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Taste the mainstream with OPPO Digital’s Sonica

  • OPPO Digital and OPPO are two distinct companies despite sharing a name and a Guangdong factory.

    OPPO manufacturer smartphones aimed at the man in the street whilst OPPO Digital look after the considerably smaller audiophile market with disc spinners that double as media players, headphones (PM-1, PM-2, PM-3) and headphone amplifiers (HA-1, HA-2).

    News arrives this week via press release of OPPO Digital’s powered, WiFi compatible, hi-res-capable (up to 24bit/192kHz), transportable loudspeaker. The Sonica also features aptX Bluetooth and Airplay compatibility. On the surface at least, the name of this game is convenience.

    However, once again OPPO Digital have retained the audio engineering smarts of PM-x designer, Igor Levitsky.

    For the Sonica speaker, Levitsky has specified the following: four separate amplifiers set up in a 2.1 stereo configuration. Two bridged 15-watt amplifiers drive a single 3.5″ bass woofer and two 3” bass radiators. Two additional 10-watt amplifiers drive a stereo pair of 2.5″ wideband drivers. Combined power output is rated at 30-watts.


    In real world use, Sonica configuration and control comes via an accompanying smartphone app; iOS and Android versions will be available. In the app’s settings panel, a range of DSP-applied presets for some degree of room optimisation.

    Crucially, as well as handling multi-zone synchronisation, a pair of Sonica can be figured as a stereo pair, one playing each channel. Why is this important? Two words: stereo s e p a r a t i o n.

    For this commentator, membership of the audiophile club doesn’t ride on minimum spend elitism, it’s a state of mind, one that targets “better sound”. The first step toward hitting this moving target begins with properly separating left and right channels. It’s why I’d sooner take ownership of a pair of Sonica than a single Devialet Phantom.

    Sonica’s internal power supply is universal so it can travel internationally – simply connect it to wall power via the supplied Figure-8 cable. [Footnote 1].

    Retail pricing is set at US$299 per unit.


    That’s the news. But what’s the story here?

    The Sonica seems to echo Mark Cohen’s assertion that Audeze cannot subsist on the proceeds of high-end audio alone. Their more affordable Sine headphone and the Cipher Lightning cable explicitly target a broader market.

    Ditto OPPO Digital’s Sonica, which I first caught sight of at CanJam SoCal back in March, the photos from which feature in this post. Perhaps OPPO Digital have begun to eye their sister company’s successes in the smartphone space and are now seeking a slice of the mainstream pie?

    Further information: OPPO Digital

    Footnote 1: According to OPPO Digital’s Jason Liao, “Since this is a Wi-Fi device and each country has its own regulations, we will have to make a different version (at least different certification labeling) for each territory.”

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. I can’t tell if I deem this truly “mainstream” until it’s battery powered and competes with all the portable bluetooth speakers out there. Obviously not possible based on the amps/output (which undoubtedly make it sound great). So what do you consider the Sonica’s competition to be: soundbars? Bookshelf speakers?

        • Peachtree’s Deepblue2 would be a very formidable opponent. Admittedly it’s $100 more, but you are getting A LOT for that hundred bucks – a true 3-way design with a 6.5″ bass driver and twin 1″ tweeters in addition to the two 3″ mids, and 440 watts to drive them.

    2. This bit: “That’s the news. But what’s the story here?” and the small essay tucked in underneath is why I keep coming back here. Great story.

    3. You sir, are correct. Sound is the key. How does the music sound? This looks to be nice enough and affordable for a great many people. I will stick to my Internet radios for now but I can see how and why someone would choose this.

      I’m listening to music via my Onkyo ABX-300 right now. The sound of music? Indeed.

    4. Obviously a larger unit and not battery powered, but leaving that aside curious how the sound will compare to the Kef Muo.

      If tethered to the wall anyways, particularly if considering a pair for stereo, then why not the new Elac actives, for example?

      Either way, no harm in being spoiled for choice!!

      • When compared to the Muo, this unit is considerably better in sound quality and design. In the case of the Muo, KEF or rather their owners in HK opted for letting a named industrial designer work on the unit and as a result it is more ostentatious and full of flaws. OPPO consciously positions itself on creating pieces that are about subtle sophisticated design that ooze quality in all aspects. A great example of this is the grill, the Muo is a series of holes in metal that are shaped to mimic and match its big ugly over priced and over designed brother the Muon (designed by the same named designer) whereas the Sonica uses a fabric that is as acoustically transparent as it can be to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the sound quality. To me, the two products are streets apart, one is about a media hungry designer whipping up publicity with eye candy and the other is about a quiet and understated commitment to excellence in every aspect of the product.

    5. Sounds great.
      There are (it seems) a lot of wireless speakers starting to come on the market with truly good sound for reasonable prices. Something that even an audiophile could happily listen to if he/she isn’t looking to get to the level of a serious system of seperates – but just wants good sound (meaning no super low bass, or large-room filling volume) that is fun to listen to. Of course, if you are an audio snob, something like this isn’t a consideration.

      I will have to pick up something like this to replace my desktop computer sound setup (wired).

    6. Bose newest Soundtouch variants are pretty good and include an Internet Tuner with access to Pandora, SiriusXM, thousands of internet stations and Bluetooth. If it came with Tidal Bowl, I would still consider them but I would never sign up for that service. FTN.

      Bose is expensive compared to some and less so compared to others. I’ve listened to music through four models and found it to be…music. Good stuff.

    7. I Feel this product “Sonica” is more focusing on home solutions, just like companies like Sonos and Bluesound. These products are made for home use and multi-room capability.

      • The critical aspect that Sonos and Bluesound miss is Airplay (or better yet, RAAT) support.

    8. I think you are correct about the benefits of stereo separation. And yet, the reason a product like this (or a Sonos system) appeals to me is that I’d use it in situations where I’d not be sitting in front of it. I imagine sticking something like this in the kitchen or another room where I’d likely be moving around. I’ve experimented with two speakers in such a setting, and I can’t say I notice any benefit to stereo separation until I’m reasonably stationary and positioned between the speakers.

    9. Golly, I wish this had TOSLINK input so I could use it with my TV too. The original B&W Zeppelin had that and it was great to bring on road trips (so great my daughter took it with her when she moved out!)

    10. I would definitely consider this a mainstream player since it has wifi capability. The only catch is that you have to either connect to wifi or make free up bandwidth that you might not have available. Depending on where you live, you probably do though.

    Three (more) amplifiers for the KEF LS50, ELAC Uni-Fi UB5

    Night Phonehawk: Quest of Audio