12 May 2015
- Product Reviews
Oppo HA2 Headphone Amplifier & DAC Review
It is not just looks fortunately that is all that the Oppo has to offer, the features list is quite extensive indeed and for the price it is what you call a proverbial bargain as these type of features are often kept for the upper end of the market in DAC's and Headphone Amplifiers.
The Oppo uses a Hybrid Class A/B Amplifier with integrated circuits, and the discrete transistor output circuit uses hand picked parts, with the transistors biased to work in their most linear range for critical small signals, and therefore to deliver maximum power output when required.The DAC used in the HA2 is the mobile version of theESS Sabre 32 Reference DAC that is used in well renowned HA1, this DAC has many features which make it one of the best on the market, it features the patented ESS 32-bit Hyperstream DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, these are just some of the many features of this superb chip but the list is too long to mention but those are the main ones to mention here and are patented designs of the Sabre DAC.With those two main features listed I will quickly summarise the remaining features without going into detail, the HA2 is compatible with all Apple devices and is also smartphone compatible too which means all Android devices will connect also.It has an Audio line in and a Audio line out feature, it also boasts an Asynchronous USB DACand there is a Bass Boost function too, Two Gain Settings so that if you have difficult cans to drive you can match it to the right setting which is pretty good feature to have, the HA2 offers also Rapid Charging and it can also be used as a Mobile Power Bank so that you can charge your iPhone if you are running low on battery, a nifty feature to have as I have many a times ran my iPhone battery down and have been out with no place to charge it, so a welcome feature.

Build Quality
Not too much to say here as I think I have already mentioned that the HA2 looks stunning in its wrapped leather casing and stainless steel case and curves which resemble an iPhone size wise, but it is heavier for sure at 6.2oz but it gives you a reassurance that it is well made and built to last, in fact I do not think they could of done a better job of the styling as it just looks stunning, and all the switches and volume knob have a quality feel about them, no cheap plastic being used in any parts, Oppo have done a sterling job on the design.

Performance
I have been listening to this Headphone and DAC constantly since I bought it and it is an absolute joy to use, setting up was a breeze and everything is very straight forward in its design to understand its functionality and how it works, because I own a PC I needed to download a driver from Oppo's website and that was it, if you have a Mac then it is just plug and play.I have 3 sets of headphones to use with all my players and headphone amps, Sennheiser Momentums, Bose Q25 and Bose Q3 Headphones, having tried all of them on it all sound good but I prefered the sound of the Momentum's so have stuck with these for listening and continue to enjoy sweet music, but I have a nagging in the back of my mind saying that this HA2 does really deserve even better, so will save up and once funds allow will probably invest in some Oppo Magnetic Planar Headphones and that should be a great combination, but as it stands the Sennheiser and HA2 sound excellent together.

My music collection is quite extensive and has grown considerably over the last few years with most of it now being on NAS drives approximation 2TB and growing constantly with new downloads being made available, my choice in music also varies and I like most, but have a strong liking for Jazz and anything that I like the sound of, LoL or captures my interest.

For this review I managed to also get hold of 2 albums in DSD64 and DSD128 so that I could stretch the legs of the Oppo HA2 and see what the extra bandwidth had to offer in terms of musicality and enjoyment, these are from Blue Coast Records & Valence Records, one was a free download and the other I paid a fee of approx 26 for a DSD128 recording, I am not an expert when it come to how much these should cost but it sounds about right with normal HR costing less, but it will depend on the label that you purchase from.

My first album from Blue Coast Records is Bottoms Up, by The 3 Sounds, a Jazz band with a hint of latin in there to spice things up, but it is immediately apparent with the recording that it is mastered in Super High Resolution as the space around me is filled with percussion instruments and a rich sense of timing and accuracy, drums to the right piano to the left but not just within the confinements of the headphones, it gives a real sense of them playing from around you and it is foot tapping stuff that is addictive like a drug is, this is Hi Fi just pure and simple, it makes everything feel worth it, sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the band, you can almost imagine the ambiance of a small nightclub with the Jazz band playing!The HA2 has a very upfront sound but never to forward or overbearing it is just of a high quality that you cannot tire of, and it just shows how good the DAC inside this bit of kit really is as it just conveys every part of the music as it should do, and it does make me wonder how they managed to squeeze so much quality out of such a small unit, but Oppo did.

On to Valence Records The Valence Project album in DSD128 and this is again a Jazz but funked up piece of music which is must listen if you have one of these as it just sounds epic when played via the HA2, it has so much richness to the music and is so melodic in how it sounds it really is a stand out piece which I have now listened to so many times and never tire of as it is such a pleasure to listen to it through the Oppo, I wish I still had the Sennheiser HD800 Headphones with me as I would of loved to hear this Headphone amp and DAC via them as I know it can give so much more, still the Momentums are a fantastic performer and really do shine at there best with the HA2.On to normal High resolution 24bt 88Khz and a David Sanborn album Time Again and the HA2 shows me that it can just about do anything when throwing 0 and 1's at it as the music is pleasantly played and I chose this one as David Sanborn is a Saxophonist and he hits the really high notes and the HA2 has no harshness at all to the sound just a rich and rhythmic sound which portrays how good a DAC is inside the HA2, the bass is strong and hits harder than other DAC's in this category that I have tried, which is another plus point to the Oppo.


Conclusion
Oppo has most certainly hit the jackpot with the HA2 as it really does do everything so well and it has style too, I mean it looks so damn good with its leather casing and styling that you want to have it on show, but seriously this is one of the best DAC's I have had the pleasure of listening to and it will I am sure be with me for a long time to come, it just sounds so good that you will certainly increase your music collection if you buy one of these as it makes sweet music, well it makes music sound so good, and I am also swayed on the DSD formats and that will more than likely increase my library of music.It certainly gets a great recommendation from me and if you are considering a small Headphone Amplifier and DAC under the 500 category then this is the one to go for, as it ticks all the right boxes and more.Thanks to Custom Cable for there brilliant service in supplying me with the Oppo HA2 and if you are looking at getting one then head over to www.custom-cable.co.uk

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