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Digital Audio (FLAC/MP3/etc) Players (DAPs) item created by SoundMAGIC EU, Sep 13, 2016
Pros - Easy UI, Excellent sound, robust
Cons - None
Opus#2 Dap Review
Opus#2 and Campfire Audio Vega
Opus#2 dap review
"Hi-Res Portable DAP Opus#2 is a brand new total solution for audiophiles who possess high expectations and great anticipation from available Hi-Res audio players in terms of sound quality and overall performance." -TheBit
Unboxing and build
The Opus#2 comes with a protective screen factory installed
Body : Aluminum [Full Metal Body]
Display : 4” IPS Touch Display (480*800)
Dimensions : 76mm(W)*124mm(H)*18.3mm(D)
Weight : 252g
Micro SD card slot and micro usb charge port
*There are reports on Head-fi of 256GB and 512GB cards working-
Power on/off button, balanced and single ended jacks. FF, play/pause, REV buttons
"Control buttons are ergonomically designed and positioned to provide
a full control over the device holding it in one hand."
"Volume control wheel is very smooth and comfortable to handle as well as very detailed to reach
that necessary level of volume. 1-150 volume steps may be controlled without turning screen on."
"Power On/Off button is ideally located to switch on and off the device with only one finger.
Power button is also used to wake your set up from the Sleep mode."
Once again a beautiful case to protect your Opus device.
I find the side buttons (FF/PP/REV) which don't protrude much when in the case
to be tactile enough to use whilst in my hand or pocket
"Bit to Bit Decoding & High Definition Audio Files Playback
Opus#2 Portable DAP has an outstanding performance in Native DSD Playback as well as Hi-Res Audio files up to 32bit/384kHz. The best Sabre 32(ES9018K2M) Real Dual DAC will provide the clearest and brilliant sound." -TheBit
Case and charger cable
-Native DSD Playback
-32bit / 384kHz High Resolution Sound
-4” Touch display (IPS panel)
-SABRE32 ES9018K2M x 2EA Dual DAC
-ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core CPU DDR3 1GB
-Internal Memory 128GB (External Micro SDcard up to 200GB)
*There are reports on Head-fi of 256GB and 512GB cards working-
-Full Metal Body (Aluminum CNC)
-WI-FI : 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
-Bluetooth V4.0(A2DP, AVRCP)
-Ultra Power Saving Mode
-Manufacturer/Origin the bit/Korea(2016)
-Body Material Aluminum (FULL METAL BODY)
-Display 4″ TFT Touch Display(480*800)
-Dimensons 76mm(W) * 124mm(H) * 18.3mm(D)
-CPU & MEMORY ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core
MEMORY(RAM) : DDR3 1GBYTE
-Button BUTTON: POWER, PLAY/PAUSE, FF, REW VOLUME(WHEEL)
-Supported Audio Formats WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, WMA,
MP3, OGG,APE(Normal, High, Fast)
-Sample rate PCM : 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
/ DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo/ DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo
-EQ & Effect EQ:10Band NORMAL/USER1/2/3
-Input USB Micro-B input (for charging & data transfer (PC & MAC))
/ Connection Mode : MTP (Media Device)
-Outputs PHONES (3.5mm) / Optical Out (3.5mm) /
Balanced Out(2.5mm, 4-pole support)
-Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
-Bluetooth V4.0 (A2DP, AVRCP)
-Feature Enhancements Firmware upgrades supported (OTA)
-Battery 4,000mAh/3.7V Li-Polymer
-Battery Life (Play) Time & Charge Time
Play: Approximately 9.5 hours.
-Memory Built-in 128G
External microSD*(Max 200GB)Supports SDXC exFAT,NTFS
*There are reports on Head-fi of 256GB and 512GB cards working-
-Clock source/ Jitter 50ps(Typ)
-OS Android 5.1.1
-Supported OS Windows 7,8,(32/64bit), MAC OS x 10.9 and up
-DAC ESS9018K2M * 2EA (Dual DAC)
-Decoding Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit Decoding
-Frequency Response ±0.02dB(Condition: 20Hz~20KHz) Unbalanced & Balanced
±0.3dB(Condition: 10Hz~70KHz) Unbalanced & Balanced
-Signal to Noise Ratio 115dB @ 1KHz, Unbalnced
116dB @ 1KHz, Balanced
-Crosstalk 130dB @ 1KHz,Unbalanced / 135dB @ 1KHz, Balanced
-THD+N 0.0009% @ 1KHz
-Output Impedance Balanced out 2.5mm(1ohm) / PHONES 3.5mm(2ohm)
-Ouput Level Unbalance 2.3Vrms / Balance 2.5Vrms(Condition No Load)
-Volume Step 150 steps
-Gapless, Remove Silence O
Opus#2 and Meze 99 Neo headphones
-Aluminum [Full Metal Body]
-Display : 4” IPS Touch Display (480*800)
-Dimensions : 76mm(W)*124mm(H)*18.3mm(D)
-Weight : 252g
Nothing Tricky about this smooth volume wheel
Opus#2 and Dita - The Truth (sounds fantastic).
Opus#2 and Campfire Audio Jupiter
Opus#2 Dap and case back
Photo comparisons between the three Opus models
From the left to right: Opus#1, Opus#3 and Opus#2.
Opus#2, Opus#3 and Opus#1
from top to bottom: Opus#1, Opus#3 and Opus#2
A shot from an earlier review where I utilized all the Opus daps for coherency
Prices of the Opus#2 have been known to vary.
One the official distributors of the Opus daps is Musicteck
They have the Opus#2 for sale at US$1,099.00, down from an original $1,599.00.
The Opus#1 retails from US$300 - US$599 .
The Opus#3 retails for US$699 - US$899.
Depending on where one shops.
Opus#1 review https://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/07/the-bit-opus1-dap-review-expatinjapan.html
Opus#3 review https://headpie.blogspot.jp/2017/06/the-audio-opus-opus3-dap-review.html
Opus#2 and Clear Tune Monitors VS4
As per usual I got an ample amount of hours on the Opus#2 dap before proceeding with the review.
Files used were mainly FLAC.
The Opus#2 echoes its siblings the #1 and #3 in terms of UI and underlying power, it has similar features to the Opus#3 in having internet connective capabilities and they differ in their DACs.
Off course a DAP is sum of its whole parts and whatever amplifier used also plays a big part.
Cirrus Logic CS4398 x 2EA Dual DAC
ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core CPU DDR3 1GB
Burr-Brown PCM1792A DAC
ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core CPU & DDR3 1GB
SABRE32 ES9018K2M x 2EA Dual DAC
ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core CPU DDR3 1GB
All of the Opus Daps have 2 ohms output impedance on the single ended jack, and 1 ohm output impedance on the balanced jack. I often use multi driver BA IEMs and find I get a truer response and result by using the balanced jack. Those with single dynamic drivers or headphones would generally be ok with either.
So is the secret sauce of the Opus#2 in the dac alone? I truly and honestly don`t know.
I do know that I find all the Opus Daps to be pleasing in their own way (I haven't tried the Opus#1 metal version). As noted earlier I have reviewed the Opus#1 and Opus#3 on Head pie already.
But I can say I think the Opus#2 is above the previous other Opus daps, as the #3 is definitely above the Opus#1 in terms of sound quality.
To quote from the earlier Opus#3 review:
"I found the Opus#3 to be more resolving overall.
The Opus#1 has a vocals forward signature at ordinary volumes, whereas with the Opus#3 seems the music is up with the vocals, making the sound more engaging and richer and there is more definition.
The sound stage on the Opus#3 is much larger than on Opus#1, on height and width. Making the Opus#3 more exciting, intimate and engaging. But its incremental and not absolute.
The Opus#3 sound stage is increased in the width, slightly in the height whilst not much more in the depth.
The sound stage increases when using the balanced out, as does instrument separation.
They both retain the characteristic smoothness of the Opus brand, more so when using the 2 ohm single ended out, things get a bit more apart when using the balanced out.
Instrument separation is cleaner on the Opus#3.
When I turn up the volume louder the Opus#3 seems to cope better with it.
In summary, its very close to call in terms of sonics but the Opus#3 just pulls ahead on the single end, and more so on the balanced out.
In terms of extended listening sessions I would pick the Opus#3 over the Opus#1.
The Burr-Brown dac just adding that extra little something."
So where does that leave us? In earlier uses of the Sabre dacs the implementation was found to be on the bright side. Now days designers seem to have found ways to incorporate them into daps in a more pleasing and balanced fashion. No more of that famous glare we used to read about. And the Opus#2 certainly doesn't suffer from undue brightness.
The Opus#2 departs from the earlier models in its ability to achieve a wide sound stage, in height, width and depth, its speed, effortlessness, detail, neutral transparency and separation.
Highly resolving and detailed without using any tricks of boosted treble.
The Opus#2 veers slightly onto a warm edge at times, but my emphasis is on slightly, If anything it gives a sense of fullness, of weight and gravity.
It comes across as neutral, transparent and all those other goody good good audio buzzwords we like to hear and read being bandied about. But the Opus#2 is the real deal in this matter.
The separation, detail and resolution are truly stunning.
I haven't dithered too much in this review, which I usually do when I am not sure about gear I am reviewing, or If it hasn't hit my sweet spot - regardless of price or personal audio signature preferences.
The Opus#2 is an item I am truly impressed by and enjoy using. The ease of its UI, the beautiful neutral to reference quality of its performance. The naturalness and musicality that doesn't sacrifice detail, speed, clarity and resolution. The graceful separation which creates and intimate listening space. A sound stage that reaches far into the ether, 'an infinite sphere, whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere'.
Now I may have delved into pontification and a poor sense of poetic license, yet I stand by my words. The Opus#2 belongs on the top shelf with the other TOTL daps.
A quick look.
The main screen can be seen in the many photos of the Opus#2 within this review.
The usual Android drop down menu.
Songs, Albums, Artists, Genre, Folders, Favorites, Playlists.
The Opus#2 fits into ones hand comfortably.
The Opus#2 is a stellar offering from the already competent stable of daps thebit/audio-opus also produces.
Being the second portable dap of the series Opus#1, Opus#2 and then Opus#3 (not to mention the metal version of #1), the Opus#2 is their higher end dap.
In terms of the build it is robust, solid, not too weighty, fits well in the hand, not over sized.
The volume wheel functions well and has many steps with which to control the volume to pinpoint levels, and has a lovely click, click, click to it.
The side buttons are raised just enough so that one doesn't accidentally pause, fast forward or reverse. Sometimes I think I would have liked them a little bit more raised so that one can feel them more when the case is on, at other times they seem satisfactory.
The case is well made, and fits like a glove.
Its UI like the other Opus daps is very easy to use and navigate. The UI is similar If not identical across the three daps. So familiarity with one means you can step right into the other audio-opus product with ease.
With 128GB on board storage, a decent and fast processor, ESS dac, wifi connectivity, an excellent sleep mode and more. The Opus#2 certainly has it all.
*There are reports on Head-fi of 256GB and 512GB cards working-
Sound is neutral towards reference with a hint of warmth here and there at times, it packs detail and resolution with a deep depth of musicality that at no times alters its intent as an accurate player. The instrument separation is brilliant, and with a sound stage that doesn't disappoint.
The Opus#2 is a dap that handles all music I have thrown at it with ease, It stands on the shoulders of the previous quality offerings by Opus.
I have no regrets when I take it on my daily commute and pair it with a TOTL set of IEMs.
As I reach the end of this review I am listening to the delicate track 'Corpus Christi Carol' by Jeff Buckley from the album Grace...and it is sublime.
And then Slayer - 'Reborn' comes on, handled superbly. And I smile.
Thank you to thebit/Audio Opus for sending the Opus#2 dap to Head pie for review
Pros - Lifelike sound. Great build. Excellent UI. Volume Wheel. 128GB Internal Storage. Leather case.
Cons - Big. Heavy.
~::I originally published this review on The Headphone List. Now I wish to share it with my Head-Fi fellows::~
To learn more or purchase the Opus#2:
MusicTeck on Amazon
Here I am, on the very threshold between reality and absolute madness. Some would say we’ve already crossed it. I can’t argue with that sort of reasoning. I mean look at the evidence: Pinky, that delusional pervert from Head-Fi, writing for The Headphone List?! You may be asking, “What evil villain is responsible for this?” That, my good people, would be Flinkenick. Cast thy blame appropriately.
Before I begin this, my first review for THL, perhaps a small introduction is in order. If you knew a little about me then you’d have something to cling to when the fear takes hold. My secret truths could be a beacon in the dark tumult that follows. So heed them well:
I am Pinky.
Awesome. Now that’s done, let’s get on with this.
I must give a hearty call of thanks to Andrew over at www.musicteck.com He let me purchase the Opus#2 for $1,000 in exchange for my honest review. And he did so BEFORE I joined THL. This was based solely on my Head-Fi reviews and my strangely earnest disposition.
Hmm… if you look at it from a different perspective, I’m thanking him for letting me give him lots of money. If I didn’t like this device so much, I might find some irony in that. But instead, I am thanking him, from the bottom of my heart. Thanks Andrew!
Since early September, 2015, my everyday carry (EDC, for us knife folk) has been the Astell&Kern AK120II. I’ve tested numerous DAPs against this high watermark. None have conquered it. There are plenty I haven’t tested. DAPs I suspect would beat the AK in sound quality, if at least by a little.
The reason I’ve never upgraded, or even felt a strong urge to try those other DAPs, is I made myself a promise. I would only consider upgrading from the AK120II if a device gave me EVERYTHING the AK does, but also improves on sound quality and output power.
