Oppo Digital HA-1: A DAC Amp that's fully packed jammed with features

A Review On: Oppo HA-1 Integrated Headphone DAC and Amplifier.

Oppo HA-1 Integrated Headphone DAC and Amplifier.

Rated # 18 in Desktop Amps
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Design
Quality
Value
AnakChan
Posted · 9762 Views · 15 Comments

Pros: There's all sorts of inputs & outputs to this DAC/Amp. In it's own class too for its price

Cons: Learning curve to the UI, SQ although probably one of the best in it's price range has room for improvement (for extra $$)

 

Introduction
 
Oppo Digital has had experience in making SACD players and in releasing it first headphone, the PM-1, also released a matching HA-1 DAC/Amp that comes packed with features taking in miscellaneous ranging fro USB, Toslink, AES, Coax, iDevice, & even Bluetooth. It can also be used as a amp only taking balanced or unbalanced line in. As for it's output, it can output balanced and unbalanced line out, in addition to its XLR balanced headphone out or 1/4" single ended headphone out. The HA-1 also supports up to DSD256.
 
Now I have to admit, prior to getting the loan from Oppo Digital Japan (thank you to them by the way!!), I was looking forward to the PM-1 but after receiving the set, I think I'm left by being more impressed with the HA-1 DAC/Amp.
 
The HA-1 DAC/Amp Features
 

 

As mentioned previously this DAC/Amp is jammed packed with features for inputs, outputs, and soft format support. It takes in unbalanced in, balanced in, digital optical toslink, USB, AES/EBU, even Bluetooth with a little antenna. It also has balanced line out, unbalanced line out, single ended headphone out, balanced XLR headphone out in the front.
 

 

On top of that, it has this large LCD panel in front with all these fancy display of information that makes the whole DAC/Amp just cool.
 
The UI is a little confusing for me though as the interaction is primarily though the source dial/button. At times I dial when I should press, etc. But that's just silly me. There is one other cool feature worthy of mentioning and that's the auto volume down when changing from low to high gain. That's saved my ears a few times.
 
But How Does It Sound?
 
Most of the tests were done via the USB Audio feeding in from my iMac. The software player used is the Audirvana Plus v1.5.12. Forcing on to DoP v1.0 the HA-1 is capable of playing DSD natively up to DSD128 (at least in Audirvana Plus, as the HA-1 itself is capable up to DSD256). All my DSD are up to DSD64 only. Trying out from the iPad with Onkyo HF Player into the HA-1's mobile USB input in the front however, the Onkyo HF Player can't play DSD natively on the HA-1. It's Bluetooth supports SBC and AptX although AptX was not tried.
 
Coming from my Invicta v1.0, I found the HA-1 DAC/Amp to be more treble focused for my other headphones straight from the headphone out. Now one may say that with the Invicta 1.0's headphone out has as different DAC (ES9016) from than from it's line out (ES9018) to explain the difference, however even comparing line out of both the Invicta 1.0 (ES9018) with the HA-1's line out (also ES9018) into my Zana Deux SE, the HA-1 still sounds a little more treble focused than the Invicta. This to me showed that despite both having the same DAC chips, implementation around it still could yield different results. The treble focus wasn't an issue for most of my headphones, however just not what I'm personally used to. On my Alpha Dogs (which hasn't been Doggie Treated), it can be a little hot for my tastes but fine for the TH-900's and for the SR-007/SR-009 (via the Eddie Current Electra).
 
With the PM-1 though, and this is where the Oppo HA-1 is perfectly matched with the PM-1 headphone, it strikes a balance, since the PM-1 is more lush warm.
 
Aside from the treble (and headphone matching), the rest of the HA-1 performs well. It's detailed & smooth, quite transparent in the overall signature. Although compared to the Invicta, it is a tad smaller in soundstage and slightly flatter in depth imaging.
 
Conclusion
 
As mentioned in the introduction, I think overall between the Oppo Digital PM-1 headphone and HA-1 DAC/Amp, I think I feel more impressed with the HA-1 primarily from the number of features it supports. In addition, for it's price of $1200, it's very good value for money. I think I'm walking away being more impressed with the HA-1 than with my formerly owned HP-A8. Having said that, now that I've experienced something like the Invicta, if I had owned the HA-1, it'll probably be stepping stone until I'm ready for the next upgrade.
 

 

15 Comments:

thanks for the veview.
yes thank you for the review, cant wait for the black version to be back in stock
Thanks for the review.  Like the Volume Unit meters a lot, look so sleek...     
Gotta say, as a Lynx Hilo owner I am just not seeing the value proposition here.  With the Hilo, for roughly the same price, you lose the balanced headphone out and gain a reference-quality A/D converter.
Hi @burnspbesq, I've never had the opportunity to try the Lynx Hilo. Would be nice to give it a shot. However I could be missing something but in checking prices, isn' the Lynx Hilo double the price of the HA-1? Where did you find the Lynx Hilo roughly the same price as the HA-1?
Love the display!
I love the display, too.  VU meters, spectrum are nice to have.  I would probably get this instead of anedio d2 if I had to do it over!
Great review. Looks like a nice package...and yep, I love the display too :)
Lynx is double the price $2495, Oppo HA-1 is $1199.
 
Also,
 
Lynx goes only up to 192 kHz and support up to DSD64.
Oppo can do PCM up to 384 kHz 24-bit and support up to DSD256.
 
Oppo can also support DXD files. :) but it's really how does it sound vs Hilo.
Someone should have 2 to a/b ing ?
I had a Hilo, It did HF sound staging enormously well, but I found the vocals a bit recessed. Odd for me, I might have listened to it not configured correctly. Opps has MFi so iOS deveices can be used in a car environment, but unlike the hIlo which can run off a 12 volt battery.. the oppo is line voltage.
 
There is a lot more to SQ in a  unit than just a DAC chip.  The analog section is a big deal. I like that the Oppo is class A- but wonder about the heat generated. Oppo also has great S/N ratio balanced.
I haven't had any issues at all with the heat generated... at least as far as I can determine from chassis temp.  I can check running temp tonight when I get home with my IR thermometer (if I can find it :)), but I would guess it isn't getting over 110F, where ambient is about 75F.  A 35F delta for a passive cooling device is pretty awesome IMO, I see active watercooling solutions in computing that aren't that effective, but then I really don't know at what rate heat is generated in this amp vs. on a 100% utilized multicore processor.   What I don't know is if the internal temps for the ICs are OK, but assuming the heat transfer design is effective and the chassis is the main heat sink, I would then assume that there is no problem what so ever with temps in this amp.  If I am wrong about the effective heat sink design on the other hand...
I can confirm it doesn't get above 110f...
Thanks, I wasn't able to find the IR thermometer.  I know I put it somewhere so that I wouldn't lose it...
Found it :).  In ambient 79F, the chassis ranges from 93avg in the rear, 98ish on the sides, is about 100-105 on the chassis directly surrounding the mesh, and the mesh itself (or the resistors, heatsinks, and PCB below it) ranged between 110-130F, where 130F was when the IR was painting the resistors and PCB right between the back two heatsinks of the 3 that you can see through the mesh.  I don't know if the IR was measuring the stuff under the mesh or the mesh itself, I could clearly see the IR painting both at the same time.  I will figure that out when I have a bit more free time to experiment.
 
Regardless, 130F/55C isn't bad at all for the heat sink surfaces for a class A, certainly some of my previous amps could fry eggs on their chassis, the Proceed AMP5 I drive some Veritas with certainly does, but then it's internal heat sinks (huge) are exposed via cutouts probably 12" long by 3" wide.
This Amp/DAC looks cool *-*