Category: Home Theater

I am now three years into a long and twisting road toward assembling a "permanent" home entertainment system including decent H/T as well as 2-channel audio. And along that road I've had pleasant surprises and I've had unpleasant surprises -- but I've never been as shocked and stupefied by the disconnect between what other people are saying, and the experience I had, as with the Oppo DV980H. The player (and the company) for which nearly everyone has only praise and nary a whimper of complaint was, in my experience, just about the most single overrated piece of consumer tripe, this side of the New Coke.

To begin with, the Oppo doesn't work properly even by its own standards without a dizzying assembly-line of firmware upgrades. (Note to self: Never again buy a piece of electronics that touts how easy it is to upgrade with a front-end USB port. If it didn't work when it left the factory, don't buy it.) Break point insertions either do- or do not happen from disc to disc, with the same set of keystrokes, audio decoding either works or it doesn't with no apparent rhyme or reason, and most personal DVD backups of old VHS tapes either don't spin up at all, or return perhaps one frame in every twelve to the screen, making every old recording in your collection look like it was made with clay-mation.

Picture quality is lackluster at best, with lots and lots and lots of false contouring, and the audio is peppered with so much midrange breakup at even moderate output levels that for weeks I thought I'd somehow managed to blow up both of my front-channel speakers. It took me three solid days of experimentation to figure out how to make DTS content play to all six channels including the subwoofer, and then when I changed to a second DTS-encoded disc the same switch-settings no longer worked.

Along the way I also learned that the company apparently staffs a team of thinly disguised schills, trolling the discussion forums under the guise of helpful enthusiasts who immediately close down all discussions of their products that aren't favorable. As soon as it became apparent in a different forum that the helpful suggestions I was getting were self-contradictory and ignored my previous posts, my ostensible hobbyist friend posted one more time to say that next time I should read my manual, and then had the thread closed.

Finally I just threw up my hands and bought a Marantz DV7001 and -- WOW! -- it's so much better, from picture quality to audio reproduction to user interface to support, that I just can't see how anyone on earth should patronize Oppo and their second-rate products, whatsoever. Granted, the Marantz will cost a bit more money, but these days it's not really that much more, and besides: in the words of one famous movie character, you *WILL* know where that extra money went.

Send an e-mail to author "at" escapeclause "dot" net, if you'd like more details.
I'll give you 20 bucks for the Oppo.
But seriously, I purchased a 980H a few months ago to use as a cheap transport with a Bel Canto Dac2. It served its purpose there, but I agree it's nothing special as a stand alone player. Haven't used it for video. Should also say mine has worked without a hitch though.
Well, I liked New Coke better than I've liked having an archive of over 3000 personal backups that won't play in my DVD player.
I've had great experience with my two 981HDs. The upconverting video is good and the two-channel sound gives an excellent price/performance ratio. I didn't install any firmware upgrades, nor feel any need to.

My Playback Designs MPS-5 blows the Oppo into the weeds, but it cost 100-times more, literally. I think the Oppo is a great value and I plan to keep one or two around as transports in the event that SACD/DVD-A players dissappear.

Hey, DC-Step, good to hear from you! Usually we interact over on the S'Phile boards, no? Same person?

I had no complaint with the Oppo that couldn't eventually have been worked around or gotten used to, except that it wouldn't consistently play personal backups -- which in my particular application is a bit like saying, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

It's also worth noting that the Marantz that I switched to was MSRP'd at almost three times as much dough -- though I didn't pay anything close to MSRP for mine. Apparently it also uses a slightly older-generation chipset, which would mean more to some folks than it does to me.

Right now I'm using it as both a DVD player and a CD player, and it's holding its own against my Arcam FMJ DC23, which I thought I'd never get rid of....
Dog or man,

I'm glad you've found a reasonably inexpensive unit that works well for your specific needs. I'm sure the Marantz is a decent player and it should be considering it list about $800 I believe.

BTW, I own an Oppo970H and it has worked flawlessly for me since I've owned it. It's never failed a single time to perform exactly as expected. However, I typically only play store bought CDs, DVDs, SACD, Dual Disk, etc. I have a couple of ripped CDs that work just fine in the Oppo too. I've never had a need or desire to download newer firmware if there is even any available for my model.

