What's the bottom line on Oppo 980 for CD playback

Ok, apparently no uni player excells at CD playback. I'd like to get something that isn't obsolete right out of the box. Can this thing really satisfy me as a CD player? What about these reports I have heard about it cutting off the first few seconds of every disc? Are you having this problem? Is anybody really using it for CD enough to care? For now, I don't care about SACD, Video, DVDA, Multi Channel, etc. I heard the Cary DVD 8 at over $1000. and was unimpressed, especially when compared to their $4000. CD player. Where should I turn? Cambridge 740? Music Hall 25? Any DVDers that are good with CD? Thanks for any info or input, Chris H.
Use the common sense. It's not realistic to expect $200 universal player to outperform $3000 one. If you were not satisfied with $1000 Cary DVD player, there is little chance you'll find a $200 player better in performance. If you don't care about SACD or DVD, get a decent DAC. Benchmark or Bel Canto DAC 3 offers pretty much state of the art redbook performance. If you are still not satisfied with those, then I don't know where else to turn.
How many opinions do you care to read? You will get everything from,"this is the best player on the planet",, to "I wouldn't use it if you gave it to me!". I have used it as a stand-alone player in a secondary system and it works flawlessly, every time. It is versatile and reliable. If you don't care about SACD or DVD-V or DVD-A, I say don't buy it. I recommend you buy used from Audiogon such players as the Music Hall 25.2, or a Cambridge, or a Jolida (for tubes) or a Creek or an Apollo. Buy used and try them for awhile. Then sell and try another. It is fun. The used price is 50-60% of new. You lose almost no money and you have fun.
Tgrisham, if you find the Oppo quite capable, could you please tell me what other CD playback you are used to? I assume you never had any problem with skipping, etc. on CD's. Thanks for your input
Jylee, I know it is odd, but I don't always find the HiFi price to coincide with what I enjoy. For example, I liked my Proceed player much more than a few others that cost twice as much. Your probably right about comparing the $1000.Cary to the $200. Oppo, but I want every sub $1000. player to sound as good as the $4000. Cary. Thanks for your thoughts.
Is it possible that the rest of your system does not sufficiently reproduce the higher level of detail normally associated with higher priced digital players? I have found that as I have increased the quality of my digital playback, I've also had to improve the quality of my amplification and/or speakers to reap the benefits.
This is an excellent question. I've never auditioned any of the Oppo line of players but I hear good feedback. However, one has to be suspicious as to how can a manufacture jam pack a player with all of these features including SACD capability, 1080p HDMI upscaling, and all sorts of audio features I've never heard of for $169.00? Could many of these features just be fluff?

Hell, even the Marantz CD5001 dedicated CD player for $300.00 can not decode SACD's and it's just a CD player. No video capability. You do get what you pay for as others above have mentioned. If you're looking for just a decent quality audio CD player and not concerned with all of those HD formats and no video but don't have much to spend, consider the NAD BEE series or the Marantz I mentioned above. You'll need to spend in the $300.00 area for new gear or less for preowned but really, $300.00 is truly low for something considered to be non mass marketed. I'd be suspicious of any product that boasts so many high end features for such a low price but that's just my humble opinion.
The Oppos are not the be-all/end-all for players but one reason for their low prices is that they are direct-marketed and that Oppo does not advertise anywhere but on the web. In any case, you might consider going beyond such theoreticals and actually trying one before reaching any conclusions.


I have used Classe, Ah Tjoeb 4000, Pioneer, Jolida with mods. Its a never-ending quest, and I can't spend a lot of money on audio. So far, the best I have had is the Oppo with my PS Audio DL III and the Jolida with my DL III. There is a difference, but I can't explain it. In my view, it's all in the DAC and you pick what you like. Numbers don't tell the story. Good DACs re-clock so the jitter is nil. If someone were to start up a 2 channel/HT hybrid system I would advise the Oppo 983 + a fine DAC like the PS Audio or Bel Canto using the digital coax output. Make sure your power lines are separate from everything else. You get the best of both worlds. To get better, I think you have to invest in a $3000 dedicated CDP and still use the Oppo. No matter, have fun, don't worry, listen to the music.
OK, so how do you audition an OPPO player if they're sold only via the Internet? That's the flaw with these components that are not sold in retail high-end audio stores such as Outlaw and Oppo. You're unable to visit a store and compare these units with other brands which we all know is the only way to truly audition audio components and make the right decision. So the manufacturer saves on cost because they don't sell thru retail stores and don't advertise. That really limits their exposure and reach to the consumer (Sales/Marketing 101).

