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This review first appeared in the January 2012 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read it in its original Polish version here. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own articles, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Oppo - Ed

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition
Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory Shilabe & Kansui
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III Signature with Regenerator power supply
Power amplifier: Soulution 710
Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom
Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic + Acoustic Revive custom speaker stand
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600Ω vintage, HifiMan HE6
Interconnects: CD/preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp/power amp Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate
Stand: Base IV custom under all components
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under CD player, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under CD player and preamplifier, Pro Audio Bono PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS
Review component retail in Poland: 6.499zł

At least as we understand them, the era of physical media players is coming to an end. Whenever presented with the choice, a regular consumer will pick the purchase, storage and access convenience of an audio file over a CD. What remains problematic is the paranoia of large media corporations over selling their content on the Internet due to copyright theft and Internet piracy via Torrent and other P2P websites. It would seem that the first content-owning mega corporation to boldly go where none have dared tread before by offering its customers a convenient secure way to purchase music online will be a big winner.

When the dust finally settles after the battle between the hardware and software providers is over (the makers of playback machines vs. the retailers of music), there still will be companies relying on physical carriers like CD, SACD and vinyl. LP isn't merely about great sound. It's also about a certain product philosophy, a life style and a culture of interfacing with recorded music. As a format it likely will last for many more years. LPs aren't terrified by new codecs, higher sampling rates, copy protection schemes and such. Their format is purely analog in every meaning of the word.

Makers of CD/SACD players will likely continue on as well trying to romance the millions of owners of the billions of discs which have collected in households around the world. This however will mostly be in the form of expensive to ultra expensive machines. Mass market examples will be the first to vanish.

The second decade of the 21st century is a transition period. Such phases are best suited for hybrid devices which combine old and new. Do you remember VCR/DVD combo machines? Many folks bought those and a large part still uses them due to the dual makeup of their video collections and our hardwired human resistance to change. Closer to audiophile home, how about multi-format DVD-A/SACD universal players? Or more current yet, HD-DVD and Blu-ray decks? Associated file versions may follow quickly but they are likely haunted by various birthing pains. Optical discs by now are well-established media. File streaming on the other hands... well, let's just diplomatically say that playing them back at top quality is far from straightforward.

Universal or multi-format players have been around. Virtually all big video vendors have a model. The audio market however is limited to mass-market providers like Yamaha, Denon and Marantz and firms like Cambridge Audio and Arcam. Yet the company that sells the most universal players still isn't from this circle. They are registered in the US under the name Oppo Digital Inc. Their products are often heavily modified by specialized audio firm like ModWright or Ayre but Oppo is also well-known for parallel OEM development with other manufacturers which slightly if at all modify the firmware, power supply or output socketry whilst leaving the main modules untouched. One thinks of the infamous Lexicon BD-30 or the very respectable Cambridge Audio Azur 751BD. The firm which offers the entire platform is Winbase Electronics Corp. Ltd. Oppo has an advantage which other specialized manufacturers seem to lack. They react incredibly fast to changing trends and are often first to adapt technological innovations. An example of the latter is their latest top player called BDP-105EU.

It incorporates numerous advantages and its complete specifications would fill a few printed pages. It doesn’t make sense to list them all so I’ll only mention the most important points which go beyond just another Blu-ray player with which to watch movies. In fact this machine should be regarded as a high-end player for both optical discs of all persuasions and audio/video files. Consider these highlights: video up-scaling to 4K i.e. 3840 x 2160 (particularly useful with 3D films using half of the full available resolution); 2D-to-3D video conversion; dual HDMI inputs for external sources (can play the role of a digital center for an audio/video system); 24/192 asynchronous USB (at the time of publication there was no driver for Windows 8 so I was limited to 24/96); 24/192 coaxial and optical digital inputs to act as legacy D/A converter; playback of CD, HDCD (including decoding), SACD (dual-layer and multi-channel), DVD-A (the same), 2D and 3D Blu-ray as well as video and audio files; audio playback up to 24/192 WAV and FLAC; built-in headphone amplifier; rigid intricate chassis; high-end video components such as the Qdeo/Marvell Kyoto-G2H video decoding chip; source-direct mode for video signal; pure-audio mode for audio signal; separate PCBs for audio circuits with multi-channel and stereo outputs; RCA and XLR audio outputs; separate power supplies for the stereo audio section with a toroidal transformer and two secondary windings for the digital and analog sections; and finally the audiophile pearl, two excellent ESS Tech Sabre32 Reference ES9018 chips for the stereo and multichannel outputs respectively as commonly used in the most advanced DACs and SACD and CD players. But there's far more to this machine still. I merely scratched the surface of this incredibly complex creation. To wrap my head around it, I used it mainly as audio player and only occasionally checked how it fared on video discs and files.