Review: The Bit Audio Opus#1 – Mouth Korea

Sound

Even a coddled Millenial progressive should be able to discriminate Oppy’s quality output. It’s a warmish take on a familiar trope: rich and comfy. Here and there both lead and trail edges round out otherwise sharp niches. Midrange stereo image is larger and more lifelike than low and high stereo image, which really focuses the listening experience and provides pretty damn good depth.

Its singular ouchy, hiss, is innocuous by AK100 standards, but obvious against the black backgrounds of the Cowon Plenue D and AK380. Low-volume listeners with high-sensitivity earphones may notice it. I hear it through both my FitEar MH335DW and Ultrasone IQ. (By the way, FitEar’s new MH334DW SR, about which I wrote a small bit here, is a damn fine earphone.)

Oppy nails all the important bits: stable current for a stable frequency response, wide stereo separation, and controlled distortion curves. It does this both at low volumes, and at volumes typically used to test a device’s theoretical output limits.

Opus1 - line up-1

In general, Oppy performs.

That is: it performs especially well as you’re using its single-ended out. SE out keeps both THD and IMD distortion levels comfortably below audibility. Frequency dips are miniscule. Oppy’s biggest audible anomaly is its penchant to compress low and high frequency stereo detail under load. The outcome? Beautiful, well-illustrated midrange landscapes.

Most of that compression occurs when listening through highly-sensitive, low-impedance balanced armature earphones. Driving most portable headphones incurs only a small performance penalty.

Oppy’s balanced output isn’t bad per se, but it is seriously embarrassed by MST’s Mojo-Kai. It drives loads far better than does AK380’s balanced output, and holds a steadier frequency response under load than does the DP-X1, but next to its single-ended output, it is poor. IMD jumps by 500x, and is audible at volume levels from loud to whatever a non EU-capped iPhone 6’s maximum is. THD levels jump 154x their base, but should be inaudible. There’s a hair difference between the DP-X1’s distortion levels and Oppy’s. Where there isn’t is in frequency response, where Oppy handily smacks around the Onkyo. Loaded, the DP-X1 loses 5 or 6 decibels by 20.000Hz, and Oppy keeps signal strong, if somewhat warbly, till 20.000Hz. Unloaded, the DP-X1 embarrasses everything. But what’s the point of that?

Opus1 - back-1

At theoretical listening levels, Oppy’s balanced output is kick-in-the-pants good. SM2-loaded stereo separation jumps from ~ -88dB to ~ -112dB – incredible both theoretically as well as in empirically. At low to normal listening levels, most of that difference evaporates. People that listen to average decibel levels in excess of 90dB will find Oppy’s balanced output to give an extra kick in stereo imaging. The rest is academic.

If you’re into well-ordered, even-Stephen stereo images and frequency responses, and balanced output is of chief importance to you, check out Ryuzoh’s Mojo-Kai. If you’re prepared to accept minimal load anomaly, and at a more pocketbook-friendly price point, it’s hard not to recommend Oppy.

My system returns the following unloaded single-ended measurements at +6dB @VOL149 (the most stable no-load volume level):

-115,1dB noise level
115,1dB dynamic range
0,0006dB THD
0,010 IMD+Noise%
-114,6 dB stereo crosstalk

My system returns the following unloaded balanced measurements at +6dB @VOL149 (the most stable no-load volume level):

-115,5dB noise level
115,7dB dynamic range
0,0059dB THD
0,011 IMD+Noise%
-111,5 dB stereo crosstalk

No, it doesn’t return unloaded numbers that wow quite like the AK380 or DP-X1, but loaded it edges out either player’s distortion levels at theoretical comparison levels. And, it returns a somewhat warmer, easier-listening sound.

Vs your favourite high-end DAP

If only its hiss was lower (it isn’t high), I’d wholeheartedly recommend Oppy to the person looking for a high-end DAP without the high-end price. As it is, hiss is barely audible with music playing at low volumes through the most sensitive of earphones.  As long as that person realises that it doesn’t get quite as loud with 600Ω headphones, there’s almost nothing to do but recommend this player. It sustains good current under all loads, almost nails gapless (with both lossy and lossless formats), and its UI, while not pretty, is easy to use, and well designed for touch input. Yes, its battery sucks, but so does the battery life of every high-end DAP out there.

