Review: Theta Compli Blu vs Oppo BDP-83 SE

I have both the Oppo BDP-83 SE and a brand new Theta Compli blu. I have compared the two players and found the Theta to beat the Oppo in most areas.

Finally been able to do a test between the Oppo 83 SE with HD-SDI and the Theta Compli Blu. I have not used any measurements in the test, so it is not an attemt to be scientific in any ways, just my opinions and my findings using my own eyes and ears. I am not considering the differences in price, this small test is just about performance.

Test with both units performed in my no. 1 system and with exact same cables. All video cables are Nordost silverscreen. Audio going through a Cary Cinema 11a to amps. Video going through a Crystalio II VPS-3800 processor and to a Sony VW100 projector which has a new bulb. The units are set to run Source Direct, dvd is sent as 480i, and BD as 1080i or 1080p. Both units are also running the same firmware from Oppo, from Dec 24 last year.

So how does the Compli Blu, brand new out of the box, perform against the Oppo 83 SE which already has run about 100-150 hrs? Very well I have to say.

1) Test #1: Blu-ray movie
Because of a bug with HD-SDI in the current Oppo firmware I am not able to watch Blu-ray through HD-SDI, only HDMI. So I compared apples to apples, HDMI out from the Oppo 83 SE and HDMI out from the Compli Blu.

-Results for video:
The Compli Blu has lower noise and more vivid and lifelike colors. It is not a big difference, but noticeable. I especially like the colors the Compli Blu. It looks like it has more density. It is also sharper, and very very close to HD-SDI from the Oppo as I can remember it. Although I belive HD-SDI out from the Oppo will be a bit sharper, I think I would prefer the Compli Blu because of the nice colors.

-Results for audio:
Running digital audio out, there were big differences. The Compli Blu is far ahead.

Preferred order for audio (with Blu-ray)
1. Compli Blu digital to the Cinema 11a
2. Oppo SE digital to the Cinema 11a
3. Oppo SE analog to the Cinema 11a
4. Compli Blu analog to the Cinema 11a (but this is maybe because the unit is brand new and not broken-in)

=>Compli Blu won for both audio and video.

2) Test #2: DVD movie
Now compared both with HDMI and SDI out from the Oppo 83 SE and HDMI out from the Compli Blu.

-Results for video:
HDMI out from the Oppo loses. Then it is a very close race between SDI out from the Oppo and HDMI on the Compli. Same as with Blu-Ray I still prefer the colors the Compli produces, but now I can see that the Oppo with SDI really has an advantage when it comes to sharpness. SDI really shines here, so I think I will say that the overall picture quality from the Oppo with SDI is the best. But it amazes me that the Compli Blu without SDI is so close. Congrats to Theta!

-Results for audio:
Sames as with Blu-ray. Running digital audio out, there were big differences. The Compli Blu is far ahead.

Preferred order for audio (with DVD)
1. Compli Blu digital to the Cinema 11a
2. Oppo SE digital to the Cinema 11a
3. Oppo SE analog to the Cinema 11a
4. Compli Blu analog to the Cinema 11a (but this is maybe because the unit is brand new and not broken-in)

=>Compli Blu won for audio, and the Oppo with a small margin on video, but only when using the SDI output.

3) Test #3: SACD
I had the same results with 2ch SACDs and multich SACDs so I will not comment on each.

Now compared both with digital out and analog out for both units. Digital sent as PCM over HDMI up to 96 kHz. Still same cables.

-Results for analog output:
The Oppo 83 SE was clearly the winner here. Much more air around voices and instruments, greater depth and dynamics. The Compli Blu sounded less resolved and not as musical, but don´t misunderstand. The Compli Blu still sounds very good throgh the analog outputs. But also, I believe the Compli is built upon the standard Oppo and not the SE version so it was not surprising that I got these results. It should also be considered that the Compli Blu is brand new, so I guess it will improve quite a lot after some burn-in.

-Results for digital output:
Digital out from the Compli is a little bit better than from the Oppo. I don´t know why, but of some reason I think I could here bigger differences with movies where the Compli Blu was much better.

