Oppo BDP-83 Universal Disc Player Setup & Tests
For this review, I wanted to test both the analog and digital audio outputs, so hookup wasn't as easy as it would have been with a single HDMI cable. I had to connect a set of component cables and eight analog RCA cables from the Oppo to my Onkyo pre/pro. Since I've reviewed quite a few Blu-ray players in the past year, the cables were already in place, so I didn't have to spend an hour routing them behind my equipment.
Thanks to the fantastic auto-setup routine, it took less than five minutes to get the player ready for HDMI use. I tested both bitstream and PCM output and couldn't detect any perceptible difference between the two. However, that wasn't the case when secondary audio was enabled in the player's Setup menu. With the bitstream output, all signals are converted to standard DTS whether or not the secondary audio is engaged in the disc menu, and with internal decoding, TrueHD soundtracks are limited to 5.1 channels instead of 7.1.
To ensure the best audio output, I recommend turning secondary audio off whether decoding internally or outputting bitstream. If you come across a disc that has some Bonus View content you just have to see, venture into the Setup menu to active the secondary audio.
Analog audio calibration is a frustrating experience. In addition to the plethora of cables required, you must specify the speaker size (small or large), distance, and then calibrate the channel levels. Using Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics, I set the level for each speaker using my Radio Shack SPL meter. As usual, this is a time-consuming process and provides ample justification for upgrading to a new AVR or pre/pro with HDMI capability. Once properly configured, I found the audio output similar to HDMI—both internally and externally decoded—although it took me nearly an hour to tweak things to my satisfaction versus less than five minutes with the HDMI output.
Over HDMI, above-white and below-black information remains intact from both HD and SD sources, so calibrating my display to the Oppo BDP-83's video output was a breeze. In fact, no changes were necessary from my previous player (Panasonic DMP-BD30).
The player passed my deinterlacing/scaling tests with flying colors on both high-definition deinterlacing (1080i to 1080p) and standard-definition deinterlacing and scaling (480i to 1080p). The flyover sequence from Gladiator and the opening scene of Star Trek: Insurrection were both jaggie-free when converting from 480i to 1080p, and the Blu-ray of Mission: Impossible III exhibited no moiré in the staircase that appears at the start of chapter 8 with the player set to output 1080p/60.
The only exception was the noise-reduction test on the HQV Benchmark Blu-ray and DVD, on which the BDP-83 didn't fare so well. Using the split-screen demo mode, it was clear that the built-in noise reduction reduced the noise but sacrificed some detail—not a good tradeoff in my book. In real-world material, this was never an issue.