Thanks folks for your inputs. I am wondering if I should spend the big dollars on a unit like the Esoteric or get the Oppo for now and then spend on a outboard DAC like the Bryston or the Holo, later next year. I plan to upgrade the loudspeakers soon and have allocated a good chunk of the budget for it.
I use a seriously modified Oppo BDP 95 for 2,5 years and it was very good and satisfying, I had no issues with it, and it played everything . I then took an Esoteric K 07 for a spin, and that was the end of the Oppo, the baby Esoteric is just in a different league, and has stand alone DAC capability, this has now been in my system for over a year, and no turning back. The Oppo now resides in the separate AV system, and does a stunning job there.......
How much "better" one component is over another is totally dependent on your system, your ears and your sonic priorities. Depending on what the listener values, there may be no advantage to buying a more expensive player. For me, the better players offer more natural instrumental and vocal timbres and a better general illusion of realism. But that means nothing if you don't hear it. Frankly, the only way to really know is to demo the two players side-by-side. Or just buy an Oppo, break it in for a few months and take it to an Esoteric dealer and compare it to something much more expensive and see if the differences mean anything to you. Best of luck.
OP....I have an Opp 105 which I use as a transport into 2 DACs, the Mytek Manhatten and the Bryston BDA 3. Both DACs clearly smoke the native Oppo DAC. I have never heard Esoteric but when I listen to high Res Downloads or SACD with Oppo/Bryston combo or the Mytek for Redbook, it's hard to imagine how it could be any better
Thanks guys. I plan to visit about 5-6 shops today and see how I go about choosing a loudspeaker and what budget it leaves me for the digital player. With all the feedback that was provided, there is not a 0.0001% doubt in my mind that the Oppo can better any dedicated CD player. But the option of using the Opportunity as a transport for a outboard DAC is also tempting.
How would a outboard DAC like Bryston BDA3 compare to the Esoteric or Marantz or Luxman?
Hi I used to use many brands and spending money trying to compare sound. And I finally ended up with accuphase. Ofcours It was always my dream to own accuphase, but I was thinking about myself, I'm not gonna be one of those crazy people who spends $$$$$ and might not hear the difference . I was wrong. If you like audio don't go cheap , if you want to go cheap don't go at all . I like accuphase for sound , functionality, and ofcours quality
For those who prefer the more expensive players mentioned, can you describe any efforts you may have taken wherein you played the same exact music (duplicate CDs) through both players at the same time through the same preamp, switching back and forth between the two, and to the best of your ability exactly what difference you have heard? I have done this many, many times with players costing between $700 and $5,000 and have heard very negligible differences. Never any Esoteric though for me (Sony, Oppo, Meridian, and Ayre mostly). What I have heard (when there were differences) might represent a 5% overall difference/improvement, and it was in the area of reproduction of the space of the recording venue (sense of realism), some increase in clarity/resolution (which would contribute to the first part). Differences were in line with cable swapping. When a $1k player sounds incredibly close to a $5k player, I would label that a tremendous value in my book - and I'm not just talking about Oppo. But if you have an incredibly accurate system, as with everything else in this hobby the differences might be worth the investment. I agree with what Chayro said above in this regard.
To further previous points, I have found that when you reach a certain level of DAC/source, the resolution of the interconnect can prevent you from hearing any difference that a superior device can reveal. This was comparing an Oppo BDP-105 with a highly customized/rebuilt DAC. With a warmer sounding cable (which essentially slows down the voltage charge/discharge rate) the differences were very small. The customized DAC sounded very similar to the Oppo. However, when applying a very transparent/revealing cable, the differences became very apparent. I'm not saying that there are going to be differences in the equipment that you have heard. However, there can be other limiting elements in the audio chain (interconnects / preamp / etc.). Listeners who have a preference for a system that is voiced to be warm or laid back may not be able to hear significant differences in DAC/sources.
