OPPO Digital DV-980H User Review
Last updated 11/13/2007




BACKGROUND | FIRST IMPRESSIONS | SETUP | FIRMWARE UPDATES | VIDEO | AUDIO | CLOSING THOUGHTS



UPDATES:
August 4, 2007 - I've added a few odds and ends throughout the review, mostly under SETUP. These additions are identified with "(Added 8/4/2007)" and are in maroon instead of black.
November 13, 2007 - There is an update here that discusses my experiences using the 980H's USB interface with an external hard drive.



BACKGROUND:

My experience with OPPO Digital and their DVD players began in May 2005 with their first player, the OPDV971H. The little 971H (long known simply as the "Oppo" online, before the 970HD arrived and forced people to start clarifying which OPPO player they were speaking of) earned the company an impressive reputation through excellent customer support (including firmware updates that fixed bugs, refined video performance, and expanded the player's feature set), very good performance, and some remarkable results in the Secrets of Home Theater DVD benchmarks. In late 2006, I took part in beta testing the 971H's successor, the DV-981HD. The 981HD was known to be in development for quite some time before it was announced, as OPPO didn't want people who were interested in both the 971H's Faroudja-based performance and the 970HD's SACD support and HDMI to settle for one or the other when a product that did both was rapidly approaching. In contrast, OPPO Digital's latest product announcement was kept under wraps until mere days before the first players were shipped to consumers.

That brings us to the matter at hand: the new DV-980H. Just as the 981HD replaced the 971H, the 980H replaces the 970HD. The 980H retains all that the 970H offered except for a memory card slot, and it adds a few new things to the mix: USB v2.0 (instead of v1.1), HDMI v1.2 (instead of v1.1, thus allowing for DSD bitstream output of SACD's), 1080p video output, and a 7.1 analog output (instead of 5.1). Like the 970HD before it, the 980H lacks the Faroudja chip used by the 971H and 981HD to handle video scaling and deinterlacing. OPPO Digital contacted me earlier this year and asked if I would be interested in helping to test a new player with these features. Needless to say, I said, "yes." At that point, the 981HD surrendered the multichannel analog input of my surround processor and the 980H became my principle player for the duration of the testing. As a fitting conclusion to the beta testing and the official launch of the DV-980H, I've prepared a user review of the player. As in my previous equipment reviews, you can find an equipment list at the end of this review.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

One benefit of OPPO's focus on DVD players and their use of a single basic set of chassis dimensions is that packaging for new products is relatively straightforward. The 980H's carton and packing materials will look mighty familiar to previous OPPO owners. They are not double-boxed, but the relatively light weight and small size seems to provide its own sort of protection ("minimizing potential energy" as my wife might say, in one of those moments that reminds me she was raised by a math professor with an engineering degree). Over the course of several hardware samples sent to me during two beta tests, I've not had a single shipping-related mishap.


A 980H emerges from the box

While we're on the subject of familiar sights for OPPO owners, there's also the 980H's remote. The remote is basically the same as the final 971H remote, which has been the company's standard for both 970HD and 981H. There are a couple new buttons in the mix, though, and the remote's plastic is a black instead of white. Some of the notable new buttons are discrete on and off, a "capture" button (for capturing screen shots to use as the background image in place of OPPO's logo), and a separate pause button rather than a shared play/pause. The 980H also offers the "Audio Only" button that the 970HD had.


The 980H's remote control

Up to this point, one of OPPO's trademarks has been the extra-thin disc tray. It's a design that takes some getting used to, largely because the depression for the disc doesn't entirely clear the front panel of the player. Despite common fears of breakage from new OPPO owners, the design has proved surprisingly reliable. Needless to say, I was surprised to see the face of a more traditional tray on the 980H's front panel. I was also a bit surprised to find that the 980H was slightly taller than the 981HD (2" rather than the 1-5/8" that has been standard for previous OPPO players). This extra height not only allows for a more traditional disc tray, but also for a somewhat larger display and some more extensive front panel controls. The transport controls are arranged around a circular pad that doubles as a navigational pad under the right circumstances. The overall package has a clean, sharp, and understated look that I find to be by far the most aesthetically pleasing of OPPO's designs to date. The fact that the front panel controls are very responsive (something that I haven't always felt that I could say about the 971H and 981HD) just reinforces appeal of the pretty face.

