Yes exactly. I really want to see how the synergy is with th-900's. Anyone?
- 241 Posts. Joined 1/2014
- Location: San Diego, California (United States)
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Yes exactly. I really want to see how the synergy is with th-900's. Anyone?
I agree. A "straight wire with gain" does no harm and fully conveys all info from the source without adding coloration. All of the extra features already described above are an added bonus.
I have mixed feelings on this... I'm used to using the OPPO blue ray players that allow you to hook them up to your home network and be able to play music... or play off of the USB input via a memory stick...
With the HA-1 you can't access the larger files that DSD and FLAC creates on your network... and you can't plug a memory stick into the HA-1
For Inputs :
I devices, they can't hold much in the way of DSD/FLAC material, its cool you can at least play back your Itunes material but its still not HIFI material
Laptop/desktop, they can be used for DSD/FLAC playback but you have to connect them at the back of the HA-1, but at least you can playback the HIFI material
Mixed feelings - would have been super nice to just be able to plug in a network cable or plug in a USB stick/portable drive as a way to playback the larger DSD/FLAC files...
can you output blue tooth to blue tooth headphones??
This is primary a very high quality DAC with a unbalanced/balanced headphone amp, along with inputs/outputs so it can also be used as a basic preamp. It cannot decode audio files formats. The HA-1 was meant to be used as a Bluetooth audio transport, meaning mobile/computer source to transmit to HA-1 and then listen to audio either by headphone output or other audio outputs that could be connected to something else. Standalone you can't output bluetooth to bluetooth headphones unless that comes with a analog interface.
Not a lot of information to hang one's hat on.... Dynamics? Perceived soundstage? Micro/macro detail? Subjective impressions - does it make you smile, really get into the music (yes I know these are subjective and respond to other equipment in the chain, but....). How does it compare to other high-end equipment of similar functionality? It's hard to get much out of a single statement like that. More detail would be better. Come on guys!!!
So I played around with comparing the HA-1 yesterday and the tldr version is the usual: "Your headphones will make a bigger difference than most anything else". I focused on trying to do an A/B comparison between two amps based on a short portion of a song.
* Oppo HA-1
* Matrix m-stage from 2011 modified for dual 627 opamps
Source and gear
* Source files: Sand (Acoustic Version) by Ottmar Liebert (88.2/24) and Beat It by Michael Jackson (176/24)
* Software: Windows 8.1 and JRiver Media Center 19
* DAC: Mytek 8x192
* Monitor controller: Dangerous Music Monitor ST
* Headphones: Sennheiser HD800
* Power: Furman PS-8R Series II (just because the front outlet was handy. I think the Mytek and Monitor ST might have been plugged into the Furman PL Plus-C)
The Dangerous Monitor ST requires isolation to prevent damage on the inputs/outputs if you intend to hot-plug anything. Also, since the output is a balanced XLR and the m-stage only has RCAs, I used what I had available and put an ART DTI between the ST and m-stage. Since I had that on one path, I thought I should muck up the signal chain to the HA-1 with a different isolator, so I put my Radial TWIN ISO Passive Line-Level Isolator between the ST and the HA-1. I think the m-stage got the short end of the stick here. I should have switched them around after the first round of listening but life's too short.
Why my impressions are invalid
* Monoprice XLR cables.
* I had too much in the signal chain.
* Not enough burn-in.
* It took me 4-5 seconds to switch between the HA-1 and m-stage (push the output selection on the ST's remote, plug the headphones from one to the other). That is 4-5 seconds too long to do A/B comparisons. Plus I obviously knew what I was listening to.
And yes, the majority of this section was for the insecure types among us.
OK a huge set-up, so where's the payoff? You've patiently read this far, gently shaking your head at the clusterduck (that's pronounced "cluster-DAC") that's certainly coming.
I spent way too much of my life listening to the first 7-8 seconds of the beginning of both songs focusing on subtle details such as the pluck of the strings and the tap on the guitar body in Sand, and on Beat It I mainly focused on the bass drum. What did I hear between the two? Well, not much. If you were to ask me to do a blind listening and A/B the two I wouldn't be able to tell you which was which.
In any case, the attack and definition was slightly better on the HA-1. I could hear it mostly on the bass drum in Beat It where the m-stage made it sound just slightly flabbier (as if the skin was looser on the drum). The HA-1 was a bit tighter with just a touch more click. I'd attribute it to better attack/transient response.
That's it. I'll take complaints on tricking you to read this far via PMs. No wait. No I won't, sorry.
Summary & what I learned
Am I saying you shouldn't buy the HA-1 or that the much cheaper m-stage is better somehow? No, I'm what I'm really saying is that you should listen for yourself (if you can. If you can't, continue to live vicariously spending other peoples' money by reading this forum or read enough opinions and take the shot, pull the trigger, some other bad analogy or is it simile?). And "no" especially if you look at the chain I used.
The most important piece of gear I used? This:
Yes, that is a CD-R sticky taped to a "precision instrument". Well, technically it isn't; It's actually a CD-R sticky taped to a piece of cardboard that's wrapped around a "precision instrument".
