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Opera – A first review - Page 14

post #196 of 424

DAC quality

Anyone got more thoughts on the quality of the DAC via the coaxial input post burn-in?

Jazz's comparison to his UDP sounded positive but Nietzche was not too impressed. I guess not many people would have burnt in the DAC via the coaxial input yet.

I'd be interested to hear your impressions.
post #197 of 424

Revision of first impressions on DAC

[QUOTE=onecm;2661038]
Jazz's comparison to his UDP sounded positive but Nietzche was not too impressed. QUOTE]

Last weekend I tried different digital coax ICs. I found the Kimber KS 2020 the best sounding digital interconnect in my setup.
My first visions were a bit false since I compared a rather cheap digital interconnect (70 €) to an analoge one of 700 or even 900 € (yep, almost the price of a complete Opera!).
Burn in also helps!

Now, I still prefer the analoge connection with Kimber KS 1011 (airy and wider soundstage) with my Senn HD 650/Equinox. This setup really brings the Senn to life (but you have to turn up the volume). Actually I prefer this setup over any combination with my Grado's now (The k1000 is still in another division). For me this is a "re"volution since I did prefer Grados over Sennheisers over the last 2 years. I found the 650 too dark, not very detailed and lacking vitality.
This is a paradox for me: the Opera is abolutely 'warmer" (compared to my PreHead SE II) but at the same time it manages in a better way to drive a "warm/dark" HP to a more vivid presentation ????

For my Grados I think the DAC of the Opera comes very close to the internal DAC of my Arcam CD 23. The print is different: without compensation via ICs, the Arcam Dac leans more to the bright side, the Opera Dac is a tad darker (and may be a better match to brighter HPs (Grado, Sony, maybe AKG 701)).

So the quality of the Opera Dac (IMHO) is very good.
Preference is a matter of taste and is always attached to subjective interpretation of "synergie" with other components in your rig, and coloration (not a bad thing to me).

Jan
post #198 of 424
Thanks very much for the good news nietzsche. Time to start digital IC shopping.

If your impressions of the Opera DAC are accurate, there's a good chance it will fit very well as a pre into our system. Too much brightness would not go to well with the ribbon tweeters on our celestions.
post #199 of 424
Don't forget the "right" cable for your speakers, too
post #200 of 424
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaZZ View Post
Yes, it has. I'm not sure to what extent the HeadCode's soundstage has to be attributed to its hinted «loudness contour» and «soft-focus effect» and the fascinating sparkle it adds to overtones (which seemed artificial to me after a while, though), but the Opera's soundstage has become very 3-dimensional, clearly more so than from Aria and HA-2 MkII. Also it sounds more coherent than the HeadCode, resulting in better transient response, tighter and more energetic drum beats which sound more as a whole.

Resolution and detail are phenomenal now. The only thing that could be criticized (despite the absence of a technical touch and coldness) is the lack of euphonic colorations. The sound strongly resembles the original signal.
.
In that case, I'm very much looking forward to hearing it again. ; )
post #201 of 424
[QUOTE=Nietzsche;2661082]
Quote:
Originally Posted by onecm View Post
Jazz's comparison to his UDP sounded positive but Nietzche was not too impressed. QUOTE]

Last weekend I tried different digital coax ICs. I found the Kimber KS 2020 the best sounding digital interconnect in my setup.
My first visions were a bit false since I compared a rather cheap digital interconnect (70 €) to an analoge one of 700 or even 900 € (yep, almost the price of a complete Opera!).
Burn in also helps!
That must be one heck of an IC!
How much for the power cord...?
post #202 of 424
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nietzsche View Post
This a paradox for me: the Opera is abolutely 'warmer" (compared to my PreHead SE II) but at the same time it manages in a better way to drive a "warm/dark" HP to a more vivid presentation ????
You hit the nail on the head. This IS the paradox presented by the Opera. And it takes some getting used to, to fully appreciate just how special the Opera is. That is can be so warm and sweet sounding, yet have such astonishing detail, is really amazing. It is like no other headamp I have tried in that regard.

I have started to re-think my earlier comparison to the HA-2 II/SE, in fact. I think that now that the Opera is fully broken in and I better appreciate it's capabilities, it's clearly the best amp. It's all I can do to keep from ordering another one! I have to keep the Opera I have in my office due to the nature of the set-up there, but I'm tempted to get another to replace the HA-2 II/SE in my bedside rig. If Jan made one in Black, I would do it.

Now, if he plans to make a smaller one without the DAC to replace the HA-2, I'm in for sure
post #203 of 424
Maybe I read your review too quickly but I did not see a comment about how the amp drives the AKG k701s. Did you try them with it?
post #204 of 424
[QUOTE=Snacks;2661235]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nietzsche View Post


How much for the power cord...?
I don't (want to) remember. It's an Isotek.
post #205 of 424
Quote:
Originally Posted by saint.panda View Post
In that case, I'm very much looking forward to hearing it again. ; )
Just be careful with too high expectations (which my wording might have raised): Maybe we have slightly different preferences and a differing sonic ideal. I for one am not so much a soundstage freak, although I absolutely enjoy a passably realistic spatial pesentation. I agree that the HeadCode was superior to the HA-2 MkII and the Aria in this respect, nonetheless I liked the Aria better for its more coherent and immediate characteristic, and this despite a little lower resolution. However, I think the Opera can compete with the HeadCode when it comes to soundstage, but -- again -- maybe our understanding of a «good» soundstage is not exactly the same. I'm surprised to find myself reaching for the Crossfeed switch more than I'm used to, because the soundstage often seems a bit too wide with the Opera. The bass compensation may also help with this decision -- it's the best Crossfeed implementation of all Cordas to my ears, although I wish the effect was slightly milder, or there was an additional lower stage.

