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Audio-Opus Opus#1

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. PinkyPowers
    The King-Killer - A Review of the Opus #1
    Written by PinkyPowers
    Published Jan 29, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - TOTL sound quality, two microSD slots, balanced output, nice case
    Cons - Boring design and build.
    Frontcover03.jpg

    I give Nik (AKA nmatheis) many thanks for lending me his own personal unit for this review. This device opened my eyes and changed my thinking on a number of things, and for that, he has my deepest gratitude.

    I spent a little over a week with the Opus #1, by theBit (or Audio-Opus, depending on what you read). This was not a DAP I pursued. I didn’t join any tours, for there were none to join. The opportunity merely came along, and I thought, “Hell, why not?” What serendipity, that what amounted to a text-based shrug, would land in my lap one of the best players I’ve ever heard.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me talk about the build first.

    OpusSolar03.jpg

    It’s solidly made. That’s the extent of my praise. It’s sturdy. It won’t fall apart on you. The buttons work. The screen works. Everything works. But it’s so boring! Where’s the artistry? Where’s the flare? Look at the Cayin i5. It’s so pretty! I want to touch it when the lights go out. That’s the sort of reaction I want from a DAP: carnal desire! I guess I have a DAP that does this for me. It’s called the AK120II. Astell&Kern spoiled me with the level of luxury they offer. Of course, they charge you a premium for it. But Cayin doesn’t. The N5, and now the i5, are stunning, and reasonably priced.

    theBit could learn a lot from them.

    In my portable music players, I’m more than a little obsessed with volume wheels. They delight me something fierce. I flat out won’t buy another DAP without one. And it seems I won’t ever have to. They’re all moving in that direction now. Or at least a good many of them are. The Opus #1 doesn’t have a volume wheel. Ok. I’m a big boy. I can deal for a week. But that’s not its biggest sin. It’s that the buttons aren’t easy to use. They’re small, and if you have the case on, there are no cut-outs, just impressions stamped into the material. This makes for some clumsy use of the hardware interface.

    It’s not an indomitable burden. Nothing like on the scale of the FiiO X5 Classic’s scroll wheel. No, the Opus #1’s hardware just reminds you in small, subtle ways that it’s not as fancy or as nice as other players. That’s a d@mn shame, because it doesn’t sound anything less than a top of the line product.

    OpusM99C02.jpg

    There isn’t an over-abundance of features to cover. Which is good for Pinky’s stats, since I’m not going to cover even half of the features the Opus does possess. Still, a few items caught my attention.

    There are two slots for external microSD cards, in addition to 32GB of internal storage. That came as a great surprise, and I immediately gave it extra points for being so thoughtful. It’s amazing how rare that is these days. It has Balanced output, which, at the very least, I found convenient, since so many of my cables are terminated for 2.5mm TRRS. The Opus #1 sports one of the best Deep Sleep modes. When I first opened the package, the device turned On instantly. It had been On during transit, and yet it was close to a full charge. Sleep Mode is so efficient I never felt the need to turn the DAP Off, and the battery did not drain to any noticeable degree.

    As great as Sleep Mode is, you will drain the Opus #1 through hard use. When you do, I am happy to say, it charges very fast. But only when powered up. I don’t think it charges at all when shut off. Even from the USB port on your PC, it takes just a few hours to reach Full. My AK120II takes many more hours to charge, when not using a wall-socket adapter.

    The software UI is simplistic yet feature-rich. Finding the settings menu took a few frustrating minutes, however, but I eventually figured it out. You swipe down. Of course you swipe down. But you must swipe fast, because if you hold your finger at the top for even a full second, swiping down only brings up the time and date. That is useless. That information is also present in the full drop-down screen. So making it its own screen only confuses what should be an easy procedure.

    OpusSolar04.jpg

    Alright. I don’t want to talk any more about features. It’s a fairly bare-bones Android Device, after all. This thing doesn’t care about anything but audio performance. And that just so happens to be what I want to talk most about.

    Since I complain so much about DAPs trying to be Smartphones, I feel I ought to give theBit kudos. The Opus #1 does not suffer from a development whose focus and resources were divided and ultimately squandered on idiocy. There is no Bluetooth. No WiFi. No Apps Store. All their money and energy went into sound quality. And OH GOD does it show!

    Upon first hearing the Opus #1 by theBit, Pinky’s dwindling follicles were not blown back in awe. It sounded digital and artificial to me, like many budget-fi and mid-fi products. Then I listened to another album, and another, and realized the Opus merely reveals exactly what is recorded, and does so with powerful fidelity. SEA CHANGE by Beck uses a lot of digital filters, and I could hear those filters in vivid detail. Moving on to The Rolling Stones, and you hear all the analogue distortions they use to create their iconic sounds. You listen to an artist who records clean and you get crystal clarity.

    In truth, this device is 100% free of inherent harshness or digititis. It feeds your headphones only what is contained within the source file. It is quite neutral, but not the dry, or thin neutral you sometimes get. The Opus is fuller and livelier than, say, the FiiO X7. Yet just as detailed and revealing. The dynamics on display here are top shelf. There is better treble sparkle than I hear on the Astell&Kern AK120II, and maybe a little harder punch down below.

    The AK120II is warmer, overall. There is lushness, found most notably in the vocals. It’s thicker, with more weight to the notes. On the Opus the vocals sound thin, but not in that bad way. They are so clear and vibrant that I don’t care if they lack some of that weight the AK produces. In the bass department, either one has ample power. They both sound rich and natural, and very detailed. Due to its brighter treble though, the Opus will seem more detailed.

    The soundstage on the AK is wider. I couldn’t tell any difference at first, not until I played my 24bit masters of The Beatles. Those have a great sense of space, and as I switched between the AK and Opus, the difference is plain to hear. But on Led Zeppelin IV, I heard no change. Take this as evidence of just how good the soundstage is on the Opus. It’s properly expansive. Only in extreme scenarios does it fall a little behind.

    Despite their enormous price difference, I can’t honestly say which is better. I listened critically, using an A/B switcher, and I feel my choice would come down to signature preference, or headphone pairing. In spite of how much it pains me to admit, there is nothing about the audio capability of my AK that bests theBit. The rendering of the Opus #1 is faultless.

    Frontcover04.jpg

    My memories of the Cayin i5 are still fairly fresh in my mind. I had a rockin’ good time testing that DAP. I would put it close to the same level of the Opus. Except it doesn’t do balanced, and only takes one microSD card. That’s a big deal. Soundwise, the Opus is clearer, and will sound much more detailed. The i5 is a warmth monster. Huge bass, thick mids, and recessed treble. I’m given to understand, after burn-in, it mellows out and grows more neutral. But that didn’t happen during my review period, so I can’t say for sure. As a virtue of its signature, the i5 gives you a smoother, richer sound. It probably also has more driving power. By a little bit. The Opus is no slouch here. Not at all.

    I won’t even go into how this thing compares against my backup unit, the FiiO X5 Classic. Except to say, I think I’m going to replace the X5 with the Opus #1 if I come across one at a good price on the Head-Fi Classifieds. I didn’t plan on writing that, but now that I have, I gotta say, I think that’s exactly what I want. It would be cool to have a backup DAP that I could take out instead of my AK, depending on how I’m feeling that day. I could never say that about the X5. Between the inferior sound and annoying UI, I never take it out beyond the occasional comparison for a review.

    You shall find no bright-sounding headphones in my stables. Everything I own is a degree of warm and neutral-warm. Well, okay, I do have the Klipsch X7i, which is dead-flat. But everything else… Because the Opus #1 is so capable in the treble region, I feel a bright headphone may end up harsh and fatiguing. I strongly suggest pairing with a warmer transducer. None of the below qualify as “extremely sensitive”, but I do have “sensitive” IEMs. I discerned no hissing form any of them. They all had quiet backgrounds and sounded glorious. Apart from the neutral Klipsch, which sounded flat and boring, everything I tried on the Opus came alive as the best versions of themselves. I seriously couldn’t ask for a better pairing, with any of them.

    OpusSolar05.jpg

    The Rhapsodio Solar… ah, the Solar. My first, and only, CIEM. They have such pure, crystalline highs. I feared what the Opus would do to them, but I worried for naught. Solar is warm, and wonderfully bassy, and the highs twinkle just enough to add detail and keep them from falling to darkness. With the Opus, they are so very energetic. They are fed a staggering amount of information, allowing for superb imaging and separation. I hear more air from Solar than I’m used to. This paring is all about the masterful balance of extremes. Frightful detail and clarity. Mean-hitting, exaggerated bass. Thick and full mids. Sparkly highs. Opus is to Solar as spinach is to Popeye: Bigger and badder.

    OpusU1204.jpg

    64Audio’s U12 with the ADEL B1 Module is Pinky’s notion of Heaven on Earth. It’s dark magic. There’s no reason something this warm and smooth should also present so spacious and airy. It’s impossible for recessed treble to also resonate and highlight a wide, organic world of a soundstage. Yet these do. The Ear Lens tech must play a large role in this. Whatever the case, and however skilled this sorcery is, these IEMs do need a rather neutral source. My AK is fine. But if you go much warmer, like with the Cayin i5, they do start to close in behind a veil of sorts. The Opus is the perfect pairing. Yes, it’s even more perfect than the neutral-warm AK120II. This extra touch of treble energy gives the U12 something it craves, infusing the stage with even more atmosphere and space. All the while, the bass is as strong, deep, and marvelous as ever it was. The U12’s vocals are lush and real. On the Opus, they are not as full and thick, yet startling in their transparency.

    An old friend of mine, and the one who solidified my preference in signature, the Audio Technica IM03. I call them the poor man’s Solar. They are very, very close, not only in frequency response, but also quality. Those who’ve been around Head-Fi a while know how bitter a reality diminishing returns truly is. I don’t need to say much about this pairing. Just read the Solar section above. Everything I wrote there holds true here, only to a slightly lesser extent. Opus>IM03 is a fantastic combination.

    OpusIM03.jpg

    OpusM202.jpg

    I’ve all but replaced my Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Over-Ears. Yet I just can’t do it. I can’t say goodbye to these. Not yet. Maybe after a year of little to no use I’ll create a For Sale thread. For now, I’ll keep them around and pull the bastards out to test DAPs and such. This decision is validated by the Opus #1. The Opus>Momentum is a marriage made in heaven. What an easy, reckless listen. Nothing refined or elegant about it, just raw passion and delicious tonality. One of my favorite things about the Sennheiser—and a big reason why I bought them—is the size of the soundstage. For a closed-back set of cans, it’s grand. The Opus maintains that staging. It drives the 2.0s with a full, vital sound. There’s no sense of being under-powered here. The bass feels good and the treble shines enough. The mids lack some clarity, but Opus helps matters as well as anything can. This paring can be enjoyed for hours upon hours without fatigue. There is nothing unpleasant about it.

    So what portable full-size headphones did a scrotum-punch on the Momentums? Why, that would be the Meze 99 Classics, of course. Conventional wisdom says you shouldn’t look for an “upgrade” in the same price range as the thing you hope to replace. But the reviews on the Meze were so gosh-darn good I had to give them a try. “Better in every way,” is how I like to describe these when making a Sennheiser comparison. They are so clear! There is such a wealth of bass. Outstanding treble! Sparkly, sparkly, sparkly. But not sharp or nasty. Beautiful treble, which casts a numinous light over the otherwise warm presentation. The vocals are phenomenally clean. I mentioned earlier how the Opus renders the vocals with extreme clarity. Well, that is a trait of the 99 Classics, also. Together… words can’t describe it. They were made for each other. I don’t attribute tonality to a DAP or DAC. I feel that is the province of the monitor. The Meze 99 Classics possess one the richest, most natural timbres around, and the Opus #1 allows it to shine by not getting in the way, by helping in the areas it can help with, and not faltering on a single point. Together, the music is often breathtaking.

    OpusM99C03.jpg

    Knowing I dealt with a DAP which had relatively strong output, I made special effort to remember to test her on my Massdrop + Sennheiser HD6XX. At 300 Ohms and moderate efficiency, most of, if not all, the DAPs I’ve tested can drive them to a level I call “Too loud.” But very few mobile devices make them sound good. Or rather, full and complete. They always sound good. But not always complete. They were lovely off the Opus. The bass is marginally less punchy than from my desktop amp, the NFB-28, but it’s there, in maybe 92% of it’s glory. What about the mids and highs? Just fine. Nothing was out of place. The HD600-650 are not great for mobile use, but if you must, this DAP is more than adequate for the job.

    OpusU1201.jpg

    Well that’s it, folks. That’s all I have to say about the Opus #1. The only thing I find less than orgasmic is the physical and aesthetic qualities. And even there, it’s nowhere near “bad”. It’s simply not exciting or sexy. But that sound… oh, that sound!

    Before now, I've said I am not a fan of neutral. My experience with that signature could only be described as bright and harsh, or bland. The Opus has shown me proper neutral. The treble shines like a star above the deep, aggressive low-end, and pinned between the two, a gossamer sheet of brilliant, dramatic vocals.

    What feels like just yesterday, I reviewed the Cayin i5. If the Opus had that chassis, particularly the gorgeous volume wheel, I don’t think I’d be able to stop myself from buying it this very second. The sound is that good. Only the mediocre build holds this thing back. Which may explain why I’m currently obsessed with getting my hands on the Opus #2, for audition and review. If that creep accomplishes what I expect of it, I will have my upgrade to the AK120II. The Opus #1 came fearfully close. That should make you pause.

    -~::Pinky_Powers::~-

    OpusU1203.jpg

    OpusSolar02.jpg
      vloshko, capnjack, lafeuill and 6 others like this.
    1. ngoshawk
      Nice job, Pinky. And as usual, I have to follow your fine review, again... it's ok. Good review with a lot of details and comparisons using a wide variety of headphones. Good stuff. :thumbsup:
      ngoshawk, Jan 29, 2017
    2. jinxy245
      Nice review...very detailed, totally piqued my interest...been looking for a DAP with a good display  (not tiny can't read font...the Fiio & Shanling are killing me) and has some juice for my HD600 in a pinch. This might just fit the bill...and now I'm curious about the NFB-28 too.
      Thanks...I think
      jinxy245, Jan 30, 2017
  2. peter123
    A great sounding all inclusive DAP from the bit!!
    Written by peter123
    Published Jan 12, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - SQ, DAC function, optical out, line out, balanced out, very user friendly, great deep sleep, large memory capacity
    Cons - Plastic build, no streaming available
    This is a review of the Opus #1 DAP.
     
    IMG_4650.jpg IMG_4651.jpg
    IMG_4649.jpg IMG_4648.jpg
     
    The bit Opus #1 was sent to me by the bit for the purpose of this review. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the bit and Kiwon for sending it to me.  
     
    I did like it so much that I ended up purchasing my review unit at a discounted price in the end.
     
    Last year I bought, and reviewed the bit Opus #11 DAC/amp and was so thoroughly impressed by it that when the bit asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing their Opus #1 as well I did not hesitate for a second before I said yes.
     
    It’s available from both Amazon UK and Amazon US for £430 (tax included) /$399 (tax excluded):
     
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Resolution-Portable-Digital-Audio-Player/dp/B01B90MBEW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481030482&sr=8-1&keywords=the+bit+opus+1
     
    https://www.amazon.com/OPUS-Portable-Mastering-Quality-Gunmetal/dp/B01B90MBEW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481030573&sr=8-1&keywords=the+bit+opus
     
    For more information about the bit Opus #1 you can also visit the bit website:
     
    http://www.thebit.co.kr/content/pubf.action?fn=product/product3
     
    http://www.audio-opus.com/
     
    I’m not in any way affiliated with the bit.
     
    Short introduction to the bit:
    The bit is a Korea based company founded in 2004.
     
    This is what they say about themselves on their website:
    1. Specialized in designing and development of ICT devices, including MP3, PMP, NAVI, Digital TV etc.
    2. The staff of the Bit consists of highly specilized high-tech engineers, who possess a valuable knowledge and experience in developing set top box, etc. within Samsung Electronics
    3. R&D family members formed a tight teamwork for the last 15 years that conduced to the successful mass production of MP3 players for the first time in the world.
    4. Stable and reliable supplier of featured products for Samsung Electronics, Best Buy and SanDisc in United States.
    5. PND consumer products export to Japan for 3 years, proving the highest quality of manufactured products.
    6. Possession of the wide variety of technological solutions, including the ARM, WinCE, Linux, Android OS etc.
     
    About me:
    I’m a 44 year old music and sound lover that changed my focus from speakers to headphones and IEM’s about five years ago. At that time I realized that it wasn’t realistic for me to have all the different setups that I wanted and still house a family of four children and a wife so my interest turned first to full sized headphones and later also IEM’s.
     
