Reference disc player...UDP 205 or Marantz?


Hey guys....
I've decided to take the plunge, and get my last reference disc player--at least for a very long time--and I'm looking for opinions on the subject.
I really wanted to get the Marantz SA-14S1, it sounds fantastic for sure, but I started to read all the glowing reviews on the Oppo UDP-205. Is it just hype, or the real thing? Is the Oppo really that rare piece of equipment that punches that far above its price? Who here has listened to the oppo and/or the Marantz? How do they compare? 
Thanks! 
jonasandezekiel
I haven’t had any of the Marantz disc players but I did own the previous generations of Oppo (105D and 95). I still own the 105D.

I also own a current model sacd player from another manufacturer that lists for about 17x the price of the 105D.
With carefully upgraded power and interconnect cables, I’m not lying when I tell you the Oppo plays in the big leagues. In fact, when I got the SACD player I’m referring to, I was shocked at what I considered a fairly small percentage improvement over the Oppo. In fact, I would suggest some people might prefer the presentation of the Oppo.

I really can’t see you going wrong with either choice, though. I owned a couple of Denon’s last reference disc players that they sold in the USA in the last 10 years, though I preferred the Oppo 95 to those, and sold them. They were well made and enjoyable, though. Although owned by the same company, I don’t know how much in common the Marantz and Denon players have, in terms of sound.

There’s a strong chance that the audio quality on the new Oppo 205 is better than the 105 (which was better than the 95). With their return policy and support, trying an Oppo is compelling.


My b.s. detector is always turned on when I read glowing review after glowing review of a product like the Oppo. How can something that is relatively inexpensive do everything so well, to the level of a true high end disc player, like the Marantz? I think people can become influenced by the never ending hype around it, and not think as critically as they normally would.

The marantz is designed to do one thing well, not walk the dog and do the laundry too. And, they've been making great disc players for decades.

I can’t answer your question directly as I have never compared the Marantz and Oppo against each other. However, I recently purchased an Oppo UDP-205 and could not be happier with the results. 4K picture quality is simply stunning (110" Stewart screen and Sony VPL-VW665ES projector); just about as good as it gets IMHO. Likewise, sound quality is excellent on Blue-Ray disc and computer audio via the HDMI input on the Oppo. Overall I could not be happier with the results, I am there!

Of course the $64k question is how does the Oppo compare to a full dCS Vivaldi stack? Now, that comparison I would love to hear. Interestingly I did hear a full dCS Vivaldi stack at this years Axponia show, complete with some very expensive amplification and speakers (see my previous post on the sound of this $0.5 million system). Ridiculous though this may seem, got home and still preferred the sound of my Gale/Michell/McIntosh system.
I think Oppo keeps their edge by consistently refining and updating their components versus the previous generation every 2 or 3 years. They seem to strive to use the latest DAC in each generation.
I'd love to compare the new flagship ESS DAC in the 205 versus my 105D with the older generation DAC, but I don't have a need for a 4K blu ray player, so that probably won't happen for awhile.

The other question is if you'd prefer to run balanced interconnects or not. Obviously you have a choice with the Oppo 205 but can only run single ended on the Marantz you're considering.
Generally, I find balanced sounds better in my system, over the course of even different pre-amps.

Perhaps you can get a good deal on the older, discontinued, Marantz SA-11S3 if they're available?
I believe Marantz has developed a "house sound" that is reasonably consistent across their product line.  As audiophiles, we utilize an extensive vocabulary of adjectives to describe what we hear from specific components and systems. Marantz has succeeded in producing a line of equipment where "musical" is a term aptly applied to their gear. The combination of frequency balance, smoothness of texture, openness of soundscape and dynamic realism are qualities that help define that musicality.  As the owner of an SA 8005 SACD player, I was truly gratified to see and feel the high quality of manufacture and well planned circuit layout.  Dan Wright of Modwright Instruments affirmed my perception by deciding to offer his tube modifications to the Marantz player citing the sensible circuit layout and quality of manufacture as reasons he wanted to work on elevating its already outstanding performance.  Interestingly, Modwright has also worked on Oppo units as well.