Your comments did entice me to ask a question. Have you typically had any issues with playing DVD copies ripped from your Video Tape collection on any other players? I'm considering the purchase of a dvd recorder/VRC combo player for making DVD copies of my old VSH tapes. Does this typically work OK for you? I've read lots of post in various forums where folks have had issues with copying or playing DVD copied of "protected" VHS Tapes. So far these comments have made me think twice about investing $300 on a combo player considering it might not work for my intended purpose.

Thanks and Enjoy,

In my experience, a combo player will generally not make a personal DVD backup of a commercially produced VHS tape. I don't know how the VHS tapes are protected, exactly, but they are.

There are methods of accomplishing this goal using a PC with a DVD writer, but the one with which I'm most familiar requires a card with a coaxial input -- and then you'd be dealing with a lot of signal loss through the VHS coaxial output line.
Hey Dog_or_man, yes, I'm one and the same Dcstep.

I think that Marantz is clearly one of the best values for the money. At $360 street price, the Pioneer Elite DV-58AV is also a great value with a much slicker user interface than the Oppo.

Hi My oppo 980H bested my Pioneer DV563 SACD/DA player. I have been using mine as a transport and I tried to listen to the unit's DACS but My tube DAC simply sounded more solid in the soundstage and more refined. I also tried it on a 32" LCD and a 26" LCD and the picture was awesome. I used HDMI connection for the video. I like the OPPO and I have been searching for over 3 months to find something better under $1000 but I haven't yet. I increased it to $2000 and now there seem to be some DACs out there that may offer better performance but I haven't found a player that gives you as much performance for under $1000. I'm still open to suggestions for something better.
You must have had a defective unit! Why didn't you send it
back for a replacement? I will give the Marantz and Pioneer a chance in the near future.
I have had my Oppo for almost 10 months.
Happy Listening

I'll second or third, that "Why did you not return it?" note.

Mine came after all the firmware updates and though it's not played much while the remodeling is ongoing, I use it to test ripped DVD's, CD's, and new store boughts, now and again. Each time wether it's a DVD - or +, itteration it does quite well. Once in a great while I'll have to do the eject and insert routine with burned DVD's, and it's usually a suprise when it happens. Every disc however plays in it that gets put in it.

...somehow or other I've been given, found or came by, exact copy, and movie only (sans menus) copied store bought DVDs in it without a hitch... and I know for a fact some were copy protected. In fact I just watched Bucket List on mine the other night and the DVD was a dupe.

It also stands up to lengthy run times as I've run it in and run other stuff in with it by using it as the source/preamp.... no probs.

I've not tried the USB interface for flicks yet as none of my drives are formated FAT or under the 160G limit.

Nothing is perfect in this world, and anyone can make a dud. Sounds like you were unfortunate enough to have gotten one too. I'd have sent it right back.

The Oppo support has been OK too, nothing superior but pretty good... and easily reachable. Way better than Marantz's support. I waited nearly 40 minutes one day to ask a few q's on a receiver I was interested in and they refused to answer my questions until I gave them a lot of personal info up front on me, and my other components!

So I gbought an Onkyo receiver instead. I know that really killed 'em too. lol.

About the only knocks I got on the 980H, is it's noise when ejecting or accepting a disc, and it's kind of clumsy in the doing of it... and the jacks on the back are simply way to close to one another for upscale analog IC useage... and true enough the menus could be more thoughtful.

Performance wise? As has been said already, it's a slam dunk of a player for the $$$... if it's working right of course.

If not? Well that's where that warranty bit comes in, isn't it?
It's funny reading all the points of view that I have never used any of the USB functions or anything else. I played with the OSD once and that's it. But I have enjoyed my 980 since it's purchase. We (af friend and I) recently purchased a Playstation 1 to listen to and compare to the Oppo. My friend has 2 tube DACS and an OPPO 980 and a Denon 29?? DVD player. We both came to the same conclusion that we are keeping our Oppos and Scot Nixon tube DAC's. I can't say the Oppo/Scott Nixon setup it's a slayer or anything like that but the sounds are very pleasing. That combination is pleasing and very musical too. I haven't done any of the updates at all to my Oppo and don't plan to. Updates only work some of the time. That little difference and it usually not worth the hassle.

