Upgrade for Oppo 93

MarinJim

New Member
Feb 2, 2011
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#21
I am now going to mod with 3 TXCO's.
 

welwynnick

New Member
Mar 13, 2011
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#22
Hi Guys,

I mentioned I was modding my Oppo 93. Rather like I've done with several Meridian processors, I replaced the switching power supply with Lee Jaehong's linear supply. Its been a long time in the pipline, but I finished the first part of the work this week, and I took a few pictures:





I spent some time the other evening baselining the 93 against the 95, so I had a known reference to compare the modded 93. I bought the 93 specifically for this purpose, and had never listenend to it closely. Superficially it sounded OK, but it was also rather boring. After going backwards and forwards several times against the 95, a pretty clear picture emerged. The 93 was quite bold and forthright, but had little subtlety. It was always skimming off the top of the music, and never dug down deep.

I suppose it was like listening to compressed audio, or something with reduced depth of modulation, with maybe ten-bits worth of information, rather than 16. Small details were audible when nothing else was going on, but were soon masked by other sounds. You could focus your attention on one thing at a time, rather than hearing lots of instruments playing together simultaneously. It became hard and almost unpleasant work listening to it, and I didn't want to listen any longer than necessary. This was all in comparison with the 95, which was as delightful as I always remembered. Knowing what a linear supply could do with a quality processor, I was keen to listen to the modded 93, but didn't hold out much hope that it could bridge such a gap in performance.

Given my recent experience with my Sony amp and Meridian processor, this was an easy decision to experiment, and given how easy the power supply mod is, I think a few people might be interested to hear about how it works in practice. I've been listening to it for a couple of days, and comparing it with the TUC 95, which sounds very good. As well as the linear supply for the audio board, the 95 has the advantage of the superior audio board with the expensive 32-bit ESS DACs, plus the TUC mods. Audio-wise, the stock 93 was a long way behind, and I did think the PSU alone couldn't make that much difference on such a deficit.

I've only listened to the analogue outputs so far, but I'm having to eat my words. The linear PSU makes a big difference to the 93, and has me wondering if the 95 is better at all. The comparison is fascinating. My first impression of the 93/LPS is that it sounds quiet, both mechanically and musically. Linear supplies can hum and buzz, but this one is very quiet. Music is also quiet, and made wonder if the actual output voltage was lower. It isn't, but its lost the "shouty" quality that it use to have. At a stroke, it's become easy on the ear and painless to listen to.

The 95 probably has a bit more resolution, especially at the frequency extremes, but it can sound a bit "hifi" compared with the 93, which is very smooth and natural. It's very musical and enjoyable to listen to, and draws you into listening longer and longer and longer. Everything you listen to makes sense, and makes you understand why music was written and played that way. The full depth of the recording is preserved, perhaps even more so than the 95, and it's difficult to say which is better overall. I think they would probably split opinions, and even that is a great achievement for such a cheap and simple mod. I've been thoroughly convinced of the benefit of linear supplies for some time, but never thought this one would be quite so successful.

That probably suggests that the 95 would benefit from a linear supply for the digital board (rather than using an SMPS). If that's the case, then maybe the 93/LPS will sound better than the 95 with digital outputs. I haven't tried that yet, but will do so shortly. I think this has been my most worthwhile modification of all, and I've just bought one of the NuForce analogue boards today. I guess that might take it beyond the 95.

The modification isn't quite as easy as Lee suggests, but really, everyone should do this.

Nick
 

MarinJim

New Member
Feb 2, 2011
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#23
Thanks Nick. I actually bought my Dr. Lee Jaehong's mod for my 93 to improve the pq only, as I use an outboard dac. Great write up ftw. LOL, it took me 15 minutes to do my mod.;)
 

welwynnick

New Member
Mar 13, 2011
65
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#24
Thanks Nick. I actually bought my Dr. Lee Jaehong's mod for my 93 to improve the pq only, as I use an outboard dac. Great write up ftw. LOL, it took me 15 minutes to do my mod.;)
I haven't looked at PQ yet, I'll try to get it hooked up with the PJ this weekend. Of course everyone who knows best says that this sort of thing can't improve PQ over HDMI, but I'm going to keep an open mind (and I do still have a 95 to compare it with).

Going by the improvement in SQ over analogue, I'd have to say it can't just be down to whats happening on the audio board. I think the digital audio must be better as well, so I bet the PSU helps even with a DAC. If the PQ is better, then I'm SURE the digital audio will be better.