That means I’m looking for: The same storage capacity. Touchscreen. Great, bug-free UI. Highest quality build, with volume wheel. Duel-DAC balanced output. And an over-all strong product that isn’t plagued with QC issues. At or around $1K (same price I picked up the 120II for).
You can see why I never upgraded. That DAP did not exist.
In fact, there may be three distinct players which meet most of my prerequisites. Each one new on the market and promising superior sound and output power: Sony WM1A, iBasso DX200, and theBit Opus#2.
With such devices swimming round me, I felt the itch. I felt it bad. The Sony looked REALLY good, but I loathed the notion of re-terminating all my balanced cables to 4.5mm. Using an adapter, while not a terrible option, is a cumbersome chore I’d rather avoid.
The DX200 was at the time (and still is, to be honest) too new to be sure of. Plus, it’s the one player out of the three which fails to match my AK in storage capacity.
That leaves the Opus. It meets all my requirements, uses the now prolific 2.5mm balanced output, and is the only DAP out of this lot to have a Twister6 review. His DX200 review will come soon enough, I’m sure. But at the time of this writing, all the cards came up Opus.
Another point which held a lot of weight with me is that I just reviewed the Opus#1, and felt sheer ecstasy under the glory of its radiance. It’s the only DAP I’ve heard that stands neck to neck, unflinching, before the auditory perfection of my AK120II. For the price the Opus#1 goes for now, it’s a MUST BUY if you’re in the market.
So with high hopes to billow my sails, I embarked on a search for a goodly price on the Opus#2.
With Andrew’s help, I found that price, and the Opus arrived around two weeks ago, on the 10th of February.
For those of you familiar with my work, I don’t cover the boxing/packaging. Not unless a gun’s to my head, or I’ve been offered erotic delights as an incentive. I’ll just say the box is nice, and everything was safe inside.
The first experiment that came to mind was to try and power the thing on. The battery was dead. Ok, no big deal. That’s not unusual. I plugged it into my 2-amp Samsung microUSB cable. But the screen didn’t come On, and there were no LEDs letting me know it was charging. So I freaked out, and hooked the player up to my PC’s USB port, using the supplied Opus cable. Still nothing. Did I fry the thing, using 2 amps of power? I gave it about 20 minutes of charge time before I tried again, and this time the Opus#2 booted up.
I have since used that same 2-amp adapter and cable again, and it works just fine. Your options for charging this player are good and broad.
Boot-up is around 20-30 seconds (I didn’t time this, so don’t hold me to an exact count). Scanning a full internal storage and a full 128GB microSD takes forever. Fortunate for Pinky, I only ever use Browse By Folder on any DAP I use, and this doesn’t require the scan to be complete. You can find a song and start listening right away.
This might not be a big deal for you, either. Because the Opus#2 (and #1) has the world’s best Deep Sleep Mode. In fact, today was the first time I’ve powered it off since I got it. The battery can go something like 2 months in Sleep Mode, waking up with just a quick press of the button. There’s no re-scanning, coming out of Sleep Mode, so this doesn’t have to cause undue stress on your life.
Don’t ask me why, but I love volume wheels. I have a dangerous fascination with them. Now there are so many good options in the wild, I won’t buy a DAP without one. My favorite player, in terms of physical build and aesthetics, might be the Cayin i5. The massive knob at the top has a lot to do with that. The Opus#2 may possess my second-favorite wheel. It’s certainly sturdier than the AK, which wobbled some and turned a little too easily. I like some resistance. It makes the volume less likely to change by accident.
Button arrangement could be better, though to be fair, I’m not sure how. All I know is, due to the wide dimensions of the Opus, it sits awkward in the hand, and from time-to-time I will unintentionally hit the track back on the side. I shall not mark this against the Opus, because with amperage comes size. It’s what I wanted, I keep telling myself. Still, next to the AK120II, it does seem massive and ungainly.
The screen is a 4” IPS. It’s good, but certainly no AMOLED, like my Astell&Kern. In comparison, the Opus looks washed out. But the image is clear and detailed, and does its job.
Coming from the lap of luxury in my old DAP, I am accustomed to only the prettiest of things. The Opus is not exactly sexy. It dresses less for the ball and more for a military assembly. That’s not to say it’s without artistry or elegance. With a full aluminum chassis, and tight, strong assembly, the Opus#2 is utterly top of the line in build. The feel of the thing leaves no question as to its status.
My biggest complaint with the Opus#2 must be operating speed. Just switching on the screen takes a second longer than it should. Regular UI interaction isn’t terrible, but there is a sense of lag that I just don’t experience with the Astell&Kern.
The GUI is quite good. Minimalistic, and classy. It’s the best I’ve seen apart from the AK. Much better than Cayin, or FiiO’s X7. This is on firmware v1.00.03, before they implement the full Andoid OS, with App Store and streaming (something they assure us is coming). Pinky is not looking forward to that. I’ve preached enough in the past, from my high and noble pulpit, on the sins of smartphoning our audio players. I’ve gone on and on about how a DAP should be a standalone device, and a smartphone a pocket PC, and keep the two ideologies as separate as possible. For the sake of the sound! Keep them separate! I don’t have it in me to kick that up right now. ho ho! Don’t relax too much, though! I’m sure I’ll get worked up about it again, sooner or later. After all, it is the gravest plight facing our species today.
Good man Andrew tells me the case which is included with this package is genuine leather. I guess it could be, though I wouldn’t have thought so. It doesn’t look like real leather. Nor does it smell like it. When I lick the hide, I do not taste the soul of the creature it came from. It’s been treated so thoroughly it’s indistinguishable from synthetic. Either way, the case is neatly wrought, and fits like a love glove on a rhino.
So far, I’ve experienced only one crash. It was a hard lock. The screen wouldn’t turn on, and none of the buttons worked. I did not panic because just recently my Samsung Galaxy S6 had a similar crash, where even the LED light remained dead when I plugged it into the charger. I freaked the ****** out! Before I gave up all hope, though, I consulted the Interweb and found out how to perform a hard reset. This also worked for the Opus#2. Just a few seconds holding down Power+Track-Down and the device rebooted.
Right. Yes. I say that about covers the boring ****. On to SOUND!
Sabre DACs are a perilous proposition to anyone who loathes an overly bright signature. If you are my kin, your heart belongs to a warmer profile. Sabre DACs can be thin, harsh, and unnaturally metallic-sounding. I am not a fan of the FiiO X7 for this reason, though it is not the worst offender. Yet when they are handled right, Sabre truly exemplifies neutral, transparent, high-resolution rendering while maintaining a full, dynamic sound that comes off wholly organic. My Audio-GD NFB-28 is one such marvel. I would never call that thin or brittle.
The Opus#2 is Sabre done right.
It’s actually ever-so-slightly on the warm side. Or maybe I’ve been tricked into thinking that because it is so smooth, and with such meaty bass slam. The Opus#2 presents a highly musical, weighty sound that pours out of your headphones like melted butter. It is resolving to the highest degree, detailed like a mofo, with a soundstage that matches or bests everything I’ve tested thus far. The Opus does all this while being the most natural and realistic DAP I’ve had the pleasure of hearing.
The Astell&Kern AK120II shall be my main comparison, since I have it on-hand, and specs and pricing put these in the same league. Not to mention, it’s the only comparison that matters to me, since the Opus is meant to be my upgrade. But worry not, I’ll throw in some quick thoughts on other good music players, for perspective.
During my A/B comparisons, where I use a source switcher to give me split-second access to multiple DAPs, I found the Opus and AK to sound freakishly close to each other. The Opus#2 is clearer by a hair. There’s a touch more treble and dynamism. Vocals are forward on the AK, and more neutral on the Opus. The AK120II is warmer, which seems like a veil compared to the clarity of the Opus#2. But really, the difference is absurdly small. Same note weight. Same thick, full sound. Even soundstage was equal. I tried my amazing 24Bit Beatles re-masters, and even the brilliant binaural record, SESSIONS FROM THE 17TH WARD by Amber Rubarth. There was no track that delivered a winner between the AK120II and Opus#2. The staging was equally grand. Going from A to B, and back to A, all the instruments stayed put, no matter where they were on the plane. Only the vocals moved forward or back a step.
This was via the 3.5mm single-ended output. I don’t have an A/B switcher that runs balanced signal. Maybe I should build one. However, when I engaged in the more traditional fashion of testing—unplugging from one device and plugging into another— comparing the two’s balanced output, I felt the Opus was indeed a little wider. I also felt the Opus might have greater depth and separation. But since I couldn’t verify this with a switcher, I suggest you take that with a pinch of salt.
Just as I discovered with the Opus#1, that extra treble sparkle makes this a better pairing for very warm headphones, like my 64Audio ADEL U12. It sounds a bit airier and brighter than it does on the AK120II, without losing any of its richness and bass. Anyone who’s heard the U12 knows that can only be a good thing. This pairing is supernatural, sounding bigger and more spacious than any IEM has a right to sound. Both DAP and IEM are paradigms of the satiny, refined class of audio. Lana Del Ray’s Black Beauty from ULTRAVIOLENCE is a study in lushness. Together, the Opus>U12 make miracles happen. Especially with a little EQ, which has a much better effect on the Opus than it does on my AK. I’m deeply impressed by the results. A few Db in the Presence Region and the U12 becomes a whole new IEM.
The Rhapsodio Solar is hungry and angry next to the U12. It’s quick, sharp, and clear. The Opus gives it all the energy it could ever want, driving that thunderous bass and sparkly treble to their fullest. Solar has never sounded wider than it does on the Opus#2 in balanced. The notes are clean and thick, the details intricate. Imaging is holographic, immersing you entirely in a well-mastered extravaganza, like Radiohead’s new album, A MOON SHAPED POOL. With the Opus, Solar enunciates a perfectly accurate picture with layers of depth.
One of my favorite headphones right now is the Meze 99 Classics. It’s also the newest, so that may have something to do with it. Whatever the psychology, this thing cannot sound bad on anything. It’s so well tuned. The Opus, being the perfect lord of neutral, exemplifies all the 99C’s best attributes. Where Meze usually rumbles deep, now it does so with control and authority. Where the treble pranced and twinkled, now it unleashes secret stores of passion for the old dance. The vocals have never sounded more crystalline, while keeping their rapturous warmth. There is majesty in this pairing of which I cannot get enough. Listening to the rich acoustics of Nirvana Unplugged gives Pinky the chills.
Sennheiser’s collaboration with Massdrop, the HD6XX, also known as the Massdrop limited edition Sennheiser HD650, gets loud enough on Medium Gain. That’s listening to a modern record. If you put on original masters of classic rock, you’ll need to turn on High Gain. These 300 Ohm headphones actually sound complete on the Opus. More or less. I mean, there is very little improvement from my desktop DAC/Amp, the Audio-GD NFB-28. From the Opus, the HD6XX is smooth and warm. It’s rich, with a delicate, resolving render. There’s a big, live feel to the music. The HD6XX puts out a full, wholesome sound from the Opus#2. And that’s in single-ended! I want to hear these things from the DAP’s balanced output. Alas! I have yet to build all the right cable and adapters for that endeavor.
The Audeze LCD-2.2 Fazor is heavenly with the Opus#2. This is the first time I’ve even attempted to drive these from a mobile player. WOW! Liquid sonics flowing forth with life-changing bass, transparent vocals, and treble you can practically taste. The veil is parted, and you stand exposed before The Soul of Sound and Melody. I have no complaints about what I hear. Like the HD6XX, these sound complete, lacking in nothing. They do not have that underpowered sound full-size headphones get when there’s just not enough juice to fill them out properly. The AK120II does a far less impressive job. My LCD-2 gets loud enough on the AK, and sounds pretty good, but it lacks the weight and dynamics the Opus brings to the field.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a serious step up in quality from my desktop system: NFB-28>Balanced Output>Silver-Gold Alloy cable>LCD-2.2F. No question. However, from the Opus, using the stock, single-ended cable, the sound is still utterly enthralling. One does not feel the loss of the better system while swept up in this kind of audio.
If this isn’t the most inappropriate place in the review, let me throw together some other comparisons. They are from memory, but since I wrote reviews on all of them, and I still have the AK as a cornerstone by which to reference each, you don’t need to completely dismiss what follows.
FiiO X7 w/AM1 Module: Brighter. Thinner. Less dynamic. Weaker bass. Slightly smaller soundstage. Quite revealing and transparent, but not on the same level as Opus#2.
Cayin i5: Warmer. Even bigger bass. Thicker sound. Less detailed, with a slight veil. Not as refined. Noticeably smaller soundstage. Nowhere near as clear or transparent as Opus#2.
Opus#1: Maybe a smidgen brighter. Note weight is a tad thinner. Dynamics are about the same. Details and transparency are not far off. Not as refined. Less smooth and organic. Smaller soundstage.
Well there it is! Look at the mess I’ve made. Try and make sense of that, you grubby peasants!
The Opus#2 by theBit is wildly impressive in a lot of ways. I was a bit disappointed to see that it did not absolutely shatter my AK120II. This shouldn’t have surprised me, as I’ve said many times before how the AK delivers a faultless sound. It’s hard to blow away something without obvious failings. Nonetheless, the Opus#2 is an upgrade in a number of ways, without forcing me backwards on a single point. That’s what I wanted, and that’s what the Opus gives me. It’s a pocket-size DAP mighty enough to make any reasonably efficient full-size headphone sound complete. My TOTL IEMs have opened up to their fullest potential. This little device gives my desktop DAC a run for its money. Well… they do share a lot of the same components. But still, that’s no mean feat.
I’m sorry I can’t compare the Opus#2 against more players in this price range, or above. If I get the opportunity to test them out, I shall update the review. In the meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy listening to the best-sounding DAP I’ve heard to date.
