Options for playing digital music ... now that Oppo is out of business

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by robert_kc, Apr 7, 2018.

  1. robert_kc

    robert_kc AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Given that Oppo no longer manufactures products, I may eventually need some solution other than their universal players (e.g., UDP-205). Perhaps another brand of universal player, or a server-based networked solution, or streaming from a service provider.

    Regarding server-based solutions, I'd like to learn more about how to copy all types of music (and video) discs to a central server (or NAS), and play it – meeting all of the following requirements.

    First, let me say that I’m not interested in taking on the role of systems integrator for a DIY solution that is based on a mix of open-source software and generic hardware components – unless it’s extremely simple to install. (What I recall reading about building a solution based on Raspberry Pi is that it is suitable for PC hobbyists.)

    My needs for a server-based audio/video solution – that would match (or exceed) what my Oppo UDP-205 does – would include the following requirements:
    • Reliable. No smartphone/tablet apps that freeze or loose synchronization. (IME, a common problem with Chromecast playing Netflix.) No audio drop-outs. (IME, an occasional problem with Chromecast Audio playing Spotify Premium.) Apps must be proven reliable.
    • No degradation of audio quality compared with the source recording. No down-sampling. Preferably, no transcoding – i.e., retain the original format.
    • A way to copy (i.e., rip) existing recordings. Software that is simple to install, and use – for all types of recordings listed below.
    • Support for all types of multi-channel (5.1) and stereo audio and video (e.g., concert videos, opera, ballet - plus Hollywood movies):
      • SACD (i.e., copying the SACD layer, not the CD layer of a hybrid SACD)
      • Blu-ray
      • Pure Audio Blu-ray
      • Ultra HD Blu-ray
      • CD
      • HDCD is important to some people. (But not a requirement for me.)
      • Downloaded hi-res (24bit/192kHz) FLAC
      • Downloaded hi-res DSD
    • Simple (and preferably automatic) way to correct and enhance metadata for classical recordings (e.g., subgenre, composer, composition, conductor, orchestra, soloists, etc).
    • Ensure that multiple-movement compositions (e.g., a symphony) are properly concatenated – in the right order.
    • Gapless playback (e.g., a long movement that is broken into more than one file).
    • A DAC (or “network player” or other device) that supports all audio and video formats listed above, and delivers the following features:
      • Bass management, i.e., a configurable crossover that is installed before the amp(s), in order to off-load deep bass from the main amp(s) and speakers. (In my case, 2.1 and 5.1 systems.) Line-level RCA connection for subwoofer.
      • Support for streaming from local NAS (DLNA?) for all formats listed above.
      • Support for streaming audio from a service provider (e.g., Spotify Premium, Tunein) built-in, or a TOSLINK input for something like Chromecast Audio.
      • A TOSLINK input to connect the audio from my TV. (I do not have cable TV.)
      • USB input able to connect a computer, in order to utilize the DAC.
      • Ability to connect to a USB external drive (or memory stick) that contains music files.
      • Support for streaming video (hi-res video, hi-res multichannel audio) from Netflix, etc.
      • HDMI input to connect to Chromecast (video), Blu-ray disc player, etc. Hi-res.
      • A coax input to the DAC might be useful to some people. (Though this is not a requirement for me.)
      • Pre-amp functionality built-in, with remote volume control, suitable for directly driving a power amp. RCA analog line-level outputs for 2.0, 2.1, and 5.1. (In my case, to drive my vintage tube power amps without requiring another piece of equipment in the audio chain, such as a pre-amp, pre-processor, or AVR.)
      • Whatever else is needed to make the DAC work. If “jitter buffers” and/or “power supply filters”, etc. are required, they should be built-in, not external add-ons.
      • Some might want a built-in headphone amp and jack. (Not a requirement of mine.)
    • Playback software that is simple to install and use. (In my case, based on Android, and Windows 10.)
    • Ability to play through multiple hi-fi systems. (In my case 5 hi-fi systems.)
    If a concise, comprehensive explanation of server-based solutions already exists, I’d appreciate a link.

