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Oppo Digital BDP-83SE and NuForce Oppo BDP-83SE

post #1 of 93
Thread Starter 
It made the March 2010 Stereophile Class A list for the stock version. I will have an opportunity to audition both early next month. Thank you.
post #2 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu View Post
It made the March 2010 Stereophile Class A list for the stock version. I will have an opportunity to audition both early next month. Thank you.
Yummy.
post #3 of 93
post #4 of 93
I just ordered my oppo83SE today.. I have no business buying a 1,000 anything.. But, like it stops us..
post #5 of 93
Robs comparison SE VS NU
avsforum

"I recently was able to conduct a head-to-head comparison of the Oppo BDP83-SE and the NuForce Edition. I will apologize up front for the delay is getting this review out, as well as its length. But I wanted to be as complete as I could in presenting a hopefully useful review. If you only want to know my conclusions and would prefer to avoid my philosophizing, please skip to the last section. For the rest of you, here are the details and philosophizing: Both players had at least 100 hours on them before serious listening tests were conducted. Each player was connected to my Aesthetix Janus preamp using identical cables. To help me further differentiate between the sonic contribution of the cables and the contribution of the players, I listened with three different sets of identical cables: (1) Tara Labs RSC Reference, a fairly transparent $200 cable, (2) BlueJeans LC-1 cables, a surprisingly excellent high-value $40 cable, and (3) AudioQuest Jaguar, at $400 a pair. None of these cables are quite as transparent and smooth as my reference AudioQuest Colorado, but I didn’t want to spend another $1000 on a second set just to perform the comparison. The predominant sound characteristics of each player were obvious with all the cables I used. More of the differences and benefits were obvious with the best cables. I won’t again list all the other components which make up my system, as they are mentioned in my previous posts and my profile.

After reading the more than sixty pages of this thread’s comments, and the varying perspectives of objective versus subjective listening, I thought I’d try to incorporate both views as much as possible. I attempted both the rigorous, left-brain dominated, engineering and scientifically based blinded testing procedure; as well as the right-brain dominated, subjective, experiential procedure. As someone trained in engineering and science, I have most often trusted the objective approach. But as I gain more experience under various listening conditions and learn more about the functioning of the human brain, I find myself more willing to entrust subjective perspectives with equal validity. Much of my awareness of these two perspectives is enlivened by recently reading two fascinating books: The first is a book intended to be primarily a business primer on the new economic reality facing the United States. It is Richard Pink’s book entitled “A Whole New Mind,” which explores the ways our didactic human two-hemisphere brain interprets our experiences and translates its analysis and emotions. The second book is “Musicophilia, Tales of Music and the Brain” by Oliver Sacks. Although I won’t get into the specifics of either of these books in detail here, I highly recommend both books in gaining a better understanding of how we as audiophiles interpret what we hear. Anyhow, on to the review...

For both my subjective and objective tests, I attempted to eliminate all variables other than the two players. Specifically, the interconnect cables were identical, the power cables were the identical stock cables, the same power conditioning was applied to each player, the latest firmware (a yet to be released beta version) was installed in each player, and identical CDs and SACDs were used. Checking the firmware version in setup screen showed that each player had the same Main version (BDP83-46-1210), Sub version (MCU83-24-0630), and Chip version (0B.00.01.00). However, the Loader version was different (BE2600 85752600 in the SE, BT0300 85750300 in the NE). Perhaps someone from Oppo or NuForce with greater technical knowledge can explain whether that variance should produce any audible difference. I used the same remote control to commence playback, and the players responded precisely. This made A-B loop comparisons very easy.
For CD sourced selections, I made a digital image of the original CD using Exact Audio Copy (EAC) on my PC, which corrects any read errors by making multiple reads of the data on the CD. I then burned two identical CD-R copies from the image file. The reason I made two copies was because EAC can actually improve the sound quality over the original CD. This isn’t magic, but rather a function of how digital data can be restored by using non-linear multi-pass reading and re-reading of the data, instead of the built-in, real-time, linear error correction of typical CD players. I’ve had many original CDs with audible drop-outs or spatially muddied sections which I’ve run through this process and the data has been restored. A consistently audible side effect is that the CD-R almost always sounds better overall as well. I used these two identical CD-Rs as my CD comparison material.

