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Oppo HA-1 Impressions Thread - Page 12

post #166 of 4749
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbfoto View Post

@Dixter,

 

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.  wink.gif  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!  wink.gif

Did you try DSD with foobar? Which mode you use?
post #167 of 4749
Quote:
Originally Posted by olegausany View Post


Did you try DSD with foobar? Which mode you use?

 

Yes, the Norah Jones "Come Away With Me" album was the Acoustic Sounds DSD64 (.dsf) version.

 

Wasn't my laptop so I didn't think to verifiy which mode was used in Foobar, sorry. :-/  I'm not terribly familiar with it, but I can check and get back to you.

 

I probably should have stated that the differences were not that huge at all between the setups, but those were my first impressions.  :rolleyes: Of course, the comparison wasn't side-by-side, wasn't level-matched, wasn't double-blind A/B/X, so I guess my impressions are basically invalid as well.  Your hearing can change depending on what you eat, so...there's that, LOL. :p

 

I did REALLY enjoy listening to the HA-1. It really does sound fantastic, and I really liked the perceived lush vocals.  It's connection options, versatility, and UI are unmatched IMO...It's a very refined piece of kit. Props to OPPO and all of the beta testers.  I would definitely buy one if I spent more time at home, but I'm focusing on a portable setup with the DX90, and have even just sold my NFB-28 to help fund an CIEM purchase.

 

For the money, I would still highly recommend the NFB-28 (with the USB TCXO upgrades) based on SQ alone (it does have some operational niggles that I don't care for, but they aren't deal breakers in any way).  Of course it doesn't have the BT with apt-X or the iDevice support, but otherwise is solid.  But if you've got the extra cash, I would go with the HA-1.  :)  As a poor analogy, it's like the difference between driving a late-model Hyundai and a Mercedes S-Class (I've owned and loved both)...it's mostly the refinement that stands out in the Benz (and HA-1).

 

HTH?

post #168 of 4749
post #169 of 4749
Wow, I'm surprised how little that Forbes article actually said, but then again I didn't say much either and I've actually got one.

//TB
Edited by docBliny - 5/11/14 at 10:14pm
post #170 of 4749
Quote:
Originally Posted by docBliny View Post

Wow, in surprised how little that Forbes article actually said, but then again I didn't say much either and I've actually got one.

//TB

 

I'm not going to review the HA-1 because outside of the obvious stuff, there's not much to say. Don't feel bad. It's a great product, but commenting on the sound seems to be a waste as it does nothing to color the sound or change it in any way. 

 

If you do the number crunching you're getting an amp for $550 and a DAC for $550 in a beautiful package from a company that stands by it's products. What more could you want?


Edited by keanex - 5/11/14 at 10:12pm
post #171 of 4749
Quote:
Originally Posted by keanex View Post

I'm not going to review the HA-1 because outside of the obvious stuff, there's not much to say. Don't feel bad. It's a great product, but commenting on the sound seems to be a waste as it does nothing to color the sound or change it in any way. 

If you do the number crunching you're getting an amp for $550 and a DAC for $550 in a beautiful package from a company that stands by it's products. What more could you want?

I'd say it's more like your getting an $800 amp (balanced), an $800 DAC (ESS 9018 Sabre32 Reference DAC) with DSD support, a $400 pre amplifier, and a bunch of goodies like remote control, Apple certification, Bluetooth streaming, gorgeous display and beautiful chassis. All for a bit more than half of what these features alone would typically add up to.

This is why I love Oppo products.
post #172 of 4749

I've seen a post above comparing it to Audio-gd NFB-28 (which is appreciated by the way). I guess it will be helpful for those looking for a new amp or DAC or combo to see some comparisons with other competing products i.e. Yulong DA8, etc. 

post #173 of 4749
Or burson
post #174 of 4749
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pier Paolo View Post

Or burson

+1
post #175 of 4749
Quote:
Originally Posted by docBliny View Post
 

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.

 

Amps

* 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)

 

Misc

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.

 

Impressions

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).

 

//Tomi B.

 

Thank you for taking the time to do a well-calibrated test, one which combines objective principles with subjective interpretation.

post #176 of 4749

For the people who already have the HA-1, can anybody compare the amplifier section to the Headamp GS-X mk2? Right now, I'm running an Oppo 105 via XLR to the Headamp GS-X mk2. My primary headphones right now are the Grado PS1000. The sound is great, but I also wouldn't mind downsizing my setup and having a few less components on my shelf, if I could do it without sacrificing sound quality. Any thoughts?

post #177 of 4749
Quote:
Originally Posted by keanex View Post
 

 

I'm not going to review the HA-1 because outside of the obvious stuff, there's not much to say. Don't feel bad. It's a great product, but commenting on the sound seems to be a waste as it does nothing to color the sound or change it in any way. 