    My preferences are towards full sized open headphones and I believe that also says something about what kind of sound signature I prefer (large soundstage in all directions, balanced and organic sound).
     
    My music preferences are pretty much all over the place (only excluding classical music, jazz and really heavy metal). My all-time favorite band is Depeche Mode although I also listen to a lot of grunge/indie, singer/songwriter/acoustical stuff as well as the typical top 40 music.
     
    I tend to value function over form within reasonable limits.
     
    I do not use EQ, ever.
     
    I’m a sucker for value for money on most things in life Head-Fi related stuff is no exception.
     
    Please note that all impressions in this review are my personal and subjective ones. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Also please remember that nothing is for everyone so it’s always wise to throw in an YMMV warning when sharing ones experience with audio gear so consider that done for this review as well.
     
    Please also note that the five star rating is the concept chosen by Head-Fi for reviews published in here, one may like it or not but it’s what we (as reviewers) have as a tool to work with here. I rate products according to their price point i.e. a product that cost $100 and is rewarded with five stars from me is not necessarily as good as a product costing $500 and is rewarded with the same fives star rating. So does a product have to be perfect to receive a five star rating? In my opinion no, simply because there’s no gear that‘s perfect for everyone. For me to reward a product with a five star rating it has to be best, or at least one of the best, performing ones in its segment and at its price point. Others may have a different approach to this but this is how I feel and rate the products I review.
     
    Built and accessories:
    The bit Opus #1 is a DAP with touchscreen.  
     
    The bit Opus #1 is available in two versions. The original with plastic housing and one recently released upgraded version with metal housing. I’ve got the original version with the plastic housing.
     
    The maximum output power is rated to 330mW@ 16Ohm from the balanced output and 275mW@16Ohm from the single ended output. Output impedance is rated at 1Ohm (balanced) and 2Ohm (SE) respectively.
     
    The Opus #1 has a sturdy plastic housing that feels durable but still it’s “just” plastic. Although the design is pretty basic I find the beveled edges to be a very nice touch both when it comes to looks and the feel when you’re holding the unit. The physical controls available are an on/off button on the top, up/down volume buttons on the left side and skip back/forward as well as a ply/pause button on the right side. The controls seems to be situated in a way that makes it very intuitive to use and easy to reach them. The Opus #1 does also have a touch screen so everything except from turning off the unit can also be done by using it (more about this later).
     
    The screen in a 4 inch TFT touch screen with a 480 X 800 resolution. Coming from phones this resolution may sound very low but as a matter of fact the screen does what it does very well and serves its purpose more than good enough.
     
    The Opus #1 offers one USB micro charging input which also doubles as digital audio input and data transfer when the unit is used as a USB DAC for your laptop/computer or connected in transferring mode. There’s also one 3.5mm single ended headphones output and one 2.5mm balanced headphones output. The SE output does also double as line out when that feature is activated but also as optical output. Last but, certainly not least, there’s also the micro SD card slot or rather slots as the Opus #1 offers not only the standard single slot but two of them. The #1 is rated to accept card up to 200 GB, this combined with a 32 GB internal memory makes total possible memory a full 432 GB, not bad for a portable device.
     
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    Functionality:
    Like I’ve already mentioned the #1 does offer both physical and touch control. This is great in my opinion as the physical controls makes navigation a lot easier in certain situation such as when you’re out and about and especially when you’d like to control it without taking it out of your pocket. The placement of the physical controls seems to be pretty ideal for my usage and they’re always quite easy to find and only on a rare occasion have I pressed the wrong one even when I have the unit in my pocket while pushing the buttons. Of course when I’m at home or have the unit in front of me the touch screen is the superior way of navigating but I really love the fact that the bit included the physical buttons as well.
     
    The battery life is fairly good and is said to be about 10 hours, without having brought out my stop clock I’d say that these numbers are fairly accurate from my experience. The power required by the headphones or IEM’s your using as well as the type of files you’re playing will of course also affect the battery life. Charging time is about 4 hours and although it’s quite long it have not really bothered me since I typically charge it when I sleep. The battery life in itself is not that impressive but the Opus #1 has one feature that makes all the difference in my experience: Deep sleep mode! Putting the Opus #1 into deep sleep mode makes battery discharge neglectable and it can be in this mode for days without losing much battery. Once you wake it up it starts working as normal in no time. This means that I very rarely turn the unit off properly but rather just use deep sleep and charge it when necessary, very convenient. 
     
    The Opus #1 runs on Android but it’s an extremely basic version and there’s no internet or Bluetooth connection option available. This means that you will not be able to use any third party apps on it. On the good side the scaled down Android system makes the #1 very fast and responsive in every day usage. It’s also very easy and intuitive to use.
     
    The touch screen is also very responsive and works equally well as any phone I’ve ever owned. By dragging down the top you’ll get a quick menu, just like on your phone if you’re using a fairly up to date Android version, that let you choose between a lot of features such as activating line out (through the 3.5 mm headphones output), putting the player in balanced mode, EQ (10 band paragraphic) etc. but also a shortcut to the players more advanced settings.
     
    There’s also, of course, possible to use the touch screen to navigate in your music library and you can choose to browse your collection by artist, album etc. like on any music player app. If you choose this way of navigation the whole of your collection will show up independent on if it’s stored on SD cars 1, 2 or the internal memory. Personally I always use folder navigation and that also works perfectly fine. 
     
    Overall my experience with navigating through the touch screen is very good with great response time and very stable operation.
     
    The Opus #1 support all popular file formats for audio up to DSD128 and 32bit/384kHz files.
     
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    The accessories included are:
    1 USB type A to micro cable
    1 Screen protector
     
    There’s also an excellent leather case available for the Opus # that cost about $50 and although it may seem a bit steep I’d strongly recommend getting one as I like it a lot. Not only does it fir like a glove and adds protection but I also find the case to make it more comfortable to hold the player.
     
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    The specs:
    Display: 4" TFT Touch Display(480*800)
    CPU & Memory: ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core Memory(RAM) : DDR3 1GB
    ButtonPower, Play/Pause, FF, REW Vol+ / Vol-
    Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, WMA, DSD, MP3, OGG, APE(Normal, High, Fast)
    EQ & Effect:10Band (T.B.D) , NORMAL/USER1/2/3
    Charge & Data Transfer: USB Micro-B input (for charging & data transfer (PC & MAC))
    Connection Mode : MTP (Media Device)
    Outputs: Phone (3.5mm) / Optical Out (3.5mm) / Balanced Out(2.5mm, 4-pole support)
    Battery: 4,000mAh/3.7V Li-Polymer
    Battery Life(Play) Time & Charge:  TimePlay: Approximately 10 hours(44.1KHz 16bit, Vol.75, 32ohm, LCD off),Charge: 4 hours
    Memory: Built-in 32GB
    External: MicroSD(Max 200GB) x2 Supports SDXC exFAT, NTFS
    Clock: Source/ Jitter50ps(Typ)
    OS: Android
    Supported OS: Windows 7,8,(32/64bit), MAC OS x 10.9 or higher
    Dimensions: 72mm(W) * 112mm(H) * 18mm(D)
    Weight: 185g
     
    Audio Performance
    DAC: CS4398 * 2EA(Dual DAC)
    Decoding: Support up to 24bit / 192KHz Bit to Bit Decoding
    Frequency Response: ±0.02dB(Condition: 20Hz~20KHz) Unbalanced & Balanced
    ±0.3dB(Condition: 10Hz~70KHz) Unbalanced & Balanced
    Signal to Noise Ratio: 114dB @ 1KHz, Unbalanced
    115dB @ 1KHz, Balanced
    Crosstalk: 130dB @ 1KHz,Unbalanced / 135dB @ 1KHz, Balanced
    THD: +N0.0007% @ 1KHz
    Output Impedance: Balanced out 2.5mm(1ohm) / PHONES 3.5mm(2ohm)
    Ouput Level: Unbalanced 2.1Vrms / Balanced 2.3Vrms(Condition No Load)
    Volume Step: 150 steps
     
    I’ve used the Opus #1 a lot for the last couple of months and my unit has played for well over 100 hours.
     
    Demo list:
    Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
    Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
    Ane Brun – These Days
    Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
    Metallica – Die Die My Darling
    The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
    Eva Cassidy – Songbird
    Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
    Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
    Celldweller – Unshakeable
    Jack Johnson – Better Together
    Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
    Dire Straits- So Far Away
    Björk - Moon
    Lupe Fiasco - Deliver
    Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
     
    Sound impression:
    The first thing that I noticed when I started to listen to the bit Opus #1 was how smooth and relaxed it sounded while still maintaining excellent resolution and transparency.
     
    Bass extension and quality is excellent with no noticeable roll off in the lowest frequencies and very good quality through the whole bass spectrum. Mid- and upper-bass is equally great and doesn’t add anything that shouldn’t be there. My all-time favorite bass presentation from a portable source would be from the LH Labs Geek Out V2+ and I’m very happy to conclude that the bass presentation on the #1 is equally impressive in every way.
     
    The laidback and relaxed sound continues in the mid-range that’s very smooth and liquid while still sounding totally natural and highly enjoyable. This combined with good timbre and great feeling of space between vocals and instrument makes a great sounding signature that continues in the upper frequencies.  The transparency combined with richness makes the midrange blend in great with the bass as well.
     
    The treble presentation on the #1 is also great and this is the first device I’ve used that can keep up with my (from memory) impression of the Mojo in this aspect. The slightly warm, smooth and airy presentation makes it a great pairing with IEM’s and headphones that can come across as a bit strident on many other sources but this also leads me to believe that the treble may be a bit rolled off. That being said this is nothing that my 44 years old ears have any problem with and I don’t really miss anything but rather find the treble presentation in total to be one of the best I’ve ever heard in a portable source.
     
    The overall presentation has a very good soundstage in all directions and layering is also great as is the amount of air between instruments. The laidback sound gives a sense of very good separation and black background (or maybe it’s the other way around?). Overall resolution, transparency and detail retrieval is great and this combined with the otherwise relaxed sound makes for a great “expensive” sounding overall experience leading the thoughts to both the LH Labs V2+ (bass) and Chord Mojo (treble) which are both amazing devices to me.
     
    The difference between single ended and balanced output is less than on some other of my devices (Geek Out A2 and V2+) but still noticeable. Through the balanced output I find the background to be even calmer, making the separation feel better, and soundstage is also slightly wider. Not a day and night difference by any means but still an improvement. Please note that this will also depend on you IEM’s/earbuds/headphones as some of them seem to respond more to be running balanced than others.
     
    Comparison:
    Please note that the comments in the comparison section are not in absolute terms but in comparison between subject A and B. This means (as an example) that if subject A is found to be brighter than subject B it does not necessarily mean that subject A is bright sounding in absolute terms. I hope this makes sense.
     
    In these comparisons I’ve been listening through my Hifiman HE400i’s.
     
    I don’t really have any DAP that’s a natural comparison to the Opus #1 so instead I’ve chosen to compare in to my favorite amp/DAC that pairs well with Android (yeah I’m a sucker for Android-Fi ). Naturally I’ve compared them on sound related features only.
     
    LH Labs Geek Out V2+ Infinity ($649) vs the bit Opus #1:
    The V2+ is my favorite portable device so far and I’ve been using it a lot combined with a retired LG G3 phone as source. The V2+ ($499 for the non-Infinity offering) is in the same ballpark as the Opus #1 when it comes to price and does also offer both single ended and balanced output. Paired up with a phone it’s about the same size as the #1 as well so I figure it would be a good comparison
     
    Compared to the Opus #1 the V2+ is more up front and energetic in its presentation. It’s also a touch brighter through the whole frequency range while the #1 comes across as more laid back and with more air between instruments as well as a darker background. Overall tonal balance (presence of bass, midrange and treble) is very similar but the #1 is overall softer and more relaxed. As an effect of this the treble on the #1 is also a touch less strident and smoother. They both offer excellent clarity and resolution and the #1 has a slightly wider soundstage while the V2+ is more focused and distinct. Bass presentation is similar on the two both when it comes to presence and quality and to my ears they both have among the best bass presentation that I’ve heard from any portable devices.
     
    Moving to the balanced output the improvement of the sound is greater on the V2+ than on the Opus #1 to my ears. From the balanced output the overall sound is even more similar as better separation and a darker background is noticeable on the V2+ from its balanced output. Because of this the V2+ is more relaxed using the balanced output which makes it more similar to the #1. There’s also less difference in soundstage width from the balanced output of the two. The most noticeable difference between the two from the balanced output is that the V2+ is still slightly brighter in comparison, although I’d not describe any of these units as bright sounding per se.
     
    The V2+ Infinity has some very low background hiss when used with my most sensitive IEM’s but hiss is even less audible with the Opus #1.
     
    Matching:
    The output impedance of the headphone out on the  is rated to a quite low 1Ohm from the balanced output and 2Ohm from the single ended output which should be low enough for it to work well with pretty much all kind headphones and even very sensitive IEM’s. The fact that the balanced output has lower output impedance compared to the single ended one may make it a better option for multi BA’s and hybrid IEM’s. Since getting balanced cables for IEM’s is a lot cheaper than for full sized headphones this seems like a good solution to me.
     
    The Opus #1 also offers three different gain settings which helps even further when using it with a wide variety of IEM’s, earphones and headphones. To make matching even easier the volume features a full 150 steps so with three gain settings and small changes within each of them flexibility is pretty much top notch to me.
     
    Despite not having any monster specs on the power output the #1 has enough power to drive all my full sized headphones fairly well. This includes the AKG Sextett’s with its 600Ohm impedance, although I’d have to crank the volume all the way up to 125 out of the 150 volume steps in balanced mode to reach my preferred listening level.
     
    In this section I’ve tested how some of my favorite headphones but also one earbud and one pair of IEM’s pairs up with the Opus #1.  
     
    Grado SR325is ($300):
    The 325’s are quite easy to drive but does certainly scale with a good source and are revealing enough to show the difference in sources. The laid back and relaxed presentation on the Opus #1 suits the up front, mid centric and highly detailed characteristic of the 325’s like a glove. Every detail is there and the wide presentation of the #1 is a welcome addition to the 325. The 325 can be quite strident in the upper frequencies with a lot of sources but the #1 does a very good job as making them sound fairly smooth while still maintaining excellent extension and details. I think this is the best I’ve ever heard my Grado’s and I’ve not enjoyed them as much in a very long time.
     
    Hifiman HE400i ($449):
    Listening to the HE400i with the Opus #1 is very much similar to that what I experienced with the Grado’s. The Hifiman’s are definitely harder to drive compared to the Grado’s but still well within the comfort zone for the “, especially through the balanced output. Once again the smooth, detailed and ever so slightly warm sound from the Opus #1 makes these headphones really sing. The HE400i’s has an adequate soundstage width for an open headphone and the wide stage of the #1 makes it reach its full potential. The bass hits hard and deep and the treble is airy and smooth. The HE400i can be slightly strident in the upper frequencies with some pairings but none of that shows with the #1.  In total I’s say this is a very nice combination.
     
    LZ-A4 ($195):
    The A4 is a 16Ohm triple hybrid IEM (1 DD + 2 BA).  The A4 isn’t really very picky to sources in my experience but at the same time it’s revealing enough to show differences between them. I’ve used the A4 with a balanced cable, taking advantage of the #1’s best output, in this listening session. Paired with the #1 the A4 get to release the full potential of its excellent wide stage and its bass is also performing the best I’ve heard it. The A4 is never harsh or fatiguing to start with and certainly not when paired with the #1 but it does never feel too laid back and relaxed either. In total this is a great combination for my preferences and most definitely one of the best pairings that I’ve tried with the A4’s.
     
    VE Zen 2.0 ($138):
    The Zen 2.0 is a 300Ohm earbud that I like a lot and tend to use instead of closed headphones. It’s also a reliable travel partner for me when I stay in hotels and don’t have any full size cans around. The soft and smooth signature from the Zen 2.0 fares really well with the airy but yet detailed and transparence presentation from the Opus #1. Bass presentation is also really good with this pairing and in total this is also a great combination.
     
    To sum up the matching section the signature of the Opus #1 works really well with all the headphones and IEM’s I’ve tried it with. . There’s also a very low background hiss even on the lowest gain setting when paired with my most sensitive IEM’s that might be worth noticing. It does also have enough power to work very well with most full sized cans.
     
    Summary:
    This will probably not come as any surprise but the bit Opus #1 is a fantastic DAP in my opinion.
     
