Panasonic Blu-ray players are the legitimate Oppo successors, Emotiva Airmotiv T-Zero 4 ohm rating and receivers (Week 10, 2019)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 10, 2019

Q. Now that Oppo discontinued their 4K UltraHD Blu-ray players, what would you recommend that comes close in picture and audio quality for around $500?

-M.P., San Jose, CA

A. The whole audio/video enthusiast community was in a state of mourning when Oppo USA closed up shop. I took it hard myself and wondered if we would ever see such good players again. They say nature abhors a vacuum, and the void was filled even quicker than I expected.

Panasonic has long been known for making some of the best DVD and Blu-ray players you can buy. They have two new premium quality 4K UltraHD Blu-ray players that mimic the price points and many of the features of the dearly departed Oppos, but best them significantly in picture quality. The $499 Panasonic DP-UB820 does not have quite the brick-like build quality of the $549 Oppo UDP-203, but audio quality is similar and video is notably better. It is available now. The flagship Panasonic DP-UB9000 is the finest Blu-ray you can buy. It has rock-solid construction like the $1,299 Oppo UDP-205 player, with competitive audio performance and superior video performance. Pricing and availability of the DP-UB9000 will be announced soon.

The most notable functional difference between the brands is media compatability. The Oppos were universal players that could play CD, DVD, SACD, DVD-Audio, Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, and UltraHD 4K Blu-ray, as well as pretty much anything you could put on a flash drive. Oppo really went above and beyond in this regard, and I don’t know if we will ever see such truly “universal” players again. The Panasonics play most of these formats, but not all.

I will always miss Oppo and their wonderful universal players, electronics and headphones. But at least now if you want an awesome disc player, Panasonic has your back.

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?

-T.W., Pittsburgh, PA

A. I received quite a few emails 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 speakers with 4 ohm ratings are equal. Some high end speakers, like Magnepan planar magnetic speakers, are a demanding 4 ohm load and absolutely require a beefy power amp that can deliver a lot of current. (With such exotic speakers you should be using the very best electronics, anyway.) Other speakers may be rated at 4 ohms but do not demand a great deal of current all the time.
I am happy to report that the T-Zero speakers fall in the latter category. I contacted Emotiva and they replied, “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. They are very easy to drive, hook them up and enjoy!”

There you go, hook them up and enjoy! If anyone missed the reviews of the Emotiva T-Zero speakers, they are spectacularly good tower speakers with a small footprint that sell for only $399 per pair, and look to be one of the hottest new audio products of the year.