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SETUP:

The first step in setting the player up is of course getting it connected. The DV-980H's rear panel is a bit unusual in that the multichannel analog output is 7.1 rather than 5.1 (the separate stereo output offered on previous OPPO players has been discarded). In addition to that unusual feature, there are digital audio outputs (one optical and one coaxial), composite and s-video outputs, a component video output, an HDMI v1.2a output, and a two-prong IEC power connection.


Rear panel

Which connections you will want to use depend on your system. The 980H is not as tightly focused on being used with HDTV's that offer HDMI or DVI inputs as the 971H and 981HD were, as its component output will deinterlace to 480p for any source and will scale up to HD resolutions when the source is not copy protected. Nonetheless, from a video standpoint it is still meant primarily for HDTV's. For folks with a receiver that offers HDMI v1.1 or higher, the HDMI connection can be the only output used. In the absence of an HDMI v1.1+ input, you will most likely want to use the coaxial or optical output for DVD and CD audio output. If you intend to play DVD-Audio or SACD discs without HDMI v1.1+ on your receiver, you will also want to connect the 7.1 analog output. In my system, I primarily used the 7.1 analog, coaxial digital audio, and HDMI outputs, which were all connected to my Outlaw Audio Model 990 surround processor. I also had s-video, composite, and component cables connected, but I didn't use them heavily. Because the Model 990 does not support HDMI audio input, I was not able to test that aspect of the 980H.

Before we move on to turning the player on and setting it up, I thought I'd toss in a couple pictures of the 980H's internals since it was a rather popular inclusion in my 981HD review last year. You'll notice that the Mediatek chip used in the 980H has OPPO's name on it. OPPO apparently worked with Mediatek to make some custom changes to the chip used in the previous OPPO players as a means of optimizing the 980H's performance. (Added 8/4/2007) The DAC chip (a Cirrus Logic CS4361) and opamps are visible in the first picture, but not well enough to be apparent. The four opamps line up fairly well with the 7.1 analog output, and the CS4361 is roughly in line with the optical output.


Overall interior shot of the 980H


Close-up of the 980H's updated Mediatek chip

Once the player is in the equipment rack (with the cover on, of course) and hooked up, it's time to fire things up. Setup of the DV-980H still closely follows the pattern set in place by previous OPPO players. There is a setup menu, which is divided into five main categories: General Page, Speaker Setup Page, Audio Setup Page, Video Setup Page, and Preference Page. The manual covers these controls pretty easily, but there are a few settings worth mentioning. The very first option is "TV Display," which defaults to "16:9 Wide" (the standard shape for the HDTV's thare are the typical companions to upscaling DVD players like the 980H). This setting offers an option for "16:9 Wide/Auto" which will pillarbox 4:3 content (such as TV shows and older movies), which is what I use. There's also a setting on this page called "Alt RC Code" that, when turned on, allows the 980H to respond to both the commands from its remote and to commands from universal remotes programmed to use generic remote control codes similar to those used by Toshiba, Philips, Magnavox, Marantz or Zenith DVD players. This is a very effective work-around for the fact that small companies like OPPO Digital have a difficult time getting their remote codes included in the code databases used on many universal remotes. I did some experimenting with the non-learning universal remotes floating around my house. Both my Outlaw Audio Model 990 remote and the remote that came with my Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD cable box worked with DVD code 0503 (a Toshiba code, I think). An older cable box remote (the one that came with the Explorer 2200 that we have in the bedroom, which we've had for probably six years at least) worked with codes 081, 082, and 088 with one quirk: the channel +/- commands worked for chapter skip but were reversed ("channel+" skipped back while "channel-" skipped forward). There will still be some remote functions that you'd need the original remote for (changing resolution with the "HDMI" button, for instance), but you could handle all of the normal playback functions just fine. If you have a non-learning universal remote that you want to use to control the 980H, I'd recommend turning this feature on and starting with Toshiba codes for that universal remote. It won't cover everything (the 980H's remote will likely still be needed for buttons like "HDMI" and "DVD/USB"), but for normal day-to-day use it'll work fine.

