It seems that Koreans from theBit have already descended from the mountain and, like bulls from a popular anecdote, took up business. Starting with a relatively simple but interesting OPUS # 1 and continuing with the truly flagship "top" OPUS # 2, they did not rest on their laurels and rolled out a model particularly interesting in that it goes against modern trends, calling it OPUS # 3 . Naturally, this is what will be discussed.
While the industry is living with AKM-based chips, periodically distracted by new ESS models, theBit decided it would be trivial, and remembered about the wonderful and many favorite PCM1792 chips from Burr-Brown. To this DAC added a traditional well-customized Android, a quality, though not very powerful amplifier and packed into an interesting package. Novelty decided to position somewhere between the two previous models and assigned it a price of $ 900 (however, according to tradition, discounts are likely), what is interesting to offer this player to customers?
Looking at the various color options, theBit settled on noble gray. Packaging is made traditionally: a box of solid cardboard in a paper "dust jacket". Inside is the player, protective films, instructions, warranty card and a completely normal MicroUSB-wire. The cover, most likely, will not be included in the kit, although there is room for it in the box. I also got the player a cool branded case, which, most likely, is traditionally made in Dignis.
If there was a prize for the most memorable design, the creators of OPUS # 3 would clearly be in her short list. An unusual, memorable texture of the pyramids, decorating the back panel, correct work with chamfers and bevels – all this creates an unusual look, the player obviously will not work with anything to mix. Despite the fact that the rear panel is made of metallized plastic, the main part of the chassis of the player is aluminum, which is noticeable both in weight and in the appreciable strength of the assembly – nothing lufts anywhere, creaks, everything is neatly adjusted and assembled.
There are not enough controls. On the left side are located the rewind and play / pause buttons. On the top are the outlets: the usual 3.5 mm and the balanced 2.5 mm. By tradition, they can perform the role of a linear output (theBit even has a cunning wire that provides a real balanced connection). On the right side, flush with the rear panel was placed a wheel of volume control, it is slightly unsteady, but adjustment of censures does not cause everything to be clear, with well-marked clicks, without superfluous operations. The bottom side is occupied by a slot for MicroSD cards and a MicroUSB port, which traditionally serves for charging, accessing memory and working as a USB DAC. For the latter, by the way, the built-in XMOS responds, so the function of the DAC does not depend on the processor. Through the same chip you can output sound and firmware of the player, which should please fans of "absolute correctness."
Most of the front panel is a touch screen, very good in terms of player standards. It remains distinguishable in the sun (although it loses its contrast), it has good viewing angles, pressures are worked out qualitatively. About the resolution and color rendition and I will not speak – with this everything is also good.
One of the strong points of the players from the Bit is their firmware. Despite the use of Android 5.1.1, all the "insides" of the OS are carefully hidden, even the installation of third-party applications was previously impossible.
After downloading the user immediately meets the playback screen, familiar to other players of the company, the main part of it is the cover of the current track. Traditionally, 3 tracks of the Korean project Jazzotheque have already been loaded into the player's memory (I already associated with them). In the upper left corner there is a button for access to the media library, there you can expect to see the tracks, artists, albums, folders and playlists. In general, navigation is very simple and very convenient, everything is optimized for comfortable finger management.
If you scroll down from the top of the screen, the curtain settings are activated: brightness, Wi-Fi, BT, equalizer and so on. You can also click on the button with the gear icon to get to the main settings screen. There, everything is familiar enough on the Android OS, and, perhaps, just a couple of paragraphs require explanations, do not tell again about the three-level gain switch, the sleep timer and playback without pauses. In the same settings menu, the USB-DAC mode is activated (hint: to exit it, press the circle in the center of the screen).
The first interesting menu item is Output – DSP Mode . Here you can choose which of the audio output modes will be used by the player: via the I2S interface of the DAC or via the XMOS chip, which, as you remember, is also on board. Anyone can try both options and choose the one that will be more to their liking.