    For a long time now I’ve been an Android-Fi guy since it has been my impression that pairing an old phone with an USB DAC/amp has been the best way to get as much value as possible both when it comes to sound quality but also user interference, the Opus #1 is the unit that have changed my mind about this. Fortunately the #1 runs on Android so I can still declare myself as an Android-Fi fanboy :wink:
     
    I’ve had a list of features that was crucial for me if I should take the step to pay for a solid mid-tier DAP instead of a phone combined with a DAC/amp and this list included: balanced output, USB DAC functionality, large memory capacity, digital output, line out function, good enough battery and of course great sound quality, solid build quality and stable operating system. After the latest FW update I find the Opus #1 to give me all of this. The only thing I could possibly want in addition would be the ability to connect it to Wifi and Bluetooth but I would not be willing to compromise on battery life to get there.
     
    The bit Opus #1 is so versatile and great to me that if I was to have only one source it would be the one I’d pick among the gear that I own, not because it’s a Jack of all trades but because it’s one excellent performing DAP!
     
    IMG_4652.jpg
     
    I'm sorry for the picture quality, it's really difficult to get it right this time of the year due to the lack of daylight.
    1. drbluenewmexico
      Really nice review Peter!  if only it had streaming i would pawn something
      to order one today!  But since I'm listening to Tidal out of USB pro mostly
      these daze, I'm not looking forward to having to rip a lot of cds or buy high rez
      music to really appreciate a DAPs utility.  The newer Opus #2 does all of that
      but is literally four times as expensive. so i think i will stick with my DX90 for best
      pure DAP sound, and x10 for mobile ease of use and as a transport to other dacs..
      Still tempting however, but my wallet is hiding..
      drbluenewmexico, Jan 12, 2017
    2. davidcotton
      Nice review, hifiheadphones has it for £399.99 in the uk now.
      davidcotton, Jan 14, 2017
  3. Faheem
    Maximum efforts - A well finished value for money player .
    Written by Faheem
    Published Aug 2, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Physical buttons , Build quality , High storage capacity ,Great sound , connectivity options,
    Cons - Screen could be better . Scope for improvement in future firmwares -DAC function,preset EQs, Battery life ,UI features/faster indexing
    Intro :
     
    I had been away from the high-end DAP market for a long time until my Fiio X5 died and I was in the market looking for a new player. Though Ive never been a huge fan of the high end or ultra-high end DAPs (read-400-500$ and above) since I usually  sensed beyond that price range the returns are much lower going by the diminishing law of returns in most audio gear.  But after trying out some of the new players in the market I have been taken by surprise to find the super value the some of the new mid-tier brands have been offering .The kind of sound I would only expect from a 1000-1200$+ range player few years back.
    One such player I recently tried out was the Audio-Opus,  Opus #1. I had never heard of this Korean brand until my friend toxicdrift(on head-fi) told me about it and was generous enough to loan my his personal player for this review and I am glad that I found this brand and player . To know why, read the review below.
     
    Specifications :
     
      24bit / 192kHz High Resolution Sound
      32bit processor core
      Cirrus Logic CS4398 x 2EA Dual DAC
      ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core CPU DDR3 1GB
      SNR 115dB, THD+N 0.0007%, Crosstalk – 130dB, Output 2Vmrs
      Low-clock-jitter sensitivity: 50ps(Typ)
      4inch TFT Wide Touch Display (480 x 800)
      WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, DSD, WMA,
      MP3, OGG, APE(Normal, High, Fast)
      Internal Memory 32GB
      External Micro SD Card Memory 200GB x 2EA
      Enhanced ABS Solid Body and Tempered Glass
      Ultra Power Saving Mode
     
    Complete details can be found on their site : http://www.audio-opus.com/?page_id=15881
     
    Packaging and Accessories:
     
    The all black box and packaging is simple yet classy . No tacky graphics or design on the packaging.  Upon sliding the outer cover and opening the box you find the beautiful player staring right at you. Beneath the player you can find the minimal accessories which includes the USB cable, screen protectors and the user manual. Opus does sell the genuine leather case separately for 50$ which is a pure work of art so anticipating that as a stock accessory is not expected  but  a simple protective silicon type case would have been a great addition .
     
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    Design and Build Quality :
     
    The player’s design is pretty simple and elegant with a rectangular shape and angular edges but a lot of people might find it odd and not to their liking , it’s a very subjective thing I guess. Personally I fell in love with the overall subtle design and feel of the player.
     
    The design does somewhat remind me of the Astell and Kern players and even though it does look like a single piece of CNC machined metal body its actually made from ABS plastic with glass finish at the back .The tough tempered glass seems to be scratch resistant. The advantage of not having a metal body is that the overall weight seems much lower than other high-end players I tried recently like the Aune M2 pro.
     
    In terms of ergonomics I find it perfect to hold and use .Especially the placement of buttons is convenient with the volume buttons on the top  left and playback buttons on the top right sides. The power buttons on the top side along with the headphone and balanced out .  There are 2 covered microSD slots at the bottom left side which I feel should be a standard on every high-end DAPs instead of a single slot since all these FLAC and WAV files do take up quite a lot of space.
     Rest of the operations are part of the beautiful UI on the 4 inch TFT screen which is not something exceptional like today’s high-end android phones but it pretty much does the job.
     
    Overall the design is not as stylish, futuristic and distinguished which makes the asymmetrical A&K players stand out but it does pack its own weight and balance in terms of beauty and aesthetics with the low weight and plastic which doesn’t compromise on the looks or build . Infact quite a few of my non-audiophile friends loved its design which they usually don’t approve of when they see the bulky bricks of high-end players . 
     
     
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    Features , UI Battery life etc :
     
    The UI is built on a stock android OS I believe and is pretty flawless .Not at all half-baked like some of the Chinese players out there. Browsing through music, fast forwarding, using play lists is all smooth and snappy .I personally haven’t come across any bugs in the UI during my limited usage.
    Boot up takes 15-20 seconds and on booting it takes you directly to the playback screen instead of a menu . It resumes from your last track. There are two small icons on the top corners which take you to the media library (left icon) and the quick handy settings on the right icon which consists of EQ , balance out switching , sleep function  and screen brightness adjustments.
    This settings menu takes you the main settings which has other options like Left/Right fader etc.
    There’s a 10 band EQ with the option to save 3 custom settings but no pre-sets. I rarely play around with EQ except for minor adjustments so can’t comment much on that but the manual EQ does take few seconds to kick in and is not instantaneous .
     
    The player supports pretty much all major codecs and music formats like Native DSD256 24bit/192KHz, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, WMA, OGG, APE etc  .  There is no USB DAC functionality as of now which can be a drawback for some. Maybe it can be added in the future via firmware upgrades.
     
    The beefy 4,000mAh/3.7V Li-Polymer battery returned good 8.5-10 hours of playback time for me , depending on the files I played.  Charging it from 0 to 100% took close to 3-4 hours . A faster quick charging feature could be great .The power saving feature and standby time on the other hand is remarkable.
     
     
     
     
    Sound Quality :
     
    Most high end DAPs usually end up putting a smile on my face for two reasons – either for being extremely detailed and analytical without being dry and giving you the instant upgrade in dynamics and clarity or  sometimes cause of a smooth , close to warm sound which isn’t too colored and yet doesn’t compromise on the detailing.
     
    The Opus #1 I would say gives me the best of both worlds. The instant reaction was damn the soundstage is huge. The instrument separation, depth and texture detailing in the upper bass and lower midrange is phenomenal. Usually not something I notice when going from a mid-level player like Fiio X5 to something double its price.
     
    Speaking of sound signature when I say warmth, there’s just a small hint of it in the right amount. Infact most would find the interpretation to be close to neutral but not analytical and hence it could rightly be classified as a Mastering Quality sound . What I like is its neither dark nor aggressive which was fresh relief from my existing FiiO  that I had been using and the Aune M2 pro that I had tried recently. Both of which I do enjoy  but the Opus 1 seemed to be pleasant change which made the listening experience a bliss.
     
    The bass is great, one of the best I've heard in this price range. Haven’t noticed such texture and bass reverb on my IE80 otherwise.I guess the very tight and linear bass  of the player balances out the bass heavy IE80 and makes it sound perfect. I didn’t notice any mid bass oomph or added punch .The sub bass extends pretty low without trying too hard or overpowering.  Its punchy in the right quantity and well separated from the mids.
     
    The midrange is I think the highlight of the sound with clean and full bodied sound .  Great transparency and a very intimate feel to the overall midrange - instruments and vocals  make the Opus sound beautiful and enjoyable.  The midrange just feels alive yet neutral and not too analytical or aggressively engaging. The smooth and natural sound should work with almost any headphone / IEMs.
     
    Moving on to the treble extends well but not too bright or edgy and infact might seem less brighter than a lot of other players which may be a good or bad thing depending on your preferred sound signature or headphone but there is no compromise on the clarity and transparency in the treble. Some may find it laidback but definitely not lacking .
     
    The sound stage is wide as I mentioned earlier but not too airy and depth is good enough, nothing phenomenal.  Yet overall the sound stage is one of the best Ive heard in this price range. The silent and black background phases in songs is amazing.
     
    Overall the whole sound presentation of Opus is perfect for live music or electronic music which I listen to most of the time.  Opus seems to have played safe with the sound signature and not create something too unique or a signature sound which works perfectly fine for me . The clean , open and neutral presentation just works . The detail retrieval  , dynamics and texture do give you a major sense of upgrade if you are coming from a 250-400$ range DAP.  
     
    The Opus 1 could drive most of my collection of HD 598 , Grado SR325i ,Denon AH-D5000 , AKG K702 etc really well . It’s not extremely powerful but not lacking in terms of driving factor. If you own a pair of cans which are extremely difficult to drive you may have to add an amp but  for most others there wont be need any . Infact you would rarely be touching the upper digits of the volume unless you listen to your music really loud.
     
    Final thoughts :
     
    An all-rounder and super value for money DAP is what comes to my mind after experiencing the Opus #1.  No particular features seem be lacking .Top notch finish and build quality, no half-baked UI or OS. Great sound quality for the price. Storage capacity is high, the whole experience is snappy and smooth.
     
    Its sound quality is close to pro probably on par with the Aune M2 pro which I have been using side by side with the Opus but as a complete package in terms of the price /performance + features ratio , the Opus is very close to what the music lover in me has always wanted without dropping 1000$+ on a DAP.
     
    If you own a pair of great headphones or IEMs which could benefit from a DAP upgrade you should definitely consider the Audio-Opus Opus #1.
      davidcotton likes this.
  4. WCDchee
    You couldn't ask for more
    Written by WCDchee
    Published Jul 14, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Great sound, UI, and most of all, a great price
    Cons - Plastic housing, small buttons
    I first saw the Opus #1 through a thread on Head-fi started by CHG and thought: “Well, that’s a pretty attractive DAP aesthetically. I wonder how it does sonically.” I  contacted Jason, Marketing Manager over at Audio Opus. Coincidentally, Canjam Singapore was held around the period and I managed to get my hands on a set from Jason during the show. A disclaimer here, this unit was kindly provided to me at a special
    reviewer’s price for my honest opinions. It’s been 4 months since I’ve started using the Opus #1, and I think
    it is safe to say that my unit is thoroughly burnt in (for believers), and that I have a pretty solid impression on the sound quality, durability and the user friendliness of the Opus #1.

    General Specs:
    24bit / 192kHz High Resolution Sound
    32bit processor core
    Cirrus Logic CS4398 x 2EA Dual DAC
    ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core CPU DDR3 1GB
    SNR 115dB, THD+N 0.0007%, Crosstalk – 130dB, Output 2Vmrs
    Low-clock-jitter sensitivity: 50ps(Typ)
    4inch TFT Wide Touch Display (480 x 800)
    WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, DSD, WMA,
    MP3, OGG, APE(Normal, High, Fast)
    Internal Memory 32GB
    External Micro SD Card Memory 200GB x 2EA
    Enhanced ABS Solid Body and Tempered Glass


    Packaging/Build Quality/Accessories:

    The Opus #1 comes in a simple, matt black packaging with very minimalistic design cues. It reminds me of Astell & Kern, and I really dig. It’s clean, well designed, and doesn’t take your attention away from the real prize. Removing the sleeve and opening the box, you are greeted by the Opus #1 held in place snugly by a well cut foam tray, under which, you will find the manual, screen protector, warranty card, and USB cables all packed neatly. The build quality is a little bit of hit and miss. The body is made out of strong but light ABS plastic. It doesn’t feel anything as premium as the AK products. It does, however, mean that that it
    remains lightweight enough not to pull your trousers down (yes I’ve had that experience with AK). What I did not like was that there were little gaps in its construction, trapping dirt and dust easily. Buttons were tactile enough, but they were too small and placed too closed to each other. Often times, when pressing blind, I would press two buttons simultaneously. To be fair, the Opus #1 is pretty solidly built, and I’m more  than certain that it would stand the test of time. However, more attention could definitely be given to the finishing of the product.

    It also comes with an additional leather case is an extra that is purchasable at USD 30. While slightly soft and flimsy, it does feel pretty nice once you’ve slipped it on the player, providing some nice protection without adding too much bulk.

    UX/UI

    I won’t go into the specifics of the UI, there are probably other reviews which have better documented this. What I will say, though, is that the Opus has given me a fuss free, speedy experience thus far, something I won’t say for all that many DAPs on the market now.

    On the track selection screen, you have your tracks sorted into:
    -       Songs
    -       Albums
    -       Artist
    -       Genres
    -       Folders
    -       Favourites

    On the Now Playing screen, you have:
    -       A scrollable track timing
    -       Previous, Play/Pause and Next button
    -       Repeat/Repeat Song/Repeat All button
    -       Add to favourite button
    -       Shuffle button

    The feature that I feel most worth mentioning is the Ultra Power Saving mode. The Opus #1 can last up to 4 weeks on a full charge in this mode. Without the need to turn the device on and off, listening
    is so much more convenient.
     
    Sound

    I’ve used the Opus #1 with many IEMs, among which are the Aurisonics Harmony, Dita Brass, Flare Audio R2Pro, Campfire Andromeda, and the Noble K10. Also, I listen mainly to a lot of Pop, EDM and Acoustic, and classical. The Opus #1 can be described as being slightly warm and smooth, providing a good richness that adds musicality and weight to your music. It’s got a great balance in its sound, without overemphasizing anything, yet it avoids being overly sterile and clinical in its presentation of music. The Opus manages to throw a rather convincing, open stage. It is not the largest, but it is realistic

    Sound stage has a good width and depth, crucial for the discernment of the layering in the stage. Another notable achievement of the soundstage is the blackness of it. The impressive black background helps in making it easier to perceive the separation between the layers in your music. The Opus #1 also resolves very well, probably among the most resolving at its price point.

    The Low frequencies

    I find bass to be a core part of how people enjoy music or actually “feel the beat”. I am not assuming, because there is scientific research that proves this point. Bass plays the biggest role in rhythm perception, which is the bulk of reason why we enjoy music.

    The bass on the Opus #1 is well-defined, extended, with a slightly accentuated mid-bass to give great satisfying thumps when the music calls for it. The bass on the Opus comes across as being slightly on the fun side, with a satisfying but not overpowering body and thickness. If I had to pick a bone with it though, the bass is a little smooth and perhaps soft in its nature due to the overall signature, and being someone who likes a really quick and dynamic sound, the Opus can come across as being slightly lacking in that bass slam and speed. That said, it does make for a really enjoyable and relaxing listen when you’re in the mood for it.

    The Mid frequencies

    This is often the frequency band to look out for when you’re an acoustic lover, because vocals tend to be in this band.

    The mids are imaged well on the staging of the Opus #1. Not too forward, not too recessed. Just enough to sound like a realistic reproduction of a recording. The richness helps in this frequency band because vocals, male or female, both benefited from it with a slight sweetness which make them sound very alluring. In line with the overall sound signature of the Opus, the Mids have a generally softer, richer character to them. It almost has a very slight tubey-ness to it, very slight, but there’s definitely some element of it. It manages to portray a lush, warm sound without being overly coloured.

    The High frequencies

    The high frequency band, or treble if not handled well, can often times translate in your music as being piercing and splashy sounding. I can wholeheartedly say the Opus #1 is none of that. There is just enough sparkle to keep the treble sounding natural and I didn’t notice any peaks in it that could potentially cause it to sound piercing, which is impressive in my books.
    The Dita brass, my reference IEM for transparency and resolution, occasionally has a problem with some slight peakiness, but when used with the Opus, it takes that peak away and smoothens it out nicely while maintaining the sparkle, making for an extremely enjoyable listen.

