If top-of-the-line handsets from Samsung, HTC, or Apple don't thrill you, perhaps a walk on the smartphone wild side is in order. For a sky-high sticker price approaching $700, the unconventional Oppo Find 5 offers a quad-core processing punch, massive 5-inch 1080p display, Android Jelly Bean, plus a striking, modern design. The unlocked device also provides international GSM operability for all you globe-trekkers. While the Oppo Find 5's high cost of entry will scare away casual phone shoppers, this gadget's distinctive style and impressive capabilities are certainly a draw to Android aficionados and mobile technology addicts alike. … Read more
Even by Oppo's high standards the BDP-105 is an extraordinary Blu-ray player. Sure, it's loaded with up-to-the-second features -- 4K upscaling, 2D-to-3D conversion, and a high-quality USB 2.0 digital-to-analog converter -- but what really makes the Oppo special is the sound. Pop the cover and look inside and you'll see why. Most of the 17-pound component's chassis space is devoted to the audio circuitry. That's nice, but the audio advantages will be completely irrelevant if you connect the BDP-105 to your receiver with a HDMI cable (the digital-to-analog conversion would then be handled in … Read more
Rewind the clock back five years and Oppo was the "go-to" brand for DVD players, with the Oppo DV-981HD one of the best models available at the time. Then Blu-ray happened, and Oppo saw little initial competition for its first Blu-ray player. But since 2009, the Blu-ray player market has shrunk: titans like Sony and Panasonic no longer make premium players and instead opt for cookie-cutter "wedges" with plastic build quality, yet good performance and cheap prices.
Oppo has stuck to its design and philosophical guns, and has now released its third set of players, the … Read more
Oppo, a company better known for its high-end Blu-ray players, is quietly preparing to lay claim to another smartphone title.
Earlier this year, the Chinese company released the Oppo Finder, which at just 6.65mm thick edged out the competition to claim the title of the world's thinnest smartphone. Now the company appears ready to take the screen-resolution crown as well.
The Oppo Find 5 will sport a 5-inch 1080p screen that features a whopping 441 pixels per inch (ppi), Oppo Mobile CEO Chen Mingyong said in a blog detailed by Chinese tech site CNMO.com -- handily beating … Read more
I get this question a lot, "Steve, what's the best-sounding Blu-ray player." Sometimes the questioner is more specific, "I have an Oppo BDP-83, but is the Oppo BDP- 95 better? What are you using at home?"
I have an Oppo BDP-95 ($999), which has a lot in common with the company's BDP-93 ($499) 3D universal Blu-ray, SACD, DVD-Audio player, but the BDP-95 is the potentially better sounding player. I say potentially because that player's upgraded digital-to-analog converter and audio circuitry won't make a nit of difference if you're using the player'… Read more
Lets face it: sound bars are popular mostly because they reduce home theater clutter. The other big plus is that they eliminate the need to buy an AV receiver, and the cost savings can be considerable. That's all good, but I'm still waiting to hear a sound bar an audiophile could love.
I had hopes for Klipsch's new Gallery G-42 sound bar ($699), but it doesn't have internal amplifiers, so it must be used with a receiver. That's potentially a very positive sign, because the amps built into sound bars aren't as good or as powerful as the ones in Denon, NAD, Onkyo, Pioneer, or Yamaha receivers. Like all Klipsch speakers, the G-42 sports horn-loaded tweeters (more on that later). The sound bar is part of a new Klipsch series of Gallery speakers and 5.1 channel speaker packages.
Decked out with a gorgeous glossy black finish, the G-42 has a high-end sheen, and its 6-inch-high, 42-inch-wide, and 2.4-inch-deep cabinet feels sturdy. The 12-pound speaker can be wall-mounted or set on a cabinet with the included table top stand. The rear panel houses all-metal connectors for the speaker's left, center, and right channels. … Read more
Defining exactly what qualifies audio gear as "high-end" or "audiophile" isn't easy, but I'll give it a try. Sound quality that rises above what's available from mainstream manufacturers would lead the way, followed by exceptional build quality, and a high price.
