The perfect Oppo-rtunity for SACD?

I missed out on getting a 60GB PS3, writes Andrew Everard. It wasn't that I wanted to play games – yes, it's playing games, not gaming, in my book – or Blu-rays, and I certainly had no need for any of those 60 gigglybytes. No, I wanted it for Super Audio CDs.

But now I think I've found an even more affordable substitute, in the form of the DV-980H (above) from California-based company Oppo Digital. It plays DVDs, DVD-As, SACDs, HDCDs and all manner of DivXs, WMAs and JPEGs, has a USB input for portable music devices, does 1080p upscaling, stands a smidge less than 5cm tall, and costs just under £160 delivered.

Oh, and it plays Super Audio CDs in their DSD native form over HDMI.

"That's a bit niche, isn't it?" said Tests Editor Simon Lucas when I told him about the machine. Well yes, I guess it is, but having noticed that the Onkyo TX-SR875 receiver currently sitting under my TV would accept DSD - the Direct Stream Digital format at the heart of SACD – over HDMI, I was keen to give it a try.

Now this isn't a test, by any means: the player only arrived yesterday, three or four working days after I ordered it, and I only got it plugged up and playing SACDs around midnight last night – I hadn't intended to connect it into the system until the weekend.

But initial impressions are extremely good, both of the DVD upscaling quality and, in particular, the playback of multichannel SACDs.

I gave it a blast – well, a low-level blast, given the hour – of the gorgeous new Linn Records set of Mozart symphonies, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras, and I have to say I'm already impressed.

In fact, I'm just waiting for the weekend to crank up the volume and explore some more of the SACD collection.

Not that getting it up and running was all plain sailing, despite the provision of a good HDMI lead in the box. For about an hour the player and receiver refused to talk to each other in anything but 'wrong kind of digital' noise.

It was only when I was on the brink of giving up and leaving it for another night that the 'reset to default' option on the Oppo suddenly caused music to flood forth.

As I said, not a test, so you won't be getting any star-ratings. But initial impressions are that this is a player well worth further investigation – I'll let you know how I get on...

Technorati Tags: 1080p, DivX, DVD player, DVD-Audio, SACD, upscaling

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.