The Opus#2 by theBit
Native DSD Playback
32bit / 384kHz High Resolution Sound
4” Touch display (IPS panel)
SABRE32 ES9018K2M x 2EA Dual DAC
ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz, Quad-Core CPU DDR3 1GB
Internal Memory 128GB (External Micro SDcard Upto 200GB)
Full Metal Body (Aluminum CNC)
WI-FI : 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
Bluetooth V4.0(A2DP, AVRCP)
Ultra Power Saving Mode
Pros - Awesome tonality, mostly neutral, overall great sonic capabilities, balanced output
Cons - Expensive, one sd slot
So, I did it. I broke down and purchased another high dollar DAP, high dollar to me anyway. I was smitten with the AK100ii/AK120ii line and I have become jaded. I actually flirted with a mid-priced DAP but I couldn’t forget the slightly warmish, clear, detailed sound of the AK. I have raised my bar with the AK and satisfaction has since been a distant remembrance as I no longer own it.
A new-found love entered my life and it is the Opus#2 by a company called theBit. I have had the Opus#2 for about three weeks now and I have been appreciating it more and more. There were a couple of others that have caught my eye, but the iBasso DX200 and Fiio X5lll have not been released long enough for me to want to take the plunge, but we will see with time.
I need to give props to Andrew at MusicTeck. He is so responsive and always willing to answer questions. He has a great lineup of equipment and is always looking to expand that lineup. Andrew is responsible for hooking me up with my new DAP, for a discount, for my honest opinion and review, below is that review.
-MRSP: $1599; (can be found for less currently 1499.00)
I was greeted by a rather plain yet elegant white box. When I saw the box something said you are in for a surprise, it was a feeling, my Spidey sense was tingling.
I opened the initial box to be welcomed by…. another box! Not too different from what we used to call Russian Nesting Dolls (Google it).
Seriously, I was impressed with the packaging and its simple understated elegance. Once you opened the final box, inside, protected in a foam cutout was an Opus#2. I must admit I was not struck by its sexiness, on the contrary, it had a certain utilitarian, get down to work look to me.
Underneath the Opus#2 you will find all accessories including a leather case and USB cable.
You can see the goodies included and aside from what you see there is an installed screen protector. I think adding a nice quality leather case is a great touch but it should be included in the cost of admission for the price paid. As a bonus, the fit of the case is as premium as the case itself. It is snug and fits like a glove.
I baby my gear but I will always use a case on my devices, be it a cellphone or DAP, to protect them from scratches as I lay it on the table. While the Opus #2 is a substantial device in your hand it is not scratch proof.
The DAP is hefty and heavy and it feels solid in your palm. It has a nice 4” size touch screen. If you have read my thoughts on the Cayin i5 you would know I had a love affair with the volume knob, it’s size and design was top notch. The Opus #2 does not have the same quality of volume knob but it performs its function and gives me no issue, however it is nothing special. I am just not a fan of feeling a lot of “play” in the volume knob and the Opus #2 has that “play” but it clicks nicely at volume change.
On the opposite side of the Opus #2 are the Next and Prev buttons and Play/Pause button. With the case on it is awkward to click the correct buttons without looking. On the bottom of the DAP there is a MicroUSB port and a microSD slot, which worked fine with my 256gb card although the slot is spec’d at 200gb. Internally it has 128gb of space built in. I did not test the OTG USB DAC connection but I have read other reviews that state it works. I had no problems connecting it to Windows 10 and using MTP to transfer files.
On the top side, there is the power button and a 3.5mm output and a 2.5mm TRRS balanced output. The 3.5mm output is also used as a Line Out when turned on inside the software. However, the 2.5mm output does not have to be turned on from the software as it is always on.
The unit has WiFi and Bluetooth and in the existing software configuration the WiFi’s main function as it sits is to update the firmware. While there is an Android base, it has been heavily modified, so there is no Google Play Store, which means you cannot install third party apps including your favorite streaming apps, thus no Spotify, Tidal or Deezer etc. theBit has stated that they will allow streaming in the future I can only hope it is well executed. I actually like the fact that the DAP takes full advantage of what a DAP should do and that is focus on excellent sound quality. At this point it is a master at its craft and not a Jack-of-all trades.
The Opus #2 plays most of your favorite file formats including Native DSD. I put it through its paces listening to a varied selection of musical files and never had a hitch, stutter or lag while playing music, including Gapless.
I am not going to take you on an in-depth tour of the GUI. That is too much detail and I get bored writing it as much as you do reading it. For the most part I use folders to select my music. I will say the GUI provides for a good consumer experience.
There are a couple things I would like to touch on. This is one of those devices that scans for music each time you turn it off and on. I despise that for obvious reasons the biggest being the time it takes, a real First World problem. The great thing about the Opus #2 is the fact that it has an awesome sleep mode. You can stop your music and shut your screen off and it just trickles your battery so it is not necessary to turn off the device to conserve battery thus it solves the annoying search for music at each restart since you don't need to restart. Another noteworthy feature is if you are a person that likes to EQ the Opus#2 has a 10 band that works very well.
Let’s get to the good part…Sound:
Generally, reviewers will use descriptors such as warm, neutral, detail, spacious, transparent and dynamic range. I will tell you what I hear and what I feel pairs well and the types of sound signatures I feel match the best. Unfortunately, my Rhapsodio Solar are in Hong Kong being reshelled at the time of writing so I can’t write about that experience. I can, on the other hand write about the 64 Audio U12 and the Meze 99 Classics and how they pair with the Opus #2. I will say that so far, in my opinion the only DAP that has done the HD650 justice has been the Cayin i5 and it has the power of a bully. Nuff said!
I used my U12 with the B1 module and a OCC Silver Litz cable with a 3.5mm and a 2.5mm balanced output. If you know anything about the 64 Audio U12 it is a warm, bassy IEM. Stellar sound with some persistence. It takes patience and tweaking to hear the U12 in all of its finest splendor. Along with my cable and proper impedance the crowning touch would be the Opus #2 which because of its neutrality doesn't increase the warmth of the IEM. I have found that when there is a balanced output is available I use balanced. I will say with the Opus #2 the sonics are great with either output but with the U12 I used the balanced output because I have a balanced cable. With the Meze 99 Classics I use 3.5mm.
The Opus#2 delivers! It is neutral but doesn’t lack in body. It is obviously capable of making details pop because I have never heard my U12 sound as detailed as it does being powered by the Opus #2. There is a 32bit setting inside the DAP and I would recommend using it as it appears to offer a sharper, more crisp sound. The Opus #2 would not be classified as warm but it is smooth because of its tonality and body. I think the clarity and detail retrieval in this DAP should not be confused with bright and clinical. The Meze pair equally as well but I have found that 99 Classics pair so well with many sources. The Opus #2 has the ability to pair and create a good synergy, in my opinion, with many types of headphones but excels with a warm, thick sound signature such as the U12 as it helps provide some clarity without adding to the coloration. The separation using this DAP is really good and wide. The noise floor is silent and I detected no hiss using either output.
Bdee Bdee That’s All Folks……
The Opus#2 is an awesome DAP. It has a little brother the Opus #1 which has been recognized for its sonic ability and lower price point. They also have a metal version of the Opus #1 which uses high end opamps and is said its sonics to be difficult to distinguish from the Opus #2. I cannot verify any of the above statements regarding the other’s in the Opus line as I jumped right in with both feet and bought the Opus#2.
I know that I have been harsh reviewing some DAP’s in the past and I gush about the AK’s but if I was asked if I could only have one DAP would I wish for my old, trusty AK120ii or the Opus #2? I can say without doubt the Opus#2 has set the new bar. Goodbye AK120ii. Hello Opus #2!
Pros - Transparent, Resolving, easy to use, build quality
Cons - Battery life, 1 microSD slot
Firstly I would like to thank Audio Opus for this sample, as always I will try to write an honest review, this unit has been my daily player for the last couple of months.
Gear Used: Opus #2 > Inearz P350 / Mee Audio M6 Pro / Advanced M4 and more, it has also been used as the source for my Hifi system both via Optical and Line Out.
Comprehensive list on their website: http://www.audio-opus.com/?page_id=16867
Packaging, Build quality and Accessories:
The Opus #2 packaging is very simplistic and not over the top, which I appreciate. You don’t end up having to keep a box 5 times the size of the actual product, the outside sleeve is plain white with Opus #2 embossed in rose gold at the top on the front and left hand side, and a list of specifications is featured on the back. Out of this outer sleeve slides another white box again with Opus #2 embossed, pull this box apart and you will find the DAP held tightly in a foam insert, underneath this insert you will find a compartment with the included accessories. Overall a very sleek, professional looking box that serves its purpose well without being over the top.
The build quality of this DAP is stunning, the outer shell is CNC aluminium, there is weight to the design and all the parts fit together flush and with precision. You will find the microSD card slot on the bottom, next to the micro USB connector. On the left side you will find 3 playback buttons, on the top you have a normal 3.5mm output (doubles up as optical), and next to it a 2.5mm TRRS Balanced output, along with the power button. On the right side you have the volume wheel, which has protectors either side. This wheel has smooth clicks (150 steps) so you can fine adjust the volume. The front is glass as it is a touch screen player (4”TFT 480*800), overall it is a very well build player that feels and looks built to last.
Accessory wise you get a very nice Leather case (made by Dignis ), which fits the contours of the player without adding much bulk or affecting any functions. Also pre-fitted is a screen protector but a spare is included, a quick guide and a USB cable, this does not come with any extra unnecessary items. I really like that they include a very nice leather case, rather than have it as a paid for extra.
Features and Usability:
This DAP has a lot of features in its favour, I will try to keep this part concise.
First off you have the 3.5mm output on top which can be used as an optical out, but also you can change the settings to make it a line-out for using with an external amp. This is a simple toggle on option from the settings.
The #2 runs a custom version of Android, it currently doesn’t support 3[sup]rd[/sup] party apps but it is built as a music player, it would be nice to have streaming services added in the future though. The interface is very simple and easy to navigate, you will soon get used to it, it does support playlists, folder browsing, but the normal artist/album/song/genres is the easiest way to navigate providing you have your files tagged properly.
If you open the settings you can set the L/R balance, the output DSP (Auto/32bit (X-MOS)/24bit (I2S)), there are 3 gain settings (low/mig/high), 3 user equalizers and then all the screen settings etc...
This DAP has Wifi for OTA updates, and Bluetooth V4.0, it can be used as an external DAC too.
It has 128gb of internal storage, along with a microSD card slot, I would have liked to see 2 microSD card slots like on the Opus #1, but memory is getting cheaper and companies are always cramming more memory into microSD cards (although if you really needed more, I think you could use a microSD to SD adapter strapped to the back and it would likely still fit inside the Dignis case).
This DAP as stated is very easy to use, it flicks between screens without lag, playback time is stated at 8.5hrs, I would say that is fairly accurate, I do find the deep sleep mode is not as effective as the one on the Opus #1, I find the battery drains a lot more when on standby compared to the Opus #1 (could leave for a week with no noticeable battery drain). But again most of us are not often in the situation where we are going 8.5 hours without access to charging facilities.
Bugs: There are a few bugs, but firmware updates should fix these. Some people have album artwork issues (can be a tagging issue too), the playback buttons on the side do not work when the device is in deep sleep (so what you can do is toggle the screen on, and then press the relevant button). I personally haven’t found any major issues that hinder my overall opinion of this DAP.
I don’t have any other TOTL players to compare this to, but I will try to explain the sound and compare to the Opus #1.
First off I have a preference for neutral sounding devices, and this ticks the box, I find this DAP to have a very refined and balanced sound from which you choose headphones to match your preferred signature. I find it difficult to explain the sound of some devices because they just tick all the right boxes, and in my opinion that makes it a very, very good device. There are no glaring flaws, I cannot say anything about the sound is bad, because it isn’t.
I find a lot of people get caught up in the equipment side of things, and for me, getting the Opus #1 was the first DAP I considered a real upgrade from the humble iPod Classic (after a few other DAP’s none could match the iPod’s simplicity and give a substantial SQ upgrade until the #1). Then the #2 came along, and it made me re-evaluate the Opus #1 in terms of ultimate sound quality. The #2 took the same formula of offering great sound at a great price, but took it one step further, adding a more solid build, more features and overall enhanced sound quality.
Is the sound worth the price increase, maybe not, but as a whole package? Yes it is in my opinion, like with the #1, I find myself evaluating the equipment less, and enjoying the music more, which is what it is all about.
If you want technicalities this delivers, it has a very precise sound with incredible detail retrieval without a hint of harshness, everything is well controlled and the resolution is astounding. There is also a very slight hint of softness to the sound that helps take away any sharp edges, but this in no way takes anything away from the intricate sound this DAP produces. The #1 had an ever so slightly softer sound, and was slightly less resolving.
Having the Opus #2 allows you to know that you really are not missing out on anything in your music, it presents it without adding much of a flavour, and for this I really like this DAP. I can hit play put it in my pocket and enjoy, my IE-P350’s (whilst not being high end are very coherent) sound more open and also extended with the #2.
Conclusion: Well the Opus #1 still presents excellent value for money, and the Opus #2 has come along at 3 times the price. For that you get extra features and better build quality, as stated the sound is close but the Opus #2 is more resolving, refined and slightly cleaner. As a whole package the Opus #2 really impresses, nothing is thrown in your face, nothing is jumping out at you, which in turn lets you forget about the equipment and get on with enjoying the music, which is why we all started this journey right?
Audio perfection is a never ending chase, but as for a portable player, I think it would be hard to not consider this DAP if you are looking for an end game DAP. You can use it with your home HiFi via the line-out and it’ll sound fantastic, hook it up via optical to another DAC it’ll be an excellent transport, hook it up to your PC and have it as a DAC feeding headphones or line-out to another device and it will never disappoint. Audio Opus know what they are doing, they have combined a lot of very good components, in harmony to produce a very revealing yet easy to listen to device.
