Originally Posted by saint.panda
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..