Universal player or DAC?


I have a 2003-era Music Hall CD25. It has digital outputs, so I am considering adding a Schiit Bifrost Uber, or replacing the CDP with an Oppo BDP-103. Will the Oppo make enough of a difference in redbook CD playback, or is a dedicated DAC such as Schiit or a used Benchmark a better option? Of course, there is the added bonus of video and SACD playback with the Oppo.

I have a large collection of CDs and vinyl, and I don't plan on doing a music server thing just yet. Give me inconvenience or give me death!


I think it depends on how important the video and SACD playback is to you. It might very well be that using the CD player as a transport into the Schiit DAC might be better than the BDP-103 for CD only playback. However this is something I don’t know as fact.

One thought, given that you wish to continue spinning disks and your disk player is ~13 years old, you might consider a new player now and reconsider the upgrade to an outboard DAC at a later date.
I've got both. The Schiit is a little more crisp. The Oppo is smooth and neutral. The schiit needs a source with digital out. The oppo needs nothing, streams, connects to a network and has a great remote. The schiit has no volume or switching. The oppo has volume, inputs, outputs and plays almost anything.
With that stated, I got rid of my 103 and bought a 105 and am delighted at home. The schiit is at work and runs pc audio all day long. Yes, I have a Music Hall running to the schiit too but rarely use it. PC audio is better.
Next move is to upgrade the bifrost to the gungnir. Then I will compare that to the 105...never ending circle of upgrades.
You might consider buying an Oppo and having someone like Ric Schultz at Electonic Visionary Systems modify it for even better sound and video. Lots of positive comments. Best of luck.
Why not both? I am so tempted to buy the Oppo 105D and then get the yet-to-be-released Bryston BDA-3 which I can use as a DAC for even SACD, through HDMI. I do not know enough about jitter through HDMI, though.
I am not sure if the PSA Direct Stream can do DSD through it's HDMI. I like the idea of FPGA in DACs rather than DAC chips. But those DACs are so expensive.
If the Oppo does down sample blu ray audio through its digital output, then I would not get an external DAC.
I just compared a yamaha player s-677 through its analog output against my MSB DAC Link III through digital, and the yamaha is better on cd (less digititis, more natural stereo separation), and much much better with blu-ray discs (no downsampling/software protection). Plus it plays sacd.
That made me realize that DAC chips/output stages and their implementation are so much better nowadays, especially in an Oppo, even in a yamaha (cheap burr brown 5102), that it must be hard to get "better" with an external dac. You would get a different sound certainly, but then in that case I would compare good players (oppo, marantz and others), pick the one you like and forget about outboard DACs.