Today we share the full review of the $699 Dethonray Honey H1 portable DAC/Amplifier.
Disclaimer: The Dethonray Honey H1 was arranged for us directly by Dethonray. GloriousSound supported us in getting the sample. Special thanks to Anson and Harry.
Dethonray currently is a very boutique brand and the DTR1 Audio Player was their first child as a complete end-user product. And some product that is. It deserved an award from us to be one of the best DAPs available, especially for its price. You can check that review just below and I suggest not to miss it.
Anson Tse is the man behind Dethonray, and he has huge experience in terms of audio processing. He believes that the universal designs in the market are not good for high-fidelity, so he came up with his own. The same goes for his amplifier designs and I hope he continues to do the same.
I also reviewed the highly successful HA-2 portable headphone amplifier which has a very strong output power to drive most headphones out there. It also sounds excellent, hence it too has its place in our Best Amplifier Recommendations.
The “DethonRay” name is actually coming from a violin record Anson had listened to. The bass violin -to him- was very nice in the recording, and the recording itself was named “Dethon”, so he thought about using the name. After some time he decided to add the “Ray” part to the end.
Giving life to your music collection is the one and only objective for every Dethonray product.
About Honey H1
The Dethonray Honey H1 is a high-quality USB DAC/headphone amplifier. It is designed for portable use but it’s suitable for desktop use as well. It’s a very flexible unit that performs great with both IEMs and power-demanding headphones. The all-around nature of the Honey H1 makes it an ideal companion for audiophiles who like to listen to music from their laptops or smartphones.
It utilizes the AKM AK4497 DAC chip with patented Velvet Sound Technology. It is a new generation 32-bit 2 channel DAC, achieving the industry’s leading level low distortion characteristics and wide dynamic range. The Honey H1 is capable of decoding PCM up to 32-Bit/384kHz and DSD up to DSD128 natively.
Design & Build Quality
The Honey H1, just like the previous offerings from Dethonray, has a practical approach in its design. Dethonray released its products with an industrial and somewhat raw design language so far and the same can partly be said for this device.
However, this time a new color scheme is used to make it quite distinctive. This gorgeous blue color is now the main characteristic of the device, making it a bit more polished and premium-looking than the other two releases from the past. So overall I really liked the design language, especially the color selection. It just looks great and beautiful in my opinion.
On the front panel, you have a 3.5mm output, which is indicated as “Line Out/Optical”. It does not say that it’s also a standard headphone out, but it is. So I think the markings could’ve been clearer here. There’s also a 4.4mm BAL output next to that. You have a status light there also, with the distinctive volume pot. These outputs and the volume pot also have a nice complemental golden color which suits the blue very well.
You have a gain switch and a LineOut/PhoneOut switch on the left side. On the back, there are 2 Type C USB ports for power and data together with a battery indicator light. Separated USB sockets are always a good sign for the overall performance in my opinion.
The build is excellent and reassuring. It’s made from aluminum which is crafted by CNC operation. The headphone jacks, volume pot, USB sockets, and chassis; all give a very good impression overall. There are no worries here in my experience.
My experience with the Honey H1 has been quite positive but it had quite an amount of bugs in its first release. Now it has the 2.0 firmware version which is much more stable and bug-free. In its latest state, I can easily say that it’s a joy to use the device as you don’t have to install any USB DAC software to your laptop or smartphone. It’s plug and play. However, I’ve heard that some users having problems with Apple devices. I don’t use Apple so I can’t comment on that.
There’s still one small problem and I’m not sure if it’s really a bug. When switching gain levels, the effect does not apply immediately. Only after you turn the volume knob, the new gain setting applies. Maybe this is just for ear protection, but it’s worth mentioning.
The one thing that I didn’t like is the volume pot itself though. It’s not protruding enough for adjusting the volume with ease. It’s instead quite small so you can’t really grip it with your fingers. Also, it’s a bit hard to turn since it has a certain amount of resistance. As a result, every time you want to change the volume, you must hold the device with your other hand. It’s not a convenient design and I think Anson should look into this for the products in the future. The pot on the HA-2 amplifier was great, and maybe it could’ve been implemented to this device as well.
That aside, I have no problems with the Dethonray Honey H1. It has a good battery life as well, giving around 10 hours with a full charge. It’s light and easy to carry around. I just throw it in my laptop bag and use it whenever I need good music when I travel. It’s a great companion for an audiophile.