The CDs I used with this method include: “Just a Little Lovin” by Shelby Lynne -- One of the better sounding CDs I own, mastered by Doug Sax; “Parachutes” by Coldplay; “No Line on the Horizon” by U2 which exhibits some very complex layering of very low frequency information; “Forget About It” by Alison Krauss which highlights female vocal clarity and proper fundamental to harmonic balance; “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” by Neko Case, which showcases a rich reverberant sound field; and “I’m still the Same” by Bonnie Bramlett, which I just love if only because of Bonnie’s sassy, brassy performance. It is also a wonderful audiophile class soulful jazz recording.

I only wish that EAC could be used to make duplicate copies of SACDs as well. Of course with Sony’s copy protection implemented as part of the SACD protocol, it can’t. However, because I sometimes forget that I already own a particular SACD, or I receive a second copy as a gift, I do own three sets of duplicate SACDs. They are:

“The Quintet” Jazz at Massey Hall, a 1953 recording of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. Although the original recording was of course not done directly to DSD, the audio quality is quite good, and performance is outstanding.

“Herb Pomeroy Big Band Jazz Live at Sandy’s” an SACD-only disc recorded by Mark Levinson using only two microphones on a Studer A80 with 1” tape at 30ips, then transferred directly to DSD. The ambient information within this recording is really amazing and life-like.

“Mahler Symphony No. 6 in A minor” by the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, recorded live, direct to DSD, in September 2001 at Davies Symphony Hall, and produced by Telarc. I believe this to be a world class recording of the classical genre.

For my non-head-to-head subjective listening I also used many other SACDs, too numerous to list here.

First Impressions:
When I first hooked up the NE, I had been listening continuously for more than a week to the SE, and therefore was quite accustomed to its sonic signature. I wanted to get a quick first impression of the NE even before its dielectrics were fully stabilized. I had been playing the Herb Pomeroy SACD extensively in the SE and put the second copy in the NE. I immediately noticed two things: First, the NE exhibited a bit more body—meaning that the lower mid-range and bass were more fully fleshed out. Secondly, and somewhat surprisingly, the high end seemed to lose a little bit of its “life.” It wasn’t drastic, but there was a noticeable reduction in the “air” and sparkle of cymbals, and trumpets seemed to lose just a bit of their spit. I thought that I should just let the player warm up for a while, and then check back for a direct head-to-head comparison later. Then, a few hours later, I realized that I hadn’t yet fully set up the player via its HDMI to video display connection. In my enthusiastic rush to listen, I forgot to enter the Setup screen and set the SACD processing to DSD, from its PCM default. From listening to the original BDP83 and the SE version, I greatly preferred keeping DSD in its native format processing. Turning this setting to DSD immediately restored the high frequency life that I was accustomed to. I then set the disc to repeat indefinitely, and waited a few days before making any direct head-to-head comparisons.
Also, thanks to the information provided in this forum’s thread, I learned that I should not try to play any SACD with the player connected via HDMI to an active monitor. I was always puzzled why the player would skip back to the beginning of a track whenever I turned my display on. Doing so forced the Oppo player to PCM mode and restarted the music to the beginning of the track. So, all subsequent listening was done with the monitor off and the processing set to DSD.

Subjective Head-to-Head Impressions:So, after a few days of warm-up, I began attempting to characterize the sounds from each player. As I indicated earlier, the most obvious difference I heard was that the NE seemed to have more body or warmth in the bass and lower midrange. The SE was somewhat leaner. But which one is correct? After listening to many different discs I came to prefer the NE because it seemed to present not just more warmth, but the feeling of greater harmonic integrity. This is difficult to describe, but for anyone who is familiar with live musical instruments such as a piano or guitar, you’ll probably understand what I mean. When a bass cord is struck, you expect that you’ll feel the fundamental and perhaps the second harmonic, with the higher harmonics presented in balance. I suppose someone with an already warm sounding system might prefer the SE’s lighter balance. But in my system, I thought the NE just sounded more harmonically accurate. Perhaps more importantly, when playing very complex bass passages, the NE was better able to delineate each instrument. Both the Mahler and U2 recordings were particularly illustrative of this trait. Although warmer in balance, the NE exhibited more composure and coherence when the music called for multipart bass lines.