The installation wasn't that easy for me. The digital board cable connector didn't fit my new PSU, and it was difficult to see why. It turned out that the connectors were fouling; they weren't quite the same type. I had to trim a bit of plastic away on the liner PSU board connector, but now its fine.

It was a tight fit in the chassis as well. I counter-sunk the rectifier mounting screws to make some more room. The transformer also presses against the lid, so I'm going to cut down the PSU mounting stand-offs. Apart from that it really is only five screws and three connectors.

It really is a no-brainer.

Nick
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,151
0
36
Smyrna, GA
#25
Hi Guys,

I mentioned I was modding my Oppo 93. Rather like I've done with several Meridian processors, I replaced the switching power supply with Lee Jaehong's linear supply. Its been a long time in the pipline, but I finished the first part of the work this week, and I took a few pictures:

I spent some time the other evening baselining the 93 against the 95, so I had a known reference to compare the modded 93. I bought the 93 specifically for this purpose, and had never listenend to it closely. Superficially it sounded OK, but it was also rather boring. After going backwards and forwards several times against the 95, a pretty clear picture emerged. The 93 was quite bold and forthright, but had little subtlety. It was always skimming off the top of the music, and never dug down deep.

I suppose it was like listening to compressed audio, or something with reduced depth of modulation, with maybe ten-bits worth of information, rather than 16. Small details were audible when nothing else was going on, but were soon masked by other sounds. You could focus your attention on one thing at a time, rather than hearing lots of instruments playing together simultaneously. It became hard and almost unpleasant work listening to it, and I didn't want to listen any longer than necessary. This was all in comparison with the 95, which was as delightful as I always remembered. Knowing what a linear supply could do with a quality processor, I was keen to listen to the modded 93, but didn't hold out much hope that it could bridge such a gap in performance.

Given my recent experience with my Sony amp and Meridian processor, this was an easy decision to experiment, and given how easy the power supply mod is, I think a few people might be interested to hear about how it works in practice. I've been listening to it for a couple of days, and comparing it with the TUC 95, which sounds very good. As well as the linear supply for the audio board, the 95 has the advantage of the superior audio board with the expensive 32-bit ESS DACs, plus the TUC mods. Audio-wise, the stock 93 was a long way behind, and I did think the PSU alone couldn't make that much difference on such a deficit.

I've only listened to the analogue outputs so far, but I'm having to eat my words. The linear PSU makes a big difference to the 93, and has me wondering if the 95 is better at all. The comparison is fascinating. My first impression of the 93/LPS is that it sounds quiet, both mechanically and musically. Linear supplies can hum and buzz, but this one is very quiet. Music is also quiet, and made wonder if the actual output voltage was lower. It isn't, but its lost the "shouty" quality that it use to have. At a stroke, it's become easy on the ear and painless to listen to.

The 95 probably has a bit more resolution, especially at the frequency extremes, but it can sound a bit "hifi" compared with the 93, which is very smooth and natural. It's very musical and enjoyable to listen to, and draws you into listening longer and longer and longer. Everything you listen to makes sense, and makes you understand why music was written and played that way. The full depth of the recording is preserved, perhaps even more so than the 95, and it's difficult to say which is better overall. I think they would probably split opinions, and even that is a great achievement for such a cheap and simple mod. I've been thoroughly convinced of the benefit of linear supplies for some time, but never thought this one would be quite so successful.

That probably suggests that the 95 would benefit from a linear supply for the digital board (rather than using an SMPS). If that's the case, then maybe the 93/LPS will sound better than the 95 with digital outputs. I haven't tried that yet, but will do so shortly. I think this has been my most worthwhile modification of all, and I've just bought one of the NuForce analogue boards today. I guess that might take it beyond the 95.

The modification isn't quite as easy as Lee suggests, but really, everyone should do this.

Nick
I have the Dr. Lee PS as well. I never really bothered to do a detailed comparison with the baseline player, because it was such a cheap no brainer mod. It also took me 15 minutes to put it in. I use it in my all digital Oppo with the Vanity93 digi out board.

I'm surprised folks bring up the Ayre, and no one has mentioned the Theta Compli in this thead (I think). The Theta is a better comparison to the Dr. Lee mod. Theta basically put a linear PS in an 83 and did some damping. This would be the Compli BR. There forthcoming Compli Blu 3D also has a LPS, damping and I believe some changes to the transport. Theta also took out the analog section - this is s digital transport only. Apparently this improves SQ of the digital transport. I would suggest anyone using a modded 93 with Dr. Lee's LPS disconnects the analog board from the PS - or at least try and hear if it makes a difference.
 

welwynnick

New Member
Mar 13, 2011
65
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0
#26
I use it in my all digital Oppo with the Vanity93 digi out board.
OK, now that's interesting. I'm also a Meridian user, and an Oppo 93 with an LPS and the vanity board sounds like the closest thing to the Meridian Blu-ray player that they never made. An all-digital Blu-ray system, where the audio never goes anywhere near HDMI. I like the sound of that.....