Sound Perfection Rating - 9/10 (feature packed, excellent sounding DAP)
Pros - sound: neutrality, transparency, level of details; design; build quality; firmware; 128 Gb of built-in flash
Cons - price; no streaming apps
Sometimes I have a strong desire to start a review with a conclusion, and then explain everything in more details. This time I think I'll follow this urge. So, OPUS#2 from theBit became for me one of the biggest discoveries of 2016. Phew, now I've said it, so I don't have to hold this inside anymore, and I can go on to review.
First of all, I'd like to thank theBit for providing me with a sample for review in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.
OPUS#1 showed that theBit company has the own vision of a sound and can implement it in hardware. The first model of their player turned out fascinating — neutral representation with a bit expanded stage gives the pleasant involving sound. The DAP's case is made of polycarbonate (there is also a limited metal version), the Android-based firmware is essential, but very convenient (not so long ago it was updated it to the Android 5.1 with the interface similar to OPUS#2). Recently reduced price made OPUS#1 even more attractive.
After the success of the first player, theBit decided that second model should be perfect from any points of view. To start with, they replaced a DAC with ESS Sabre 9018K2M as chips from ESS are one of the indisputable leaders of the market. Creators decided to improve the sound to an ideal level and used two separate chips in the completely balanced schema. Sound engineers added the hybrid amplifier using opamps and the discrete elements, high-precision master oscillators, and other necessary elements. For DAC USB mode support they've added separate XMOS chip that allowed to implement support of Native DSD in this mode. The perfect interior was complemented by the high-quality screen, 128 GB of the built-in memory and other buns necessary for a flagship.
Package and accessories set
Well, at last, some vendor of audio equipment made a box, not in a black color. Koreans decided not to join the dark side and made a package of beautiful white cardboard with foiled print. The design of the package is standard: dense box in thinner "jacket". Inside everything is traditional: the player is on top, underneath, in separate boxes lies accessories. With OPUS#2 you'll get few screen protectors (luckily, one is already preinstalled), high-quality MicroUSB cable and an excellent case.
As before, theBit cooperate with Dignis. Therefore the case is made of genuine leather, is ideally adjusted and looks stylish. Special thanks go to theBit for putting a case in the box, so we don't have to buy it separately.
So, with OPUS#2 you'll get everything that is necessary to use it.
Design and control
The first thing you'll notice after pulling the player out of the box it is its size and weight. OPUS#2 is on a larger side, and it's body made of aluminum, giving the user a feel of solidness. Fortunately, designers did their work nicely, so player looks attractive and perfectly fit in hand. Of course, this player not created for a slim jeans pocket or a pocket of business short, but anyway, OPUS#2 is more transportable then, for example, Lotoo Paw Gold.
In the exterior, designers used a nice combination of shapes and different shades of gray and black, so DAP looks stylish and clearly distinct from other players.
Traditionally, there are three buttons on the left side of the player. They are used for playback control. On the top side, you'll find on/off button which is also locking the screen and two sockets. First one is traditional 3.5 mm TRS socket, used for non-balanced headphones. Also, it can be used as line out and optical out. The second one is the balanced 2.5 mm TRRS outlet for balanced headphones.
The right side of player contains volume knob; it's encoder-based, so you can quickly adjust volume in 150 precise steps. The encoder is of high quality, has nice distinguished clicks and is working like a charm. Bottom side contains MicroUSB connector and a slot for MicroSD cards.
The central part of the front panel is occupied by 4" screen. Of course, bevels are pretty big so that the display could be even larger, but I don't see any sense in a larger screen in dap. The screen is pretty nice, it has good resolution, excellent color depth, and viewing angles, and even under the bright sunlight, it remains more or less readable. The sensor is also reliable, so touch controls are flawless.
Inside of second OPUS's body hides powerful 4000 mA/h battery that gives him about 9 hours and 15 minutes of playback (my standard test: MEEAudio P1 as a load, average gain, volume at 60 and 44.1/16 FLAC files playback). DAP has a "deep sleep" mode that allows it to preserve power in idle mode for days and be almost instantly ready when necessary. Charging with 2A iPad charger took about 4 hours, so nothing super-fancy, but figures are pretty good for a powerful device with 2 DACs and sophisticated amplifier.
TheBit have done a splendid work with firmware, as well as in the first model. It's Android based, but everything related to OS hides with the custom launcher. You won't have access to PlayMarket or any other source of applications. It's a bit strange, as the player has WiFi, but it's the only usage is wireless FW update. Probably, in future, theBit will add at least streaming services support and access to wireless media storages. At least it would be a logical step for a flagship.
The whole interface is built around the now playing screen. This screen shows album cover, track name, progress bar and three traditional buttons for playback control. Tapping on a cover allows you to show more details about the record or display lyrics if it's present.
In the upper left corner of this screen, you'll find a button to access media library. There you'll traditionally find tracks grouped by album, artist, and genres, playlists, and favorites. Also, regular folder browser is present too. Media scan is done in the background and works fast.
Settings are hidden in a pull-down menu, activated by a swipe from the upper side of the screen. They contain screen brightness slider, wireless interfaces toggles, sleep timer switch and repeat/shuffle mode toggle. Button with gear icon will open a full settings menu with all you can expect from an excellent player: 10-bands equalizer, gain switch, sleep timer, USB mode and so on.
So, to summarize all of above: the interface is hand and easy, the firmware is stable and reliable.
For listening of the OPUS#2 I've used following headphones: Meze 99 Classics, Lear LHF-AE1d, Audio Zenith PMx2, Noble Kaiser K10AU, Campfire Audio Jupiter, 64 Audio U12, HUM Pristine and others.
OPUS#2 is a DAP that I've missed for a long time. He's reaching the level of most flagships (permission, microdynamics, speed and other characteristics), but offering neutral and uncolored sound. DAP provides uncolored sound but avoids excessive dryness and loss of emotionality. If I'd need to summarize OPPUS#2's sound "in one word," this would be the word "correct."
Player's bass is fast, with good depth (but without attempts to reach the bottom of hell). OPUS#2 balances nicely between two extremes: dry bass, giving an effect of "fast lows with excellent separation" and bloaty bass "with great slam and mass." The player will hardly suit tastes of those, who like colored LF, it plays just what is present on the recordings, but does it perfectly. Such representation suits best to "real" and timbre-rich instruments. Bass in this DAP is universal, when necessary it can portray cannons in 1812 overture, and when necessary, it can smoothly and slowly surround you like in David Gilmour's "A Boat Lies Waiting."
Mids impress with a level of details, they are detailed, but without being razor-sharp and fatiguing, like it often became with some headphones. OPUS#2 plays without artificial coloration, giving listener perfect sense of presence and authentic reproduction of emotions. Mids here has a decent body and sense of solidness, which is often missed in neutral sounding devices. The imaginary stage is spacious and close to three-dimensional, both in width and depth.
Treble reminds a bit "typical Sabre" — fast attacks, combined with an excellent level of details sounds natural, giving recordings the necessary sense of airiness and lightness. To my ears, treble is almost all about that micro-nuances that is hard to point at, but when they aren't here, right music loses a big part of its charm. Luckily, this DAP nails high with ease. OPUS#2 isn't harsh, except awful recordings, horrible masters can sound harsh.
I have only one DAP of similar level, and another one, which is "below" OPUS#2, but offers same representation, so there will be not many comparisons.
Lotoo Paw Gold In general, players are close in level, with LPG being a bit better. Gold offers more forward sound representation with deeper bass, more emotions and aggression (if necessary for music). Also, LPG has more power, so it deals easier with big cans.
Questyle QP1R If OPUS#2 had no "younger brother" OPUS#1, QP1R could become one. They both gave the similar feeling of neutrality and technicality in sound representation, but OPUS#2 has better treble control and better-defined lows.
OPUS#2's amplifier isn't the most powerful amp ever, so the best load for this player is different IEMs and not tight full-size cans. Opus#2 is tailored for high-level IEMs, to my tastes, it's one of the best options for HUM Pristine, 64 Audio U12, and many other IEMs I've recently tested.
Style-wise, this player is universal, however, to my taste, neutral representations suit best for classics, different progressive types of rock and metal and other "serious" music. Sensitivity to the quality of material is high, I'd estimate it about 8/10.
The player has a nice market niche — a high-level source for neutrality lovers. The Korean developers from theBit once again showed that they have an own vision of a sound and they can achieve it at any possible level. Personally, for me, this player became one of the best discoveries of last year, and it remains a reference source for me for a long time.
And traditional first impressions video. If my english didn't scare you, my accent will definitely do
Pros - solid build, high res full body neutral sound sig, leather case, responsive touch screen, balanced output.
Cons - price, fw is still work in progress, single uSD (though w/128GB of internal storage).
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion. The review was originally posted on my blog, and now I would like to share it with all of my readers on Head-fi.
Manufacturer website: theBit, for Sale on MusicTeck and Amazon.
* click on images on expand.
When it comes to audio gear reviews, depending on my schedule I typically have a final write up ready within month or two after receiving a sample. Opus#2 turned out to be an exception. My initial impression was posted almost 4 months ago, and afterwards I continued to feature Opus#2 in all of my reviews as a pair up source or in comparison to other DAPs. I still rank it high, among some of my favorite sources at the current moment, but I never got to a full review until now. This is very unlike me, but I have a reasonable explanation about this delay. Also, I would like to mention that I already covered in depth about theBit, a company behind Opus audio products, in my Opus#1 review, so there is no need to repeat it.
The delay was due to me waiting for the firmware update which suppose to unlock Opus#2 full Android potentials. I believe this feature is still in the works, thus I will update my review later when streaming becomes available. Another reason was due to its little brother (Opus#1) which is still an excellent value considering recent v2 fw update which puts both Opus DAPs on nearly the same level of functionality with an identical GUI, while at the same time widening the gap in pricing after the recent Opus#1 sale, though not sure if it's temporary. When it comes to the latest DAPs, price is no longer an indicator of the product ranking. It's not uncommon for people to accept the idea of diminishing returns where you might end up paying a noticeable premium to get the absolute best in sound and build quality. Of course, the “absolute best” is a subjective opinion based on a personal preference and willingness to pay for it.
I think based on the above reasons, Opus#1 got more attention while Opus#2 with its superior performance got lost in a shadow of its sibling. I hope my review of Opus#2 can bring back the attention this audio player deserves because I definitely consider it to be among the top performers in my current DAP review collection. Every day I still reach for it to use in headphone testing and evaluation or just for listening pleasure. So without further ado, let me share with you what I found after spending the last 4 months with Opus#2.
Arrived in a plain looking, but still elegant, all white box, the presentation of the packaging has a typical "smartphone" minimalistic appeal with a model name on the front and a detailed spec on the back. There is not even a hint how the product looks on the exterior of the box which builds the anticipation of what awaits you inside, especially considering quite an impressive spec.
With a top sleeve off and the cover lifted, you will find Opus#2 securely wedged inside of a foam cutout. You can't help but notice a large touch screen display dominating the view, and at the same time a few design details which clearly put this DAP above a typical smartphone outline. With Opus#2 out, underneath you will find accessory boxes with a leather case and usb cable.
Overall, first impression out of the box was definitely positive, especially when I felt the heft of a solid aluminum construction in my hand.
Besides already applied screen protector and a quality micro-USB cable for charging and data transfer, the only other accessory I was looking forward to was a leather case. Looks like theBit guys decided to continue their collaboration with Dignis, and this time a premium genuine custom leather case was included as a standard accessory.
Even so all metal body of Opus#2 feels nice in your hand, the 252g of weight and larger than an average DAP footprint (124mm x 76mm x 18.3mm) would benefit greatly from grip enhancement which exactly what this leather case provides. In addition to improved and more secure grip, it also protects the surface from scratches when placing the dap on the table or glass top.
The dark navy leather case wraps Opus#2 tight with a solid back panel which has extra thickness to absorb the shock when placing the dap down. The top of the case is completely open, exposing both headphone ports and a power button. Left side is covered, including transport control buttons, though for my personal preference I wish there would be a cutout because sometimes I have to slide my finger across stamped button shapes to find the Play/Pause in the middle. From my experience of using other cases, exposed rather than covered playback control buttons are easier to feel for navigation.
Bottom of the case has a generous opening for mico-USB port which accommodates even bulky cable connectors. Also, the uSD port is covered by the case. The right side also has a generous cutout in the upper right corner to accommodate the analog volume knob and the guards on both sides of it. Once inside the case, Opus#2 is not easy to take out. To remove it, I usually push it out with an eraser side of the pencil through micro-USB port opening. That's a good thing because you don't want the case to be loose.
Overall, I really like this leather case and think it compliments Opus#2 very well without hiding the design details.
I already covered quite a few design details while talking about the leather case. The main focus of this DAP is a large 4” TFT touch screen display with IPS panel (great viewing angles) and a decent resolution of 480x800 pixels. Right now I can only judge graphics by looking at the GUI elements and music cover art, but that is enough to draw a conclusion about the quality of the display. Perhaps it’s not as high res as my smartphone, but it’s definitely on par or better in comparison to my other touch screen DAPs.
The display itself is centered in the middle of the front panel, surrounded by a raised bevel of the metal frame. This is a full metal design, and it feels very solid in my hand. A large display opening could add flex to the device, but I found no such issues with Opus#2. Furthermore, the look of a large display on the front can add a resemblance to a smartphone, while Opus#2 offers plenty of design details to make it stand out as a DAP. The analog volume knob on the right size surrounded by the guards above and below it is definitely a nice touch, though they obviously didn’t reinvent the "wheel" here.
