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mrarroyo

HiFiMAN HM-801

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I did a search for HM801 and HM-801 and only found a reference in the thread on the last bought item. I hope it is ok to start this thread on the HM-801 that Fang of Head Direct sent me to try/test.

I have had the pleasure to both buy and get loaner pieces from Fang in the past and I have been very pleased with his customer service. Needless to say I was excited to try this unit without having to front the $790 asking price. I did have to buy a 32 GB Kingston Type 4 SD Card, I bought it from Newegg for about $85 including S&H. Note: If the initial impressions hold over the next couple of weeks I may have be buying this unit. :palm:

Anyways this is not going to be so much an impressions thread but more of what people like me need to do to make this unit work properly. I say this because I am not a very knowledgeable computer person and recently I made the transition to an iMac which further made things very difficult. So the first thing I did was to transfer a large number of my Apple Lossless files to an external USB 250 GB HD. I did this to avoid messing up the iMac which I am just beginning to learn how to use. Once done I took the HD to an old (2004) Dell PC and did a search including starting a thread here on how to convert the ALAC files to FLAC. I intended to give the HM-801 the best possible files, just like I do with my iPods where I use ALAC files.

I took the advice of many and downloaded the trial version of dbpoweramp, of course I did not set it up correctly on the first try nor the second try. :mad: This meant I spent about 3 days in converting about 7,300 ALAC files instead of just 1 day. I have to thank all who assisted this "old fart" in learning (at least partially) a new software and method to convert files. BTW, not all of the 3 days were lost since I had to wait for the 32 GB SD Card to arrive. :)

So today I finally was able to load about 1,150 FLAC files unto the 32 GB SD Card and I have been able to finally listen to the HM-801. I need to learn how to navigate through the various buttons specially to locate specific songs, until I learn it is a pain to find songs and I am just listening in the same order I loaded the files in. Luckily I loaded them alphabetically so it is not a total pain to use.

As you probably know the HM-801 retails for $790 plus if you wish to have the same capacity as an iPod Classic you would need five 32 GB SD Cards at about another $410 (some savings in S&H are realized) for a grand total of $1,200 as compared with about $850 for an iPod Classic, good amp, and a good line out dock. The HM-801 by itself is larger than an iPod but when you through in the amp and line out dock the HM-801 is smaller. Since I am comparing the two I should mention the iPod Classic play time is about 3 time that of the HM-801, say 25 hours to 8 hours both using lossless files.

As far as carrying the HM-801 I am not aware of any case for it so IMO it is more of a transportable unless you do not mind risking damaging the HM-801 by carrying on a cargo pant pocket. I guess a camera bag would work as an alternative for many so it may not be too bad of an option.

For the first listen I used a HiFiMAN RE-252 IEM and a Grado RS-1 with the 1/4" to 1/8" Grado converter. The first two songs were by Nina Simone and Nicole Henry and I also asked "she who must be obeyed" to listen and provide feedback. :D How does it sound? To this old tired ears it has more detail, clarity, and treble extension than an iPod Classic 6th Generation, iPhone 3G, and Nano 2nd Generation. I also hear more air between notes and female vocals are more engaging and it is easier to understand the words being sung (weird ain't it). Again this are very quick impressions and I will let the "new toy" mentality settle over the next couple of weeks before I can truly say more.

If I was to start a wish list it would include:

1. A better instruction manual either electronic or hardcopy.

2. Longer play time, I would suggest a 20 hour target.

3. A way to shut down the screen to extend the battery life.

4. Inclusion of a case, even if it adds $30.

5. The case should have a place to carry an additional two SD Cards.

6. Ability to use the upcoming 64 GB and 128 GB SD Cards.

7. Gapless which I believe it is being worked on as we speak.

8. A more common A/C plug into the HM-801 so it would be easier to secure wall warts replacements in the future.

I hope to be able to add more in the next couple of weeks. I would like to extend an invitation to those Head Casers in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas to contact me and perhaps we could meet during this or the next weekend so you could try the unit, maybe over a bottle of red wine or a beer. :cool: If you have an SD Card (even if it is a 4 GB or 8 GB) you can pre-load it with some of your music so you would be able to better judge the HM-801.

Cheers.

