Review: Oppo BDP 83 CD Player

Category: Digital

Below is a preliminary review of the Oppo BDP-83 with modifications from the Upgrade Company run by David Schulte.

Before I begin, 3 things: 1) David was incredibly responsive, helpful and efficient...7 days start to delivery (international). I would definitely do business with him again...and hope to soon. 2) I will update this review as the product burns in...given the level of intense scrutiny this product (and many after-market modifications available), I wanted to post this review quickly after spending several days with the player post-modification. 3)This is really an Audio-review. The video speak for itself from the many reviews out there.


CJ Act 2 Pre
Gryphon Antileon Amp
Zanden DAC Signature
Transparent Ref IC and Speaker cable
PAD Dominus/Anniversary Contego PCs
Sonus Faber Stradivari speakers
Velodyne DD-18 sub (run in parallel)

Review of:
BDP-83 (mod'd by Upgrade Company) via Cardas Neutral Ref Digital into Zanden DAC Signature...versus BDP-83 (Upgrade Company) via analog outputs

1. Initial Observations (via analogue)
- 18 hours of break-in...out of 600 basically very new and still burning in.
- shockingly good...forget its price point...shockingly good on an absolute level
- Much more forward, bolder soundstage and presentation than Zanden
- substantial detail retrieval...comparable to Zanden in terms of separation of instruments, and being able to keep background stuff (echoes, the fingertip edges on the guitar strings, etc) in the presentation and not lose them to other louder sounds in the detailed below, it does not quite get to Zanden's level of "shading" or grading these forte v piano musical lines...everything is placed in front of you at more similar volume levels....zanden is much broader dynamically in terms of subtle shadings...

- People have told me repeatedly they hear things in every day tunes on my system they've never heard before...even on rap music...this is a function of many things...the Zanden, the Cardas Neutral Cable and the low noise floor of the Transparent Ref Cables...but the Zanden drives much of this...the Oppo is delivering much if not at all of this detail

- Bass might be a touch clearer...a touch...which is promising actually

- for now (pre-break-in), the music is technically detailed but relative to Zanden...still feels "stiff"...but it is continuing to "relax" as it burns in
- to be fair, where I feel like the Zanden excels is its ability to deliver music in a very natural form with plenty of detail. That is tough for digital to do...keep the detail and many digital players feel stiff/cold...smooth out the detail to warm it up...and you actually end up with fuzzy.
- I would say the Oppo Upgrade Company is straight down the middle (detailed but not cold) slowly making its way towards the natural/warm speaker terms, like listening to some of the Thiel 2's and 3's, Wilson 8's (properly driven)

2. Initial Conclusions
Put another way, the Oppo manages to deliver a highly detailed picture with minor drawbacks which are improving thru burn-in.

- stiffness...the music feels like it is still relaxing as the unit burns in.
- compared with Zanden, less macro/micro dynamic range...the entire presentation is laid before you with less of the subtle shadings/micro-dynamics that you get with Zanden
- the Zanden 'magic' still wins for should

Nevertheless, in spite of "stiffness", the detailed, forward presentation is much more relaxed than I was expecting. the point of being shocking.

3. Comparisons
Already, I prefer this modified Oppo 83 by Upgrade Company to Chord 64 DAC, 2-year old Wadia equipment...which cost more...I find it more detailed, more natural than Pathos CD player, Roksan.

I would take it over the ARC CD 3 and 5, probably over Electrocompaniet too. And not for the money...on an absolute basis.

I am waiting to see if it will match an ARC CD7 or Krell 505. My gut tells me it could get there as the unit burns is that good...cold out of the box.

I am burning 24/ I expect by Jan 8th, I should have 600 hrs and a clear view on the Oppo 83 as modified by Upgrade Company as a standalone unit using its analogue outs vs. its co-ax digital out into the Zanden DAC.

Hope that helps for now.