    Conclusion

    I think one of the biggest questions that anyone reading this review would have would be this. How does the Opus really measure up against the best players on the market? To date, the Lotoo Paw Gold and the AK380cu are, in my books, the best DAPs on the market. In terms of resolution, dynamics, staging and layering, they are clearly ahead of the pack. The Opus is still not at that level as of yet, but it is nowhere near as far as the price would suggest. In fact, based on the sound alone, I probably would still pick the Opus, because to my ears, it is the better tuned player. As a complete package, the Opus is hard to beat, look at the competition at the same price range, nothing even comes close to what the Opus offers.
     
    The Opus #1 does have its small quirks here and there with its small buttons and slightly smoothed over signature, but I totally adore what it has brought to the table. It is one of the most fuss-free DAPs I have used in the 5 years of my hobby and not only that, it has an impressive SQ to boot as well. I wholeheartedly recommend the Opus #1 as one of the best DAP in the market at its price point in the market currently. You won’t find anything like it.
      ostewart, Dsnuts and Treeko like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. klove4252
      Great review. I agree completely. I own way too many DAPs, and I prefer the Opus over MY QP1R, Sony zx2, iBasso dx90, Onkyo DP-x1. I would put the 380cu, Paw Gold, and Plenue S over it though for sound. In terms of portbilitty and UI, I would say it is better than the LPG and 380CU. 
      klove4252, Jul 15, 2016
    3. TheNoose
      Thanks Ostewart :thumbsup:
      TheNoose, Jul 15, 2016
    4. ehjie
      Excellent Review. I was particularly focused on the Bass section. A really good reaction from klove4252 with regard to other players namely the dx90, dp-x1& the qp1r.
      ehjie, Jul 26, 2016
  5. musicday
    Audio-Opus Opus# 1 A great afordable music player - Quick review by Musicday
    Written by musicday
    Published Jun 27, 2016
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Good build quality. Balanced output,Neutral sound, Leather case included in the box.
    Cons - UI a bit slow, no USB DAC yet, cheap screen quality.
    First of all I would like to thank the team at  www.hifiheadphones.co.uk  for the review sample I had the opportunity to test out and to write a bit about it. This is a good  sounding music player and is priced at  £449 in UK. If it would have been priced lower would have made an excellent entry level music player for the people who want  to listen to something better then mobile phone.
     
    Specification:  DAC: Cirrus Logic CS4398 x 2EA Dual DAC,
    Processor: ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core CPU DDR3 1GB, 32bit processor core,
    Operating System: Customised Android operating system,
    Signal to Noise Ratio: 114dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced & 115dB @ 1kHz,
    Balanced, Frequency Response: ±0.02dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced & Balanced / ±0.3dB (Condition: 10Hz - 70kHz) ,
    Unbalanced & Balanced, Input: USB Micro-B (charging and data transfer),
    Charging Time: 4 Hours, Continuous Playback: 10 Hours, Battery: Built-in rechargeable: 4000mAh / 3.7V Li-Polymer,
    Dimensions (WxHxD): 72x112x18 mm, Weight: 185g
     
    Box and accessories: The player comes in a black cardboard box not much bigger then the player itself, and includes 1x micro USB charging/data transfer cable, the player itself and a nice ergonomic leather case.
     
    Build Quality: There is not much to criticize here as the build quality Is nice and feels great in the hand, and actually the player looks more expensive then is. And the player feels lighter then the actual weight.  My only complain about the build quality is the cheap screen, with very low viewing angle.The included leather case is a bonus and it fits the player like a glove. I wish more manufacturers will include a leather case or at least a decent one in the  package.
     
    Surprisingly there is plenty of power to drive headphones like Koss Porta Pro  @ 60 Ohm at very high levels.
     
    Sound quality: this player reminds me of the Shozy Alien Gold music player but more powerful. I like neutral type of sound where nothing is added or nothing is taken from the original recording and Opus#1 can deliver.. The sound is not very detailed like the more expensive Lotoo Paw Gold, but  the sound is black, the soundstage is big and wide and you will not expect a player this light to deliver crisp punchy the low end. By the time the player reached me I think it had over 200 hours or more so I don't think the sound will change anymore but it is easy and pleasant to listen to it. Didn't tried the balance output of the player, but is good to have it in case you want to listen in the balanced mode.
     
    There is room for UI to be improved and the Audio-Opus team works on new firmware as I type this, so is nice to know they are listening and want to improve the player. A USB-DAC function will be implemented to the player to be used with computers. I would recommend this player to anyone who has a limited budget and wants a great sounding music player, but when possible try to see it first as it may not be for you. And possible the prices to go down in the future, but don't know much about that.
    If you have additional questions ask Tony@Hifiheadphones, he is a great guy ready to help you.
      Hawaiibadboy likes this.
    1. ostewart
      I personally think the price is justifiable for this player and it does not need to be priced any lower. If you look at the competition you would have to spend double the amount for a player with the technology and specs of this one.
       
      This is a very good value for money DAP, well worth the asking price.
      ostewart, Jun 28, 2016
  6. Jackpot77
    Not quite a magnum effort (yet), but the Opus #1 is a seriously impressive tome nonetheless
    Written by Jackpot77
    Published Jun 21, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Design, excellent sound quality, transparency, driving power, ease of use, dual micro-SD card slots give huge storage capacity
    Cons - UI lacking a few basic features, time taken to index large SD cards
    DSC_0023.jpg
    Audio-Opus #1 – initial impressions
    I came across the Opus #1 as part of the UK review tour being run by TonyHiFi at HiFiHeadphones – I agreed to write up my thoughts in exchange for the chance to spend a week with this marvellous piece of technology.
    About me: newly minted audiophile, late 30s, long time music fan and aspiring to be a reasonably inept drummer. Listen to at least 2 hours of music a day on my commute to work – prefer IEMs for out and about, and a large pair of headphones when I have the house to myself and a glass in my hand. Recently started converting my library to FLAC and 320kbps MP3, and do most of my other listening through Spotify or Tidal HiFi. I am a fan of rock, acoustic (apart from folk) and sarcasm. Oh yeah, and a small amount of electronica. Not a basshead, but I do love a sound with some body to it. My ideal tuning for most IEMs and headphones tends towards a musical and slightly dark presentation, although I am not treble sensitive in general. Please take all views expressed below with a pinch of salt – all my reviews are a work in progress based on my own perceptions and personal preferences, and your own ears may tell you a different story.
    DSC_0025.jpg
    DSC_0028.jpg
    DSC_0029.jpg
    DSC_0026.jpg
     
    Tech specs
    DAC: Cirrus Logic CS4398 x 2EA Dual DAC
    Processor: ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core CPU DDR3 1GB, 32bit processor core
    Operating System: Customised Android operating system
    Signal to Noise Ratio: 114dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced & 115dB @ 1kHz, Balanced
    Frequency Response: ±0.02dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced & Balanced / ±0.3dB (Condition: 10Hz - 70kHz) Unbalanced & Balanced
    Crosstalk 130dB @ 1KHz,Unbalanced / 135dB @ 1KHz, Balanced
    THD+N 0.0007% @ 1KHz
    Output Impedance Balanced out 2.5mm(1ohm) / PHONES 3.5mm(2ohm)
    Ouput Level Unbalanced 2.1Vrms / Balanced 2.3Vrms
    Input: USB Micro-B (charging and data transfer)
    Charging Time: 4 Hours
    Continuous Playback: 10 Hours
    Battery: Built-in rechargeable: 4000mAh / 3.7V Li-Polymer
    Dimensions (WxHxD): 72x112x18 mm
    Weight: 185g
    DSC_0045.jpg
    Unboxing / package contents
    The Opus #1 is priced as a firmly mid-tier DAP, sitting between the Ibasso DX80/90 and the Fiio X5 series and the more expensive efforts from Astell & Kern. As befitting something a little more middle class, the packaging exudes an air of quiet sophistication without going too far into the realms of high-end cardboard origami that some audio manufacturers seem to feel is obligatory. The player comes in a smallish oblong box (black), slid inside a sleeve (also black) which just proclaims the name of the product in silver lettering across the top, with the words “Hi-Res Audio Ver. 1.0” underneath. The only other thing visible on the front is the name of the manufacturer (The Bit) in tiny lettering in the bottom left hand corner. No high-def photographs, no jazzy cutaways of the product, just a name and a chunky cardboard box. The back of the box is laden with the technical specs (in the same silver font), but again, in quite a simplistic manner. On sliding off the sleeve, the main box oipens in the classic shoebox manner, revealing the player nestled in a rectangle of foam. Pulling out the player and the foam insert, the bottom of the box slides up to reveal the instruction manual and the USB charging cable. In a separate compartment. As part of the tour package, we were also sent the companion leather case that goes along with the Opus, and this arrived in a smaller version of the main packaging (i.e. a black box with some silver writing). Overall, the packaging gives a good impression of the seriousness of the contents while still being discreet enough not to look out of place on display somewhere if needed.
    DSC_0030.jpg
    Build quality and ergonomics
    Some things in life are just effortlessly stylish: the Rolls Royce Phantom, a good pair of Aviators, a Rolex Oyster. While not being quite as expensive as a few items mentioned in the previous list, the Opus #1 certainly shares their understated sense of purpose and design, making it the most visually appealing DAP I have seen. The dimensions are large enough to feel solid without being so big to be awkward, with most of the real estate on the front of the player taken up with the touchscreen. The edges of the player are bevelled like an emerald, the gemstone angles sloping away from the screen in all directions and sloping back in to meet the glass back in a manner that helps the DAP to sit very comfortably in the hand. There is a slight asymmetry to the design, with the left hand edge having a smaller space between screen and edge than the right, despite holding only one less button and the dual-bay micro SD slot. The button layout is sensible, with volume controls sitting in the natural niche where your thumb rests (if you hold the player in your left hand), with play/pause and forward and rewind hardware buttons on the opposite side in the same area. It allows for easy navigation of the main controls without needed to use the touchscreen, enabling single-handed use for those with big enough hands. The player itself is constructed from metal, with the jewelled edges sharing some visual design cues with the Campfire Audio range of IEMs. The front and back are both made from hardened glass (probably of the simian variety), with discreet branding in the centre of the rear panel and the ubiquitous “Hi-Res Audio” running up the right hand edge. The top and bottom edges are taken up with the various input and output ports: one micro-USB port for charging on the base of the unit, and a mall oblong power button and both 3.5mm and 2.5mm (balanced) output jacks spread across the top.
    As mentioned, there was also a leather case bundled with the player for the tour, and this is specific to the Opus player. The case is a beautiful thick grey leather, cut to match the edges of the player exactly for a snug and secure fit. The case has a soft interior but grips the player well once in place, so can be a little difficult to remove without a little bit of brute force or a miniature crowbar. The buttons are embossed rather than cut out on the sides of the leather, giving the case a minimalist look that goes very well with the overall design vibe of the DAP.
    DSC_0031.jpg
    Interface and usability
    The Opus is an Android-based player, with the telltale power bars and notification symbols along the top of the screen showing its unmistakeable heritage. If you are expecting the usual bag of tricks that go along with a Google-based product you will need to look elsewhere, however. The Opus #1 is unashamedly a music player – no streaming, no video, no apps, not even the familiar home screen seen on most Android players. The “default” screen on the player is the “Now Playing” screen, which drops you into a screen with the normal playback controls, a nice square album art in the top half and options to repeat, shuffle or “favourite” the track being played across the bottom. Moving up to to the top half of the screen, there is a menu option on the top left, and a cog-shaped settings icon on the top right. Tapping the cog opens the first layer of the settings menu, which is as simple as the rest of the player – a slider for screen brightness and three square icons for EQ, balanced out and sleep. Impatient prodders of on-screen buttons may at first think that the EQ button achieves precisely nothing when turned on, but that is because it is just a toggle to turn the function on and off. To get to the actual equaliser, you will need to tap on the Settings icon again (now helpfully turned from a cog to a spanner), which opens up a further menu with options to set the EQ, language, sleep timers and update the system or SD card scanning (labelled as “Initialize”). There are three user-definable EQ settings on a 10-band equaliser, starting down at a very arbitrary sounding 31.5 Hz and finishing up at 16kHz. Once set, the EQ does take about 10 seconds to feed into the track you are listening to, so again can seem like it isn’t doing anything until the sonic landscape suddenly shifts beneath you.
    To navigate around the actual music on the player, the list icon at the top left is used. One tap takes you to a scrollable list for the folder/album/artist you are listening to, a further tap on the icon (now a helpful back arrow) taking you up a level in the listings. Once you are up to this level, a few categories pop into view along the bottom, allowing you to select sorting preference by the usual descriptors of song/album/artist/genre/folder/favourite. Album and artist metadata seems to pull through seamlessly on the Opus, with a 200GB card of assorted music from my collection all integrating seamlessly without any missing info, irrespective of format. It sounds like a simple task, but other players I have used with the same card seem to make considerably harder work of this simple chore, so kudos to the coders for making it a non-issue. The player itself has internal memory and room for two micro SD cards – if you want to work in “Folders” rather than by artist or song, tapping the card icon on the top right allows you to cycle between these at the push of a button.
    The overall interface is one of simplicity and could just as easily be used by an 8 year old or an 80 year old – for something in this price bracket you may expect more bells and whistles (and the “Update” option in the second settings menu may suggest some further tweaks down the road), but I think the Opus team have set their stall out very well here. This is designed to be nothing more or less than a top quality digital audio player, and the interface helps strip away anything that isn’t required, leaving just the user and the music.
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    Suggested improvements for the UI
    In the spirit of honesty, while being an elegant and simple UI, there are two glaring omissions/issues with the Opus firmware in its current iteration: playlist support and search functionality. Frustratingly for a player with a potential storage capacity north of 400Gb at current removable storage limits, there appears to be no way to utilise or create a playlist on the player, which is frustrating given its roots in Android. Even more frustrating is the lack of a search function other than physically scrolling through the list of tracks/artists/folders until you find the one you need. If you spend a lot of time listening to music from bands starting with the letter W onwards, be prepared to spend a lot of time using the fast-scroll bar on the right hand side of the screen. Similarly, if your music collection is vast, trawling through multiple artists living in the same neighbourhood as the one obscure CD single rip you are trying to find can get a little tiresome. Another improvement that could be made is in the initial reading of large micro-SD cards – the first load up of my 200Gb “library” card with over 100Gb of music in various formats literally took over 20 minutes to complete. I don’t know exactly how long as I was compelled to go off and make some food in the middle of waiting for it to complete to avoid putting my fist through the beautifully designed glass front in frustration, but in an era of instant searches and on-demand databasing, there must surely be a way to speed this up. Booting the player up from complete shutdown (not “sleep” mode) takes about 3 minutes to re-index the same card, so optimisations can certainly be made there.
    DSC_0036.jpg
    Sound quality
    Test gear:
    IEMs – Aurisonics ASG 2.5, Campfire Audio Nova, FLC8S
    Headphones - Audioquest Nighthawks, Fostex TH600, Blue Microphones Lola
    Main test tracks (mainly 320kbps MP3 or FLAC)
    Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – S.O.B. / Wasting Time
    Blackberry Smoke – The Whipporwill (album)
    Slash – Shadow Life / Bad Rain (my reference tracks for bass impact and attack, guitar “crunch”)
    Slash & Beth Hart – Mother Maria (vocal tone)
    Sister Hazel – Hello, It’s Me (bass quantity and quality)
    Richie Kotzen – Come On Free (bass tone)
    Elvis – various
    Leon Bridges – Coming Home (album)
    Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (album) / Tron (various versions)
    Rodrigo y Gabriela – various
    Mavis Staples – Livin’ On A High Note
    Don Broco – Automatic
    Foy Vance – The Wild Swan
    DSC_0037.jpg
    General impressions on the sound signature
    The Opus #1 is the first proper “high end” DAP that I have been able to listen to since getting involved with this hobby, so I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect. With headphones, the leap from consumer-grade in-ears to more mid-fi setups is very easy to appreciate, with the audio quality increasing noticeably with every step up the ladder from B***s up to things like the mid-range Campfire Audio Novas. With audio equipment, the difference is still apparent, but to my ears it is less immediately noticeable, and requires sufficient “infrastructure” around it to really be appreciated. When I first plugged my ‘phones into the Opus, I was expecting an epiphany of sound – angels playing harps made of pure burn-in swooping around and cleansing the landscape of the evils of sibilance, bloated bass and muffled mids. What I actually got was a little less overwhelming, but in the long run actually a little more satisfying. Realism. Not a huge amount more, but just enough to be appreciable, in the sort of way that you appreciate how much you miss it when you switch back to something lesser. Songs felt a little fuller, carrying more weight and texture. Audio cues felt a little more fleshed out, expanding outwards within the confines of the headphones being used to feel more palpably 3 dimensional. Things just sounded a tiny little bit more true to life, without being too analytical or hyper-detailed. This “realism” became more apparent the higher up the food chain the headphones/in ears I plugged in to it (the mythical effect known as “scaling” to all audiophile word-nerds out there). This DAP won’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, but it will let your expensive headphones play closer to the top of their potential, dragging a little more performance out of the them without sacrificing anything in terms of colouring the sound.
    DSC_0038.jpg
    Background noise / power requirements
    Despite the output impedance of the single ended output being around 2 Ohms, the background noise on the Opus #1 is pretty minimal, with no appreciable hiss on any of the IEMs or headphones I have plugged into it so far that I can hear. Most of my gear is deliberately low-resistance and mid to high sensitivity (translation for the non-audiophiles out there – easy to play loud without plugging into the local power station) as I don’t always like carrying additional amping or playback solutions around with me, and all of it plays excellently with the Opus. The background is jet black, with an excellent feel of depth and space which translates well to anything I have plugged into it so far. Amping
    In terms of “driving power”, the Opus has a nominal max volume of 150 on its digital volume control. This should be more than enough for most low to mid-resistance headphones out there, as it comfortably drives everything in my testing list louder than I can handle listening to at just a shade over 110, leaving plenty of notches to spare. The rated power output is 2Vrms on the single ended output, and this is more than enough to exert a good grip on the headphones I have used without having to resort to additional help, which is a major plus point for me. Adding an additional amp to the output has had no benefit so far for me personally – for those of you running thirstier planar magnetic setups or the Sennheiser HD 6xx series, your results may differ.
    Storage and format support
    The Opus carries 32Gb of internal storage, which can seem a bit tight-fisted given the asking price. To balance this out, two micro-SD card slots have been included (housed in the bottom left hand corner of the player under a pull out flap) – these are currently rated to handle cards up to 200gb, giving the player a hypothetical maximum storage of 432 Gigabytes of data. This should be enough for most audiophiles to carry a decent chunk of their music library around if needed, unless it is solely encoded in super high-quality DSD. Speaking of formats, the Opus is well served on the main music filetypes currently on market, able to consume MP3, WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, OGG, APE and the aforementioned DSD. Ads the firmware is updateable and built on Android, the potential would exist for the developers to add new formats such as MQA as and when they became mainstream, providing they garner enough mainstream Android support.
    DSC_0043.jpg
    Comparisons
    As mentioned above, I don’t have any DAPs in the same price bracket to compare the Opus against, but I have provided a few comparisons against the main sources I use below for context, and to help explain what I perceive as the improvements in the sound are (if any) when using the Opus.
    Sony Xperia Z3 Compact (using Neutron Player) – this is my current “daily driver” for music playback while I wait for my Echobox Explorer to emerge from the crowdfunding mists in a few weeks. I am (was!) very happy with the sound output through my current gear, as it has a capable dual-DAC setup, and when not hobbled by the European firmware limiting volume output, respectable driving power. It also comes extremely close to my old Sony NWZ-A15 walkman in terms of baseline sound quality, with only the additional digital sound processing tweaks on the Walkman differentiating between them, so is a pretty good performer in the mobile bracket. Comparing “The Whipporwill” by Blackberry Smoke, the Opus puts out a cleaner, more rounded audio presentation than the Z3C, with the languid bass-line underpinning the track filling out the lower end with slightly fuller sound, running underneath the main music with authority and sitting in a marginally more distinct audio space. The presentation isn’t a million miles away, but the Opus makes the song sound slightly warmer and more welcoming to my ears through the same gear, without smoothing any of the rough edges and retaining the clarity. Switching to “Everybody Knows She’s Mine” by the same artist, the overlaid acoustic guitar that kicks in at the 20 second mark is presented with a touch more clarity on the Opus, again leaving an impression of a more rounded and true to life presentation. These differences are minor, and only noticeable when directly swapping between sources, but can leave an impression of the Z3C “lacking something” when listening to the same music. I have performed the test blind as well with the assistance of my girlfriend, and both of us agreed that the Opus was a little more sonically satisfying, making the Z3C sound almost tinny in certain sections in direct comparison (comparative perception is a funny thing). Battery life is much better on the Sony - presumably a dash of their magic battery sauce is dripped on to the circuitry in use, as when in “Flight Mode”, you can easily get 25+ hours of music compared to the 10 from the Opus. In terms of interface, the Z3C is obviously a full Android overlay, so has the benefit of the additional flexibility that offers. In practice, the only two things it comes ahead on over the simple but well designed Opus #1 are playlist support and a folder/artist search facility, both of which the Opus lacks.
    LG G Flex 2 (using Neutron Player)
    Like the Z3C above, the G Flex 2 was my previous daily driver, and still in my possession to do A/B with so I have included it for completeness. LG make claims that this handset is Hi-Res output capable, and like the Z3C, it does produce a very nice output through Neutron Player. Also like the Z3C, the GFlex 2 does feel slightly less rounded than the Opus in day to day listening. Moving to “Bad Rain” by Slash, the Opus takes control of the rasping bassline with a little more authority, pushing the extension down as far as the headphones attached will permit and leaving the more polite G Flex 2 standing a rung further away on the ladder. Presentation is again slightly more rounded, with just a dash more apparent detail and a more spherical and 3D soundstage (depending on the recording) for each headphone used. Like the Z3C, the G Flex 2 runs a full implementation of Android, so the UI is dependent on the software being used, but does again have the standard playlist and search functions that the Opus is missing. Power output is definitely won by the Opus, with the G Flex 2 struggling at 90 – 100% volume to drive some of my more voltage-hungry gear with the Opus purring along at around 2/3rds of full throttle. Battery life is less impressive on the G Flex 2 than the Z3C, but still edges the Opus by a good few hours in straight playback time.
    Sansa Clip+ (Rockboxed)
    This might seem like a crazy comparison, but as a pretty common “audiophile-on-the-go/in-the-gym” player, this may help people who have heard it. In terms of driving power and background, the Clip+ holds up surprisingly well with the IEMs, the ridiculously low output impedance allowing for some impressive volume. Switching up to the full-sized cans, the Rockbox starts to lose out, with the impressively small and powerful amp losing out quite quickly to the impressively large and powerful amp section of the Opus. Even with Rockbox, the difference in hardware becomes apparent very quickly when listening – the Opus #1 is more refined, more spacious and less veiled than the Clip+ on pretty much all levels. Battery life is the only area the Clip+ comes out ahead, posting around 15 hours of normal use compared to the “real world” playback time of just under 10 hours with the Opus.
    Ibasso DX90
    This has been my staple audiophile DAP for the last few months, and is a very solid performer in its price bracket. Compared to the Opus, the DX90 holds up very well in terms of driving power, with the three gain settings giving it a marginal edge when pushing slightly harder to drive sources. Battery life is on a par, with both DAPs lasting for around 10 hours from fully juiced. The interface on the DX90 is simple, with the use of both touchscreen and physical playback buttons leaving a similar opinion to the Opus in terms of functionality. The DX90 supports playlists, and was quicker at indexing the 200Gb micro-SD card I use, although still feeling quite slow on the initial run. Sound-wise, the DX90 is a slight step up from the Z3C and GFlex2, but ever so slightly warmer and less refined than the Opus in my opinion. The gain settings on the DX90 do allow for tailoring of the sound for thirstier in-ear solutions, but the Opus just nudges ahead in overall sound impression, with a clearer and less coloured sound and edge in technical presentation (layering and separation in particular, in part due to the greater perception of transparency in the sound).
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    Overall conclusion
    When thinking about the final words to describe this DAP, one phrase kept popping back into my head: “a little bit”. When I was comparing it to other DAPs and sources I use, it is just a little bit better. When I was listening to my usual test tracks and audio gear, it was just a little bit more revealing, a little bit more transparent, a little bit more real. When powering my over-ear headphones, it had just a little bit more grunt. A good audio player won’t revolutionise your listening experience in the same way that a good headphone or set of in-ears will, but when aligned with the correct gear and input, the Opus does bring just a little bit more to the table than my other sources. The gain may only be small, but in a world of ever-decreasing returns as you move up the price brackets, the Opus occupies a good middle ground of price and performance. Married to the outstanding design and good driving ability, this is an excellent DAP for those wishing to move up from the entry-level audiophile staples. It misses out on the full 5 stars for me due to a few things I think they can smooth out with the UI (no searches or playlists – really?), and for those of you who have balanced headphones or IEMs the output option may be worth it, but for me, this is a very encouraging and competitive entry into the mid-fi DAP arena. With a few small usability tweaks, The Bit could well have an audio monster on their hands!
      JaeYoon, puppyfi and ostewart like this.
    1. Tony-Hifi
      AUDIO-OPUS are working hard on the firmware for the OPUS #1 and have only in the last few days upgraded the software to increase the startup time when loading  a large amount of files,see below:
       
