Oppo BDP-95 with Arcam AVR350

Four years ago, I purchased a high-end Arcam AVR350 A/V receiver without a good understanding of the future. Now I want to take advantage of the new lossless audio formats offered on Blu-ray from my new Oppo BDP-95 player. I can connect the multichannel analog output of the Oppo to the Arcam's multichannel input, but I am concerned about bass management, equalization, and lip sync. Can an amateur do the adjustments recommended or is a professional needed? Also, I am questioning my recent decision to repair my AVR350, which had a power-supply issue (it cost $400 to repair). Should I have bitten the bullet and scrapped this $2700 clunker for a newer receiver? It's a hypothetical question because now I don't have the funds to buy both a high-end receiver and high-end Blu-ray player. Any thoughts?

Lisa Kaye

Fortunately, the Oppo BDP-95 offers bass management, so you can do that in the player; simply designate your main speakers as "small" in the player's Speaker Conguration submenu, and the low frequencies will be redirected to the subwoofer output. It also provides speaker distance/delay and trim-level settings.

However, the Oppo offers no equalization, and the AVR350's multichannel input bypasses all internal processing (except volume), so the only way to equalize the system you have is with an outboard equalizer and enough training to configure it correctly. Buying such an equalizer and hiring a pro do set it up would cost a fair amount, so if you are thinking of doing this, you might consider getting a new AVR instead. As for lip sync, I don't think that will be a problem from the Oppo.

Should you have bought a newer AVR instead of fixing the Arcam? That's a tough one. The AVR350 undoubtedly sounds great, but it has only two video-only HDMI inputs and no lossless decoding. I probably would have opted to put the $400 toward a new AVR, though any model comparable to the Arcam would be much more than that.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to askhometheater@gmail.com.

Share | |
COMMENTS
theo's picture

Lisa,

I think that with the analog outs as you have it setup you are going to have a fantastic setup. ARCAM makes stellar sounding products. Better to have an older ARCAM than a newer, lower end receiver. Also, receiver technology changes so quickly you have to jump in at some point only to see the new models and features come out next year.

Some setup thoughts. Your setup as Scott said is going to be just fine. The only item to note is that the sub cannot be a further distance than the mains. The Oppo won't allow it and will not allow anything to be greater than the mains for distance.

In terms of EQ, yes, you are correct the newer stuff tends to have EQ; however having the speakers properly setup and the room properly treated is a much, much better direction than an untreated, improperly setup room wit EQ. I suggest spending the time to tweak and perfect the setup if you haven't already. Some reviewers don't like the EQ in their rooms. it's there as an aid not a magic bullet.

Finally you have really great equipment. Enjoy it thoroughly. Good sounding equipment isn't cheap but it will offer you years and years of enjoyment at a level other equipment can't touch. The Oppo BRP is just a fantastic piece of equipment. Unless you are using a video scaler lip sync shouldn't be an issue. So setup that Oppo with the AnLog outs and configure the speakers and forget about it and enjoy. And don't forget you still get the ARCAM advantage on all other analog and digital sources like streaming, CDs and broadcast video.

And when you are indeed ready to upgrade you will hopefully have had years of enjoyment. There's always a next thing but right now, you have a really good thing.

Disco Jets's picture

Lisa,

Check out this link to a blind test that was done at Dolby Labs to compare Dolby Digital to Dolby True HD. The bottom line is...you won't hear the difference. Enjoy your Arcam and forget about it. Though I've got to tell you, for $2700, they ought to send a tech over from England and fix it for free. Good luck.

Disco

http://www.hemagazine.com/node/Dolby_TrueHD_DTS-MA_versus_Uncompressed_PCM

theo's picture

Disco,

That's an interesting article. Nice setup they have too with the Revel Ultima speakers. That must sound spectacular. I must say that between Dolby Digitial (DVD) and uncompressed, I can always hear the difference. It's not just subtly noticeable, it's really just a much clearer, crisper, more open presentation of the movie or music. So perhaps there's some merit to the uncompressed claim, but I can tell the difference (or at least I'd like to think I can tell the difference!) between Dolby Digital and an uncompressed BluRay.

Mittchell's picture

Dolby Digital audio and Uncompressed PCM audio are entirely different from each other. Regular Dolby Digital soundtracks are,by definition lossy,compressed audio tracks. Correct me if I am wrong.