Recognizing Oppo's fine reputation in the audiophile community, I would agree with the OP's observation that the Marantz players are dedicated to audio only as opposed to the Oppo's serving both audio and video purposes. So, if the OP is looking for an audio only unit, the Marantz would likely be the best way to go.
Hifiman...BUT the salient question is, can the oppo sound as good as the two channel only marantz? That's the crux of my question. 

Also, to mgattmch, take the blu ray playback out of the equation. I'm sure it's the gold standard for blu ray, but Oppo touts it's player as something that can compete with some of the best audiophile two channel players, like the marantz. My question is, for about half the price, does it?
My b.s. detector is always turned on when I read glowing review after glowing review of a product like the Oppo. How can something that is relatively inexpensive do everything so well, to the level of a true high end disc player, like the Marantz? I think people can become influenced by the never ending hype around it, and not think as critically as they normally would.

The marantz is designed to do one thing well, not walk the dog and do the laundry too. And, they've been making great disc players for decades.

It looks like your are posting a question and then answering your own posts :-)
milpai...it seems that way doesn't it? Isn't that what a good psychologist tries to do? Get you to solve your own problems? And I need a good psychologist right about now. 

You got to be kidding Marantz SA-14S1 a reference player ????

It doesn't even have balanced outputs!!!!!

Could this be part of the new cheaper line of recent Marantz products that just carry the logo badge but don't have the high quality parts inside. I looked inside one of their newer power amps and was shocked to find an ordinary E transformer - no toroid!!!

Be careful ... there is Marantz and then there is MARANTZ....
I had the Marantz SACD 805.  I also had the Marantz streamer/DAC NA 7004.  Based on these 2 pieces, I would say that there is a Marantz House sound.  It's smooth, but rolls of the top end to much for my liking.
I also have Oppo 105, and sold both the Marantz components off after purchasing it.  It blew them both away in sound and functionality (the Marantz streamer in particular was a real P.O.S. With a terrible buggy app).. 
  I currently use the Oppo mainly as a transport.  I play DSD from SACDs into a Bryston BDA-3 DAC via HDMI.  If you ever decide to go that route, you can do it from Oppo and Sony players but not from Marantz.  However, that's icing on the cake.  After living with both, I would never step down from an Oppo to a Marantz.
btw, I also have one of the Denon high end 2 channel SACD players and fortunately it doesn't sound like Marantz
Niether of the players above are reference class imo. The only times i have heard an Oppo unit i was pretty underwhelmed, just average at best, the Marantz would be my pick of the two, but far from reference digital. 
Regardless, and this bears repeating, if in any way shape or form you begin to introduce video into the equation, the Oppo UDP-205 is instantly transformed into an absolute necessity, irrespective of any other components.
Ps68....I’m so glad you have it like that, to turn your nose up at a 2500.00 player! This commoner can’t do any better, SO YES, it IS reference for me!
I was actually asking for advice, not elitist posturing.

More power to you though.
Gdhal...yes, I completely agree. As a matter of fact, it WILL be my bluray player of choice when my current Marantz player finally dies.

Hmm, maybe I'll just get both.
@jonasandezekielI am an Oppo 105 owner and have been for five years; basically since it was released. So, I may be biased.

I heard the exact Marantz player you make mention of. It was in a system of Luxman 590AX II integrated, Marten Django L speakers, Frey wiring, and set up well (a little over $20K). The Marantz was definitely the weak link in that system. It was switched out for a Luxman D-o6u. It was definitely much better but still not lively enough for my taste. Though the Marantz is $2,500, it is not reference by a very long shot. Not trying to be disrespectful.

I've owned a few Marantz players and what was mentioned above I find resonates with me: the Marantz players are smooth sounding but roll of the sound up top. For me, that is a deal breaker.

Best of luck in your search.
I have been listening to a Musical Fidelity M6CD player for the past couple of years on some decent CJ monoblocks and ET5 preamp.  I just picked up an Oppo 105D withe the ModWright upgrades and it's among the best CD players i have ever heard.  Way better than the $6,000 Luxman, way better than the Musical Fidelity. $2,000 for a good used one, with upgraded tubes in the power supply and the unit itself.

I work hard to get really good value, and i don't think I'll be swapping out CD players again anytime soon.