I have no comments on esoteric, but after attending Axpona for 3 years and hearing oppo units demoed (in many rooms), each year I compare my (10 -15 year old) wadia 861se to my oppo 105, and they are not even in the same county. My suggestion would be to by the single function device, and be amazed.
Everyone of us has a different character, different taste, different point of view, so even if we will set up two sets of equipment and play them the same time . There is one more factor which might effect our entire test , because not every day we are able to hear what hear the same , for example due to mood, even physical pressure can effect our tests and many more factors which I don't even think about So most time we ask others opinions, books , reviews that is the beginning where we usually start. But in my case I can listen oppo because I own one 95 and I turn it on maybe once every 2 years check if it still works, but accuphase I have to turn on almost every day I think I'm addicted to it. I bought it to quench desire, and I know I will never extinguish it, and I'll never find anything better than this
The Oppo 205 is way better than any previous Oppo.....however, it is still a stock Oppo. No way stock will it compete with any big Esoteric or whatever. However, modified it is another story. You can see from my website what I do to the Oppo Sonica DAC to turn it into a serious DAC. These same things I will be doing soon to the 205 making it a very serious player (for a very reasonable price!). I do think the modded Sonica will be a better DAC as some of the 205 DAC outputs are used for the headphone output and the regulators power a bunch of op amps, etc. and not just the stereo output stage. The Sonica DAC also has wireless streaming and a good app you can use with your smartphone.
During the visits to the 5-6 dealers, I did not find a single system using either Esoteric or Marantz or Ayre SACD players. Mostly it was CD players (MBL, Simaudio, Rega) or streamer/DACs (Naim, McIntosh, etc). I have not yet made up my mind on this one, but I do prefer a disc spinner over a streamer.
I've only seen a couple responses here answering the OP - comparing a Oppo "205". The 205 is a very different beast than previous Oppos. I wish I could say I've compared the 205 to an Esoteric, but I can't. I do, however, own a -205 as my dedicated digital player, feeding my Rowland gear in balanced mode with Cardas XLRs, and I love it. It was pretty bright for for the first 10-20 hours. Definately change the output to 'variable' and set to 85 or 90. Full '100' output seems to further the brightness (no doubt driving the output stage of the Oppo hard). I did play with the 5 digital processing algorithms a bit, but have since settled on 'Brick Wall', the default but I could see someone with a different system than mine opting for a "slow linear" or one of those which further tames/rounds the far treble. My older Tannoys w/Rowland gear is pretty 'smooth' so much more rounding of the treble and things aren't natural anymore. The 'Pure Audio' mode is something I'm still playing with - a friend says he hears a differende - I don't; it just turns the video off. Maybe that is the difference.
Oppo ppl make a great machine but the other brands you mention are leagues ahead of it. Esoteric, Luxman, Bryston. I had a parasound cd1 and it ran circles around any oppo machine. Oppo is good for the price but the other stuff is next level. I use the Resonessence Mirus Pro Dac which is the high end Dac of the brother of the guy who makes the oppo. It's a great Dac one of the best I have ever heard!
Oppo ppl make a great machine but the other brands you mention are leagues ahead of it. Esoteric, Luxman, Bryston.
And how about for video?
I feel the need to repeat myself. The Oppo UDP-205 is an **absolutely essential** piece of gear in any serious A/V system, regardless of how much better any other brand is (from a CD/SACD only perspective and in keeping with the thread/OP question). My suggestion, buy both, a UDP-205 and whatever else.
I haven't heard the Esoteric but I got the OPPO 205. The 205 is very detailed but found it digital sounding. Note my system is pretty revealing with beryllium tweeters. So I just sent it out to get it modded by Modwright. You can check his website out as to what he does to it. Pretty much takes the digital sound out which was my target. Everyone raves about it. Anyway what's cool about it is you can swap tubes in it to target the sound you like most. You'll only have to spend few hundred dollars to do it instead of buying new players. From what I've read it's a great sounding "do it all" component. Bluray, CD, sacd, downloads, does DSD512...Modwright has a sale on them right now but normal price is about $3500 for everything. What's the Esoteric cost ?
