The Oppo HA-2 SE, like the Audioquest Dragonfly Red, has attracted overwhelmingly good reviews.
It looks like a mobile phone with a stitched leather cover, which is a curious, but aesthetically interesting touch. The rest, I assume, is aluminium. The body is long, narrow and thin, which means that when the DAC is bound together with some other device, the cable connecting them gets bent round to an extreme degree, which might affect its durability.
At the top are the on/off-cum-volume control knob, the audio in/out port, and the headphone port. The side has the battery meter, bass boost and gain buttons, and the bottom has a switch for different modes, and large and small USB ports.
I tried the HA-2 with Janitsch’s Trio Sonatas (Epoca Barocca, CPO), which is an MP3 album. The quality of the sound was noticeably better than I’d ever heard it before. When I tried Bologna 1666 (Kammerorchester Basel, dhm), which is a 24-bit album, again, the quality of the music was outstanding. I’d aver that the device is potentially superior to the Dragonfly Red.
Like the E17K, this is a Swiss Army knife of a device. It can be attached to Android or Apple devices, as well as computers. The connection with my iPod Touch was a little odd, with it being lost once a song stopped playing.
Nor is this only an issue with the Touch. When I pause music and then start playing it again, there is a slight delay before the HA-2 starts processing the music again. With my H5s, there’s a static pop, which is a concern. However, I need to try playing music through the line-out connection to see whether this affects that, or whether this phenomenon only affects the headphone port.
The line-out port at the top disables the volume control, leaving that to the source device. I’m not sure whether there’s a good reason to use line-out with headphones, but it works, just as using the headphone port works with powered speakers.
Overall, this may be another indulgence, but it was undoubtedly well worth the money.