Linear Power Supplies
September 30, 2017 03:18AM
I've scanned the Internet for a thoughtful conversations on Linear Power Supplies (LPS) for Oppo Digital players, but I have found little out there. I asked Pavel if it would be OK to create a thread here and he said it was OK. So here goes ...

Like many of you with the Vanity HD board in your Oppo player you've likely had that "Wow" moment after you installed it and got exceptional performance out of a player basically constructed of commodity hardware. Wonderfully designed player offering exception value, and many wonderful features built in, but commodity hardware none the less. The Vanity HD board moved this into serious audiophile consideration. I figured the player had more to give, I've had good experience with LPS additions to other equipment, and so I have been looking for a cost effective LPS for a few years to go with the Vanity.

Dan Wright of ModWright wrote an interesting post in 2013 regarding his analysis on the prospect of creating an LPS for the Oppo 103. You can read it here if you like: ( Basically he was worried about heat and if it provided big enough benefit to the player. He noted he tried a product from OppoMod, found it to be suitable to task, but it ran hot. His end analysis was it was not worth it for ModWright to modify the 103 with an LPS, so he chose to focus on the 105.

I asked Pavel if he thought linear power could be beneficial -- and I assume he will comment here if I in any way mis-characterize what he said -- and he said that a linear power supply should conceptually benefit the player. He stated he worked very hard to pick suitable grounding points for the Vanity board to address power supply related noise. It never dawned on me that switching power supplies were noisy enough to warrant engineering around them, but there you have it.

I ran across the site OppoMod about three years ago. I got to say it looked dodgy so I was not eager to send money their way. But after three years without finding a better source I pulled the trigger and acquired the SE version of the LPS for the Oppo BDP 103D.

Unit arrived 6 working days after I placed the order. The unit was well packed in a sea of bubble wrap. There was nothing in the box other than the power supply -- meaning no manual. The OppoMod site has been updated so previous version of the installation guide are now gone, replaced with 203/D version only. And the manual is pretty appalling, and without the pictures, the descriptions would be entirely worthless. However, those instructions appear applicable to the 103, and since the change between the two is relatively simple, it proved to not be an issue. By looking closely at the parts I could answer any questions the manual failed to. Installation took 25 minutes as the 11 pin connected was rather reluctant to be unseated, and you need to unbolt the player anti-vibration tray (not the player) and re-route the cable over the player. So far so good.

I immediately hooked up the player and started to play music. And ... it did make a difference. Two very positive differences!

So far I've noticed two things with sound quality. The first is reduced noise floor. It only takes a couple of notes to notice it. That is the big one. Way less noise as part of the music. The other is that the leading edge of the notes pop out and are more forceful. Plucked guitar strings, piano notes, and even acoustic bass seems to snap into the room a little better. No idea if this is simply an alteration of my impression as result of lower noise or if the player is better able to do it's job or what, but it is also noticeable.

I was running the player with the lid off. I did this first because I wanted to see the 'Yellow LED' on the power supply that is supposed to indicate that all is well with the power supply. But I also wanted to make sure heat was not an issue. I was worried by the comments Mr. Wright had with an early version of the LPS, but I've had no problems and the lid is now bolted back on. The SE is supposed to generate less heat so perhaps that is the difference between my experience and his.

I've tried this with both my systems with similar results. The first system is the Oppo into an APL DAC-S, feeding an APL UA-1S integrated into a pair of Volti audio speakers. The highs are already incredible on this setup, but even more so now; more natural and percussive at the same time. The other is the Oppo feeding an APL DAC-M, into APL mono-blocks feeding APL Gravitas NBs. This system has loads of detail and super linear frequency response right down to the lowest registers, but it can sound a tad polite in comparison (akin to SACD compared to CD sound as a comparison). The accentuation of the leading edge of the notes reduced this impression quite a bit, and makes an already extraordinary speaker even more impressive.

Worth it? I think so. It makes the audio performance quite a bit better, and $380 for a linear power supply is not overly expensive. Build quality is quite good. Fit into the player is excellent. Then again the player itself is not a lot more money than that, but I think it offers value.

Oh, and in case someone asks: No, I have no relationship, financial or otherwise, with OppoMod. Or any other audio retailer for that matter. Just tried the product and wanted to share what I found. This forum has helped me quite a bit in the past with my questions so hopefully someone will find this information useful. If you've also experimented with Linear Power Supplies on the Oppo player I would like to hear what you think. I do wonder if some of the LPS's with an R-Core -- opposed to toroidal -- would be quieter still. And I also noticed (after I bought this one) that JVB Digital also offers a LPS for the 203D. Anyone have experience with it?
Re: Linear Power Supplies
October 01, 2017 07:33PM
Interesting. Did you get better picture as well?
Re: Linear Power Supplies
October 05, 2017 09:55AM
Hi Adrian,
Thank you very much for your comprehensive post about linear power supplies. There are other people trying to find some details about such upgrade and I am sure your post will be very useful to them. On the technical matters I can only agree that the OPPO is a well built product, but nevertheless still a consumer/commodity hardware. The stock power supply has multiple rails with just very basic filtering towards the loads. It is quite interesting to see how grounding strategy of the analogue board has been changing over the time from the BDP-93, BDP-103 to the UDP-203, apparently for the purpose of dealing with residual noise from the digital board and the power supply section. A well designed linear power supply upgrade can undoubtedly improve the overall noise background and audio performance. Also please keep in mind that at least the European model is a class 1 electrical device that has its chassis connected to earth, which can bring extra noise from the mains distribution or create ground loops (not with galvanically isolated outputs from the VanityHD) . And a mandatory warning at the end , don't get anywhere near the power supply or mains/high voltage if don't know what you are doing hot smiley .
Re: Linear Power Supplies
October 05, 2017 09:57PM

Interestingly I did notice a bit of improvement on the video as well. I'm not particularly sensitive to this -- unlike friends who produce videos or graphics who are always pointing things out to me. But I would say color saturation and -- don't know what to call it -- not sharpness but image stability or lower noise or what, but both those areas noticeably improved.

Sounds gotten a little better two. Maybe it's confirmation bias, but feeling better about the purchase over time as it was more than what I expected.

Thank you for the explanation.
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