Oppo UDP-205 UHD Blu-ray Player Review

The UDP-205 is the universal disc player perfected, and then some 5 Stars

Flagship products are generally harder to evaluate for reviewers like me, since they cost a lot more than their capable siblings and generally offer only incremental improvements. Thankfully, in Oppo’s case it’s not nearly so hard, because they offer a truly unique feature set in addition to myriad improvements to justify the $750 price jump from the UDP-203.

As a matter of principle, when working on products like the UDP-205 designers rarely make any compromises with component quality or design complexity, this usually results in higher performance and cost, which some folks are bothered by. Oppo is truly unique in offering a product that is engineered as exactingly as any five-figure audiophile product, but doesn’t carry the absurd price tag nor useless “audio jewelry” chassis, despite being very handsome regardless.

Features & Improvements Of The UDP-205

Like the BDP-105 before it, the Oppo UDP-205 is their flagship universal optical disc player, offering Redbook CD, DVD, SACD and Blu-ray playback for both HD and UHD discs. The UDP-205 can also take the place of an AV receiver or processor by utilizing the 7.1 analog outs directly to an amplifier and making use of the units internal volume control and bass management features.

Unlike its predecessor, the BDP-105, the UDP-205 no longer has YouTube or Netflix app support, and has given up the front MHL HDMI input. None of these are big losses for most of us, as most enthusiasts and consumers have discovered the increased utility of dedicated streaming media players like Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast in the last few years largely relegating these apps on most Blu-ray players to the category of unused and unsightly irritations that clutter the home screen. Oppo’s decision to remove these apps has also allowed a simplification of their interface that is both beautiful and elegant. The interface is overlaid on a beautiful wallpaper image, and focuses on simplicity and elegance, which is a refreshing change compared to the majority of competitors.

In terms of outputs, the UDP-205 is nothing short of impressive, offering the aforementioned 7.1 analog RCA outs, as well as stereo RCA and XLR outputs. Moving to the digital side, the UDP-205 has optical and coaxial digital outputs in addition to dual HDMI outputs. One HDMI port is fully HDMI 2.0a HDCP 2.2 compatible, while the other is audio-only and is useful for those who need to bypass a legacy receiver to run UHD/HDR video directly to a display. In the UDP-205 (unlike the 203) the audio only HDMI output is fed by upgraded HDMI jitter-reduction circuity with a high-precision clock.

On the internal side, most of the upgrades the UDP-205 enjoys over the 203 are oriented towards improving audio performance. The UDP-205 uses dual ES9038PRO SABRE DAC chips (the UDP-203 utilizes a single AKM AK4458VN DAC chip), each feeding a different set of analog outputs, with the first being dedicated to the 7.1 analog outputs, and the second feeding the RCA and XLR stereo outputs, with the XLR outputs getting a dedicated differential signal path. The onboard DACs can decode PCM up to 768KHz and DSD512, however the player’s USB DAC functionality (via the port in the back) is stereo only, though still a fantastic value-add in what would otherwise be an optical disc transport only, and extremely useful for those like me who have a home theater PC in need of a great DAC.

Like its predecessors, the UDP-205 supports network or local USB port based playback of the majority of audio formats including the most popular lossless formats of WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF and multi-channel DSD, which can be output anywhere you like including the stereo or 7.1 channel analog outs.

In addition to these improvements, the UDP-205 offers a built-in headphone amplifier with improved power over the BDP-105 that is connected straight to one of the ES9038PRO chips, and a large toroidal power supply for the analog audio circuity.

Build Quality & Appearance

The UDP-205 is built like a tank, weighing 22 pounds and measuring nearly 2 inches taller than the UDP-203. Everything about the UDP-205 exudes quality, from the chassis’ brushed aluminum faceplate to the all-black PCB’s used internally and extremely clean cable routing. The UDP-205 puts the vast majority of optical disc players I’ve seen to shame in terms of internal cleanliness, component separation and  design. The rear panel is made of standard materials, but is logically laid out and clearly labeled. If I were to offer one critique, it would be that the HDMI ports do not offer any strain relief, though the screws in place above the ports make this an easy DIY improvement.