The second predominant characteristic I heard was the smoothness, or ease, with which the NE presented the music. I thought that the SE was already very good in this regard. Up until I heard the NE, I wouldn’t have expected a noticeable improvement in this area. My thought is that the SE got the digital part of this characteristic right, and the NE took it even further with the analog section. In my opinion, Alison Krauss’s voice comes very close to demonstrating an analogy to the crystal clarity of a bell. On lesser CD players, this characteristic can sometimes take on an over-bright quality. The original BDP83 was very good at presenting Alison’s voice in a very natural manner. The SE further improved the smoothness and articulateness of her voice. The NE takes another step forward by removing yet another veil from the recording while further softening any rough edges. I’ve heard Alison perform live on many occasions. The presentation from the NE is the closest I’ve heard any digital player present her voice. Dare I say; it’s very analog-like?

The third characteristic I noticed was the precision with which the NE could recreate the sound stage. Again, this is an area where I thought the SE showed considerable improvement over the original BDP-83. And here the NE takes it to a higher degree of precision. In particular, the depth and width of the sound stage is in better focus. The optical analogy is fitting here. The NE seems to fine tune the focus so that the fields surrounding the instruments or voices are slightly better defined. It is easier to hear the layering of instruments from the front of the stage to the back. When I close my eyes and just listen. . . . . I can more easily imagine the musicians sitting right in front of me. The sound stage of the NE isn’t necessarily wider or deeper than the SE. It is just more tightly focused.

Lastly, the NE seems better able to reproduce the textures in high frequency content like cymbal splashes and brushes. Together with the additional mid and high frequency smoothness, this ability to better highlight high frequency textures adds up a very convincing sonic illusion of “you are there.”

Objective Head-to-Head Comparisons:
After a few days of subjective un-blinded listening, I had formed an impression of the sound characteristics of each player. This series of listening test should prove whether I could reliably identify those characteristics I subjectively formed. So, I set out to perform a direct, blinded, head-to-head test in the most objective way I knew. The SE was connected to Input 1 on the Aesthetix Janus preamp, and the NE was connected to Input 2. All cables were identical. Both discs were identical. A thirty second A to B segment was selected from each of six discs to highlight specific sound characteristics. When switching between sources on the preamp, there is a quarter second silence as the output mutes. This muting also occurs when selecting the same input a second time. This aspect allows a type of single-blinded A-B-X comparison, with only the remote operator knowing whether the input source is the same, or has changed. Both of the players and the preamp are behind closed doors, preventing both the listener and the remote operator from seeing the preamp’s input indicator. An infrared repeater is located inside the cabinet to relay the remote commands. I tried this method first as the listener, unbeknownst to me whether the operator selected the same or different input after each 30 second selection. As it turns out, the operator didn’t always know if the input selection changed either! We eventually learned that sometimes the Janus would mute for a quarter second, but not actually change inputs. Firmly pressing the remote button for a fraction of a second longer would ensure the change of inputs would occur. We finally decided that it would be prudent that after I announced my verdict of which player I thought I was listening, he would open the cabinet door and check the preamp’s display to ensure that it was set as he expected. After some trial and error, we got the procedure to the point where it was reliable. We repeated this switched listening for a few hours with most of the discs I previously listed. Unfortunately, by that time we were finished, we were both stressed and aggravated, and weren’t really enjoying the process at all.