I and probably many folks are uninterested in purchasing a unit, have it shipped in, try it out, then turn around and ship it back at our cost if it turns out not to be satisfactory and wait for a refund. What a hassle and waste of time. Who has the time for that?
But, at least, you know for sure how it will sound in your setup. Store demos are a feeble approximation of that. Besides, these are pretty cheap for the bother.


I have a completely different take on this. I know of no stores in my area that will let you audition gear for anything more than 1 or 2 days. new gear. Not broken in. How do you decide if its right for you? This way you have 30 days to listen. for the hassle of sending it back you save the loss of a purchase and selling it for 60-70% of your purchase price. Or, buy used and also sell it if you don't like it. I think its perfect. I miss my friend's store. He closed because he couldn't compete. I bought all I could from him, but few did. A 30 day trial in your home is the ideal way to purchase audio. Here's to Oppo. Outlaw, AV123, Hsu, and many more.
Kr4 and Tgrisham:

You both make very valid opposing points and that's what is great about this forum. Yes, I can see the advantages of going this way. However, most reputable higher end audio stores have a standard 30 day return policy with a full refund. Mine does. I guess too I feel very loyal to my store and the main sales person who has spent so much time with me these past few years. He has always been so truthful and right on. Never once mislead me. He works his tail off and I value that highly. We can't let these stores go away. They're not just a retail store but a center for learning from the pros. We've got to continue to support them. Thanks for the good debate gents !!
I pine for the days when I had a reputable audio store. For me it was like a candy store for a little kid. There are stores within 60 miles but there is a turnover of staff and they are carrying fewer and fewer lines. The best loan I ever got was over a weekend when they were closed. But, living in rural Missouri, it is to be expected. I wish I had a great retail store to support. That said, thanks to Audiogon, I have been able to buy more gear, try it, and sell it if it doesn't work out. Most of the gear sells for 50-70% of the new cost. Thankfully, I have never been "burned". Long live Audiogon! By the way, I have put the Oppo 980 back in my main system. It feeds a PS Audio DL III. The sound is really great. I have to be careful about other machines and power draws and noise since the power supply is limited. Now I am on the hunt for a Denon or Sony Universal transport. Something akin to a tank with pretty lights on it.
No, it will not satisfy as a cdp if that is its only purpose for the same price as a cdp.
My new Oppo 980H with a Asylum/Crump cord and a few vibration minimizing tweaks has now supplanted my Sonic Frontiers SFCD-1 with vintage 6DJ8 tubes, Isoclean fuse, Daruma ball bearing feet and a Venhaus Flavour 2 power cord. This was after many hours of comparison. Overall, the 980H lacks a bit of depth and midrange liquidity/smoothness but is a little more dynamic and detailed.

I have since sold my SFCD-1 and put the $900 net difference into more music to listen to.

My suggestion is to try it first before judging the new Oppo's redbook abilities. Your results may be different depending on the rest of your system.

The rest of my system is composed of:

Bryston B-60 and 2B-LP in biamped configuration powering Totem Arros and Dreamcatcher powered sub. Cables included Venhaus DIY cotton insulated 99.99% pure silver interconnects with Eichmann Silver Bullets and Sonocable silver speaker cables.
Oppo may be better than an aging tubed cdp, but it never was as good as any other decent cdp I compared it with. The most recent cdp I used was the Consonance 120 Linear cdp, that can be bought used for $550, and the comparison was not close as far as musicality, detail, and naturalness. The Oppo has uninvolving for redbook cd playback for me.
Does owning the 981 count for this discussion?
I use that NOW for video only...and the odd JPG picture disk.
I bought a Very decent RB player...the CA 840c for music only duties.....I will eventually want to try one of the CA's digital inputs to see how much that helps the OPPO.
The OPPO to an external DAC for music may be a Very Sweet spot cost/benefit wise, if not the Ultimate.
For people like me whose pockets are only so deep, this makes sense. I can only have 1 system....well, maybe a radio in the garage, but overall, 1 system for both music and HT.

Yes the Oppos are great for video and so-so for audio. Using a basic RG-6 video/digital cable from your 981s coax output to your 840s coax input will improve your 2 channel movie audio. You already know the 840 has a great DAC so you may as well use it for 2 channel movies.
I'm using the Oppo 980H as a transport for SACD, DVD-A and CD ATM. It works great as a transport. I'm not sure about analog output. I'm using it temporarily until the new Denon Universal player is available so I can use Denon Link in my setup.
Thanks for the encouragement! That is the plan....
1 channel of 840 input from the 981 and the other channel from my computer, playing FLAC files, which I spend an hour a day compiling....at least until I am done burning my CD collection and anything else I can beg / borrow.

I am curious as to what ancillary equipment were you using with the Oppo? As well, did you do a head to head comparison with these other cd players?

