Oppo’s recent achievement in the audio universe has not gone unnoticed. I am almost certain they’ve made most other audio brands duck and run for cover, give up their lunch money and require a hall monitor to escort them safely to and from the restroom. These guys don’t mess around.
The HA-1: In “A Class” of its own.
Never before have I come across a DAC and amplifier combination that has as much to offer as this HA-1 from Oppo. Balanced output USB DACs in the $1000-1500 price tier are not at all common, even more rare to find one that doubles as a moderately powerful Class A amplifier with DSD capabilities for only $1199. I can dedicate a full report just to the objective, factual information regarding what the HA-1 is capable of, but I won’t and will draw clear lines between what I feel to be important objective information, as well as my subjective opinions:
The build quality on this machine is nothing short of stellar. At a hefty 13lbs, the unit feels incredibly heavy and solid. One thing that I noted immediately was that mesh heat-vent window on the top of the unit. I am not so sure this was a good idea, as it will allow dust to settle into the innards of the product and make it near impossible for me to clean if need be. I recommend you find some type of dust proof material to set on top of it. As it turns out, this amp can run fairly hot after being active for a while. In the image below, you can see dust particles annoyingly attached to the inner surface of the perforations on the grill vent. These are so hard to clean properly and near unavoidable.
Fully Balanced XLR 4pin outputs along with a purified and true balanced signal from the Saber 9018 allow for raw, unbridled bass weight that is almost perfectly suited for usage with the PM-1 (Oppo’s recent Planar Magnetic headphone release). The use of balanced components allows for a slight noise reduction and in my experience tends to add a bit of bass weight. The interesting fact here is that Oppo did not go the lazy route. They made a complete balanced signal from start to finish; even the non-balanced output is derived from the balanced components inside. What does that mean? It means the HA-1 is one of very few fully balanced DAC/Amp combos available. Oppo claims the balanced output pushes 4 times the power (double the voltage) of the single ended output.
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