Choosing Between the
OPPO UDP-203 and OPPO UDP-205
4K Blu-Ray Players
If you’ve found this blog, you probably know all about Oppo, a Chinese company who for the last decade has made some of the highest rated Blu-ray players on the planet. Oppo has been a favorite at Audio Advice for many years. We were actually one of their very first brick and mortar stores allowed to sell their products.
This year, Oppo introduced their new 4K UHD Blu-ray players to much critical acclaim. Oppo products appeal to people who want to get the very best performance out of their home theater system. The most common question we get asked is, “Which player is the right choice?” Is the Oppo UDP-205 worth the difference in price over the Oppo UDP-203? The UDP-205 is $1,299 compared to $549, so what do you get for $750 more?
The answer to this question depends on a few variables.
Let’s get to the big one — the picture. From our testing, and if you compare the specs and components used in the video path, we see no reason to buy the UDP-205 over the UDP-203 for picture quality. They both have incredible video quality and all the latest 4K UHD technology. If you have a home theater receiver or surround sound processor and just plan to use your new Oppo for 4K Blu-ray and normal Blu-ray discs, and use it for nothing else, the UDP-203 should be your choice.
Everything you pay extra for in the UDP-205 is related to audio. Every part of the audio chain inside the UDP-205 is better than the UDP-203. So, how might this affect your system?
Let’s say you have a decent sized CD library and plan to use your Blu-ray player as a CD player. It turns out that the audio section (DACs, power supply, analog outputs) found in the Oppo UDP-205 rival many $1000+ standalone CD players. In most cases, going analog out of the Oppo UDP-205 into your home theater receiver or surround sound processor will sound better playing back CDs than using the DACs inside your receiver or processor. It is that good. So, the UDP-205 is a great choice to consolidate things and use as both a CD player and Blu-ray player.
If you have an external NAS drive, either Oppo can play back those music files over your network, but using the UDP-205 over the UDP-203 is just like in the CD realm, you’ll get far better sound using the UDP-205.
As a USB DAC
Maybe you have a computer that you have your music stored on instead of on an external NAS drive. The UDP-205 can also be used as a USB DAC, incorporating all of its great audio circuitry. This is not even possible with the UDP-203. You simply run a USB cable from your computer to the UDP-205 and it takes over your audio playback. This will work great with iTunes, JRiver, and other music management systems.
As a DAC
Perhaps you have an older streamer for music or even a current one (like a Sonos for instance) that has just OK audio but does have digital out. The UDP-205 has both a Toslink and coax digital input so that you can feed the signal into the UDP-205 and use its great audio path for better sound.
The UDP-205 even has fully balanced audio outputs for the left and right channels if your receiver or preamp supports this type of input.
As a Control Center
Both the UDP-203 and UDP-205 have seven channels of audio output, plus a subwoofer out. If you have a 7 channel amp, you can set this up to be variable audio out so that you can use the UDP-203 or UDP-205 as your preamp. The UDP-203 lacks other inputs for video content, so you would be limited to just discs. However, with the UDP-205, it has a second HDMI input. So, if you are thrifty, want the ultimate in performance, and can get away with a single video streaming device like a Roku or Apple TV, then you can have a complete high-performance system without the need for a home theater receiver or preamp (if you have enough power amps to drive all of your speakers).
A couple of notes on the control center idea though. It is a bit difficult to do it this way because the switching between all of the inputs is not direct, but is done by toggling through them all. Also, the UDP-205 (and UDP-203) does not have any Dolby Atmos analog outputs. It fully supports Dolby Atmos through its HDMI out, but if you want to eliminate a receiver or surround sound processor, you’ll be giving up Dolby Atmos. We feel that if you are into it at this level and want the best, giving up Dolby Atmos if you have the room to install it would be a mistake.
We hope this helps you figure out which Oppo is best for you. It really comes down to the audio side of things.