 

 

I really don't get this statement.  I don't really see anything being obvious.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by keanex View Post
 

 

Don't feel bad. It's a great product, but commenting on the sound seems to be a waste as it does nothing to color the sound or change it in any way. 

 

 

In the countless reviews written by Skylab and project86, they can go on and on for pages answering questions (sometimes they answer the same question multiple times), comparing the sound of an amp being reviewed to other models, and talking about sinergy with different headphones.   I have never heard them say, "hey, no more on this amp since it does not color the sound in any way".   

post #178 of 4749
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elvergun View Post
 

 

I really don't get this statement.  I don't really see anything being obvious.

 

 

 

In the countless reviews written by Skylab and project86, they can go on and on for pages answering questions (sometimes they answer the same question multiple times), comparing the sound of an amp being reviewed to other models, and talking about sinergy with different headphones.   I have never heard them say, "hey, no more on this amp since it does not color the sound in any way".   


Don't get me wrong, but perhaps you should request that Skylab or project86 review the HA-1.  Most of us report what we find, as part of a hobby.  Some of us (myself usually excluded) can expound for pages on what some of us cover in a sentence or two (the latter is my group).

 

For my quick comments - The HA-1 is an excellent, clean, discrete class A amp that when compared to the Burson Soloist SL sounded essentially the same from the same source once roughly volume matched.  I haven't had the time to do the same with the Asgard 2 yet, but I don't expect much difference - the Asgard 2 is an excellent, clean, discrete class A amp also.

 

The dac is a well executed ESS 9018.  I do hear very slight (and I mean very slight to my ears) differences to the ESS 9018 and at least one other dac chip, the one in the NF DAC, which I have on hand.  I expect once I get around to comparisons, to also hear very slight differences to the HA-1 and the Schiit Bifrost Uber dac.  In casual listening, I think I hear some differences to the Schiit Bifrost Uber.

 

I think in broad stroke generalization - the ESS 9018 tends to be a bit more forward in details than the TI chip implementation in the NF DAC or the AKM implementation in the Bifrost Uber.  These are very broad generalizations, and the differences border on the effects of volume matching and expectation bias.  In isolation, all 3 are really killer dacs in very roughly similar price ranges (if one makes some sort of split out of the cost of the HA-1 dac section if it were stand alone).  Say $500 to $1000 range.  Anyway, in comparison, I *think* I detect the differences noted.

 

The feature set of the HA-1 is nothing short of astounding to me.  This is the icing on the cake for this unit to me.  It sounds killer good, but the Schiit Bifrost Uber + Asgard 2 at what, $600+ less sounds really good also.  Where the HA-1 pulls ahead - a little better sound quality, maybe, and in features and refinement.  The Schiit stuff is good, but it all fits in the same size chassis, therefore the Asgard box gets HOT, the volume knob gets HOT, etc.  The HA-1 dumps some heat as well, but the volume knob stays cool(ish). Add the cool display, idevice front panel connection, blue tooth streaming, Home theater bypass (i.e. non-volume controlled analog out), balanced and single ended connections up front and out back...  To me, it is a great all in one.

 

Oh, remember, I'm a beta tester, they gave me one, I love those guys!  Don't forget to figure in the fanboy factor with me!

post #179 of 4749
Quote:
Originally Posted by elvergun View Post
 

 

I really don't get this statement.  I don't really see anything being obvious.

 

 

 

In the countless reviews written by Skylab and project86, they can go on and on for pages answering questions (sometimes they answer the same question multiple times), comparing the sound of an amp being reviewed to other models, and talking about sinergy with different headphones.   I have never heard them say, "hey, no more on this amp since it does not color the sound in any way".   

 

All of the tech specs and features are open and listed. The amp measures about ruler flat 20-20 so there's not really much to discuss about the sound IMO. I can't say that I hold much weight in the opinions of those who write pages on the sound quality because there's no real coloration going on. If they could reliably ABX a few neutral solid state amps from each other then I'd gladly listen to the differences they experience. Then again this isn't the sound science forum...

post #180 of 4749
Quote:
Originally Posted by keanex View Post
 

 

If they could reliably ABX a few neutral solid state amps from each other then I'd gladly listen to the differences they experience. Then again this isn't the sound science forum...

 

I was actually struggling with my simple A/B test since I had to unplug and replug between the amps when I was testing last weekend. I was considering putting together a custom cable to be able to flip between the amps, but in the end I'd really would have wanted to make sure the switch doesn't have any chance of shorting the output of both amps together so I didn't bother.

 

//TB

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