Oppo UDP-205 XLR Polarity

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by damacman, Jul 14, 2018.

  1. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

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    If you guys own one of these players and you're using it as a 2-ch source via the XLR outputs into your preamp, you'd be wise to check polarity at the speakers. I've had one for a few months now but only last night had the inclination to listen to a few CDs through it. My reference CDP is an ancient Pioneer PD-T07 with a fully balanced architecture and a special version of Pioneer's Legato Link DAC. To date, I've not heard another CDP or DAC best it in my space. So, I was curious how the Oppo compares.

    In a quick listening comparison, I noticed that the Oppo sounded different from the Pioneer. Was this good or not? After 3 songs, the only thing I could put my finger on was different. And then it hit me - I should check to be sure both the Pioneer and the Oppo have the same output polarity to be sure I'm comparing both on the same playing field. Both are plugged into my McIntosh C200 preamp, also fully balanced.

    So, out came my trusty Perfect Interface Phase Detector and the Autosound 2000 Test CD #101 (Track 3 is polarity pulses). Sho' enuf', the Oppo was backwards. Now I knew the Pioneer was correct because I've checked it before, yet I verified it and it was indeed correct. Pshew - the Oppo gives you the ability to invert the polarity in the menu so piece of cake whereas that would have involved swapping pins in the XLRs for the Pioneer. Oddly enough, the Oppo manual says that it comes pre-set to the American XLR standard and Inverting it sets it to the European XLR standard . . . but, you can't argue the results.

    [Side note - if you've not used a polarity checker before, it's really simple. The polarity pulses are recorded three positive and one negative. Positive - Positive - Positive - Negative. If you stand directly in front of the speaker you can actually hear the difference. One holds the polarity checker close to the speaker's drivers and if you observe Green - Green - Green - Red lights, polarity is correct. This is a handy tool to ensure correct polarity for every driver in a loudspeaker as well as correct polarity for any source that you have said media with the necessary polarity pulses. Here is an example of a kit - https://www.mobilesolutions-usa.com/product-page/pt-9a-kit ]

    After I did that, I popped in my copy of Muddy Waters Folk Singer (MFSL CD) and just enjoyed it. The Oppo sounds just sublime. Now, does it sound better than my reference Pioneer? I'm not sure yet . . . I really need two copies of the very same CD so that I can switch back and forth in real time with one disc about 10 seconds ahead of the other. I actually do have a few such copies so I'll have to try that and see. But sometimes, you just want to listen and enjoy . . .

    Oh, and from what I heard last night - the 205 is one helluva' CDP.
     
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  2. stoutblock

    stoutblock If it sounds good, it is good... Subscriber

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    I just got my UDP-205 and I think you are right about the XLR outputs being out of phase. I don’t have special test equipment but my speakers are very sensitive to phasing. My preamplifier can switch absolute phase with the remote so I am quite familiar with changing the phase from my listening position. Using the Oppo iPad application I can now switch it on the fly from my listening position with the Oppo just like I can with my pre and it does sound to my liking when inverted.

    In my opinion, there are several albums I own that sound better to my ears when played out of phase from what is mixed. Maybe this is just my personal preference, maybe they were mixed out of phase, or maybe the microphones were connected out of phase? The ability to easily adjust phasing is a big plus in a system IMHO.
     
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  3. frahengeo

    frahengeo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Are you saying that the default setting in the UDP-205 menu is set to 'inversion' or are saying that under 'normal' settings, it is inverted, and vice versa.

    My pre-amp has the ability to invert the hot and cold as well, and by default it was inverted when compared to the Oppo. I just assumed that American and Japanese standards for XLR polarities were different
     
  4. stoutblock

    stoutblock If it sounds good, it is good... Subscriber

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    In my case, I don’t have any test equipment to test for absolute polarity directly at the speaker. I tend to use my Modwright LS 36.5 DM to switch polarity and sometimes do this for my own subjective opinion on the quality. I have found several pieces of equipment I have owned through the years appear to have reverse polarity or at least sound more correct one way or the other. I have also had some recordings that seem to also have reversed polarity or sound better reversed.

