Well after several months and over 500 hrs or so on my new Modwright Oppo BDP-105D it's time for a short review. The review has taken me a while to write for various reasons; I'm on the road a lot, and the MW takes quite a while to fully break-in, and I'm a pilot not a writer.
I've owned numerous Oppo players from the 983, to the BDP-83 (later mod'd by Oppo to 83SE), the BDP-95, and now the 105D (later mod'd by MW). All have been excellent 2-channel/multichannel players and obviously all are great for movies. They have all used some form of the ESS DAC, and while excellent for detail retrieval can in various systems be exceedingly bright (at least to me). While all were excellent, Oppo continued to improve there overall sound quality with each iteration through improved analog stages and power supplies taking some of the brightness out of the presentation while retaining the excellent detail the ESS family is famous for. Coming full circle the 105 series added a USB DAC input (along with coax Spdif and Toslink optical) and with it's most recent FW update allowed for 1x and 2x DSD (DSF, DFF) via USB. Well I had to give it a try considering the SB Touch is now capable of DSD and WAV files through 24/192. All of my music is in WAV or DSF.
I've owned or demo'd several DACs in the last few years: PS Audio Digital Link IV (full Cullen mods), Mytek 192, Wyred DAC 1, Bryston BDA-1, and most recently the PS Audio PWD Mk II. All were great in their own ways and my favorite of the bunch was the PWD MK II (I say was because I sold it 2 days ago).
Additionally, I used the 105D unmod'd for about 3 months. Mostly as an SACD 2 channel/multichannel and BR/DVD player. For about a 2 weeks I used it as a USB DAC with the SB Touch as source.
My system is, well, in my system.
MW 105D Review
The MW 105D arrived a while back and I immediately got her up and running. No issues and the overall appearance with the tubes up front is extremely sexy, ha (for an audio component). Construction as expected from Dan Wright (outstanding)! Reviewed with stock tubes.
If you don't believe in break-in skip this part. The initial break-in is wild and woolly. It started off way in your face, extremely bass heavy and I initially thought "Holy Crap" what have I done. As time passed the 105D went from bass heavy, to shrieky, to "wooo nelly" too much detail, too wow this is just too much "bigness" it filled the room, the kitchen, the whole house with just too much of everything. After about 300 hrs or so it settled down. Hmm nice overall. Well off to work for a few weeks, come back and this is nice; back to work for 3 weeks, to wow what happened. Detail yes, smooth yes, bright no, bass tight, midrange awesome, too big soundstage no...well wow!
I have played a lot of music in the last few months from a wide spectrum of genres (very eclectic taste): RB, HR (up to 24/192), DSF, as well as 2 channel/multichannel DVD-A and SACD. Some Highlights:
Blue Coast - ESE Sessions (DSF)
Blue Coast - Collection 2 (DSF)
Blue Coast - Fiona Joy Signature Solo (DSF)
Norah Jones - Come Away with Me (RB, 192 and DSF)
Elbow - The Takeoff and Landing of Everything (96)
Charlie Haden and Antonio Forcione - Heartplay (96)
Charlie Haden - Nightfall (RB)
Elephant Revival - These Changing Skies (RB)
The Sweet Remains - Laurel & Sunset (RB)
Ben Howard - Every Kingdom (RB)
I have yet to find something about the MW 105D that doesn't impress! It is amazing with all types of music, and is overall neutral with a hint of tube warmth. There is a richness and intimacy to the sound that draws you in like no other DAC I've owned or demo'd. The detail of the ESS DAC is still there, but with it is a smoothness to the overall presentation that is breathtaking. Well recorded music is, well, incredible. Poorly recorded music is listenable, the MW 105D doesn't make crap sound amazing.
I will have to say this is the best digital I've heard in my system! The MW upgrade was a transformation of an already great player/DAC. I personally believe (your mileage may vary), If considering a DAC in the price range of the Oppo 105D with mods then at least get a demo of a well broken-in Modwright Oppo BDP-105D!! It's an incredible USB DAC, great player for 2 channel/multichannel music, and a BR/DVD player. At least for me...what's not to like.
It all comes down to this...I have never heard music on my system sound this glorious and emotional!!
Thanks Dan Wright!