Opus #3 - The Brilliant and Excellent DAP!
Opus #3 is one of the most brilliant DAPs (Digital Audio Players) of this moment, created by new company The Bit. Opus #3 promises to deliver a total solution for audiophiles in terms of sound quality and overall performance.
Opus DAPs are quite new to the market, especially when compared to older and established companies, but they already managed to gain a lot of interest from music lovers all over the world with their excellent build quality and with their sound. Although Opus doesn't seem to purchase a lot of advertising space and doesn't seem to be quite that intrusive in the eyes of their fans, their products have been loved by virtually everyone who heard one.
I have been slightly skeptical about #3 before testing it, but it has been almost two months since I owned one now, and my feelings towards it have gone from skepticism to curiosity, then to feelings of love and ultimately to enjoyment.
I have absolutely no affiliation with Opus, Thebit or other partner companies at this moment, I am not receiving any kind of incentive to sweeten things out or change my opinions about the product. My review will be as objective as it is humanly possible and it is a description of my general experience with Opus #3, every opinion expressed here is mine and I firmly stand by it.
My name is George Dobrescu and I am the Director of the Seventh Heart Studios game studio. I work as one of the main programmers for the company, and I am the writer for Quantum Magica and Falsetto Memories projects. I spend eight – twelve hours a day working on a computer, writing and sometimes drawing. I also take care of administrative work which means that I require a portable setup so I'll be testing the portability of iDSD as well.
Music is present all around me for a big part of that time as working with music is always more fun. With all the devices I own, I need great sound, comfort and ease of usage, not to mention that my listening volume ranges from "please stop that, it's far too loud" to "I can't even tell that you're listening to music".
My collection includes everything from Classical to Metal, from Rap to Pop, from Punk to Cabaret and absolutely everything in between. There are great artists from every type of music, and I'm one to collect their albums, and keep a tidy order for my files.
You can check out more about our games on our pages https://www.facebook.com/seventh.heart.studios/ and https://twitter.com/7heartstudios .
At Seventh Heart Studios, we all love music and this has had an impact on our games as we hold the music close to our hearts and we are committed to only use ogg -q10 as the encoding format for our music since it offers the best disk space to sound quality ratio, OGG -q10 being closest to audibly transparent when compared to FLAC encoding.
Personal philosophy: Music is more than a hobby or sound. Music is inspiration. Music is life. Music has meaning by itself, being the one thing that can define one's life while shaping one's imagination and creativity. Music can open doors to new plains and music can change one's mood. Music can rest the mind better than days of sleep or can give one energy better than a thousand cups of coffee. Music can be anything we want it to be and the music we experience using professional audition tools is more but at the same time it is nothing more than our way of enhancing the emotion we get from music. Love is a concept too shallow, unable to encompass what music really means to a music lover.
I've been using quite a few DAPs through time, from the first iteration of FiiO X5, up to the second generation of X5 (X5ii), FiiO X7, FiiO X3ii, Hidizs AP200, iBasso DX200, and a few others. I had many hours of fun with many DAPs, and when I saw that a newcomer DAP proposes to sweeten audiophile's experience even more, I instantly became curious about their offering.
I contacted Thebit with questions and typical audiophile quandaries and they have answered them well, providing lots of help through the process of installing and using Opus #3. Friendly and helpful, the service and PR departments of Opus can only be commended, and I'm sure that they provide a similarly good experience for the customers who bought their #1 and #2 DAPs.
I should note that the way most people describe Opus DAPs is #1<#3<#2, it seems that they number doesn't define which DAP is their Top Of The Line.
It has been almost a week since I discussed with Thebit about their Opus #3 and their #3 was sent through UPS, with package tracking and all details. Given that the package arrived in great condition, in just about a week, I can only say that I am happy with their flawless services, quite impressed by the punctuality offered.
The package featured a lot of bubble wrap, to protect the #3 package, thing which helped a lot since UPS might sometime handle some packages without all the care necessary.
