Oppo HA-1 Impressions Thread
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gotoma8

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So how do you like it with the hd800? What cables are using? Stock?
 
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jonahsfo

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 So how do you like it with the hd800? What cables are using? Stock?
 
I'm using a balanced cable from Headphone Lounge.  I don't take much stock in the magic of special cables, but the jump to balanced mode on the HD-800s is a shocking improvement.  Ted's balanced cable is quite nice and well-made, sounds great, and was very reasonably-priced.
 
As far as I can tell, the HD-800 must never have been designed to run single-ended.  They likely include the SE cable just for market reasons (since few people have balanced headphone amps).  I've heard them on multiple balanced cables, and they all sounded good (including Sennheiser's own ridiculously-overpriced balanced cable). 
 
In a nutshell, moving to balanced suddenly fills in the lower half of the sound.  Where the HD800 can sound a bit clinical and tinny on the SE cable, the balanced cable seems to fix it.  The bass is certainly more subtle than the LCD-X, but it definitely goes nice and deep, and sounds great even for EDM and rock music.
 
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The HA-1's spectacularly transparent amp section, delivering a whopping 1084 mW (est.) into 300 Ohms (balanced out), does things for the HD800 that I haven't heard with any other amp (keep in mind that my experience is very limited) - including, and I don't think I'm imagining this, a lifting of bass energy.  I'm saying that the HD800 really appreciates the awesome power of the HA-1...


I'm using a balanced cable from Headphone Lounge.  I don't take much stock in the magic of special cables, but the jump to balanced mode on the HD-800s is a shocking improvement.  Ted's balanced cable is quite nice and well-made, sounds great, and was very reasonably-priced.

As far as I can tell, the HD-800 must never have been designed to run single-ended.  They likely include the SE cable just for market reasons (since few people have balanced headphone amps).  I've heard them on multiple balanced cables, and they all sounded good (including Sennheiser's own ridiculously-overpriced balanced cable). 

In a nutshell, moving to balanced suddenly fills in the lower half of the sound.  Where the HD800 can sound a bit clinical and tinny on the SE cable, the balanced cable seems to fix it.  The bass is certainly more subtle than the LCD-X, but it definitely goes nice and deep, and sounds great even for EDM and rock music.

Hi Jonahsfo,

It's affirming to see someone else writing that the HD800 bass is improved with the HA-1's balanced output, but I believe we're hearing the difference between 1084mW into 300-Ohm (with the HA-1 4-pin XLR output) vs. only 271mW into 300-Ohm (with the HA-1's 6.3mm TRS output.)

HA-1 specifications show 800mW into 600 Ohms vs. 200mW into 600 Ohms, when going from balanced output to single ended. My 300-Ohm figures of 1084mW vs. 271mW are interpolated.

Yes, the HD800 sounds better on the 4-Pin output. :wink:

Mike
 
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Just had to share the obligatory gear-porn photo.  I just received my HA-1 last week, and have been enjoying it ever since.


 


The HA-1 does an impressive job driving the HD-800s and HD-650s as well as the LCD-X.  It definitely has a slightly different sonic presentation than the Benchmark DAC2 HGC + Bryston BHA-1 combo that I was using before this arrived.   I need to spend some more time with both setups, but the Oppo seems to sound a bit crisper (or slightly more clinical if you want to use a different word), whereas the Benchmark/Bryston combo has a "smoother" or more analog sound (or possibly less detailed -- I can't really tell).


 


Also, just as some other reviews had mentioned, the Oppo really does seem slightly larger (physically) than you'd expect if you've just seen it in photos.  But it's a beautifully-built box, and is a great one-box DAC/balanced headphone amp solution for computer-driven audio.  I suspect this will live here in the office, and the other setup will migrate to the living room.


 


 


May I ask what headphone stands you are using in the picture?
 
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simty

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Those are Woo Audio single & double headphone stands.
http://www.wooaudio.com/products/wahps2.html
 
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jonahsfo

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Hi Jonahsfo,

It's affirming to see someone else writing that the HD800 bass is improved with the HA-1's balanced output, but I believe we're hearing the difference between 1084mW into 300-Ohm (with the HA-1 4-pin XLR output) vs. only 271mW into 300-Ohm (with the HA-1's 6.3mm TRS output.)