Although my guesses at identifying each player were about 70% correct, the entire process induced tremendous “aural strain.” I swear that my ear drums and brain hurt! This wasn’t pain caused by a defect in the players, but apparently by the process itself. This was not the result that I usually experience while listening to music for enjoyment. For the remainder of the time I had the NE in my possession, I listened un-blinded, relaxed, subjectively, all the while enjoying the music. Although I am still sitting on the fence concerning the validity of double-blind listening tests, I know that it is not how I usually listen to music. It was not very enjoyable even though it provided some confidence in supporting my subjective results, albeit with only a C- grade. The very act of trying to analyze and choose seemed to reduce my hearing acuity. I couldn’t fully synthesize the experience. I had thought that the differences I heard when subjectively listening to the two players were pronounced enough for me to blindly identify the correct player every time. Perhaps I just don’t perform well under pressure. Or perhaps intellectual analysis occurs in a different part of the brain from where musical enjoyment and insight reside. Referring back to the two books I mentioned may provide some perspective. Specifically, the hypothesis is that “The left hemisphere handles logic, sequence, literalness, and analysis. The right hemisphere takes care of synthesis, emotional expression, context, and big picture”. {1} Whereas I don’t pretend to understand enough about the human mind to be sure, it seems to me that listening to music, when at its most fulfilling, is predominately a right brain activity.

Conclusions:
The NuForce upgrade of the Oppo BDP-83SE produces a similar overall audible degree of improvement as the upgrade from the regular BDP-83 to the SE version. It is a worthwhile refinement of the SE’s originally competent platform. I would imagine that further improvements are possible, but perhaps at a much higher cost, and with progressively diminishing returns. Others involved in making modifications could provide a better basis for that decision. For me, the $396 upgrade price over the SE is money well spent, as I have paid more for interconnects or power cables with less overall sonic impact. As I indicated in one of my earlier posts, I initially purchased the original BDP-83 to serve primarily as a Blu-ray player which could also serve as a temporary universal audio player. The SE upgrade caused me to reconsider the temporary aspect of that intention. With the NE upgrade I believe I can comfortably live with this player for a very long time. Although I still haven’t been able to directly compare the NE to the best mid-priced CD player I previously heard—the Cambridge Audio 840C--if I can trust my aural memory I’d say the NuForce is smoother and more refined in its soundstage presentation, and about equal in bass impact, balance, and control. This just speaks to CD playback. With the additional superior high resolution playback capabilities of SACD, DVD-Audio, and Blu-ray discs, the NuForce Edition more than one-ups the competition in the $1200 to $2000 disc player range."
post #6 of 93
It is very easy to sum up the difference between the SE and NE. The SE is veiled in-comparison to the NE.
I have both the SE and NE and my SE was upgraded from the base Oppo BD-83.

I also helped Nuforce over come a flaw in there upcoming NE, by working with Nuforce. The biggest difference is in how Nuforce handles the op-out for the dedicated 2ch analog out. Plus using Oppos great 2ch stereo downmix.
If setup properly the BD-83NE is a great source player and DAC all in one for 2ch analog. The 8-channel Sabre32 Ultra (ES9016) DAC chip and stacking 4 DACs for each of the Left and Right channels is fantastic.
So now there is very little need for a external DAC , that means you can run your interconnects from the dedicated 2ch analog out of the oppo directly to your headphone Amp.

ss
post #7 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by sillysally View Post
It is very easy to sum up the difference between the SE and NE. The SE is veiled in-comparison to the NE.
I have both the SE and NE and my SE was upgraded from the base Oppo BD-83.

I also helped Nuforce over come a flaw in there upcoming NE, by working with Nuforce. The biggest difference is in how Nuforce handles the op-out for the dedicated 2ch analog out. Plus using Oppos great 2ch stereo downmix.
If setup properly the BD-83NE is a great source player and DAC all in one for 2ch analog. The 8-channel Sabre32 Ultra (ES9016) DAC chip and stacking 4 DACs for each of the Left and Right channels is fantastic.
So now there is very little need for a external DAC , that means you can run your interconnects from the dedicated 2ch analog out of the oppo directly to your headphone Amp.

ss
Yeah,
I see my Balanced BC DAC2 getting little air time now.
post #8 of 93
Has anyone done a direct comparison between the Oppo BDP-83 NE and Sony SCD-XA5400ES? The latter happens to be on my shopping list based on the positive reviews it has garnered so far.