Nick
 

MarinJim

New Member
Feb 2, 2011
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0
#27
Dr. Lee first intention was for the LPS to improve the pq. If you improve the image from the source, why can't it travel out? To my eyes it does.
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,151
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36
Smyrna, GA
#28
OK, now that's interesting. I'm also a Meridian user, and an Oppo 93 with an LPS and the vanity board sounds like the closest thing to the Meridian Blu-ray player that they never made. An all-digital Blu-ray system, where the audio never goes anywhere near HDMI. I like the sound of that.....

Nick
With the Vanity93 digi out board, you can take the HD621 out of the chain and go straight into the 4 x S/PDIF inputs of the Meridian. There are some reasons to expect this will sound better on MCH SACD and may be on BR, and here is why.

The Vanity93 board reclocks the signal and has proprietary DSD->LPCM conversion. This sound very markedly better than the Oppo standard conversion and clocking (I compared). If you run HDMI into the HD621, you get the lower grade "standard Oppo" digital feed, not to mention the inherent inferiority of digital over HDMI. Of course, the HD621 works some of its own magic on the digital signal (incl. apodizing filter), so the only way to confirm what is best is to try and compare these two signal paths. While with BR you don't benefit from the proprietary conversion, you do have the on board reclocking and you do avoid HDMI, so this may be better than going though the HD621 as well.
 

MarinJim

New Member
Feb 2, 2011
888
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0
#30
I do recall Dr. Lee mentioning / posting video quality improves with his board.
True. The pq on my 50" Runco plasma is stunning with my modded 93.
 

welwynnick

New Member
Mar 13, 2011
65
0
0
#31
It’s been a source of frustration that many high-end disc players use linear power supplies for their audio boards, but switching supplies for everything else. These players include the Denon A1XV, A1UD, Pioneer DV-989 and Oppo 95, all of which I own. So I was pleased to hear about the Ayre and Primare players, which use linear supplies for ALL the boards. IIRC, Charles Hansen did claim that the DX-5 had improved PQ, much as Dr Lee is claiming now, but most people are rejecting this.

This has the feel of "digital audio is perfect" from some years ago. We now know that it isn't, and we have some understanding of the reasons. However, that doesn't necessarily translate to being able to improve digital video quality. Digital audio suffers from jitter, but digital video does not. This would translate into the pixels moving around on the screen, much as they used to with analogue video on a CRT display. However, DLP, LCD, PDP & LCOS displays have fixed pixels, so this isn't possible. The place to look for PQ degradation is in the value of the luminous intensity of each sub-pixel, and this is now a function of complex digital signal processing. (I believe its safe to assume that disc reading, and HDMI connections, are to all intents and purposes, error-free). That leaves the following processes that may be guilty of degradation:

  • Video decoding (decompressing)
  • Post video decoding processes (chroma up-sampling, RGB conversion)
  • Video processing (scaling, noise reduction, colour management, sharpness, detail, etc)
I think the big process is video decoding, but this is well controlled, and most videophiles accept that the outputs of all certified decoding engines are bit-for-bit identical (Ref Keith Jack of Sigma Designs). That leaves post-decoding and processing. Since they're all still digital operations, some might expect them to be done right, but it seems thats not the case. There are some interesting Blu-ray player benchmarks by Secrets/HometheaterHiFi that point to some surprising differences and deficiencies betwen BD players:

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/secr...er-hdmi-benchmark-introduction/all-pages.html

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/secr...-hdmi-benchmark/hdmi-follow-up/all-pages.html

However, those differences all relate to the end-product of digital processing operations. While some players make clear errors, I don't think anyone will agree that the Oppo 93 or 95 is actually getting bits wrong. So how can the PQ be improved with a better power supply?