HA-1 specifications show 800mW into 600 Ohms vs. 200mW into 600 Ohms, when going from balanced output to single ended. My 300-Ohm figures of 1084mW vs. 271mW are interpolated.

Yes, the HD800 sounds better on the 4-Pin output.


Mike
Mike,
 
Agreed.  Although to be fair, I've head the HD-800 balanced on four different amps (with varying cables), and it's noticeably better than SE on each one.  In my experience, it's mostly the balanced connection that matters.  Don't get me wrong -- great amplification is amazing, but the single biggest upgrade to those cans is going balanced.
 
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May I ask what headphone stands you are using in the picture?
 
Those are the Woo Audio Adjustable Headphone Stands:
http://www.wooaudio.com/products/wahps2.html
 
the one on the left is the new chrome version.  They're quite nice.
 
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Hi, does the normal/high gain volume control affect the xlr output on the rear?
 
I mean, can you use the high gain volume on the xlr output on the rear into an stereo amplifier?
 
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In a nutshell, moving to balanced suddenly fills in the lower half of the sound.  Where the HD800 can sound a bit clinical and tinny on the SE cable, the balanced cable seems to fix it.  The bass is certainly more subtle than the LCD-X, but it definitely goes nice and deep, and sounds great even for EDM and rock music.
 
  That has nothing to do with cable, its power.
 
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  Hi, does the normal/high gain volume control affect the xlr output on the rear?
 
I mean, can you use the high gain volume on the xlr output on the rear into an stereo amplifier?
 
No it does not. The outputs at the rear are signal level outputs, not amplified outputs. The gain control only affects the amplified output to the headphones
 
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  That has nothing to do with cable, its power.
 
Agreed. The balanced or single ended outputs only differentiate themselves on power and increased noise rejection. The latter is unlikely to be audible in reality, so then the primary difference is power.
 
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No it does not. The outputs at the rear are signal level outputs, not amplified outputs. The gain control only affects the amplified output to the headphones
 
Maybe the initial questions were confusingly worded, but I think your answer was, too.
 
The volume control DOES work on the rear outputs unless you have the home theater bypass engaged.  The reason for the bypass is to connect the HA-1 to a home theater or other preamp as a line-level source without the volume control of the HA-1 affecting output signal strength.  The HA-1 will function as a preamp with volume control, for connection to a power amp or for connection to active speakers.
 
The high or normal gain settings only affect the headphone amp, true, but that's not the volume control.
 
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Maybe the initial questions were confusingly worded, but I think your answer was, too.
 
The volume control DOES work on the rear outputs unless you have the home theater bypass engaged.  The reason for the bypass is to connect the HA-1 to a home theater or other preamp as a line-level source without the volume control of the HA-1 affecting output signal strength.  The HA-1 will function as a preamp with volume control, for connection to a power amp or for connection to active speakers.
 
The high or normal gain settings only affect the headphone amp, true, but that's not the volume control.
 
Indeed and thanks for tidying that up! :)
 
I think some of the confusion in these discussions also comes from ambiguous terms like pre-amplifier. In terms of the rear outputs, the volume control is an attenuator from the full signal level output. A lot of people have the misconception that as you increase the volume it is turning up some kind of amplified output circuit which of course it does not. So I was just trying to convey that the XLR/phono outputs go from 0 (volume right down), to maximum signal level output (volume right up). The high/low gain setting is for the headphone output only. And finally, as you point out you can lock the XLR/phono outputs to full signal level regardless of volume setting.  
 
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You know, it's been over 2 weeks now with my HA-1 and HD800 and a week with the Nordost Heimdall 2 Balanced Cables...
Can I say, I am loving this combo!  I think at first one believes the details and transparency, along with the amazing dynamics, slam and PRAT of the HD800 and HA-1 may sound or seem too much, but it's just absolutely amazing!!!
 
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Guys. The Stand is now available in a small amount. If you want contact Oppo Digital.
 
Mine is shipping tomorrow.

 
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