That day… It was one of these damp summer days when I went to pick up the package. The sun was slyly gazing at us, from its throne, thinking probably nothing of the humans under it as they'd go on about their lives. One would at some point stop and think: "What if the sun feels lonely?" It is providing us all joys, summer and going to the beaches, winter and its snow, but what about the ball of light from the sky? Is it happy? Does it feel that it'd want us to notice it more?
The blazing heat was probably getting to my head, when, in the middle of the day when I received a call from the UPS to meet with them to pick up a package. Quite unfortunately, this was just my second meet with UPS, and it was a new employee who had to deliver it, so I couldn't call to get a better schedule for everything. On the bright side, even though I couldn't live my location, I already had iDSD BL and a selection of headphones and IEMs to enjoy. This, and I always have a lot of work to do, so there were no chances of having any seconds wasted on waiting.
I took a trip outside and met with the deliver guy who was not particularly nice or haughty. He handled me the package and I quickly got back inside, to stop the blazing star that brings us day from burning my skin any further.
Inside the package was a box, a strange looking box. Compared to all the other packages I received and opened, #3 was clearly packaged to look differently, not necessarily more stylish, not more edgy either. It was almost as if The Bit wanted to have a completely original look with their Opus line of DAPs and created a new color theme just for them.
The DAP itself smiled at me as I was unpacking it, tickling my curiosity as it was packaged in a pretty premium cloth.
I turned it on, plugged a microSD card with music, plugged in Etymotic ER4-XR and went on a walk to hear how it sounds. By the time I got out of my place, the evening was already starting to slowly lower its crimson wings over the landscapes of Bucharest, but this only made my walk more emotional, more romantic. I learned how to use Opus #3 in less than a few moves, enjoying it for all my trip.
First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:
Opus #3 comes packaged in an entirely different flavor of packaging than I was used to seeing with most audio products in general, the typical black box being replaced by a marine-blue box, wrapped in a gray paper with information about the DAP this time.
There are a few extras in the package, but this time the unit wasn't new, so I'll talk about the most important highlight, which is the leather case included with #3. It seems that Opus includes a genuine leather case with their #3, the leather case feeling excellent in the hand, and leaving a really nice feeling to the user.
Like with all premium devices, there is a screen protector installed on #3, and after using it for more than a month, I found that it does an amazing job at protecting this ingenious DAP's screen.
What I look in for a DAC/AMP
When buying a DAP unit, there are a few things that a buyer should be looking at and considering, as sooner or later those will come in foresight:
- Sound quality – Like with every audio-related purchase, this is the most important aspect of your investment
- Battery life – at least 8 hours of battery life, at high volume on high gain, with effects engaged. Anything above this number will come in handy down the road, but this should be a minimum
- Intuitive / ergonomic build – Buttons arrangement, robust build, no creaking noises, resistance to pressure for when it's a pocket, robust headphone jacks, no wearing issues after long term usage
- Good Value – It'd be good for everything one owns to perform well for its price
- Interesting design – The device must look modern / elegant / luxurious and fit in with both street usage and a business environment
- Driving ability – To work well with both IEMs and over the ear headphones
- USB DAC function – Always good to have!
- Enough I/O ports – To satisfy all devices and current usage patterns
- Firmware Support – Fluent, Fast, stable Firmware
Opus #3 is truly a beautiful device that has been built on a bleeding edge sense of fashion. The edges, or at least the corners, are quite sharp, but they aren't uncomfortable for me to use while on-the-go, while the back of the device features an interesting pattern texture along with an Opus #3 white text.
On the back of the device, you can notice the volume wheel, which I have to add, looks quite nice. The volume wheel is very well built, and after having used #3 daily for more than a month, the volume wheel feels just as it did when I opened the package. The travel distance between two clicks is not exactly small, and it has some play, but this works well with both making fine adjustments and with making large adjustments to the listening volume.
The bottom of #3 has a microSD slot and a microUSB port. The microSD slot is a plug and push type, and it works very well. I haven't tested the transfer speed since I always transfer my music using a mSD to SD adapter, but I never had a track skip or stutter, so I'm entirely satisfied with it.