Another interesting menu item is Streaming . TheBit effectively solved the problem of streaming support. If you remember, in the review OPUS # 2, I wrote that it is unclear why you need a Wi-Fi phone, because its only application was to update the firmware. Now the company's firmware has the ability to add its own software, and even two programs they installed "out of the box." The first one is the Spotify client: everything is exactly as you expect. The second is a player very similar to the main one, but with DLNA / UPnP file access support. And the player can, if necessary, itself act as a repository / renderer, it allows you to build any wireless sound transmission schemes without problems. I think in the future the network player will replace the usual one, since there really is no real need to have both programs on the device.
If you want, you can install your programs on the player, for this you need to download the APK, upload it to the player in the Downloads folder and in the Streaming menu, click on the plus button. A list of available packages will open and you will be able to select the one you need to install.
I also note that the firmware for OPUS # 2 has also recently been updated – similar features have been added there.
On the whole, the firmware is stable, reliable, no hang-ups or shortcomings have been detected in it. The running time is close to the stated time and is 8 hours 15 minutes (standard test in FLAC 44.1 / 16 bit, MEE Audio P1 as load, mid gain, volume at 70), charging time 4 hours 10 minutes. The player has a deep sleep mode, so the device spends the battery economically. A small disadvantage is that when playing with the screen off, this same power saving mode after a while turns off the hardware playback control buttons, so the player must first be "awakened" by pressing the power button.
The following headphones were used to listen to the device: iBasso IT03, Meze 99 Classics, Audio Zenith PMx2, Noble Kaiser Encore, Campfire Audio Andromeda, 64 Audio U12, HUM Pristine, etc.
TheBit is well aware that releasing several players with a similar sound and fairly close price – the idea is not particularly reasonable, so they decided to make OPUS # 3 more flavorful compared to its flagship number two and, in fact, not lost. The third Opus offers exactly what many appreciate in the delivery of players: a slightly warm, energetic sound with accented emotions.
Bass is very, very slightly accented to create a light effect of darkness in the pitch. The hint is slightly reduced to make the sound more massive, but it's done very neatly, without pronounced distortions. The player transmits textures well and splits the instruments of the low-frequency range. The sub-bass is present, but it is slightly removed quantitatively, so as not to create excess turbidity on the bass.
The middle frequencies are transparent and slightly underlined in terms of emotionality. Sometimes it seems that the player specifically highlights the vocals and adds vocalists emotions in the voice. With OPUS # 3 it is very pleasant to listen to classical bluesmen, all favorite jazz singers, hoarse rockers – they seem to be dropping 20 years and returning at the time of maturity and maximum flourishing. Naturally, the player is good at the resolution, but it does not break into sharpness and does not try to pull out all the micronuans from the record, on the contrary, it can even sometimes hide some flaws. The imaginary scene is very wide, but without additional inflation, the depth is also slightly more than average, but not as record as the width. The separation of plans is very good, especially due to the emphasis of the vocals.
The HF as a whole are good, detailed enough and with qualitative elaboration of damping. Sometimes OPUS overdo it with attacks, and because of this the HF sounds a little sharper than intended, but a competent selection of records and headphones allows you never to face it. Also, this problem is less pronounced in DSP mode XMOS, however, the difference is small, and it can be attributed to the placebo effect.
Well, where can I go without a few comparisons.
theBit OPUS # 1 . The first OPUS impresses with its love for inflating the imaginary scene, which gives the sound spectacular, but not always natural, plus it is distinguished by a neutral and slightly dry pitch. "Troika" does not try to exaggerate the volume, passing it as it is, and in general the player sounds a little darker and more energetic. Plus, OPUS # 3 has a darker "background" and, due to this, a better outline of individual sounds.