    Thus far, the descriptions I’ve read have caused me to conclude that there is no simple and reliable solution – unless you’re only ripping CDs (and the CD layer of SACDs) for pop music (vs. classical music).

    Ripping the SACD layer of a hybrid SACD apparently involves a specific early version of Playstation 3 that has been rebuilt and/or modified and/or hacked, and third-party software? Or, the audio must be converted from digital to analog, and then converted back to digital? When I bought a new PC a year ago, there was no PC disc reader that would read the SACD layer of an SACD (vs. reading the CD layer).

    Is it possible to rip Ultra HD Blu-ray? How easy is it to rip Blu-ray and Pure Audio Blu-ray?

    Tagging classical music is reportedly a PITA – requiring the end-user to define a schema for the metadata, and manually tag each recording. (Or pay a fee to a service provider. Roon? Gracenote? Other meta-data service-provider?) Apparently, there is no standard in the recording industry for something as simple as what goes in the “artist” field for classical music: the composer, conductor, or one of several soloists? Reportedly, without editing the supplied metadata, classical recordings are often not easily searchable.

    In my reading about the challenge of copying multiple types of discs to a server, I learned a new (to me) slang expression: “faff”.

    And then there’s the issue of becoming knowledgeable about optimizing in-home data networking (i.e. configuring routers, extenders, etc).

    Regarding playback software, some people think JRiver is “the cat’s pajamas” and is easy to use. Others report that it’s difficult to use, and some are dissatisfied with JRiver’s support model. It seems that every software solution for playback has its limitations.

    I’d appreciate your comments (or a link), that explains everything that is needed – hardware, software, and labor – to establish a server-based solution for all of the digital audio and video formats. I’d be interested in learning how long it takes a newbie to install and configure this type of solution, and how long it takes to copy - and edit the metadata for classical music - for each type of recording listed above.

    I’m glad that I own a UDP-205, BDP-105, BDP-95, and two DV-980H. I hope they will serve me for many years. Until Oppo announced they are exiting the business, I had concluded that the UDP-205 was the best solution for my needs – providing simple “drop a disc in the tray” ease-of-use for all audio and video digital formats – stereo and multi-channel – directly driving my vintage tube amps (i.e., no need for a pre-amp, or pre-processor, or AVR).

    Does any other manufacturer make a machine that does everything the UDP-205 did?

    It appears that at some point, I may need to learn a new approach. A home-server-based solution might be one option.

    Or, perhaps I’ll wait until streaming is available with uncompromised multi-channel hi-res audio and video – and uncompromised reliability - for all music genre (including classical music and opera) - and let the service provider (e.g., Spotify or Tidal or Netflix) do most of the “heavy lifting”. (It seems to me that for people who are satisfied with “near-CD audio quality” – streaming is the solution today. Why bother with copying CDs to a server, when you can access the same music from Spotify for $10 per month? Or, Tidal “HiFi” (with arguably better audio quality) for $20 per month.)

    For now, I’ll keep using my Oppo UDP-205 (and BDP-105, BDP-95) so that I can play all types of hi-res discs, plus my HDTracks hi-res downloads. I’ll continue to use Spotify Premium and Youtube for exploring music that is new to me. And I’ll probably experiment with a different way to stream Netfix that is more reliable than my Chromecast and Android tablet. At the same time, I need to start looking to the future. Any advice will be appreciated.
     

     

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  2. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

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    Well, for SACD - sorry - that is a hard one. I think the only server that does that is the Sony hapz1es . You can only copy SACD with either a specific disc player OR an original PS3.
     
  3. N8Nagel

    N8Nagel Addicted Member

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    Indeed. I'm a little angry at Sony for closing it off like that. If I buy a SACD and it dies from rot 25 years from now, will Sony let me download a DSD file then?
     
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  4. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Faff, eh?