On the left side of Opus #3, you will find 3 buttons, a FFWD button, a BKWD button, and a Play/Pause button. They feel quite high quality and they are clicky, and while I can't guarantee this, they also feel like they are made out of metal. Sliding your fingers towards the top side of #3, you will find the 3.5mm Headphone out, the 2.5mm Balanced out, and the power button. The plugs and ports are sturdy and they feel like they will hold for a good while. The click when the plug is fully inserted is really nice.
On the right side of #3, there are no buttons, but this is where the volume wheel is placed, on the back of #3.
The screen of #3 is much nicer than I expected, it presents color with good contrast, and the music list is easily readable even in the middle of the day in Bucharest, with the sun blazing off right into the screen. There is a bezel around the actual screen, and it is thicker above and under the screen than on the sides, but it actually provided a really good feedback for my touch usage, there were no mistypes / mis-touches or such, where bezel - less phones would sometime register a touch where it wasn't the case.
Although there are a few sharp corners on #3, Opus thought about it and they included a premium real-leather case with #3. The case is very functional, looks amazing, and most important, it feels really nice to the touch. #3 might get slightly warmer while it is used from within the case, but it will be fine for most people. I personally used #3 without any case since I like touching the metal parts of it, and I like feeling the texture on the back of it, but I think that the inclusion of the leather case means that everybody will have a good time from the get-go.
The design itself is fairly industrial and goes for a rather edgy presentation, Opus #3 being a DAP I'd recommend for a metal music listener, with the strong silvery color, the textured sides, and back presence.
With every button feeling nice and clicky, with the ports feeling secured and clicking right in place, I'd say that Opus #3 is a really well built and it is an edgy looking DAP that is sure to impress and won't go unnoticed if left on a table.
I have tested #3 with many headphones, Ultrasone Signature Studio, Meze 99 Classics, HiFiMAN RE-2000, Etymotic ER4-XR, Sennheiser ie800, Dunu DK-3001, and a few others. I have also tested #3 against other DAPs, like DX200 and AP200, and even against a full desktop quality DAC/AMP like iDSD BL.
Opus #3 works as a USB DAC, and it does so flawlessly, there is no noise, and the connection is fairly easy, after the driver is installed for windows. Sadly, I don't have a Linux PC, or a MAC to test for those, but I'd expect it to work just as well.
Opus #3 also offers Streaming abilities, along with Android Apps install options. All Android Apps can be installed from settings -> streaming -> and click on + for installing a new App or click on the installed app to run it.
I am running with great success the following apps:
- APK Pure
- Navigation Bar
The Android found on #3 is not exactly a default Android configuration, but a stripped down and optimized version of Android, that offers the best of both worlds, Android, and High-Resolution Music Playback. I feel that the Android found on #3 is fairly mature, the built-in music app is really good and offers anything I need, recognizes all my tags (Japanese, Chinese, Romanian, English and Russian characters), and most apps for music will work as well. The GUI is rather elegant and looks luxurious, making the usage of #3 a delightful experience.
Since to get access to the bar that offers access to the back button you have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen, I highly recommend installing Navigation Bar, which will place a little tool on the screen, that gives you access to all basic Android buttons. This little tool can be placed on the right side of the screen, near the top and it can expand down from there, feeling quite "At Home" for MIUI users.
After installing this little tool, I have to admit that a large part of my usage has been done with #3's native music app, it sounds and works flawlessly for my usage patterns.
By pulling down the top area, you will get access to Wifi, Bluetooth, Line Out setting (which will basically set the volume of the HO to max), Equalizer, Sleep, Repeat Mode and Shuffle.
By going to Audio, you can select whether to enable or disable the EQ function, along with creating your own custom EQ profiles and choosing one of the 5 user-defined profiles. In Audio settings, you will also find the option to enable Gapless playback.
In Output, you will find the option to enable Line Out, change the Balance (L-R), DSP mode (I'm not exactly sure what this does, I left it on 32 Bit X-MOS for most of my listening), and Gain Control (Which was left on high for most of my tests).
For using #3 as a USB DAC, you need to enable this option from the Settings -> USB.