Going digital from my Compli Blu through the Cinema 11a also is a little bit better than analog from the Oppo SE.

=>Compli Blu won for audio when running digital out, but that is just because the DACs in the Cary Cinema 11a is up to the task. With a lesser Surround processor I guess running analog out from the Oppo SE would be hard to beat.

Preferred order (with SACD)
1. Compli Blu digital to the Cinema 11a
2. Oppo SE analog to the Cinema 11a
3. Oppo SE digital to the Cinema 11a
4. Compli Blu analog to the Cinema 11a (but this is maybe because the unit is brand new and not broken-in)

2 & 3 are hard to separate, sound very like on most recordings, also 1 & 2 are pretty close.

4) Final "conclusion":
Compli Blu is the winner if cost is not an issue. Or if you have a high end Audio/HT system. The Oppo 83 SE is still a very good choice and gives better value for the money.
Thete Compli Bluray: $2,995
Oppo BDP-83SE: $899

These are retail list and not street price where you can expect some discount off list.
Cappuccino... I own a Compli and have been toying with the idea of buying either a Compli Blu or the OPPO SE.

Since you owned a Compli at one time, can you briefly compare the Oppo and the Compli Blu against the Compli?

I have had the old Compli myself. I have never used video analog output from any of these players so cannot comment on that, but in all other areas both the Oppo SE and the new Compli Blu are much better.

Now I want to try the new Ayre DX-5 !!
I have been saving to get a new oppo this month, and i have read many good reviews about the oppo 83 SE.
The Compli Blu seems to be a great player, but the price is way expensive.
For what its worth, the MSRP price of the Compli Blu is half the MSRP of the Compli. I'd buy the Oppo 83 in a New York minute if I could find someone that could replace the coaxial out with an AES/XLR connection. I've asked a few of the modification firms if that's possible, but they've all said there's not enough room to do that. I wonder if that's why Theta didn't offer an AES/XLR out.
So what is Theta doing different. Cause if you look up the Manual for the Theta Blu ray it's the Oppo manual. So what that says to me is Oppo built it and Theta slapped there name on it and raised the price 3 x as much. Now I like Theta and I am an owner of Theta equipment. But this seems very suspicious.
It could be the Lexicon issue all over again unless Theta has come out and said their player is based on an Oppo with modifications. Check out this thread on
You can consider the Compli Blu as an Oppo on stereoids.
Here is a list of the enhancements Theta has done over the Oppo:

1.Heavy 16 gauge steel chassis for rigidity.
2.Positions of transport mechanism and display have been swapped. Lowering the mechanism allows for elimination an intermediary mounting bracket and long standoffs, resulting in greater rigidity.
3.Completely rigid mounted mechanism replaces the original spring mounted system.
4.Special 3M adhesive damping material used on drawer assembly, further reducing vibration energy.
5.RS-232 control is included as a standard.
6.Custom designed front panel PCB.
7.Custom designed analog power supply, which includes the following:
A. An 80 Watt ultra-quiet toroidal transformer.
B. Additional, independent 10 Watt transformer for Standby circuit.
C. A total of 7 Amps of power available to supply the unit.
D. Four independently rectified and regulated power supplies.
E. Over 40,000 uF filter capacitance, in small, low ESR multiples.
F. 2 oz. gold plated copper used throughout.
8.Proprietary Theta Digital customized software for superior performance, and that can be easily updated through USB port on the rear panel, or via Ethernet connection to Theta Digital's website.
9.Standard thick, brushed aluminum alloy cover provides better sonics and aesthetics as it reduces vibration energy further.
10.1/2" thick Tower and Faceplate matches other Theta Digital products.
As evidenced in the following paragraph copied from Theta’s website, what differentiates Theta from Lexicon is the fact that Theta has always been up-front about the fact that they use third party units as a platform for their products. The below message appeared in Theta's website well before the Lexicon issue came to light. In addition to that, if you look at the Compli Blu manual, the manual clearly shows an OPPO BDP-83.

