New Oppo HA-2 SE v HA-2 Review

New Oppo HA-2 SE v HA-2 Review


Spot the ‘SE’

This is a nice idea for Christmas, the new Oppo HA-2 SE has appeared across my desk, and it is perfect if your partner is a mobile music lover. Whether you’re iPhone, Android or laptop or Mac the Oppo HA-2 SE is a brilliant sound processor and enhancement to any earnest listener (not forgetting it doubles as a battery pack charger, with 3000mAh, on the go).

I first saw this at the launch of the new Oppo 4K Blue-Ray disc player at Bath Rugby, although it was a brief look given the excitement at Bath with the 4K launch.  Indeed the original HA-2 appeared two summers ago and even then it was a delight, I loved it from the outset, see here.

What’s new with the Oppo HA-2 SE?

Oppo HA-2 SE

Battery level indicator, gain switch and bass boost

On the face of it, not much on the outside, they look is the same save for an SE on the labelling.  USB A,  USB micro-B and 3.5mm jack are the three inputs and most of my previous review, linked here stands.  It is a real aesthetic joy this amp.  The key to the SE is a new DAC chip, the new ESS Sabre32 Reference ES9028-Q2M DAC chip.  It is step up and, as described below,  enhances the sound over the previous model with a discernable level of refinement.  The chip supports DSD to 256 and PCM to 32 bits and upto 384kHz.

Key Features

If you want to understand what the Oppo HA-2 SE is all about in detail, you’re better just reading my previous review of the HA-2, for LetsTalk-Tech.com, which is linked here.  Oppo has obviously thought about what they are doing here and they clearly recognise that the demise of the iPod has left a hole in the portable music market and Oppo is enabling this hole to be filled with a high-resolution amplifier that fits the phone market that pervades now.  The Oppo HA-2 SE is about the same size as my old Nexus 5 Android.  It is 68 x 137 x 12 mm in size and it is 175grams in weight.

Overall

I have found the SE has a wider soundstage and, for me, presents a more refined sound

I have done a fair amount of cable swapping, using my Nexus 5 with DSD files, the HA-2 and the SE and using the Oppo PM-3s (and the PM-2s).  The first thing to say is the HA-2 with the PM-3 headphones is a great match, they compliment each other and the combination is always energetic, detailed and satisfying, even on the move.  Using my staple tracks that include Radiohead, Ryan Adams (Live) and some Miles Davis (ahem, and Taylor Swift’s ‘Style’) I have found the SE has a wider soundstage and, for me, presents a more refined sound.   Tonally, I think there is a little more crunch from the bass, which I am liking.  Overall then, I feel a degree of refinement has emerged from an already stylish performer.  Oppo, recently the number one mobile producer in China, are really making a name for themselves.

Category

Looks

Feel/Quality

DAC Chip

Resolution/Detail

Dynamics

Soundstage

Tonality

HA-2

Great, think Alfred Dunhill

Leather feel, bevelled Aluminium

ES9018-K2M chip

Huge detail from Sabre DAC

Wide ranged, clear channel separation

Fine image presentation

Good tone, bass comfortable

HA-2 SE

More Alfred Dunhill

Same quality, no cost savings here

ES9028-Q2M DAC chip

Bags of detail still

Fine and similar channel separation

Prefer the wider soundstage

Deeper bass reproduction, treble mid range good

 

You’ll be able to get it for Christmas on Amazon.

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