Testing – The Setup

The UDP-205 was evaluated with my personal system which consists of a Marantz AV8802A pre/pro feeding a D-Sonic M3a-5400-7 amplifier and Legacy Audio speakers (Signature SE mains, custom Marquis HD center, and Phantom HD surround). On the video side, testing was done using my Sony VPL-VW675ES projector, which is a native 4K projector that supports HDR10, but not Dolby Vision at this time.

Usability – Menus & Navigation

Oppo has redesigned their interface for their UHD models, opting to show a high-resolution background wallpaper image by default, with the menu navigation located towards the bottom of the screen, and arrayed horizontally. The overall effect is clean, well-organized and a pleasing differentiator from the app-cluttered home views I’ve become used to on other more commercial players.

Audio Performance & Network Streaming

Evaluating the audio performance of the Oppo was relatively easy, requiring a simple swap of XLR cables from my Marantz pre/pro to the Oppo for my left and right channels with Audyssey bypassed. I performed this test by playing my standard list of review material, beginning with some uncompressed WAV demo files I keep on hand, many of which are uncompressed bootlegs from the mixing console – I have some very kind friends to thank for these files.

Playing these back over both my home network and via USB, was extremely easy on the UDP-205. I moved on from the WAV playlist to some albums I enjoy in FLAC (B-Tribe’s Volume 5 and Volume 6, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones Little Worlds, and finally Mickey Hart’s Global Drum Project) running through my playlist over the course of a few listening sessions, switching from the Marantz to Oppo and back. Overall the Oppo delivers a detailed, rich audio experience that measures up surprisingly well to the extremely expensive circuitry in the Marantz AV8802A. The vast majority of listeners wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart, and the most picky among us would still be very pleased with the exemplary performance of the UDP-205.

Blu-ray & UHD Blu-ray Playback

In terms of the UDP-205’s core job as a Blu-ray player, it’s clear that this product is as much an Oppo as anything else they’ve ever produced, but it’s also a new generation. To put it succinctly, the UDP-205 is stable, fast to load, and does a truly fantastic job no matter the content all while offering the unparalleled configurability we’ve come to expect from Oppo including subtitle adjustment, picture and audio adjustment and a plethora of other options that are beyond the scope of this review. Oppo’s decision to remove apps and let the player do what it is best at results in a greatly simplified, more elegant experience in the home theater, and truly deserves commendation.

While I was unable to test Dolby Vision HDR content, both 1080p HD Blu-ray and HDR-10 mastered UHD Blu-ray discs played back flawlessly on my Sony projector. When a UHD disc with HDR encoding was inserted, the projector instantly swapped to HDR mode without any of the fuss or handshake problems I experienced with Samsung’s UHD player.

Picture quality on the UDP-205 is superb, demonstrating no flaws to speak about. Simply put, the UDP-205 is everything that a dedicated Blu-ray player should aspire to be, and it’s glorious.

 Conclusion

Oppo has been the choice of uncompromising enthusiasts for over a decade now, with a track record of excellence dating back to the era of DVD. Oppo has continued that track record with the release of the UltraHD Blu-ray format, and their flagship UDP-205 player is a testament to the prowess and dedication of their engineers.  For those seeking a universal disc player primarily for video use that don’t need a high-end DAC integrated into their player, the UDP-205’s little brother the UDP-203 is likely a better fit.

