Oppo HA-1 Impressions Thread
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I tried searching but couldn't find anything. I realize the HA-1 is a headphone amp, but it seems like it also makes a fantastic standalone DAC/Preamp with the little meters and the way people have raved about the internals in the BDP-105 with which it shares. So I'm left dithering between this, the BDP-105 (because even though I *rarely* listen to spinning things, it's nice to have a decent player around, and it's full component width), and the McIntosh D100 Digital Preamplifier. 
 
So my biggest question is whether anyone has done a comparison, or at least heard both of these at one point or another to make a comparison of them as *preamps* mainly. I will not frequently use the headphone amp portion at all. Keep in mind, even a used D100 is probably 6 or 700.00 more than either the HA1 or BDP-105 at full blown retail.
 
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I tried searching but couldn't find anything. I realize the HA-1 is a headphone amp, but it seems like it also makes a fantastic standalone DAC/Preamp with the little meters and the way people have raved about the internals in the BDP-105 with which it shares. So I'm left dithering between this, the BDP-105 (because even though I *rarely* listen to spinning things, it's nice to have a decent player around, and it's full component width), and the McIntosh D100 Digital Preamplifier. 

So my biggest question is whether anyone has done a comparison, or at least heard both of these at one point or another to make a comparison of them as *preamps* mainly. I will not frequently use the headphone amp portion at all. Keep in mind, even a used D100 is probably 6 or 700.00 more than either the HA1 or BDP-105 at full blown retail.

If you are rarely going to use the headphone amp feature, I would highly recommend getting the BDP-105 or 105D.
There's certainly nothing wrong with the HA-1. It kicks ass as a pre-amp / DAC, but that is in addition to it's awesome headphone amp.
Since you want things like an optical drive, traditional cabinet width measurements, great DAC and pre-amp features, the 105 is what you are describing.

If you want the ultimate setup though, you could combine the purchase of the HA-1 AND a BDP-103D and that would be a sweet combo.
I don't really have any experience with the D100, but being McIntosh I am sure it is very capable too.
You just need to look at the overall features of what you are going to use most, and wage that against the gear and how much you are willing to spend.

Lastly, I think you want to know if the HA-1 sounds as good or better than the 105 as a pre-amp / DAC, and the answer to that is yes.
I think the HA-1 even has the potential to sound slightly better, but that depends on your other gear like amps and speakers.
It won't ever be a night and day difference though, even if your relevant gear is reference quality, the difference will be small.
 
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If you are rarely going to use the headphone amp feature, I would highly recommend getting the BDP-105 or 105D.
There's certainly nothing wrong with the HA-1. It kicks ass as a pre-amp / DAC, but that is in addition to it's awesome headphone amp.
Since you want things like an optical drive, traditional cabinet width measurements, great DAC and pre-amp features, the 105 is what you are describing.

If you want the ultimate setup though, you could combine the purchase of the HA-1 AND a BDP-103D and that would be a sweet combo.
I don't really have any experience with the D100, but being McIntosh I am sure it is very capable too.
You just need to look at the overall features of what you are going to use most, and wage that against the gear and how much you are willing to spend.

Lastly, I think you want to know if the HA-1 sounds as good or better than the 105 as a pre-amp / DAC, and the answer to that is yes.
I think the HA-1 even has the potential to sound slightly better, but that depends on your other gear like amps and speakers.
It won't ever be a night and day difference though, even if your relevant gear is reference quality, the difference will be small.

Thanks, this is exactly the kind of feedback I'm looking for.

I posted in the D100 thread as well. I think even though head-fi is geared toward headphone listening, it's one of the best if not THE best place on the web to learn about and get opinions on DACs.

It's funny what you say about reference gear, too. I have a really nice C2300 preamp , MC601 monoblocks and 802 Diamond speakers downstream, and while I'm figuring out what I am going to do about a DAC, I am using a Radio Shack DAC of all things just to get audio out of my Apple TV. This is the tiny plastic box that is about 40 bucks and is nothing more than an optical and coax ins, and an RCA output. It apparently has a single dac (which is supposed to be inferior) and a Cirrus Logic one at that, and yet I am stunned at how good the quality it is out of that thing. It really does make you step back and consider the virtues of really high end DACs for a moment. But since this DAC will also be a preamp (I have no other analog sources so the C2300 as nice as it is, is really way overkill), it has to be of fairly good quality to be a standalone device, and for whenever the day comes that I make the leap to hi res music.

