After using the DC-1 in my system over the past two months, and being very happy with it, I wanted to share my experience comparing it to the Oppo BDP-105’s audio. I got the 105 a week ago to upgrade my video experience and add DSP, 3D, 4K and Blu Ray Pure Audio capabilities, and thought using it as a DAC/preamp as well would be a reasonable solution for my system.
The components I used with it include the Emotiva XPA-1’s (Gen 1), run balanced, to Magneplanar 1.7’s setup with great care for optimal tonal balance and imaging. The 105 was run balanced as well.
My observations are a distillation of four pages of detailed listening notes, which taken together reflect my impressions.
I tried streaming MOG, redbook CD’s, 24/96 and 24/192 hi res downloads and Patricia Barber’s “Modern Cool” Pure Audio Blu Ray disc for my listening. And, while the degree of resolution was different in each of these cases, the differences between the 105 and the DC-1 seemed consistent on my listening samples, primarily acoustic jazz.
For USB, I checked the Audio Midi settings on my MacBook Air for each sample, which was run on battery for this evaluation to minimize electronic noise. Used this way, the MacBook Air, with an attached Thunderbolt drive makes for a very flexible media server – highly recommended!
Literally out of the cold box, the 105 sounded less transparent and “thicker” through the mids than the DC-1, with more bass and less extended highs. Thinking some warm-up was needed, I let the 105 spin a blu-ray pure audio disc for 24 hours. I’ve heard the 105 needs a break-in period of 200-500 hours, but felt that excessive.
Returning to my evaluation after this warm up period, I found the character of the 105 to be dramatically different. Now, my notes said very spacious, good depth, detailed, extended highs, good harmonics on guitar strings, more sibilance, more recessed upper mids.
Returning the DC-1 to my system, I was immediately struck by the difference in sound, and used these terms in my notes:
Sweeter, more lifelike, less “sheen” around vocal edges, more presence, less sibilance on Diana Krall’s “Walk On By” at 24/96 via USB, less fatiguing, more transparent with a jaw dropping 3D quality, each instrument firmly placed in space, less diffuse, more of an emotional connection to the music, female voices rounder, more timbre to drums, more articulate bass with harmonics clearly audible, more palpable.
After these comparisons, I enlisted my wife’s help in listening to these differences – she was a piano major with an excellent ear. Her remarks were that the 105 was more “trebly”, and noted that everything had an electronic “sheen” compared to the DC-1. She felt that while the 105 sounded “exciting”, the DC-1 sounded like real musicians were in the room.
In summary, it’s as if the 105 emphasizes highs at the expense of upper mids, where the all-important female vocals reside. My wife agrees with this characterization as well.
Some other notes:
-On the 105, there was a loud “snap” through the system when changing tunes on the computer through USB – very disturbing at 1,000 watts into my 4 ohm Maggies, and not observed using the DC-1.
-I missed the volume control and analog inputs on the DC-1 – no easy way to connect my turntable!
-The USB input on the 105 sounded much better its Toslink input, while both were equally great on the DC-1.
-While both units use the LM4562 IC for audio output, they use different DAC chips. I understand that the 105 has changed their implementation of their Sabre 32 bit DAC chips so they are no longer run quad differential like the DC-1 and the older Oppo BDP-95.
I didn’t notice any issues with the 105’s 32-bit volume control, but prefer the thought of the DC-1’s stepped analog control.
-The included wireless adapter with the 105 runs on the G band, outdated for my N-band wireless environment.
-I did like the full-size look of the 105, in silver, but sound quality is my first priority.
I am returning the 105 today, and may order the Oppo BDP-103 for video duties. But there’s no way I’m letting loose of the DC-1, and just may order another in case this one ever dies!
I hope these observations are helpful, accompanied by the mandatory “in my system, in my room, to my ears” as well as YMMV, IMHO, and maybe even WTF.