Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Has anyone heard anything about the Oppo HA-1 balanced headphone amp/DAC?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Has anyone heard anything about the Oppo HA-1 balanced headphone amp/DAC? - Page 3

post #31 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harris View Post
 

Hello!

 

A quick update on the Oppo PM-1 Planar Headphones.

 

I'm working with a finished production sample of  the new headphones for an upcoming review and here are some brief impressions. This is based on a review sample, so the final packaging details, etc. might be different, as they aren't shipping yet.

 

I was in my office when I received shipping confirmation from UPS, so when I got home the box from Oppo was waiting for me.
 
So, I dropped everything to open the box. First impressions, this is one heavy box for a pair of headphones!
 
I had my son pick up the box, and asked him what he thought was in it, and he said maybe a blu-ray player or something due to the weight.
 
Then I opened it up and there was a lovely soft case, with extra earpads and cables.
 
Finally I got a whiff of the finish on the beautiful wooden box! Just great!
 
At this point everything is first-class, the box, inner box, and finally the wood box.
 
Opening it revealed the headphones, which look just wonderful and which were lighter then I remembered or expected. 
 
The primary cable is beautiful with a substantial cloth covered OCC cable, all fittings are solid, well-designed and as they should be for a product of this caliber. The cables have small mini-jacks that go into each side of the headphones.
 
I plugged in the long cable, to use with my laptop, and looked for a step-down adapter to a mini-jack from the phone plug, but there wasn't one, so I looked in thee cables in the case, and found the short mini-jack cable.
 
The sound is superb, and over the weekend I tried them with different gear to get a better sense of their performance. If I had to summarize the sound footprint, it would be "Effortless, subtle, neutral, but with a bit or warmth, to a believable musical finish". At no time did I "hear" the headphones or technology, they simply moved out of the way so that my experience was of listening to music, not technology.
 
As I type this I'm listening to the Van Morrison's Moondance remaster, and it has never sounded better!
I can only imagine what they will sound like when connected to the new HA-1 amplifier. I did get to listen to a pre-production model of the headphones during CES with the HA-1 and it was superb, but when the new amplifier is available that will complete the product cycle.
 
I'm pretty sure that these are going to be a hit for Oppo. Every aspect of the unit I have is well-thought out and executed. Surprisingly they are also very efficient, and sounded great with my MacBook Pro, the new Korg DS-DAC-100M, the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic, the Oppo BDP-105, and the AudioEngine D3, and in all cases, they drove the headphones without a problem, which was a really pleasant surprise.
 
Many of the planars I've used, such at the HiFi Man, seem very demanding of the amplifier circuit, but the PM-1's are nowhere that finicky. I did find a richer, fuller sound with higher output sources, such as the BDP 105, so I think when paired with a dedicated high quality headphone amp, that the phones will really hit their peak. My brief test with HA-1 revealed an incredibly substantial unit, and design, so I suspect that when paired with the PM-1s, it will be a positive synergy.
 
One last note. I had the headphones on last night for several hours straight as I worked on my computer. And.. no stress, or discomfort. In fact they were so comfortable that I kept walking around with them an forgot I had them on, and they weren't even plugged into anything!
 
I hope this helps. We will publish a full review on MacEditionRadio.com in the coming weeks.
 
Harris
 


How were you able to get a pair to review exactly?

post #32 of 61

Hi Ben_R,

 

Reviewers never give out their trade secrets!

 

Actually I have been reviewing products for an awfully long time (30 years), and reviewing Oppo products since their early days. 

 

I find it amazing to see stratospherically priced systems where every component is outrageously expensive, and yet there is an off-the shelf Oppo Blu-Ray player at the heart of the system. 

 

So, I view Oppo as a company whose products deserve a serious look, and these headphones are no different. 

 

Hope this answers your question.

 

Harris

post #33 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harris View Post
 

Hello!

 

A quick update on the Oppo PM-1 Planar Headphones.

 

I'm working with a finished production sample of  the new headphones for an upcoming review and here are some brief impressions. This is based on a review sample, so the final packaging details, etc. might be different, as they aren't shipping yet.

