Review Oppo HA-2 SE: Portable DAC + Amp

Discussion in 'Audiophiles: Headphones, Earphones, etc.' started by tinyman392, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. tinyman392

    tinyman392 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Oppo HA-2 SE: Portable DAC + Amp

    We last heard from Oppo on iFans when they released their PM-3 orthodynamic headphones which were a big push in portable audio; they are really one of the few orthodynamics on the market that were designed for on the go movement. Today, we take a look at how they fare in the DAC/amplifier world. The HA-2 SE supports Lightning audio, so for you iPhone 7 converts, it has a built in battery and good audio quality.

    Design

    In a Jonny Ive voice:
    DSC01571.jpg

    OK, the design is actually gorgeous and it definitely is eye-catching. It feels solid in the hand and is compact for portable DAC/amps of this nature.

    Design: ☆☆☆☆☆

    Audio

    Of course all of this high design doesn't mean anything if it doesn't have the sound to back it up. After all, there has to be a payoff if you'll be lugging one of these around. With that said, the sound quality is high on these offering a sound that isn't cold like the Cirrus DACs that Apple uses, but isn't super warm along the likes of the V-Moda Vamp. Oppo claims its reference, and I have to admit, it's pretty darn close to that.

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    In terms of sources, the HA-2 SE contains 3 inputs that can be used to run either the DAC and amp or just the amp itself. To do the latter, you can use an analog input from a standard 3.5mm jack. This is typically used when an external DAC is used and the Oppo just functions as an amplifier. There are two USB ports on the opposite end, a standard USB A for iDevice connection and a micro-USB to connect to an Android device or PC.

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    Overall, coming from the Cirrus DACs that the iPhone's and iPads have, the ESS Sabre DAC offers a sound signature that is thicker in the bass regions. This results in a sound that is thumpy, and tight. Overall, it adds impact without the sacrifice of accuracy. The midrange and treble are controlled a little better and aren't as piercing making the HA-2 SE a friendly DAC to listen to. It boosts accuracy while providing a good bass presence.

    Oppo also included a bass boost function with the HA-2 SE DAC/amplifier. The bass boost function boosts the lower-mid bass by maybe 3-5 dB (I could be off on this as I did it by ear). The result is a better bass presence and thickness. Though at the cost of the tightness that you got before. There is a stronger impact after adding in the boost, but it also does sound fatter as well.

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    There are two gain modes associated with the amp to give a little more power output. As a quiet listener, it really wasn't tested. The last thing that should be mentioned is that the amp has an output impedance of 0.5 ohms, besting even the included adapter that Apple provides. So this should have no problem driving high sensitivity/low impedance multi-driver IEMs; knowing this is for mobile use, this is a must.

    Audio: ☆☆☆☆½

    Build

    Oppo is probably one of the best when it comes to build quality. Their HA-2 SE is no different for that. As stated before, the build of this DAC is solid. This is partially due to the fact that lying underneath the leather taco is a solid block of aluminum that has been carved open to house electronic goodness. It feels very nice in the hand with a good heft to it.

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    Build: ☆☆☆☆☆

    Value

    The Oppo HA-2 SE retails for 300 dollars. As stated, it sounds magnificent, has an excellent build, and actually has a stylish contemporary design. There are some other features, mainly being that it has a 3000 mAh battery that can be used to charge your phone simultaneously. Granted, this will reduce that 7 hour battery life they quote when going through USB. The battery life isn't bad, but it's also not the best. Unfortunately, it's not possible to have the HA-2 charge your phone while simultaneously playing music and charging the HA-2. Though you can charge the HA-2 while playing music.

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    I'm going to be honest, if a company like Mophie were to try to create a battery pack with an DAC/amp in it of this nature, it would probably be placed in the same price bracket. So I don't feel it's overpriced, but it is a premium. I should note that it does run a little warm though.

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    Value: ☆☆☆☆

    Final Thoughts

    With the digitalization of the iPhone, the Oppo HA-2 SE is actually a high quality DAC/amp with a mid-ranged price point. It actually sounds great and can charge your device at the same time*. For the audiophiles in there looking for a portable DAC/amp, this is actually a very good choice, for Android and iOS alike. It's on the smaller side of things and does have sound to back it up.

    Overall Score
    ☆☆☆☆½

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  2. zohaali146

    zohaali146 New Member

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    The design is elegant and beautiful with not a bit of doubt (Y)