Firmware updates can be done from either offline memory, or after downloading the update using Wifi.
GUI wise, everything feels fairly native to me and using the default music app is quite native, after three hours it is possible to master and enjoy it to the fullest.
Opus #3 has a unique tonal signature, going for a neutral-ish sound, with an enthusiastic approach, a sparkly top end, a sweet midrange, a very convincing 3D soundstage, vivid presentation and amazing detail level. All in all, the refinement and detail levels are on par with TOTL and End-Game devices, being very hard to tell those apart, except for the signature, Opus #3 having a signature that I really enjoy. #3 presents all music with energy, with life, and with vividness. It manages to bring the details to the listener, without being shouty. It manages to stay musical, while it is neutral and while it plays everything as a whole, presenting every layer in a space of its own.
For the sonic impressions, I have used Ultrasone Dj One Pro, Sennheiser ie800, Meze 99 Classics, Ultrasone Signature Studio, HiFiMAN RE-2000, HiFiMAN RE-800, Etymotic ER4-XR, Oriveti New Primacy, Dunu DK-3001, and a few other transducers. Each headphone has a signature of its own, and will influence the sound impressions to some extent.
With the channel balance set to be equal from the settings, the channels are in perfect balance, even when the sound volume is set to 1-3 out of 150. The volume control wheel doesn't have any impact on the channel balance and #3 will be free of any channel imbalances for all users.
The bass is tight, solid, quick but bears an amazing impact, leaving the listener dazzled by its quality and by how crisp it feels. There is a very good sense of layering and Opus #3 has enough power to bring even the lowest notes to life, being a DAP that will satisfy both bass heads and people looking for a neutral / reference sound. Bass guitars keep an amazing level of texture and detail, being presented vividly and with very good speed.
With electronic music, the bass has good weight, hits deep and hits hard, while with rock music, the bass has a natural presentation, not being enhanced nor recessed, but being the perfect bass to hear with rock and metal music.
Drums hit quickly, and they feel natural, leading to a playful and generally lively presentation. All in all, Opus #3 is not a relaxed DAP, but it is not dry either, having enough Ooomph effect to dazzle every listener.
Haggard – All'inizio e la Morte – The song starts with great impact, the bass being felt in its sweet spot, the voices and every other instrument playing harmonically together. All strings bear an amazing texture and a realistic timbre while the choirs feel real. It is easy to notice multiple layers of instruments, each layer being well defined and being presented vividly. Male voices sound musical, but can also scream well when they're supposed to, guitars sound musical and romantic, and flutes also sound quite musical. It is very easy to close your eyes and imagine the journey in the story Haggard evokes, about Galileo Galilei and his tragedy. There is an impressive level of detail evoked, every instrument of the orchestra being audible and blending in to create a life-like presentation.
Dream Evil – The Book of Heavy Metal – The first scream of the song comes through with good strength and bears a very realistic tone and texture. The guitars that follow bear a very nice texture as well, along with a wide spatial presentation. The first verse is played vividly and lively, the cymbals being noticeable and making a great company to the other instruments. The voices are well-textured and they feel sprinkled by a very good impact, the bass being presented at the right spot for this song, everything feeling right in place for an authentic Heavy Metal song. The rather tragic story of the man who dedicates his entire life to Metal is presented with a good amount of details. It is very easy to start headbanging and to emphasize with the protagonist while listening to this song.
Eminem – We Made You – There is a good sense of space and instrumental resolution to the whole song, and #3 has a very natural texture to voices and instruments. The bass notes are deep and heavy, but aren't over-enhanced, while the mids are clear, vivid and all stringed instruments are presented vividly. There is a nice sense of width to the whole song, leading to a very airy presentation. Voices sound natural, and the tonality is spot-on.