PD: Sorry for the long post.

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If I was to start a wish list it would include:

2. Longer play time, I would suggest a 20 hour target.

You'll have to sacrifice sound quality for battery life, or have an even larger battery. Notice how the current battery is nearly 1/3 the mass and half the weight of the entire thing?

3. A way to shut down the screen to extend the battery life.

Goto the Settings menu, change LCD timer settings, it will then automatically shut off the LCD at specific times set.

4. Inclusion of a case, even if it adds $30.

Yeah, I'd like this one too, but there are places that can make custom ones, there's a thread on it in the Head-Direct forum on HF. Otherwise, if you just want a protective case, go check out GPS cases at Best Buy, Fry's Electronics, etc. I found a rigid case meant for 4.3" GPS that fit perfectly.

6. Ability to use the upcoming 64 GB and 128 GB SD Cards.

SDXC format was not finalized by the time the HM-801 hardware was finalized. 32GB is the max limit for SDHC, blame Sandisk and the flash memory consortium for that one.

7. Gapless which I believe it is being worked on as we speak.

Yup, that would be great. Hope it's in the next Firmware revision.

8. A more common A/C plug into the HM-801 so it would be easier to secure wall warts replacements in the future.

Not a simple solution because the HM-801 has TWO batteries inside that battery pack. It has + and - 9V LiPolymer batteries inside. Head-Direct is still working on a more portable charger for travel.

Basically most of your complaints are addressed in the upcoming HM-602, the little brother to the HM-801. It's cheaper, smaller, and lighter. But you give up some sound quality for those.

-Ed

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I love that now industry is allowed to respond and spout bull shit in threads.

And people can keep redundantly regurgitating other people's posts as their own.

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I love that now industry is allowed to respond and spout bull shit in threads.

They are not allowed to do that in my book... care to point me to a post?

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He did also say that sources with a flat FR "don't sound like music", because we don't have flat hearing :S

I thought our hearing does not have a flat frequency response.

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My BS call was for "RMAA isn't professional enough" or some such. RMAA is fine for what that guy was posting. Is it a AP system? No. That said casting aspersions on the guys technique then showing that you used it is pretty BS as far as I am concerned.

As far as preferring roll off that's fine, in the Wadia and others it's minimum phase filter which includes phase shift too (if I remember correctly) and it does exactly what Fang says which is make things sound less digital especially on cymbal hits etc where the track was poorly downsampled or sampled in the first place or has clipping.

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I thought our hearing does not have a flat frequency response.
I thought I remembered that as well, but I never understood what that means -- isn't real life 'flat'? If one were to have a non-flat response in one's system, wouldn't that be one of those "two wrongs don't make a right" things?

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Well I spent more time w/ the HM-801 today and a Yuin OK1. I asked a fellow coworker to listen to the HM-801, he is not into 2-channel portable audio but he loved it, he said he has not heard music sound so good unless he is at home listening to a nice pair of speakers. Then I had him listen to my iPhone 3G loaded w/ Apple Lossles files while using the OK1 and he could not believe how much worse it sounded. By comparison the iPhone sounded "dead" to him and I have to agree w/ his asesment. There is a sense of liveliness and vitality when listening to the HM-801 that I do not hear with the iPod or the iPhone.

Overall I really like the sound of the HM-801 and it is far superior to an iPod or iPhone connected to an external portable amp using a high quality line out dock. Fang and his staff have done a fantastic job, if any of you local Head Casers wish to listen to the unit I have on loan send me a PM and we can get together during the weekend.

Ed, I may be naive but I do not consider my wish list as complaints. I feel they are areas of improvements and they were stated w/o having followed all the thread in HF on the HM-801. At the end of the day the sound of the HM-801 is superb and far better than the iPod or iPhone. I hope to meet with Rob (vorlon1 in HF) who has an iModded iPod to compare the two. More to come, cheers.

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I thought I remembered that as well, but I never understood what that means -- isn't real life 'flat'? If one were to have a non-flat response in one's system, wouldn't that be one of those "two wrongs don't make a right" things?
That's what I thought. Besides, a rolloff doesn't compensate for our hearing, it only exacerbates our own rolloff.