For people like myself who straddle the line between audiophile and home theater enthusiast, the Oppo UDP-205 represents a near perfect amalgamation of the ideal optical disc and digital file transport for 2-channel listening, in addition to being a world class Blu-ray player capable of all the latest formats and resolutions. While the UDP-205 is costly at a list price of $1299 USD, no product on the market can touch its feature set, build quality and overall attention to detail. The UDP-205 is the universal disc player perfected, and then some. Highly Recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

Published by

Dave Upton

administrator

19 Comments

  1. This review is as impressive and inspiring as the latest Oppo described. With zero references to other Oppo players, I already know that my first Oppo will be the UDP-205. So close was I from purchasing what was thought to be the latest model. But, at this point, why shouldn’t I start at the top? Without ever a test drive; to which I normally do; I have fuly believed all the past reviews of prior Oppo models and plan to save further, in order to be in on this remarkable component; which will be the first building block towards my first home theater. Thanks for the review, Mr. Upton.

  2. Robert Crawford

    If I wasn't retired, I might think about it.

    Clinton McClure

    If I wasn't married, I might think about it. :laugh:

    If I wasn't working, single and paying bills, I might think about it, as well.;)

  3. Are you able to pause/still frame and then go frame-by-frame forward or backward? I can't on my Oppo 203 (and not on my Samsung UBD-8500 either). It seems odd not to be able to do this when it's been part of the DVD and BD spec since the beginning.

  4. All joking aside, I have no qualms about saving for this Oppo.
    My sole advantage is that I didn't purchase last years model.
    Mr. Upton's review locks it in for me as being well worth the extra wait.

  5. It's a great review, Dave.

    But, wow…what a difference in price with the 203 (which I've been very happy with, by the way). While it all sounds great, I cannot imagine my system would even come close to being able to take advantage of what the 205 has to offer.

  6. I have this player and it is indeed glorious. The build quality is insane and you know it when you lift it. I also enjoy the built in headphone amp. I have a good set of headphones I can finally hear 🙂

  7. I currently have the 95 and will upgrade to this unit when I go 4k. I currently take advantage of the player's DACs for music ( I play direct) , both stereo and multi-channel, and use the receiver's DAC for movies (both scenarios calibrated independently) and will do the same for the 205.

    One complaint I have with the 95 is that I have always thought the disc transport was not as solid as it should be. It exhibits a bit of play when you gently move it. The rest of the unit is quite solid, of course. Is the disc transport of the 205 solid in housing the disc with no play? My Denon DVD player has a very solid transport and I am hoping the 205 does as well.

  8. Gary Seven

    I currently have the 95 and will upgrade to this unit when I go 4k. I currently take advantage of the player's DACs for music ( I play direct) , both stereo and multi-channel, and use the receiver's DAC for movies (both scenarios calibrated independently) and will do the same for the 205.

    One complaint I have with the 95 is that I have always thought the disc transport was not as solid as it should be. It exhibits a bit of play when you gently move it. The rest of the unit is quite solid, of course. Is the disc transport of the 205 solid in housing the disc with no play? My Denon DVD player has a very solid transport and I am hoping the 205 does as well.

    The Oppo 203 disc transport is very solid so I expect the 205 to be the same if not better.

  9. How much better is the video from this player compared to a mid-range Sony, etc? (I expect that digital player is going to read bits from disc, decode those bits, send them to AVR which does to D/A on audio bits and passes video bits unchanged to display which then does all ththe stuff that would affect the image. The standard digital argument: read out device should have no effect so long as it’s competent.)

    Who is this device for? The multitude of analog outputs suggest a budget / frugal buyer looking to save money by skipping AV gear. But a frugal buyer isn’t buying a $750 player nor the separate amps needed. That’s the domain of high-end buyers.

    But high end buyers have a good, if not flagship, AVR or prepro/separates and don’t need anything but HDMI output from a player.

    Maybe OPPO imagines an customer that has a dedicated UHD theater room: player, amps, display. Nothing else. No AppleTV no Roku no PrePro to add signal-chain voodoo. But such a niche high-end buyer surely has a 7.2.x Atmos system. This Oppo can’t drive the dual sub setup this hypothetical person would have or plans to have.