Trust your ears.
Pokey...when I say"reference player" I don’t mean something costing ten grand, with a high snob factor, even though it certainly could be a player like that. Reference, the way I have always understood it to mean is WHATEVER a person can afford, that they enjoy, that they use as their go-to player to evaluate music, i.e. MY reference. It can be a 300 dollar player or a 30k one. It's that your experience as well?

No offense intended of course. I appreciate the advice.
Shadorne...yeah, its called their REFERENCE line.
I was asking for comparisons and advice. I'm not interested in arrogance. By the way...the Marantz 14s1 is part of their reference line in case you didn't know.


Liamowen, thanks for that. Does ModWright modify the 205? That might be interesting!
Dude, you need to get a handle on your attitude is my best advice.  I wouldn't spend a minute of my time to inform you of my experience given your arrogance.  Chill out.  
MY arrogance? Maybe you didn't read some of the responses to my original post. I was asking for advice. I wasn't looking to hear what a load of garbage the players I could afford were. I'm totally chill. Just a couple bad apples are making it a bad experience. 

Actually, I had a couple of very good conversations with you in the past. So no shade thrown your way whatsoever.
So, what I'm hearing is, that the Marantz and the Oppo are just plain okay, nothing special. Ok then...what IS a reference player? I'm open to suggestions. 
One thing to consider might be going the modded player route. Modwright can modify either the Marantz SA8005 or the Oppo 205.
I have the modded Marantz player and its really quite impressive and
when you factor in the cost, even more so.
Thanks for that cmach. You're the second person to recommend a modwright player. I may look into that because it may be the most cost effective way to get into upper tier players.
I just checked out the modwright website. Holy Christmas! 2495.00 for a mod of either the oppo or the marantz 8005. I'm sure it's awesome, but wow. I don't think I can afford the Oppo mod, because it will end up costing about 3700.00 total, and I can't justify that. But the marantz 8005 could be a possibility. 
I have the Modwright 205 and love it. If you don’t need a transport and HT, the Modwright Oppo Sonica is the exact same DAC but not as expensive.
I don't think I can afford the Oppo mod, because it will end up costing about 3700.00 total, and I can't justify that.
Don't forget the month or more it takes to do the mod and you're without the Oppo, the voided Oppo warranty, plus the possibility the mod goes awry.
Betcha anything he would have no difficulty hearing the improvement in sound quality though.

Dave
Following up on my earlier posts and some of the recommendations of a Modwright modded Oppo (or Marantz), I thought I'd chime in with my experience.
When I decided to upgrade from my Oppo BDP-95, I decided to go all out and get the top modded Oppo BDP 105D from Modwright, with all the bells and whistles, upgraded tubes, etc. The reviews were outstanding.
Suffice to say, it was a mistake for me. It sounded poor in comparison to my stock Oppo BDP-95. It sounded bloated and like mush. I tried multiple tubes recommended by Modwright to tune the player, but after a month, I gave up, and sold it as fast as I could, here, on Audiogon. Once I sold it, I ordered a stock BDP-105D and was positively thrilled. It was an improvement over the BDP-95.
Another person on one of the audio forums I frequent had a similar experience to mine, too.
Maybe it just didn't suit my system, but I've never had an experience like that with any component, before. My lesson was that I will never spend good money modifying a component to that extent. I will just purchase a better component in stock form, for a similar combined price.



Interesting. First I have ever heard of this reaction but not questioning your experience.

Dave
Holy cow!!! Rnrmf...that is a tragedy!! You just talked me out of ANY possibility that I might use them! Thanks very much for your advice, and sorry about your lousy experience! 

I think I'll just buy a stock player, and be happy with it! 

Actually, it's very similar to modifying a car with aftermarket performance parts. It can ruin the driveability of the stock car, and make it feel completely out of synch with what the manufacturer intended. 
I'm a car guy, and I've done just that...ruined a couple of nice cars with mods that looked good on paper, but in practice were a disaster.
@jonasandezekiel

I repeat - it doesn’t even have balanced output. Not being arrogant but just trying to warn you away from something that is absolutely NOT reference grade.

If you are open to other suggestions then check the Stereophile Class A and A+ list!!

