pre-amp.

I was looking to upgrade my amp and excluded looking at power amps
using the oppo straight to powered speakers in home theater . Sounds as good as an anthem receiver I was using for volume control previously . In 2 channel setup not so great, compared to hifi preamps . but what would you expect ! several thousands of dollars worth of kit for comparison .
Ben_campbell wrote:
From what I've read from the main Oppo experts on AVSForums is that the Oppo always sounds better with a pre-amp.

"Always" is a dangerous qualification or lack thereof. For example, any preamp vs direct into any power amp via any cables of any length?
If the output impedance of the Oppo is low enough to drive the input of the poweramp (which it is, as all Oppos I know are less than 200ohms output impedance even less than 100ohms).
If the voltage output of the Oppo is high enough, to give more than loud enough volume in the system. (which it should have no problem in doing)
Then this constitutes a match, with the lowest order of colouration and distortions you can have of controlling the volume within a system.

If adding preamp into the system sounds better to the user, then it's the colourations/distortions of the preamp the user prefers sound of, this maybe making up for other tonal deficiencies somewhere else within his system.

Cheers George
I'm driving a Woo Audio WA6 headphone amp directly with the Oppo 103 with excellent results. Very immediate sounding and transparent.
I tried it on the BDP-105 and a Bryston 14BSST amp with poor results. I ended up with the Conrad Johnson Classic SE and was blown away with the warm result.
To be more specific to my above comments, lots of Oppo 103 owners have reported pops and clicking when using the 103 as preamp. The 105, and 95 don't do this. The pop or click will occur when the Oppo is given a disc related command and stops, scans, pauses, etc. I experienced this myself and could find no solution.

Also, I found limitations in the SQ that my Oppo 95 does not have. Some have suggested that the clicks or pops occur because of DC bias that may be occurring in the IC's or coax cable connected to the Oppo. The shielding can build up DC bias, apparently. If I had the spare IC's(the kind that drain to one end only) I'd try draining away from the Oppo and then draining to the Oppo to see if that made a difference.

One of the Oppo gurus on the AVS forum thread has said the 103 is not intended to be used direct to preamp as the 105 is. Maybe someone interested can contact Oppo to see what the official word is.
The "official" word has been that none of the 10X series are recommended for use as a preamp although Oppo recognizes that many will want to do it.

FWIW, I have yet to hear any clicks or pops from any of the Oppos but I never use them without a preamp.
Just to clarify I was quoting Bob Pariseau who appears to be something of an expert on the capabilities of the Oppo 105 and he basically said it always sounded better with a preamp.

For me personally as well I worry about the default setting that can revert the Oppo back to full volume and if you are just using a power amp....ouch.

I really like my Oppo 105 by the way.
05-11-14: Kr4
The "official" word has been that none of the 10X series are recommended for use as a preamp although Oppo recognizes that many will want to do it.
I find this odd, but maybe it's for other reasons than sound, I will find out.
Kr4 can you post a link where it "officially" says this, Thank's.

He said, she said, they said, all MAY have ulterior motives for saying this.
But Ohm's and Kirchoff's Laws do not lie, and the fact is, the Oppo's are even better able to drive the inputs of poweramps than many active (especially tube) preamps can.

Cheers George
From just a couple of reviews of the Oppo going direct into poweramps and using it's own volume control, instead of having a preamp in the system

Excerpts from Hometheater
"Using the BDP-105 as a fully-functioning preamp by disconnecting my reference Parasound Halo JC2BP from the chain, I still got the same level of detail and precision as I repeated my battery of tests. In fact, there was an even greater sense of transparency and openness to the sound. Using the digital volume "knob" via the Oppo remote control was absolutely painless."

Excerpts from TNT Audio
"Things get really interesting when we dispose of the Django preamp altogether and simply plug the OPPO straight into my Unity Audio Rock active speakers. Now the sound really came alive, with even more drive and power than through the Django. Used like this, especially through the balanced connections, the sound is truly wonderful and probably the best digital replay I've had in my system. Going back to the Django, now sounds a little bit blurry, slightly constrained and somewhat less interesting."

As I said before, it's horses for courses. If you have a system that needs no tonal/colouration changes, then going direct will be the most transparent/dynamic way.

Cheers George
The clicks and popping only starting occurring after the Oppo was connected as preamp for about a week. Which reminds me, I started experiencing hiss as well. It's hard to say how long the above quoted reviewers had their Oppos set up in preamp operation, but the Oppo threads at AVS have repeated complaints of this.

It has been my experience that separate preamps typically have nothing to do with "tonal/colouration" changes in a system.
You have another problem Runnin if as it should not happen.

A reply email I recieved from the the head of technical department of Oppo USA regarding direct connection to poweramps.

"The BDP-103 players will lose bits if you lower the audio below 80.

The BDP-105 players will not lose resolution since they are 32-bit DACs. So they are the ideal solution if you want to go direct to an amplifier.

Best Regards,

Customer Service
OPPO Digital, Inc.
2629B Terminal Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043
[email protected]
Tel: 650-961-1118
Fax: 650-961-1119"

Cheers George
The analog stereo output of my 105 goes to a Parasound JC-2 preamp, surrounds go directly to Proceed HPA amps, SW to a Velodyne SMS-1 (LF acoustic room correction). The level of the JC-2 is set to match the other channels, and the volume is controlled by the 105. The result is excellent. When the Sony XA5400ES or JC-3 phono stage is selected at the preamp, the volume is controlled by the JC-2.

@Georgelofi: Fighting a losing battle. It's OK to be wrong.
05-14-14: Doak
@Georgelofi: Fighting a losing battle. It's OK to be wrong.

Not at all Doak, it's ok if some can't see the forest for the trees. Direct is the best transparency possible, runnin obviously has problems coming out of his source doing this, if he has odd noises this way.
They sound like they could be faulty dac glitches or dc offset pops from the buffers, whatever it is, it's not right to make noises like this, and a capacitor coupled preamp is hiding it for him, by not letting it through, but it still should not be there in the first place.
It could be a problem with his own Oppo, or that model was not sorted properly in it's design, as a normal amps input impedance + interconnects will not load it any better or worse than a preamp with the same interconnects will.

Cheers George
The odd noises were with the Oppo 103, not 105 or 95. I'm not sure if you looked up the noises owners of the 103 have been having when the 103 is connected directly to amp, but several owners have gotten the same result as they try to use their Oppo 103 as a preamp. Oppo themselves say not to connect some of their players like this, and I think they may know something.

As I've repeated, I did not have any such noises with the Oppo 95 as preamp. It was without issue. But the sound when a preamp(parasound P7) is in the chain is superior. More holographic, better imaging and more realistic. The Oppo direct sounds clinical by comparison.

Perhaps you prefer a clinical or analytical sound, George, and that would be fine. But I think the jury is out on which alternative is superior. Just because one of us likes one option over the other, it doesn't make either one of us wrong. Your speakers and mine may have vary different characteristics. Your hearing talent/skill may be different than mine. I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all solution here.
Like I said in the post above about yours Runnin, there is a problem with your Oppo they/it should not do this, it is a design fault or component acting up, adding a preamp that has no doubt some coupling capacitor/s in the signal path is stopping any of these noises from getting through. As the specs of your preamp show 5hz not DC to 100khz. (which means it's not direct coupled)
If you were to put a direct coupled (DC-100khz) preamp in it will no doubt then pass these noises through again.
The noises should not be there to start with, as these type of noise can saturate active components within the preamp and or even the poweramp if let through.

As for your preference for the sound with the preamp in, I take your point that you prefer the colourations that your preamp adds to your system, and that going direct without these colourations is not pleasing to you.
The so called "perfect preamp" that sounds like "straight wire with gain" will most likly not meet your expectations either, just as going direct doesn't.