Anyway, why is this monstrosity the most important part of my impressions? Simply because I used a pink noise generator (namely Room EQ Wizard) to match the volumes of both amps. The CD-R just helped me get to some semblance of isolation, stability, and consistent placement when switching things around. If I was off even a tad more than what the fluctuation on Fast mode would show, I was hearing details on one amp and not the other. Level matching was what I alluded to being the difference between the DSD and PCM version when I initial gave my "wow" comment. After simply using the PCM version and concentrating solely on the amps I think that's what was going on (the DSD version got bitstreamed you can't adjust the volume on JRiver in that situation so getting a good level match between the two files is more trouble than typing in this tripe I'm writing right now).
The second takeaway? Life's too short to do this. I'd rather sit back, relax, and enjoy the music.
The third? Hats off to all the people on this forum who put in the (money) time and effort to write reviews for others. It almost makes the inevitable trolling worth the while. No, I take that back. Trolling is never excusable.
And on that bombshell, Happy Mother's Day everyone. And to those that don't believe in "mothers", happy Sunday (unless it's already Monday for you. If so, I'm sorry I ruined the start of your week).
My friend just received his HA-1 on Friday and I went over for a listen yesterday (Saturday). For kicks I tried to connect my Samsung HS-3000 Bluetooth headset adapter to the HA-1 while feeding the HA-1 via coaxial digital out from my iBasso DX90. No Go. There is no "pairing/connecting" menu on the HA-1, it just turns the OPPO's BT On or Off and the device you are wanting to connect has to have the menu and functionality to "see" and "connect" to the HA-1. The HA-1 doesn't even require a PIN code, it is an "OPEN" BT connection for better or worse.
I agree that BT headset functionality would be a nice bonus, but if you are looking to stream your networked DSD and Hi-Res files to the HA-1 and then listen with a wireless BT Headset it kind of defeats the purpose. Apt-X is very good quality, but it still is just "near-CD quality" so there would be absolutely no benefit using Hi-Res formats, IMHO.
FYI, the little Samsung HS-3000 BT headset adapter has the apt-X protocol, has a built-in microphone for BT phone calls, and you can connect any headset you'd like via its 3.5mm TRS jack. I've even used my Beyerdynamic T1's connected to it while playing FLACs from my Galaxy Note II (has apt-X as well) and it actually sounds fantastic. FYI, the HS-3000 is about the size of a typical thumb drive...don't know how it can possibly do this, but it does! I'm looking forward to trying it with some decent IEMs.
Back to the HA-1. So we listened to the HA-1 with a pair of Neumann KH120 powered Studio Monitors (balanced XLR connection) and with my T1's, also balanced XLR connection, and his DT-880/250 (SE). The source was my iBasso DX90 via coaxial and his Windows 7 Laptop using Foobar via USB.
The Soundstage/Imaging/Width/Depth are fantastic! There is great layering, separation, and space between instruments and vocals. Vocals, especially Female Vocals, seem very forward/prominent (almost "inhanced" in some way?) but very lush sounding and pleasing. The mid-bass/lower midrange region seemed a little bloated to me, which seemed to mask some extreme detail that I am used to hearing through the same setup except through my 2014 Audio-gd NFB-28 (with USB TCXO upgrades).
For example, on the Steph Johnson Trio's "Nature Girl" album (16/44 WAV), Steph's vocals are very centered, very prominent but Lush (really nice)! However, the detail that I'm used to hearing in the acoustic double bass and Rob's string plucks and slaps just isn't there compared to the NFB-28. Same goes for Fernando's brush and stick work on the drum kit (cymbals and snare in particular)...the extreme detail is subdued or masked (maybe by the slight mid-bass bloat) compared to NFB-28, and their images are not as sharply-focused to a particular point in space with the HA-1...image placement is correct, and there is a sense of separation and space, but there is kind of a diffuse "halo" around the instrument, sort of a "soccer ball" size image as opposed to a "baseball" size image.
These qualities were immediately apparent, so I then listened to the "Nature Girl" tracks with my T1's plugged directly into my DX90 and the extreme detail and shimmer and decay of the cymbals, along with less mid-bass bloat and a bit "sharper" or "tighter" image focus was back. IMO, the DX90's and NFB-28's presentation is more "real" or lifelike compared to the HA-1. :-/
Norah Jones "Come Away With Me" album in DSD seemed the same...very lush and prominent/centered vocals (very nice) but not quite the detail and focus in the rest of the presentation. Also the same conclusion with Will Knox's excellent "The Matador and The Acrobat" album. I should've remembered to try the new Head-Fi/Chesky Ultimate Headphone Demo Disc, but forgot and time ran out. :( I'll have to setup another listening session and compare these setups again.
Now, we weren't able to compare the HA-1 and NFB-28 side-by-side, but I am extremely familiar with the Steph Johnson and Nora Jones albums, and I was a former drummer & saxophonist so I think I have an acute or "good" ear. ;) These are just My Personal First Impressions with components and sources that I am familiar with, so take them with a grain of salt. Obviously, the HA-1 hasn't had time to "burn-in" yet, so I don't know whether to expect any changes in sonics or not with time.
/flame suit on! ;)