I believe that the referenced study compared Dolby True HD & DTS HD-MA to uncompressed PCM audio,finding no audible difference. I haven't read the whole article yet but,I don't believe that they would say that regular lossy,compressed Dolby Digital sounds the same as uncompressed audio. It seems more likely to me that they are saying that there is no audible difference to the human ear between the new high resolution,uncompressed digital soundtracks and LOSLESS,uncompressed PCM audio.

theo's picture

That was my thinking too. The article does talk about uncompressed and not lossy but they do say about lossy Dolby digital at the end and that the difference wasn't major. I just don't find that same result in my setup. The HD and lossless codecs are much more open and dynamic.

mailiang's picture

I admit that the loss less soundtracks provide better sound quality compared to lossy DVD soundtracks. However, I have to agree with the Home Entertainment article that when it comes to comparing these different formats on Blu-Ray, the differences are much more subtle. This is due to the fact that Blu-Ray's have much greater bandwidth and thus their lossy data rates are much higher then DVDs. Also, see my comments in regard to this subject on my post about analog Blu-Ray outputs.

Ian

Ovation123's picture

I don't have an Arcam but I do have a similar situation--SACD/DVD-A player through analogue MCH input to my receiver (an Integra DTR 6.4). I added an Anti-mode 8033 EQ to tackle the subwoofer frequencies (the most important ones to EQ) to my set up for under 400$ and it has done a lot of good. It is VERY easy to set up (10 mins. from opening the box to fully functional), does a very good job with EQ'ing the sub and has extended the life of both my player and my receiver (I was considering moving to a new receiver and a player with HDMI output to get EQ for my sub, but the Anti-mode is a much less expensive option). It is not the best available option (SVS offers a sub-EQ that is more powerful, based on the Audyssey system) but it is still quite good, especially for its price and ease of use.

If I were in your situation, Lisa, I would keep the Arcam, use the Oppo's bass management and speaker delay functions and add an Anti-mode (which will improve sub performance from all sources, not just the Oppo).

Kal Rubinson, at Stereophile (a sister publication to this one) reviewed it favourably in his column Music in the Round (if you do a google search you'll find it easily enough).

Just my 2 cents.

cwall99's picture

I've wondered about this with my own AVR (a Pioneer Elite VSX-82TXS)... but, since it has multi-channel inputs, can't you simply get a new pre-pro (one that has multi-channel analog outputs) and just wire them into your AVR?

It gets you all the newest stuff like HDMI 1.4a, several new processing modes, etc...

Then, later, when you have more scratch, just yank the AVR and replace it with your new amp(s).

Then, even later, when standards have changed enough yet again, all you have to do is replace your pre-pro.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
The problem with using the multichannel inputs on most AVRs as you suggest is that the AVR's volume control is still in the circuit. (Depending on the model, other parameters might still be in the circuit as well, such as individual channel-level controls and EQ, but with the AVR350, only the main volume control is in the circuit.) This combines with the pre/pro's volume control and can lead to serious distortion/clipping if you're not careful. To go this route, you need to find the best setting of the AVR's volume control and keep it there. This setting is probably something known as unity gain, at which the input is sent directly to the AVR's power-amp section with no change in level. Some AVR's calibrate their volume control to indicate unity gain as "0," while others use different scales.
mailiang's picture

Remember that with Dolby Digital and DTS audio the LFE channel is designed to play back 10 db higher then the other channels. However with analog, in order to prevent clipping the analog input, there is no 10 db gain. So unless your receiver allows you to adjust the LFE channel separately, it's impossible to compensate unless you raise the AVR's line level out or sub volume which not only effects the LFE channel, but the output on all the bass that's crossed to the sub. And that's not all. With analog, the sub level output to your AVR is dropped by an additional 5 db for each speaker set to small by your player to make room for the the extra bass and again reduce the risk of overloading the analog input. Also does your player, (which does the bass management with analog) have a crossover control or separate time delays for each speaker? Even the more expensive ones like most of the Oppo's do not. So unless you have some serious equipment and a lot of patience you will never get analog to digital to work like digital bass management should.
Keep in mind that the data compression schemes for lossy (standard) DTS and Dolby Digital are lower on Blu-Ray. DTS claims that it's core data rate on Blu-Ray is twice that of other DVD video surround formats. So if your frustrated and not happy with your players analog set up, forget about all those extra cables, plug in to your digital (optical or coax) input connection and let your AVR do the bass management. This way you can enjoy great audio quality with out worrying about it being compromised.

