Excellent Portable Player with Adequate power and Full Stand Alone DAC

A Review On: Audio-Opus Opus#2

Audio-Opus Opus#2

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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Battery Life
Design
User Interface
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $1,599.00
Whitigir
Posted · Updated · 3800 Views · 6 Comments

Pros: Awesome Timbres, Neutrality, Balances, Transparent with a Flat respond and Excellent soundstage but not Boring, DAC feature

Cons: 128 GB built in and Single MicroSD slot. Heavily Modified Android OS and no Google Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

Opus Audio, or the Bit, I am sure the name is not familiar for many people.  Neither was it to me.  However, on the journal to seek for a good digital portable player with adequate power for full side headphones, I came across the Opus 2 from the threads, posts about it as a newly developed player from The Bit.  Reading into it with dual DAC ES9018K2M x2.  The Opus 2 sports the same DAC chipset from Onkyo DP-X1 (newest DP-X1A).  DP-x1 was never that enjoyable in my opinion, and then on top of that, the pricing of Opus 2 threw me off the chair.  MSRP is $1599 equivalent, which put it right into the "high-end" DAP segment.  Opus 2 is more expensive than Sony newest Walkman NW-WM1A, and yet cheaper than WM1Z.  Though with balanced out connections, and a solid reputation on the much affordable Opus 1, I gave the Opus 2 a chance.  Having to ordered it straight from the website, the Opus 2 arrived in 3 days, and that is considered "super fast" for a shipment from Korea to USA.  Customer service through Email was super responsive and fast.  The product is Made in Korea !  I ordered it from Opus itself

 

http://www.audio-opus.com/?page_id=16867


Practicality

It gets warm during play time sitting in the leather case, but not noticeably so.  It charges up rather quickly for a DAP, indicated 4 hours on the box and 8.5-10 hours play time.  It can act as a USB DAC from Windows or MacOS and IOS 7+ with camera kit and stock cables.  I tried using it with my HTC 10 which is USB C to micro USB, and when the cables was connected, the Opus 2 Automatically switch into the function of being an External DAC/Amp. However, it is better to manually set the function from the drop down setting menu and choose USB DAC option setting.  Nice!  Apple and Idevices needed the Camera Kit and another USB cables to stack up-on.  Wow, Finally, a DAP that answer to all of our need: Real stand alone DAC feature, and a DAP by itself.  If plugged into an iPad charger, it can be playing music and charging all day long. 

Opus 2 is 32 bits standalone DAC with Xmos and native DSD playback when connected to the above as a standalone.  Fully USB 2.0 certified

There was no bugs to playback using 3rd party app from any devices in DAC mode.

Songs, albums, artists, genres, folders, favorites, playlists browsing

MicroSD to take up to 200GB.  I don't have any 256Gb to try but I don't think it would present a problem

Bluetooth 4.0 and Wifi capability for OTA upgrades

3.5mm single ended and 2.5mm TRRS balanced connection shares AK style

Ultra energy saving mode:  if not playing music and leaving idles for more than 10 minutes, the player automatically fall into this mode where it could last for weeks.

Battery is Non-user replaceable. Only if you can find the battery and is skillful enough to do so (correction have been made as The Bit does not offer the battery alone, and to replace the battery by yourself is not recommended)


OTG from Opus 2 can not be used as digital transport into other DAC/amp
OTG from your smartphone into Opus 2 and it will acts as a standalone DAC/Amp.  When used with HTC 10 and USB C, I only needed a micro USB to USB C cables
Again, using idevices or IOS, it will need camera kit.

The excitements

The operating system is android, and indicating boot up.  It is much faster than Onkyo DP-x1, Zx2, and WM series on booting up and building data base.  It probably is the fastest with android that I have tried.  The custom android is simple enough, yet strange enough for people who never came across one like this before, and it took me a while playing around to find all the setting such as (high-mid-low gain), equalizer, Dsp functions and so on.  There are 24 bits, auto, and 32 bits xmos for DSP

Browsing music is a breeze with : songs, albums, artists, genres, folders, favorites, playlists

