My Oppo BDP-83SE Review
Ok here’s my story.
Background: I purchased my BDP-83 player back in May 2009. Over the past six months, the player has been a pure pleasure to own. Video quality is outstanding and the sound quality, although not as resolute as my $2000 custom modified SACD player, was much more enjoyable to listen to. Yes, at times the bass was fat and, a little un-tidy. And yes, the treble didn’t always extend as much as I would have liked. And yes, the sound was not as dynamic as my custom modified player. But for some reason I always found myself listening to the BDP-83 and it finally replaced my $2000 player.
Shell-Shocked: On 11/10/2209 I received an email from Music Direct, you know, one of their sales ads. So I opened it and could not believe what I saw. A new audiophile version of the BDP-83! Immediately I went to the Oppo web page and ordered the SE upgrade. I received a purchase confirmation on the 11th, dropped my BDP-83 off at Oppo in Mtn. View on the 12th and picked up my upgraded BDP-83SE on Friday the 13th.
Painful Beginnings: I’ve been listening to new audio equipment for more years than I like to admit and every new piece of equipment requires some minimum amount of break-in before the sound stops changing and you can fully evaluate the equipment. But first three days of break-in for the BDP-83SE were seriously painful. Yes, there was much more resolution, the bass was very controlled, and the treble was extended well beyond any source component I have ever owned. However, there was an irritating upper midrange glare, the images were thin and ghost-like, and there was a total lack of musical enjoyment. This continued throughout Saturday and Sunday. I remember thinking to my self “I made a wrong decision. The star of my audio system is gone and if something positive doesn’t happen soon, I’m going to call Oppo and see if I can switch back to the original version”.
Light at the End of the Tunnel: It was late Sunday night about 2 am (I never sleep when I get a new audio toy). I was making another attempt at listening to the BDP-83SE when all of a sudden the images started solidifying, the upper midrange glare subsided, and the sound stage widened and even began to “wrap” around the room (something I’ve only experienced on rare occasions). But most importantly, I was enjoying the sound again. The sound was not perfect but at this stage in the break-in process I knew the BDP-83SE had potential. I continued the 24/7 break-in process that I started on the previous Friday by running 320 KB/sec mp3 files on a hard disk connected to the rear USB input. Every day after work this week I’ve been listening for 2 to 3 hours and the sound still continues to improve.
My Current Opinion: As of last night (11/18/2009) the BDP-83SE is definitely sounding more enjoyable than its predecessor (the BDP-83). Granted it don’t hear as much romantic fat-bass, but the overall sound is still very similar in terms of musical enjoyment. At this point the in break-in process, what I really find myself enjoying are huge improvements in dynamic contrast between musical notes, major increases in resolution (some mp3 files are sounding like SACD’s sounded on my old player), great bass control and bass energy, and still the ability to provide me with my most important requirement “musical enjoyment”. If the Oppo BDP-83SE didn’t improve any more than what I’m experiencing now, I would still keep her. Even though I loved the sound of the original, I just don’t think I could give up the improvements my audio system has gained from this upgrade.
Best of luck to all of you in your audio endeavors,