What’s interesting about this volume knob is that it has a little bit of loose play, but if you brush against it or while putting it in your pocket, you don’t have to worry about the volume being bumped by accident. The wheel is not tight and easy to turn with a thumb, and the volume will not change until you hear a click. On the left side, opposite of volume pot, you have 3 hardware transport buttons with Play/Pause in the middle and Skip Next/Prev above and below it. The buttons are metal, round, with a good spacing in between for a finger not to press adjacent buttons by mistake, and with a nice tactile click action. These buttons are easy to feel with you finger, leading to my only gripe with a leather case covering them up.
Besides playback transport buttons (on the left) and volume knob (on the right), the sides have nice metal ridges that enhance the grip of the device if you choose to keep it naked, though I personally prefer a leather case which enhances the grip and adds more security. The bottom of the DAP has microSD slot which theBit specs to support up to 200GB, but I would be surprised if the latest 256GB won’t work (though I don’t have one with me to test it). MicroUSB port is right in the middle, and it can charge the internal 4000 mAh LiPo battery to full from empty using 5V charger in a little under 4hrs. With a mix of 320kbps mp3s and FLACs and some occasional DSDs thrown in the mix, on average I was able to get close to 9hrs of a playback time with wifi and BT off.
Obviously, the same microUSB port is used for data transfer from computer when configured in MTP media device connection mode, just like you would with your Android smartphone. The same port is used for your USB DAC connection (as an external USB sound card connected to your laptop/PC) or OTG USB DAC. I was successfully able to connect Opus#2 to my Galaxy Note 4 with OTG microUSB to microUSB cable to use Opus as an external USB DAC to my phone. Unfortunately, even after installation of provided Windows drivers, I didn’t have success with my Windows 7 laptop due to driver issues with my Windows, but I have read from a few other people who had success with their newer versions of Windows, and also no issues with MAC where drivers are not even required.
Top of the DAP has a metal power button in the upper right corner, nice tactile response as expected, and with a typical functionality of long press to turn power on/off and short press for screen on/off which also wakes Opus#2 up from a deep sleep power saving mode. Next to it you have 2.5mm TRRS balanced headphone port with a common A&K wiring. In the upper left corner, you have multi-function 3.5mm headphone port which not only serves as Single Ended TRS jack, but also has Optical output to drive s/pdif digital data into the external DAC/amp. Furthermore, 3.5mm port also turns into Line Out when selected from within DAP, and this is not just cranking the volume up to the max, but actually working as a clean Line Out output from the internal DAC to bypass the internal Amp for external sound processing. Unlike Opus#1, 2.5mm Balanced output here doesn't need to be enabled, it's always on in parallel with 3.5mm SE output.
I was definitely pleased with a design since lately I have been favoring touch screen navigation over clicking buttons or mechanical wheels, but overall Opus#2 doesn’t have the most compact footprint especially for those with smaller hands. For me personally, I usually hold it in my right hand with thumb controlling the volume knob while I touch swipe with left hand. For Opus#1 owners, Opus#2 is just a little bit wider and longer, and you will feel right at home going from one to the other, especially since after fw 2.0 update the Opus#1 GUI looks identical to Opus#2. The bottom line, this is a VERY solid design with a well laid out ports and external controls.
Under the hood.
When it comes to hardware specs of popular DAPs with touch screen interface, many are Android based and as powerful as smartphones from a few years ago. Opus#2 is no exception running the Lollipop on its ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz quad-core CPU with 1GB of DDR3 RAM. As of right now the Android OS is locked, and on the surface you will find Opus own native optimized audio app. Also, both WiFi and Bluetooth v4.0 are supported, where you can receive OTA (over the air) FW updates, sync the time, and use your wireless BT headphones (though, no apt-X codec support). theBit promises in a future to unlock Android in order to allow the use of popular streaming services such as Spotify and Tidal, but it’s still work in progress.
From my experience of testing other DAPs supporting these streaming services, it’s not as trivial as some might think because now you are dealing with a modified Android OS which requires customized audio drivers. It’s definitely a challenge, especially if you decide to open a door to Google Play market where people going to install 3rd party untested apps that have a high potential to crash DAP's OS. I assume that once theBit feels confident in having a solid solution, we are going to see an update, but for now to stream with Opus#2 – just pair it up with your smartphone using OTG microUSB cable.
Regardless of the streaming support, the focus of this DAP is still to provide a superior audio performance fueled by two ESS9018K2M DACs with up to 32bit/384kHz true bit-to-bit decoding. This gives you a power to support most of the lossy and lossless audio formats such as WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, WMA, MP3, OGG, AAC, APE, and native DSD decoding (supporting DFF and DSF). With Native DSD decoding, even though the spec says up to DSD128, I was able to test it without a problem using DSD256 files with 1bit 11.2MHz sampling rate. Opus#2 crunched through them without a problem or buffering stutter. And I was also able to verify seamless Gapless playback.
The internal architecture of the device takes full advantage of the Dual DAC configuration to process separately Left and Right channels with an efficient utilization of both unbalanced and balanced outputs. But don't expect the balanced output to have double voltage swing in comparison to a single ended port. I assume this was done to preserve battery life, and as a result the unbalanced SE output is 2.3Vrms (w/2ohm output impedance) while Balanced output is 2.5Vrms (w/1ohm output impedance). Also, as part of a careful design implementation of balanced and unbalanced outputs, balanced has an improved performance of signal to noise ratio (116dB vs 115dB) and crosstalk (135dB vs 130dB).
Since full Android support is not enabled yet, for now you are using theBit native audio app on top of the Android OS running in the background. The app itself is very intuitive with a logical layout and easy navigation which looks great on Opus#2 4” display.
Starting at the top with notification bar, in the upper left corner you will have Playback icon status and loopback selection. Then, moving to the middle you have volume icon with a step value (150 steps maximum), and in the upper right corner you have a battery indicator icon and a system clock.
Typical of Lollipop Android OS, you can swipe down the notification bar to reveal plethora of other controls. When swiped down, the notification area has a time with day and date, battery indicator with an exact percentage, and Setup icon. Below it you have a Brightness adjustment bar, Wi-Fi enable icon with drop-down box to get into wi-fi specific menu, Bluetooth enable icon with wireless Bluetooth menu access, Line Out (to enable line out output), Equalizer enable (which enables the currently selected Preset), Sleep mode enable, Repeat selection (one full repeat cycle, continues repeat cycled, single song repeat), and Shuffle enable. The pull down bar is very convenient because of the smartphone familiarity and also for a quick access to a commonly used functions.
The main screen has upper half of the display dedicated to showing song’s artwork and if none is embedded – theBit includes a collection of music related images which are displayed randomly as song’s artwork. Tapping on the area of the artwork brings up file info with Genres/Composer/Pathname and file type and file size. Second tap brings up lyrics if it’s embedded into the song. Also, with either first or second tap you get in the upper right corner a Star icon to tag the file as favorite and another icon to add it to a playlist which you can create and name on the fly.
In the upper left corner of that display you have an icon which takes you to file browser where you can sort by Folders, Favorites, Playlist as well as more common sorting by Songs, Albums, Artists, and Genres based on metadata of your audio file. In the same menu you can also switch between internal memory and uSD card.
Back to the main Playback screen, underneath of the artwork area you have a playback bar where you can fast forward through the song by dragging a pointer while noting the current time marker position and total song duration. Above this bar you have a counter of how many songs are in the current playback folder and also basic info about the file such as bit depth and sampling rate. Below playback progress bar you have a full song/artist name and also Skip Next/Prev and Play/Pause touch controls.
From drop down notification bar you can get into Settings where you have a typical smartphone selection of controls, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and Screen setting with Brightness adjustment and Auto display Off timeout setting. In Audio setting you can enable Equalizer and select one of the 3 available custom presets which you can customized individually (10 Bands with 31.5Hz, 63Hz, 125Hz, 250Hz, 500Hz, 1kHz, 2kHz, 4kHz, 8kHz, 16kHz) with an adjustment of audio playback in real time. Audio setting also has Gapless enable control.
Output setting has Line Out enable, Balance (L/R) control, DSP mode selection (Auto, 32bit X-MOS, or 24bit I2S). Gain control let you switch between Low, Middle, High to fine tune your output to accommodate everything from high sensitivity to more demanding earphones and headphones. There is also a Sleep enable with Sleep time setting, but I’m not sure if it’s even necessary since Opus#2 by default goes into Super Power Saving mode. My only BIG gripe in here is that I wish there would be a time to set a delay for Power Saving mode since it kicks in too soon. When your screen is off during playback, and power saving mode starts, you no longer can control playback with hw transport control buttons.
Another setting is USB which selects Connect mode as either MTP (for file transfer) or Charging only connection. And USB DAC mode which starts that mode when you connect Opus#2 to your PC/MAC or a smartphone. Then, similar to smartphones, you have Language and Input selection, Date & Time setting, Storage info to show capacity of internal and external memory, initialize settings (database initialize, settings initialize, and Factory reset), Update (manual system update or to check for OTA update), and Info about the device.
Overall, the main playback screen is very easy to navigate, all the common controls are conveniently located by swiping down notification bar, and the main Settings are clear and self-explanatory. The touch screen swiping interface is very fluid and highly responsive. Also, once you start turning the volume knob, you get a brief screen with a volume bar and corresponding value setting where you can quickly swipe it up or down for a faster adjustment.
As I mentioned in the past, sound description of the DAP is not an easy task because in reality we describe what we hear from headphones and their synergy with DAP output power, impedance, DAC, and other components in a signal path. But nevertheless, I will try my best to describe what I hear while switching between a few of my IEMs I’m intimately familiar with (while volume matching by ear) and comparing to other DAPs I have access to.
In my opinion, Opus#2 is a prime example of a balanced neutral reference sound signature with a full body natural tonality. Based on the initial listening with early fw release, I noticed right away that 3.5mm output was a touch smoother while in comparison the balanced 2.5mm output had a slightly faster/sharper transient response with a cleaner on/off transition of the notes. But overall the sound is very transparent, layered, and with an expanded dynamic range. Typically, a full body sound is associated with a warmth which smoothes out some of the details and makes layering and separation of instruments and vocals to be not as distinct. Here, with 32bit DSP mode selected, you have a perfect separation of every note and a sharper transient response where the details just pop out of the background with more clarity. And yet, the sound is not too lean or analytical/bright.
I was very careful in my analysis to make sure I don't mistake signature of headphones and earphones with the signature of the source. Since I mostly use C/IEMs, I was pleased with Opus#2 performance and synergy with multi-BA driver monitors, especially from BAL output. When I tested some of my full size cans, I found better synergy in high gain, and I also noticed that big dynamic and planar magnetic transducers had a little smoother and more musical full body tonality in comparison to a more neutral transparent sound with multi-BA C/IEMs.
After 1.00.03 fw update, to my ears both 3.5mm and 2.5mm ports started to sound nearly the same, with an exception of balanced port having higher output power and a little wider soundstage expansion. Not sure if it was due to a burn in of the caps or my brain burn in or some other placebo effect, but I clearly remember that after the update single ended output caught up with a balanced one.
While Opus#2 is a very capable standalone summit-fi DAP, it’s still flexible enough to drive external AMP, or to be used as a digital transport to drive external DAC/AMP, or to be used as USB DAC. Sometimes I feel it’s an overkill, but then I realize that many audiophiles have capable desktop setups to enjoy their hard to drive headphones at home and can still use Opus#2 in the heart of it. And on the move, you can use Opus#2 without any external help and still enjoy high quality sound.
As I mentioned before, 3.5mm HO output is shared with Optical out, and I found its pair up with Micro iDSD to be very clean and transparent, making it a very capable digital transport. Of course, optical s/pdif signal has its bandwidth limitation so don’t expect the highest bit rate/depth, but still I found this particular pair up with Micro to work quite well.
When it comes to Line Out (LO) testing, I was a bit skeptical since there is no dedicated LO port. I thought maybe theBit guys set volume to the max, but when doing a/b comparison with LO enabled vs setting the volume to the max, I can hear a difference where LO mode is clean while the volume output set to the max (150) had a bit of distortion. I tested it using E12A portable amp which I consider to be neutral and relatively transparent, so there is no coloration added.
USB DAC testing wasn’t as successful using my Win7 laptop since I got an error message that drivers (provided by theBit) didn’t pass some signature test. I have read impressions where others didn’t have this problem, so I need to investigate it further why my laptop has an issue. I also read that MAC users don’t even need to install drivers.
When I got to test it with my aging Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, I actually had a lot more success where I was able to connect Opus#2 without any problem using USB OTG cable. Pair up was fast and Opus#2 was recognized by my phone right away. I was able to control the volume from the phone and the DAP, and used it with different apps. While waiting for streaming capability to be unlocked, this is one of the possible solutions, using Opus#2 as USB OTG DAC. But I found the sound quality in this config to be a bit underwhelming with lower resolution and less transparency when compared to listening to the same track straight from Opus#2.
Bluetooth connection is another way to enjoy your Opus#2 with wireless headphones. Even so aptX codec is not supported, lately I noticed that it makes only a difference with cheap budget IEMs, while high end headphones (my current favorite is P7 Wireless) show very little difference even driven from non-aptX sources.
In the following pair up test I will mention the unique design feature of the particular pair of headphones/iems under the test, as well as will indicate MG (middle gain) or HG (high gain) in addition to Volume level.
R70x (470ohm, open back) - HG, V120 - 3D holographic staging, deep extended textured sub-bass with an articulate mid-bass punch, full body organic natural mids, very transparent and detailed, extended smooth treble with a great articulation, not as much sparkle but more on a natural smoother side.
