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Oppo HA-1 Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by aamefford, May 7, 2014.
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  1. etc6849
    Thanks!  Which cable would you get that is decent gauge / comparable to the Sennheiser CH 800 S cable?  Seems the Sennheiser version is $379!
    PS: would like it to be 10 foot or longer.
  2. Allanmarcus
    I make my own cables, so I can't recommend one. I can suggest you stay away from the really cheap ones on Amazon and eBay. Keep your eyes open on the classified or post a wanted ad for a good quality cable.
  3. etc6849
    There is a zy cable for $160 on amazon but it's only 2.5 meters; guessing you are talking about these and the other chinese made cables?  Do most just modify the stock cable?  Seems this would be easy for me to do, but unfortunately can't do it until my return period ends...
    What gauge wire do you use?  I may just make my own so it can reach to my bed...
  4. Allanmarcus

    Yep, the zy cable is the one I read to avoid. I have no direct experience with it.
    I've also heard it's not a good idea to reterminate it, but some do.
    There is a DIY thread that can help. A decent homemade cable should cost under $60, assuming you know what your are doing and have the gear needed to made a cable.
  5. donato
    The one that many recommend for the HD800 is the Cardas cable, but those are pricey.  There are a lot of Sennheiser-brand balanced cables for sale here on the for sale forum, but I'm pretty sure they are all more than $150 (heck, I'd sell you mine if you want since I'm probably going to upgrade to Cardas or Moon).
  6. craftyhack
    I have the HA-1 (since launch roughly) as well as HD800s for about 6 months now (non s 1st gen, I wish they hadn't called it HD800s, now how the hell am I supposed to pluralize it without confusing everything damnit?  Hence forth, first gen = HD800(s)).  Got the HD800(s) for $850 shipped used but were NIB with an additional Charleston Balanced cable, and am completely satisfied with the deal.  I waited several years for the prices to go lower, wasting many hours deal hunting and bargaining, and regret all of it.  It definitely would have been worth a couple hundred for me to avoid all of that deal hunting where I could have been enjoying these cans instead.  If you have the $$ and prefer the HD800s, go for it so you don't wonder later.  The quoted price isn't a bad deal considering new, with a return policy (and I am assuming warranty), the balanced cable, the tweaks that are supposed improvements, and IMHO the better aesthetics and what is hopefully a more durable finish.  Now that I have pretty much talked myself into getting the HD800s damnit...
    I am quite happy with the cable I got, and they start at $160 for 3' with Neutrik 4pin XLR connector, Canare cabling, headphone side connectors that seem just as good as the OEM, and from a US company that I read lots of good things about.  Or, you can use their configurator and go nuts.  If there is a better option for their price I am not aware other than used or DIY, and I looked for a long while.  The used cables that are priced well go QUICK, so if I hadn't gotten my cable in my package (before I knew about Charleston), I would have posted a wanted ad and hoped for the best.
    I am also very happy with the HA-1 / HD800s combo.  I have both other stacks and other cans that are in the same league, but this one of my most frequent pairings, so it isn't because of a lack of options.  Also, if you game, or listen to or watch 5.1 material down-mixed to 2ch and presented in virtual surround, but IMHO the precision, resolution, and soundstage of this pairing is incredible.  I have experimented with many other combos (see my profile for a list of just some of those other combos, the stuff I still own), and IMHO this combo is a clear winner.  Note that my HD800(s) are stock.  I have everything needed to mod them and am not nervous or whatever about modding them at all, but I don't want to screw with their signature.  Sure they are a bit thinner sounding on the low end compared to say LCD3's, but IMHO the low end is still excellent, and I don't want to modify the IMHO relatively unique and incredible high freq. performance and precise sound stage that makes the HD800(s) one of my favorite cans.
    Finally, the HA-1 has been in frequent use since I received it, including a more than few gaming marathons for 16+ hrs straight driving these fairly demanding HD800(s) at probably louder levels than I should be listening at :).  It runs in a room that is probably average 80F.  I have never once had any of the issues described here including USB no longer recognized by PC, scratchy volume, unbalanced channels, unexpected shutdowns, garbled display... those are all that I remember reading anyway.  Even after reading about them, I wasn't worried as every single post I read about issues was resolved by Oppo quickly and painlessly.  Maybe there are bad experiences with Oppo support out there (how can there NOT be?), but I can't remember seeing one, so I think they are rare.
    WayTooCrazy and etc6849 like this.
  7. etc6849
    There were some bad Oppo and HD800 posts that came up on google, although so many comment on stuff they don't own, I figured I'd post here and see.  Seems a lot of audiophiles don't like the ESS Sabre32 DAC, but I'm not sure why.  I'm an audiophile, but don't buy into BS as I also have an EE degree.  The XLR preout on the Oppo HA1 sounds top notch; don't think there's anything that can compete given I bought an almost new one for $800 from ebay.