End words

To be honest, I didn’t expect much from Oppy. Its stylistic flourishes are simpleton. Its nomenclature sophomoric. But it is easy to use, it sounds great, and in general it performs. If you’re not into using external amplification, it is a great choice for most earphones and headphones. No, it doesn’t get as loud as an AK380 or DP-X1. But it kicks out a stable, solid signal, and is warmer certainly than the AK380, which makes for a unique signature and it is a far better realistic platform for balanced earphones.

This Korean player lacks Korean edges, but nails SQ in a high-end world dominated by Korean DAPs.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

20 Comments

  • Reply May 10, 2016

    someone in South Korea

    Mouth Korea? hope it is typo.

    • Reply May 10, 2016

      Barun Chanda

      I think it is intentional, he might be implying Millenial generation player from South Korea.

    • Reply May 10, 2016

      ohm image

      Not a typo, just not a clever enough title.

      The Bit Audio Opus#1 is a long title: a mouthful if you will. Take off ‘ful’ and make it mouth. Mouth rhymes with South. Born is Mouth Korea.

  • Reply May 10, 2016

    Barun Chanda

    Very strong opinions there Nathan. At $680 they are not cheap, but they certainly don’t look the part, reminds me of my old Aiwa Cassette Walkman. AK is also looking at the potential of the sub $1000 DAP market now, since companies like Questyle and Onkyo are doing so well.

    • Reply May 10, 2016

      ohm image

      A bit torn. The screen and the composit body are cheap. But the UI really works well and the sound is quite nice. I’d like to see the same sound/performance in something sleeker with a sleeker UI. And maybe a bit less hiss. Otherwise, impressive.

  • Reply May 11, 2016

    Jeffrey Marimat

    hope the Aune M2S can be also featured and reviewed in this website.

  • Reply May 11, 2016

    Michael Amouyal

    Hey Nathan,

    How do the MS ak100 and 120 perform and sound versus these latest players ie. AK, Onkyo, Pioneer and Opus?

    Cheers

  • Reply May 11, 2016

    L

    Testing 1-1

  • Reply May 11, 2016

    Headfonia_L.

    This is a test on 11/05 13.11

  • Reply May 11, 2016

    Headfonia_L.

    Test 11/05 13.37

  • Reply May 11, 2016

    dalethorn

    Several problems are occuring. 1) Many comments between 2 days ago and L’s 2 test comments have disappeared. 2) The comments displays have changed their appearance and performance several times in the past few days.

  • Reply May 11, 2016

    Headfonia_L.

    This is a test for Dale’s email notifications May 11 8.07PM

  • Reply May 12, 2016

    ohm image

    What happened to all the comments?

    • Reply May 12, 2016

      dalethorn

      I think there are some missing for the 2 days I noted. But no way to know as yet.

  • Reply May 17, 2016

    Michael Amouyal

    I will repeat my deleted comment / question then : how do the MSAK100 / MSAK120 fare versus newer DAPs like this one and the other big boys?

    • Reply May 17, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      I haven’t deleted anything, we lost 2 days of comments because of a Disqus problem. Sorry

    • Reply May 19, 2016

      ohm image

      This one is warmer sounding in some ways than the MS-AK100 and not quite as mid-wide. Also, more noise in the headphone output. But as far as stock audiophile players go (despite the hiss), this is one of the best, if not the best for the price and up. Practically it outperforms the DP-X1 under load, so it is unnecessary to use an amp whilst driving balanced earphones.

  • Reply January 26, 2017

    Michell

    Thank you Nathan for the review , so my question is does this DAP competes with the big boys from A&K , Hifiman ,cowon , fiio (just the x7 of course) and lotto ?

    is that a high end sound (quality , separation , layering , imaging) for 399 $ ?

    another question is am i better getting this and use it with a mid fi headphones like Sennheiser hd 598 SE … or should i get a DAP like fiio x3 II and updates my headphone to somthing like HD 600 or 700

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.