Q: Now that Oppo discontinued its 4K UltraHD Blu-ray players, what would you recommend that comes close in picture and audio quality for around $500?
A: The audio/video enthusiast community was in a state of mourning when Oppo USA closed. I wondered if we would ever see such good players again. But, as the saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum, and the void was filled quicker than I expected.
Panasonic (shop.panasonic.com) has long been known for making some of the best DVD and Blu-ray players. The company has two new premium-quality 4K UltraHD Blu-ray players that not only duplicate the price points and many of the features of the dearly departed Oppos, but top them significantly in picture quality. The $499 Panasonic DP-UB820 does not have the brick-like build of the $549 Oppo UDP-203, but its audio quality is similar and video is notably better. It is available now. And being released soon is the Panasonic DP-UB9000, which, if the prototypes are an indication, will be the finest Blu-ray on the market. It has rock-solid construction like the $1,299 Oppo UDP-205 player, with competitive audio performance and superior video performance. Pricing has yet to be announced.
The most notable functional difference between the brands is media compatibility. The Oppos were "universal" players that lived up to that billing. They could play CD, DVD, SACD, DVD-audio, Blu-ray, 3-D Blu-ray and UltraHD 4K Blu-ray, as well as pretty much anything on a flash drive. Oppo went above and beyond in this regard, and I don't know if we will ever see such versatile players again.
I will always miss Oppo. But if you want an awesome disc player, Panasonic has your back.
Don't be scared off
Q: I read your review of the Emotiva Airmotiv T-Zero speakers and immediately got excited. Then I saw the 4 ohm rating. My current system includes a TEAC AG-D9100 receiver, which is rated at 130 watts per channel into 8 ohms. Do you think it will be OK to use the Emotiva T-Zero speakers with my receiver?
Q: I received quite a few e-mails asking about the 4 ohm impedance of the T-Zero speakers. It seems that consumer interest in the speakers is extremely high, but the 4 ohm rating is a cause of concern because many modern receivers are not rated to work with 4 ohm speakers.
Not all 4 ohm speakers are equal in their power requirements. Some high-end models, like Magnepan planar magnetic speakers, are a demanding load and absolutely require a beefy power amp. (With such exotic speakers you should be using the very best electronics, anyway.) But other brands work fine with much less current.
The T-Zero speakers fall in the latter category. According to Emotiva, "The T-Zero speakers are a very benign 4 ohm load. We have clients running these speakers with very modest receivers and amps with no issues."
I'll add my endorsement. The T-Zeros are spectacularly good tower speakers with a small footprint that sell for $399 per pair (emotiva.com). I expect them to be among the hottest new audio products of the year.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.