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I could be wrong, but viewing this as part of the recording chain: the microphone(s) pick up the sound waves and convert to an electrical representation, normally ~20-20KHz. From this point until the signal is reconverted back to sound waves, ideally that same flat 20-20KHz is maintained. As mentioned, most electronics are very flat (or can be); the microphone or any transducer won't be, but in general strives to be barring special circumstances. So, an amplifier or other electronic device that is not flat could be viewed as a tone control.

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Nah, I'm liking them much more with my JH13's. Will like them even more with my JH16/JH-3A.

That way my HM-801 will feel less self conscious about their size.

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Well I spent more time w/ the HM-801 today and a Yuin OK1. I asked a fellow coworker to listen to the HM-801, he is not into 2-channel portable audio but he loved it, he said he has not heard music sound so good unless he is at home listening to a nice pair of speakers. Then I had him listen to my iPhone 3G loaded w/ Apple Lossles files while using the OK1 and he could not believe how much worse it sounded. By comparison the iPhone sounded "dead" to him and I have to agree w/ his asesment. There is a sense of liveliness and vitality when listening to the HM-801 that I do not hear with the iPod or the iPhone.

Overall I really like the sound of the HM-801 and it is far superior to an iPod or iPhone connected to an external portable amp using a high quality line out dock. Fang and his staff have done a fantastic job, if any of you local Head Casers wish to listen to the unit I have on loan send me a PM and we can get together during the weekend.

Ed, I may be naive but I do not consider my wish list as complaints. I feel they are areas of improvements and they were stated w/o having followed all the thread in HF on the HM-801. At the end of the day the sound of the HM-801 is superb and far better than the iPod or iPhone. I hope to meet with Rob (vorlon1 in HF) who has an iModded iPod to compare the two. More to come, cheers.

comparisons like this always remind me of the popular "even my wife agrees how much better it sounds". it would be a good test if you just handed someone the HM-801, and almost anyone who doesn't follow Head-Fi will believe it is a cheap, bulky iPod...see what kind of impressions they have then if you really want to get a second opinion. maybe you did this, but i think most of the time these tests go something like..."here, try this out...tell me if you think its way better than an ipod"

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You wouldn't happen to have anyone in mind, would you? Maybe someone who uh, likes a certain AKG headphone that is in current production? And who also has a "girlfriend"?

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I thought I remembered that as well, but I never understood what that means -- isn't real life 'flat'? If one were to have a non-flat response in one's system, wouldn't that be one of those "two wrongs don't make a right" things?

I'm no expert either but I've read somewhere that our ears apparently "like" that roll-off which contributes on how digital/natural one perceives a sound. I frankly still don't quite understand what a "digital" sound means though.

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I'm no expert either but I've read somewhere that our ears apparently "like" that roll-off which contributes on how digital/natural one perceives a sound. I frankly still don't quite understand what a "digital" sound means though.

(As stated above) The roll off reduces pre-ringing and digital "sizzle" that can happen when music was poorly downsampled or sampled in the first place. Makes them music sound more "natural" if it has those issues, if it doesn't then it may or may not be making it sound worse but it's usually a smaller effect.

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comparisons like this always remind me of the popular "even my wife agrees how much better it sounds". it would be a good test if you just handed someone the HM-801, and almost anyone who doesn't follow Head-Fi will believe it is a cheap, bulky iPod...see what kind of impressions they have then if you really want to get a second opinion. maybe you did this, but i think most of the time these tests go something like..."here, try this out...tell me if you think its way better than an ipod"

Good point Justin, and handling the unit to them is exactly what I did my wife and my coworker. Both thought it sounded much better than any other portable they had heard before, in the case of my coworker he compared it with nice speakers at his home. He did mention how large the HM-801 was. BTW, will you offering a module for the HM-80 based on the Pico Slim? If so it would be great! Thanks.

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Good point Justin, and handling the unit to them is exactly what I did my wife and my coworker. Both thought it sounded much better than any other portable they had heard before, in the case of my coworker he compared it with nice speakers at his home. He did mention how large the HM-801 was. BTW, will you offering a module for the HM-80 based on the Pico Slim? If so it would be great! Thanks.

the thumbwheel volume pot of the HM-801 can't be bypassed or used for another purpose so that's not possible

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