      FIRMWARE UPDATE_(ver.1.11.02) 21/06/2016
      Content:
      1. Fixed the 200G Memory fat 32 format bug
      2. Fixed the long booting time bug occurred, when a large amount of files uploaded.
      3. Preventing changing into Suspend mode when SD card is loading.
      4. Added AIFF ID3 tag function
       
      http://www.audio-opus.com/pages/firmware-update/?uid=100&mod=document
      Tony-Hifi, Jun 23, 2016
  7. Takeanidea
    Audio Opus 1 a beautiful looking AK challenger for much less money
    Written by Takeanidea
    Published Jun 17, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Needs no Mojo - some IEMs and phones even sounded better through the Opus!
    Cons - Doesn't work as a DAC - no Android compatability for YouTube Deezer etc
    [​IMG]
    With thanks to @Tony-Hifi of HifiHeadphones and @glassmonkey for their perseverance in getting this to me for a week's evaluation, I have this week my review of the Audio Opus 1 , the first official release from the South Korean Company  who have for several years been used by other leaders in the Audio industry to make products.
    The usual caveats apply here , these are my opinions , I have listened to them as often as I could over the week , thrown as many genres at them plugged in lots of different headphones etc. but my opinion should not be used as definitve and should form only part of a cross section of opinions before you go spending your hard earned money.
     

    Introduction

    The Audio Opus 1 is a Digital Audio Player which uses Android as it's GUI base. It has 32 Gb of internal storage and has a slot for 2 micro SD cards of up to 200 Gb each, so a maximum of 432 Gb should put plenty of tracks on here. I tried it with FLAC and DSD and MP3 files all of which worked without a hitch. The screen is large enough to see what's going and the covers display with plenty of colour.
    Navigating your way though the GUI is a piece of cake ; the Opus 1 has a fast enough processor and is flawless in this regard.
    [​IMG]
    The Opus is recharged reasonably quickly through the Micro USB slot , either through your laptop/PC or through a mains. Micro USB is of course a way in which your files can be transferred onto the Opus.
     
     
    The Opus 1 is a music player pure and simple. There is no YouTube Deezer or video player functionality. This is a specialist device for music lovers looking for a no compromise sound quality. For a step up for larger headphones and speakers there is an optical out facility to connect to an external DAC and then onwards into a larger HiFi system. Balanced out completes the outputs.

    The Sound

    I drew sound comparisons against my Colorfly C3 , Ibasso DX100 and the Ipod Classic 120 Gb.
    [​IMG]
     
     
    Colorfly C3 - DAC: TI PCM1770
     
    [​IMG]
    The DX100 - ES9018 32Bit DAC Chip
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Ipod Classic 120 Gb - Apple 338S0394 DAC
     
     

     
    Audio Opus 1 - Cirrus Logic CS4398 x 2EA Dual DAC
     
    Some pretty pictures there - but how does the Opus 1 compare ? In short , as expected , it was the best sounding one of the bunch. A close 2nd, the Ibasso DX100 still sounds good even though  several years old , but it can't live with the more accurate presentation of the Opus. The DX100 sounds bassier and more rolled off in the highs. The bass on the Opus is less flabby and the presentation has more clarity. Starting to lag behind just a little , the Ipod Classic sounds a little muddier with a more closed in sound stage. The Colorfly C3 has a lively enough sound but is bass shy and showing some harshness and strain in the sound signature.
     
    The Audio Opus 1 was tried against the following headphones - Meze 99 Classics , ACS Encore Studio Pro & oBravo Erib-2a. I found the sound to be engaging , sweet, smooth and silky. Sound is difficult to describe but you get the idea - the sound felt "right". I spent most of my time with my review copy of the 99s (with thanks to @MezeTeam) and found to my shock that I couldn't improve the sound by using these through my Chord Mojo. The sound deteriorated. The Meze 99 Classics have a rather copius amount of bass and the Mojo was just too much. The Opus 1 kept that bass under control and I have to say it was much more enjoyable a listen through the headphone out than through the Optical Out. I would be intruiged as to how others find this - there are a lot of Mojo owners out there who might be attracted to this little DAP.
     

    Style

    [​IMG]
    What's not to like about the look of this little beauty ? All the corners and edges are bevelled , the attention to detail is very evident here. Nothing retro or chunky - just modern and extremely shapely. In fact I'm reminded of something else....
     
    [​IMG]
    The AK300 uses the bevelling and splays those lines out even further , to give a more modern art look. Many will prefer the less extreme lines of the Opus 1.
    I think the Audio Opus 1 is going to attract with it's eye catching looks.
     

    Accessories

    The DAP comes with exquisite packaging
    [​IMG]
    the usual Micro USB cable is supplied- a reasonably thick black one, and most importantly , a truly excellent protective case

     
     
     
    The quality of the seams and the embossed up / down volume buttons on the outside of the case, everything just oozes quality and attention to detail.
     

    Conclusion

    The Audio Opus has something to offer over a Chord Mojo and OTG Smartphone Combo - particularly when it comes to sensitive IEMs and Full Size Cans, particularly with bassier headphones. This is a stylish , specialist DAP which will alienate no one with it's good looks. It works flawlessly and has lots of storage. It lacks versatlity at present as it cannot be used for either OTG with a smartphone or as a Dac/Amp with a computer and it can't be used to browse the net or any other player such as Deezer etc. If you are looking for a straightforward music player that sounds like a top of the line player should , then this has to be worth an audition
      ostewart likes this.
    1. glassmonkey
      That picture of the Dignis leather case is beautiful. ;P Excellent review!
      glassmonkey, Jun 17, 2016
  8. glassmonkey
    Audio-Opus Opus #1: a transparent reference quality DAP and a great start for a promising company
    Written by glassmonkey
    Published Jun 1, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Uber transparent black background, balanced out, easy operating system, build quality, up to 432 GB of storage, battery saving mode, nice leather case
    Cons - Android in name only, did not successfully scan all tags, operating system not fully featured

    Acknowledgment   

    Thanks @Tony-Hifi at HiFi Headphones for letting me participate in the UK tour. It was fun as always.

     

    Introduction

    Like many of you, I had no idea who Audio-Opus were before reviews of the Opus #1 started showing up on Head-Fi. They are a new industry entrant out of South Korea. Audio-Opus are still getting their feet wet in the audiophile industry. The Opus #1 is their first player, but more are planned. In this player they’ve kept it simple, no big bells and whistles on this Android based player.
     
    Before I put forward my opinions in review form, I like to warn people: I may hold different opinions and preferences to you. I advise reading behind the spoiler tag, to get an idea of where are commonalities and differences may lie.
     
    Like most sensible people I started falling in love with music as a child. My first portable audio device was a Sony Walkman (the cassette kind) that I got when I was 10 years old (24 years ago).  I listened with the cheap Sony on ears that came with the Walkman until I bought a Koss CD boombox and started listening to UAF College Radio and 103.9 (alternative rock at the time) in Fairbanks, Alaska. I once listened to Louie Louie for 3 days straight, and I’m not insane. My musical tastes started out with listening to what my friends liked (Dr. Dre and Green Day) and what my parents liked (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan) and I only really discovered my own musical tastes and sonic preferences in my late teens to early 20s. What I discovered is that I have very eclectic and some would say weird tastes. I could be listening to gay punk rock, Japanese dream garble pop, 8-bit chiptune, Scandinavian black metal, Latin guitar, the Mariinsky Orchestra, or Miles Davis, but I mostly listen to Classic Rock and Indie/Alternative. I’m a big fan of intelligent hip-hop like Metermaids, Kendrick Lamar and Aesop Rock, also.
     