    So with the Oppo UDP-205 I found the sounds in the mid frequencies were more defined and more isolated from each other when I reversed the polarity from the factory setting. Bass was a little tighter with a bit more punch. One trick I have found is to stand just a few feet in front of one speaker and see how well you can hear the other speaker. I tend to use the polarity selection that makes the other speaker’s sound the loudest or clearest. This works well with my speakers in my room.

    Again, I find being able to reverse absolute polarity is very useful in my system to get the best performance to my subjective opinion on any given recording. In other words, if both the equipment and the recording are reversed then the combination my actually be right. Always keeping things on the same setting does not usually work for me. However, I did default the Oppo to invert as I think this is the correct phase for the XLR connection I use. Then if I feel the need to reverse polarity I will just use the Modwright.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  5. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

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    Mine was set to Normal and I changed it to Inverted to correct.
     
  6. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

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    Oh, and after listening to several different discs, the Pioneer comes out on top for redbook CDs. I attribute this to the version of Legato Link the Pioneer utilizes - possibly Pioneer’s best implementation of it.
     

     

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  7. Superampman

    Superampman AK Member Subscriber

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    Shouldn't make a difference as long as both channels are the same?
     
  8. twiiii

    twiiii Addicted Member

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    We discovered a long time go, that here in the good old USA we use pin 2 as positive, in the orient they use pin 3 some times. My first experience was dealing with Yamaha professional equipment and the stage monitors were giving us fits with acoustic feed back. So we reversed the polarity back to normal. and the issue cleared up. We normally used the monitors with the polarity. reversed to get extra gain. It wasn't working this time so we flipped a switch and upon further investigation discovered the Yamaha polarity was reversed. Some Tascams were reversed, too.

    We had issues with speakers. Most companies mark their drivers so as positive is when the diaphragm or voice coil moves away from the magnet. But with horn drivers some want positive to be when the diaphragm moves toward the magnet. Some did some don't. Then with 2nd order crossovers you have to reverse the polarity at the crossover to prevent a suck-out. You have to decide again which polarity to use. I always checked the response with a spectrum analyzer at first till I could spot the difference quickly by ear. Where it gets difficult is when there is only a 90 degree difference, Where one driver is using a 6 db roll -off and the other is using a 12 db, etc., and what type of filter is being used, Butterworth for example. My Pioneer 750 gave you choices for crossover rates as well as frequencies, but it didn't compensate for phase cancellations at the crossover frequencies, so it was easy to change rates, but selecting the correct polarity at the amplifier was a big issue for me at first. A few years ago I replaced the connections at the speaker with new gold plated ones, and sure enough I got the polarity reversed on the right speaker super tweeters. But I knew what to look for this time and what to listen for. Just play a little pink noise and walk in from of your speakers you'll hear the difference in a flash..

    With my old HT processor you could only adjust the arrival time to the nearest foot. My current one to the nearest inch. I sit 7 inches closer to the left speaker than the right. But with the correct dimensions entered the center image was locked in and stable as never before. So when I got the super tweeter reversed I knew something was wrong. The image was vague with percussion instruments where it had been tight before.
     
  9. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

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    I don’t know about that ... definitely an audible difference for me.
     
  10. Clive197

    Clive197 New Member

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    Location:
    London, England
    Interesting thread but having just done a little research and checking both my OPPO BDP-205 and Bryston BP17/3 I found both to be set as follows: Pin 1 - ground, Pin 2 - Positive, Pin 3 - Negative.
    Delving a little deeper, I found that is the excepted standard. However I have found that inverting pins 2 & 3 on some recordings does improve SQ. Is it possible that some records are pressed inverted maybe on purpose or by accident?
     
  11. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

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    Use a polarity checker sir ... Everything else is just a guess.
     

     

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