Associated gear
CJ Act 2 Pre
Gryphon Antileon
Transp Ref IC/Speaker
PAD Dominus/Ann Contego PC
Zanden DAC Signature
Sonus FAber Strads
Velodyne DD18 Sub

Similar products
DCS Elgar Plus Full Stack
Emm Labs
Arc CD 3, 5, 7, 8
Krell 505
Chord 64

What was the cost, particular upgrade, & turn around time for this change out?

Without a comparison to the SE model, the upgrades may be a waste of money and time. Anybody thinking about doing mods to the SE, and if so, what improvement are you expecting. I have heard the SE and do not think it can be improved much.
Brief update @ 160+ hours burn-in:

- getting better handle on the character of this sound
- continuing to relax
- very detailed...possibly more even frequency response than Zanden
- in certain complex passages in the lower registers, I sense the Oppo may be delivering more accurate reading of the music
- high frequencies are more is the entire presentation...more forward by 30% if you can imagine what that 'feels' like...trying to quantitatively/qualitatively describe what I hear
- ultimately, everytime I go back to Zanden the one thing I continue to hear is more lyrical, musical touch to all my music...and microdynamics continue to be more impressive...which is where much of the music is coming from from for me
- finally, I listened to 24/96 test tracks straight from Oppo...stunning
- somehow my Oppo must have been able to "dumb it down" to the Zanden via the coax-out because I could still play these tracks on Zanden...even though it is 16:44.1 only.
- bottom line? The difference between the 2 became close enough I bet most of us would not care...very impressive!!!
- for me, I still like Zanden because for most all my ordinary CD redbook, I really hear the musicality of the Zanden...which matches/exceeds the musicality of the Oppo when the Oppo is playing high quality 24/96hz...

Still, its only 160 hrs burned in...stay tuned!!!

Hi...quick update at over 220 hours. a transport, it has improved dramatically. Much greater detail than before. Very natural sound....has an ease which I would love to compare to some great transports out there.

Trying to compare to Esoteric UX-1 (modded) and Metronome Kalista in a couple weeks. Even if Oppo loses, this unit costs a fraction (even with mods) it will be a good learning experience for me.

Back to Oppo as Transport after 200 hrs...Impressive....much more natural sounding and detail retrieval is either improving...or probably microdynamics are improving. Have not seriously checked the Oppo as a standalone unit since 160hrs...enjoying too much! Will compare again later this week...probably around 350 hours (this weekend).
I am glad I am not the only one hearing this. Off the charts and not just for the money.
Buconero, Nuforce has modified the Oppo SE version and there are reports that it has been improved upon. The SE version has better dacs and better power supply. As far as I know all the other parts remain on the stock unit. I guess what I am saying is that it looks like even the SE can be modded to sound better. I know I would love to try one modded and un-modded. But after what I have been hearing from stock to modded on the standard version is nothing short of an amazing transformation in clarity, detail and slam. No more hardness or shrill.
Ok...update past 350 hours...I have not A/B'd Zanden vs Oppo Modd'ed. But I did get some excellent advice that isolation helps the transport. Before buying anything, I did the "cheap fix" isolation to test it out. It worked.

- 3 tennis balls underneath the Oppo and 5lbs of rubberized weights on top.
- Benefits: much, much greater decay. Listen even to realize they add a miniscue reverb/echo to his voice. - More Electrostatic-like speed in upper frequency
- Mid to upper bass is more forward and significantly greater snap
- much greater transparency is the result of all of this. Music feels much more like "you are there" and the window is almost not there on certain recordings.

Also switched PCs.put in my PAD Dominus...15% greater soundstage and just that extra measure of musicality. Have put back the stock since the Dominus belongs to the Zanden.

Now...would I replace tennis balls and 5lb weight with HRS nimbus like I have under my Zanden?

For now, I am happy...may buy raquet balls (since they're black) instead to make it look better.

Will wait til 600 hours have burned in.
All for now!