Oppo Digital has established itself as one of the premiere makers of universal disc players with its award-winning Blu-ray and DVD players. With physical media dying a slow death, Oppo is looking to venture into new product categories with the release of a new headphone amplifier and planar magnetic headphones.
The Planar Magnetic headphones—called the Oppo PM-1—will focus on developing natural and dynamic sound while providing for reduced weight of the headphones due to the planar magnetic driver. Why did Oppo chose to go with a planar magnetic driver? In Oppo’s own words:
The advantages of planar magnetic technology are based on the fact that in a planar driver, sound is generated by a very thin and light diaphragm that is driven evenly over the entire radiating area. Sound, entering our ear, has a planar wave front at the so called ear reference point (ERP), with all spectrum components in phase. A typical dynamic headphone driver, due to its phase irregularity, disrupts that coherence, resulting in less than perfect signal peak reconstruction, especially of very short impulses. A planar magnetic driver has another advantage that relates to its purely resistive impedance. It has a flat conductor pattern that does not have any inductive component, which eliminates inductance related IM distortion, common in dynamic headphones. A resistive load also ensures that any amplifier will drive the headphones without any changes in spectral balance.
The headphone amplifier—called the HA-1—will be a perfect complement to the PM-1 headphones. The headphone amp is a bit of a unique beast and somewhat of a hybrid preamp and DAC. The analog section will be a fully balanced design and also include an asynchronous USB DAC, stereo pre-amplifier, digital audio dock, and bluetooth audio transport. Its digital inputs include coaxial, optical, balanced AES/EBU, and an asynchronous USB DAC that supports both PCM and DSD formats. The HA-1 will also include the same ESS 9018 Sabre32 Reference DAC and output driving stage used in Oppo’s Blu-ray players. The Bluetooth audio transport is slated to feature the high quality Apt-X CODEC. You can chose to control the HA-1 with a traditional remote or via a smartphone app.
There is no pricing on either model and expected availability will be early 2014.