CanJam at RMAF 2012: HiFiMAN HM-901 Digital Audio Player and RE-600 Dynamic IEM
HiFiMAN HM-901 Digital Audio Player (~$999) and RE-600 Dynamic IEM ($399)
We headphone audiophiles are never satisfied. I remember lamenting the loss of the Denon DCP-150 portable CD player with digital outputs. I remember wanting bigger hard drives and better DACs in the first portable digital audio players. I remember frustration in not being able to get the digital output from classic iPods. And, now, as I listened to Fang talk about his new HM-901 DAP, I wondered if anyone would be willing to cut the umbilical to their smartphone for long enough to tune in to hi-rez tunes on a separate player. That's a tough one.
Nonetheless, on paper, HiFiMAN's new DAP looks pretty stellar. Dual ESS DAC chips; 24/192 playback; swappable SDXC 128 GB card media storage; and a full-blown docking station with analog, digital, and USB communications. If it sounds as good as its features, it just might satisfy...if we can drag ourselves away from our phones.
Fang also showed off his latest dynamic driver IEM, the RE-600. I've been quite impressed of late with a number of dynamic IEMs. They have the advantage of a more even impedance response relative to balanced armature earphones. This means that if you can make a really good sounding dynamic IEM, its flatter impedance will deliver more reliable results when being driven directly from portable players. The uneven impedance of balanced armature IEMs make them somewhat prone to coloration when driven by the relatively high output impedance from hand-held devices.