It’s not too difficult to see how a better power supply will improve digital audio quality, or analogue video quality, but digital video quality is more difficult. I did speculate a year ago about how modifying a player or processor might improve HDMI picture quality. I can’t remember where I posted it, but this is what I thought:

  • This has me wondering about the different display processes, and whether a source can degrade the picture on a fixed-pixel display.
  • Each display technology may have some form of analogue process.
  • With LCD, I believe the pixel brightness uses an analogue driver.
  • I think LCOS and DILA are similar.
  • Plasma, however, is digital – each sub-pixel is either on or off, and the brightness is controlled by the duty cycle.
  • However, that has to be clocked, which is analogue, so maybe there’s a degradation path there.
  • DLP is like Plasma - the pixel brightness is controlled by the duty cycle. Maybe a dirty HDMI feed from a noisy player or processor will import degrading noise and interference into a display, in the same way that digital video undoubtedly degrades audio.
  • Alternatively, it could be that a player with an SMPS is exporting high frequency noise and interference over the mains that is picked-up by the display, and degrades the picture through one of the above processes.
  • Certainly I've heard of too many instances to ignore when people have claimed that a mains filter has improved picture quality of a fixed-pixel display.
Considering all the DSP and video processing that goes on inside a display, the idea that what happens in the source can make the picture worse is a hard sell. It does suggest, though, that any improvements may depend on the display technology used, for example, it may work well with an LCD panel, but not with a DLP projector?

Even with the best Pioneer or Panasonic screens, I struggle to see the difference between an Oppo and a PS3, so I'm going to reserve judgement until I get my projector back up. Which should hopefully be very soon, and then I'll keep an open mind and I'll see for myself.

Nick
 
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welwynnick

New Member
Mar 13, 2011
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#32
I did some more listening last night, as I wanted to hear what effect the linear PSU had on digital audio quality. Before the mod, my TUC modified 95 sounded rather better than the stock 93, when hooked into my Sony DA9000 via spdif. It wasn't a huge difference (unlike the analogue out) but it was still worth having.

With the linear supply, the 93 turned the tables on the 95. The latter still sounded good for a universal player, but the 93 was cleaner, sharper, deeper, more dynamic and less muddled. Again, it was a worthwhile rather than huge difference in this particular comparison. But if you remember the comparison was against an already superior yardstick, rather than a stock 93, it makes the LPS conversion all the more worthwhile.

It was rather like the Meridian processor upgrade - the greatest improvement came from the analogue output, but there was still a worthwhile improvement from the digital outputs. I didn't have time to try the HDMI output from the 93/LPS, but I might give that a whirl sometime - I'd expect that to be rather better as well. All this suggests that the 95 itself would benefit from changing the digital boards SMPS to linear.

Nick
 
Mar 13, 2011
65
0
0
#33
My NuForce Edition audio board has just arrived. It looks like a very simple swap-out, so I'll be giving that a good listening this weekend. The components look good - same Cirrus Logic DAC, but OPA2134 op-amps and Wima caps. This one is the low-cost version, without the sophisticated re-clocking hardware (which I presume is an asynchronous sample-rate convertor, rather than a more straightforward phase-locked loop).

Nick
 

MarinJim

New Member
Feb 2, 2011
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#34
Regarding the new Oppo 105:

"The OPPO BDP-105EU Audiocom Signature player is a flagship 3D Universal Blu-ray player. The Audiocom 105 OPPO player is based on the BDP-105EU, but has been custom modified to extract the full measure of performance from all digital video and audio formats.

The 105 Signature player is achieves ultimate quality for all picture and audio formats, with State-of-the-art playback for Blu-ray & DVD video and audio as well as CD, SACD, DVD-A & DTS-HD discs, and Lossless Video and Audio formats. It is also exceptional as a stand-alone DAC enabling reference quality sound from a range of external digital sources.

The 105EU Signature uses the same high performance main board as the OPPO 105EU. But the performance of the 105EU Signature is optimised by replacing the switch-mode power supply with a premium grade custom linear power supply using Low ESR capacitance for video power supplies. High performance, low noise LT regulators provide low noise power to the video board ensuring a pure, highly accurate digital video signal."
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
2,732
12
38
Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
#35
The 105 Signature player is achieves ultimate quality for all picture and audio formats, with State-of-the-art playback for Blu-ray & DVD video and audio as well as CD, SACD, DVD-A & DTS-HD discs, and Lossless Video and Audio formats.
I have little doubt that an upgraded Oppo has the ability (certainly no guarantee) to be able to improve the audio side of things. But only with a side by side "blind" comparison would I have any reason to believe it would improve the video (it does not say it does only that it provides the "ultimate quality for all picture.....")

If it did, I would be all over it.
 