    I tend to like headphones and gear that are all-around performers, this generally means a balanced or neutral sound. If I have to choose between warm and bright, I’ll choose bright almost every time. A few screechy high notes are preferable to me than a foggy unfocused bass guitar. I somehow never manage to have much money, so I don’t want to buy infinity headphones to switch between my myriad genres that I play. I can hear all the way down to 10hz and all the way up to 23Khz—these are what I’ve heard doing test tones on headphones. It has been a long time since I had a test with an audiologist. I’m sensitive to peaky treble but do enjoy smooth extended treble. I like deep rich tight bass and impactful drums, and dislike upper midbass emphasis.  I like my vocals crisp, so stay away from Josh Tillman’s voice you nasty upper midbass hump.  I hear soundstage better than just about anything I identify in music, but my words haven’t caught up to my ears. I listen at volume levels that others consider loud (72 to 75 dB), but I just set it to where the dynamics peak. I’m not here to shatter my eardrums. I like them just how they are.
     
    I generally don’t believe in using EQ, not even for inexpensive headphones, especially in reviews. I won’t claim that I haven’t done it, but I generally try to avoid it.
     
    I’m a firm believer that cables can make a difference, but I don’t think they always do. When I tried out Toxic Cables line, none of them had labels and the cheapest looking one was the one I liked the best. I was excited that I wouldn’t have to spend much to improve my sound. It turned out that the cheapest looking one was the Silver/Gold top of the line cable. I’ve heard the difference that USB cables can make, from upgrading from the crappy cable that came with my Geek Out 1000 to a Supra USB, and then again when upgrading to the LH Labs Lightspeed 2G with the iUSB3.0. When I picked up a cheap shielded power lead from Mains Cables R Us (who also sell iFi gear) to replace my standard kettle lead on my amplifier, I heard more crunchy and clearer treble. I switched the leads with my wife blinded and she heard the same difference. I didn’t tell her what I heard and let her describe it herself. But cables don’t always make a difference. When I switched from my standard HD650 cable to a custom balanced cable (Custom Cans UK, very affordable), the sound stayed exactly the same when hooked up via a top tier (custom made by @dill3000 silver/gold) 4-pin XLR to 6.3mm converter. Balanced mode made a difference in clarity and blackness of background. Your mileage may vary and you may not hear a difference, but I have.

     

    Vital Statistics (specs from manufacturers and distributors)

    In this section of my reviews I try to let the manufacturers story about their product be told. In the case of the Opus #1, I’ve taken the information from HiFi Headphones. HiFi Headphones often does as well or better than the manufacturer in telling the story of a product. Here is the description that HiFi Headphones gives for the Opus #1:
     
    OPUS #1 is able to play all popular lossless audio formats including DSD with up to 24bit/192kHz resolution and conveys the sound exactly as it should with the built in DAC. With the inclusion of optical output it is possible to feed audio data to an external DAC for use with a full-size Hi-Fi system or a dedicated headphone amp to bring out even further details in sound.
     
    Slots for two MicroSD cards (currently up to a capacity of 200Gb each) together with the on-board storage of 32Gb make the Opus #1 a heavyweight in terms of capacity, and the clear screen and intuitive navigation make it a breeze to find what we wish to listen to.
    Enjoy superior sound anywhere.
     
      
    High Resolution Audio
    OPUS #1 has created the most optimized solution for all music lovers to really feel high resolution audio formats. The Opus #1 will allow you to enjoy your favourite music in best sound quality up to 24bit/192kHz, providing unforgettable experience and unique sensations from the original sound.
     
    Advanced Operating System
    Opus#1 is based on Android operation systems compatible with the ARM Cortex-A9, up to 1.4GHz with Quad-Core CPU to express the best possible sound, providing bit to bit decoding and supporting a wide variety of audio formats.
     
    Abundant Storage
    High resolution audio require large storage space in order to play uncompressed audio files. Opus#1 is equipped with a 32GB internal memory which can be additionally extended up to 432GB by adding two 200GB microSD cards to its slots.
     
    Portable Design
    Opus #1 is designed to fit in your pocket, allowing you to enjoy the clearest portable sound. Logical, simple and user friendly interface guarantees fast and intuitive control of device. You also can reap the best benefits within this compact body with the control buttons ideally located for easy and quick navigation.
     
    Specifications
     
    DAC
    Cirrus Logic CS4398 x 2 (Dual DAC)
    Processor
    ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core CPU DDR3 1GB, 32bit processor core
    Operating System
    Android (base version not specified)
    Signal to Noise Ratio
    114dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced & 115dB @ 1kHz, Balanced
    Frequency Response
    ±0.02dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced & Balanced / ±0.3dB (Condition: 10Hz - 70kHz) Unbalanced & Balanced
    Input
    USB Micro-B (charging and data transfer)
    Outputs
    Standard 3.5mm jack and optical 3.5mm (shared jack) and balanced 2.5mm
    Internal memory
    32GB
    Expandable memory
    2 microSDXC (up to 400GB)
    Battery
    Built-in rechargeable 4000mAh / 3.7v Li-Polymer
    Charging Time
    4 hours
    Continuous Playback
    10 hours
    Power saving mode
    Up to 4 weeks standby on full charge
    Dimensions (WxHxD)
    72x112x18 mm
    Weight
    185g

     

     

    Form & Function

    The Opus #1 comes in simple black paper packaging with premium paper. The player is on the top surrounded by high quality foam, with an envelope containing a screen protector and quick start-up operating instructions below. The quick startup guide is basic. For further direction the full user manual can be acquired at audio-opus.com. Below this is a compartment containing the USB charging cable. The review Opus #1 came with a Dignis leather case, and it is a beauty. I recommend it.
     
    Opus1-3.jpg
     
    Opus1-1.jpg Opus1-2.jpg
    Opus1-4.jpg Opus1-5.jpg

     
    The Opus #1 is made of high quality plastic and feels reassuringly weighty in hand. No screws could be identified on the body, and the construction looks and feels fairly bombproof as plastics go. It has hardware buttons for power, volume control and skipping backwards and forwards along with software related buttons on the touch screen. I found the buttons to be a bit small, though well responsive. I would double their size to make it easier to press them in pocket. The Opus #1 review unit came with the super sexy grey Dignis leather case. The case has sturdy padding and grip so that the Opus #1 is very hard to remove once it is in, which doesn’t help put in newly filled memory cards. Be careful when pulling the player out of the case, as it would be easy to shoot the player across the room with the force required. The hardware buttons work well through the side panels of the case and it looks very nice with it on. Right now HiFi Headphones is including the case for free with the player for a short time, but it is worth the £49 admission price.
     
    Opus1-15.jpg Opus1-16.jpg
    Opus1-17.jpg Opus1-19.jpg

     
    I would normally do a battery drain test on new DAPs that I review, but I was unable to do that this time. I can say that I got over the 10 hours of time that were stated in the specifications. The Opus #1 also has a ridiculously effective sleep mode. I kept forgetting to turn it off, and it instantly woke up having used next to no battery. I was very impressed with this function. However, the battery life meter did not appear to be linear, when it gets down to one bar, it appears to decline more rapidly than the previous three bars of power. Charging the Opus #1 was very slow, and while charging you cannot play music, you cannot do anything on the player [Edit: @ostewart graciously informed me in the comments that you can use the player whilst charging with a wall wart, but not whilst charging with a computer. I was using my computer]. I did not like that feature at all. It was frustrating and robbed me of several hours of listening whilst reviewing the unit.
     
    I didn’t get an opportunity to test the optical line-out capability of the player, as I didn’t have any optical pieces of equipment on hand. My one unit is being repaired.
     

    The operating system

    The operating system is Android in name only. It won’t remind you of any Android system you’ve used. There is no WiFi, no Bluetooth, no apps, no back or menu buttons. Currently there is no USB OTG or external DAC. There is just the music player app and a settings menu accessed by pressing an on screen button twice. When scanning content, I found that on multiple attempts the Opus #1 missed tags. I ended up with many albums listed as having unknown artists. Populating the library and scanning the new tracks was fast and had a little animation showing that the library was being analysed. In settings, re-scanning the library is under Initialize. I think that the library scanning probably goes too fast, which may explain why some tags are missed, it may also be that the Opus #1 is very particular about how you tag. When I inserted the same card into the DX50, there were no issues with identifying tags.
     
    The operating system works, but it lacks any way to in one button press go from track view to a view where I could see all albums, artists or genres. If I am listening to an album that I’ve pulled up using the Albums menu icon, I should be able to hit that Albums menu icon again to get back to the full list of albums, instead, I am treated to the same album. It takes several on screen back button presses to get back to selecting a different album. I also found the use of the Initialize menu confusing. To rescan your library you initialize it. For me, initialize means erase and reformat, so I had to look up the full user manual online to make sure that wasn’t what I was doing.
     
    I was disappointed that there was no option out of the box to use USB OTG or to use the DAP as an external DAC. I mentioned this to Tony at HiFi Headphones, and he informed me that Audio-Opus is working on bringing both these options to the player through further firmware updates. I’m glad to hear that they are responding to customer expectations.
     
    Here are some pretty pretty pictures:
     
    Opus1-11.jpg Opus1-12.jpg
    Opus1-8.jpg Opus1-9.jpg
    Opus1-10.jpg Opus1-13.jpg

    Audio quality

    The Audio-Opus Opus #1 has an effortless transparency, revealing like a pane of Macy’s glass peering in on the joy and appeal of an Alberto Vargas pin-up.
     
    AlbertoVargas161.jpg
     
    What lies beyond this voyeuristic pane is not always perfect; take, for example, vinyl rips. I listened to several vinyl rips on the Opus #1. Vinyl rips have a tendency towards a bit of low broadband noise, even with all the pops and hiss artfully removed by skilled and patient ears. This soft noise can be heard as static, but on most systems and most well recorded vinyl rips this soft noise is muted when the music begins to play or is muted by the self-noise of the player, with the exception of the well-worn first track on side A—this track often exhibits more noise than most. The Opus #1 does not have this self-noise. The background is black as a sea of moonless midnight. I observed similar transparency on the Airist Audio Heron 5 ($1000 5W headphone amp). The Airist Audio Heron 5 has one of the purest, cleanest noise floors of any amplification I’ve heard, so the Opus #1 has pulled off quite a feat in having the amplification so clean and articulate that it is reminiscent of the Airist Audio Heron 5. I don’t have any 2.5mm balanced headphones at this time, so the Opus #1’s transparency was even more impressive at this level.
     
    This clean articulate sound made me do something that I rarely do when listening to my music, I turned it down. At low volumes, all of the articulation is still present, none of the dynamics are muted, no attack edges blunted. I took the Opus #1 on a business trip and let Nick Drake and Iron & Wine serenade me on the planes, trains and automobiles connecting me to my destination.
     
    I did most of my listening with two headphones, the Echobox Finder X1 (black filter) and the Trinity Audio Atlas (orange filter). Both headphones have a bright tonality. I found that bright headphones had the best synergy with the Opus #1, allowing its detail retrieval capabilities to really shine.
     
    When I decided to do some comparisons, I whipped out my trusty DX50. I didn’t do technical volume matching, so any comparisons should be taken with a grain of salt. I did my best to match volume on both players by ear, but there are no guarantees that I achieved equal volumes. When listening with the Opus #1 to Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms I was awestruck by the instrument placement in the soundscape. The presentation was almost orchestral, especially the precisely delineated string sections. On the Opus #1 there was no noise at zero volume, not so for the DX50. The DX50 had heavier sounding vocals, which is likely due to the little emphasis that the DX50 has in the upper bass/lower mids. The Opus #1 sounds clearer and more tonally neutral.
     
    On 2Pac – God Bless the Dead I found myself surprised that I didn’t hear the distortion I normally hear in the bass at the beginning of the track on the Opus #1, it may be that the Opus #1 has a little bit of a dip in the lower registers that also lowers that distortion. The bass sounded beautiful on the Opus #1. Vocals were very clean on the Opus #1 with a more layered representation of the multiple rappers on the track than I am accustomed to hearing—transparency in action, methinks. Vocal separation was very good on the Opus #1. On the DX50, vocals were less layered and thicker due to the DX50’s emphasis.
     
    Why – Strawberries had beautiful decay on piano notes with the Opus #1. The sound is very natural with good spacing in the soundstage. Instrument placement is strong in this one. When listening to Why – Sod in the Seed the stage is smaller on the DX50, with just a little less width.
     
    I really enjoyed my time with the Opus #1. I put in about 30 hours of listening over a week. It has an effortless transparent sound with good soundstage, and nice texture and timbre all around. It doesn’t mess with sound, it gets out of the way and lets the music and your headphones do the talking. The Opus #1 is a well-executed neutral DAP.  I didn’t test it out with my HD600, or any hard to drive cans, so my impressions are limited to IEMs, and it did fantastic with them. My volume depended on track, as my tracks aren’t all recorded at the same level, especially looking back at 80s CDs—those things are quiet.

     

    Conclusions

    The Audio-Opus Opus #1 is an excellent first effort from Audio-Opus. It has a neutral transparent sound with excellent resolution. It includes a balanced headphone out, which is not something you generally see in this price range. Whilst the DAC is currently missing two of my favourite features: external DAC mode, and USB OTG; these features are currently in development. I'm glad to see that the company listens to their customers and adapts. If you have the opportunity to hear the Audio-Opus Opus #1, I recommend doing so.
     
    The optional case for the Opus #1 is of stunningly good quality. I highly recommend getting it.
     
    The DAC has an Android-based operating system, but it doesn't have apps in the way that consumers have come to expect on Android DAPs. If I were Audio-Opus, I would be advertising a custom user interface and not even mentioning Android. If I can't use the internet, it just doesn't feel like an Android device to me. I hope that their DAPs in the pipeline will include a fully featured Android implementation. I want to listen to Tidal, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp. I look forward to future offerings from Audio-Opus. Great job on this first one out the gate!
      Deftone and twister6 like this.
    1. ostewart
      One comment to make, you can use it whilst charging from a normal phone charger, but not when charging from a computer USB port. I use mine when it is charging all the time.
       
      Apart from that, fantastic review and mirrors my thoughts. So glad I jumped on this early on and got it at a great price. It is my daily player and I couldn't be happier, it really does get out of the way and let you enjoy the music, not influencing it with any flavour of it's own.
      ostewart, Jun 2, 2016
    2. glassmonkey
      That is really good to know! Thank you. I'll update the review.
      glassmonkey, Jun 2, 2016
    3. Takeanidea
      My god you turned the sound down! Your ears must have been jumping for joy! I loved the Vargas pin up and the Yoda referencing this time round
      The pics remind me of my DX100 cloned with an AK380 but will the sound?
      Great review again
      Takeanidea, Jun 3, 2016
  9. mark2410
    Audio-Opus Opus #1 Quick Review by mark2410
    Written by mark2410
    Published May 16, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound Quality. Real buttons. Huge capacity. Sound versatility.
    Cons - Pointless big screen. Wallet ouchy.
    Audio-Opus Opus #1 Quick Review by mark2410
     
    Thanks to Hifiheadphones for the loaner.
     
    Full review here http://www.head-fi.org/t/808376/audio-opus-opus-1-review-by-mark2410
     
    Brief:  A touchscreen but with real buttons too.
     
    Price:  £449 or about US$515 when VAT’s removed and converted
     
    Specification:  DAC: Cirrus Logic CS4398 x 2EA Dual DAC, Processor: ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core CPU DDR3 1GB, 32bit processor core, Operating System: Customised Android operating system, Signal to Noise Ratio: 114dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced & 115dB @ 1kHz, Balanced, Frequency Response: ±0.02dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced & Balanced / ±0.3dB (Condition: 10Hz - 70kHz) , Unbalanced & Balanced, Input: USB Micro-B (charging and data transfer), Charging Time: 4 Hours, Continuous Playback: 10 Hours, Battery: Built-in rechargeable: 4000mAh / 3.7V Li-Polymer, Dimensions (WxHxD): 72x112x18 mm, Weight: 185g
     
    Build Quality:  Great.  Snugly put together and it all feels firm.
     
    Aesthetics:  I like it, it looks fantastic with its leather case on.  That thing really looks and feels great being so snug and perfectly formed.  Without its still nice, but mostly a nondescript black obelisk.
     
    Power:  It had plenty of headroom on it play anything you wanted.  The Oppo PM-3 and the Senn HD600 both ran rather well from it.  IEM’s in particular felt very nicely powered, not endless power but always sufficient to make things sing.
     