Surprise surprise - the Oppo BDP 105D and the Oppo BDP-103 are both in Class A list but Marantz isn’t mentioned. Marantz was American then Japanese and now owned again by American private equity group that before owned Polk and DefTech speakers and have added Denon and Marantz recently - this brand is going Best Buy style. The brand name will be used to mass market.
Gdhal...great point. Another reason to avoid! 

If you go on their website, they talk about how clinical the Oppo sounds, and how much their mod makes it a different sounding player. 
A little suspension of belief I think is needed to make the leap of faith to buy it without first listening to it though.
Shadorne.....ok cool, thanks for that. Sorry, maybe I was a little defensive in my previous response to you. No offense.

Yes, it doesn't have balanced outs, you're right, but it's still considered part of their reference line. I would have definitely like to have balanced outputs, but, it doesn't stink, does it? It has a great dac for streaming. The next player up has the balanced outs, but doesn't give you a asynchronous dac.

So which is more important?

Shadorne, I also think that it made class A in stereophile because it really does punch WAY above its price. But does that make it a true reference player, or just a really good value? 
Frankly I wouldn't buy a disc player these days. I'd go PC to a Class A or A+ DAC. Burn your collection to a hardrive and get a Tidal subscription. 

For movies, I have an ultra UHD 4K bluray player but the number of available movies to buy are just a handful. It gathers dust!

I think discs are out and streaming is the future for digital music and movies.
You may be right. And I do plan to start streaming sometime soon. Which is another reason why I liked the marantz...it has the dac for streaming. 

I've read some really good reviews on the marantz, AND the Oppo.
Mahler123, so you didn't like the marantz, but you're using the oppo only as a transport. How did it sound using its own dac? They have the top (is it cirrus?) dac made. That wasn't to your liking?
Thanks.
Jonasan.... if you are after musicality, go for the Dynastation Dynavox mk3, if you are into 24/192 & Sacd, get the new Ayon Sacd player.    The Dynastation Mk3 IMHO outperform 40k LP Set up.   Do a search and you be shock that it ranks one of the top 5 cd player.  Happy Listening! 



I'd suggest you buy a very good DAC and skip the disk spinner all together. I know i'm jumping in on a thread but I think now is the time to ditch the Disk spinners and get a storage device as you are upgrading anyway, lets say something like the Blue sound vault 2, or  a NAS and a streamer then this to a quality DAC. I did this last year and I'm so happy guys here suggested this to me. after the load of the digital format onto the Vault it now becomes so much easier to play, sort, explore my digital media. Add to it the Tidal ( Roon too if your streamer supports) and you have a one stop place to explore your music and Tidal  all from your listening position via a tablet or smart phone. I think you can also get potentially better sound as you can use what ever DAC you like and upgrade just the DAC when you need to.


Anyway just a suggestion as now would be the time when your about to upgrade.

onasandezekiel OP40 posts

'Quote'
Ps68....I’m so glad you have it like that, to turn your nose up at a 2500.00 player! This commoner can’t do any better, SO YES, it IS reference for me!
I was actually asking for advice, not elitist posturing.

More power to you though.

'Unquote'

You asked which is the reference disc player, simple answer is neither. If you had have asked which people would recomend for your budget no doubt you would have received different answers. It is not about elitism.

Good luck with your search though.

Ps68.....you are absolutely right...but my definition of a reference player is probably a little different than yours. If a person has a very limited budget, and all they can afford is a 300 dollar player, then that is their reference. Mine, is in the 2k to 3k range. That's where I my budget is...my reference player. That's all I meant. I always thought that was the definition.

Plus, I was really interested in what people thought about oppo as a reference player.

Maybe I should have asked for people's opinions on the best players in the two to three thousand range. 

My apologies if I misunderstood you. 
@rnrmf1971  First thing.  I have no basis to dispute what you heard with the Modwright modified Oppo BPD 105D in your system.  Anecdotal evidence however, evidence reported on this forum by many members, flies in the face of your unique experience.  

I have a Modwright modded Marantz SA8005.  The stock Marantz sounded very musically satisfying.  After talking with Dan Wright I decided to take the plunge and entrust my player to him as he sought to upgrade its performance with his proprietary tube analogue board and outboard tube rectified power supply.  The workmanship and attention to detail is astonishing.  In my system, the musicality is stunning!  I can't hear one parameter of sound that has not been improved and feel I am hearing results far in excess to the investment I made with Modwright.