PM3 (planar magnetic) - MG, V120 - average soundstage width with more depth, deep sub-bass with a moderate quantity, a bit slower mid-bass punch with some spillage into lower mids, full body warm lower mids and warm smooth upper mids, smooth treble which is lacking some sparkle. Overall the sound has a very analog dynamic driver type of characteristics, very smooth, warm, a little congested.
EL8C (planar magnetic) - HG, V104 - above average soundstage width with plenty of depth, quality sub-bass texture with a fast punch mid-bass, lean lower mids, bright revealing upper mids reach analytical level of detail retrieval, crisp airy extended treble. No hint of metallic sheen which I usually hear in other EL8C pair ups.
T5p2 w/alpha pads (tesla driver) - MG, V115 - wide/deep soundstage, extended sub-bass with a nice deep rumble, average speed mid-bass punch, warm full body lower mids, detailed natural upper mids, smooth well defined treble. Overall sound is very detailed but not as transparent.
Zen (320ohm, earbuds) - HG, V109, expanded soundstage with an average depth, nice sub-bass rumble, punchy mid-bass, full body lower mids, clear smooth detailed upper mids, well defined smooth treble.
S-EM9 (121dB sensitivity) - MG, V100, no hissing, holographic staging; deep extended sub-bass rumble, punchy mid-bass slam, neutral lower mids, smooth detailed revealing upper mids, crisp airy well defined treble. The sound is very spacious, layered, detailed, and still smooth and natural.
K10UA (115dB sens) - MG, V88, very faint hissing, expanded soundstage, deep extended sub-bass rumble, fast punchy mid-bass, leaner lower mids, revealing detailed upper mids, crisp airy extended treble. The sound is very crisp, detailed, revealing.
Andromeda (115dB sens) - MG, V70, some hissing, holographic soundstage; deep extended textured sub-bass rumble, fast articulate mid-bass punch, slightly leaner lower mids, crisp revealing upper mids with an excellent retrieval of details, crisp airy extended treble. Punchy revealing crisp sound.
U12 w/B1 (115dB sens) - MG, V88, no hissing, above average soundstage width/depth, warm analog bass with a deep slightly elevated sub-bass extension and slower mid-bass punch, warm full body lower mids, smooth laid back detailed upper mids, smooth well defined treble. The sound is smooth and laidback.
UERR (100dB sens) - MG, V101, no hissing, holographic soundstage, extended quality sub-bass (not as much quantity), punchy mid-bass, neutral lower mids, detailed transparent upper mids, crisp well defined treble. The sound is very transparent detailed and layered.
Zeus XRA w/G1 and PWA 1960 (119dB sens) – MG, V75, some hissing, expanded open soundstage, nice deep sub-bass rumble and punchy mid-bass (bass is above neutral with 1960, but still not too aggressive), close to neutral lower mids and very transparent detailed upper mids, and airy well defined treble with a nice sparkle.
While switching between UERR, S-EM9, and ES60 c/iems, and volume matching by ear when going between two sources, here is how I hear Opus#2 (#2) in comparison to other DAPs.
#2 vs #1 - both have a very similar signature, while #2 stands out with wider and deeper soundstage, a faster transient response of notes (transition between on/off state of notes), and slightly better dynamics. #1 has a little smoother tonality while #2 sounds a little sharper, with better defined details. The difference is not exactly night'n'day, and #2 is more of a high res refinement of #1. Both have the same level of hissing with sensitive IEMs.
#2 vs LPG - the sound quality is very close, down to a similar level of transparency, detail retrieval, and soundstage expansion. In terms of tonality #2 is just a little smoother while LPG has a deeper black background which is more noticeable with less sensitive IEMs (cleaner edges around notes, sharper contrast between notes on/off). But with sensitive IEMs, LPG has higher level of hissing which ruins that dark clean background. Also, LPG has a little more impact in mid-bass.
#2 vs AK120ii - similar signature where AK tonality is a little warmer and smoother, while #2 is more revealing and more dynamic. I also find #2 to have better separation and layering while the smoothness of AK makes it a little congested in comparison. #2 soundstage is wider, while depth is the same. Also, #2 has higher level of hissing in comparison to AK with sensitive IEMs.
#2 vs PM2 - #2 sound is more revealing and transparent, while PM2 is a little smoother and slightly less resolving. #2 has better layering and separation of instruments while PM2 sounds a little congested in comparison. #2 soundstage is wider, while both have the same depth. PM2 has a little less hissing with sensitive IEMs, though you can hear it with both.
#2 vs X7 w/AM2 - very similar resolution and layering/separation of the sound, and similar retrieval of details, but the tonality of X7 is leaner and a little brighter while in comparison #2 has more body and sounds a little more neutral with a deeper sub-bass extension. Also, #2 has a wider soundstage. #2 hissing is more noticeable with sensitive IEMs while X7 is almost down to a minimum.
Opus#2 next to Opus#1
In my opinion, Opus#2 would have received a lot more attention if that was theBit’s first DAP. Despite being in business for a long time, this company came out of nowhere and surprised everyone with Opus#1 release. And to top it off, they had a very impressive fw update and a temporary price cut which is still in effect. As a result, when Opus#2 was released, the focus shifted from its flagship summit-fi sound quality to a price difference where people trying to justify the delta. In reality, Opus#1 and Opus#2 are just like two multi-BA IEMs from the same manufacturer where you have mid-tier model priced lower and flagship TOTL at the top of the price food chain. You can get a regular Opus#1 which is currently discounted down to $399 from the original $599, or get a metal Opus#1 which is available for $899 and uses CNC all metal body and different high end opamps, or you can go for the TOTL experience with Opus#2 for $1599 which not only has a superior build, more resolving sound, and higher end dual DAC architecture, but also expected to receive a fw update with a support of wi-fi streaming.
I know that many people go for the best price/performance ratio, and it will be hard to beat Opus#1 in that perspective. But if you are looking for TOTL performance at a reasonable price in comparison to other popular flagship DAPs that cost more, Opus#2 deserves a serious consideration. And again, I can’t help but to be curious what else theBit is going to come up with. This company surely knows how to design a well build and a great sounding product, and I think if they can bring it closer to $1k price mark – their next DAP release will reach a lot more audio enthusiasts and audiophiles.
Pros - Awesome Timbres, Neutrality, Balances, Transparent with a Flat respond and Excellent soundstage but not Boring, DAC feature
Cons - 128 GB built in and Single MicroSD slot. Heavily Modified Android OS and no Google Market
Opus Audio, or the Bit, I am sure the name is not familiar for many people. Neither was it to me. However, on the journal to seek for a good digital portable player with adequate power for full side headphones, I came across the Opus 2 from the threads, posts about it as a newly developed player from The Bit. Reading into it with dual DAC ES9018K2M x2. The Opus 2 sports the same DAC chipset from Onkyo DP-X1 (newest DP-X1A). DP-x1 was never that enjoyable in my opinion, and then on top of that, the pricing of Opus 2 threw me off the chair. MSRP is $1599 equivalent, which put it right into the "high-end" DAP segment. Opus 2 is more expensive than Sony newest Walkman NW-WM1A, and yet cheaper than WM1Z. Though with balanced out connections, and a solid reputation on the much affordable Opus 1, I gave the Opus 2 a chance. Having to ordered it straight from the website, the Opus 2 arrived in 3 days, and that is considered "super fast" for a shipment from Korea to USA. Customer service through Email was super responsive and fast. The product is Made in Korea ! I ordered it from Opus itself
It gets warm during play time sitting in the leather case, but not noticeably so. It charges up rather quickly for a DAP, indicated 4 hours on the box and 8.5-10 hours play time. It can act as a USB DAC from Windows or MacOS and IOS 7+ with camera kit and stock cables. I tried using it with my HTC 10 which is USB C to micro USB, and when the cables was connected, the Opus 2 Automatically switch into the function of being an External DAC/Amp. However, it is better to manually set the function from the drop down setting menu and choose USB DAC option setting. Nice! Apple and Idevices needed the Camera Kit and another USB cables to stack up-on. Wow, Finally, a DAP that answer to all of our need: Real stand alone DAC feature, and a DAP by itself. If plugged into an iPad charger, it can be playing music and charging all day long.
Opus 2 is 32 bits standalone DAC with Xmos and native DSD playback when connected to the above as a standalone. Fully USB 2.0 certified
There was no bugs to playback using 3rd party app from any devices in DAC mode.
Songs, albums, artists, genres, folders, favorites, playlists browsing
MicroSD to take up to 200GB. I don't have any 256Gb to try but I don't think it would present a problem
Bluetooth 4.0 and Wifi capability for OTA upgrades
3.5mm single ended and 2.5mm TRRS balanced connection shares AK style
Ultra energy saving mode: if not playing music and leaving idles for more than 10 minutes, the player automatically fall into this mode where it could last for weeks.
Battery is Non-user replaceable. Only if you can find the battery and is skillful enough to do so (correction have been made as The Bit does not offer the battery alone, and to replace the battery by yourself is not recommended)
OTG from Opus 2 can not be used as digital transport into other DAC/amp
OTG from your smartphone into Opus 2 and it will acts as a standalone DAC/Amp. When used with HTC 10 and USB C, I only needed a micro USB to USB C cables
Again, using idevices or IOS, it will need camera kit.
The operating system is android, and indicating boot up. It is much faster than Onkyo DP-x1, Zx2, and WM series on booting up and building data base. It probably is the fastest with android that I have tried. The custom android is simple enough, yet strange enough for people who never came across one like this before, and it took me a while playing around to find all the setting such as (high-mid-low gain), equalizer, Dsp functions and so on. There are 24 bits, auto, and 32 bits xmos for DSP
Browsing music is a breeze with : songs, albums, artists, genres, folders, favorites, playlists
Out of the box the Opus 2 sound great enough that it brought smiles upon me right in the trebles details and the impressive soundstage. I came across a few other cheaper DAP from new companies before and they seemed to be a mess of a tuning, like there were no guidelines and aims in their products. I was surprised by the well tune of Opus 2, the overall transparency, the Dynamic, the balances and neutrality across the board. This is more like a very modern tuning, digital like with great senses of speed, airy, expansive, immersive with wide and depth of field, and spherically soundstage with streams of continuous musical plays from sides to sides, approaching and receding from plays/notes on panning and fading effects. The bit as a new company, what did they do to achieve this result ? Did they have their guidelines ? Fine tunes against competitions in this segments and so on ? Those were my questions, I did some digging around and I found out more from digging around and requesting insider informations:
Co-working with the Best Sound Designers and Engineers from Korea
1/ true balanced circuitry with each DAC doing Mono Application is Excellent
2/ Hybrid Opamps and Discrete amplifying tuning circuitry is the money maker
3/ low heat dissipation indicated that the electrical components is of high quality
4/ Direct soldered sockets for Jack plugs on the board is excellent ( the signal integrity is kept to maximum potential )
5/ additional clock systems
6/ X-mos True DAC function with Native DSD playback
7/ True tuning from the Recording to Mastering studio, and then real interactions with audiophiles and critics with countless hours of critical listening for final Fine tuning result
That confirmed about The Bit as a company, they are very serious about their products R&D. More than often, most companies without a long proven history always want to puzzle up something off the shelves, do some lousy tuning jobs and become a products. This is not the Bit, they put together a products with "pride, knowledges, keen ears" and then fine tuning it again and again. We all know that without an artist hands, paints, canvas, are simply tools. So I can say that the Bit is very professional about this regard.
Arrived in a "snow-white" box with Gold name tag on it. The box itself gave off an impressions of an elegance lady is sleeping within ! Sliding it up from the bottom, and open it up. The box was tight and gives off a good opening experiences like opening some expensive presents, well the price isn't cheap ! So right there, the Opus 2 laying atop of the manual book, warranty card, screen protector. Then the leather case, and finally the USB cables.
Picking her out of the box, for 252 grams she felt similar to the Zx2, weighty enough to indicate that she is not toy-like, rugged enough to feel expensive. I love how the volume buttons has a solid click when turning on each adjustment with 150 increment steps. The play and control buttons on the side also has this very rugged and solid click upon pressing too
Using Dual ESS Sabres ES9018K2M, and that is 1 DAC per channel as Mono implementations.
The circuitry is true balanced as there are 3 Opamps per channels. Each channel has 1 Opamp per signals line, and then hybrid circuits with discrete components and 1 more opamp. It is together of 6 Opamps and 2 dedicated discrete hybrid amplification circuits to totally output balanced connection into 2.5mm.
Very low heat dissipation while operating and charging at the same time while being covered in the leather case. It indicated the electrical components within is of top quality.
Both 3.5mm and 2.5mm sockets are direct soldered onto the main board for the best signal integrity and conductivity. These 2 sockets were designed and fit into the chassis very tight and will not move anywhere unless you force it to. There are different kind of plugs. I recommend to use a Short plugs instead of the one that has the Collar part. It will help as the plug lay on top of the main chassis and help to secure it further.
The sound quality Using easy to drive headphones Z1R, Balanced SA5000/3000 from 2.5 Balanced connection. I found that ops 2 pairing with New Sony MDR-Z1R to be an excellent pairing
Back to my preferences, I had always been looking for from a DAP, especially away from Zx2 in this very detailed and resolutions of the lower trebles. Zx2 with it Warmth, and spherical soundstage are great, but I always wanted this lower trebles to be more energetic with textures, resolutions and extensions. Yes! Out of the box the Opus 2 is showing this level of great trebles details, texture, resolutions, extensions and air. It has a much more balanced and Neutral tonality with a Flat overall respond. I get to enjoy more of the mid, upper mid, lower trebles more than with Zx2. The trebles remind me of real live performances without electrical gears in the chain, cymbals crashes, high notes from string plays, all are very authentic and realistic. Timbres are full with micro energies delivered vividly into it body
Soundstage: super wide, deep, spherical together with a clean back ground. It resembles Pha-3 balanced out. This is better than DP-x1, Zx2, Mojo
Field of sound rendering: very fluidly with rendering ability, the panning affects are very continuous and come together as a streams from side to side and vertically together to add into the impressions of soundstage being as good as it is, a very impressive staging coming from a Portable players.