TheBit OPUS # 2 . The main task of the flagship is to play without embellishment, but it's not boring, and the "second" is doing it well. He stresses emotions less (although he does convey what is in the record flawlessly), he has a deeper bass and better division into layers, and he has more detailed and more elaborate HF. Although in fact the difference between # 2 and # 3 is small (less than between # 3 and # 1), but the feeling of "step forward" is present.
iBasso DX200 . In a way, the opposite of OPUS # 3 is neutral, absolutely not colored with maximum resolution and detail. The main problem of the iBasso player is a wild pickiness to the quality of the recording. Opus in this respect is more tolerant, and his presentation is more emotional and slightly less resolution.
Fiio X7 + AM2 . In general, the supply of these players can be called with a little stretch similar, but in fact there is a noticeable difference in the arrangement of accents – the player from Fiio is slightly less sharp on the HF and slightly easier in the midrange.
Fiio X5-3 . Not quite a competitor for OPUS # 3, but since the model is recently popular, I can not ignore it. The newcomer from Fiio is just an even bigger slant in the direction that Opus only has – more heat in the sound, relaxed HF, well, everything else that is needed to create a "comfortable" feed.
By the tradition of the company the player is not made the most powerful, however, this is a very reasonable approach, which allows you to save the battery, and you do not hear any noise. Power OPUS # 3 is enough for any IEM and for most of the full-size headphones, and there is no noise even in sensitive models like CA Andromeda. Of all my huge arsenal, LAM-7 from Ambient Acoustics and Noble Kaiser Encore showed the best performance with this player. Of the more affordable models are traditionally good hybrids from Dunu and entertaining novelty Periodic Audio Beryllium. Avoiding the same with OPUS # 3 you need headphones with accented high-frequency and high-frequency.
The genre player is quite universal, although its energetic pitch is especially good on blues, classical rock, instrumental music. To the quality of the record, it is moderately critical, somewhere by 7 points on a 10-point scale, the main thing is that everything on record should be fine with the HF range.
Traditionally, several tracks in the role of example
The Beatles – Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! If you did not already know, the jubilee re-release of "Sergeant Pepper" was published, timed to the 50th anniversary of the album. The whole record has actually been rewritten from scratch, and I can say that the result turned out to be excellent: it allows one more time to make sure that few of the musicians in modern human history can at all compare with The Beatles. By the way, true fans will appreciate the 6-disk edition, which included a variety of studio dubbing, allowing to understand the process of the birth of the album. Naturally, with a good player in the face of OPUS # 3, these records sound even better, and the added emotions are very close.
Marillion – White Paper . For a long time in the past those times when Marillion gave a second birth to the genre of prog-rock, the arguments on the subject could be considered as a Marionion group with Hogarth? The composition, which gathered in the year 89, proved its worth and showed an amazing stability for the groups of this genre. There were such things as "Anoraknophobia" and drop of "Afraid of Sunlight" type on the way of the team, but F.E.A.R turned out so well that it can immediately be sent to the list of the best works of the group. There is everything: beautiful melodies, emotional, despite the age of Hogarth, vocals, an interesting idea … It remains to add only OPUS # 3 and good headphones and enjoy a return to the times of Misplaced Childhood and Clutching at Straws, noting, however, the fact that the band is all She became calmer, like most of her fans.
James Brown – I'll Go Crazy (with Live at the Apollo) . "Godfather of Soul" gives a master class of live performances and communication with the crowd, no wonder this album is considered one of the best live records of all time. Be sure to listen to it, even if you do not take live performances, in this case it's just an example of how to work with the public, and with OPUS # 3 immersion in the atmosphere of 1962 is even fuller. I do not cease to wonder how it was possible to make such a high-quality recording with such a primitive technique, but the fact remains that even now rare live albums can boast such a level of technology and material.
On the one hand, I would very much like to avoid banal turns, and on the other – theBit made an excellent player and accurately positioned it in the right market segment. Perhaps I would say that OPUSs are currently the main competitor of the current "King of the Hill" Astell & Kern.