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Chevron Audio

Oppo DV980-V universal player mods

first impressions shock,
with a good clock,
and no schlock

[Italian version]

Product/service: Chevron Audio Oppo DV980-H modifications
Manufacture & fitting: Chevron Audio, NB Chevron not Chevin
Price: Basic player 180 UK; as tested mods 280, €MMV
Listener: Mark Wheeler - TNT UK
Written: December 2009

Way back in the mists of time David Holgate and I described the Chevin Audio modification service, sometimes then using Allen Wright's VSE components and sometimes proprietor Colin Yallop's own package of changes. The company are now known as Chevron Audio to avoid confusion with anonther audio company also known as Chevin. How unlikely is that? Colin selects a name based on the name of the Derbyshire hill he sees from his windows (on which is laid out the golf course Colin enjoys) and some other outfit have the same name! So Chevron Audio it is from now on.

One day Colin popped round to my listening room to offer me a quick demo (the player was due to be shipped to its owner the following day) of Colins mods to the Oppo DV980-H described here. See also Geoff Husband's review of the stock Oppo DV 980H & Oppo DV983H multiplayers

You will recall that I have reached almost obsessional practices to minimise the effects of vibration on audio components, especially those electro-mechanical information retrieval devices like CD players. I have qoted before, the research by Ed Meitner of EMM Labs, who identified artefacts specific to CD, and presumably DVD and SACD will suffer similarly if not identically.
"Put a CD player into an anechoic chamber, in front of a loudspeaker, and sweep frequency you will find a really vicious peak in the focus servo current around 800Hz, very high Q. The disc resonates and the focus wants to follow it. This current demand modulated the power supply and generates jitter, which is influenced by the acoustic energy going to the CD player from the speakers... Since it's around 800Hz, we have this problem with female voices, if you know somebody who can sing in that frequency range, very loud, they can shut CD players down... Once you are talking high velocity vibrations, as they are at 800Hz, clamping doesn't change things much."

Hence the first action with this slim lightweight Oppo player was to position it on the Something Solid XR4 rack and place a BrightStar Little Rock 5 on its top surface. Colin reckoned the connecting wire and mains lead I had in-situ would be fine so we set it to warm up while listeniong to my existing players The Chevin (now Chevron) Audio modified Shanling CDT100C and the Avondale AAA5. Thus we conditioned our ears while the Oppo warmed up, having already a few hours burning in with Colin.

Sound Quality

There's no point in my describing the build quality or operation of of the Oppo as it is basically as it left the factory plus the modifications undertaken to Colin's usual competant standard. The notes I made at the time (and mislaid - hence the delay to this review) read:
Avondale more relevent comparison than Shanling; Oppo similar tonal balance to AAA5, too different from Shanling. With Patricia Barber:

With Stephen Hough's Spanish Album (Hyperion 2006):

With The Lindsays (a quartet who I've heard many times live), Brahms & Schumann (BBC 2003)

With Herebie Hancock: Gershwin's World 1998, the final track "Summertime" features hauntiung vocals from Joni Mitchell:


This album features a who's who of late 20th century contemporary jazz/fusion artists: Wayne Shorter; Stevie Wonder; Chick Corea; Kenny Garnet.

Herbie Hancock's seminal Headhunters highlighted another Oppo advantage. The Oppo can handle hi-res formats like SACD. Colin's SACD copy of Headhunters was such an order of magnitude better than my red book cd of the same album that the Oppo playing the SACD was vastly superior to the AAA5 playing the red book copy. The AAA5 would reverse this if the Oppo could only play the red book standard edition of Headhunters. If only the record companies could have agreed on a standard for the final iteration of the silver disc we might have enjoyed sound quality more equal to vinyl.

Conclusion

In the UK the Chevron Audio modified Oppo DV980-H may be bought outright for 440 pounds sterling, or your own player might be modified for 280. Chevron offer a slightly lower cost version of the modifications for just 220 (outright modified player purchase 380) in which lower cost regulators are substituted to save your pennies/euros/cents. The DV980-H becomes obsolete next year but the performance will not become obsolete for a long time.

It is scary how such superb sounds can be extracted from a universal player for so little money. The real cost of digital reproduction keeps falling. While the Chevron DV980-H lacks the Flat Earth PRaT (Pace Rhythm and Timing) excellence of the Avondale but comes surprisingly close to its red book cd performance in other respects. The Chevron DV980-H is probably slightly ahead of most standard red book CD players in respect of PRaT (like the unmodified Shanling CDT100c) with obvious Flat Earth exceptions like Naim and Linn.

The Chevron DV980-H lacks the high-end gloss of players over €1500, but that is hardly surprising in a player that costs just 440 being compared with a combination that would cost over 1700 at todays.

Music enjoyed during this quick listen

  • Patricia Barber can't remember what we listenned to
  • Stephen Hough: Spanish Album, Hyperion
  • The Lindsays: Brahms & Schumann, BBC
  • Herebie Hancock: Gershwin's World, Polygram
  • Herebie Hancock: Headhunters, CD & SACD

© Copyright 2009 Mark Wheeler - www.tnt-audio.com

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