 

I was in my office when I received shipping confirmation from UPS, so when I got home the box from Oppo was waiting for me.
 
So, I dropped everything to open the box. First impressions, this is one heavy box for a pair of headphones!
 
I had my son pick up the box, and asked him what he thought was in it, and he said maybe a blu-ray player or something due to the weight.
 
Then I opened it up and there was a lovely soft case, with extra earpads and cables.
 
Finally I got a whiff of the finish on the beautiful wooden box! Just great!
 
At this point everything is first-class, the box, inner box, and finally the wood box.
 
Opening it revealed the headphones, which look just wonderful and which were lighter then I remembered or expected. 
 
The primary cable is beautiful with a substantial cloth covered OCC cable, all fittings are solid, well-designed and as they should be for a product of this caliber. The cables have small mini-jacks that go into each side of the headphones.
 
I plugged in the long cable, to use with my laptop, and looked for a step-down adapter to a mini-jack from the phone plug, but there wasn't one, so I looked in thee cables in the case, and found the short mini-jack cable.
 
The sound is superb, and over the weekend I tried them with different gear to get a better sense of their performance. If I had to summarize the sound footprint, it would be "Effortless, subtle, neutral, but with a bit or warmth, to a believable musical finish". At no time did I "hear" the headphones or technology, they simply moved out of the way so that my experience was of listening to music, not technology.
 
As I type this I'm listening to the Van Morrison's Moondance remaster, and it has never sounded better!
I can only imagine what they will sound like when connected to the new HA-1 amplifier. I did get to listen to a pre-production model of the headphones during CES with the HA-1 and it was superb, but when the new amplifier is available that will complete the product cycle.
 
I'm pretty sure that these are going to be a hit for Oppo. Every aspect of the unit I have is well-thought out and executed. Surprisingly they are also very efficient, and sounded great with my MacBook Pro, the new Korg DS-DAC-100M, the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic, the Oppo BDP-105, and the AudioEngine D3, and in all cases, they drove the headphones without a problem, which was a really pleasant surprise.
 
Many of the planars I've used, such at the HiFi Man, seem very demanding of the amplifier circuit, but the PM-1's are nowhere that finicky. I did find a richer, fuller sound with higher output sources, such as the BDP 105, so I think when paired with a dedicated high quality headphone amp, that the phones will really hit their peak. My brief test with HA-1 revealed an incredibly substantial unit, and design, so I suspect that when paired with the PM-1s, it will be a positive synergy.
 
One last note. I had the headphones on last night for several hours straight as I worked on my computer. And.. no stress, or discomfort. In fact they were so comfortable that I kept walking around with them an forgot I had them on, and they weren't even plugged into anything!
 
I hope this helps. We will publish a full review on MacEditionRadio.com in the coming weeks.
 
Harris
 


There were some questions on another thread regarding whether the Oppo phones were open and airy sounding.  Could you comment?

 

Could you also comment on the isolation, if any, provided by the phones?

post #34 of 61

Hello Headphoner!

 

So, I'd like to clear up something that is bothering me. A few folks on these threads said the box the Oppo's come in is plastic, and it is not. It is wood veneer, over MDF, then finished to a high degree.

 

I know it wasn't your question, but I thought I'd set the record straight.

 

I do thing the Oppo's sound very open and airy. I have a set of some old, classic Sony headphones, which are very accurate, but I always thought.. hey, the music sounds like it's coming from the headphones, which is to say I always thought I could hear the distance from my ears to the drivers, which wasn't very far. So, while accurate, I never could really fall in love with them. 

 

The opposite is true for the Oppo's which feel very open, with little sense that the music is coming from a inch or so from your ears. That is one thing that I was excited about, that sense of openness. I have been listening to some of the new Audio-Technca headphones, and even though I was comparing very expensive, closed back limited edition wood models, I somehow found the sound of their less expensive open ear designs more airy, not just because of the design, but I think that for whatever reason the sound was less physically placed to the actual drivers.

