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A tale of two cities with the OPPO Digital Sonica DAC, HA-2SE

  • hpfes2016-200OPPO Digital’s range of Sonica products will soon comprise two wireless multi-room speaker models. We might (lazily) think of them as OPPO’s take on a Sonos Play:1 and Play:3. However, each Sonica speaker sports a handful of fundamental differences to the Santa Barbara-born old timers: DLNA, Bluetooth and AirPlay compatibility. The latter turns each Sonica – or each L/R pair – into a Roon endpoint.

    At both RMAF 2016 and the Tokyo Headphone Festival, the Chinese/American manufacturer teased a pre-production version of another new Sonica product: the Sonica DAC. Once again, there’s a twist. This DAC includes a DLNA-capable network streaming module, one that can also distribute the digitised version of its analogue input to other Sonica devices.


    For those who like to play a mental game of DAC chip wars, the Sonica DAC features ESS Labs’ latest flagship silicon – the 9038PRO with Hyperstream II tech. Pragmatists know that a DAC’s audible traits stem from far more than the chip choice. Power supply and output stage being two biggies.

    The Sonica DAC will begin shipping in November with an MSRP of US$799.

    OPPO Digital have also kept their portable DAC/amplifier up with Jones’ by adding ESS Labs’ lower-power flagship chip, the 9028Q2M, and improving the unit’s ‘gain structure’ to bring hiss-sensitive CIEM users back into the fold. These are what lift the HA-2 to Special Edition status. The price remains the same at US$299.

    At the Denver Marriott Tech Center hotel, OPPO Digital’s Stateside rep Christopher Vick introduces us to both new models and also covers some of the finer points:

    In Japan, OPPO Digital is represented by Emilai. Company mainman Kenzo Kono has the biggest smile and possibly the best spoken English of any local audio dude. He lived in Phoenix, AZ for several years before returning to his home country to start a family.

    Two weeks after RMAF 2016 at the Tokyo Headphone Festival, Kono re-introduces us to the Sonica DAC and also shows us its back panel connectivity options:

    Kono is the business brain behind Emilia. His offsider Kotaro Shima is more technically-minded. On the floor at the Nakano Sun Plaza event, Shima-San had a prop not seen in the USA: an HA-2 SE with its lid lifted:

    Further information: OPPO Digital | Emilai Japan


    Written by John

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

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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