Published on March 30th, 2015 | by Greg0
Oppo HA-2 Portable Amp/DAC: Better Music, Great Price
Have a mobile device? Or a computer? Play music through either device, on the go? If you’re using anything better than stock earbuds, then you should probably be using an amplifier or a digital-to-analog converter. As we’ve discussed many times in the past in previous reviews, your electronics make compromises in circuitry, and to better appreciate your music, there’s an easy fix.
You just need to provide a better path for those digital signals- like using the Oppo HA-2 Portable Amp/DAC. We’ve seen quite a few amps and digital-to-audio convertors, both portable and not. The brand new Oppo HA-2 sits with a very small class of devices that manage to provide plenty of power in a small package, at a reasonable price, and still manage to be luxurious at the same time. Unlike many units this size, there are not only digital inputs via USB but also an analog input (via 3.5mm minijack).
Compatible with both Android and iOS devices, it’s certified with Apple’s MFI program. There are two gain level settings that allow you to choose an option that best fits your headphones. Use the lower selection for in-ear monitors, or the higher one to push up to 300 mW into 16-ohm headphones. Also unusually, the HA-2 can serve as a backup battery, and provide power to your mobile device in a pinch. With a 3000 mAh rechargeable battery, you’ll get about 7-13 hours of music in use (depending on volume and conditions of course). Also unique is the bass boost- it adds a bit extra in the low end, though we preferred the natural setting. Thanks to a solid chipset (the Sabre ES9018-K2M) and some cool tech, they’ve nearly eliminated jitter.
Best of all, the HA-2 is one of the most compact amp/DACs that we’ve seen- about the same size, weight, and thickness as many smartphones (175 grams). You can use bands to keep them together, though cable management can be a little difficult. The build quality is great – a solid aluminum chassis wrapped in genuine leather feels good in the hand, and less prone to slipping around in your grip when you’re adjusting controls. The volume knob doesn’t protrude, a significant plus over other portable DAC/amps, and we never detected any hissing or noise, even on sensitive sets during silent portions with active sound. The overall signature is clean and neutral rather than adding much flavor, and while you won’t be blown away by the spaciousness, you will certainly appreciate the details. Instruments are just slightly less precise than larger desktop amps, and more rounded- a lighter feeling than other more-forward or aggressive gear. Available for just $299, the Oppo HA-2 seems underpriced- and it’s available directly online.