MusicTeck provided the 1S free of charge for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.
I’ve been a staunch supporter of Audio-Opus/theBit since I borrowed a Head-Fier’s Opus#1 for a short stretch back in 2016. It blew me away, coming very close to matching the sound quality of my then reference player, the AK120II. The price disparity between these two devices is no small matter. And it’s not like I hadn’t put other players against the Astell&Kern. I had, and none gave the AK this kind of run. I knew then Opus was a special breed.
I even finagled a good deal on a unit of my own, just so I’d have one on-hand for reviews.
When I decided I was ready to upgrade my reference player, I replaced the AK with the Opus#2. It’s a DAP so robust of resolution, and true of tone, that I have a hard time distinguishing between it and my desktop DAC, the NFB-28 by Audio-GD. theBit is one of the few companies that has utterly mastered the SABRE DAC, removing all coldness, and achieving a profoundly natural disposition.
So when Andrew over at MusicTeck asked if I wanted to review the shiny new Opus#1S, there was clearly only one response in keeping with my doctrine.
For fans of the original #1, the 1S will be like fingering an old friend for the first time; familiar, yet weirdly novel. Build, shape, and chassis dimensions are identical. As is button layout. It comes in two color choices: blue and purple. Andrew sent me the purple, and I’m rather smitten with the pigment. DAPs these days tend to be either black or silver, or some alarming member of the primary hues. The purple 1S is dark, subdued, with but a hint of its royal shade. Precisely the way I would have made it.
Then there’s the case. I have the burgundy leather. Again, this is a refreshing deviation from the norm, and marries handsomely with the purple chassis. Opus cases have always been very good. Genuine leather. Well-dyed. Protective, without interfering with any device function… save for covering up the SD slot. It seems theBit has lost none of its skill. This case is as good as ever, and I’m a big fan.
Software is also mostly the same, though updated to be in line with how the #2 and #3 work. For instance, with the original #1, you had to manually turn on Balanced Output, and then turn it off again before you could use Single-Ended. Now the DAP recognizes when you’ve plugged into the 2.5mm port, and switches over automatically, then back again when you connect to 3.5mm. In other words, like every other balanced DAP on the planet. Way to go, theBit, stepping into the modern era!
The Opus#1S remains steadfast in its predecessor’s mission: Be a DAP, not a Smartphone. You’ll find no Bluetooth output or WiFi connectivity. You have no access to apps, streaming, video, or the internet in general. This is a music player, and nothing more. Pinky appreciates such singular focus. It can’t help but strengthen the final product.
Although perhaps not the highest pixel-count, this 4” IPS is crisp, and with better color reproduction than most DAPs I’ve tested. Out of this lot, the only one that surpasses it is the DX200, which not only has more realistic colors, but also perfect resolution for the size, with no visible pixilation.