CanMania 2014: Oppo Digital, huge on value, great on sound


CanManiaOppo Digital and I go way back.

Well, no, not really. I mean I’ve been buying their DVD players for years. The sheer number of features at their absurd price points meant happy days for me — I’m pretty sure I have about five models floating around the house currently. No, seriously. Five. When something works that well, and does as much, it’s easy to get enthusiastic — and loyal. So when the DVD players gave way to BluRay, I knew Oppo’s offerings were going to be the way to go. So, I got ’em. And all was right with him Home Entertainment World.

But when Oppo launched their latest foray into personal audio, I was surprised. I guess you could say the hair on the back of neck stood up and I leaned forward in my chair. I was … intrigued. And not just nearsighted. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The HA-1 is a gorgeously-fitted out headphone amplifier. It has balanced and single-ended ins and outs (hooray!), a superior DAC that supports sample rates up to and including DSD128, and offers AptX Bluetooth for you wireless trendsetters. 

The sound of this particular headphone amp/DAC combo is extraordinary. Detail, with musicality and tone — it’s a remarkable unit. I have one here and the review is underway. Price is $1,199 and if you’ll excuse the teaser, it’s worth it. The only thing missing is a way to play files off the NAS! Of course, Oppo does make a network ready device — the BDP-103 and 105, which can solve this quite handily, but it’d be a game-ender if this was all on-board the single-box solution.

The PM-1 headphones ($1,099) and the PM-2 headphones ($699) are also new, with the latter being extremely new. The difference between the headphones is a bit subtle, which is odd considering the difference in price, but those differences mainly have to do with materials — the PM-1 uses “nicer stuff”, including lambskin on the ear pads and band, metal trim instead of plastic, and so on. The PM-1 also uses an upgraded cable, featuring OCC copper, over the OFC copper used in the cable on the PM-2. The drivers are the same, however.

Some new bits that Oppo enthusiasts might want to know:

Following the release of the PM-1, customers provided valuable feedback and expressed interest in increasing the treble response. Our acoustic designer responded with an alternative earpad design featuring slightly elevated treble response while maintaining excellent bass and midrange performance. This alternative design is also applied to the PM-2’s earpads.

Since both headphones utilize the same driver and follow the same acoustic design principles, the PM-2’s performance and sound signature are very close to the PM-1, especially when the PM-1 is paired with the alternative earpads. PM-2 owners wanting to experience the PM-1’s original sound can purchase the PM-1’s original lambskin earpads separately.

My own notes on the PM-1 are forthcoming, but the most comprehensive review I’ve seen so far was done by Tyll Hertsens of InnerFidelity, and he gave it an award. More soon on the PM-2 front.