RMAF 2016: OPPO Aims at the Head and the Heart


OPPO Digital may have made its name with its famed disc-spinning products, but today the company has a fast-growing catalog of diverse gear.

Many of those units were on display at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, with headphones, compact speakers and DAC/can-amps taking center stage.

OPPO used the event to introduce an updated version of its already well-regarded HA-2 portable headphone amplifier/DAC. Dubbed the HA-2SE ($299), the unit continues the premium look of its successor, with leather casing and beveled aluminum edges.

Upgrades include a new digital-to-analog chip, the ES9028Q2M, the top of ESS Technology’s SABRE32 new Reference series for portables. The HA-2SE also comes with Apple’s trendy Lightning cable and is said to provide improved sound quality over the adapter packaged with the iPhone 7.

An OPPO rep told me the new headphone amplifier is optimized to accommodate in-ear monitors and other sensitive cans, with a lower noise floor and higher signal-to-noise ratio compared with the HA-2.

The HA-2SE can perform D/A conversion for iPhones and iPod products as well as many Android devices, PCs and Mac computers. Its 3000mAh internal battery allows it to charge mobile devices and can itself be charged in 30 minutes.

OPPO was displaying a number of planar-magnetic headphones to pair with the HA-2SE, including the PM-3 ($299), the PM-2 ($699) and the PM-1 ($1,099). All seemed to offer sturdy build quality and were comfortable when I tested them.

Thee company also was showing its Sonica powered wireless speaker ($299) and the larger Sonica Grand ($699). Both featured a graceful curved front grill and the ability to support AirPlay and DLNA when connected with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth or via a 3.5 mm analog input.

Control is through a dedicated app for smartphones and tablets. Both systems can be used individually or as a stereo pair.

The Sonica is a 2.1 design. It has two 15-watt amplifiers working in bridged mode to drive a 3.5-inch woofer and two 3-inch bass cones. In addition, two 10-watt amps power a stereo pair of 2.5-inch full-range drivers.

Rocky Mountain Audio Festival coverage brought to you by Noble Audio. Visit them at https://nobleaudio.com/.

The Sonica Grand is a three-way system with seven active drivers and individual amplifiers. Along with three long-displacement woofers on the front panel, the Grand also boasts a pair of ribbon tweeters. The latter is an unusual high-end touch for a lifestyle product.

I auditioned the Sonica Grand with a streamed track, Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters” from Gaucho. The unit was sitting on a tabletop, a few inches from the back wall and angled to point toward my chair, which was about four feet away.

The sound was well-balanced, smooth and offered good detail for its price range.

The bass couldn’t match larger speakers, of course, but what was there was full without any artificial boost in the lower midrange. The ribbon tweeters also seemed to add an extra amount of sparkle and resolution to the highs.

The Sonica Grand and its smaller brother are scheduled to ship in November or December. My prediction? Santa’s going to be hauling these speakers down a lot of chimneys.

About John Stancavage 196 Articles
Contributing Editor for Part-Time Audiophile