    Sound:  It is quite the paragon of flavourless neutrality.  It wants to add no flavouring of its own and thus it was not only great sounding but it was highly adept at pairing with whatever you throw at it.  From cold to warm it just got on with things and happily, skilfully played back any musical style with the same lack of colouring of its own.  So very, very highly versatile.  It I could see really appealing to all us crazy people who have earphones by the dozen.  If for some reason you only want to have one kick ass DAP then this baby will pair great with them all.  Sure it’s not adding things mean that you don’t get the super sultry pairings nor hyper dazzling ones.  From Scissor Sisters to to Bach, its neutrality meant its musical versatility was crazy.  You really could chuck anything at it and it would perfectly playback without skipping a beat.  Everything, just everything sounded great on it.  It is one of the products that I can’t help but thinking it has a little something of Mary Poppins about it, practically perfect in every way.  Speaking of which they also sound glorious with the itty bitty q-JAYS 2.0.   Everything is just exactly how it ought to be, nothing boosted, nothing tweaked, everything has just been left as nature intended to give a wonderful sonic purity and clarity.  Of course that means it’s not a bombastic drama machine, nor is it a chocolate factory, what goes in is exactly what comes out completely unfettered by the Opus’s hang ups.
     
    Value:  Okay so there is a bit of wallet ouchy ouchy but suck it up princess, if you’re after this sort of purity and sheer ability your wallets going to take a pounding no matter what you go for.  This one though is the most versatile.
     
    Pro’s:  Sound Quality.  Real buttons.  Huge capacity.  Sound versatility.
     
    Con’s:  Pointless big screen.  Wallet ouchy.
      ostewart, Deftone and twister6 like this.
  10. twister6
    An opus on Opus!
    Written by twister6
    Published Apr 20, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - touch screen, hw playback controls, top level sound quality, balanced output, optical output, up to 432GB of combined storage, impressive battery.
    Cons - fw is almost there, usb DAC not enabled yet, EQ is not in real time.

    I would like to Thank theBit/Audio-Opus and Extreme Audio for providing me with a review sample of Opus#1 in exchange for my honest opinion.
     
    Manufacturer website:  http://www.audio-opus.com/?page_id=15881, available on Amazon.
     
    * Click on images to expand.

     
    Are too many choices a bad thing?  Maybe not if we are talking about selection of headphones because we all have a different sound preference and it takes awhile to find a pair of monitors or full size cans to match our personal taste.  But lately with saturation of DAP market, I get overwhelmed with all the new DAP releases.  The idea here is to find a single best source you can afford to pair up with your different portable and not-so-portable headphones, and perhaps to be able to use it on the go without a need for additional amp stack up.  Another problem, a few years back there was a clear separation between mid-fi and summit-fi DAPs, not just in price but also in sound quality and supported features, while now these lines are blurred and higher price doesn’t mean a better product.
     
    With so many DAP choices, I can only imagine how frustrating it's for consumers trying to decide which one to buy.  You can no longer differentiate one being better than the other based on the DAC or opamp selection, and quite often have to start with a priority list of what you value the most.  Do you want a smartphone style touch screen interface?  Do you have a lot of DSD files in your collection requiring extra storage capacity?  Do you need streaming or internal storage only?  How about balanced output or maybe a coax/optical to use your source as a transport to drive another dac/amp?  Don’t forget the sound quality which should always be at the top of your priority list, though lately I have seen many manufacturers upping their game where the sound difference ends up being marginal.
     
    Now, here comes theBit (the Best Internet Technology) – a Korean manufacturer who has been in business for over a decade and had a successful line of portable MP3 and Media Players sold at Best Buy, as well as recent releases of Personal Navigation devices and E-learning tablets.  Maybe these guys are newcomers to the world of Hi-Res DAPs, but they are definitely not freshmen when it comes to manufacturing of personal audio products.  I never really heard of theBit Opus#1 until being asked by their US distributor, Extreme Audio, if I’m interested to test it.  I almost turned down this review opportunity, but after using Opus for the last 3 weeks I found it growing on me, to the point where it reached the top of my dynamic food chain of favorite DAPs.  Here is more about it.
     
    Unboxing and accessories.
     
    Arrived in a compact black box, you are greeted with a plain “Opus#1, Hi-Res AUDIO Ver. 1.0” at the top and “the bit” at the bottom.  I noticed that original www.thebir.co.kr website hasn’t been updated since the last year, and all the effort is focused now on their new www.audio-opus.com domain, which makes me wonder if they are trying to distant themselves from “the Best Internet Technology” to “the best audio technology” with Audio-Opus rebranding, something that would make more sense.  Also, when you visit their website you will find a mentioning of 6 additional products, all labeled as Opus# with different index number.  Looks like Opus will be their new hi-res audio platform for various Android based DAPs, dacs/amps, and even a car audio unit.
     
    On the back of the box you will find a detailed General Specification and Audio Performance list which paints a rather impressive picture, though you will not find the picture of the actual DAP on the packaging.  Continuing with a mystery, there is not much to find once you slide the exterior packaging sleeve to get to the packaging box with another “Opus#1” print.  Not until you take the box cover off, you will unravel the mystery and will be looking at a small rectangular DAP with a large touch screen dominating its top surface.
     
    After removing the DAP, the only included accessories you will find are the usb to micro-usb quality charging/data cable and a screen protector, while if I’m not mistaken the glass back of the DAP already has a protector applied to it.  When it comes to DAPs, I don’t expect too many accessories, but one must-have accessory was missing in the packaging box.
     
    thebit_opus1-30_zpsd2z3ntde.jpg   thebit_opus1-31_zpsyb4drtfz.jpg
    thebit_opus1-32_zpsxk9v8fi1.jpg   thebit_opus1-33_zpsqivh44rd.jpg
    thebit_opus1-34_zpssel6ljiq.jpg   thebit_opus1-35_zpssxpreqcz.jpg
     
    The leather case.
     
    I don’t recall ever dedicating a separate section in any of my DAP reviews to a single accessory, such as the case, but in this “case” I decided to make an exception.  Along with the DAP I also received another Audio-Opus branded box which contained a leather case for Opus#1.  I was told that this leather case will be sold as a separate $50 accessory.  To my surprise, when I look at Opus#1 listing on Amazon – it mentions the DAP being sold together with a leather case, included in $599 price.  I'm not sure if this is for a limited time only as part of a new product introduction, but I really hope that moving forward they will continue to include it together with Opus#1.
     
    So what is so special about this case?  For starters and even though it has Opus branding inside and outside, this is a genuine leather case by Dignis.  Perhaps sharing the same country of origin, they decided to collaborate with Dignis who makes some of the best genuine Italian leather cases for many popular DAPs.  While dealing with ABS solid plastic body and tempered glass back panel, as well as slightly wider than average footprint, grip enhancement is important and that’s exactly what this case offers without masking the details of the design.
     
    The case has a full opening at the top where the DAP slides in, allowing full access to the power button and both headphone ports.  At the bottom you get an access to a generous opening around micro-usb port, and you will also notice that bottom corners hug the shape of the DAP with a few openings on each side.  The micro-SD access will be permanently covered and protected, and you will have to remove the case to replace these cards.  Btw, for easy removal of the DAP, I recommend using a pencil with an eraser tip pushing up through micro-usb port opening at the bottom.  The volume and transport control buttons on each side are completely covered.
     
    In their usual Dignis fashion, the shapes of these buttons are imprinted and perfectly aligned with physical buttons, and very easy to press.  The functionality print of these buttons is stamped on the leather, but due to their small size a bit hard to see.  As a matter of fact, due to a very small size of the buttons, the imprint of their round shape on the leather is not very easy to feel when you slide your finger across without looking.  It’s a little easier with volume buttons since you are dealing with only two and can blindly figure out which one is up or down, but it becomes a bit of a hassle when dealing with 3 transport buttons without looking at them up close.  I still appreciate the fact that I don’t need to turn on the display every time I want to pause or skip a song, but here it would have made more sense to offer a cutout for buttons instead of covering them up.
     
    thebit_opus1-22_zpsohykb44z.jpg   thebit_opus1-23_zpsaos4sltj.jpg
    thebit_opus1-24_zpsduodfdoq.jpg   thebit_opus1-25_zpsmbbomskr.jpg
    thebit_opus1-26_zps3gizig9g.jpg
     
    Design.
     
    When it comes to a design, I found it to be very straight forward and clean.  The main focus of this 112mm x 72mm x 18mm DAP is a large 4” TFT touch screen display with 480x800 resolution.  All the edges around the sides are beveled, creating a more unique look with a slight resemblance to A&K DAPs, especially the asymmetric design with a wider edge on the right side.  Don’t be surprised, there will be more A&K references in my review since it looks like that theBit drew some external and internal design inspiration from their Astell & Kern neighbor.  With a front covered by a tempered glass touch screen, there is no other visible controls until you turn the unit to look around the sides.  The back of the DAP also has a tempered glass plate.
     
    On the right at the top you will find 3 transport control buttons, rather small, not rotating (to make sure printed label functionality icon stays aligned), and nearly flush with a surface with maybe less than a mil which sticks out just enough to feel the tactile response when you push it.  Also keep in mind, the button arrangement also follows A&K with Play/Pause in the middle and Skip next/prev around it.  Not everybody follows the same arrangement, and often I get a bit confused when switch to L&P DAPs where Plays/Pause is at the top.  But nevertheless, those familiar with A&K DAPs will feel right at home. 
     
    On the left side at the top you have Vol+/- buttons, exactly the same size and shape as transport buttons.  Down at the bottom on the left side you have a tight cover over dual micro SD stacked slots, similar to those used in DX80 to save the room so you don’t have to use 2 separate card slots side by side.  Each micro SD slot works fine with 200GB flash card, where along with internal 32GB of flash storage, you can have up to 432GB of space to store your music files.
     
    Bottom of the DAP has a standard micro-USB connector for charging and data transfer, and the top has a Power button (a typical long press power-on or power-off with onscreen confirmation), 2.5mm TRRS balanced HO (A&K wired), and 3.5mm TRS single ended HO shared with optical mini-toslink output.  3.5mm HO shared with optical output is also exactly the same as used in A&K DAPs.  You don’t have coax SPDIF output, but can drive any external DAC/amp (like iBasso D14 or Micro iDSD) with optical output which I often find superior in sound quality to coax cable output.
     
    Under the hood you will find a dual CS4398 DAC along with filters and amps which hasn’t been disclosed by manufacturer.  Opus#1 is a prime example of a design where selection of internal DAC components doesn’t mean it will sound exactly the same as AK120ii or DX80, both of which use the same dual DAC config.  Unique amp section architecture and other fine tunings will make it stand out from other designs.  Considering Android OS running in the background, I was also not surprised they used ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz quad-core CPU with 1GB of DDR3 – plenty of power for smooth responsive touch screen operation and native DSD support where I tested up to DSD256 without a single hiccup.
     
    opus1_diagram_zps5ol70avx.png
     
    Of course, you can also look into SNR, THD, and Crosstalk specs, but what I typically care about is output power and impedance.  Opus guys didn’t go into too many details, but did mention that Balanced 2.5mm 4-pole output is rated at 1 ohm output impedance and 2.3Vrms which translates into 330mW @ 16ohm.  For Single Ended 3.5mm TRS output the rating is 2 ohm output impedance and 2.1Vrms which translates roughly into 275mW @ 16ohm.  These are all decent output power numbers for most IEMs, efficient full size, and even some not so efficient high impedance and harder to drive cans – all of which I will cover in my Pair up section of the review.
     
    The 2 ohm 3.5mm output is pushing it a bit when it comes to multi-BA driver IEMs, and perhaps it was just a placebo effect where I preferred a sound from 1 ohm 2.5mm balanced output (especially bass being a bit tighter).  I assume that Opus team tried to reach a design compromise in order to appeal to different types of headphones.  Spec numbers aside, I use my ears to judge the sound, and across a broad range of my different headphone types I found the sound performance to be on par with a number of my others DAPs that use <1 ohm output impedance.  But I still prefer to use balanced vs single ended in case of Opus#1.
     
    Another important factor is the battery, where Opus design team used 4000 mAh/3.7V li-polymer type.  When I first got this DAP and after upgrading the firmware to one of the earlier releases, I wasn’t able to get as much of a battery life as it was advertised.  After a handful of charge/discharge cycles as I was burning in both HO ports and the update to the most recent 1.10.23 fw, now I’m able to get a solid 10.5-11 hrs of continuous playback with most of my IEMs, regardless of balanced or single ended output.  Furthermore, it has an impressive deep sleep mode with an instant on feature where I could leave Opus#1 without shutting down for days, and I see a very slow battery drain.  I mean, it drains after awhile, but I didn’t expect that Android based OS will be optimized to such efficient level.
     
    Overall, I was very pleased with a design.  It’s not 100% perfect, like for example volume and playback buttons could be bigger, and the DAP itself is a bit on a wider side in comparison to many of my other DAPs.  And there is also a question of using ABS plastic body versus metal.  With Dignis/leather case it really doesn’t matter, and the plastic itself is actually enhanced and has a high quality.  But plastic body will also result in a slightly inferior EMI isolation where right next to my phone I can hear an occasional interference, while 3-4 inches away everything was fine.  Opus#1 has great one-hand use ergonomics, solid build, and a feature packed design.  The performance was very smooth, regardless if you through at it lossy or lossless files, and as I mentioned before – it went right through DSD256 like a butter, handling DSD support without a single glitch while I was touch swiping through my 2GB files.
     
    thebit_opus1-01_zpsjj1x7l5j.jpg   thebit_opus1-02_zpswqzmwaw8.jpg
    thebit_opus1-03_zpshuvcwn5e.jpg   thebit_opus1-04_zpskiml4mmv.jpg
    thebit_opus1-05_zpszafxmgzm.jpg   thebit_opus1-06_zpscqovaiuf.jpg
    thebit_opus1-07_zpsyukiriyp.jpg   thebit_opus1-08_zpspug7den7.jpg
    thebit_opus1-09_zpsjbr0qx3q.jpg   ifi_idsd-26_zps0myld3as.jpg
     
    GUI.
     
    All the testing was done using 1.10.23 firmware.
     
    I know it probably going to sound shallow because sound quality should be the highest priority, but after a few recent reviews of DAPs with touch screen interface I'm having a problem going back to navigation buttons and scrolling wheels.  Use of smartphone and tablet audio apps turned me into a creature of habit where I want instant gratification of flipping through dozens of songs, stopping on the one I want, and swiping through to fast forward to my favorite part.  For me personally, the user experience of DAP operation is very important, and Opus#1 definitely got a big check mark next to it!  Not everything is perfect yet, but I've already seen 3 firmware updates in less than a month since I received this DAP for review.
     
    First of all, Opus OS is Android based, but you are not running full Android OS.  There is a custom Audio Player app/interface running on top of the Android OS which is in the background, and you don't have access to wifi or BT or being able to install any other apps.  So if you are looking to stream from Spotify or Tidal or want to pair up wireless headphones, you can stop reading this review because Opus#1 will not offer that.  Presumably, full Android support will be available in Opus#2 release.  If you are OK using only internal storage with a very responsive touch swipe interface, then you can proceed to find out more.
     
    From the moment you press the power button, the current startup is a bit on a slower side, closer to 20-22sec where I feel like something is being indexed or perhaps some extra Android processes are being loaded in the background.  After a few latest firmware updates, this start up time is actually down from the original 30+ sec.  Hopefully, theBit will continue with further optimization of a start up; no complaints about a shutdown which only takes a few seconds.
     
    Once you are in the Main Playback screen, you have a clear layout with artwork taking approximately half of the screen and other controls at the top in the notification area and Playback control in the lower part of the screen.  Notification area is semi transparent so you can still see the top of the song/album artwork, if one is embedded.  Up there all the way at the top you have a notification bar where you will find play/pause icon and repeat/shuffle mode indicators on the left, balanced on/off and volume level in the middle, and sleep and selected EQ and battery indication all the way to the right.  That area is for notifications only, nothing to pull down or to launch by tapping.
     
    Right below it, you have touch icon for  File Browser (on the left), Current Directory Playlist with corresponding number of songs in the folder and which one is being played – in the middle, and Setup icon to enter Shortcuts menu on the right.  File Browser takes you to another screen where you can view/sort tracks by Songs, Albums, Artists, Genres, Folders (at the top you can select MicroSD 1, 2, or Internal source), and Favorite (from your favorite list of tagged songs).  Within those screens, tapping in the middle of the top below Notification bar takes you back to the currently playing song.  Current Directory Playlist index has a bit of inconsistent behavior where upon tapping it usually shows you a list of songs in the current sub-directory, but when you are playing songs from the main root directory (/Music/) – it shows every song including all your subdirectories (I treat all my albums as sub-directories).  Not sure if it’s intended "by design", but I hope it will be fixed in a future firmware release.
     