There are several settings under Speaker Setup that are worth noting if you plan to use either the multichannel analog output or the HDMI output with multichannel PCM. When using the coaxial or optical digital output or the HDMI audio output with an undecoded bitstream, these settings are not applicable. First is the Down-mix setting, which defaults to stereo but offers several other choices. For most cases, you will want to change this to "5.1 CH" or "7.1 CH" depending on your system. This leads directly into the bass management settings. If you are using the multichannel analog outputs and your receiver or processor does not offer bass management for the multichannel analog input (which is true of most receivers), you would want to set all speakers to "small" and the sub to "on" so that the 980H provides bass management. If you are using a receiver or processor that does allow bass management of the multichannel analog input, then you would want to select "large" for all speakers as well as "on" for the sub so that the 980H does not do any bass management (leaving that up to the receiver). For HDMI output, most newer HDMI v1.1+ receivers will provide bass management of multichannel PCM, in which case you would again want to use "large" for all speakers and "on" for the sub.

The Audio Setup menu includes three options that are worth mentioning at least briefly. First of those is the "Digital Output" setting, which determines what form the signal coming from the optical and coaxial outputs will take. I would recommend leaving this set to "Raw" for almost every situation. Next are two settings that relate solely to the HDMI output. HDMI Audio defaults to "Auto," meaning that Dolby Digital and DTS signals are passed as raw, undecoded bitstreams while DVD-Audio (and possibly SACD, depending on the next setting) is converted to multichannel PCM. There is also an option for "LPCM" which will force the 980H to decode all sources to multichannel PCM, including Dolby Digital and DTS. Lastly, you can select "Off" to disable HDMI audio output. Lastly, the 980H offers an unusual feature: because it is among the first DVD players to offer HDMI v1.2, it can output SACD as a DSD bitstream over HDMI. Because HDMI v1.2 receivers are still rare, however, OPPO has retained the 970HD's and 981HD's capability of converting the DSD signal from SACD's to a multichannel PCM signal that the more readily-available HDMI v1.1 receivers can accept. "PCM" is the default option for this setting.

The Video Setup page offers an assortment of adjustments that I may try to touch on in more detail later (particularly some interesting ones like the Video Scale and HDMI Color Space). One question that often arises is whether to adjust the player's brightness, contrast, and hue settings when calibrating the system or whether to adjust the display's settings. As has been wisely suggested by others in the past, I recommend making adjustments only at the display if at all possible and only adjusting at the player if it is necessary. I will also point out that calibrating your video using a disc like Digital Video Essentials, AVIA, or GetGray is well worth your while.

The Preference page mainly offers controls for default audio, subtitle, and disc menu languages, parential controls, and the like. It does also include an option to specify your TV type as NTSC, PAL, or Auto. The default is NTSC, and for most people that will be fine. Note also that you can only make changes in this menu if all disc playback is stopped – in fact, it is often recommended that you hit "Eject" and leave the disc tray open while making changes in this menu, as the player will not allow you any control over this screen if a disc is active in the player. (Added 8/4/2007) There are a few other settings in the setup menu that also cannot be adjusted while a disc is playing: SACD Priority, DVD-Audio Mode, and DivX(R) VOD On the General Page, and HDMI Audio on the Audio Setup Page.


The 980H's new "OPPO" splash screen

There is one important setting on the 980H that cannot be made from the setup menu: output resolution. As with other OPPO players, you need to have playback stopped to adjust the output resolution, although there is no need to open the disc tray. You will know when playback is stopped because you will see the splash screen pictured above. Owners of previous OPPO players will be familiar with the old blue screen with white "OPPO" in the middle, but the 980H got a bit of a facelift in this regard. (It also has a button (labeled "Capture") that will allow the user to replace this splash screen with a screen shot – just press the Capture button while the image you want is on screen and it will replace the default screen with that screen shot. But I digress...) Once you are at the splash screen, you need to push the HDMI button on either the remote or the front panel to cycle through the available resolutions, which include 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p. If the TV type is specified as PAL rather than NTSC, the frequency will be 50Hz rather than 60Hz at all resolutions and 480i and 480p will be replaced by 576i and 576p. There is a stack of indicator LED's next to the disc tray that identifies the current resolution and the front panel display will briefly identify the resolution as you make changes. If you hit an unsupported resolution (such as either 480i or 1080p in the case of my DVI-based CRT HDTV), just keep going until you get to one that will work. Typically, the recommendation is to select the resolution closest to your HDTV's native resolution (so 720p for those 768p plasma, LCD, and DLP displays, for example), but you can also try several resolutions and use the one that looks best to your eyes.