Rings of Saturn – Utopia – The song starts quick and strong, with a combination of melodic guitar tones entwined with a quick and precise drum pattern. Rings of Saturn are known for their extremely aggressive music that can go faster than a race car, but which also features extremely melodic bridges and choruses. There is a very good sense of space and a very good sense of texture throughout the whole song. The listener can feel the guitars moving throughout the sonic scape and can actually touch certain notes that are skillfully played by Rings of Saturn. Although the song doesn't have any lyrics and is an instrumental song, there is a story to be heard here, a vivid yet sad story, about the utopia that's enriched by feelings of nostalgia.
Opus #3 brings an amazingly detailed and wide midrange, with a very vivid presentation of textures and a very good resolution. At times, I had to stop the music while taking a walk, because I had the sensation that someone told me something, but it was just an effect in certain songs.
The vocal tone is spot-on for both male and female voices, Opus #3 being enjoyable with both sweet female vocals and rock songs, even metal songs.
The details in strings and in electronic instruments are amazing, Opus #3 being an experience one has to feel personally before understanding how many details were in each song.
Spoken – Through It All – The song starts with a juicy set of guitars and with a crispy drum pattern sprinkled over them. The voices come through with amazing clarity and emotional impact, the soundstage is expansive and it is very deep, and the sound is very well layered. The bass is strong and precise, the top end is sparkly and the midrange is sweet and natural. Spoken are taking us in an adventure of the jaded protagonist, who has been burned by fate, rising back from the ashes, led by his love. The whole song is extremely involving and the experience on Opus #3 and RE2000 is indeed amazing.
Skillet – Comatose – The song starts with a clear and well-textured set of strings that entwine deeply with the other instruments, drums and guitars. The piano plays musically in its layer, and the voices come through with great strength and with an incredible naturalness. The story of the man who suffers from the absence of his dream in his reality is presented vividly, and Skillet's song feels tangible and the drama / emotional pain of the singer can be felt, being easy to start singing along while listening to this song.
Infected Mushroom – Becoming Insane – The song's start is marked by a crispy and natural sounding set of guitar notes. The electronic part of the song that follows presents amazing bass depth and impact. The highs are well pronounced and clear, and the whole sound is ethereal and crystalline. There is a clear and vivid texture with every single instrument that is played. The voices have a very natural resonance and tone to them, along with a great, believable texture. All acoustic guitar notes are vivid and come through with the right amount of bite to sound natural and believable. The story of the song, the story of the man who becomes insane can be felt, and the most active part of the song is just as vividly and lively presented. One can't just listen to this song without moving his feet and softly singing along.
Opus #3 has a forward or semi forward treble that has great impact and adds a sparkle to the sound. There is an amazing level of detail in the treble, but I didn't feel it getting hot or harsh with ie800, RE-2000 or Signature Studio, even though all of them are treble-happy transducers. The layering and airiness of the treble presentation are amazing, and they are sure to satisfy those who crave the last bit of detail that is to be revealed.
Opus #3 will make trumpets truly shine, will mark cymbal hits with a great impression, will give electronic effects an edge, and will make the whole sound energetic, enthusiastic, happy and lively. There is very little to fault with this presentation, but it should be noted that #3 is not made for smooth signatures lovers, it is intended for neutral type of sound or for treble lovers.
Icon For Hire – Hope Of Morning – The song starts with a very melodic and playful combination of electronic instruments. Female voices are liquid, vivid, playful and melodic, with a spot-on tonality to them. Guitar notes that are played along have the right texture to them to feel tangible, you can visualize the strings of the guitar being touched and played. The whole song has a quick and musical bass that presents itself with good impact. There is a tendency for this song to be melodic, but Opus #3 makes the experience even sweeter. The story of the song is presented with a good amount of details and clues of all types, one can imagine the crazy landscapes painted in this song.
Age of Days – I Did it for Love – The song starts with a playful tune of guitar notes and a crispy pattern of drums. There is a good separation between instrument layers, and there is a very good sense of space throughout the song. All details are presented vividly, and the different guitar layers help create a very good exposition of the song's mood and landscape painted. The solo is juicy and guitar tonalities are once again spot-on. The story of this song is presented nicely vivid, and although it is not a happy story, it is still fun to listen to.