Ian

islandhopr's picture

Lisa -
You made a great choice in purchasing the Arcam AVR350. At the time you purchased it, it was the best sounding receiver on the market in it's price range.
Right now through the end of the year Arcam is offering previous customers like you a $1000 discount for trading in your AVR350 on a brand new Arcam AVR400. The AVR400 has all the features you said you were interested in having in a new receiver.
If you need any additional information you can go to the US distributors website www.americanaudiovideo.com.
Best regards,
Jim

Perrin1710's picture

Jim, I actually own a 350 and have been thinking about replacing it. Do you know if this discount will also be available for European (i.e. Dutch) customers?

I actually have been pondering about this setup with the Oppo as well. I haven't invested yet, waiting for a good review. This question and your answers are helping a lot, but I would really enjoy a review from Lisa.
Thanks in advance!

Scott Wilkinson's picture

You can find our review of the AVR400 here:

http://www.hometheater.com/content/arcam-avr400-av-receiver

elannut's picture

Would the arcam350 work just as well with oppo 93 as 95? Especially in view of the analog out differences.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
The Arcam AVR350 would work equally well with the Oppo 93 and 95, but since the analog output from the 95 is superior to that of the 93, you should get better sound quality with the 95. The determining factor in your scenario is the player, not the AVR.
mailiang's picture

Unless you are playing SACD's, I will never understand the advantages of using analog audio outputs for home theater applications, since it is so much easier using the AVR's more effective digital processing. Like I posted earlier, it's the bass management that's far more critical then receiving loss less audio formats, when it comes to over all sound quality.

elannut's picture

No advantages: Just that my avr350 does not do audio hdmi. It does have LFE bass management tweaks in the set up. Do you think its a given that tweaking the avr to use analog is that complicated that I should forget about lossless and use other formats?

mailiang's picture

I've listened to both lossy and loss less formats and I could barely tell the difference on most Blu-Ray sound tracks. The Blu-Ray data rates on both DTS and DD are high enough to offer a significant improvement over DVD audio and it is so much easier to set up. Even if you spent the time and expense of properly converting the digital to analog back to a digital format, in my opinion, it wouldn't be worth it.

elannut's picture

So doing gymnastics to listen to lossless (over dd or dts etc) would not be worth it. I should just let my non-hdmi receiver do what it does best. Then I should connect the optical audio of the blu-ray to my avr and forget about it. I reason I was focusing on the Oppo is because of the analog out but if I am not going to use analog out I suppose it open up a new arena of choices. I suspect oppo will still be one of the best. Thanks for comments

jallen56's picture

Iam so glad to see this article on the arcam AVR350. I own the lexicon MC4 and have been reluctant to give it up for the "look at what's hot new pre amps". I am going the OPPO 93 route with my system. I hope to use the MC4 a few more years. Thanks for all the comments.

Perrin1710's picture

Lisa, I was wondering if you did setup the system with the 95 and 350. Very interested in hearing a review from you. I am planning on updating myself, including an upgraded player for my CD/SACD/HDCD/BD collection. The BDP-95 seems the superior alternative compared to the Denon/Marantz and Cambridge Audio universal players. I would love a real life example in combination with the AVR350. @Scott, you agree?

I am leaning towards the Oppo. This is not only a result of the sonic part, but in my case also because the Oppo sports dual HDMI output. The Arcam sports a zone 2 out that can be assigned to the backchannels. This makes it easier for me to use one source for my HT setup in the main room plus a newly built addition to my house.

Perrin1710's picture

I did it. Just bought the Oppo BDP-95 to complement my Arcam Diva AVR-350. First impressions; awesome! The 350 lacks te latest hd audio codecs, so I connected 8 Van den Hul interconnects, unbalanced stereo cables and a digital coaxial. The sound is stunning from te word go. Picture quality is superb. I was blown away by a first look at a MKV version of Avatar over my wireless network (!). The first setup is straightforward, but there are many options still to be explored. One of them is outputting SACD in DSD rather than PCM. I am wondering if that is at all possible with the Arcam combo. Being on holliday, I can't wait to be back and start fiddling again ;-)
There is a very positive review in HifiNews this month on the Oppo. I fully agree with their conclusion; a universal disc spinner to rule them all.

X
Enter your Sound & Vision username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading
setting var node_statistics_98253