Out of the box the Opus 2 sound great enough that it brought smiles upon me right in the trebles details and the impressive soundstage.  I came across a few other cheaper DAP from new companies before and they seemed to be a mess of a tuning, like there were no guidelines and aims in their products.  I was surprised by the well tune of Opus 2,  the overall transparency, the Dynamic, the balances and neutrality across the board.  This is more like a very modern tuning, digital like with great senses of speed, airy, expansive, immersive with wide and depth of field, and spherically soundstage with streams of continuous musical plays from sides to sides, approaching and receding from plays/notes on panning and fading effects.  The bit as a new company, what did they do to achieve this result ? Did they have their guidelines ? Fine tunes against competitions in this segments and so on ? Those were my questions, I did some digging around and I found out more from digging around and requesting insider informations:

Co-working with the Best Sound Designers and Engineers from Korea

1/ true balanced circuitry with each DAC doing Mono Application is Excellent
2/ Hybrid Opamps and Discrete amplifying tuning circuitry is the money maker
3/ low heat dissipation indicated that the electrical components is of high quality
4/ Direct soldered sockets for Jack plugs on the board is excellent ( the signal integrity is kept to maximum potential )
5/ additional clock systems
6/ X-mos True DAC function with Native DSD playback
7/ True tuning from the Recording to Mastering studio, and then real interactions with audiophiles and critics with countless hours of critical listening for final Fine tuning result



That confirmed about The Bit as a company, they are very serious about their products R&D.  More than often, most companies without a long proven history always want to puzzle up something off the shelves, do some lousy tuning jobs and become a products.  This is not the Bit, they put together a products with "pride, knowledges, keen ears" and then fine tuning it again and again.  We all know that without an artist hands, paints, canvas, are simply tools.  So I can say that the Bit is very professional about this regard.

Arrived in a "snow-white" box with Gold name tag on it.  The box itself gave off an impressions of an elegance lady is sleeping within ! Sliding it up from the bottom, and open it up.  The box was tight and gives off a good opening experiences like opening some expensive presents, well the price isn't cheap ! So right there, the Opus 2 laying atop of the manual book, warranty card, screen protector.  Then the leather case, and finally the USB cables.

Picking her out of the box, for 252 grams she felt similar to the Zx2, weighty enough to indicate that she is not toy-like, rugged enough to feel expensive.  I love how the volume buttons has a solid click when turning on each adjustment with 150 increment steps.  The play and control buttons on the side also has this very rugged and solid click upon pressing too

The hardware

Using Dual ESS Sabres ES9018K2M, and that is 1 DAC per channel as Mono implementations.

The circuitry is true balanced as there are 3 Opamps per channels.  Each channel has 1 Opamp per signals line, and then hybrid circuits with discrete components and 1 more opampIt is together of 6 Opamps and 2 dedicated discrete hybrid amplification circuits to totally output balanced connection into 2.5mm.

Very low heat dissipation while operating and charging at the same time while being covered in the leather case.  It indicated the electrical components within is of top quality.

Both 3.5mm and 2.5mm sockets are direct soldered onto the main board for the best signal integrity and conductivity.  These 2 sockets were designed and fit into the chassis very tight and will not move anywhere unless you force it to.  There are different kind of plugs.  I recommend to use a Short plugs instead of the one that has the Collar part.  It will help as the plug lay on top of the main chassis and help to secure it further.

The sound quality  Using easy to drive headphones Z1R, Balanced SA5000/3000 from 2.5 Balanced connection. I found that ops 2 pairing with New Sony MDR-Z1R to be an excellent pairing

 


Back to my preferences, I had always been looking for from a DAP, especially away from Zx2 in this very detailed and resolutions of the lower trebles.  Zx2 with it Warmth, and spherical soundstage are great, but I always wanted this lower trebles to be more energetic with textures, resolutions and extensions.  Yes! Out of the box the Opus 2 is showing this level of great trebles details, texture, resolutions, extensions and air.  It has a much more balanced and Neutral tonality with a Flat overall respond.  I get to enjoy more of the mid, upper mid, lower trebles more than with Zx2.  The trebles remind me of real live performances without electrical gears in the chain, cymbals crashes, high notes from string plays, all are very authentic and realistic.  Timbres are full with micro energies delivered vividly into it body

Soundstage: super wide, deep, spherical together with a clean back ground.  It resembles Pha-3 balanced out.  This is better than DP-x1, Zx2, Mojo

Field of sound rendering:  very fluidly with rendering ability, the panning affects are very continuous and come together as a streams from side to side and vertically together to add into the impressions of soundstage being as good as it is, a very impressive staging coming from a Portable players.