    Clicking on Setup opens up a sub-menu with a few shortcuts, for EQ, Balanced Output selection, Sleep, Screen Brightness control, and another Tools icon in the upper right to enter the actual Settings menu.  Every DAP has their own implementation of menus and controls, and it just takes awhile to get used to it.  EQ just enables the eq with currently selected preset (there are 3 user customizable presets), Balanced Out toggles 2.5mm output on/off, and Sleep starts a sleep timer.  Screen Brightness slider just does what it says, adjusts the brightness of the screen.
     
    Settings menu is rather simple.  You have EQ toggle switch (the same one you can access from the shortcuts menu), User Equalizer takes you to 3 separate User# settings where you can customize 10-band typical paragraphic EQ (or reset it – touch icon in upper right corner).  Current EQ implementation is useless because you can’t adjust bands in real time as you listening to the song.  The EQ change will only go in effect after you pause and re-start playing the music.  I personally don’t use EQ, but would be very frustrated with this implementation.  I also hope they will add genre specific presets for EQ since some people might find it useful.  Also when EQ is selected, it needs to show EQ preset# in the notification bar.
     
    Next in the Settings menu you have Balanced Out toggle (the same as in shortcuts menu), Balance control to adjust L/R sound balance, Language selection, Screen brightness (the same as in shortcuts menu), Auto Display off timeout setting, Sleep toggle (the same as in shortcuts menu) with Sleep Time setting, System info indicating fw version, Internal and External storage capacity including being able to mount and to erase each SD card, and a link to Open Source licenses.  Update takes you to System Update to apply new firmware which you have to manually download and copy into the root directory – no OTA update is supported due to lack of wifi.  Last, but not least, is Initialization with DB initialize (this one re-inits the database with song index), Settings initialize (to reset settings), and Factory reset (resets device to factory state, including erasing all your songs stored in internal memory).
     
    In the Main Playback screen, below artwork area, you have a touch swipe playback control where you can swipe to fast forward through a song, and you can see playback marker position in time, the song format, and the remaining time (no total song time can be displayed).  Below that you have Song/Album name info, and Play/Pause and Skip touch icons.  You can also skip between the songs by swiping the artwork area of the display left/right.  All the way at the bottom in the left corner you can select Repeat mode where you can either repeat a song in a loop, or you can repeat all (if you are playing all songs) or a folder (if you are inside of a folder) or an album (if you are playing an album).  All the way to the right is Shuffle selection.  Both Repeat and Shuffle could be selected at the same time, and corresponding icon will appear in notification bar next to the playback function icon on the left.  Favorite “star” icon is in the middle all the way at the bottom, and you simply tag the currently playing song to be added to your Favorite folder – very easy.
     
    Every manufacturer has their own creative way of implementing GUI and the way how they partition and organize the functionality within it.  There is always a learning curve when you get a new “toy” and it’s no different with Opus#1.  I got used to this interface very quickly, and everything now makes perfect sense to me, especially since I have been using this DAP exclusively for the last 2-3 weeks.  I still hope EQ will be implemented properly, and I can copy my “loose” tracks into the root /Music/ directory where I can navigate and skip through those specific songs instead of the list of All song including sub-folders.  For now, I just created /Music/Various/ folder where I have compilation of my various tracks I moved from the root /Music/ directory.
     
    Here are a few other random observations about the interface and the playback.  Gapless seems to be nearly perfect, at least with my “gapless” split DJ mix directory I use for testing.  I also had no problem reading CUE file and could fast forward through it, but wasn’t able to skip through the tracks embedded in there.  Hitting Play/Pause has a slight delay and that is probably due to a deep sleep mode which Opus#1 enters when you pause it, the same when sometimes I have a screen off and play/pause hw button doesn’t always respond until I turn the screen on.  But I still find it remarkable how I can pause the song, and come back to this DAP a few days later to find hardly any dent in battery life.  USB DAC is not currently enabled, but on their to-do list.
     
    Overall, the interface is very responsive, like dealing with your typical smartphone touch screen.  The resolution is just perfect to display artwork, if embedded with a song.  If not, it will display a default image, though I also found a bug where artwork embedded with one of my songs showed up across half a dozen of other songs without embedded artwork.  This is an example of another firmware quirk which should be easy to fix.  I would also like to see a battery capacity indicator so I don’t have to guess remaining battery time based on 4 segments of the icon.  Definitely, more work needs to be done, but none of this is critical or a showstopper.
     
    thebit_opus1-10_zpspopgnguo.jpg   thebit_opus1-11_zpslzunf7sh.jpg
    thebit_opus1-12_zpsyyvwno0v.jpg   thebit_opus1-13_zpsvoxw6ehv.jpg
    thebit_opus1-14_zps9jrd8xe8.jpg   thebit_opus1-15_zpsnevt9lmu.jpg
    thebit_opus1-16_zps07qbfadj.jpg   thebit_opus1-17_zpskymofim6.jpg
    thebit_opus1-18_zpscydcesqi.jpg   thebit_opus1-19_zpshaqhhjbk.jpg
    thebit_opus1-20_zpsonluci4r.jpg   thebit_opus1-21_zpszhuzumfk.jpg
     
    Sound Analysis.
     
    When I received Opus for review, I put it through burn in for a few days, switching between 3.5mm and 2.5mm outputs while I was spot checking the sound.  During these few days, I quickly realized that brief spot checking wasn’t enough for me because I really started to like what I'm hearing.  As a result, I ended up doing half of the burn in while actually listening to Opus#1 at home or during my lunch break at work.
     
    Starting with the low end, I hear a nicely textured and deeply extended sub-bass rumble, adding a nice warm analog flavor to the sound.  Moving to the mid-bass - I found it to be not as aggressive as I hear it with other DAPs where you have more speed and faster attack.  Here it was a bit laid back and slightly relaxed, though at the same time still very articulate and with a noticeable impact.  Moving to the mids, lower mids have a nice body and never add muddiness to any of my headphones beyond their own sound signature characteristics, while upper mids region is very resolving, very detailed, with an excellent transparency, and still sounding organic and natural. Treble is very detailed and highly resolving as well, adding nice degree of airiness to many of my headphones.  At the same time I hear it being slightly rolled off at the top where even my harsh/grainy headphones sound pleasant to my ears.  I was quite impressed how some of my borderline sibilant IEMs and full size headphones (with a typical metallic sheen) never lost their level of micro-detail retrieval yet they were smooth and resolving at the same time.
     
    The soundstage is wide, and it improves even further when you switch to balanced output where it gets even a little bit wider and deeper, resulting in a more holographic staging.  The layering and separation is very good, even when I use my warmer headphones which could sound congested with some sources.  But one thing that impressed me the most was how transparent and dynamic Opus#1 sounds.  You don't realize this until you do a/b comparison with other DAPs, and you suddenly start to hear how the sound opens up and becomes uncompressed and expanded.
     
    Overall, I found Opus#1 to have a very unique, open, musical, highly resolving, transparent sound with a smooth natural tonality.  It's hard to just classify it as being on a warmer side based on its low end performance, or the brighter side based on its upper mids/treble performance.  It has a very interesting blend of a revealing highly resolving sound with an analog musical smoothness.  Like a hybrid, it kind of combines both worlds of analog smoothness and digital precision without too much coloring.
     
    thebit_opus1-27_zpsbwpphnzu.jpg
     
    Pair up.
     
    While going through pair up test using different headphones in my collection, I noted next to each one a volume level to give a better idea for relative comparison.  Opus#1 volume scale goes up 150 steps, but when you reach 120 clicks, you get a warning about volume being too high.  It’s always good to have a warning, but I wish it could be disabled.
     
    DN2kJ (79) - very faint hissing, sounds a little mid-forward, bass is not as articulate and slightly pushed back, mids are very vivid, clean, and detailed, a little bright but not harsh at all, treble is crisp and airy; nice soundstage expansion.
     
    ZEN v1 (110) - nicely balanced smooth detailed sound, drives ZENs with authority from a nice low end deep  textured extension to full body mids, and clean well defined treble.  Soundstage was pleasantly wide.
     
    ZEN v2 (105) - well balanced smooth detailed sound, definitely a good pair up, bass is a little laid back, not as punchy, mids have full body, smooth, very organic, treble is well defined. Nice soundstage expansion.
     
    K10UA (75) - a little hissing, nicely balanced and very detailed sound, deep low end extension with punchy fast mid-bass, lower mids have a nice body (not too thin or too thick), upper mids are very detailed, not harsh or grainy, vocals sounds organic and very detailed, crisp airy treble extension.  Good soundstage expansion, not holographic but wide enough.
     
    Savant (84) – dead silent, very smooth balanced detailed sound, excellent bass extension down to textured sub-bass (Opus actually brought up bass in Savant), punchy mid-bass, lower mids have a nice body (not too thin or too thick), upper mids are organic, natural, detailed, excellent rendition of vocals.  Treble is detailed, airy, under control without being too crisp.  Soundstage is relatively wide.  Excellent pair up!
     
    U12 (75) – dead silent, very smooth detailed sound, powerful low end impact with deep sub-bass extension, punchy mid-bass (but not too fast or aggressive), nice balanced mids, lower mids add nice body to the sound (maybe a bit on a thicker side, but never muddy), upper mids are smooth, organic, lush and at the same time very detailed.  Treble is well defined, detailed, and not too crisp, with some airiness.  Staging is wide.  LOVE this pair up very much, though keep in mind I’m using U12 with TWau cable and B1 filter.
     
    ES60 (65) - a little hissing, reference quality smooth detailed neutral sound, nice low end extension with a punchy fast mid-bass, smooth lower mids, a bit on a leaner side but still with some nice body, clear detailed  upper mids, very organic detailed vocals performance, clear detailed crisp airy treble. Soundstage expansion is excellent.  A very impressive pair up, especially when I use ES60 with Super BaX balanced cable.
     
    T5p.2 (98) - detailed revealing sound with a punchy fast mid-bass, slightly rolled off sub-bass (which I can get back by switching to Alpha pads), lean lower mids, crisp detailed slightly recessed upper mids - revealing analytical quality which can get a bit harsh, but never crosses sibilance threshold, and switching to Alpha pads it becomes smoother and still very detailed.  Treble is very crisp, airy, extended.  Overall sound lacks a little bit of warmth until you switch to Alpha pads. Soundstage is very well expanded.  Did I mention Alpha pads?!?
     
    A2000Z (98) - very detailed revealing balanced sound, a little rolled off sub-bass (more quality than quantity), punchy fast mid-bass, nicely balanced lower mids (not too lean or too full), very detailed revealing upper mids, never gets harsh or grainy, crisp, airy, extended treble.  Perfectly balanced sound sig, and expanded soundstage.  Excellent pair up!
     
    R70x (124) - very natural detailed balanced sound, I enjoyed everything from a textured sub-bass to a punchy tight mid-bass, lower mids with some nice body (not too thick or too lean) and smooth detailed organic upper mids with a perfect delivery of vocals, and detailed crisp airy extended treble.  Soundstage expansion of these open backs was excellent.  Definitely among best pair ups to drive these 470 ohm open back cans to perfection without a need for an external amp.
     
    EL-8C (107) - bright revealing balanced sound, rolled off sub-bass (another example of quality over quantity), nice punchy mid-bass, leaner lower mids, bright revealing upper mids - NO metallic harshness at all, crisp detailed, airy extended treble, and a very good soundstage expansion.  Yes, you read it correctly, NO metallic harshness!!!
     
    PM-3 (104) - smooth balanced detailed sound, excellent low end extension with a deep sub-bass, punchy fast mid-bass, full body lower mids (not too thick or muddy), smooth organic detailed upper mids, detailed airy treble with a nice definition.  It has a great soundstage expansion as well.  PM-3 pair up could be tricky, perhaps due to planar magnetic nature of the drivers and their smooth signature.  But with Opus#1 the sound was open and detailed.
     
    Comparison to other DAPs.
     
    While comparing Opus#1 performance to other DAPs, I used ES60 for this test since I consider these CIEMs to have a more reference quality sound, and their high sensitivity makes a good test for hissing.
     
    Opus vs AK120ii - Opus has a bit of hissing, while AK is dead quiet.  Both have a very similar sound signature and tonality, but AK is a bit smoother which adds more analog warmth and loses some micro details.  Opus is a little better in layering and separation and also a bit more transparent, in comparison to smoother AK.  One thing that kind of bothered me a bit is Opus being wider.  Don’t get me wrong, it fits comfortably in my hand, but when you compare it to AK120ii, you notice the physical width.
     
    Opus vs Gold – both have a little bit of hissing.  They both have a similar retrieval of details on micro-detail level, and very similar layering and separation of the sound, though Gold is a touch better.  Gold has a little better transparency and slightly better dynamic performance.  Gold has a tighter bass with a stronger mid-bass punch, while Opus is more neutral in comparison when it comes to bass quantity.  Both have a very similar soundstage expansion, maybe with Gold being a touch wider.  LPG is still among top dogs, but when it comes to retrieval of details and sound transparency, Opus#1 comes closer than any other DAPs I have tested before.  Factor in fluid touch screen interface and standard micro-usb charging, and you can see why lately I spent more time with Opus#1 over LPG.
     
    Opus vs L5Pro – both exhibit slight hissing.  Similar sound signature, while L5Pro is slightly warmer due to treble being a touch rolled off in comparison.  L5Pro has a stronger and a bit deeper sub-bass and more aggressive mid-bass punch, while Opus sub-bass is a little softer and mid-bass is not as fast, a little less aggressive.  Opus soundstage is a little wider.  Opus sound is more dynamic, and it has a slightly better transparency, including a little better separation of sounds and a little better retrieval of details.  L5 Pro is no slouch, and once L&P implements touch swiping – its functional value should go up.
     
    Opus vs X7 - X7 has a darker background.  X7 sound is a little leaner.  X7 sub-bass doesn’t extend as deep as Opus, mid-bass is similar, though Opus mids have more body and sound is more organic.  Both have a very similar dynamic performance, and layering/separation.  Overall, X7 sounds a little more digital in comparison while Opus sounds more analog and smoother. Both have similar retrieval of details.  Also, Opus soundstage width is a touch wider.
     
    Opus vs DX80 - DX has slightly less hissing.  Both have similar sub-bass extension, but DX bass is tighter and punchier, while Opus is softer and slower.  Opus has a slight edge in having a more transparent and better layered sound, but definitely not on a level of night'n'day difference.  One thing is noticeable, Opus sounds a little more dynamic, while DX80 sounds a bit more compressed in comparison.  Keep in mind, this is a relative comparison.  Soundstage expansion is close enough.
     
    Opus vs N5 - similar level of slight hissing during playback.  N5 has similarly deep sub-bass but faster mid-bass punch.  Opus sound is a little more transparent and with slightly better dynamics, but layering and separation is similar.  Soundstage width is a little wider in Opus.  Comparing Opus to N5 really puts a contrast on touch screen vs button/wheel controlled interface, but with i5 around the corner this should change.
     
    thebit_opus1-28_zpsykr88inh.jpg   thebit_opus1-29_zpsnqvh2zkj.jpg
     
    Conclusion.
     
    I discovered Opus#1 by accident, without even realizing that it will get catapulted to the top of my DAP list.  It's still work in progress since USB DAC functionality needs to be enabled, not even something I would use on a daily basis, but still a nice feature to complete the package.  Plus, a few other minor fw fixes and optimizations would be nice, including EQ fix, but nothing which I consider to be a showstopper.  Priced to be somewhere between other mid-fi and summit-fi DAPs, Opus#1 definitely offers a summit-fi sound quality with an open, musical, highly resolving, transparent sound wrapped in a smooth natural tonality.  Add to that a great battery life of 10-11hrs (headphone dependent), storage capacity of up to 432GB, full touch screen interface with external hardware transport control buttons, single ended and balanced outputs, digital optical output – and you see not only summit-fi sound quality but also summit-fi list of features.  With a current bonus offer of a custom Dignis leather case, still included under Amazon listing, you have a complete DAP package with a very impressive price/performance ratio.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. BartSimpson1976
      I auditioned again today against DX80 and Lotoo Paw 5000. Found the Opus the clear winner. As mentioned in the review it sounds (for me) much more dynamic than the DX80. I was turned off by the Paw 5000's UI although Bluetooth can be a plus sometimes... Find it now highly likely that the Opus #1 could be my next DAP, but still waiting for the Cayin i5 and need direct A/B against the Sony NW-ZX100... 
      BartSimpson1976, Apr 29, 2016
    3. BartSimpson1976
      I am tied between the Opus and the Sony ZX100...Opus SQ is 1% better for me...But flawless UI, battery and bluetooth are pro Sony..
      As per their website Opus had already plans for the #2 and #3 (full metal body with WiFi and Bluetooth) but it has disappeared from their site.
      BartSimpson1976, May 14, 2016
    4. San Man
      Great review as always twister!
      San Man, May 26, 2016