Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac (5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.02), HP Z230 Workstation Win7/64, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming and Spotify Plus 320mbps on both computers, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Aqua Hifi La Scala II, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Questyle QP1R (AIFF), Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio (AIFF)
Preamplifier: COS Engineering D1, Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Vinnie Rossi LIO with AVC
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8, FirstWatt S1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Vinnie Rossi Lio; AURALiC Merak [on loan]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Gallo Strada II w. TR-3D subwoofer, Sounddeco Sigma 2
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event MkI and MkII; KingRex uArt double-header USB; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s and subwoofer
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves and Krion or glass-based Exoteryc stand/s for amp/s
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces (pictorial tour here)
Review component retail: €3'490

Death and taxes. What thing in hifi is that certain? This one: that Oppo make the best most popular universal players today. It's why mod men from Dan Wright to Luigi Dall'Antonia to Michel Reverchon of Goldmund use them. And what's not to luv? They're built well. They're reliable. They do stereo and multi-channel. They do all compact physical discs from CD to SACD, DVD and Blueray. They exploit special video DSP including the optional Darbee Visual Presence engine. They double as ESS Sabre DACs via USB, coax and Toslink. They do headfi. Tidal streaming is integrated. As per John Darko, the Apple TV even shakes hands via HDMI. There's a back-lit remote and an owner's manual thicker than a new car's sales contract. And the price is right. Oppo's BDP-105 flagship really is the musketeer of hifi: one for all, all for one. But it ain't got toobs. From Oppo. Yet deal with Oppo distributor Labtek from Italy and ask for their custom modifications. Voilà: glowing bits where there were none before. Plastic surgery for better sound?

Those who boo-poo tubes in D/A converters have likely never heard a Fore Audio DAISy1, Aqua Hifi LaScala II, ModWright Elyse, Nagra HD or LampizatOr Golden Gate. What Labtek's modified BDP-105D addresses—and does so in two flavour options—is universal disc support in the same enclosure. It's for those who still do physical discs; who double-dip into audio and video; who consider eventual membership in Club PCfi; who eye multi-channel music; and who with it all also mean to tart up Oppo's stock output stage. If that's not you, don't diss folks who need multi-tasking kit, not audiophilia's recklessly high box count. Given that our upstairs 2-channel video system runs a BDP-105D multi-region deck, I'd know exactly what Luigi had done to the stock sound. For the full menu of specs and functions, refer to Oppo's extensive owner's manual. Here we only go into what Luigi divulges of his Italian à-la-carte options.

Elle aka Extreme Labtek Limited Edition sports a shiny decal on top; upscale Furutech sockets on its main RCA outputs; two vertical Chinese Sunon MagLev* fans on the right cheek of its cover; and a lookalike perf pattern on the left cheek without an actual fan behind it. The latter presumably adds cross air flow through the enclosure by acting as intake.

Otherwise nothing external reveals any 'Mod Inside' status, certainly no exposed valves atop deck à la ModWright. Shipped uninstalled were channel-marked pairs of Sovtek 6N1-P and NOS Telefunken E88CC. Popping the hood for a look revealed less than expected. The only area of the stock player that was visibly different occupied the green zone; plus thick flying leads from the upgraded RCA outputs and one other junction to Labtek's tube PCB which tucks beneath the Oppo output stage board. These are crammed quarters to begin with; a mod man's nightmare. Meat fingers alert!

* "The Sunon patented MagLev design is based on magnetic principles and forces that not only propel the fan but also ensure stable rotation over its entire 360° of movement. Utilizing the attraction of the magnetic levitation force, MagLev eliminates the wobbling and shaking problems of traditional motor fans. With this new technology, the MagLev fan propeller is suspended in the air during rotation so that the shaft and bearing do not come into direct contact with each other to create friction. These features result in a fan with low acoustic noise level, high temperature endurance and longer lifespan."

Contrast the Elle mod with the rebuild of ModWright's Truth Mod which I chronicled in a April 2013 review. As the next photo illustrates, it's rather more sprawling and elaborate. Not that I could comment on sonic differences between mods.

If you were to trust any listener to compare something based on 2.5-year old memories, I'd call you far too naïve and gullible for your own good. I'd ask for your email to forward sundry Nigerian fraud offers your way. "Dear, we've got $9'000'000 in an abandoned bank account we want to give to you. Please provide your account details." Cheers.