Oriolus BA300S Unboxing and Impression


Though this is not my first foray into amplifiers or even portable ones, this is the first portable tube amp I've owned and though at first I didn't think it would be such a big difference vs the solid state amps I have to say early on that this was an excursion worth the price of admission.

The Oriolus BA300S came a few days ago without much fanfare or warning, just a surprise visit from the local deliveryman and a simple and securely packaged box was handed to me.


Now I profess to be a Sony fan (but friends also know I don't spare them from critiques on certain things, specially things like proprietariness, ehem) and I love my WM1a, so it was almost a natural impulse for me to try and get the BA300s, having a balanced 4.4mm native input and output was the butter to my nice toasty bread.


Note, the following was translated from the BA300S manual:
Product introduction: BA300s uses two micro-tubes to amplify, current-mode operational amplifiers with extended output and 4.4mm balanced input and output. Superior power management ensures the performance of the whole machine. The machine does not set the volume control. The gain of the whole machine is +3dB, which improves the output amplitude of most front ends. The signal is amplified by the micro-tubes, and the output is rich, satisfying the different sound experience of the user. Built-in lithium polymer rechargeable battery, charging for 3 hours, battery life for 7 hours.

Product characteristics:
Gain: + 3dB Maximum output
Power: 350mW (320HM)
Signal to Noise ratio: -111dB
THD + N: 0.02%
Frequency range: 10Hz-50KHz (+/- 0.5dB)
Net weight: 165g Size: 120 x 57 x 16.5mm

Contents:
1. 4.4mm signal cable (there were 2 additional interconnects)
2. Micro USB charging cable.
3. Velcro (Not in the package, instead there is a sticky gel pad)
4. Warranty card.

Accessories are subject to change without notice. (and this explains the above information)


The amp, 3 sets of interconnects (4.4mm to 4.4mm, 4.4mm to 2.5mm and 4.4mm to 3.5mm), a charging cable in micro usb format and that black gum like strip. Everything I needed to start was in the box, except baller/rubber bands that I usually expect from stackable portable amps. And I didnt realize the reason till after I examined that little black strip included in the package, which apparently is a sticky gel pad. Note that it can deform once taken out, but it slowly returns back to its original rectangular shape. Once applied to either side of the amp and placed together with a dap, the strip acts like a more malleable and sticky blu tack, it melds the two pieces together can actually be lifted without the amp falling (though the paranoid me avoids doing that, and I still use a rubber band when I go out the room.) And the nice touch with the interconnects is that the jack jackets are made of wood, you'll love the feel of it, plus it's non-conductive, so touching it won't interfere or generate unwanted signals when touched.


As you can see from the above picture, the BA300S is hanging by the back of the WM1a in a 'proper' stacking position without any bands. The DAPs screen is on top and the front of the amp is on the back of the DAP. Now this is not very visually stimulating as my prior pictures but if you don't want your DAPs screen to be on the table most of the time or the amps tube window exposed to the table, this would be the safest configuration, with the amp back on the table and the dap on top for control and navigation. As you can also see, the BA300S is less wide than the pad on the back of the WM1a and about as tall, which for me is alright in terms of portability though ZX300 owners would find the Oriolus BA300S as near exact size for their DAP.


Now for the impressions, I used the Focal Elear and Andromeda to test the Oriolus BA300S with the WM1a as source. To be frank (and a bit short) I cannot unhear the Oriolus BA300S, things seem a little less good after it. When connected to the amp. the bass sounds a bit more dynamic, a bit more impactful and sub-bass has a bit more extension, the mids are a little bit more forward, a little bit thicker, warmer, and there's a tiny boost to the treble that makes it all sound a bit more of everything compared to without the amp. But the thing I couldn't put my finger on at first and get my brain to spell it out till after a few more songs, is that there's just more vibrancy to the music compared to without the amp. I thought the WM1a was already good, I thought I was already satisfied, the Oriolus BA300S opened a door I can never close again, Pandora's amp is what I'll call it from now on. The Elear sounds all the more lively with the Sticks Audio 8 core hybrid cable and the Andromeda on an 8 core copper balanced cable from Penon is already that good, I wonder how much better they'll sound with even better cables.

I'll definitely delve more into the review soon, but at this point in time, I'm finding the BA300S to be a worthy add-on to the WM1a, probably even more so with other DAPs which I'll make sure to compare as well. Till then, thank you for reading!

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