Oppo BDP-95 3D Blu-ray Player
Oppo Blu-ray players have been a fixture in Home Theater's Top Picks section since the introduction of the BDP-83 in 2009. Earlier this year, we added its successor, the BDP-93, to the list due to its flawless playback of Blu-ray Discs, speed of operation, 3D capability, and streaming services from Netflix and Vudu. But good companies don't rest on their laurels, and Oppo has released an audiophile version of the player, the BDP-95, featuring the same reference-quality digital video processing with a beefed-up analog section for those who love their two-channel audio or who haven't upgraded to an HDMI-based AVR or surround processor and want the best audio possible for 7.1-channel soundtracks. Since the BDP-95 is identical to the BDP-93 in terms of video and digital audio, I'll concentrate on the upgraded analog audio here; for more on the rest of the player, see the review of the BDP-93.
Externally, the chassis is slightly larger, and it's five pounds heavier than the BDP-93. It has dedicated balanced and unbalanced two-channel outputs and a three-pronged detachable power cord, and the front-panel controls are backlit, giving it a more upscale appearance.
Be that as it may, it's under the hood where the two players really differ. The BDP-95's analog audio section boasts an ESS Sabre32 (ES9018) Reference DAC (digital-to-analog converter) for the 7.1-channel analog output and a second ESS Sabre32 Reference DAC for the stereo output, along with a Rotel-made toroidal transformer and higher-grade op-amps that measurably improve its analog performance.
Configuring the player is virtually identical to the BDP-93, and the menus are well laid out and easy to comprehend. Setting up for analog use is more time consuming than HDMI since you have to set speaker size (large/small), distance, and subwoofer crossover frequency (40 Hz to 250 Hz) and hook up all those blasted cables. Be sure to have an hour to spare and an SPL meter on hand to ensure that each channel is calibrated properly, which turns out to be quite rewarding.
Billy Joel's An Innocent Man SACD is one of my favorites and includes many of the pop star's hits from the past. The bass guitar in the beginning of the title track sounded like Joel's bassist was sitting in my room, and when "Uptown Girl" started, the snare drum was awe-inspiring.
Chesky Audio's Ultimate DVD Surround Sampler DVD-Audio disc includes an eclectic mix of tracks including blues, Latin, and a cappella. The Persuasions' a cappella rendition of the popular Beatles song "Eight Days a Week" shows off their unique sense of style. The harmonic complexities of the four singers filled the soundstage with slightly more body and richness as compared with the BDP-93.
At $500, the BDP-93 overachieves in a big way, but I found the beefier analog section on the BDP-95 to sound warmer and more inviting, especially with high-resolution DVD-Audio and SACD discs. Its Redbook CD performance exhibits similar attributes, and its musical prowess equals that of high-end players costing much more. This is certainly a phenomenal bargain for those who are passionate about their music and want best-in-class Blu-ray performance all in one machine.