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CDs. Top models from any maker are essentially technology showcases which demonstrate their designers' engineering prowess. Accordingly the BDP-105EU arrives in a very solid truly great enclosure with an advanced power supply and its audio circuitry has benefited from the same attention to detail as the video. And that's audible. The sound is very well balanced with good dynamics and surprisingly well-handled treble. Whilst a very annoying, rustling, empty, shrill top end is seemingly standard in video equipment, here the treble is saturated and slightly warm. It may therefore seem to be slightly subservient to the midrange. But in fact it's the upper midrange which is slightly withdrawn to virtually eliminate any chance of brightness. A slight rounding of the treble has us perceive it to be more in the rear but it's not. The player delivers big sound with a flourish. It shows true muscle which is a refreshing change from 'audiophile' CD players which often sound muffled. The Oppo not only builds large images but backs them up with appropriately intense venue response and its decay – everything the sound engineer decided to add to the basic direct sound.

For a digital machine at this price the sound is very well organized. Phase relationships are maintained which was demonstrated on recordings by Polish groups Kombi on their mini LP edition of Nowy Rozdział (New Chapter) or Bajm with 1998's Płomień z nieba (Flame from Heaven). Although these recordings aren't spectacular, one can listen to them with pleasure because among other things their r engineers managed to encode plenty of space. The Oppo nicely revealed the anti-phase data to extend the soundstage well past the speakers and behind the listener’s head. It was not quite as overwhelming an experience as playing the same CDs on the Mark Levinson N°.512 SACD player next to it but there was no doubt about retrieving all the information from the discs.

A general sonic refinement was the first thing of note. It has one treat the device seriously in the context of hifi. From what I've heard, only a few BD players like the Cambridge Audio Azur BD751 or Arcam BDP300 operate at this level. The Oppo however still stands out on scale. Its midbass is clearly emphasized. This extends to some degree into the lower midrange and results in male voices being more weighty and strong and bass guitar getting a gentle push to emerge from out of the shadows. This is an obvious deviation from neutrality but clearly intentional and precisely why the sound is so big and expansive. Resolution is pretty good as is selectivity. These aspects don't transcend the capabilities of a 3-4K zloty CD player such as the Music Hall cd35.2 but neither are they substandard. In fact it would be difficult to decide between these two or the Cambridge Audio Azur 651C. Dedicated CD players are a bit more restrained in their bass presentation and control it better. They also cast a slightly deeper soundstage. They can’t however offer such spectacular dynamics which one might term dramatic. Nor will they ever do what the Oppo was actually designed for – play audio and video files from hard drive or USB flash drive and Blu-ray discs (not to mention SACD).

High resolution recordings (Blu-ray, SACD, HRx, audio files). As do other reviewers, I torture multi-format players with plain CDs because every self-respecting music lover usually owns several thousands of them and won't let them gather dust. I already hinted at how the Oppo does surprisingly well with them. There's no way to exceed a CD player of more than 5.000 PLN but no one would expect that. Yet even in such comparison the Oppo won't embarrass itself. There is no quality gap. In this case what starts to take over are small details which only summed generate a new quality. All in all this is a surprisingly high level.

I think that after listening to how this player handles audio files both high-resolution and Redbook, one may revise one’s views on what is 'kosher' hifi and what isn't. The performance with an external hard drive was in fact even better organized and more internally consistent than with optical discs. It seemed calmer apparently because it was smoother and more vivid. BDs sounded surprisingly good, both pure audio (SONaR by Ellen Sejersted Bødtker of 2L) and audio/video like Allan Taylor’s Live in Belgium on Stockfisch. Both presentations were extremely natural with their performers present here and now. This was admittedly assisted by the very nature of these recordings which feature either soloists or small ensembles but my overall impression was very positive indeed.

Larger ensembles went a little further with Blu-ray than CD. This is natural as the production of CD often requires quite substantial audio compression resulting in increased average volume and subjectively closer images. But here it was something different. Higher resolution allowed the tracks to develop a bit like a movie plot. There was breath, sequence, expectation and suspension. And this was true not only for the spectacular 24/192 recordings from the Alan Parsons Project but also for small ensembles on reference albums from Bakoon (24/96 and 24/192) and even ultra-minimalist music on the already mentioned Ellen Sejersted Bødtker effort. Everything was tonally richer including a deeper soundstage which on CD was rather shallower with a more upfront foreground.

SACDs too were very interesting. Their warmer color and smoother texture showed somewhere between the open breath of high-resolution PCM and the factualism of CD. Their treble was closer to CD, slightly warm and well integrated. There seemed to be more treble energy on BDs. This impression was even stronger due to something clearly obvious and thus mentioned right at the beginning – a withdrawal of the upper midrange. Increasing bit depth from 16 to 24 (or in case of SACD its equivalent) and to a lesser extent increasing the sampling frequency on the Oppo brought a clear sonic change for the better with every single aspect. This reflected well on the purity of the audio path. The majority of DVD and BD players show no change transitioning from CD to 24-bit files. Here I immediately heard a darker quieter background even with recordings considered to be lo-fi like the new Mikołaj Bugajak Random Trip on the New Recordings label.

If a musician has a vision however and a music producer—in some cases the same person like here—can properly hear the results on quality gear, any kind of music is worthy of our highest attention. Making recordings available in 24-bit resolution only helps. The owner of New Recordings, an artist also known as Noon, seems to get it. Both albums were released such that one can play them on a CD player but also rip high-definition files to hard disc all for the price of a single CD. Let’s support such artists all the more so as this music is cool and obviously recorded with much care. In any event, with the Oppo the denser version of this album had much more to say. Dynamics were significantly higher to make for a more unrestrained presentation. What did not change was the bass. It still lacked in extension and was not as well controlled as it should have been.