(Added 8/4/2007) Roughly four years ago, I started using a Universal remote to control my system. Initially I used an MX-500, but about two years later I switched to an MX-700. For others with the MX-700 or similar remotes (MX-750, MX-800, MX-850), I've posted both a 980H device file and my overall system file. The device file can't be opened directly from the editing software you'll need to right-click on a device under "Home" on the left side of the screen and choose "Import Device" to bring the configuration file into your file. Note also that the "OSD" button (which scrolls through display options for track, chapter, and time details) is mapped to the MX-700's "Info" button while the "INFO" button (which pulls up a screen of information such as disc format, audio details, and bit rate) is mapped to "Guide."

There are a few other basic setup and operational tips and tricks floating around that apply to all of OPPO Digital's players. If you've used other OPPO Digital players, this may be old news, but others who are new to the company likely haven't heard it before. First, there is an undocumented feature often called "Direct Play" that will allow you to skip most of the warnings, previews, ads, and other junk at the start of a disc. As soon as the DVD will allow, press "STOP" and then press "MENU." "Direct Play" may appear briefly on the screen, after which the movie should begin. Another undocumented feature that has seen a lot of use among OPPO owners is the region code control. By default, the 980H is a Region 1 player, as is required of players sold in the US and Canada. The 980H can be changed to work with any other region code, however, and it can even be set to "0" (in which case it will work with all regions). To change the region code, first stop disc playback andpress Setup on remote control to access the setup page. Once in the setup menu, enter 9210 on the remote. A menu will pop up allowing you to specify a region, and you can select any number from 0 to 6. Once done, press "SETUP" on the remote again.

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FIRMWARE UPDATES:

One reason for OPPO's loyal following on the Internet is their ongoing efforts to fine-tune, improve, and when necessary fix bugs with their players via downloadable firmware updates. As a result, I have a section dedicated just to the subject of firmware updates. At this point, the 980H is just arriving on the market and there are no firmware updates available yet. I'll post information here about updates as they are released.

(Added 8/4/2007) To determine your current firmware version (either to determine whether you already have the current version or to check to see that a new firmware update has successfully installed), first power on the player with no disc inserted. Once the player is on, press "OSD" on remote and note the popup on the screen. The "Batch" notation will be the firmware level.

If you are at all concerned about how to update the 980H's firmware, here's a summary of the process used when updating the firmware via CD-R (borrowed from my 981HD review). First, you download the ISO image file from OPPO Digital. This file will be one megabyte or so, which is puny compared to many printer, video card, or mouse drivers these days. Once you have the ISO file, you'll need to use a CD burning program like Nero to burn that file to a blank CD-R. When you do this, you need to make sure to select the option to "burn image to disc" in order for the disc to work properly. If you don't have any CD burning software installed or are unsure of how to properly burn an image file with your software, you can download a free program such as ImgBurn that will burn the firmware image file to a blank CD-R (assuming, of course, that you have a CD-R drive). To burn an image file with ImgBurn, select "Write" from the Mode menu, insert a blank disc in the CD-R drive, and click on the "Browse for a file" icon at the top of the Source section of the screen (next to the note "Please select a file..."). This will bring up an Open dialog so that you can select the ISO image file downloaded from OPPO's site. After you've done this, you can select the "Write" button at the bottom left corner of the window and the program will burn the firmware data to the blank CD-R. Once you have your CD-R in hand, you just drop it in the player. You will be prompted to press "Play" to begin the firmware update, and after you do that the player will begin to read the new firmware off the disc. After it has the data, it will eject the disc and ask you to remove the disc from the tray. Do that, but do not close the tray or turn the player off because the player needs time to load the new firmware (there will be a message on the TV reminding you of this). When it is complete, the tray will close and the player will reboot. At this point, the new firmware is installed.

The 980H also offers a second means of updating firmware: via the USB input. You can download the firmware (as a .BIN file), put it on a USB device such as a memory stick, and update the firmware in this way. This approach avoids needing to worry about burning an ISO file to CD-R properly and spares you a blank CD-R.

The new firmware will overwrite any changes you made to the settings previously (TV display, HDMI output resolution, speaker settings, and so forth), so you'll want to take a minute to run through the 980H's menus and get things dialed back in before you toss in a DVD to try out the new firmware. It might even be handy to write down your settings before the firmware update.

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VIDEO PLAYBACK:

Video (and audio) performance is where it all comes together, so this is the part that folks are likely to be most interested in. Unfortunately, June and July left me with too little time to enjoy the 980H. I also just received the final production hardware, so there are a couple things that I want to re-visit to see how the final package turned out. I plan to put in some more viewing and listening time in the coming week or two, and that is likely to generate some additional comments both in this section and the Audio Playback section that follows it.