    I like it! But nobody here would understand me, so I guess I'll stick with cluster-fuck.
     
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  5. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

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  6. robert_kc

    robert_kc AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks for sharing this! I've read through it quickly. This confirms my suspicion that ripping SACDs is - IMO - a time-consuming technically-complicated task that apparently appeals to some "PC hobbyists". Nothing wrong with that :) but I don't think that ripping SACDs would save time for me. As I said in another post - because I typically listen to an entire symphony or opera at a time, retrieving and loading a disc is not a significant inconvenience to me. In other words, I don't have to swap discs very often. (Compared perhaps with someone who listens to one 3-minute song from one disc, and then another 3-minute song from a different disc, and so on.) And, I have no need to copy my music to portable devices. (IMO, classic music requires a quiet listening environment, so listening in the car doesn't work for me.)

    And recently I've been buying Blu-ray (video) box collections of modern performances (captured in hi-res) of symphonies (e.g., Beethoven, Sibelius, Brahms, Schumann, Mahler, etc). And I have a growing collection of Blu-ray opera, and a few ballet - and therefore the ability to play Blu-ray video (and Pure Audio Blu-ray) is an important requirement for my music play-back system. (I think thus far I have only one Ultra HD Blu-ray of an opera.) I've read that there is a way to copy Blu-ray discs, but I don't see how this would save me time.

    Because multi-channel SACDs and Blu-ray discs are still being released for classical music - and given the apparent complexities of copying these discs - it appears that a universal disc player (with 5.1 analog outputs, remote volume control, digital inputs, etc) is currently the best choice for me.

    For now, I've signed-up on Oppo's web site to receive information about a possible future production run of UDP-205s.

    Nonetheless, I continue my quest for another solution. Please keep the comments coming.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018

     

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  7. kurtgo

    kurtgo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I saw a few months back that there is a company providing copying service for SACD's. Don't remember the details and now that I've read your exhaustive but complete list of requirements it has me interested back into getting that done. I also don't use the software that came with my QNAP NAS. Just use several different apps from my phone and Ipads. Easy ones. I'll pull some names for you.

    Don't discount those portable DAPs. Mine come in handy as hell and I can plug it in, use WiFi or Bluetooth to send my tunes to just about whatever I want to hook up to. I'd think that would be handy as hell with 5 systems around your house and the systems can even be "old". The one I use is a Fiio 5 III generation. Hell, I think it can even read my files off my NAS.

    I was told several years ago to download this software and it would be able to copy the BluRay soundtracks. www.makemkv.com. I did download it but have never used it. It just told me the version I had was too old and go get the updated version. I have a bluray player in my desktop.
     
  8. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

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    Well, if you want multichannel you will need to get a mutlichannel DAC, and not many companies make them. EXA sound does (but it is an 8 channel) which uses USB and does DSD and up to 384/24 FLAC.
     
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  9. GChief

    GChief AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    My conclusion also

    :beerchug:
     
  10. KrisM

    KrisM Lunatic Member

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    Looking at what you're wanting to do, and this quote, says that you're not going to find what you're looking for.
    Some of it is easy, and some of it simply would require you to get in there and get your hands dirty.

    The music you listen to, and the formats you have it on, tells me you should make sure you're set with disc spinners that will keep you going.:thumbsup:
     
  11. davidflas

    davidflas Easily Confused Subscriber

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    I've been very happy with the flexibility of my Sony UBP-X800, not sure it meets the OP's lengthy list of needs. It's been flawless for me.
     
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  12. tmtomh

    tmtomh Active Member

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    Oppo looks to be doing one final production run of the UDP-205 this summer. You can go to their web site and submit your email address to be notified of updates to that.

    There's also the UDP-203, which Oppo still has in stock direct, but it doesn't have the USB DAC input, and its internal DAC chip and analogue audio circuitry are not at the level of the 205's, so while it's a very nice unit, it's not quite as well suited for primary audio use as the 205.