I already have a stock Oppo 83 and I am not too pleased with the SACD operation. I still hear pops between tracks even after upgrading to the latest firmware and disconnecting the HDMI cable. Not to mention it lacks the title and track information that is available with this format.
post #9 of 93
My oppo 83SE came in today.. Will leave impressions when I get home from work.
post #10 of 93
Thread Starter 
That's awesome. I look forward to your impressions tonight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kool bubba ice View Post
My oppo 83SE came in today.. Will leave impressions when I get home from work.
post #11 of 93
The analog audio on the Oppo 83 is awesome! I want to hear a detailed review regarding the sonic differences between them. I heard that the nuforce has a better power supply and optimized analog signal paths. The listening says the final verdict.
post #12 of 93
The 1/2 hr impression. Was looking for a night and day difference , didn't get it. To be fair, I play my Pink Floyd the wall SACD on default settings. So a huge difference is still possible. I really believe a more conventional headphone would help me to evaluate the player better. Have yet to try SACD or DVDA..But dsd over HDMI without being out put to pcm is a nice touch.

The thing that hits you the most is the extreme focus to the music. It's like being on Retalin in a sense, my GP V5 amp has this quality, but not to this extent. It's like being in a minor Zen state or hypnotic trance. Your attention is totally focuced on the music. No wavering. Ialso notice air in areas I normally wouldn't expect like individual plucks of strings, and the bass is really tout and tight. The SS isn't huge but precise and pretty accurate in accordance to the other instruments.

Another notable. Midrange. Voices are more audible, clearer, more coherent and easier to under stand. This was most evident in the last portion of the wall song. The noise floor feels a bit like a free fall. Like there is no floor to speak of. the music is just suspended and tightly controlled. Micro nuances are more abudent through out with a hightened sense of resolve to the music in general. I like what I hear, but expected more of a wow factor. Still. I haven't fiddeled much and has yet to touch the manual, so more improvements can arise. Overall, I'm impressed with CD play back, but expected more improvements due to the cutting edge dac.
I will give this player more time to settle in, and will play with the different functions and configurations. A headphone with a wider and deeper sound scope like the 702/W5000/GS1000/HD800 would have been more ideal IMO.
post #13 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by kool bubba ice View Post
Have yet to try SACD or DVDA..But dsd over HDMI without being out put to pcm is a nice touch.
I am sure you know, but the big benefit of the BD-83SE is using the dedicated 2ch analog rca out not using HDMI.

Quote:
A headphone with a wider and deeper sound scope like the HD800 would have been more ideal IMO.
You are correct the HD-800s sound great with the BD-83SE. And yes the player needs some time for break-in.
Don't forget to check to see if your player is using DSD for your SACDs when using 2ch analog out. How you can tell is by lowering the volume on your BD-83SE, if the volume doesn't lower only just mute then its using DSD. Don't forget to raise the volume back to 100%.

ss
post #14 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by sillysally View Post
I am sure you know, but the big benefit of the BD-83SE is using the dedicated 2ch analog rca out not using HDMI.



You are correct the HD-800s sound great with the BD-83SE. And yes the player needs some time for break-in.
Don't forget to check to see if your player is using DSD for your SACDs when using 2ch analog out. How you can tell is by lowering the volume on your BD-83SE, if the volume doesn't lower only just mute then its using DSD. Don't forget to raise the volume back to 100%.

ss
Oh, yeah.. I was just pointing out that HDMI supports DSD.. I did use 2 channel analog rca..Use 2 cardas silvers connected to my GP V5. As I stated prior, the focus is incredible.. I just expected my jaw to hit the floor SQ wise. I blame that more on my high exceptions, then the player itself.. 2 channel is much better then the optical/bit stream I tried.. Sounded excessively loud & bloated in comparison. Have yet to try HDMI or SACD/DVDA yet.
post #15 of 93
I've owned the 83SE for a few months now. A couple of quick observations.

1) Out of the box it was almost unlistenable, thin and shrill sounding. It took over a hundred hours before I could stand listening to it. After about 300 hours it had morphed into a decent sounding player. Put it on repeat and let it play for a week before making any decision about keeping the player. Not world class, but a very good value at $900.

In a week or so I'm sending my 83SE to Exemplar Audio for modification. It's much more money than the NE, but I have had John Tucker modify much of my gear. IMO he does the best modifications out there. At some point I'd welcome a comparison to a NE player, but until then I'm sure that I'll enjoy John's work.
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