Sounds signature overall: Spherical soundstage, much wider in X, Y, Z compared to Walkman (Zx2, slightly better than WM1Z ) Speedy, very Digital like, Flat, and neutral altogether. It expose the ESS Sabres signatures at it best, the analytical, airy with tip top trebles extensions. Credit is due at the place where the trebles peak and most energetic in well mastered and recorded tracks it shows no sibilants or harshness, there are harshness and sibilants in poorly recorded track and or singer performances. Therefore it is very revealing.
Bass: overall is with speedy and super tight Impacts, dynamic and transparency that is well balance and very controlled, fast decay, and very digital like but not lacking the micro energies variations with excellent timbres. Sub-bass is Fast, vivid, deep and impactful, mid bass is very dynamic, well controlled and in good balancing to the rest of the board
Mid: very detailed and forward, vocal is upfront with reasonable distances and not as close as Walkman, speedy and also more digital like, crystal clear but still carry emotions as the singers will be expressing his vibrators and arts within his voice (addictive). However the lower mid and upper mid are very energetic which brings micro energies variations and fluidity into the majority of instruments. The resolutions of each plays, beats, chords, the vibrations of the decays are impressive and more analogue like but still remaining speedy enough. Very well balanced with great layering, separations and speed for an Airy experiences. Again, it does not lack the micro energies delivery and body. You can easily follow a line of string instruments and hear it vibrations, reverberate even though fast but it is vividly presenting within it own spaces and no hint of being mixed up or other layers to bleed in. It is highly addicting for genres that has most mid and vocal plays such as ballads, pops, jazz. Even metals and rock will sound good as well due to upper mid and lower trebles being so vividly presenting and energetic with Airy performances.
Trebles: as stated above, this is the Sabres all out with it typical trebles, tuned with more smoothness and balanced to the rest of the board. It remain a bit cold or a slight bit thin but very well balanced and great extensions. It is excellently tuned by The bit to get the best of Sabres trebles , extensions, resolutions, but smooth out the harshness and sibilant enough to bring satisfactions to those who prefer "real cymbals crash" and metallic tones. There is no harshness, and the overall tonality is well balanced. It is also very revealing due to the neutrality and balanced of all spectrum, so it will not be forgiving toward bad recording or mastering.
I love the sound signature of Opus 2. It is digital enough, Neutral, well balanced for the level of transparency and Airy presentation. Together with the excellent detail retrieval and hardware implementations for a portable device, the Opus 2 soundstage is no joke. Opus 2 is an example of how good digital like performances can still carry emotions and soul within it timbres overall performances. Put in a simple term, Opus 2 is References but yet not lacking souls and emotions.
Is it your taste ?
I am afraid when it come down to personal taste and preferences, it is an infinite possibility. Will you give the Opus 2 a chance to audition it ? I personally prefer warmer and lush sound signature because I mainly crave for the soul and the emotions within my music. However, Opus 2 beside satisfying in bringing soul and emotions into the music, it also brings the digital, Airy, and speed with overall neutrality, spherical and wide soundstage. It is surprisingly good in my opinion and is a worthy piece of collection which has features to be a portable integrated DAC/Amplifier for IEMS and easy to drive headphones
Value 8/10: Pricing is a bit high and stiff Vs many competitions, eventhough the performance is surprisingly good, but the market is evolving very fast, and so is the competitions
Audio Quality 9/10: Surprisingly good with digital sound signature that carry emotions. The output could be meatier so the DAC/Amp feature can drive harder to drive headphones
Design 10/10: Light but comfortably weighty, slim, awesome form
Battery Life 7.5/10: Acceptable for 8-10 hours play time depends on playing PCM high-res or DSD native
User Interface is 10/10: Simple and easy to use, fast, quick boot up or powerdown
Pros - Top tier high spec signature Very easy to use and fast boot times Competitive Pricing
Cons - Only has 1 Micro SD Card Slot Volume Dial Lock on software would be nice
theBit Opus#2 Digital Audio Player Review
SOUND AND BUILD QUALITY 9.6/10
VALUE FOR MONEY 8/10
Thanks go to http://earphonia.com who were kind enough to lend the Opus#2 for review
The first time I heard of theBIT company was when I was sent a review model of the Audio Opus 1 in April 2015.
This Digital Audio Player has been around since the end of 2015 and has been consistently improved by the many firmware released, updated to a point where it has gained an enviable reputation in performance versus value for money.
My week with the Opus #1 left me with a feeling that the company was onto a good thing here, even in the highly competitive digital audio player standalone market.
Based in South Korea , theBIT has been around since 2004 and has worked behind the scenes for Samsung , BestBuy and Sandisk. Until the Opus #1 gained momentum in the portable world it seems no one was aware of these people especially in Europe and the USA .
It seems that with the introduction of a flagship DAP within less than a year after the #1 they mean business.
The risks are big ; the #2 retails at roughly 3 times the price of the highly received #1. If you hunt around you can find excellent deals on the Audio Opus #1 for around £349 in the UK. £100 off their normal price is an absolute steal though!
earphonia.com theBit Opus#2 Digital Audio Player Review
The 1# is much lauded for it’s ability to perform at or near top tier levels for a mid tier price. The BIT has changed all that and gone straight for the jugular; this is their statement to Astell & Kern, Sony and the like. “This is what we can do with £1200” .
I now have the privilege of putting this rather fetching looking DAP under the microscope. Through the course of this scrutiny we will look at each and every aspect of the Opus #2 to see whether it measures up to that lofty title.
The following aspects are what drives me to determine the performance of a premium product, as a prospective buyer I want to know what it will sound like above all else.
Next will be ; what can it do? Following that ; how well does to do all those things? Perhaps ; how long is it likely to last? might be the next criteria.
We must as consumers be honest with ourselves too ; the cosmetic appearance will undoubtedly influence our decision making process somewhere in amongst all this. It would be a shame to spend more than £1200 on something that looks ugly after all…..
It is only after taking in all the above factors one might arrive at the inevitable question – is it worth it? Should I buy it?
We are therefore left with these 6 important categories :
Specifications, Features, Ease of use, Build, Sound Quality, Value for Money
Specifications The quality of the DAC or DAC Chips used in the construction, play an important part in the signature characteristics of this player. Start with a diesel engine and you will never become a Ferrari for example. The implementation of these components is down to the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the Research and Development Centre .This is a complex and time consuming process that demands a special working relationship between the hardware and software developers and a lengthy test lifecycle to ensure consumers get a robust and desirable product. As you know we are some of the most demanding of audiences.
theBIT have put SABRE32 ES9018K2M x 2EA Dual DACs in the 2 . ESS Technologies describe the 9018 – “with ESS patented 32-bit Hyperstreamä DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, the SABRE32 Reference Stereo DAC delivers an unprecedented DNR of up to 135dB and THD+N of –120dB, the industry’s highest performance level that will satisfy the most demanding audio enthusiasts.”
The Audio Opus #1 Cirrus Logic CS4398 x 2EA Dual DACs in comparison. The specifications of the CS chip : 120 dB dynamic range -107 dB THD. The 4398 is a 24 bit chip.
My iBasso DX100 has one ES9018 32Bit DAC Chip and was back then a rare implementation of this chip in a portable player.
Questyle’s QP1R a single Cirrus Logic CS4398.
The AK380 uses dual AKM AK4490 32 bit DACs with a patented Velvet Sound architecture. This from the AKM people -“low-distortion technology achieves industry’s best performance of -112dB as a DAC with 120dB S/N characteristic”.
So there we have it ; confusion! 2 DAC chips claiming to be the industry leaders – yet the CS4398 has lower distortion and the ES9018 the highest dynamic range.
There is no doubt in my mind that the quality of the DAC chip has a major part to play in the performance of a Digital player.
The 3 chips mentioned here are expensive parts ; they are not found in smartphones , even the LG flagship with the B&O hifi add on steers clear of the 9018 and uses the 9028.
Interestingly , the D1 Dacamp , which sounds entirely different from the Opus 2 to my ears – has exactly the same ESS9018K2M Dual Dacs.
Great minds think alike…… but they don’t somehow sound alike…..
The signal to noise ratio is 114dB @ 1KHz, the 380 has a slightly better spec at 116dB, Unbalanced. Signal to noise is a good indicator of how accurately the device is able to amplify the signal it receives without adding distortion.
Crosstalk is 130dB @ 1KHz Unbalanced ; the same as the 380. Crosstalk is the distortion occurring between the left and right channels as they are separated out from the original signal from the DAC.
Total harmonic distortion is 0.003% @ 1KHz, the 380 0.0008% a whole decimal point better. The QP1R manages even lower – 0.0006. THD is how far away from the original input the output device is , the lower the better.
The output level is 2.5 Vrms , the AK380s is 2.2 which is as I suspected , meaning the Opus will power more difficult to run IEMs and even the occasional full size. The QP1R has 1.9 Vrms, this in high gain mode was good enough for me to enjoy the HiFiMan HE1000 at CanJam London.
Jitter is 30ps on the AK380 ; it is 50ps on the Opus 2. Jitter is the deviation between the signal sent from the digital part of the chip to the analogue conversion ; the lower the score the truer the reading is. Questyle has no public spec for this that I could find.
Features The Opus #2 has a number of interesting and useful features, as would be expected for a top tier DAP.
3.5mm balanced and separate unbalanced output.*
Although unable to give my opinion on whether this bird soars with the balanced , as per the RHA D1 Dacamp, the 3.5mm had no problems accepting any of the IEMs or adaptors I threw at it.
*Soon I will provide comparisons of Balanced and Unbalanced differences, I am waiting on my balanced cable to be fixed. Watch this space for updates
Extremely useful for me to use as an A/B tool for comparisons between the Chord Mojo and the RHA Dacamp 1.
The DSD files will be down sampled to the max allowed through the cable of 24 192.
A great way to marry the DAP to your home kit, in the same way as a MacBook 3.5mm jack doubles as optical out and works flawlessly.
USB file transfer
The Opus#2 software is built using a streamline Android OS, so most users will be familiar with the drop down settings interface which allows the Opus#2 to switch between USB for file transfer, charging only and there’s the added extra feature – USB DAC.
File transfer on a Macbook – the plugging in of the Opus opens up the Android File Transfer Window.
The Opus 2 does not show in the Mac’s version of Windows Explorer (Finder). You can drag and drop to and from Finder by keeping both windows away from each other on your screen.
It’s a simple process with the bonus that you can unplug the Opus after you’ve finished – no need to eject on your Mac or do anything on your Opus screen.
Works instantly on the Mac. Plug the USB in , look on your sound preferences drop down list on the top toolbar and Opus 2 is there.
Just select it from there and you’re off. MacBooks are notorious for there lack of USB ports, my Pro Retina has 2 .
A USB Hub works fine with the Opus, recognising it as a DAC immediately.
The DAC sounds absolutely great , indistinguishable from what is hard stored on the DAP to my ears.
With the appropriate cable (not supplied) the Opus will run certain smartphones with certain software dependent on the Android Version that you are running.
Sorry for the vagueness but there are still many phones out there that don’t do OTG at all well , some have no support for it.
It is quite difficult to get info from the manufacturers – they don’t want to commit because they don’t want returns or phone calls for a niche use that is changing all the time.
I have a Motorola Moto G4 which I purchased in September 2016, it runs Marshmallow (Android Version 6).
The G4 supports apps like the usual USB Audio Player, Onkyo HD player, Hiby player but also natively plays Youtube and Deezer, Spotify and the like.
The Opus ran it all no problems and again the sound was really good. The sound through Direct Mode (selectable on USB Audio Player Pro) was again close enough to the DAP itself to be pretty darn good indeed.
Distortion is prevalent on OTG. EMI interference from the cellular and data signals can grossly effect your enjoyment of the uniqueness of this musical experience.
Thankfully , EMI seemed very low between my Moto G4 and the Opus, and I am feeling this is a better match than my Chord Mojo.
I used the line out to connect the Opus 2 to my 50 WPC custom and fully modded First Watt F6 Power Amp.
I use this to listen to music at it’s most revealing , with my most revealing phones (HiFiMan HE-6 , Sennheiser HD800, AKG K1000 Bass Heavy). With the least sensitive AKG I plugged in tentatively to the balanced cable that come directly from the speaker taps of the amp. The volume tried it’s best to blow the top of my head off….
After I plugged my head back onto my shoulders I realised line out was not going to work for me. I plugged the RCA to 3.5mm into the headphone jack on the Opus. That worked extremely well and I was able to enjoy Disturbed’s 2016 release ‘Immortalized’ and assure myself of the differences I had heard through my IEMs were not simply my ears playing tricks on me.
The volume was switched up around the 115 mark , which astonished me . I really didn’t think the Opus would have enough power to act as a preamp for the power amp.
It had too much! I would encourage any portable lovers to try this just – just , at least once. I had the Opus 2 for a precious week but no way was I going to let this opportunity pass me by.
The AKG K1000 has drivers that pivot away from the ears, so the focus can be more or less intimate as the listener wishes. The soundstage can be manually adjusted. For each song if you want. The sound can be described as having some of the natural qualities of a loudspeaker with some , if not most , of the micro details and stereo effects of a headphone.
The Opus did not let me down here and Disturbed were at their blistering best , despite the attempts to brickwall some of the tracks as much as the mixing desk can take.
