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Oppo DV-980H

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Oppo DV-980H
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From Hi-Fi World - July 2008 issue

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Penny Black

oppo_dvd_980

Noel Keywood tries a bargain-priced, mail order DVD universal player, the Oppo DV-980H...

 

Here’s an amazingly inexpensive DVD player that plays SACDs and CDs, in addition to DVD Video and DVD-Audio discs too! The Oppo DV-980H has a specification as long as your arm, and works very well despite its £156 (Euro 198) price tag.

 

Oppo are a Swedish company that major on internet mail order (see www.opposhop.com). When I asked for a review sample it arrived the next day, very neatly packed and with good documentation, which inspired confidence. Whilst the Handbook starts with 'Innehallsforteckning', comprehensible English is at the back!

 

What you get is a DVD player right up on the front line. It has an HDMI 1.2a digital output (1.3 isn’t needed as DVD does not officially carry Blu-ray formats), a full set (7.1) of analogue outputs and optical and electrical S/PDIF digital outputs. So for audio purposes connection can be made to a stereo amplifier (via an analogue Mixed stereo output), or to a surround-sound receiver with a 7.1 input set. Height is 49mm and weight just 2.3kgs.

 

Being a European product, there’s a Scart socket for connection to a TV, plus HDMI (preferable). Also provided for this purpose are Component and S-Video outputs, plus Composite. So the DV-980H will connect to just about anything, old or new, using almost every signal/cable format ever devised. Not bad considering the price.,,


THE AUDIO

Does it work properly? There’s a difference between handling a format and doing it justice. Both DVD-A and SACD have huge dynamic range (better than 100dB) and wide bandwidth (up to 100kHz). Budget products often fail to support this, submerging low level signals beneath noise, whilst bandwidth is squandered by poor digital processing. Measurement showed the Oppo's on-board analogue audio outputs give proper CD quality and both SACD and DVD-A are measurably better, as they are meant to be, although neither quite match the performance of expensive audiophile players. Perhaps this is to be expected at the price. It’s still a decent result.

 

Via an S/PDIF digital link, either optical or electrical, our digital analyser showed fine results, CD delivering full bandwidth and low distortion, although jitter on this link was higher than the budget CD players tested in this issue.

 

Through the HDMI digital link, via a Marantz SR8002 receiver (which decodes DSD), SACD replay was close to ideal and DVD-A little worse than ideal, measurement showed. I suspect the Marantz receiver set the limits here, not the Oppo player. A point to watch is that the DV-980H's HDMI video quality must be set to high-def. (720/1080i/p) for audio to work properly. Curiously, set to 480/576, audio suffers peak overload, measurement showed. For those lacking DSD decoding in their receiver, player output can be set to PCM, with some degradation of sound quality.

 

Unusually, loudspeaker time delay compensation (for position) can be set in this player - good news for those using the 7.1 analogue outputs.

 

In a nutshell then, the DV-980H delivers CD, SACD and DVD-A in very respectable, if not quite perfect quality. As always it's best to use its HDMI output into a good, modern receiver. Set up is confused by blanked menu options unless there is no disc in the player, or the drawer is open.


THE VIDEO

The player outputs standard definition video or can be set to de-interlace and upscale to high definition format (720p, 1080i/p) to suit today's hi-def TVs. Our Burosch PAL DVD test discs showed superb upscaling, better than a Samsung BD-P1400, especially when handling progressive content, as well as de-interlacing up to progressive for a progressive display. Edge definition was excellent and there was no motion judder. Grass, trees and flowers were highly detailed, as were faces. Panned shots held well, due to excellent motion adaptive deinterlacing. Picture quality was quite a shock considering price! A lot of adjustment is available too.


SOUND QUALITY

Via the analogue outputs CD quality from onboard D/A conversion showed some slight vagueness and a hint of muddle, plus central stage dominance. The Oppo offers good CD quality, if not audiophile results.

 

Digital connection via S/PDIF and HDMI yielded a more evenly spread sound stage, provided by the Marantz SR8002's digital convertors of course. There was a little messiness in the digital sound, likely due to jitter [see MEASURED PERFORMANCE]. Comparison to a low jitter Samsung BD-P1400 revealed slight loss of low level detail from the DV-980H, drums lacking visceral impact with the Eagles 'Last Good Time in Town' for example, and there was a lack of digital tidiness.

 

I enjoyed DVD-As like Toy Matinee, and Santana's 'Supernatural', which displayed that slightly stark but vivid presentation typical of the format. Via analogue or HDMI outputs, all the separation of instruments and vocals was there, if not quite the full cleanliness nor again the bass impact that is possible with expensive audiophile players.

 

The star was SACD sound quality, which sounded good via analogue connection but superb via HDMI, when set to DSD digital (which, I found, mutes SACD via the analogue outputs). All the smooth sophistication of SACD was there, with that great sense of atmosphere only LP can otherwise convey. Yolanda Kondonassis playing 'Malagueria', from 'Andalucia, Suite Espagnole', had me in awe - both at her performance and the way it was conveyed by the DV-980H through the Marantz SR8002 DSD convertors. Plucked harp strings were harmonically rich yet excitingly forceful, the gathering pace of the piece underlined by the effortless timing of good DSD digital. The blare of a saxophone from Vivino Brothers was captured in full dynamic measure, and drums had the sort of resonant power not quite managed by DVD-A from this player. SACD quality was about the best I have ever heard, which is saying something from a £156 player.

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Comments (1)
DVD99
1Wednesday, 05 September 2012 20:50
Robert
The Cambridge Audio DVD99 is the same player in a different box.

Oppo and Cambridge players are made by Mediatek of Taiwan. We are told the license is very expensive, so few others go this route.

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