I wasn't dissing oppo I actually own the brother's company Resonessence Mirus Pro Dac. I think the oppo machines are great for what you pay for them and they do video/sacd etc. The truth is that is a good CD player but not a great one in comparison to the others brands. Those brands cost 3 times the price but the do provide better playback!
Thanks for the folks. While it looks like the Oppo is not a giant killer, it is a great bargain for the price. My choice will be dependent on the loudspeaker I end up with, because the budget will set the purchase decision. Besides, it looks like a few DACs now-a-days have the HDMI option. So the Oppo can be used as a transport. I don't know of any other transport that has HDMI out for DACs like Bryston BDA-3, Holo or the Vinshine Denafrips DACs.
HDMI and I2S are not the same thing and, if I understand correctly, are not compatible even though both use a "HDMI cable" (with some I2S using RJ45).
The BDA-3 does have 2 channel HDMI capability, but the Holo and the Denafrips are I2S and would not work with the Oppo as a transport via its HDMI output, but of course would work as a transport for all via Coax S/PDIF..
I've had both a 95 and 105 and both were heavily modified. In standard form both were clean and open sounding but 'cool' in presentation, ultimately lacking in musicality. I preferred the 95 modified (for musicality) but was not as 'transparent' as the 105D. However what the 105D gave in transparency it lost in musicality. Now I have no main front end and I am contemplating either the Marantz SA10 or Accuphase DP560 (both for their multi format disc capability); or an Esoteric K03X. Cost wise (recommended retail), the Marantz is $4000 less to the Accuphase, with the Esoteric another $1000 again. However I've been given deals on the Accuphase that puts it just $1500 more than the Marantz with the Esoteric another $1000 more than the Accuphase! Decisions ...decisions. I have even thought of going down the Oppo path again with the 205 (and modifiying the player to make it more acceptable), but the offers on the Accuphase and Esoteric plus the flexibility of the Marantz have stalled my decision making.
Hi I used to own marantz and I was fun of it and thought that's it. Until I decided to go with accuphase. And then I realized how much did I missed, not only sound, just only disc tray you can close and open back and forth all day long , that is unbelievable pleasure, not comparable to any other player. I just stopped upgrading system since I assembled system, now I'm just enjoying music and spending money for music I like
Besides, it looks like a few DACs now-a-days have the HDMI option. So the Oppo can be used as a transport. I don't know of any other transport that has HDMI out for DACs like Bryston BDA-3, Holo or the Vinshine Denafrips DACs.
Not sure it will "work" the way you may be intending it too. You may want to start perusing the AVS forum thread related to the 205, call OPPO tech support and/or read the manual. For your convenience, I've included the links herein.
From page 60 of the Oppo manual it states the following:
SETUP MENU OPTIONS61•DSD – SACD Direct Stream Digital (DSD) data is output over HDMI without any conversion. For the analog audio outputs, DSD data is converted into an analog signal directly by the internal DAC. If you use a receiver that supports HDMI v1.2a with DSD over HDMI, or you prefer the sound quality of straight DSD to analog, please select this option.
I read on Audiocircle that some folks have done this.
My MW Sony 5400ES has a similar HDMI audio output and I run it to one of my Onkyo HT processor’s HDMI inputs to play multichannel music from SACD. Works nice and the only way to pass a SACD’s DSD raw signal in digital form to another device for D to A conversion as the HDMI handshake provides copy protection to eliminate risk of copying the DSD files from SACD. Won’t do it via Coax S/SPDIF (only a converted PCM file from here).
HDMI DSD output is not I2S compatible so will not work with the Holo nor the Denafrips I2S input but should with BDA-3 and other HDMI compatible DACs as I previously stated.
Oppo makes a state of the art blu ray player. It makes an above average CD player that doubles as a blu ray player. All for a little over a grand. That's great value. However, I put it up against an older Bryston player and it lost, up against the parsasound cd 1 not even close. Luxman d06 not close. Ayon cd2 not close. Solutions 540. Not in the same building!