    As far as approximating what the 205 does, one option is to buy a used 105 or 105D. They're not cheap, but they have the same basic functionality as the 205 (except no 4k HD video - the 105/D is a regular HD video machine).

    Beyond that, the Sony UBP-X800 and X1000, along with the Cambridge CXUHD (not to be confused with the discontinued CXU) offer universal disc capability - but they are digital components. They don't contain analogue outputs or any internal DAC. So you have to use them with an outboard DAC. And if your outboard DAC is not one or the rare and expensive units with HDMI input, then you're SOL when it comes to being able to play SACDs in native mode - due to encryption/copy protection, SACDs either will get converted to PCM in the player before being output over the optical and coax digital outputs - or else the optical/coax digital outputs won't pass along any SACD sound at all - just silence.

    And for multichannel, forget it - the only affordable multichannel DACs with HDMI inputs exist inside A/V receivers - and even there you have to double-check to ensure that you can actually pass SACD sound from the HDMI output of one of these digital disc players, and bring it in the HDMI input of an A/V receiver, and then to the analogue outputs, without the SACD's DSD signal getting converted to PCM at some point along the way.

    IMHO this is the virtually unique convenience of the Oppo BDP-105/105D and UDP-205: A single unit with a high quality DAC chip that you can use as an outboard DAC to receive streaming audio, and also as a high-quality SACD player that will run the pure DSD signal through the DAC without any PCM conversion. There just isn't anything else like it, at least not anywhere near its price point.

    The only unit I can think that provides a little more of what the Oppo units provided, is the Sony UBP-X1000ES (note the -ES suffix), which includes a DAC and stereo analogue outputs (but no multichannel analogue). But it's basically a Sony version of the Oppo UDP-203, not the 205, and given that the Oppo 203 is only $50 more than the Sony X1000ES, IMHO the Oppo is a no-brainer choice over the Sony.
     
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  13. N8Nagel

    N8Nagel Addicted Member

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    My understanding was while the 105 had USB DAC and 103 did not, that both 203 and 205 could be used that way.
     
  14. E-Stat

    E-Stat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Not exactly sure as to what you refer. I have a 103 and can supply a USB source using its 5532 based DAC for output.

    The difference between the 103/105 and 203/205 involves the op amps employed. The latter uses LM4562.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  15. N8Nagel

    N8Nagel Addicted Member

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    IIRC on a 103 you can read music files off a USB drive, but you can't hook it to a laptop and use it directly as a USB DAC (as a sound card) while on 105, 203, 205 you can.
     
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  16. E-Stat

    E-Stat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Help me understand the difference between the inputs found on the 103:

    103.jpg

    And 203:

    203.jpg
     
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  17. N8Nagel

    N8Nagel Addicted Member

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    The 105/203/205 can be used as an asynchronous USB DAC. The 103, as far as I know, cannot. Which is actually kind of irritating as hooking up a laptop and controlling Kodi from my phone is easier for casual couch-DJing than going through the Oppo's DLNA server interface.
     
  18. E-Stat

    E-Stat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Help me understand how that is reflected in terms of the panel inputs. Both offer optical, coaxial and USB inputs.

    Which is not a concern for me as I use BNC S/PDIF inputs for the DACs in both my music systems. I use the 103 strictly for HT use only.
     
  19. N8Nagel

    N8Nagel Addicted Member

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    There's different things you can do with the USB inputs. On the 103, you can either hook up a wireless dongle to connect to your home wireless network, or connect a thumb drive (or possibly USB hard drive? I have not tried, don't know if the ports have enough power to spin it up)

    In addition to the above, the higher/later models offer you the option to connect to a PC and have the PC recognize the Oppo as an external sound card. IOW, I could use a 105 exactly the same way I use my HRT MSii+. Well, I would be using it, were my laptop not being a jerk and not recognizing it again, after a few days of nice functionality.
     
  20. nedseg

    nedseg AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    In addition to wifi and USB, you can access files shares via LAN on the 103.
     

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