OK, here is my detailed stereo listening results comparing my 83SE to Don's 95. This and the MCH review are probably 8 hours of work (yes work) and my best effort at comparing these two fine players. Before we start, for those who already think I'm deaf, daft, or both because I could not hear a huge difference between the 83SE dedicated stereo outs and the FL/FR on the same unit... there is no need for you to read any further.
Dedicated Stereo Outs
Levels matched in the ARC MP1 pre-amp
1) Neil Young, Harvest (HDCD)
Old Man & Alabama
- Incredible detailed guitar work. Wonderful harmonies on the chorus.
-Very nearly the same. Slightly more full/spacious during the refrain on the 83SE.
2) Carlos Santana, SuperNatural (CD)
-Guitar leads are slightly more present on the 83SE.
-If I didn't know better I swear the 83SE was set hotter than the 95.
3) Rendezvous (CD)
Sway Low & The Mooche
-Wonderful detail on ride cymbal, bass, vibes, etc
-95 sounds just a tad cleaner and more reserved w/all instruments playing
4) Eva Cassidy, Live at Blues Alley (CD)
Cheek To Cheek & Stormy Monday
-No difference: both sound wonderfully open and airy with lots of reverb
5) Steely Dan, Aja (CD)
Black Cow & Aja
-Virtually no difference. Perhaps slightly fuller on the 83SE vs slightly more detailed on the 95.
Summary for CD Dedicated Stereo Outs
Notice on the first 3 comparisons the 83SE was slightly fuller and the 95 slightly reserved. Very consistent. So consistent that It got me to thinking that I should be using just the stereo inputs on my ARC MP1 and not have the 83SE on the stereo inputs and the 95 on the MCH FL/FR inputs, even though there should be no difference. So I moved the 95 to the stereo inputs and the minor difference became even more minor. I'd say the minor differences I heard were at least partially due to differences in my pre-amp. Hope that gives you an idea of how small the differences are for 2CH. Nope, I'm not going back and retest the first three. I'm convinced they sound virtually identical.
MCH FL & FR Outputs
That's right, for the rest of the tests I used the MCH outputs on both decks. Since I can't reliably hear a difference between the dedicated stereo outs, let's compare the MCH FL/FR outputs where there should be a greater difference.
Krause & Plant, Raising Sand (2CH @ 24/96 DVD-A vs FLAC)
Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson Fortune Teller
-95 slightly clearer with more presence
Rendezvous (CD) FL & FR
-Bass is slightly stronger and better defined on the 95
-Slightly more open on the 95
(Moving to single disc back & forth vs dual disc A/B comparison)
SACD Stereo from FL & FR DSD
Willie Nelson, Stardust
Stardust & Georgia
-Very small sound stage: the whole band on the head of a pin
- Willie is so clear on both discs
- 95 is slightly less veiled on vocals
Dire Straights Stereo FL & FR DSD
-No difference heard
So the bottom line is the 83SE and the 95 dedicated stereo outs sound virtually the same to me on my system, and on Don's system, and they sound the same to Don on Don's system. Now, with the FL and FR outputs, I thought I heard a small difference swapping discs. But later at Don's we A/B'd the Dire Straights BIA disc on the FL and FR outputs... let me put it this way, I would not bet $1000 that I could tell the difference between the two decks.
Round 3: Tied for stereo reproduction
DLNA 95 Comments
I use Asset UPnP v3 DLNA server. All navigation is via directories
Navigation is pretty much the same as the 83 except...
It remembers the last song you played and starts you there
Something the 83 won't do:
Correctly play 24/96 2CH lossless WAV files
Correctly play 24/96 MCH lossless WAV files
Correctly play 24/96 2CH FLAC files
Correctly play 24/192 2CH FLAC files
Correctly play 24/96 MCH FLAC fies
General 95 Comments
The 95 is marginally better than the 83SE with regards to the sound. In general:
-Both sound excellent and are more similar than different: the Oppo house sound
-The 95 is slightly more detailed and presents a bit drier than the 83SE on MCH
-Improvement is more noticeable with HD on the MCH outputs
-You'll need a system capable of exposing micro dynamics to hear any difference
-The 95 was not fatiguing. I listened to it for many hours on end. Wonderful!
-The 95 is still engaging even with the leaner presentation (clear is addictive)
-The fan either never turned on, or I never heard it
-On the 83SE there is about a 3db delta between MCH SACD vs PCM decode
-On the 95 there is about a 6 db delta between MCH SACD vs PCM decode
-On decode change the 83SE always reverts to the stereo layer, the 95 does not
The 95 operated perfectly during multi-day testing
Son (who doesn't know an Oppo 95 from a LG 330) liked the looks of the 83 better
Wife says if I like it, I should get one - I deserve it
I think they both look pretty much the same (meh) and wish Oppo would class it up to match the rest of the system
Much sturdier and heavier than the 83, but not in the same build quality league as my MF 3DCD.
FF/RW are still an embarrassment
Still no configuration (or config status) w/o a monitor connected
Still no album or titles on the front panel LED display
LED font size is quite a bit smaller than the 83
The 95 tray opened/closed much faster
The 83 turns off 5 seconds faster
From off to 1st note on a DVD-A the 83 was 15 seconds faster
The 95 IR is not as sensitive to the remote as the 83
Both the Oppos had trouble with some songs on some CD-Rs that passed verification on the computer
Should you buy a 95 for the improved stereo sound alone?
If you're looking for a new or upgraded kit, you should absolutely audition this player. Oppo has a 30 day in home trial so worst case it will cost you shipping charges. Hard to imagine it won't be in your top 3 for consideration. If you already own an 83SE, I heard no sonic reason to upgrade. If you 83SE owners still have doubts, suggest you compare the dedicated stereo outs to the FL/FR outs. That is pretty much what you'll hear comparing the 95 FL/FR to the 83 FL/FR. Hear a huge difference? Yes - pull out your wallet, No - look at the new features.
There are other great audio features like direct support for FLAC and WAV lossless. This improves DLNA server interoperability as transcoding these formats to LPCM is no longer required. Streamed files sound every bit as good as disc files. Still, I'm disappointed there are no real ease of use improvements for audio. It's very much the same as the 83 platform. Hopefully, this will improve to make selecting and playing large collections of music point and clickable.
I very much like the 24/96+ lossless support (sounds fantastic), and the unit is very reliable already and sounds truly excellent. As an 83SE owner, though, I'm holding out for ease of use improvements and maybe a more upscale facade.