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Amazing Stereophile Review: Anyone Using An Oppo 970HD With Slim Devices Transporter?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Pasted below is a rather remarkable portion of a review by
Wes Phillips in the May issue of Stereophile. I somehow misplaced this issue in a stack of magazines I'd already read, and hadn't stumbled across it until now.
After he had connected the unit to the Slim Devices Transporter he claims that, in terms of sound quality, that combination can literally be compared favorably against an Ayre C-5xe. No less than a universally regarded $6000.00 player.

Some of you here MUST have tried this by now given the small cost involved? What are your impressions? As the owner of a Transporter, I'm more than intrigued!


JC

"Yowzah! Using the Transporter to convert the Oppo's 96kHz digital output made me understand what all the fuss is about. Forget "good for the money"—now we're talking world-class. What's that you say? Using a $2000 DAC makes no sense with a $150 front end? Au contraire, mon ami, which is French for in a pig's eye. Many audiophiles, prosumers, and folks with music servers already have hi-rez DACs in our systems—the DV-970HD gives us an affordable means of feeding them high-octane digital.

Bloated bass and congested highs—all gone. The soundstage became bigger, and Pizzarelli swung even harder—if such a thing is possible. The combo of Oppo and Slim Devices now offered the C-5xe far more serious competition. In fact, the DV-970HD with Transporter had more incisive focus, which I somewhat preferred to the airier, er, Ayre. That is to say, sometimes I did, taking it to be greater detail; at other times I thought the Ayre's slightly more atmospheric sound was less hyped, and therefore more relaxing, than the Oppo–Slim Devices. They were close, though; close enough that the differences fell pretty far into personal-preference territory."
post #2 of 14
there is one HUGE caveat to this review. the only way to output 24-bit/96khz through spdif (coaxial or toslink) from oppo to a high-end external DAC is to get unprotected DVD-A. it does NOT work with SACD or protected DVD-A. i've tried already with the oppo and my Mhdt Lab Paradisea+ using an Diana Krall SACD. this issue has also been discussed on stereophile and audiogon forums. unless you wanna go out and hunt down the very limited collection of unprotected DVD-A, you are limited to playing high-res SACD and DVD-A through oppo's analog output, which isn't too shabby either, but definitely not in the same league as when going through a high-end DAC that the stereophile review was raving about. you can output regular CDs through oppo's spdif outputs to a high-end DAC, but then the result is similar to using any other cheap cd/dvd players with a high-end DAC.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the clarification Bob. It seemed too good to be true


JC
post #4 of 14
the jitter on Oppo was piss poor. I would stay with SB3 as the transporter.

I think this is a case of an over-zealous reviewer whom was given an opportunity to review a 'giant kill' and got too excited over it.
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by chesebert View Post
the jitter on Oppo was piss poor.
This is true, it is very poor and if it were an expensive unit it would be dismal - however until someone can show (reliably) that 4ns jitter is audible I would not worry about that too much - so far random jitter isnt shown to be an audible problem until you hit 100s of ns , even deterministic jitter isnt shown to be an issue until you get up to 20ns (in music), masking can comfortably take care of the low level (-80db) spuriae.

If jitter at the sub 500ps level really was the problem it is often made out to be then the Oppo with 4ns would be wholly unlistenable. Opinions on its quality are highly variable of course but a lot of people think it sounds pretty good, are all these peopel deaf ?

An interesting sidebar to this is that these high levels of random jitter do raise the noise floor and lower the effective resolution to at least below 16 bits on redbook possibly below 14 bits. To get a deterministic jitter figure of 4ns you have to have a -74db sideband, to get the 10ns jitter which is audible with a pure 16k tone you are seeing a -66db sideband, to get 20ns jitter - which is audible in music you have to have a sideband of about -60db

http://users.verat.net/~rogic2/1541/...asurements.pdf

The Oppo however has a wide spread of jitter sidebands contributing to its overalll 4ns figure, the worst of which are at ~ -90db wrt to a -6db signal


PS Stereophile measured the jitter at the analog output stages not at the DAC, so any jitter here is after the DAC has done its job so with an external DAC the picture may be very different.
post #6 of 14
I also read a review on another audio site, but the reviewer makes quite clear that for audio you certainly wanna use an external dac!
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourmaline View Post
I also read a review on another audio site, but the reviwers makes quite clear that for audio you certainly wanna use an external dac!
Yeah, I think the actual story is that transports are becoming good enough that even budget models can properly feed a DAC. Also, high-end DACs sound good...
post #8 of 14
Quote:
unless you wanna go out and hunt down the very limited collection of unprotected DVD-A, you are limited to playing high-res SACD and DVD-A through oppo's analog output
I don't have too many DVD-A disks, but everyone one of the six that I've tried (from 5 different labels) can output 96KHz data to my external DAC from the OPPO 970HD. So I don't think DVD-A disks are generally a problem. SACD does show up in the HDMI output but this isn't an option for most audio only systems, so you're stuck with analog outputs like most any other player.

However, I should note that when I picked up this DVD player from the OPPO Mountain View office a few days ago, it didn't output anything besides 48KHz, even after going thru the setup menu that is supposed to allow this (you have to disable the HDMI audio). I took it back and they spent some time looking at it, and finally loading the previous firmware from Sept. 2006 solved the problem. So surprisingly I was the first one to uncover this bug in the latest, Jan. 2007 firmware. They said it would take a few weeks before a new version of the firmware is ready with this fix. The only downside of the Sept. 2006 firmware for audio only use is that the gap-less SACD play is not fixed as it is in the latest version.

By the way I bought a refurbished unit for $119 plus tax.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by infinitesymphony View Post
Yeah, I think the actual story is that transports are becoming good enough that even budget models can properly feed a DAC. Also, high-end DACs sound good...
Umm...As long as a transport doesn't resample and outputs bit-perfect digital, they will all be the same.

Bits are bits. They don't change if you're using a $50 transport or a $5,000 one.
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by OverlordXenu View Post
Umm...As long as a transport doesn't resample and outputs bit-perfect digital, they will all be the same.

Bits are bits. They don't change if you're using a $50 transport or a $5,000 one.
Seems like it, don't it? But it's not that simple. There are a lot of problems a transport can cause. One of them is jitter.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by OverlordXenu View Post
Bits are bits. They don't change if you're using a $50 transport or a $5,000 one.
Yes, the bits are the same, but as steaxauce says, the timing information is not always the same.
post #12 of 14

Ric Schultz/EVS-modded Oppo 970HD

I had Ric Schultz at EVS mod my Oppo 970HD ($790 total for the mods, including the Superclock 4), and the analogue out "ROCKS"! Female vocals breathe life, bass is deep, solid and accurate, highs are smooth and extended, rhythm, pace and dynamics are stellar. Killed my RAM-modded HD-841 (that I spent $1000 on).

http://www.tweakaudio.com/EVS-2/Oppo_Player_Mods.html
post #13 of 14
I would trust Headfi reviews more than Stereophile ones. Seems like most all reviews are the latest, greatest thing since sliced bread, and often times the products reviewed have advertisements in the same magazine
post #14 of 14
Thanks for the link, pataburd. It's good to know that there are upgrade paths for this player. Let us know if the Oppo continues to improve with burn-in. I'm interested in getting a stock unit to try for a while... mods can wait.
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