    My guess is it's the same people that dislike Oppo who dislike Emotiva without ever hearing their top end stuff like my XMC-1 processor and XPR amps (now discontinued).
    Did the balance cable make a difference for you also?
    I won't say the name of the place I ordered from and you do have to call and haggle, but PM me if you want to know.
    I plan to measure my HD800 when it comes this weekend using my Earth Works M30 mic and REW (RoomEQ Wizard).  I am hoping there is no large spike at 6kHz.  If there is I may just order an HD800s from the same place and compare both for a week or two before returning one.  Might also do the super dupont mod on the HD800 after my return period is up (assuming I don't return it).
    Eventually I'll post some THD measurements comparing the XLR-4 versus phono jack on the Oppo HA-1 using the HD800 as a load.  My guess is the noise floor on the phono jack is already very low, but I may make a loop back cable and measure this too.  I like having headroom though so you guys have talked me into an XLR-4 cable.  If I were to pay $200 for one though, I'd likely just order an HD800s.
  8. craftyhack
    I will definitely hit you up for that dealer when I am ready, thanks!  Aso, here is a $30 cheaper yet longer cable:  and from pics, XLR connector, wire, and feedback feedback, it looks good to me, probably at least as good as Senn's OEM one:  http://www.ebay.com/itm/10-Sennheiser-HD800-Headphone-Cable-Balanced-/172249465170.
    I don't think that they sounded better per say, the noise floor was already below my threshold of hearing, but it is obvious that they are driven better given more power delivered by the Oppo.  It looks to be objectively true, given I don't have to turn the volume knob as much to hit what I am pretty sure is my typical listening level.
    P.S. EE here too :).
    etc6849 likes this.
  9. gPope
    Check out BTG-Audio.  I recently got his Midnight cable with XLR's and could not be happier.  Inexpensive and great craftsmanship.
    etc6849 likes this.
  10. etc6849
    This Oppo HA-1 really does have a low noise floor even for the onboard DAC and preamp.  I have put my ear into my speaker's horn and can only hear a very very slight hiss.
    I never knew of the difference a processor could make until I got rid of my Marantz AV8801 and went with an Emotiva XMC-1.  I immediately heard the difference that thing made.  I think the Oppo HA-1 may even be cleaner sounding than the Emotiva XMC-1 processor, although the XMC-1 has similar crystal clear highs and detailed lows, just not the other features like a nice differential headphone amp. 
    I would definitely buy a second used HA-1 if I see one for the right price as I want to use the home theater bypass mode and program my home automation system to auto switch so I can compare the too.  I'm thinking someday I'll write a script to randomly switch between the two (put keep a log) and see if I can objectively tell which is which.
    This Oppo HA-1 makes my nVidia Shield android TV box sing.  I would have never thought about using Android as my main media player, but there is jaw dropping sound coming out of it.  Wish I would have bought one in 2014 now!
  11. etc6849
    Thanks!  I'm leaning toward just chopping the factory cord as I really don't want to pay $150 or more.  I'd probably leave 6-8" on the phono plug end to make an XLR-4 adapter.
    Once I get my headphones tomorrow I should know.  Also want to do objective measurements before chopping the cable.  I love clear ultra detailed sound (having owned lots of horn speakers), so I bet I'll be very pleased with this HA-1/HD800 combo.  It will be awesome to have nice sound when I travel.  It really sucks when I have to leave my home theater system.
  12. Middy
    Second hand I cleaned up the internals with Deoxit and the externals connections to a big boost in SQ. There is always better Dacs or Amps, the same as cars but few are a big chunk of both.
    I have the Brooklyn now but the jump up isn't as big as I thought..For double the cost.... A competent piece of kit.
    Ladder Dacs and purpose made Headphone Amps are better by consensus here and other sites but that's 2 or 3 piece set up. What do you want/ what do you need.
    As a starter Amp it's great get it cheap it's hard to beat.
    Keep asking questions and look around always. Oppo was my first so I am bias...

    Good luck
  13. etc6849
    Definitely.  I would not have ever bought the Oppo HA-1 if it wasn't a decent USB DAC and preamp with a remote.  The home theater bypass mode is very cleaver.  Having a great headphone amp is just a bonus for me as I've never owned or even used decent headphones before.
    This review is what swayed me:  http://hometheaterhifi.com/reviews/headphone-amplifier/oppo-ha-1-headphone-amplifier-review/
    That website always has trustworthy reviews and no BS.  I know because they wouldn't recommend the Marantz AV8801 that I had already owned.  All the other sites with reviews recommending it lost all credibility in my mind.  That thing measured very poorly, but sounded OK.
  14. WayTooCrazy
    I was wondering. Would some low noise, 92mm PC fans work on the top of the Oppo grill to help extract some of that heat? Possibly prolonging life?
  15. Middy
    We discussed this before... A low profile noctura fan usb driven from the front but under the unit... Depends how hot it is where you live....Never encase an amp with out good air flow anyway but I don't think heat death is an issue unless it's really hot...

    You can move the case back a touch and leave a small gap by the front panel...

    Good luck oh and a usb fan controller ...E bay or Aliexpress. ..

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