The world of headphones has been experiencing exponential growth over the past few years due in part to the Dr. Bre “Beats” headphones explosion (headphones were cool and stylish for the first time) and the need for better portable sound. I’ve never really been a headphones fan. They’re heavy (or heavier than I can tolerate), put the sound right smack in the middle of your head and make my ears sweat. I’m a speaker guy.
But if you visit any of the audiophile trade shows, you can miss the fact that all of the young people are hanging out in the dedicated “Head-Fi” room. Table after table and row after row of vendors set up their wares, which range from expensive headphones and custom tube amplifiers to molded earpieces which multiple drivers. The sound of personal listening has dramatically improved with the growth of the market segment.
At the recent International 2014 CES show, Jason from Oppo Digital stopped by the HRA room at the Venetian with a near finished prototype new headphone. I knew that they were up to something after seeing some photos by John Gatski on his Everything Audio website. Everyone that has read these posts for any period of time will know that I’m a fan of their equipment, their support and their quality. And now they’ve turned their attention to headphones.
Jason pulled the new phones out of their case…and I can tell you they are very solidly built, extremely handsome to look at and deliver a very polished and accurate sound thanks to the custom planar drivers they contain. I plugged them into the outputs of my Benchmark DAC2, which contains a state-of-the-art DAC AND headphone amplifier. As I explained previously, I use the Kanex Pro box to get the 96 kz/24-bit stereo output from the HDMI into the DAC2. So I had the best of the best to check out the new Oppo phones.
I have to admit that I don’t have that much experience with phones. I did listen to the Beats pair that I gave my son a couple of years ago (which were terrible), spent some time with a high-end Grado pair (which were incredible) and know the sound of my run of the mill Sony MDRs. The Oppo headphones are fantastic and I could be convinced to move towards a personal listening experience.
Using my Headphones[xi] surround music mixes, I could create an “out-of-the-head” portable listening experience. SO stand by…sometime in the first half of the year the Oppo headphones will be available. I’m pretty confident the quality minded headphone fans will fall in love with these phones.
Got to run…