Mar 13, 2011
65
0
0
#36
OK, so here's my Oppo with both the linear power supply and the NuForce analogue audio board:



This was one of the cheapest and easiest upgrades I've found. I had to remove the power connector to get the NuForce board in, but otherwise its just two connectors and a few screws.

The linear supply had already made a profound difference, cleaning up the overall sound and making it more natural and less digital, but though the window was clearer, it still wasn't very big. The 95 still had a slightly bigger envelope - dynamics, bandwidth, resolution, soundstage etc.

Regarding the analogue board, going by what I'd read of the base NuForce module (as opposed to the more expensive extreme board) I expected something smooth, musical and organic, rather than something that opened the window wide open in a sightly brutal and exposing way, perhaps. What I actually heard from it was more precision and transparency - more of almost everything in fact - but even less of the nasties that the stock board lets through, and there were plenty of those.

Although the 95 still has more power, precision and depth in the bass, I now prefered the 93 overall, no question. The step forwards with the audio board wasn't as great as the LPS had been in isolation, but it completed the picture. What I didn't try was the NuForce board with the SMPS, and that alone may be a great improvement, presuming that it has better local power supply regulation. Had I gone for the NuForce board first, then done the PSU afterwards, I may have found the NuForce board to make the bigger difference, but I'm afraid my mind isn't quite enquiring enough.

The NuForce board is cheaper than it used to be, and with the linear supply, its one great sounding player for a relatively modest upgrade cost. And it s really easy, too. I can't think of any reason to have a more expensive Blu-ray player. Since I use Meridian processors, I may yet pull that analogue board back out and fit the Vanity93 board, and see how I get on with that. It would be difficult to compare with the analogue outputs, but curiosity may get the better of me.

I'd have a lot more confidence in this approach over the Audiocom solution.

Nick
 
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MarinJim

New Member
Feb 2, 2011
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#37
I just bought a 105 and am getting "the full monty" from Modwright as we speak.
 
Feb 8, 2011
19,290
84
48
Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
#38
-- Just finished reading the full thread; lots of positive enthusiasm here.

* I have read several reviews on the Ayre DX-5 Universal A/V Engine; among them by Shane Buettner (Home Theater), Michael Fremer, and Kal Rubinson (Stereophile). And John Atkinson (Stereophile) was impressed by the measurements (audio).

Regarding the video equation (picture quality improvement); I am not an expert, but Shane and Jim just above, saw an improvement. Bravo! :b ...And reading the review by Shane Buettner from the Home Theater mag (June 2011, page 44 to 46) on the video portion through the HDMI connection was quite revealing. I won't quote him here, best is to read his full review here.
BTW, the DX-5 uses an Anchor Bay's video processing and deinterlacing solution.
...And not the Marvell Qdeo Kyoto-G2 video processor that is in the Oppo players from 2011 (late 2010) and 2012 models.
And the ARM of the 103 and 105 is a dual-core processor. ...Not in the DX-5.
And the transport of the DX-5 is inferior to the 93, 95, 103, and 105 (it is based on the 83).

Any of you guys checked for measurements; digital audio jitter (picoseconds) in particular? ...Of the new 93 modded player.
The stock 105 is quite impressive in that department.
 
Mar 13, 2011
65
0
0
#39
I just bought a 105 and am getting "the full monty" from Modwright as we speak.
I think that anyone going for broke with the Oppo 95 ought to consider Jae Hong Lee's linear supply.
"Wait a minute" I hear you cry - "I thought Lee's PSU was for the 93, and the 95 already had a linear supply?"
Well, the 95 has a linear supply for the audio board, and an SMPS for the main board.
Dr Lee specifically wanted a linear supply for both boards - to improve digital audio and video quality - not just analogue audio.
His linear supply for the 95 is just for the main board, so a modded 95 would therefore have TWO linear PSUs.
If I was going to use the analogue outputs on my 95, I would get his LPSU.

Nick
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,151
0
36
Smyrna, GA
#40
I think that anyone going for broke with the Oppo 95 ought to consider Jae Hong Lee's linear supply.
"Wait a minute" I hear you cry - "I thought Lee's PSU was for the 93, and the 95 already had a linear supply?"
Well, the 95 has a linear supply for the audio board, and an SMPS for the main board.
Dr Lee specifically wanted a linear supply for both boards - to improve digital audio and video quality - not just analogue audio.
His linear supply for the 95 is just for the main board, so a modded 95 would therefore have TWO linear PSUs.
If I was going to use the analogue outputs on my 95, I would get his LPSU.

Nick
I don't think Lee's supply works with the 95 though.
 

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