Cheers George
Again George, OPPO says not to use the 103 without a preamp, I suggest you phone them directly and they will set you straight. Here's part of an email a reader shared in which Oppo tells him to use a preamp.


If you will be using the player as the pre-amplifier, then you will want to use the BDP-105. The BDP-103 has 24-bit DACs and has a low signal to noise floor, so it will likely produce audio truncations if you use the player's built-in volume controls and a hum will always be present as the amplifier will always be amplifying the noise floor.

If you are running through a pre-amplifier, or another device which will be doing the volume controls, then the BDP-103 will work in your configuration.

Best Regards,

Customer Service
OPPO Digital, Inc.
2629B Terminal Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043
[email protected]
Tel: 650-961-1118
Fax: 650-961-1119

It's kind of funny how you insist that preamps add "colouration" when such a blanket statement is obviously off base. I will leave you to your notions, I don't think I can help you further, it appears that your preferences are quirky.

If you looked 7 post up I don't have to phone them, I got the answer for you already from the head of technical at Oppo above.
Oppo's email to me, the reason is because of "bit striping" at volumes below 80, that's why it's not recommended, not because it makes noises when it's played direct to poweramps.
Any tech will tell you that noises such as you explained you are getting are not conducive to a cdp that's in healthy condition.
The only reason your Parasound P7 pre is not passing it through is because it's a capacitor coupled preamp, and capacitors block dc spikes.
As I said if you were to use a dc coupled preamp such as Pass Labs, Krell ect, you will find the noises are back again, just like they are when you go direct to the poweramp.

Cheers George
Oh, I see you are making more assumptions on my gear. Read this carefully, I get no noises on my Oppo 103 now. That's right, it's all good, I only had the issue after running it after a week using the analog jacks, but it hasn't been hooked up that way for 6 months or so. I use it for movies, Roku and streaming music to occasionally and it's flawless in all situations. It really made me an Oppo fan for life after the stellar performance of the 95 I have in the 2 channel system with the P7.

I'm not sure what you are on about regarding the P7, a well known characteristic about Parasound products is that there are no caps in the signal path but since you wrongly guessed that the Oppo's had analog volumes in your first post, and also thought Oppo output impedance is under 200 ohms(way off according to my Oppo 95 manual), I submit to you that you might want to ensure you get your facts and details sorted before posting.

No assumptions Runnin, no need to get defensive any tech will tell you, just look at the factory specs on your P7, the FR (frequency response) is curtailed at at 5hz!! this means it's capacitor coupled within it's circuit, for if it was not capacitor coupled the specs would show DC -100khz.

Cheers George
Yeah, I just looked up your track record on this forum, George. Seems you hate preamps, and have posted again and again on how bad they are, and don't seem to realize you're getting a bad reputation around here.

You were wrong about Oppo's having an analog volume, wrong about Oppo's having output impedance under 200 ohms and wrong about the P7 having caps in the signal path. I'm not going to do any more research on your claims George. When called out about the above, you simply ignore the facts as if they don't matter since they disagree with your world view. That's kind of weird.

The thing is, I no longer can trust you know what you're talking about or that you aren't a 19 yr old kid sitting at his mom's computer trying to get other posters worked up. Go see Godzilla or something, kid.
Another update, so you're on this forum, it seems you market some kind of preamp like device that's like a straight wire with gain. Good for you, but you, as representing a company, you shouldn't come on forums and slag other companies. That's bad form.

And it's odd that you'd make posts about Oppo's volume and output impedance when you were so flatly wrong. So the P7 has such and such at 5 Hz. Can't trust it means anything just because you say so, as a guy trying to sell something, and as a guy so wrong about the Oppos. You haven't even taken the top off the P7, just going by the spec sheet.

At the end of the day, I'm REALLY not interested in what you have to sell.
If you have any technical knowledge at all Running, you would know that a limited lf frequency of 5hz is only done by having capacitors coupling, in the signal path or in the feedback network of an active preamp.

