Sound Advice: Is more expensive Blue-ray player worth it?

July 6, 2015 

Q. Some time ago you wrote about the Oppo BDP-103D Darbee Edition Blu-ray player. It sells for $599. On the Oppo website I also found the Oppo BDP-105D Darbee Edition Blu-ray player. It sells for $1,299.

You highly recommended the BDP-103D at $599. Is the BDP-105D so much better that it warrants spending $700 more? Would I be able to tell the difference?

— Donald Carl, Plantation, Fla.

A. It depends on your system and how you will use the player. For many people it is indeed worth the difference.

The audio performance and capabilities of the player are different. The players have similar video quality and there is no difference in the audio quality if you only use the HDMI connections in your system. If you do not have an external audio system at all, or are only using the HDMI connections between the player and receiver then the BDP-103D is the player for you. Though not inexpensive at $599 I do think the BDP-103D is worth every penny given its extremely high quality, many features and the noticeable difference made by the Darbee Visual Presence processing. To learn more about Darbee processing go to If you want to add Darbee video processing to your system without adding a new disc player you can buy a small video processor called the Darblet DVP 5000 for $199.

The BDP-105D takes the standout video performance and Darbee processing of the BDP-103D and adds audio performance that is absolutely state of the art. The chassis is bigger, heavier and the player is even more finely finished with its beautifully styled faceplate, and balanced outputs are added for use in high-end audio systems. It will improve the sound quality of everything you play, from Blu-ray discs and DVDs to CDs and digital audio files.

To enjoy the improved audio performance of the BDP-105D you must use the analog audio connections for audio and run a separate HDMI cable to the TV for video. Not all receivers have analog audio inputs, but fortunately anyone contemplating a $1,299 disc player is going to have a receiver or audio processor high enough in the manufacturer’s model line that it will have them. I can say from my own experience that the difference is quite noticeable in my own system as the sound was more richly detailed and airy, and just plain sounded better. I was comparing it to the audio circuitry in my Anthem AVM50v audio/video processor, which was $5,000 when it was new, so this is no small accomplishment.

At the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas I always tour the high-end audio suites, which are hosted at The Venetian away from the main show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The BDP-105D is ubiquitous in these suites and if the displaying manufacturer does not offer disc players themselves, you usually find an Oppo BDP-105D there playing discs or digital audio files. I think it is a fine testament to the quality of the player that it is trusted by the makers of the most exotic amplifiers and speakers to make their gear sound its best in front of a very picky audience.



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