 

The Oppo's are like this as well, but to a higher degree. One thing I do find myself noticing about the Oppo's is the transient response, jeez.. they are fast. Subtle cymbal crashes, fast decays, guitar strings, all of those have a wonderful delicacy about them on the Oppo's. 

 

Isolation, ok. that is one I hadn't been concentrating on. But, yes, when I was on the couch, with my wife and family near me listening to TV, they could hear what I was listening to, but not as much as the AT's for example. With them on, but with no music playing, I could easily hear the TV, room, etc. so I don't think they block out ambient noise, but with their design, I don't think I ever expected that from an open-ear design.

 

You know I've always thought that headphones and earphones are always in constant battle with ambient noise. I was in college, when I heard the first open-air headphones that sounded good, and yes, they were German with bright yellow earpads. I got a set of Koss Pro-4AA's, complete with the little knob to attach a microphone, and they were heavy, gave me a headache, but sounded great given the right electronics, but the sound was always inside me, and those fluffy yellow units, amazed me.. simply astounding at the time. And yes, the bass wasn't as dynamic, as rich, but they were pretty darn close, and the highs and mid-tones were open, so, I was clued in pretty quickly as to the compromises. I've heard some legendary headphones in the years since then, but I can honestly say that the Opoo PM-1 gives them more then a run for the money. I think they are probably the best headphones I've heard, that are actually affordable, and I'm curious to hear what the PM-2s will sound like. 

 

I hope this answers your question.

 

Harris

post #35 of 61
As posted in the other HA-1 thread, there might be more news coming if going by Oppo UK site change.

Edited by HiFiAudio - 4/20/14 at 5:41pm
post #36 of 61

Noticed this post the other day certainly an interesting amp, silver version looks nice.

 

http://www.hifiwigwam.com/showthread.php?104957-The-Much-Anticipated-OPPO-PM-1-Headphones-and-HA-1-Headamp-Are-Now-On-Demo!

post #37 of 61

Hello!

 

So, my sons (they are home for Spring  Break) called last week to say this large box from Oppo arrived. 

As soon as I got home the HA-1 pre-production review sample and headphone stand were indeed waiting for me.

The packaging is what you might expect from Oppo, with careful packing with boxes within boxes, and foam surrounds to prevent damage.

 

Naturally, I unpacked it, set it up and started listening to it.

 

My sample was the silver model, which has a lovely retro feel and look to it, while the black looks more "serious" and weighty. Of course they are the same product, just different finishing materials. The silver seems to disappear in the room, and compared to the the sea of black components around, my kids thought it looked cool. So do I.

 

I love the small, rounded silver remote.. one of the most beautiful I've seen.

 

I used the USB connection to my MacBook Pro, and using Amarra, Decibel, and Korg AudioGate (both 2 and 3), all worked well. Using the Oppo PM-1 headphones, the first thing I noticed was a more gutsy bottom end compared to the other portable DACs I used, such as the Cambridge DAC/Magic, with the exception of the BD-105, which seemed close to the HA-1. 

 

It runs pretty warm as one would expect with pure Class A amplification. As for the audio quality, I need to spend more time with it, but so far, no matter what headphones I've thrown at it, all sound wonderfully musical, most noticeably with faster attacks, and a warmer, more dynamic low end. 

 

So far, I've nothing but kudos for the HA-1. In my discussions with Oppo about this unit it is clear that this was not designed only as a companion piece to the PM-1 and upcoming PM-2 headphones. Instead the HA-1 was designed for a very wide range of headphones and loads. You can adjust the gain via the front panel control, and coupled with a slew of input options, including a direct link via a special USB port to iOS devices, and other devices, it is incredibly flexible. 

 

I attached the included Bluetooth antenna, but yet to try it out. Same with other inputs, for now sticking with the USB. 

 

I can easily imagine folks pairing a pair of powered bookshelf or desktop speakers with the HA-1 for a fantastic computer desk system.

 

We will work on a longer review in the coming weeks, but for now, I'm really impressed with the HA-1

 

 

Harris


Edited by Harris - 4/19/14 at 8:52pm
post #38 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harris View Post

Hello!