Sounds signature overall:  Spherical soundstage, much wider in X, Y, Z compared to Walkman (Zx2, slightly better than WM1Z ) Speedy, very Digital like, Flat, and neutral altogether.  It expose the ESS Sabres signatures at it best, the analytical, airy with tip top trebles extensions.  Credit is due at the place where the trebles peak and most energetic in well mastered and recorded tracks it shows no sibilants or harshness, there are harshness and sibilants in poorly recorded track and or singer performances.  Therefore it is very revealing.

Bass:  overall is with speedy and super tight Impacts, dynamic and transparency that is well balance and very controlled, fast decay, and very digital like but not lacking the micro energies variations with excellent timbres.  Sub-bass is Fast, vivid, deep and impactful, mid bass is very dynamic, well controlled and in good balancing to the rest of the board

Mid: very detailed and forward, vocal is upfront with reasonable distances and not as close as Walkman, speedy and also more digital like, crystal clear but still carry emotions as the singers will be expressing his vibrators and arts within his voice (addictive).  However the lower mid and upper mid are very energetic which brings micro energies variations and fluidity into the majority of instruments.  The resolutions of each plays, beats, chords, the vibrations of the decays are impressive and more analogue like but still remaining speedy enough.  Very well balanced with great layering, separations and speed for an Airy experiences.  Again, it does not lack the micro energies delivery and body.  You can easily follow a line of string instruments and hear it vibrations, reverberate even though fast but it is vividly presenting within it own spaces and no hint of being mixed up or other layers to bleed in.  It is highly addicting for genres that has most mid and vocal plays such as ballads, pops, jazz.  Even metals and rock will sound good as well due to upper mid and lower trebles being so vividly presenting and energetic with Airy performances.

Trebles: as stated above, this is the Sabres all out with it typical trebles, tuned with more smoothness and balanced to the rest of the board.  It remain a bit cold or a slight bit thin but very well balanced and great extensions.  It is excellently tuned by The bit to get the best of Sabres trebles , extensions, resolutions, but smooth out the harshness and sibilant enough to bring satisfactions to those who prefer "real cymbals crash" and metallic tones.  There is no harshness, and the overall tonality is well balanced.  It is also very revealing due to the neutrality and balanced of all spectrum, so it will not be forgiving toward bad recording or mastering.

I love the sound signature of Opus 2
.  It is digital enough, Neutral, well balanced for the level of transparency and Airy presentation.  Together with the excellent detail retrieval and hardware implementations for a portable device, the Opus 2 soundstage is no joke.  Opus 2 is an example of how good digital like performances can still carry emotions and soul within it timbres overall performances.  Put in a simple term, Opus 2 is References but yet not lacking souls and emotions. 


Is it your taste ?

I am afraid when it come down to personal taste and preferences, it is an infinite possibility.  Will you give the Opus 2 a chance to audition it ?  I personally prefer warmer and lush sound signature because I mainly crave for the soul and the emotions within my music.  However, Opus 2 beside satisfying in bringing soul and emotions into the music, it also brings the digital, Airy, and speed with overall neutrality, spherical and wide soundstage.  It is surprisingly good in my opinion and is a worthy piece of collection which has features to be a portable integrated DAC/Amplifier for IEMS and easy to drive headphones

 

 

Value 8/10: Pricing is a bit high and stiff Vs many competitions, eventhough the performance is surprisingly good, but the market is evolving very fast, and so is the competitions

Audio Quality 9/10: Surprisingly good with digital sound signature that carry emotions.  The output could be meatier so the DAC/Amp feature can drive harder to drive headphones

Design 10/10: Light but comfortably weighty, slim, awesome form

Battery Life 7.5/10:  Acceptable for 8-10 hours play time depends on playing PCM high-res or DSD native

User Interface is 10/10: Simple and easy to use, fast, quick boot up or powerdown

6 Comments:

Hi,
 
can Opus#2 really act as a transport to feed external DAC thru OTG? I tried mine but no success!
It actually can "not" be used as digital transport into external DAC/amp. I made the typo mistake. The custom android stock player does not allow digital out.
Can you use digital output on this device like optical or usb out?
I could not try optical out as I don't have the cables for it. According to the spec, it can do optical out from 3.5mm
Awesome Job on the review Whitigir!
Great write up,  some comparision from your pov would be awesome too.