Gary Steel is in a state of mourning over a great brand biting the dust.
If that means nothing to you, then read on. There is no brand in the world today more revered than Oppo for its forward-thinking, can-do universal players. The Chinese company has won plaudit after plaudit, and award after award, for a series of ever-improving universal players that not only do so much more than the other major consumer brands, but do it so much better, and at a price point that’s almost affordable.
Those Oppo players were so good that some more expensive products simply secretly used Oppo gear in their innards.
It would seem a no-brainer that a Blu-ray player would also, for instance, do a good job playing CDs and DVD-Audio and SA-CDs, and to play the various formats incredibly well. Over the years the stereotype has been that an SA-CD player might play that format well, but wouldn’t do so well on Red Book CDs. They all sounded great on top-of-the-line Oppo universal players. And of course, they could do a whole lot more, including streaming.
Then there was the more recent development of Oppo’s most excellent planar headphones and headphone DAC. Once again, these were both highly acclaimed and were products that had many loyal fans and advocates.
So it comes as a huge shock that Oppo Digital is ceasing business, especially given the fact that the cellphone division of Oppo is just gearing up in this part of the world.
Did the company see the writing on the wall? Did their sales figures reflect the rise of streaming media, therefore making it impossible for the company to trade profitably?
It’s true that the premium Oppo universal players were several thousand dollars, which is a heck of a lot to pay for something that most people think of as a glorified Blu-ray player. But of course, it’s easy to pay a lot more than that when investing in boutique brands. Maybe that was another problem for Oppo: that it was neither here nor there in terms of marketing demographics. Not boutique enough for genuine hi-fi snobs, and not cheap enough for the crowd who don’t expect to have to pay more than a few hundred bucks for their gear. Or maybe it is simply that Oppo didn’t have the large portfolio of products that other major consumer companies do, meaning that if a few models aren’t doing so well, there’s usually always some that prove popular – the old throwing shit at the wall approach.
Maybe we’ll hear the real reason sometime, but it’s nowhere to be found on the press release issued today by Oppo’s distributor in Australia and New Zealand, Interdyn.
“While the latest OPPO 4K UHD players have reached the pinnacle of their performance, OPPO Digital has made a business decision that it is time to say goodbye to production of the OPPO Digital range of products,” reads the press release. “This decision will also apply to OPPO Digital’s line of head-fi products.”
It’s harder to pinpoint the reason for Oppo getting out of the head-fi market given the rave reviews garnered by both its PM-1 Planar headphones and HA-1 headphone amp.
Interdyn says that it still has Oppo gear available in its warehouse for those who have been thinking of purchasing, and that guarantees and after-sales service will be honoured.