"The Compli Blu, like all the other transports before it, is based on a manufacturing kit obtained from a third party, then optimized by Theta Digital's experts to bring it up to our high standards. In the past, we've partnered with Sony, Phillips and Pioneer. This time, we're pleased to partner with Oppo, whose recent transports have garnered quite a following. Both Oppo and Theta Digital are delighted to bring this top performing product to you, and to build upon the already desirable performance of the BPD-83 and establish yet another benchmark of performance by Theta Digital in the transport product category."
So the $2K premium buys you a better more rigid chassis with resonance damping material and an upgraded power supply, similar to some of the mods currently being offered for the BDP-83SE. As pointed out above, the fact that Theta is fully transparent in its marketing of the product concerning its core and the value add they bring to the table is fair enough. This is more reasonable and honest than the Lexicon debacle and allows consumers to make an informed choice as to whether the premium is warranted both in terms of sonic performance and premium branding.
Cmalak... I've been a Theta guy for a long time but I've got to side with you that at first glance $2,000 is a lot to pay for the above listed enhancements. It would be really interesting to see side by side photos of the interior of an OPPO BDP-SE83 compared to the Theta Blu.

By the way, I should add, partnerships between Hi-end company's and manufacturers is not a new development. Philips transports have been used for years by EMM Labs and others. Do we need to ask how much a EMM Labs transport cost.

So a $2,000 Theta transport is a skin irritation only to those who did not realize the facts before, we pay for the name and the high end performance.

There is so much more that the Oppo-83SE has to offer and it deserves full attention especially at this price/performance level. There are some killer mods out there that will make you drool.
As my Compli Blu now is fully broken-in I must add some corrections to my original review. For music I now prefer running analog out from the Compli Blu through the Cary processor. It is truely a great unit.
I thoroughly enjoyed your review and appreciate that you shared your experiences with us. One quick question - with a high quality preamp like the Cary, I was surprsied that you used the PCM output on the universal players(instead of the bistream outputs) for your digital comparisons. Did you ever compare the bitstream output in the Oppo to the PCM outout in the Oppo?

In the test Blu-Ray audio was sent as bitstream over HDMI.
LPCM was for SACD only as the Cary Cinema 11a currently does not decode DSD. In the menu for both the Oppo and the Theta Compli Blu (which are identical menus), you can set SACD output specifically.
I too have a Compli Blu here and am pretty impressed. I also have a NuForce BDP-83SE as well. Go here for an initial write up and photos:

As you will see, the power supply and chassis changes are significant. Essentially only the drive, digital and analog board remains the same from the Oppo. OK - thats a lot, but it's really only three parts, albeit significant ones.

BTW - thanks for your write up Cappuccino
It seems that both were released almost in the same time range - recently. Is Compli Blu built on 93? Rather than on 83? If that is the case, then the video processing is different between 83 and Compli Blu (assume it uses the same as 93). Theta site doesn't say too about it in details. Anyone can clarify this? Thanks.
The Compli Blu is based on the 83. They completely replaced the power supply, the whole chassis, the front display/control board, relocated and mounted the drive unit, and some other stuff. The analog section seems to be untouched, but Theta calls it a transport anyway, so it seems they intend for it to connect digitally to the user's system.
I would wait and check out the new OPPO 93 replaces the OPPO 83 or the new OPPO 95 that replaces the 83SE. These players will be shipping shorty and are a jump in performance.

People are already dumping their 83s and 83SEs here right now...
Curious - "a jump in performance" but no one has seen or heard them yet...they could be, but how can you say this right now?
Theta will release a Compli Blu mkII. So far I don´t know if it will be based on Oppo 93 or 95.
I now have both the Theta Compli Blu and the Oppo 95 and run side by side comparison. Yes, it is right what someone said that these new machines from Oppo represent a jump in performance. Earlier I preferred the Compli over the Oppo 83, but with the 95 it is different. Analog audio is quite a lot better with the 95. With all kinds of digital audio I am not able to hear any differences. But with video I find the the Oppo 95 to be a little bit better than the Compli. It is a little bit sharper and has more depth and 3d feeling to the picture, that is with 2d material of course. (My projector is not cabable of 3d so I have not tested that). I hope Theta will make a mkII version of the Compli based on the Oppo 95. It would be a killer machine I guess!