The Bryston preamp/amp and Arro combo in my system is very transparent, revealing and unforgiving of the source. I planned my system to be this way so that the front end sonics comes through relatively unscathed. As such, it gives me a pretty good window on the source's true sonics.
If you click on "system" you can see what equipment I use now and have in the past.

I use the Oppo as a transport and use a Benchmark DAC feeding a tube amp. The Benchmark is very revealing but not harsh. The tube amp is not soft and romantic and more SS sounding. I chose the Benchmark because of the volume control.

PS Audio DACs are smoother sounding and may compliment your Bryston amp better. This is only a guess as I never have used these products.

I went the DAC route as I want to get a BluRay player in the future and use it for movies and music. The DAC allows me to do this w/o compromising the sound.
I used to think my OPPO 980 was good. {It is wonderful for video}

I recently hooked up the Playstation 1 and now have a much more detailed player.

Very happy with the PS1. {1001 model}

Mjcmt, sorry for the late reply but your evaluation of the Oppo 980H's performance is not as a stand alone player but as a transport?
Further to the above comment, it looks like you are using a 970 and not the 980h which was inquired about.

I do use the 970 as a transport, but started out using it as a stand alone unit for 1 year. When I bought it, the 970 and 980 were both available similtaneously. I bought the 970 because the Absolute sound said the 970 was better sounding and the 980 was a bit harsher. Since the 970 is not available the A-sound now recommends the 980 as they only recommend current products.

At the time I owned the 970 I also owned the Consonance CD120 Linear cdp at $995 USD. The Consonance was vastly better. My previous cdp, the Cary 308 was also better by a large margine. You will notice the difference in finese, soundstage, and elegance of presentation. But the Oppo does get most thing correct, just after using it for a while I noticed a roughness that bothered me.

I since sold the Consonance a bought the Benchmark DAC to use with the Oppo. I went the DAC route because I can use its analogue volume output direct into a tube amp and upgrade the source later. I will upgrade the Oppo sometime to a better DVD or BluRay player.

If using the Oppo with an outboard DAC use the Raw digital output setting, as the PCM setting does use some of the internal digital soundfield processing. With the PCM output > DAC it sounds like a $900 cdp, but with Raw output > DAC it sound much much better, maybe a $1.5k-2k cdp.

I hope this helps clarify my uses of the Oppo 970.
Check this out www.joerasmussen.com I just received his 980H today and out of the box it absolutely smokes my marantze SA17.Same as the SA11 except 5.1 capability.Joe is the Australian agent and fellow callaborator of Allen Wright of Vacuum State.Joe says the oppo with terra firma out does the sony dvp9000es with level 6 VSE mods.The rest of my stem is Spectron musician 3SE, H-Cat X7 and Sp Technology continuum 2.5 speakers.I didn't realize how dead my front end was till today, it is astounding
I'm glad you love your modded Oppo. I considered a modded Oppo for some time, but in the final analysis I chose an outboard DAC because I'm not locked into one player. I have the option to change transports and still have world class sound. I ultimately will be getting a BluRay player for movies and with my Benchmark DAC still have great sound.
The difference between vacuum state oppos and other modders oppos is the others just change parts where as VSE incorporate their own modules with another set of rcas.You can still use the oppos native rcas to do A/B comparisons
Of course, remember that the Benchmark cannot do DD/dts nor is there any way to get SACD from the 980H or the HD codecs from the future BluRay player into it.

Dart6 makes reference to something called "terra firma." For those interested, they might want to read the background info: www.customanalogue.com/terra_firma.htm

Hifiharv >apparently no uni player excells at CD playback.

You might be ***VERY*** surprised.

Joe R.
Joe, thank you for your contribution to this thread.

I am interested in trying your modded Oppo. Does the means to get a US version with 110V operation exist?
Hi Trelja. At the moment only 220-240V, but... the Oppo itself can handle all voltages from 100V (Japan) and up. It is the separate Reference/TF module which has it own (totally separate from the player but yet inside) that is currently 220-240V. But it only requires a change of a single power transformer and the player becomes 110-120V compatible (but now not compatible with other voltages). I can supply ONE for USD $800 including air shipping. But eventually these players should become available from US agents of Vacuum State. The kits will be shipped from Switzerland and US compatible and be fitted by them. This will not be until Q2 2009 I suspect. BTW, I have a client in New Zealand who ordered a RAM upgraded Oppo with everything done to it including cryo, quite a bit over a grand. He no longer has it and has one of our TF players. The TF is in an entirely different sonic class.
I can recommend 3 as universal players...the atoll dv200, new NAD M56, and arcam DV139 or later. all are very good at CD playback. None of these are cheap, but not as expensive as Mcintosh, Krell or Esoteric. You could try and find a used Linn unidisc...they were great for cd playback. Hope this helps.