Veil Of Maya – Unbreakable – The song starts with very good strength and impact. There is a good sense of space and the drums sound crispy yet playful. The bass notes go deep and hit the lowest notes very well. All guitars are well textured, and Opus #3 is able to keep up very well with the speedy drum patterns of this song. The top end is sparkly and well enhanced, while the mids are sweet and playful, yet presented with a natural tonality. The story of this song, which is mostly a motivational song that tells people to believe in themselves, is sent through nicely and the song feels both uplifting and motivating to listen to.
Opus #3 presents music with a wide soundstage that has good depth, and very good layering and instrument separation. It is amazing to notice so many layers and different instruments / different musical notes in songs that you heard all over for more than ten years. Songs that I think I knew, now entice me with even more intrigue and even more small things that I can now notice.
It is amazing to hear how far things can come from, and while Opus #3 is not a DAP intended for in-your-face type of sound lovers, I think that anyone who hears it will want to hear it more, Opus #3's soundstage having a WOW effect, just like a pair of Sennheiser HD800.
The ADSR (Attack Decay Sustain Release) and PRaT (Pace, Rhythm and Timing) are again excellent, feature related to the high-quality Burr-Brown PCM1792A DAC found within Opus #3. Every musical note has a very clear start, duration, end, and the peak of each musical note is natural, without any trace of digital compression.
This helps music push through with high resolution, excellent definition and a naturalness that's otherwise lacking with lower end DAC chips. The decay of every note is especially good with PCM1792A as it provides a natural, but clear bound to every musical note. Textures feel enhanced, vivid and clear.
Opus #3 is intended for portable usage, being a DAP (Digital Audio Player), so its portable usage is quite important. So far, I found it to be good in portability. The sound is really good for a portable unit, the ergonomics are good, and it is not a very heavy unit. Opus #3 has a very good grip due to its textured sides, so it doesn't absolutely require a case to be used with it, the screen is bright, vibrant and it is visible outdoors, the buttons and volume wheel making a good pocket usage scenario. The power button on top works well with #3 due to its size and thickness, and the touchscreen registers things properly almost every time.
I can move quickly through my library, find the songs I want to hear, and press play. I found that even the library scanning process goes pretty quickly and Opus #3 is up to the task of my rather hectic and chaotic usage.
The streaming abilities of #3 are very good, the wifi receiver has a very good strength and I would sometimes use my smartphone as a Personal Hotspot, place it in my pocket or my bag, then connect Opus #3 to it, and stream music like this.
If I really had to find a fault in #3's portable usage, that would probably be the lack of playing through folders and maybe the rather sharp edges and corners, but then again, I was able to use it in my pockets and hold it in my hands without hassle.
Opus #3 is thicker than my daily smartphone, but it is far less tall and has less width, so the thickness doesn't impede its usage. In fact, I think that the added thickness improves my grip with it, as well as how easy it is to use the volume wheel.
The battery life is estimated at around 8.5 hours of playback, and this is close to what I got, which is great considering that my usage patterns include a lot of screen time, and usage of loud volumes and Equalizer, so Opus #3 should last at least 8 hours even with the most serious usages out there.
The specification sheet of #3 doesn't include its power rating (Or it might, but it is not in English). Even so, #3 has been able to drive every single headphone and IEM I have to louder levels than I listen to, all while keeping an excellent clarity and control over the sound. I don't have any headphones with an impedance over 300 OHM right now, but based on the sonic results it provided so far, I don't foresee #3 struggling with any headphone either way. Opus #3 has no hiss, and this is great for IEM users, providing a clear and well-controlled sound even at low volumes.
Since Opus #3 is a DAP, and since it features Wifi, it is very important to know whether it has any kind of EMI (Electro Magnetic Interference), so it went through a few more tests than IEMs and headphones do.
I placed #3 on top of my wireless router while streaming music, and played it at low volumes.
I used it under the high voltage power lines from the Politehnics area, and placed it through all kinds of typical usage. As far as I can tell, there was't any trace of EMI with #3 after it has been through all these tests, so it should be fairly free of any EMI.