As with other OPPO players, the 980H offers a button on the remote labeled "GOTO" that when pressed repeatedly toggles through a series of options for direct access to a specific track or time on the disc. This is a feature that was very difficult to use on my Yamaha DVD-S1500, but it's really quite convenient on the 980H. Depending on the type of disc in use, you can go directly to a specific title, chapter, elapsed time position, or track. Other typically basic features that are included are repeat (allowing you to repeat a disc, title, chapter, track, or between points A and B), direct selection of the active audio track or subtitle track, variable speed slow motion, and video zoom. The 980H also continues OPPO's tradition of lightning-quick layer changes.

One obvious question that will spring to the mind of anyone looking at the 980H is, "How does it compare to the 981HD?" Since I have both (and had both connected for most of my beta testing), I can offer a few thoughts. Unfortunately, my 32" display isn't the most demanding venue for such a comparison, but it's a start. First, reasonably good commercial transfers played back on a smaller display like mine end up showing very little difference between the two players. There were in fact only a couple of instances where the 981HD's Faroudja chip was able to show a benefit in its greater video processing horsepower. The most notable instance was a fairly dubious example of video playback: a few DVD's that I tossed together for our two-year-old daughter to watch during a vacation to Florida (preparing for an eight-hour road trip). These discs contained an assortment of children's TV shows (mostly animation) recorded via s-video output of a digital cable box to the hard drive of a Panasonic DMR-E80 DVD recorder with the 4:3 video pillarboxed for a 16:9 display and then recorded as 4:3 (thus squeezing the image oddly). The video was then transferred to a PC via DVD-RAM, compiled into a DVD using DVD Author 2.0, and then compressed a bit with DVD Shrink 3.1 so that a single-layer disc could hold roughly three hours of content. This could best be described as a textbook case of "doing bad things to video signals," so we are safely removed from the realm of reasonably good video transfers and encoding. Needless to say, a certain lack of picture quality was expected. When watching one of these discs, some computer-animated characters exhibited clear combing along the edges. Curious about this combing (which also showed up when a recently-arrived Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD cable box scaled the same program up to 1080i), I tried the disc in teh 981HD and found that it was able to deinterlace that mess of a source without introducing combing artifacts. Aside from this "perfect storm" of poor video source, however, the 980H has done an excellent job with my 32" HDTV.

The 980H supports an array of audio, picture, and video files played back from CD-R, DVD-R, or USB storage devices. Te 980H introduces a file sorting feature that threw me for a loop initially. By default, it will employ an "auto-playing" capability included for use with SACD's and MP3 files that basically hides the directory struction of the disc or USB device. This is handy for tossing a bunch of files in and listening to them as background music, for example, but it can make it hard to locate a single specific file. To work around this, you can use the "Angle" button to toggle between this flat listing and the directory listing. If playback is in progress, you will need to press "Menu" first to stop playback in order for the trick to work. That quirk aside, the 980H adds a few handy new tools to the functionality found on previous OPPO players. Long file and folder names are now supported, and the text of a long name will scroll past if necessary to give you a complete view.

(Added 11/13/2007) Earlier this fall, I added a 320GB external USB hard drive to my 980H. I did this in spite of two known limitations regarding USB devices connected to the 980H. First, the USB interface can only read FAT or FAT32 partitions – NTFS is not supported. My USB drive came formatted to FAT32 so that wasn't a problem, but there's also free software available to make reformatting an easy process. Specifically, the free program SwissKnife is widely recommended for this purpose. Second, the file viewer used with USB devices and CD-R/DVD-R discs can only access the first 700 files on a device or disc. This means that if you have more than 700 music files in your library, you won't be able to see everything. As a result, the USB interface is not intended to allow the 980H to serve as a large-scale media player. Big drives such as the one I've attached are not going to see much use if they are storing content like that.