Well, by those standards it's safe to say Emotiva's ERC-2 CD player is definitely a high-end machine. The only disqualifier might be the ERC-2's price; it's just $449, which includes free shipping in the U.S.. The ERC-2 boasts individually regulated and shielded power supplies that separately feed the CD transport mechanism, the display, microprocessors, and digital and analog electronics sections. Build quality, from the thick machined-metal faceplate; beefy, all-metal remote control; the Analog Devices' digital-to-analog converters; and fully discrete analog circuitry are all more in-line with what I'd expect to see on a $1,500 CD player.
You can also use the ERC-2 as a CD "transport" with an external digital-to-analog converter; it has a "professional grade" digital output XLR connector, as well as RCA and Toslink optical digital audio connectivity. The ERC-2 has RCA and XLR (balanced) analog outputs.
Where most digital players, including many high-end models that sell for many times the ERC-2's price have one- or two-year warranties, the ERC-2 has a five-year warranty!
I listened to the ERC-2 in my high-end system with Pass Labs electronics and Magnepan 3.7 speakers. It's a high-resolution system, so it was easy to hear just how spectacular the sound of this CD player really is. … Read more
Oppo Digital's Blu-ray and DVD players have found favor with the most demanding high-end customers. I knew that Oppo has collaborated with a number of high-end audio companies (Ayre Acoustics, MSB Technology, NuForce, and others) on a number of products, but I didn't know Oppo made improvements on its own products based on feedback from those high-end companies.
The Oppo BDP-95 ($999) may have a lot in common with the company's BDP-93 ($499) 3D universal Blu-ray, SACD, DVD-Audio player, but the BDP-95 really is a very different, potentially better sounding Blu-ray player. I say potentially because the $… Read more
"Good enough" audio is the order of the day, but here at The Audiophiliac it's all about great sounding gear, which can get really expensive. Usually, but not always, so here's a Top 10 list of great gear that won't break the bank. Prices run from $8 to $1,995, and seven of the ten are under $650. All are truly exceptional performers, affordably priced. (Just note that these are my personal picks; see CNET's list of best home audio products for the editors' official recommendations.)
Grado SR60i headphones ($79). Grado long ago set the standard for unbelievably great-sounding, full-size budget headphones with the original SR60. The SR60's sound had weight, detail and punch far beyond the capabilities of most under $100 'phones. Jim Austin, over at Stereophile magazine, recently reviewed the SR60i, and he thinks Grado's upgraded design surpasses the original SR60.
Ikea Lack hi-fi component stand ($7.99) It's made of particleboard and ABS plastic, and it comes in a variety of painted colors (and "birch effect"); it's 21.3 inches wide and deep, and 17.75 inches high. Ikea doesn't present the Lack as audio furniture; it's a side table, but audiophiles all over the world have used it to support their prized possessions. Build quality is surprisingly sturdy.
Sony XDR-F1HD HD Radio ($100). I guess most of you don't listen to radio anymore, but if you're lucky enough to still have a great NPR or college station nearby, you gotta hear this radio. Plug it into your computer or hi-fi and it'll sound better than Internet radio by a long shot.
Samsung HT-C6500 home theater in a box system ($649, pictured at top). I've probably reviewed more HTIBs than anybody, but this new Blu-ray Samsung HTIB really stood out from the crowd. First because it doesn't have the feeble, thin sound I associate with the petite speakers that come with most HTIBs. The sound is rich, full, and thanks to the HT-C6500's potent subwoofer, powerful.
Altec Lansing Expressionist Ultra MX6021 PC speaker-subwoofer system ($200). I checked out Altec's mighty PC sound system when David Carnoy was working on his CNET review. Wow, this thing rocks! It's remarkably clean-sounding, and the subwoofer goes really deep, without the boom and bloat so common to computer speaker systems. Face it, you're never going to get great sound out of pipsqueak speakers, the Altec system's subwoofer is 15.8 inches tall by 15.1 inches wide by 10.2 inches deep, and the satellites sport 3-inch midrange drivers and 1-inch neodymium tweeters. It's easily the best sounding $200 speaker/subwoofer package on the planet! … Read more
The Oppo BDP-83 is widely held to be one of the best performing Blu-ray players on the market, and we've been impressed enough with its image quality that we use it as the reference player in all our Blu-ray player reviews. Still, it costs $500, which is out of reach for most buyers.
The Oppo BDP-80 initially appears to be an attractive "sweet spot" product, costing $290 with almost all the same functionality as the BDP-83. Looking closer, however, we just couldn't find enough value to justify the $290 price tag, as it lacks any streaming … Read more