The OP here could buy a stock machine, Marantz or Oppo, with the option to have its performance upgraded in the future as funds permit.

I don't know why the Modwright player sounded unsatisfactory in your system, but I presume your experience was system dependent.  I'm glad you were able to sell the modded machine and acquire a stock machine that, in your system, you found more satisfying.  

It would be helpful if you would be willing to describe your system here to give context to your experience.
@hifiman5 

I know my experience stands out. Through conversations with Modwright, I determined the player was not for me. It was not even partially satisfying to listen to in my system. Again, I've never had an experience with a component like this, ever.

For the record, I prefer a warmer, dare I say, romantic, presentation.
I hate bright - which made me think I might like the Modwright player, based on the reviews I had read. I had considered the Oppo BDP-95 a bit lean, although, in retrospect, my cables added to that impression on all sources. I wanted a player that corrected the omissions of tone and musical density that I considered were built into the Oppo-BDP-95. The Modwright Oppo BDP-105D seemed to be a compelling option.

At the time, I believe my system was as follows: McIntosh C500T 2 box pre-amp, McIntosh MC501 mono block amps, Oppo BDP-95, either Shunyata Triton 2 or PS Audio P10 power conditioner (can't remember which), and mostly JPS Aluminata cabling (I came to regard these cables as mildly tilted up toward the upper frequencies). My speakers were Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Concert Grands.

I've since mostly changed almost everything in my system except the speakers, to come to a more balanced, tonally realistic, less bright or etched, presentation.


No question, Marantz is a better CD player. As for the Oppo...
no matter what the audio rags say, it is what it is - a very, very good Blu-Ray player. 

Folks can convince themselves that the Oppo is the best, but it is not.

Whatever I wrote is just my and my many friends’ opinions based on our experience, so no excitement from the Oppo owners is necessary.
@rnrmf1971 

Thanks so much for your response.  I too prefer a richer, more musical, especially a smoothness of texture music through my system.

Perhaps tube rolling may have helped a bit.  I found the included Jan/Phillips tubes in my modded player to have a hardness about them.  I prefer the NOS Tung-Sols I am currently using.  Also, as you observed, your cables at that time were on the brighter side and may, therefore, not have produced an enjoyable resulting sound.

The good news is that it seems like you have worked your way toward a more musically satisfying system now.
@rnrmf1971 

Thanks so much for your response.  I too prefer a richer, more musical, especially a smoothness of texture music through my system.

Perhaps tube rolling may have helped a bit.  I found the included Jan/Phillips tubes in my modded player to have a hardness about them.  I prefer the NOS Tung-Sols I am currently using.  Also, as you observed, your cables at that time were on the brighter side and may, therefore, not have produced an enjoyable resulting sound.

The good news is that it seems like you have worked your way toward a more musically satisfying system now.
@hifiman5 
I tube rolled a bit. I got the best tubes that Modwright offered and bought some NOS that Modwright recommeneded from Upscale Audio.
Something just didn't gel despite things seeming like they should line up, on paper.
I bit the bullet, changed almost everything, went solid state, and for the time being, I'm pretty damn happy with the sound I hear. Thanks.

The Oppo 105 sounded great when I got it and I lived quite happily with it.  Then I got a chance to hear the Mytek Manhatten, which used the same ESS Sabre chips as the Oppo, and I was blown away.  Otoh, the Mytek costs several times what the Oppo went for so it damn well better be an upgrade.  I also wanted to be able to play DSD, which the Oppo couldn’t do...not sure that applies to the 205, though.
  So I scrimped and bought a demo Mytek and after a year I began wanting a DAC that could play my copious collection of SACDS.  I bought the Bryston and thought I would sell the Mytek.  But...can’t bear to part with the Mytek.  I will live on Franks and beans for a while.
  I use the Oppo for downloads as well, having the screen makes it easy to navigate usb sticks.
i would by the Oppo and not mess with the Marantz.  It sounds better and has better functionality 
Mahler123...
Thanks. I always thought the 105 played DSD, but I’m sure the 205 does at least.

Many options here, but it seems that most that have the oppo really love it. And it's amazing the level of animus, or love for that matter, that a few on here have for marantz.