Opus #3 vs Xiaomi Mi Max – The comparison is quite unfair due to the price difference, and the purpose of each device (Mi Max is a mid-end smartphone at most, while Opus #3 is a high-end DAP), but it still is fun to know what you gain when going from a smartphone to a dedicated DAP. Comparing them directly, Opus #3 extends much more in the treble, has a much tighter and precise bass, has a much more natural sound, has no digital glare, which is evident on Mi Max, #3 has a lot better body to the sound, much more impact, a considerably better definition/resolution and considerably better textures. The soundstage also extends in a very spatial way on #3, with much better width and depth, and the ADSR sounds spot-on. There are also a lot more details in the sound of Opus #3, Mi Max not being the best smartphone for music.
Opus #3 vs iDSD BL – This comparison is also slightly unfair since #3 is a DAP, while iDSD BL is a dedicated DAC/AMP, but both of them are high end devices, both rely on Burr-Brown DACs, and both have impressed many music lovers with their sound. The first thing to notice when comparing them is that iDSD BL has slightly more body and weight to its bass, while #3 is slightly tighter. In the midrange, both are amazing devices, #3 enhancing textures slightly more, while iDSD BL presents textures in a natural yet fun way. The soundstage has more depth on iDSD BL, but it is presented with more width on #3. There is a clear sense of space on both, and layering feels rather good on both. The detail level is insane on both, but the way details are presented is slightly different, #3 presenting details more "In-Your-Face" than iDSD BL, at this point it being strictly a matter of preference. iDSD BL has more driving power (4W peak power output to be more precise), and slightly more control over the sound in general, but Opus #3 keeps up very well. All in all, both iDSD BL and Opus #3 perform exemplary and you can say that both are winners.
Opus #3 vs iBasso DX200 – This is where the fair comparisons begin, both Opus #3 and DX200 being high end DAPs. There is a small difference, #3 being the middle ground DAP from Opus (There is a #2 as well out there), while DX200 is the Top-Of-The-Line, State-Of-Art DAP from iBasso. Starting with the build quality, DX200 has a smoother body, #3 looking slightly more edgy, while DX200 goes for an elegant approach. The displays are bright and easily readable outside on both DAPs, the colors being somewhat warmer on DX200 (closer to ideal). General smoothness of the system is slightly better on DX200, the display resolution and warmer colors adding to this impression. The volume wheel works amazingly well on both, and both offer a good headphone out, but it should be noted that DX200 offers a dedicated SPDIF port, and every AMP module will bring some new features, like the balanced LO on AMP3. After careful listening, the sound is different more than it is similar, DX200 being less enhanced all around, while #3 is slightly more vibrant in highs and in the lows. DX200 has the edge when it comes to textures, presenting them extremely vivid, but #3 has quite a vivid presentation as well. The soundstage is presented wider on Opus #3, while DX200 presents the soundstage with similar levels of width, and a tad more depth. Instrument layering is similar, and midrange tonality is spot-on on both.
Opus #3 vs AP200 – AP200 is a high quality, Android, entry-level DAP, that costs considerably less, so the comparison might be a bit unfair, but still good to keep in mind. First, both devices are made out of metal and offer a nice feel to the hand. #3 is larger and offers a more edgy design. The screen surface is also larger, so the control is slightly better. Opus #3's display has more brightness, but AP200 should be fairly easy to read outdoors as well. As for the sonic differences, AP200 has more enhancement in the bass area, while #3 is more neutral and tighter. The midrange is presented similarly, and the treble is presented with more enhancement on Opus #3. AP200's level of detail is fair for AP200's price, and keeping in mind that Opus #3 is much more expensive, it performs as such, presenting music with more detail, vividness, and resolution. The soundstage is wider on #3, and has a similar depth on both, while the layering is more evident with #3. After careful consideration, it is possible to say that AP200 is, in some ways, like a mini distant relative of #3.