    I’m baffled. Who is this player designed for? What’s the use case? Why would someone use any of its steaming features over that of their Roku or Chrome or AppleTV? And how does its picture compare to any other player, especially something costing half the price?

    Thanks!

  10. My interest in this player is that of an audiophile, and I assume that is the target. I make use of the analog outs (and they are separately calibrated) to play music, both stereo and multi-channel, sending the signal direct to the receiver with no artificial processing. The two SABRE DACS are apparently designed for that. Some people like that artificial processing. I don't. The HDMI is used for movies, so I use the receiver's decoding and equalization for that. That is why I buy it.. I no longer buy flagship AVR's as they cost too much for such a short lifespan. Short in that once new codecs come out, that flagship is obsolete. So I buy a not-so flagship AVR, an additional external amp so when I need a new AVR, its not so cost prohibitive (the external amp never needs replacing). My Denon does not support ATMOS. I have to buy an new receiver later on. That will be 1000 – 1500 dollar purchase rather than 3000 – 5000 were it a flagship AVR.

  11. Just as an FYI to my previous question, I sent an email asking Oppo about frame forward/advance and received this reply:

    This looks like a limitation of the UHD specifications, so it is not likely that we will be able to add this feature through a future firmware release.

    Very interesting. I had not heard that it could be a limitation by the spec.

  12. PMF

    Since I have neither the Oppo 203 nor the 205, wouldn't it be to my advantage to save a bit longer and go for this grander design?

    It may depend on your budget and goals and priorities. If all you need is a blu-ray UHD player connected by HDMI to an AVR or display you might be better off buying a more affordable player. But if you’re into listening to stereo music on headphones or care about its niche features like a strip metadata button, then the high end Oppo could be what you want.

    Here’s some additional perspectives as I’ve sought to learn more.

    "Oppo UDP-205 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Review | AVForums"
    (https://www.avforums.com/review/oppo-udp-205-4k-ultra-hd-blu-ray-player-review.13754)

    The UDP-205 is a superb Ultra HD Blu-ray player that delivered a flawless performance when it came to HDR10 content. Although we should point out that the cheaper UDP-203 is identical in this regard and that players a fraction of the cost of the 205 can also deliver a video performance that is equally as impressive. If your primary interest is in playing Ultra HD Blu-rays over HDMI then the 205 will struggle to justify its price tag because it won't be able to deliver a picture performance that is any better than the cheaper players. However the 205, like the 203, is a classy performer with extensive options in terms of setup and a few handy features that other players don't offer.

    vs a player that costs about a quarter as much
    "Panasonic DMP-UB300 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player Review | AVForums"
    (https://www.avforums.com/review/panasonic-dmp-ub300-4k-ultra-hd-blu-ray-player-review.13700)

    Panasonic have publicly stated that all their Ultra HD Blu-rays players use the same chipset and processing which means that, despite what you might read elsewhere, they deliver exactly the same image. This is common sense really, if a player is reading a digital signal off a disc and outputting it digitally via HDMI then assuming it isn't doing anything it shouldn't, the image must be identical. Ultimately the signal is composed of ones and zeros, so any reviewer who claims they see incremental differences in picture quality between the UB900 and UB300, for example, is simply talking rubbish. However we did check Panasonic's claims using the same setup, test discs and calibrated displays and we can confirm that the UB300 performed identically to the UB400, UB700 and UB900 that we also tested. This is great news for anyone buying the UB300 because, despite Panasonic removing certain features to reach a lower price point, they haven't compromised on image quality.

  13. PMF

    Since I have neither the Oppo 203 nor the 205, wouldn't it be to my advantage to save a bit longer and go for this grander design?

    As I said, the 205 is more for the audiophile (and I don't listen to music with headphones) as you will gain nothing with the video over less expensive players. If you plan on exploiting the two DACs in the 205, then this player is for you. If you plan on using the AVR DAC, get the less expensive player.

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