I'm not too hung up on the component width thing, though. It probably is a good idea for me to have a nice disc player, though I could just come out of the digital port on my Pioneer DV-L90 Laserdisc/DVD/CD player and into either of these machines and then the Pioneer would be nothing more than a transport anyway.
 
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If you want the ultimate setup though, you could combine the purchase of the HA-1 AND a BDP-103D and that would be a sweet combo.
 
 
I would not recommend the Oppo BDP103D and Oppo HA-1 combo.
 
That is what I'm using (actually two). The Oppo BDP-103D is geared towards movie watching. For that it is great.
 
However the Oppo BDP-105 is a better solution. You can use the balanced out connection.
 
I also have great power amps / speakers downstream and altho the Oppo HA-1 is a fun easy to use pre-amp I find it sterile sounding. I much prefered my Arcam irDac. That had a far nicer warmer sound.
 

 
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I would not recommend the Oppo BDP103D and Oppo HA-1 combo.

That is what I'm using (actually two). The Oppo BDP-103D is geared towards movie watching. For that it is great.

However the Oppo BDP-105 is a better solution. You can use the balanced out connection.

I also have great power amps / speakers downstream and altho the Oppo HA-1 is a fun easy to use pre-amp I find it sterile sounding. I much prefered my Arcam irDac. That had a far nicer warmer sound.



That's a really nice setup.
 
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I would not recommend the Oppo BDP103D and Oppo HA-1 combo.
 
That is what I'm using (actually two). The Oppo BDP-103D is geared towards movie watching. For that it is great.
 
However the Oppo BDP-105 is a better solution. You can use the balanced out connection.
 
I also have great power amps / speakers downstream and altho the Oppo HA-1 is a fun easy to use pre-amp I find it sterile sounding. I much prefered my Arcam irDac. That had a far nicer warmer sound.
 
Badas, am wondering how you keep your setup so visually free of cables? Looks great but must be a lot of thought and effort (and usually money) to make everything look so clutter-free
 
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His beautiful stand and the surface finish of the HA-1 is making me want one of those even more. In that pic it's a lot easier to get an idea of the size of it, too. It's bigger than I thought (which is a good thing). 
 
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  Badas, am wondering how you keep your setup so visually free of cables? Looks great but must be a lot of thought and effort (and usually money) to make everything look so clutter-free

Just a lot of careful planing. Lots of cable ties and holders to keep things in place.
 
Older photo.
 
See I keep power cables away from Audio cables. HDMI doesn't matter, can go anywhere. Then I slide back into place.
 

 
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If you want the ultimate setup though, you could combine the purchase of the HA-1 AND a BDP-103D and that would be a sweet combo.

 

I would not recommend the Oppo BDP103D and Oppo HA-1 combo.

That is what I'm using (actually two). The Oppo BDP-103D is geared towards movie watching. For that it is great.

However the Oppo BDP-105 is a better solution. You can use the balanced out connection.

I also have great power amps / speakers downstream and altho the Oppo HA-1 is a fun easy to use pre-amp I find it sterile sounding. I much prefered my Arcam irDac. That had a far nicer warmer sound.

Yes the 103 is geared more for home theater use, but is also a top notch transport if that is the only thing you use it for.
However at the same time, if you are not going to use the SACD/DVDA, Blu-ray, and other features of the 103 or 105,
then it may not be worth paying so much for if the ONLY thing you want to do is use it as a digital CD transport.
Using a BDP-105 with an HA-1 is nice too, but not necessary. By using the balanced analog output from the player, you are basically eliminating the DAC in the HA-1.
It is better to just use SPDIF output (or hdmi through a de-embedder), then into the HA-1.
What you describe as "sterile sounding", others would describe as neutral or transparent. Anything else is just manipulating the sound away from what the original source material contains.

I still say his best bet is to just get a BDP-105 which seems to be the perfect solution based on his needs.
 
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Badas, am wondering how you keep your setup so visually free of cables? Looks great but must be a lot of thought and effort (and usually money) to make everything look so clutter-free


Just a lot of careful planing. Lots of cable ties and holders to keep things in place.

