......the Oppo 105D.
Really? Surely NOT!
When I first got the 105D I played with it as a DAC and my general impression was ....blah, OK but nothing to write home about.
A few weeks ago my NS01 shuffled off this mortal coil and so I was left bereft and with a decision, repair the NS01 or look elsewhere? In fact I did both.
I bought a Sonore microRendu (mR), more on this in another thread.
In the meantime I:
Powered down and disconnected my Bel Canto DAC;
Sent my NS01 in for repair, sucker I know;
Connected my 105D to my pre-amp using the balanced connections (EAR868);
Set the 105D output volume to FIXED;
Set the 105D 'Speaker Configuration' 'Down Mix' to stereo;
Did a few more 105D setting tweaks.
Set up like I have detailed above the result is fantastic. Better than the NS01>Bel Canto 3.5vb, £8k worth of digital front end? Not sure, certainly more detailed and dynamic.
I am seriously gob-smacked, it is tremendous .....but very easily compromised.
My experiments with the mR did PRECISELY this. The max output voltage from the Oppo is prodigious and would overpower many pre-amps I am told. By also connecting an RCA cable I crippled the sound. I 'solved' this issue by reintroducing the Oppo pre and reducing the output. This also changed the sound from brilliant to ordinary.
I eventually worked out what was happening with a lot of help and returned to 105D happiness.
If you own this beast I would seriously advise having a play, you may be very surprised.
My next steps are to compare this to:
Repaired NS01 (spdif)> Bel Canto 3.5vb;
NAS (rj45)> NS01 (rj45)> Oppo 105D;
NAS (rj45)> microRendu (usb)> Oppo 105D;
NAS (rj45)> NS01 (rj45)> microRendu (usb)> Oppo 105D;
NAS (rj45)> NS01 (rj45)> microRendu (usb)> USB/Spdif Converter (spdif)> Bel Canto 3.5vb.
I wonder if any will trump the Oppo all on its own?
Does the Oppo support gapless playback now?
Apparently, but it ain't working for me. The instructions are to navigate to the subdirectory where the files are and then select 'options' on the remote - however, it doesn't show me any options. I'll be playing with it some more.
I am very pleased with how this sounds, doing the standard of working my way through my music. Be very interested to compare this to my other kit in due course.
Reading HiFi World I was always a bit surprised at how they returned to the Oppo as a source when testing other gear, now I am not - just wish I had done this sooner. That said if I hadn't lucked into connecting it as I did I would never have realised that it could be this good.
The answer is that you have to use the Android Media Control app. There are other routes via OpenHome using foobar2000 and bubbleupnp, but having just done a test I feel that this slightly compromises the SQ. My intention is to try my microRendu and will be experimenting with this in a lot more detail in due course.
I spent some time listening to this setup over the last week and have been mightily impressed, but of course it has its issues. The SABRE DAC majors on dynamics and detail, especially via the 'balanced' outputs. It works wonderfully with my HiDef files but can be unkind with CD rips that are not first rate. The Audiolab M-DAC has made the built in filters available for selection that can addess this, Oppo has fixed the 105 on the 'fast' filter so I have dropped them a request; fingers crossed.
My Bel Canto 3.5vbs majors on mid-range. It is wonderful on the human voice and gets the best from whatever you play, however it is not as hot on the fireworks that the Sabre majors on. Other areas that the Bel Canto regains an advantage with are insight and timbre. I am hoping that introducing the microRendu and using the Oppo as just a DAC will help address this.
All said and done I think that the Oppo is a simply amazing bit of kit, wish I had investigated it in more detail before rather than just relegating it to a 'good BR player' bracket in my mind.
Got an email back from the Oppo technical lead this morning, even though he is on Holiday in France! I suspect I am out of luck, they could institute the filters BUT it would mean that on changing the Oppo 105 would need to be rebooted apparently. Personally I could live with this, but I am unsure why this would be as apparently the M-Dac doesn't need this - just a more complex device perhaps?
This afternoon I received a new AES cable to connect between my Audio Breeze DDC and Mutec MC3+ USB. In fitting it a knocked out the USB cable from my microRendu, which then refused to play - in fact the reason was something really prosaic and it is now up and running .....but, in order to listen to some music I set up the following chain:
NAS (RJ45)> Oppo 105D (coax spodif)> Mutec (coax spdif)> Bel Canto DAC
Even with the Mutec in circuit the difference to the mR was immediately apparent. The 105D sounded perfectly respectable but lacked the full resolution of the mR. For instance listening to Signe from Eric Clapton Umplugged there is a triangle stage right, you could here the initial strike but the ring was curtailed. In the background is a block that is being struck, again the initial strike was evident, and did sound wooden, but through the mR this is more extended and resonant. Small things but it adds to a richer more realistic experience.
Still impressed by what this box of tricks can do. Currently listening to it as my DAC:
NAS (RJ45)> mR (USB data-only)> Audio Breeze (AES)> Mutec (coax spdif)> Oppo 105D (XLR)> EAR868PL (XLR)> EAR534 (Naim A5)>Focal 1008be II