So, my sons (they are home for Spring  Break) called last week to say this large box from Oppo arrived. 
As soon as I got home the HA-1 pre-production review sample and headphone stand were indeed waiting for me.
The packaging is what you might expect from Oppo, with careful packing with boxes within boxes, and foam surrounds to prevent damage.

Naturally, I unpacked it, set it up and started listening to it.

My sample was the silver model, which has a lovely retro feel and look to it, while the black looks more "serious" and weighty. Of course they are the same product, just different finishing materials. The silver seems to disappear in the room, and compared to the the sea of black components around, my kids thought it looked cool. So do I.

I love the small, rounded silver remote.. one of the most beautiful I've seen.

I used the USB connection to my MacBook Pro, and using Amarra, Decibel, and Pure Music, all worked well. Using the Oppo PM-1 headphones, the first thing I noticed was a more gutsy bottom end compared to the other portable DACs I used, such as the Cambridge DAC/Magic, with the exception of the BD-105, which seemed close to the HA-1. 

It runs pretty warm as one would expect with pure Class A amplification. As for the audio quality, I need to spend more time with it, but so far, no matter what headphones I've thrown at it, all sound wonderfully musical, most noticeably with faster attacks, and a warmer, more dynamic low end. 

So far, I've nothing but kudos for the HA-1. In my discussions with Oppo about this unit it is clear that this was not designed only as a companion piece to the PM-1 and upcoming PM-2 headphones. Instead the HA-1 was designed for a very wide range of headphones and loads. You can adjust the gain via the front panel control, and coupled with a slew of input options, including a direct link via a special USB port to iOS devices, and other devices, it is incredibly flexible. 

I attached the included Bluetooth antenna, but yet to try it out. Same with other inputs, for now sticking with the USB. 

I can easily imagine folks pairing a pair of powered bookshelf or desktop speakers with the HA-1 for a fantastic computer desk system.

We will work on a longer review in the coming weeks, but for now, I'm really impressed with the HA-1


Harris

Thanks for the impression, happy to see them start coming in.
post #39 of 61

I should add that because I'm working with a pre-production sample, I'm not sure when the official public ship date will be. There will probably be some options that will change with shipping units around the guide, included accessories, etc. 

 

In many ways this is a get-out-of-the-way component. Once set up, you just forget about it. Since there aren't tone controls, or audio adjustments to play with, once you get it running with your workflow, the only tweaks I can see is a choice of source, or adjustments made in software, choice of player, etc. I am still discovering the best settings with player software to interface with the HA-1. The suggestion I've gotten from OPPO is to use 0db to preserve bit for bit. I've used it with the 1/4-inch cable/jack, and will soon try the XLR balanced headphone jack. 

 

The build quality is wonderful, this is a heavy, serious bit of engineering and implementation. Using the HA-1 together with the PM-1 is about the music, not muss of and fuss. I was curious about break-in, and I've not really noticed any difference in the headphones or amp after using them for a while. Ultimately, I think that folks need to bring their own music, and give the combination a serious audition, a narrative review just doesn't do them justice.

 

Harris


Edited by Harris - 4/19/14 at 9:07pm
post #40 of 61

I'm probably just dense, but its not immediately obvious to me what the advantage would be of going to the Oppo-HA-1 at a guestimated $1200, vs using the excellent analog processing and seemingly decent balanced headphone amp in the Oppo BDP-105 / 105D "all-media player", at $1300. 



I confess I have not tried to do a comparison of the published performance specs. 

post #41 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougD View Post

I'm probably just dense, but its not immediately obvious to me what the advantage would be of going to the Oppo-HA-1 at a guestimated $1200, vs using the excellent analog processing and seemingly decent balanced headphone amp in the Oppo BDP-105 / 105D "all-media player", at $1300. 



I confess I have not tried to do a comparison of the published performance specs. 


The HA-1 was designed by Oppo with the idea of headphones in mind. The headphone out on Oppo's Bluray are suppose to sound pretty good, but are not designed to work with harder to drive cans. There's a good deal of flexibility and utility (Not to mention doubling as a bluray player). Essentially, you're losing a transport to gain a bit of headphone specific refinements.