Opus #3 vs HiFiMAN Megamini – Megamini is a mini DAP, which has only the basic features, and comes in a slim and small factor. #3 is larger, has a larger screen, and a much more complex set of functions and usage scenarios. On the sound, Megamini is actually quite good, being vivid, having a good amount of impact and being fairly energetic in the treble. The resolution is better on #3, but the price is also higher, so Megamini performs very well for its price range. Opus #3 and Megamini have a similar width and depth for their stage, Megamini having a really good performance for its price point and physical size. All in all, if we talk about the sonic performance, Megamini feels like a mini Opus #3, which is quite an impressive feature for it.
Opus #3 vs FiiO X5ii – FiiO X5ii has been one of my favorite devices for a long time, but it has been replaced, right around the time I received Opus #3. I am still considering bringing back FiiO X5ii by buying another one from FiiO. FiiO X5ii servers its purpose well, while Opus #3 has a few more functions inside. The display quality is commendable on both devices, X5ii having a slightly and better colored display, and ease of usage is great on both. When it comes to sonics, FiiO X5ii is slightly tiled towards a warm signature, while #3 feels more neutral by comparison. The top end is also slightly tilted towards a smoother presentation on X5ii, while #3 has a vivid and energetic presentation of cymbals and highs in general. The midrange is similarly presented, but #3 has a wider soundstage while X5ii has a deeper soundstage. Instrument separation is great on both, X5ii being an absolute steal for the price it goes on now, quite close to Opus #3 in most aspects.
Opus #3 is on sale with many shops right now, so there isn't a precise value it sells for now, but it costed about 900$ at the time of release, which is also the price it should be judged for.
Opus #3 brings a good feature set, with Wifi, Bluetooth, streaming support, Android and many other features that will surely entice and enrichen every music lover's experience. The sound alone may be very well worth the price, #3 having a sonic performance that is fully commendable. The sound is vivid, it is full of energy and life, the top end is lively, the bottom end has great impact, the mids are natural and the textures are presented vividly.
TheBit and Opus included a leather case in the package, and there is also a high-quality cable included with it. Opus #3 can also replace your current soundcard as it offers support to be used as a USB DAC, and it will work perfectly for both listening to music, or watching movies and playing games. Besides its fantastic build quality, Opus #3 comes with a single microSD card, and it also features 64GB of internal memory.
All in all, the 900$ price tag is not exactly cheap, but Opus #3 is a premium device, coming in a premium package, with premium accessories included. It is possible to say that Opus #3 justifies its price by its sound quality, build quality and good software support, and while it is not a budget king, it is good to keep in mind that "you get what you pay for", Opus #3 being one of the best DAPs the market has to offer at this point, performing fairly good for its price point.
Listening to Opus #3 has been a great experience, and reviewing it has been an even better one.
Opus #3 is a high-end DAP (Digital Audio Player) that features a natural and rich sound, a deep bass with amazing impact, and a sparkly top end, along with an airy presentation and a great resolution for its textures, and an amazing detail retrieval.
The typical battery duration is pretty good, around 8.5 hours, and the usage outdoors is excellent, maybe minus the sharp corners and edges, but Opus #3 comes with a genuine leather case to alleviate this problem.
Opus #3 runs quite smooth in general, and it has a pretty mature implementation of Android, featuring support for third party apps, along with very good support for all music files, resolutions and sample rates.
At its price point, Opus #3 is not a budget DAP, but a premium offering, and it is well worth its asking price. It is even possible to find a unit on sale right now.
It is easy to recommend Opus #3 to the ones passionate about music and to those who want to seek the last drops of quality and who love the house sound of the Burr-Brown DAC, along with the Opus experience and presentation.
Thank you for reading! I hope that this review is of help to you! Stay safe, and please remember to have fun while listening to music!
Link to the review on Audiophile Heaven: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.com/2017/08/opus-3-brilliant-excellent-dap.html
Link to the official store (USA): https://shop.musicteck.com/collections/opus
Link to the official Thread on Head-Fi: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/opus-3-hi-res-audio-player-w-wifi-and-streaming.842632/
Link to the writer’s head-fi page: https://head-fi.org/members/dobrescu-george.170938/
Audiophile Heaven: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.com/
Audiophile Heaven on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AudiophileHeaven/