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  1. Would be interested if Oppo hadn’t made the mistake of incorporating Thunderbolt, which is dying a miserable death due to non-adoption by the general public. Out of dozens of techies and audiophiles I know, not a one uses Thunderbolt.

    • Except it doesn’t use Thunderbolt. It’s a USB DAC. It includes a MicroUSB to USB cable for Android devices, and a Lightning to USB cable for iOS devices. There isn’t a Thunderbolt port, or included cable, on the unit.

  2. I’ve seen said elsewhere that it is not practical to use whilst listenting on the move. Comment was made regarding cables. Do you feel this is the case?

    • Personally, I do not often walk around with headphones on. Primarily I am at my desk at home or the office when listening. For me and my iphone 6 plus, which is already a burden to carry, having the HA-2 in my pocket as well would be too much. I don’t keep a nice headphone amp at work, so the portability of the HA-2 is great, allows me to carry it back and forth each day.

    • I have also written about the HA-2 for another site and made the observation that if you are a pocket user, you won’t get the HA-2 and your source safely into your pocket without stressing the plugs/jacks on the units and cables.

      If you have a purse, good on ya. Or, as Stephen mentioned, using it at a desk is about as comfortably and safetly portable as you can get with one of these front-and-rear-connected devices.

      BTW: Good work, Stephen.

  3. Stephen,

    What a well-written article this was! Really enjoyed reading it and bookmarked it too. I thought the way you explained the ups & downs of using the HA-2 (and also NOT using it) were perfectly worded and very clear. Now I have a great reference to use when explaining this stuff to people, at least regarding why one SHOULD use a portable amp/DAC instead of listening straight from their smartphone.

    I have just purchased the Celsius Sound Companion One amp/DAC, and I truly LOVE it! Have you had a chance to use it? Several reviews have said it trumps all other under $1000 amp/DACs, even the $999 Sony PHA-3. It even uses the same chip as the HA-2. I pair it with my Sony Xperia Z3 smartphone, and using Poweramp (the BEST music app for Android devices) with a special EQ setting of my own making, the sound is incredible!

    A few reviews I’ve seen comparing it to the HA-2 say they are both great, but the CO is slightly better. Now, it does cost TWICE as much as the HA-2 ($595) though, so that isn’t too surprising. It is however a bit bulky, and I’m always afraid I’m gonna drop it when I use it, so I’m extra careful. That’s one plus with the HA-2 that it’s so slim (and has quick charge too).

    I wonder if I could tell the difference between the two? Obviously having the same DAC chip isn’t enough, it’s what supporting hardware you have in that device that matters greatly too. But I wonder if I could? Maybe I should try the HA-2 out and compare? What do you think?

    P.S. How long exactly is the “period of inactivity”? Just wondering.

    Thanks.

    • Thanks very much. I haven’t tried the Celsius, but it does look good on paper. I can see about getting a review sample in.

      I had to power cycle or input cycle the HA-2 only a few times and I haven’t noticed it happening for awhile, so perhaps it was a Windows/driver issue that an update fixed somewhere along the way.

      • No problem. YW!

        Yeah you should write an article on the Celsus (sorry, I mistyped it as Celsius earlier) Sound Companion One. I would be most interested to read about it. I’ve seen at least one review say the HA-2 was at least better than Sony’s NWZ-ZX1, which costs almost double the price too (like the CO). So it does seem like a strong contender.

        Oh ok, that’s awesome! Did you do the update on it or was that something they did for the final release version of the HA-2? Sounded like a drag, so I’m glad they took care of it.

        Besides the price being double the HA-2, the ONLY other negative of the CO is its bulky frame, which takes some effort to hold correctly, especially with one hand. It comes with a sweet leather travel case that opens & closes using magnets (http://www.celsus-sound.com/index.php/product/companion-one, but I’d written to the owner Jason Lim (who frequents Head-Fi etc and was the CEO of NuForce, http://www.celsus-sound.com/index.php/contact that it would be both ideal and great if they came out with a case for the device itself like what people would normally put on a smartphone (preferably a clear one of course). He hasn’t responded yet, but hopefully he considers it. I’m always afraid I’m gonna drop it. lol It is well made though, but still, its body is aluminum, which can get damaged w/o much effort.

        It is these 2 factors that makes me think maybe I should try the HA-2 out, despite again most reviews saying the CO is better. For the most part though, at least one or two said it was only “slightly” better than the HA-2, but I wonder if I’d even notice the difference? So I’ll see. The HA-2 doesn’t have a full body case either, but the leather “wrap” certainly lends itself to being a protective force for the device.

        If you do an article on the CO, please kindly shoot me a line (with link) here so that I can be notified of it. I will be sure to read & comment, even if I actually get the HA-2 instead. lol

        P.S. I just remembered………there’s another amp/DAC I was looking at called the Klar Lab LDV (http://klarlab.com/product/klar-lab-ldv-portable-dac-amp-with-wolfson-wm8741-black-2/ that has like NO reviews on it yet (despite a 1/1/2015 release), but looks like it could be another strong contender. http://klarlab.com/ldv/ It has another great DAC chip on it, the Wolfson WM8741, and like the HA-2, it also shares a similarly sleek design as well. This could be another one for you to consider doing a review on? And you would be the first too. lol

        Thanks!

  4. Hi everybody, did someone finally test the Oppo-HA2 vs Celsus Sound Companion One ? Rockstar2005 of Stephen ? Or someone else ?
    I am still hesitating between these two devices….

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