And you are in a state of confusion as far as accusing me of promoting my Lightspeed product I have not done so at all in this thread, or slagging other products, all I've stated is that direct from the source is the most transparent way of transferring the source signal to the poweramp if all impedance are correct and voltage output is high enough, and in this case the Oppo has all the factors covered.

If clicks and pops are heard it's not the fault of directly driving to the poweramp, or in the far fetched notion of static build up in the same interconnects as when used with a preamp, but the noise trouble imitates from the source itself, and that the dc coupling of going direct is letting it be heard.

Cheers George
Moving the debate on....although personally I wouldn't put anything direct into a power amp other than an Oppo 105-that's the machine designed for optimum stereo playback....I have had the chance now to try the Oppo in this mode.

I've upgrade my amp to a Rega Osiris which has the ability to take a direct input.

The first thing I noticed due to the gain differences is that at volume level 1 on the Oppo is pretty loud as a starting point (0 is mute) although I've ordered some attenuators to see how that works.

What I do prefer is that the Oppo gives a much tighter volume control that the Osiris itself-that 0.5db increase is nice.

I haven't done this particularly analytically and I don't have a sound meter but I have a quick A/B using Beck's Sea Change (HDCD) and Radiohead's OK Computer.

To me the most obvious thing is that going in direct has a much more closed in sound-my speakers neither project the detail or 3D sound staging. It is noticeably different and possibly the change in presentation (I've only had the amp 4 days and only listened normally during that time) is off putting and I'm missing some positives but my gut reaction off the bat etc etc is that in my system with my amp going direct seems inferior and noticeably so.

I will return to this in more detail later as I do prefer the volume control steps via the Oppo.
With the volume issue, how are you connecting the Oppo, XLR or RCA's? Hopefully it's XLR because you'll get about 6 db less using the RCA's which might help your volume issue. I tried anntenuators too but I was concerned that another item in the signal chain wasn't a great idea, although I don't remember detecting anything bad. My results using the Oppo 95 direct to amp were decent, just not as good as with a preamp in the mix.
Runnin the Direct channel on the Osiris is RCA -indeed it only has one XLR input.

As it is I haven't even tried XLR-as my current cables were a tad short due to the Osiris having it's XLR at the far end of things.

I have an XLR cable due along with a set of attenuators for both set ups-RCA and XLR just to see how they work out. I was a tad worried about the extra volume on the XLR so I'm buying a pair just to see.

The Osiris has been reviewed as performing better on XLR and my dealer reckons this is also the case so we will see.

Attenuators are relatively cheap-like yourself I have some concerns but I suppose you trust your ears-they can come back out.
That's the fun of this hobby, there are so many options to tinker with! That Rega looks like quite the unit, please update us with your findings.
You aren't alone in your preference for a high quality preamp. They do complete the sonic picture and music sounds more real, natural and less sterile and "hifi". Others prefer a different sound that in their opinion is more accurate or correct. I find this personally to be an incomplete and artificial (stripped of tone, body and vibrancy).This is .one of those topics where there will be forever opposing perspectives ( which is fine with me). There's enough room in this hobby for us all to coexist and choose our own pathway to audio satisfaction. What some would call"pleasing coloration" I hear as natural and honest. Their "accuracy" is my thin and lifeless. So to each their own.
thanks for that, everyone has their preferences but what I don't get are those who insist that theirs are right and any other is wrong. But I agree, to each their own.
Runnin, I have found that there are many nice people on this site with much experience and information to share. Unfortunately you also have a few "know it alls" as well.Best solution is trust what you hear.
Recognizing accuracy is not necessarily a declaration that it's preferred.
I think whatever the Rega Orisis does in direct mode badly inhibits the sound-it really doesn't sound right.