I've used the USB interface mainly to play back .VOB files taken from DVD's – at this point just an assortment of our daughter's TV shows plus a few samples that I sometimes use for demo purposes, although I keep meaning to add a few more that my wife would be likely to watch. There are a couple quirks with the .VOB support, since it is reading the file without any access to the other information normally available to DVD players. Chapter stops don't work, as the chapter buttons instead move between individual 1GB .VOB files. That's not a big deal for a 20-minute show, but it is potentially a bit inconvenient on a 2-hour movie. I believe that this the result of being in the file viewer environment such that the chapter up/down buttons are being used to move on to the next file in the folder. A second quirk of the 980H's .VOB support is that the aspect ratio data is lost: there is no way to know if the video is 4:3 or anamorphic widescreen and the 980H doesn't know to pillarbox 4:3 content when it finds it. Lastly, there is a bug that OPPO is working on relating to how the 980H sorts files in its file viewer. Typically, you would expect the files to be sorted alphabetically by file name, but what I've found instead is that the file viewer seems to be sorting files and folders by their creation date.

Based on my experience with the 980H and an external hard drive, the player is not going to offer the full capabilities of a dedicated media player such as a SqueezeBox, SoundBridge, AppleTV, or even an XBox. There are also a couple of quirks that make .VOB support a bit less intuitive than normal DVD playback. That being said, video quality appears equal to normal DVD playback and there is certainly some convenience offered by this interface, especially for any DVD content that you find yourself watching repeatedly. It only cost me $70 to create my "kid's shows archive," and the results are quite handy.

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AUDIO PLAYBACK:

The 970HD has developed a surprisingly strong following as a result of its audio performance. With a very similar design, the 980H can be expected to follow closely in the 970HD's footsteps. As with the video portion of this review, I expect to be refining and expanding on my comments in the next couple weeks. For now, though, I can offer some initial feedback.

The "audio only" mode is a feature that I first saw on some DVD-Audio and SACD players a number of years ago (including the Panasonic DVD-RA60 that introduced me to DVD-Audio back in 2002). The 980H is the second OPPO player to offer it, and it includes a neat five-second countdown to warn folks that the video is going away. SACD playback sounded quite good with both Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" (ideal gapless playback test, which the 980H passed) and the Telarc Great Film Fantasies disc (good for a little "Imperial March" fix). My first DVD-Audio disc choice (Toy Matinee) wasn't an ideal test case simply because of the mix, but the next three (Blue Man Group "The Complex," Metallica's Black Album, and 3 Doors Down's "Away From The Sun") were good stuff indeed. This is my third SACD player, coming after both a Yamaha DVD-S1500 and an OPPO DV-981HD, and I've heard improvements with each player. When testing the 981HD, there were a couple SACD's that I just never got around to, mainly because they had been rather disappointing on the S1500 back in 2004. One of those was "Shaking the Tree: Sixteen Golden Greats" by Peter Gabriel, a stereo SACD of the remastered CD that I also have a copy of. While checking SACD compatibility, I worked my way around to this particular disc and was surprised to find myself really enjoying it. The sense that I had with the S1500 (that the disc was failing to live up to the potential of its format) was gone, and I was just enjoying the music. The 980H really is a remarkably capable little DVD-A/SACD player – I wouldn't consider it to be on par with a kilobuck Denon or Marantz, but the fact that it handles SACD better than a $400 Yamaha and is at least that Yamaha's equal on DVD-Audio certainly says a lot about it.

I want to take a moment to speak specifically to the 980H's 7.1 analog output, since it is an unusual feature. The DSP core of the 980H is not as sophisticated as a full-blown surround receiver or processor would employ, so the audio processing options are a bit more limited than you would find on a receiver. That means that while Pro Logic II will work, Pro Logic IIx is outside the range of the player's DSP capabilities. It does support Dolby Digital EX, however, which works with any Dolby Digital 5.1 or EX source. OPPO was also able to implement a simple matrix scheme in conjunction with Pro Logic II (copying data from side surrounds to rear surrounds and reducing levels of the copied data) so that two-channel sources can be extended to 7.1, although I'm still tinkering with that feature to get a better handle on it.

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CLOSING THOUGHTS:

The 980H is the fourth DVD player for OPPO Digital. While its more expensive cousin, the 981H, does offer more powerful video processing capability, the 980H does offer surprisingly good analog audio output for a player in this price range in addition to its very good video performance and assortment of handy features (such as USB 2.0 input, support for various file formats, 7.1 analog output, and DSD output of SACD). It is also (at least to me) a very handsome looking player. As I am still digging through the 980H's capabilities, it will remain my primary player for a while longer. The fact that I don't know if that condition is likely to change even after the testing and tinkering is done probably says a good bit about how I feel about the 980H.

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EQUIPMENT LIST:

If you have any questions about this review, click here and I'll get back to you as quickly as I can.




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