Opus#1 review: technical characteristics
TheBit has clearly designed its Opus#1 DAP for best-in-class performance, competing with products of its kind from leading brands such as Astell&Kern, FiiO, iBasso, HiFiMAN, Pioneer and Onkyo. The Opus#1 features a Cirrus Logic CS4398 dual DAC capable of handling 24/384 PCM and 64/128 DSD digital audio streams in addition to most audio file formats (FLAC, WAV, DSF, etc.). It is also equipped with two headphone outputs ? one balanced and the other unbalanced (3.5 mm and 2.5 mm mini-jack formats).
With an internal storage capacity of 32 Go, the Opus#1 can theoretically carry up to 400 Go of audio files thanks to its two microSD card slots. Its 4? touchscreen display benefits from LED backlighting technology and offers a resolution of 480×800 pixels. A 4000 maH battery powers 10 hours of continuous playback (idle screen).
The Opus#1?s output power is fixed at 2 Vrms, or in other words, 2×125 mW for 32 Ohms and 40 mW for 100 Ohms. This amount of power is perfectly adequate for use with portable headphones.
Opus#1 review: Integrated OS
TheBit has designed a proprietary operating system for the Opus#1. Rather basic, it is easy to use. Let?s assume that the brand will soon improve the way in which the Opus#1?s OS displays tag images, which are currently oddly mixed.
A definite plus for the Opus#1 is its 10-band equalizer: 31,5/63/125/250/500/1000/2000/4000/8000 and 16000 Hz. The integrated player makes it possible to choose files by folder, album, artist, genre or favorites. A random playback mode and a repeat mode are also proposed. No interruptions between tracks: the Opus#1 is genuinely gapless. Volume can be controlled within a range divided into 150 increments. Such are the Opus#1?s main features. TheBit has announced an external USB DAC mode, but this hasn’t been integrated into the firmware?s current version.
Opus#1 review: listening impressions
We listened to the Opus#1 with a pair of Mezze Classic 99 reference headphones. The file formats we listened to include CD-quality and studio-quality FLAC as well as DSF (DSD).
Long live the dual DAC design! The soundstage is wide and spacious, and the device?s sound signature is gratifyingly clear. The smallest details are easily discernible, to the point of surprising the listener. All the same, the Opus#1?s energy is principally noticeable in the medium register.
The level of detail is satisfactory and the energy is consistent. However, the limited delivery of the sub-bass register is regrettable, as this prevents certain headphones from providing an explosive listening experience.
Slightly emphasized in comparison with the low and high registers ? without jeopardizing the overall balance ? the mids are rich, organic and well-distributed. The CS4398 DAC?s very analytical sound signature, clinical at times, is easy to recognize.
Responsive and well-integrated with respect to the medium register, smooth and a bit dry at times.
Opus#1 review: conclusions
What we liked: the sound clarity, the wide soundstage, the generous storage capacity, the promise of a long-lasting battery fulfilled.
What we would have liked: a more convincing approach to audio restitution at each end of the audio spectrum, a more user-friendly interface.
For less than 600?, the Opus #1 DAP integrates a dual DAC compatible with the PCM and DSD audio formats, a privilege for which other leading brands demand four times the price. The clear and meticulous audio restitution will please those who enjoy an analytic listening experience. It is nevertheless necessary to set aside expectations for an iPhone-like interface.
Opus#11 review: a headphone amplifier with integrated DAC
What does the Opus#11 have to offer? This headphone amplifier with integrated digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is designed to be paired up with a computer, smartphone or tablet (iOS or Android) for digital audio playback. Equipped with its own battery, the Opus#11 will not drain your smartphone?s battery once it is connected to the latter?s USB port. The integrated battery provides a very steady power supply, optimizing the Opus#11 operability.
Opus#11 review: technical characteristics
The Opus#11 is compatible with PCM audio streams up to 24 bits and 384 kHz, making it possible to listen to very high-resolution FLAC files in addition to MP3 and AAC files. DSD audio streams up to 5.6 MHz are also supported, enabling the playback of DSD files extracted from an SACD, for example. The Opus#11?s DAC is none other than the ESS Tech Sabre 9018K2M, a highly energy-efficient chip with a reputation for providing superior performance. The USB controller is manufactured by XMOS, a brand which has become a leader in the audio processing field over the course of the past several years. TheBit claims that the Opus#11?s 1400 maH battery provides approximately 8 hours of continuous playback. Its 3.5 mm mini-jack headphone output produces up to 2.1 Vrms of power, or approximately 2×140 mW for a pair of headphones with a nominal impedance of 32 Ohms. The Opus#11 headphone amplifier can power headphones with impedance levels ranging from 50 to 100 Ohms without any difficulty.
Opus#11 review: connectivity and ergonomics
In terms of connectivity, the Opus#11 presents us with a 3.5 mm mini-jack stereo headphone output, a micro USB port and an optional 5V DC power adapter input. The Opus#11?s front panel features two LED indicators: one to indicate charging status and the other to confirm data transfer between the DAC and the source (computer, mobile device). The Opus#11 comes with several micro-USB cables (smartphone, computer). However, an iPhone-compatible cable is not included.
Important: the Opus #11 will only run while a pair of headphones is connected to it. If the headphones are disconnected, the Opus#11 will switch to charging mode.
Opus#11 review: listening impressions
We listened to the Opus #11 with a pair of Mezze Classic 99 reference headphones and two different sources: a Raspberry Pi2 (OS Volumio) and a Meizu smartphone (USB OTG).
The low register is agreeably present, especially in the upper bass frequencies (70-100 Hz). Coverage extending to the sub-bass frequencies is adequate, but not as good as that provided by the Encore mDSD and Audioquest DragonFly Red portable DACs/headphone amplifiers.
This register is balanced, and the attention paid to the lower midrange makes for a warm listening experience. As such, voices are delivered with an abundant amount of detail. TheBit has refrained itself from allowing the Opus#11 to overly emphasize the upper medium register, a decision which provides clear advantages and results in an entirely linear midrange.
This register is sufficiently distinct for a result which, being neither bright nor dry, remains neutral. The highs are in perfect harmony with the mids.
The three registers are very well-balanced, and the tonal balance remains neutral for a result which is perfectly adapted to all headphones, and especially to those whose response curve bumps up in the mids and/or highs. We are thus a far cry from the clinical sound of the Opus#1 DAP, which nonetheless remains more spacious.
The soundstage is rather upfront and dense. Less spacious than the Opus#1 DAP, the Opus#11?s sound signature is nonetheless smooth and not at all tiring to listen to. Spatialization is less impressive than with the Encore mDSD and Audioquest DragonFly Red, two devices which we consider to be market references for this price range.
Opus#11 review: conclusions
What we liked: the warm, rich sound, the absence of listening fatigue, and the promise of long-lasting battery fulfilled
What we would have liked: a punchier sub-bass register
TheBit?s Opus#11 is an expressive and powerful headphone amplifier which distinguishes itself by its warm sound signature as well as its capacity to deliver a believable, rich soundstage. This is what constitutes its principal difference when compared with the Opus#1 digital audio player.