I'm also looking forward to a second encounter with your Apogee Mini-DAC. After all it was the reason for a brief dissatisfaction with the Opera during its burn-in phase. But keep in mind that the direct connection as well as maybe the balanced drive may still offer some (theoretical) advantages. Anyway, I'm sure the Opera now offers much of its qualities detected during our mini-meet -- particularly the high definition and resolution throughout the frequency spectrum and especially in the upper treble --, maybe packed in a slightly different sonic balance. I guess we'll have to wait till the arrival of your balanced Equinox (I think I for one would have opted for the Zu Mobius).

I still think the internal DAC is of remarkably high quality: at least as good as the Bel Canto DAC2 and almost as good as the McCormack UDP-1's. Like the amp section, it is rather unobtrusive than spectacular, although its resolving abilities are quite high. Also, it's one of the less «digital» sounding DACs with a smooth characteristic and nevertheless very good detail.

I agree with others in that the Opera synergizes excellently with the HD 650. The reason may be that smoothness doesn't necessarily mean darkness or dullness. The Opera deserves none of these attributes. It's certainly the most neutral amp I've heard in my system. The K 701 also benefits from it: it sounds fuller and smoother than with the Aria. All in all the HD 650 seems to have benefitted a little more at this stage, so it's become hard to me to favor one over the other.
.
post #206 of 424
Got my Equinox today, time for another mini-meet.

But it will be difficult to compare since you don't have a single-ended Equinox cable, or perhap you have a XLR-jack adaptor?
post #207 of 424
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
I have started to re-think my earlier comparison to the HA-2 II/SE, in fact. I think that now that the Opera is fully broken in and I better appreciate it's capabilities, it's clearly the best amp.
Your quote is really poisoning us.
post #208 of 424
Quote:
Originally Posted by saint.panda View Post
Got my Equinox today, time for another mini-meet.

But it will be difficult to compare since you don't have a single-ended Equinox cable, or perhap you have a XLR-jack adaptor?
Kurt has one, AFAIK.
.
post #209 of 424
Thread Starter 
[QUOTE=Nietzsche;2661082]
Quote:
Originally Posted by onecm View Post
I found the Kimber KS 2020 the best sounding digital interconnect in my setup.
I tested my Audioplan Digitenna 75 Ohm Reference Cable against my new Tara Labs RSC Air Digital Cable. Although I found the Tara in the first moment - without any burn-in - not to impressive, I was astonished by switching back and forth. The Tara makes a hughe difference and the sound is really much clearer and reveals mor focus.
post #210 of 424
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nietzsche View Post
This is a paradox for me: the Opera is abolutely 'warmer" (compared to my PreHead SE II) but at the same time it manages in a better way to drive a "warm/dark" HP to a more vivid presentation ????
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
You hit the nail on the head. This IS the paradox presented by the Opera. And it takes some getting used to, to fully appreciate just how special the Opera is. That is can be so warm and sweet sounding, yet have such astonishing detail, is really amazing. It is like no other headamp I have tried in that regard.
This is really promising to hear

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaZZ View Post
The bass compensation may also help with this decision -- it's the best Crossfeed implementation of all Cordas to my ears, although I wish the effect was slightly milder, or there was an additional lower stage.
Could you please expand on this and say use the Aria's crossfeed as a point of reference? I’m trying to imagine what the compensation does to sound? Would it be like the same kind of equalizer settings found in say the Prehead (for bass) built into the crossfeed? - Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaZZ View Post
I agree with others in that the Opera synergizes excellently with the HD 650. The reason may be that smoothness doesn't necessarily mean darkness or dullness. The Opera deserves none of these attributes. It's certainly the most neutral amp I've heard in my system. The K 701 also benefits from it: it sounds fuller and smoother than with the Aria. All in all the HD 650 seems to have benefitted a little more at this stage, so it's become hard to me to favor one over the other.
Again, this is great news. My primary cans are the HD650+Equinox How would you compare the bass differences between the Opera & Aria using HD650? One of the things I love about the Aria is how the bass is controlled in a very effortless manner leaving the midrange clean & airy. With the Opera's warmer presentation does the bass (especially the mid-bass on the HD650) become fuller? Less airiness? I hope this makes sense?

The very good impressions on the DAC are also sealing the deal for me. I’m hoping for a source + amp upgrade with the Opera. Would you say that investing in a decent digital IC is beneficial here? I already have the Blue Jeans digital IC which I use with the Zhaolu DAC, I'm feeling that it might not cut it here?

I hope Jan Meier takes on a project to create a balanced amp & DAC one day. The Meier Audio house sound would really be welcomed in the balanced headphone amp market & here in Europe - Then I could get out of this place... well at least the amps forum!
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