Older photo.

See I keep power cables away from Audio cables. HDMI doesn't matter, can go anywhere. Then I slide back into place.



Haha, I do have to give you props for making it look so clean on the front end.
You just need to add a couple pieces of wood to the back side so when you slide it against the wall it hides the cables from the side view. :smile:
 
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I don't have any specific impedance measurements, but as I recall the BDP-95 had an output impedance of 300 ohm. I would expect something similar from the HA-1.
 
I'll try to get numbers for you tomorrow, but I will make no guarantees, as last timed I had asked for discrete numbers I was not provided any. We usually just tell customers that they should use the BDP9x/10x and HA-1 products with devices that have an input impedance between 10K and 40K, but the player will work all the way down to 1K input impedance.
 
The lower the output impedance, the better. If the HA-1 truly has a 300 ohm output impedance on its rear XLR balanced outputs, that would be awesome!
 
This only matters for headphones. It doesn't matter for connections between components as far as I know.
 
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It sounds like it's almost impossible to overlook everything the BDP-105 does, including SACD playback and even HDMI inputs (!). For those living in the digital world, it really is a seemingly all in one device. I just hate that the volume control is buttons, that is so incredibly cheap feeling when you're using the device itself and using it as a preamp. The HA-1 has that nice motorized volume knob. 
 
But it appears that the 105 is the place to start, then to add the HA-1 at some later time if the 105 just isn't enough. There are also more 105s on the used marker than HA-1s right now, as the HA-1 is full retail at the moment and I can't find any pre-owned ones. I just wish I could get at least one comparison of the HA-1/105 and the D100. I suspect the difference is not great, regardless, and the D100 is far more limited in its capabilities. 
 
Another option was the Logitech Transporter, but I don't know if it will need software on a PC to be used as a standalone DAC, as I've heard that support for the software side of it is very iffy at best, and the DAC quality probably isn't up to par with these modern alternatives anymore.  
 
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Just a lot of careful planing. Lots of cable ties and holders to keep things in place.
 
Older photo.
 
See I keep power cables away from Audio cables. HDMI doesn't matter, can go anywhere. Then I slide back into place.
 
Very nicely done trying to organize so many cables!
 
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Yes the 103 is geared more for home theater use, but is also a top notch transport if that is the only thing you use it for.
However at the same time, if you are not going to use the SACD/DVDA, Blu-ray, and other features of the 103 or 105,
then it may not be worth paying so much for if the ONLY thing you want to do is use it as a digital CD transport.
Using a BDP-105 with an HA-1 is nice too, but not necessary. By using the balanced analog output from the player, you are basically eliminating the DAC in the HA-1.
It is better to just use SPDIF output (or hdmi through a de-embedder), then into the HA-1.
What you describe as "sterile sounding", others would describe as neutral or transparent. Anything else is just manipulating the sound away from what the original source material contains.

I still say his best bet is to just get a BDP-105 which seems to be the perfect solution based on his needs.
 
I would agree with that. I have gone into the BDP103D's audio menu. Directed everything into two channel and used the unbalanced out into the HA-1. It sounds real nice. Even 5.1 encoded SACD and DVD Audio sounds great.
  It sounds like it's almost impossible to overlook everything the BDP-105 does, including SACD playback and even HDMI inputs (!). For those living in the digital world, it really is a seemingly all in one device. I just hate that the volume control is buttons, that is so incredibly cheap feeling when you're using the device itself and using it as a preamp. The HA-1 has that nice motorized volume knob. 
 
But it appears that the 105 is the place to start, then to add the HA-1 at some later time if the 105 just isn't enough. There are also more 105s on the used marker than HA-1s right now, as the HA-1 is full retail at the moment and I can't find any pre-owned ones. I just wish I could get at least one comparison of the HA-1/105 and the D100. I suspect the difference is not great, regardless, and the D100 is far more limited in its capabilities. 
 
Another option was the Logitech Transporter, but I don't know if it will need software on a PC to be used as a standalone DAC, as I've heard that support for the software side of it is very iffy at best, and the DAC quality probably isn't up to par with these modern alternatives anymore.  
 
I had my first play with the BDP-105 the other day. It is a real nice machine. A bit classier than the BDP-103. Nice flush buttons etc. I can see what you get for the extra $$.
 
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