14 Oppo UDP203 aHurry, stocks are limited. Only a few left. Run in before they run out. After 14 years in the car industry it became an article of marketing faith with me that nothing sells quite as effectively as the fear of missing out. And right now this is happening in home entertainment, the difference being that this time it’s fair dinkum.

Chances are you’ve missed the announcement, posted on its local website April 3, that Oppo is pulling out of the home entertainment business and is phasing out production of Blu-ray players, headphones and headphone amplifiers to concentrate on phones.

Oppo Digital, founded 14 years ago, is a US-based independently operated division of the Chinese technology giant. Its home entertainment products have been on the Australian market for six years. They’re hardly cheap but they sure are nice, and the value for money is solid, however the decision has been made to shut it down.

14 Oppo HA1 aOppo Digital made a speciality of universal disc players – players that can handle any disc put into them, be they CDs, DVDs, SACDs, Blu-rays, you name it, and to quote Sound and Image magazine: “The brand has become a byword for the best and best value in disc playback, with everything up to UHD Blu-ray delivered to a stunning level, and the rare ability to deliver audiophile-level CD replay as well as the video side of the machines.”

It’s been doing this since day one. In 2010 a premium audiophile brand was famously busted by a specialist magazine for taking the insides of an Oppo disc player, chassis and all, and putting them in its own cabinet. So obviously the electronics and connections were all identical to the Oppo original, as was the performance. Only the brand name and packaging differed. Oh, the price was also different; the Oppo cost $US500 at the time, that other one cost $US3500, or seven times more.

Oppo currently has two universal disc players available in Australia, the UDP203 at $949 and the UDP205 at $2199. There are three headphones; the PM1 at $1699, PM2 at $1099 and PM3 at $599, along with two headphone amplifiers – the HA1 at $1799 and the HA2SE portable at $499.

14 Oppo PM1 aThe importer, Interdyn of Melbourne, believes it has enough stock of disc players to last through this year at normal demand levels, but given there are no more coming after that demand is unlikely to be normal. Warranties, parts and service will all carry on and Oppo will continue updates to existing models.

I listened to pair of PM1s along with the HA1 amplifier back in 2014 and would have bought both if I could have afforded them, but stark reality raised its ugly head. I did buy a pair of PM3s after having a listen to them the following year, bringing my total number of headphones at home to five. The PM3s are my go-to phones; the others are usually only pulled out when I need comparisons for testing.

I’d love a UDP205 disc player too, but I can only afford a 203 and I’ve always intended buying one, it’s just that my current and much-loved Panasonic Blu-ray shows no signs of dying anytime soon and it would be pretty dumb to replace it while it’s still performing so beautifully. Now, not so dumb at all. My local hi fi shop is currently advertising the 203 for $898, a $51 discount I have the distinct feeling won’t apply much longer.

Originally published on smh.com.au as ‘Oppo sunsets audiophile-focused headphones, Blu-ray players’ April 2018.


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