Oppo UDP-205 4K UHD Universal Blu-ray player review

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posted on Sunday, 8th October 2017 by Steve May

4K  HDR  Dolby Vision  home cinema  Blu-ray 

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If you’re building a home theatre, Oppo will probably be high up your list of preferred Blu-ray deck manufacturers. It has an enviable reputation of producing premium disc players, build on foundations laid by a classic run of universal DVD machines.

The UHD-205 is the culmination of that development - an ambitiously specified multimedia device for both physical media and file playback. The disc transport is smooth and stable, there's a class leading DAC onboard, and connectivity is best in class.

Oppo UDP-205 UHD Blu-ray Player: Build quality and features
Oppo has a deserved reputation for over-engineered players. The UDP-205 doesn’t buck the trend. It tips the scales at a hefty 10kg and build quality is impressive. The player features a new double-layered chassis with separate power supplies for sound and vision. The front fascia is cast aluminium.

UDP205_front _main

UDP205_internal _hr

Around the back are three HDMIs, a main v2.0 terminal, second audio only v1.4 output, plus an HDMI loop-through input (you could use this to route an STB, games console or media streamer).

Sonically it offers both balanced and unbalanced stereo analogue outputs, as well as a full bank of 7.1 analogue outs. These are provided for multichannel audio use, and can deliver anything up to 7.1 Dolby TrueHD and DTS MA directly to a suitably equipped AVR or directly into a multichannel power amp; That said, the adoption of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X has removed much of their appeal for videophiles.

The balanced output utilises a differential signal path all the way from the DAC to the 3-pin XLR connector, resulting in less noise and an improvement in signal quality. We’ll take that as read, as this was not part of the system used for evaluation. The player’s stereo output can provide a downmix of any multichannel content. There’s also optical and coaxial digital audio outputs.

The player has a trio of USB inputs, two to the rear, and one on the front. With a USB hard drive attached, you can effectively use the deck as the front end of a music jukebox. There’s also an asynchronous USB-B input, which accepts sampling rates up to 768 kHz PCM and DSD 512.

A 12v trigger and RS-232 port are available for control system integration. Dual band Wi-Fi is standard, and there's an Ethernet port for wired LAN connection.

In addition to UHD BD, regular (and 3D) Blu-ray and DVD/CD playback, the UDP-205 is also compatible with Super Audio CDs and DVD-Audio discs, good news if you have a large legacy disc connection. It’s a well-equipped network streamer too. The player is DNLA compliant and will play DSD up to 11.2MHz, as well as 192kHz 24-bit on down - PCM, ALAC, AIFF, Ape, FLAC, WAV and MP3. Video support includes MKV and mpeg.

Perhaps the biggest surprise about the deck’s feature set is that there are no apps. Existing Oppo owners, used to listening to Tidal via their Oppo player will be disappointed, by its absence.

Oppo UDP-205 UHD Blu-ray Player: Performance
Both audio and video performance is outstanding. UHD image quality and detail retrieval is peerless. If it’s on the disc, this player presents it to the screen. While the deck’s output resolution will typically be set to Auto, a Custom setting permits adjustment of resolution and framerate, should you need it. There's also a Source Direct mode. Colour Space and bit-depth is adjustable between 4:2:0, 4:2:2 and 4:4:4, and 8-, 10-, or 12-bit. This should ensure no display issues.

XLR Outputs

RS232 (1)

The player supports both standard HDR10 and Dolby Vision encoded UHD Blu-ray discs. The HDR output is adjustable between HDR Auto, Forced, Off or Strip Metadata. In Off mode, all HDR is converted to SDR. A Target Luminance setting allows installers to optimise HDR to SDR conversion. The idea is to set the output to best match a TV or projector. The default is 300 nits, rising to 1600. Strip removes HDR metadata but preserves the native colour gamut.

The deck isn’t all about 4K. Regular HD Blu-ray playback looks fabulous too, and upscaling is accomplished, offering nuance (if not actual detail) and density. You can output discs in 1080p if you prefer, if you have a better processing further down the chain.

The UDP-205 also introduces a high-precision clock on the Main HDMI output, a feature not seen on the earlier UDP-105. In truth, I thought the player sounded darn fine with audio delivered overHDMI. But there’s a significant difference between the analogue output and HDMI. Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschebach's live rendition of Gute Nacht (Shubert, Winterreise D.911, Harmonica Mundi), reveals imposing atmospherics with both, but the presentation gains drama and dynamics with analogue – it's as if you change seating from rear of the hall to the front row.

The deck itself is build around a custom MediaTek SoC. It also uses two top-of-the-line 32-bit ESS Sabre ES9038PRO DACs. The Sabre Pro is a step up from the AKM AK4558VN DAC used on the cheaper Oppo UDP-203 4K player. The deck’s headphone amplifier is connected directly to the stereo-serving DAC. It’s probably easy to overlook this point, but the headphone amp provided here is good enough to drive high-quality cans.

The UDP-205 is every bit an audio, as well as video, player and stands comparison with rival audiophile CD solutions. Japanese release A. Piazzolla by Strings and Oboe, by the Unamas Piazzolla Septet, (actually the first MQA-encoded CD, but that goes unrecognised here), sounds lush and spacious. Violins, cello and bass play across a wide soundstage, the air between belies the fact that this is a 16-bit recording.

The UDP-205 consistently rewards with extreme levels of articulation and transparency. ELP’s ‘Still...You turn me On’ from Brain Salad Surgery (24-bit 96KHz, DVD Audio) is an absolute joy, with a real emotive refrain. It’s fascinating to compare the multichannel mix to downmixed stereo.

File playback from a NAS is alo consistently entertaining. Magne Amdahl's Astrognosia, performed by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (24-bit, 44.1KHz FLAC), proves utterly immersive. The player’s inherent clarity brought to the fore.

There are no less than seven filters for the DAC. The default is Mini Phase Fast, which I’m told Oppo engineers consider the best general option.

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Oppo UDP-205 UHD Blu-ray Player: Verdict
I genuinaly think the UDP-205 is groundbreaking bit of kit. It’s the most impressive disc spinner we’ve yet seen from Oppo; performance and build quality are top notch. The player is a worthy replacement to the highly regarded UDP-105, and justifies its price hike with the provision of an integrated high-end DAC and sonic refinement. There’s no Darbee Visual Presence processing included this time around, although I hardly think you’ll miss it.

The lack of streaming services is an inconvenience, but given their general ubiquity it’s not a deal breaker. Any high-end system will have access to Netflix, Amazon, Tidal et al somewhere else in the system.

The only rival disc player that appears to come close to the versatility of the Oppo UDP-205 is the Sony UBP-X1000ES. But as a premium home theatre component, this player sets a very high bar indeed.

Available now.
Price: £1,399

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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