With the Bluetooth I found some problems which I solved with perseverance. The range of the Opus 2 is limited and with a limited range Headphone the problem is exacerbated. After 10 feet the DAP can go out of range. After that , I found I had to switch the Headphone off and the DAP off.
Pairing was exactly the same process as any Android phone so was easy. I have several Bluetooth Headphones as I am a keen runner and working out with cables flying around can be off putting. I tried a gentle test of having the Opus placed beside my treadmill and gave an album a try.
The Ausdom AN7s I had always thought were a bassy V shaped signature ; good enough for a workout but quite typical of the lack of fidelity out there in the wireless market. There is another level to these headphones that shocked me ; they sound half decent! The bass is not bloated like I thought ; there are discernible vocals and strings can be told apart from keyboards. Something happened here….
Bluetooth is as much a triumph on the Opus 2 as it’s other attributes. theBIT have shown me here another example of their attention to detail.
After listening to what many purists would consider to be the least important feature in a Flagship DAP , I am even more convinced; this player can make even the bad come good!
150 step volume
The volume wheel on the right hand side of the DAP is a joy, each turn is a subtle tactile click so it can be turned 150 times. The perfect solution for those who need it perfect.
For those times when it needs to be turned up from low to high volume you can drag your finger upwards or downwards on the screen and micro adjust when you are near where an earphoniac should be. For this price , we deserve perfection!
3 gain settings are available on the Opus 2, none of which seemed to alter the sound signature just modifying the gain as expected.
This enables all the 3.5mm and balanced IEMs out there to be tailored exactly to the users needs. Software is a good feature and more discrete than a switch on the side of the casing, adding to the elegant minimalism of the Opus.
Firmware Updates via WiFi(OTA)
Currently on 0.001 version the Opus 2 is clearly in it’s infancy. An enhanced android experience is promised for the future but is not currently offered.
Apparently the Audio Opus 2 may be able to stream music in the future. The OTA firmware update is simplicity itself ; just another option easily found in system settings. The default setting is “search automatically for firmware updates once per week”. I knew a firmware update had been done this week , so I instead checked “search for updates now”. The OTA found theBIT’s server , downloaded the firmware seamlessly and then unpacked it , restarted, and to my immense relief worked straight away and with no change in speed.
The DAP has an ultra power saving capability – it can fall asleep when forgotten about for up to 2 months and will come out of hibernation at the simple press of a button. The unit takes 4 hours to charge and in normal use , fiddling around with all manner of settings and types of music bitrates I surpassed their rated 9 hours of playback.
128 Gb inbuilt storage and single Micro SD Card Slot
There has been some murmurings of discontent on the lack of a 2nd Micro SD card slot. This would add enough storage space to satisfy most of the quad DSD collectors currently out there. DSD files do take up an awful lot of space. An additional facility of the Opus 2 can be utilised here; at the sacrifice of having a single device unfortunately.
Remember USB OTG? An Android phone could be strapped with this little beauty and , with streaming capabilities , the possibilities are limited only by one’s data package on the go.
Many Android phones have already get Micro SD Card storage themselves too , adding even more options. I am fairly certain that those who decide they cannot live without the Audio Opus 2 will have a phone with them at the same time as they are using the DAP. Why not combine the 2 from time to time ? Go on, you know it makes sense! Now, where are there some really nice looking straps….
Ease of Use The Audio Opus thinks it’s an Android 5 phone which can only play music. It is a touchscreen player which works smoothly and responsively with only 2 external switches . The volume wheel and the case which has a rocker switch allowing next track previous track or pause. With practice this can be easily achieved without a need to take the unit out of your pocket.
If you know Android , you pretty now how to access everything you need and how to change everything you need.
The drop down settings contain all the phone type essentials ; date, time ,battery percentage, WiFi switch, Bluetooth switch but wait ; there’s more.
The next half of the options contain the customised code which will be used to tweak the music on the DAP.
Line Out(watch that one), Equaliser(3 customisable presets which default at completely flat) Sleep(you can preserve your battery life by telling the device when to switch off) repeat and shuffle.
The dedicated music player has no stop. You wanna stop , you switch off. Otherwise the Opus switches off it’s display as intervals starting from 15 seconds and going up to 30 minutes.
The window has the most important control in pride of place as a gold round icon in the bottom centre of the screen. That is, of course, “Play”. Left and right controls are as expected in black background with white lettering , easily viewable in complete darkness and with the screen brightness set to minimum.
Neat features like this help to conserve the battery. There is album and lyric display available on the Opus and the lyrics , bit rate and file size are found by a press on the middle of the screen. In the top right of the screen is a short 3 line icon . This is where all that great music is contained. A press up here and you have drop down menu options ;
Playlists, Favourites, Folders, Genres, Artists, Albums and Songs. All easy enough to work out, all in A-Z by default. There is a left arrow in the right hand corner to scroll through the various screens and just keep on pressing it if you’ve got here by accident. You’ll get back to the main screen within 3 clicks ; it won’t take too long.
Build The screen is a 4” TFT IPS screen and gives a vibrant display with 400×800 resolution. There is a screen protector supplied which is plastic. Plastic! Looks we are not dealing with a Gorilla Glass display here either. Plastic screens (can you tell?) are not my cup of tea. You are trying to protect a screen from getting scratches on it. And you do that by….putting a plastic screen over it that shows up scratches. That doesn’t make sense to me.
It doesn’t to most of the phone manufacturers either. Even a £60 smartphone has Gorilla Glass on it. I think there may just enough room for a gorilla glass protector to fit over the Opus#2 and it not bulge out from the pouch. That would , for the sake of a £4 expenditure on Amazon, be my first (and only) customisation of the DAP.
This would ensure a scratch free fully protected screen which would have a brighter screen as a bonus.
The display is moved along quite nicely by the Quad Core Arm Processor with 1 Gb of Ram, this is what makes everything seem so smooth and effortless. The muscle power has been put in the right place – behind the scenes.
The Opus needs to be seen to be appreciated. It looks beautiful in a modern, sculpted way. Lines are tastefully curved and brushed subtly into the bezel of the player. There are 5 understated colours used ; jet black, charcoal, slate grey and a dark blue for the leather pouch that comes as standard to protect your investment(in sound).
There are 4 silver hex screws inset into the DAP , one on each corner at the front . I like the mechanised look this gives the DAP but wonder whether this doesn’t slightly detract from all the other cosmetic flourishes present.
The leather pouch is a masterwork ; from the front we have a tastefully finished cut away container. The Opus 2 fits precisely into it. Precision machined access holes for the USB and the 2 hex screws are great touches. The top half of the pouch then comes away on the right and the bevelled contours of the volume wheel and the platform it is supported on now come into view.
The angles of the Opus 2 now reveal themselves as part of the design solution to protect the body from damage. The leather sleeve fall short of completely covering the screen because it doesn’t need to. Discrete shaping means that the DAP sits on 80% of it’s surface and the remaining 20% can be used to gaze at admiringly. And why not?
Turning the leather casing over reveals a closely stitched rectangle within which is embossed Opus#2 , web address and country of origin. The rest falls gently towards the side of the DAP.
The Opus#2 is heavy for it’s size. Much heavier than a phone. I suspect behind that weight lies the secret of this DAP’s success. Decent amps even on micro devices like this need a bit of weight behind them to do anything decent with the sound. My DX100 is a brick in the just the same way but has a 3rd more thickness, and is only sporting 1 ES9018 Chip.
Sound quality After my comprehensive coverage of the many DAP features and build, lets get onto the most important bit – how is the sound signature quality!
I will look first and foremost at the sound as it comes direct from the Audio Opus 2. The sound signature that comes from a track dropped onto the DAP and played through the unbalanced 3.5mm headphone output. This is the simplest purest test and surely will be the main use for the majority of aspiring owners. I am guessing that the interest here will be for those looking for a no compromise all in one portable solution. I can, and will add other boxes and cables to the Opus , but there would seem little point in doing this if the sound at the heart of the matter was not to the required standard.
The SQ on the Opus 2 is superb , I am pleased to tell you. I am hearing a linear signature that brings out the character of the dozen or so IEMs and Headphones I happen to have knocking around.
I listen as I write to a review model of RHA’s CL750 IEM. this is an IEM launched on Nov 25th 2016. The premise of the CL750 is that it needs an external amp to provide it with sufficient power to work well. With a sensitivity of 89 dBs and an impedance of 150 Ohms these are not for your smartphones. An impedance of 16 Ohms or less and 100 dBs or more is needed to get an IEM loud enough to work in a normal Smartphone or DAP.
Not so with the Opus 2. The normal character of RHA’s tuning is of a crisp bassy affair which tends to lean towards fatiguing. The Opus 2 shows that RHA have upped their game. There is a great combination of linearity which I have no problem listening to for hours. The CL750s work as well through the DAP directly as they do hooked up to their big brother ; the review sample of RHA’s first ever Dacamp – the D1. In fact , the colouring the D1 gives to the 750s may not be as preferable to the neutrality of the Opus.
The RHA C1 Ceramic does sound better through it’s D1 Dacamp as partner. The balanced cable supplied with the C1 has a large termination which does not fit the Opus 2 so a direct comparison was not possible.
The Opus 2 will take balanced and has a mini balanced alongside the 3.5mm. The C1 goes up a notch with the balanced silver cable and the unbalanced is noticeably below the SQ that the Ceramics can achieve. So lengthy auditioning of the RHA flagship was not worthwhile on the Audio Opus as it was not a fair fight.
The oBravo Erib 2a , an unusually retro looking hybrid neodymium planar IEM has polarised those within the Audio Community who have listened to it. There appears to be a lack of sub bass and a highly forward mids signature at first listen to these down from the ear monitors. The qualities that brought me to buy these quirky phones is there in spades on the Opus and I now have a wider soundstage with a visceral quality to the upper bass and mid range. I could go on at length but maybe there is time for one more example of what the Opus is capable of.
I have plugged in my Sennheiser HD800s to the Opus 2. I have managed to get a 3.5mm cable for them , following my purchase last year of the Chord Mojo. I have heavily modded my 4 year old HD800s with a lambswool and SuperDuPont Resonator Mod.
The Audio Opus drives them perfectly well , at 120 from a possible 150 and in high gain , we just stay out of the red. The HD800 Headphones use the landscape provided to them and do their magic unconcerned they are doing it without using the Chord Mojo as their usual companion.
The Ibasso DX100 was used as my comparison DAP. Still acknowledged by Ibasso as the best sounding DAP they have made to date, this is a much chunkier player than the Opus and has an amp inbuilt which can match the power output of it’s rival and even arguably out power it quite comfortably.
Power is not everything of course, the DX100 shows how far we have come in the Digital world since the player’s introduction in Summer 2012. The DX100 was not as enjoyable an audio experience against the Opus 2 . The sound was not as refined , the micro details were less noticeable , the bass was flabbier and the soundstage was more pulled in when A/B’d with the Audio Opus 2 player.
I have recently been to HighEnd Headphones store in Bedfordshire and they have a variety of some very special players. Of course , I had to try the Astell & Kern AK380 whilst I was there.
Another occasion I had some time with the AK380 was at CanJam London 2015. All in all , I have had 1 glorious hour with this work of art. Whilst it is a time apart , I do not feel that the 380 in sound stakes alone had much if anything to offer over the Opus 2.
I feel I preferred the flatter response of the Opus 2 over the crispness and width of the 380; both are up there in a very select group.
Value for Money I’m not sure if this is tongue in cheek to discuss the merits of the Opus in terms of it’s current retail price. It is difficult for me to convey to you whether this is worth 3 times the #1. The 2 is certainly not 3 times worse than the AK380 Copper. But how can we quantify whether anything that can be done for £10 can be good value doing the same thing at £1000? Such things are an impossibility. The marketing companies will tell us about volume levels , the R&D budget the marketing budget. These all go into determining the price of any such bespoke product. I realise that the cost to produce each Opus#2 is only a fraction of the cost that needs to be recouped.
To put this into context , some loudspeakers out there are fetching £250 000. At least we are not there yet in the DAP market. I think Astell & Kern would like to keep heading that way , they will bring Sony along for the ride no doubt.There is an adage that you get what you pay for .
It does not always hold true in the consumer electrical market. Quality can be wrapped expensively in designer clothing, but strip that down to the bare essentials and you see nothing more than a phone without it’s call functions.
There will always be room in the market for quality. Real quality that just sounds looks and feels -right. People will pay for quality and it is down to the manufacturer to be clever enough to know where that ceiling is. At £2999 for Astell & Kern’s AK380 has dared raise that ceiling even higher.
There is also a DAP with no internal storage , no screen , and no ability to play anything other than WAV files. With only 1 3.5mm connection. No marketing campaign. No major design changes (improvements) since the original was made. And it has had a big price reduction to bring it to the bargain price of a cool £2504! Welcome to the Altmann Tera Player!
At least we see Opus hasn’t gone completely berserk for their opening gambit. This is a Digital Player which is theBIT’s announcement to the market that they can rub shoulders with the best out there. I think this has a market provided theBIT can find some stockists.
My DX100, very expensive when first introduced onto the market, has a 10 year labour warranty. The Altmann Tera has a 6 year warranty. I would like to see theBIT doing their bit too.
Initial cost is no guarantee of a trouble free digital device. My DX100 went back to China twice last year for battery WiFi and DAC Chip replacement…..
Conclusion theBIT has produced a DAP that can be cherished. It sounds great, has lots of features which will be updated over time , it is beautifully built and looks like an heirloom should.
It seems to solve most of the all in one problems for the discerning audiophile; even down to getting mean and dirty with bluetooth headphones. I recommend it to those who want the best and be done with it. For those of you, the search may be over….