Now granted, I haven't owned any Oppo equipment, but I've been researching dacs and ES9018 for a while. So until someone does a full comparison with both peices of equipment, we won't truly know what gains we'll see (if any?).

My guess is by removing unnecessary functions, the unit can have a blacker background and more physical space for higher quality parts. If the PM-1 us any indication, Oppo is trying to target the higher tier segment with their planar headphone. Hopefully that's the goal with this device as well.
post #42 of 61

^Just based on pics and info already released, the HA-1 will have analog inputs, balanced headphone output, multiple gain settings, and probably more.
The BDP-105 is a Blu-ray/media player with a very nice built in headphone amp.
The HA-1 is a headphone amp that is also a fantastic DAC/pre-amp.
Keep in mind as well, if you want the best of both worlds, you could pair a BDP-103 with an HA-1. :)

post #43 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smarty-pants View Post
 

Keep in mind as well, if you want the best of both worlds, you could pair a BDP-103 with an HA-1. :)

 

Right with you on that, I'm thinking that might be the right way to go for me. 

 

I need a new BluRay player right now. I'm planning on upgrading to a very good set of headphones soon, but haven't locked in on a choice yet. The Oppo PM-1 and HiFiMan HE-560 are definitely contenders (*), but there could be others. Besides SQ, comfort is a critical concern, as I will be listening to these things pretty much all day M-F. Pretty sure from what I've been reading that either BDP-10# will drive the Opp PM-1s decently, but that's probably not the headphone amp to be using if I end up choosing 'phones that are more difficult. The BDP-103 + HA-1 path would offer a lot of flexibility.

 

 

* I'm hoping to not go through the traditional 20-step buy&sell upgrade path to get to my end-game pick on headphones. 

post #44 of 61
Most reviews of the BDP-105 say it is tuned to be neutral with a leaner low-end. Would you say the HA-1 is the same flavor? I noticed that you said the low end has more authority, but that was not what I was expecting given the reputation of the BDP-105. How do the 2 compare as DACs?
post #45 of 61

Hi, I think that is a great question. The BDP-105 headphone amp is seen by some as a "by the way" aspect of the 105, but I think that is incorrect. When I reviewed the 105 I asked Oppo this very question, and the answer was that the amp was carefully designed, and had the advantage of running directly off the DACs, so a very clean signal. That the 105 can be used a first class external DAC, means that for many it is a superb choice as a dedicated DAC and headphone amp.

 

However, it wasn't the primary design consideration, so the HA-1 represented Oppo's approach to rethinking the problem and category. It is astonishingly flexible, with just about any input and output one could hope for, even if the majority of users will probably only use the USB input and standard headphone output. But, it's there. I swear, I'm going to try the Bluetooth option soon! 

 

I'm actually trying to figure out a way to reliably gauge the sound between the HA-1 and BDP-105. I normally feed music into the 105 with an external HD, and so it's easy to listen to music that way using the PM-1s. But the HA-1 demands a computer (or access to one via some pathway) to feed the DAC, so suddenly the chain incorporates the player software, which many folks feel imparts a distinct sound. So.. hard to have an apples-to-apples comparison. I even thought of linking the HA-1 to the 105, and that might end up being the best way to gauge the difference in sound, but since the HA-1 doesn't deal with things like track or file navigation, I'm still trying to figure this out.

 

But, in my completely informal tests, without any rigor, the HA-1 clearly has a higher output level, and more fine tuning via its high and low headphone gain option. I also know it drives less efficient headphones easier, as I found using many headphones on the 105 that I was at 80-100 percent of volume to adequately drive them, especially on rock & roll, or any music recorded at lower levels. Noise hasn't been an issue with the 105 even cranked up, but the HA-1 can definitely outdrive it. I did think (see, not really sure) that the HA-1 had more dynamics, and a little less grit. And the HA-1 with the PM-1's have a very fast response, especially for transients. 

 

I'm looking forward to other folks opinions between the two, but the key will be the elimination of as many variables in the signal chain to the HA-1 for any comparison to be valid.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Has anyone heard anything about the Oppo HA-1 balanced headphone amp/DAC?