Review – The OPPO BDP-95 Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-ray Disc Player

Several years ago we began testing universal CD/DVD players from the small California company, Oppo Digital. When we reviewed the OPPO 980H we wrote that: “Audiophiles are a tough bunch to please. If you’ve ever walked into the showroom of a high-end audio store, you would be hard pressed to find systems priced less than ten grand at the low-end. Naturally, the secret desire of most audiophiles is that bargain system that sounds as good as the outrageously priced ones. While it’s a bit of an impossible dream, when an affordable product emerges that deserves serious consideration, then an underground whispering campaign begins.” We followed by writing, “Oppo is unique in that as it only offers a few products, and those products are thought out very carefully. They sell direct, without the middleman overhead, and the units are astonishingly good, especially for the price point.”

Within a few short years, the Oppo buzz among audiophiles and home theater aficionados was no longer a well-kept secret. When we reviewed the OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray player we wondered if they had kept up their winning streak. And after months of putting the BDP-83 to the test, we concluded Oppo had created a great product. We also had the opportunity to test the Special Edition upgrade that added an analog output with a more open and transparent sound at a price that was still below competing units. So when Oppo introduced the all-new BDP-95 Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-ray Disc Player we were keen to see what they came up with.

Our first introduction to the new unit was at a press preview during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2011. Stacked among other high-end units it was clear, even as a pre-production unit, that Oppo had added a strong product to their repertoire. By hand selecting some of the best components available and concentrating on incorporating all that they had learned with the BDP-83, Special Edition’s improved and tweaked analog audio stage shows that they have taken a big step forward considering the new expectations of today’s market.

Gone is the heavy brushed metal front from earlier models. In its place is a sleek new minimalist panel with smooth touch-sensitive buttons. To accommodate the rise in high-resolution downloads there are two USB ports for streaming content from external hard drives or saving from BD Live. Since 3-D is now an accepted feature in video expectations this has also been allowed for. The use of the SABRE32 Reference ES9018 from ESS Technology (advertised as “the world’s best performing 32-bit audio DAC solution targeted for high-end consumer applications and professional studio equipment”) certainly erased any doubt about Oppo’s commitment to high-end audio.

The BDP-95 uses two ES9018 DAC chips - one for the 7.1-channel output, and another for the dedicated stereo output. We tested it with a 5.1 system and with the stereo output option. The build quality of the new unit is first-rate, as is the new aesthetic look and feel. When I talked with Jason Liao of Oppo he asked me what I thought of the new design. I replied that I thought that it was a strong, well-thought out design that now matched the commitment to the high-quality electronics inside of the unit. It had cost Oppo quite a lot of money to start from scratch, work with industrial designers, but I think it was a wise decision. Even though all we should really care about are the sonic qualities, the look and feel of a unit is an important aspect, and the new attention to design serves Oppo well.

All this engineering and industrial design wouldn’t make a difference if the unit didn’t perform well. In this regard, Oppo has succeeded brilliantly. How good is the sound? Well, walking around the booths at the New York Consumer Electronics Association audio show last June, the Oppo was as the heart for more than 50 percent of the suites and systems! Even hilariously expensive systems (think $150K and up), with extraordinary attention devoted to placement, components, cabling, source music, and interconnectivity, when I looked for the source I was pleasantly surprised to see the BDP-95 at the center. With its all black and understated design (the only markings on the front are the Oppo logo when powered down, and when powered up a gentle blue display glows just brightly enough to let you know what its status is. Once again we threw every possible disc, content, and format at it and like its predecessors it never hiccupped. The video was rock solid and artifact free, which met our expectations. One nice improvement was a decrease in load times, especially for Blu-ray. Added options such as native support for Netflix, VuDu, and other sites proved easy to use and navigate and once programmed with login information all made for a smooth experience.

With both a digital HDMI and analog output stage, the user has the option of leveraging either depending upon their receiver or pre-amplifier choice. I tried the unit with both, but since the HDMI decoding is highly dependent upon the AV Receiver, I concentrated on the analog stage. Even though there are lots of analog cables running out the back of the unit it is handed well, easing the congestion. The back panel is cleanly organized, with high-quality fittings and jacks.

Was the audio quality better than the BDP 83-SE? The short answer is yes. The bass is more detailed, with a somewhat tighter feel and soundstage. The high end is subtly cleaner and crisper without sounding brittle – I say “subtly better” it is because the sound of the BPD 83-SE was so good to begin with.

Listening to the newly released Pink Floyd reissue campaign revealed nuances and details that I’d never heard before. While titles like Dark Side of the Moon have had several earlier excellent remasterings, with the BDP-95 the new version had a more open soundstage with more detail at the edges. Of all the Floyd releases, the vote for most improved in my book goes to Wish You Were Here – Experience Edition. I compared earlier versions and this title stood out as being significantly more open, detailed, and solid. The guitar work in Shine On You Crazy Diamond came into focus as never before. The entire campaign has been handled very well by EMI, and the cost of the new discs is reasonable, the digipak packaging works well, with small booklets that add to the experience. Of course nothing beats the full-size artwork of a vinyl LP, which you can also purchase if analog is your first priority.

Another disc that surprised me was the 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. I’ve listened to Aqualung since I was in high school, wearing out a couple of albums along the way, replaced with UK pressed import editions, and finally with the early CD versions in the 80s. So, I felt like I have a good reference to draw upon. Although many of the songs have been played to death courtesy FM radio, the new release is a revelation. Instead of merely polishing up the stereo master, the new version features an all new remix from the original multi-track tapes and the end result is the music you know, but with more detail, soundstage, musicality then ever before. The mixes were done by Steven Wilson and they improve upon the original mixes in every possible way. This was acknowledged by Ian Anderson in the liner notes which mentioned that the musicians were never happy with the original audio quality due to recording in a new and buggy studio. Aqualung features a mix of hard rock and acoustic work, and the BDP-95 handled those material transitions with grace. Soundstage has always been important, but in the case of acoustic work, the ambience of the room, instruments, and vocals are given a front and center position, so the coloration or lack of it is clearly apparent. If Jethro Tull is your cup of tea, then by all means, check out the new release.

Setup of the unit was easy and the Internet connection setup was painless. It sports two USB 2.0 ports, one in the front and one in the back. We started off using the rear port with a 4gb flash drive for BD-Live storage, and the one in front to play back audio and movie files, but switched to a single NTFS drive from Buffalo. The manual for the BDP-95 is well written and designed with diagrams for various setup options.

For the audiophile seeking extraordinary sound and video at a price that challenges the competition the OPPO BDP-95 Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-ray Disc Player comes highly recommended. This might just be the holy grail of affordable audiophile quality audio and video! The OPPO BDP-95 Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-ray Disc Player is a Mac Edition Radio Holiday Pick!

Harris Fogel, Posted 12/9/2011

For more information on the OPPO BDP-83 visit:

For more information on Pink Floyd’s 40th Anniversary Why Pink Floyd? Reissue campaign visit: 

For more information on Jethro Tull's 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Aqualung visit: