OPPO has introduced another member of its family of personal audio products– the all-in-one HA-1 headphone amplifier, preamplifier, and USB digital to analog converter. It is a desktop component featuring the familiar volume and source selection knobs complemented by a 4.3-inch color screen for easy operation. While music is playing, the screen can show a classic VU meter, a modern spectrum display, or detailed technical information about the incoming audio signal. A supplied remote control and a smartphone app provide the ultimate in operational convenience.
OPPO Digital is well-known for its reference quality audiophile products. The HA-1 combines an uncompromising analog audio section with the latest technology in digital audio. The analog audio section of the HA-1 is a fully balanced design with an emphasis on keeping the audio signal in the analog domain once it leaves the unit’s digital to analog converter. The HA-1 is anchored by a hefty power transformer, and linear power regulators and filters with custom made capacitors to ensure that the headphone amplifier has a clean power source with plenty of energy in reserve. The fully balanced Class A power amplification section uses hand-picked and paired discrete components to ensure symmetry, and a motor-driven precision volume control knob allows for both manual and remote control volume adjustment all while keeping the audio in a pure analog audio path.
Some of the more advanced technology was beyond me, so I called OPPO’s always helpful Vice President of Product Development, Jason Liao, in Mountain View, California. Jason told me that, “the HA 1 is especially suitable for high-resolution digital audio playback. Its digital inputs include coaxial, optical, balanced AES/EBU, and an asynchronous USB DAC. It is easy to connect the HA 1 to digital audio players or to a computer running the listener’s favorite playback software. The USB DAC supports PCM audio up to 384 kHz 32-bit resolution and DSD audio up to 256x the CD sample rate. The same ESS 9018 Sabre Reference DAC and output driving stage used in OPPO audiophile Blu-ray players ensure extremely low noise and low distortion performance”.
What all this means is that the HA-1 is perfect to plug directly into your iPod, iPhone, or iPad (or other digital music source) to take over these product’s digital to analog conversion chores. By doing this you tap directly into the digital music stream from these devices. High quality design and electronics make a big difference when your music is converted from its original digital format to analog. This is an often overlooked area, where lower quality products use less expensive converters— the result of which is deterioration in sound quality.
With exemplary sound quality and versatile connectivity, this OPPO headphone amplifier is a good match for high performance headphones and stereo sound systems if you can handle the $1200 pricetage.