You bring up a good point about using the available functions of these units. The Oppos are kind of like a swiss army knife. They basically have nearly every conceivable disk player function ever designed built into them. They are designed to play nearly everything you could possibly throw at them. Heck they even have built-in remote controlled variable volume so you can connect directly to an amp or use it for level matching with your other sources.

HOWEVER, it is nearly impossible for any company to design a product that will be "all things to all people", especially on the first go around. Like you, my Oppo has performed flawlessly on everything I've thrown at it. But, I play mostly store bought disk. Some folks use a lot more of the avialable functions and some folks are on the bleeding edge of technology and push units to their limits and beyond.

This is why companies like Oppo produce multiple firmware updates over the course of a model's life. Users like Dog or Man will find a scenario where a unit does not perform to their requirement and firmware updates may be implemented to "fix" the issue or enhance the product to work for their scenario.

I've never performed an update on my Oppo either. And I likely never will. But it is good to know that companies like Oppo do listen to their customers and often provide firmware fixes as a result of their customers feedback.

It didn't work for Dog or Man, but it has worked for many satisfied Oppo customers.


I recently started using my Oppo 980 with my PS Audio DAC III and it is excellent. No functional problems with its operation. It needs a better power supply. I cannot tell the difference between my Oppo 970, Pioneer 563, or Jolida 100A as far as being a transport. I have compared it to the Oppo alone and there is no comparison, nor should there be. The key is the DAC. No doubt the Marantz beats the Oppo as a stand alone player. P.S. I don't work for Oppo, have no business relationship with them, and don't post on their behalf.
I didn't return the player because I didn't realize the problems I was having were hard-stops until after the return window had expired. A lot of what I went through was compatibility, and there were a series of firmware upgrades that were supposed to help in that regard (and didn't), so I burned up a lot of return-window with firmware upgrades instead.
Kudos TIC I could not have said it any better. I also bet
Oppo would have satisfied the customer regardless of the window. They appear to be pretty understanding and have good tech support.
Tgrisham I agree that they need to implement stiffer power supplies. Heck, to be honest every company out there including most exotic makers should invest in stiffer power supplies. Yes, I know it will increase the price of the product but a properly designed power supply will not only make that unit quieter but should actually make it produce a better soundstage too. To add to that it will make the product more reliable as well. You wonder why so many tube amps from the 50's and 60's are still on the market and still playing sounds. That's only part of the reason. IMO they used sound enginering in their power supplies then. Even though parts are superior today compared to 40+ years ago those parts still lasted over 40 and in some cases 50 plus years and still running.
Look at the Dynaco ST 70, Marantz 8B, McIntosh 275, 225, and the Eico amps. Don't forget the many other brands out there like Western Electric and Altec. If you are ever in the Destin, Fl or Pensacola, FL area look up Tom Tutay in the phone book. You will be surprised whatgood power supply design will do for the sound. Better yet Check out
Arthur Salvatore site (search for it on google) and look under modifications.
This morning I received a very gracious communication from Jason in Oppo technical support, offering to go over every last detail of my problems and address them one by one, despite the blistering tone of my initial review.

If nothing else, this is an extremely classy gesture and speaks volumes about the company.

Calling and talking to the support team of ANY product,
regardless the price, regardless the ambition, decided or not, is key to finding those makers who are customer oriented and not just resting on their reps and previous editions.

With very, very, few exceptions I've not spent my money on those products where I have little or no communication with the makers support squad.

the way I see it is if they aren't accessible prior to point of sale, or for some possible detail oriented issue, just how will it be if, or when, some real trouble arises?

No talky? No money.

Then there are those upstanding, consumer/people sorts which go beyond the call of duty and are personable, considerate, and concerned with the individual... I had hoped Oppo would offfer some aid here. I got a very good feeling from during them the brief talks I had with their service dept. prior to my purchase of my 980h.

Do let everyone know how things turn out.