Of course this is an integrated amplifier so it is probably not comparable to what might happen directly to a power amp.
Just an update on the clicks I was experiencing several months ago when using the 103 direct to amp. I was doing some reading on firmware updates for the unit since a new update was just released on the weekend.

Oppo addressed the issue in a previous update, but since I hadn't been using the 7.1 outputs I was not aware of the fix. It seems Oppo really stays on top of things!
Just an update on optimising my system. My Rega went back for a minor repair-a known fault on the On switch-it was jammed in-now back and fine.

The combination of the Proac's and the Osiris is quite potent-it can get loud very quickly with the Oppo set at 100 on the volume output. The Osiris has a passive pre.

Using the variable option I found an output of around 75-80 on the Oppo gave me great sound in my set up with a bit of leverage on the amp control too-the fine notches on the Oppo can adjust the volume very nicely.

I asked on the AVS Forum about any negative effect in doing this-one poster suggested that below a 75 output the noise floor is increased but it is not particularly noticeable-from 75-100 he said it has no effect. Not sure how accurate that is.

But going direct from the Oppo into the direct option on the Osiris even with attenuators you can not even get close to 75-so possibly that has had an impact on the noticeably inferior sound I hear.

I don't know how accurate this might be-it would be interesting to hear what output setting those using the Oppo direct in a power amp are using.
06-01-14: Ben_campbell
But going direct from the Oppo into the direct option on the Osiris even with attenuators you can not even get close to 75-so possibly that has had an impact on the noticeably inferior sound I hear.

I don't know how accurate this might be-it would be interesting to hear what output setting those using the Oppo direct in a power amp are using.

Hi Ben, If you prefer the transparent sound of direct connection, but you can't get to 75% or over on the VC of your Oppo, you could use the passive pre, this way you will still get very close to the direct sound, so you can turn the Oppo up to full and set the volume on the passive for the loudest you'd wish to hear and then use the Oppo's remote volume within it's top 25% of full output without running the risk of "bit stripping"

As for the output setting on other users Oppo's on their systems. It will be solely dependent on the gain of their amps and efficiency of their speakers, some will be in the same boat as you, not being able to get to 75% or over. And some will be over over 75%, these are the lucky ones, but a passive pre sorts this out, as I explained above.

Cheers George
George I'm not following you the Osiris is an integrated amp that uses a passive pre-it also has a direct input to allow the Osiris to be used in say a home hi-fi set up. I've maybe not explained it correctly.

As I understand it, there is not bit stripping on the 105 DAC's.

For whatever reason when I go direct into the Osiris with the Oppo the sound is noticeably poorer-it doesn't sound transparent at all quite the opposite.

06-01-14: Ben_campbell
But going direct from the Oppo into the direct option on the Osiris even with attenuators you can not even get close to 75-so possibly that has had an impact on the noticeably inferior sound I hear.

Hi Ben, what I was responding too mainly was more to the quote you made above.
That you couldn't get close to 75% of full output, even with (I take it, plug in attenuators such as the "Rothwell" ones) which can sometimes give bad impedance matching between source and amps, and under this 75% of full volume "bit stripping" can become an issue with many digital domain VC's.

Cheers George
Hi, in my case I am using the Oppo with an integrated amp. My speakers are fairly efficient and my amp is rated at 150wpc.   I found that if I set the Oppo's volume at variable : 85 it allows me to have the volume knob on my amp at 10-11 oclock allowing more headroom as opposed to having the Oppo at a fixed volume 100 where I don't have much manoeuvrability from the volume knob. This brings me to my question.  Does this have an impact sonically on the sound? If I understand correctly , below 75 that is where a loss of sonic quality can be heard?   
I have the following set up.
Oppo Sonica DAC directly connected to Parasound A21 with variable or Oppo with fixed volume connected to Sony TA-A1ES integrated. The Sony integrated sounds much better than A21 directly from Oppo. I am saving up to buy a good pre-amp to pair with A21, so I can move Sony to bedroom system.