Hifi DAP Comparison: HM-801, HM-602, QA350, Boomslang

USB DAC Test

The set up is as follow:

  • Transport: PowerBook G4, Itunes, Lossless files
  • DAC (USB input): The respective players
  • Amplifier: Beta22, or the built in player
  • Headphone: Sennheiser HD800

As a USB DAC, most of the players suffer some loss of quality. Most noticeable is the degradation of the HM-801, where it was ranked no.1, but as a USB DAC, it suddenly slides down to the bottom of the pack. Soundstage and detail levels suffers tremendously, and you can forget about the great ambiance that it had before. At that configuration, the HM-801 is just a hair better than the QLS, where it remains superior on soundstage depth and separation. But soundstage width becomes much smaller than the QLS, and some people would even prefer the QLS to the HM-801 on this level.

The HM-602 doesn’t suffer as bad as the bigger brother, still maintaining a lot of its great qualities in the sound and with only a slight loss of quality. More or less you’re still getting the same sound signature, soundstage performance, but with a slight loss of refinement. As a matter of fact, the HM-602 is only second to the HRT MS2+, which is a dedicated build USB DAC. Not bad at all! For day to day listening sessions, the degradation of the USB function is probably not going to be noticeable.

The Ibasso DB1+PB1 on USB suffers quite a bit, though not as much as the HM-801, but more than the HM-602. This places the DB1+PB1 below the HM-602 as a USB DAC.

To recap the results of the test, here is the list that I created, sorted according to the sonic performance and nothing else. I added some comments such as soundstage size, depth, micro details, etc. In my experience, a good soundstage depth is far harder to achieve than a wide soundstage. Hence I will rank a source with better depth even if the width is narrower than the source below it. Likewise things like micro details and ambiance, though very subtle, is also harder to achieve than soundstage width, so the same logic applies to the ranking.

(Best)

  • Hifiman 801 DAP = Detail, ambience, bass, depth, separation
  • Ibasso DB1+PB1 Coax = Soundstage slightly more narrow than HRT, but more refined, little details, depth, separation
  • HM602 DAP = Soundstage slightly more narrow than Ibasso DB1+PB1 Coax, but still very good micro details, depth, separation better than HRT2
  • HRT MS2+ USB = Very good overall. Widest soundstage (even wider than HM801), but micro details, depth, separation is not as good as the three above it.
  • HM602 USB DAC = slight downgrade than the DAP version, loses a little bit of refinement.
  • Ibasso DB1+PB1 USB = also downgraded, and more than the HM602 this time
  • QLS QA350 = wide soundstage, good separation, but lacks depth and micro details
  • HM801 USB DAC = soundstage and detail suffers a lot, but still maintains separation and depth.

(Least)

Frankly I’m impressed with two things. First is the quality of the HM-801 source. Though it was no.1 in my last DAP comparison, I was comparing it with “mainstream” products. This time the competition is much tougher, and yet the HM-801 maintains quite a big gap in sonic performance to the second in line: the DB1+PB1. I really would consider using the HM-801 as a desktop source, perhaps as an office rig, as you practically don’t need any other amp for most headphones. The second thing that impresses me is how the newer, smaller, lighter, and cheaper HM-602 DAP gives such a good performance in the midst of all the other players. From a practical standpoint, I don’t think it gets any better than the HM-602. The thing is lighter than my Ipod Classic, and yet it gives an outstanding sound quality with a signature that’s even more likeable than the bigger brother.

Other than that, I think the Ibasso concept is quite interesting, but I probably be sticking to just the Toucan amp and skipping the Boomslang DAC, as three packs are just too much for me.

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83 Comments

  • Reply October 13, 2010

    Bebop McJiggy

    I suppose I was not crazy when I thought the spdif was better than the usb on the boomslang, so that is good (maybe?). I'm not really sure what I intend to do with my DB1. Just leave it in my room for when I am going to sleep maybe and to take on vacations with me? Feed it toslink with a laptop or something. I wouldn't really consider it a DAP at all to be honest and it is kind of useless without the PB1, though I suppose I could attach it to any balanced amp… the general idea of that is pretty silly to me though.

    If you don't mind my asking, how does the HM-801 stack up to say the m902? Not really related I know… I recently got a Zodiac+ and it is quite a bit better than my other DACs, but I wish I had some other similar gear to compare it to. (I have no other DACs anywhere near its price range.) I am undecided as to whether or not I am going to actually keep it, but I am leaning towards keeping it as it is burning in.

    • Reply October 13, 2010

      Mike

      Oh man, you got the Zodiac+! Now that's one DAC that I've been wanting to hear! The Grace's DAC is a so-so performer. It uses an old DAC chip that is the PCM1730. The DAC circuit is also not all-out DAC unit, being more of a swiss-army type of a device. Needless to say, the HM-801 slaughtered the Grace m902's DAC.

      The Zodiac+ is a 24/192 right? And the Gold model is the 24/384.. if I remember correctly.

      • Reply October 13, 2010

        Bebop McJiggy

        It does indeed do 24/192 over usb… with no drivers even, not sure how they managed that one but I'm pretty sure it is working as advertised. It thinks it is anyhow, it changes sampling rates on the LCD correctly as I change tracks. I haven't been able to tell the USB or SPDIF input apart yet so that's good. I'm not entirely sure the Zodiac+ isn't also somewhat of a swiss army device. The base model is more of just a dac but it is not available yet I don't think. But I'm not really sure what I am going to do with the "de-jittered" digital outputs for instance and I doubt I will ever use the word clock input or at least not anytime soon. It should work fairly well as a pre-amp, but I haven't tried the analog inputs yet. I just got it this past weekend so I'm really mostly just burning it in at the moment. Considering returning it to buy the base model, but I would be somewhat disappointed going to 24/96 over usb to be honest. I'm thinking about buying a linear power supply to replace the switching power brick that it came with.

        • Reply October 14, 2010

          Mike

          Yo, so in a way it's like the EMU 404 which also does 24/192 over USB driverless. What's the price difference between the + and the base model?

          • Reply October 13, 2010

            Bebop McJiggy

            I suppose so but the driver is one of the bullet points on the EMU 404 on http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?product=15185 and it doesn’t work above 48khz on a mac. ( Acceptable considering the vast price difference.) The base model is $1000 cheaper, I think the gold is 1000 the other way. I am starting to think I will keep the + though, it has really been growing on me. Not sure I will ever use all the features but oh well.

            • Reply October 13, 2010

              Mike

              Darn… $1,000 of a difference. That would buy you a nice amplifier upgrade!

              • Reply October 14, 2010

                Bebop McJiggy

                Yeah the price is kind of steep… $1000 amounts to 24/192 over usb (over 24/96, admittedly I don't have a spectacular amount of 24/192 right now but actually more than I have 24/96 material), AES input, AES & 2x SPDIF output (I guess I could use them to compare other DACs at the same time), the balanced & unbalanced analog inputs, word clock input, mono button, soft & full mute button and uhh a partridge in a pear tree? Whether or not all that is worth 1k or not to me I am not entirely sure of yet.

                I've actually been fairly impressed with the headphone jacks so far, though I haven't tried anything particularly hard to drive yet. But I have been looking at some amplifier upgrades as well.

                • Reply October 14, 2010

                  Mike

                  From the few DACs that I've tried with a headphone jack, the built in jack always does a fairly good job since it maintains a short signal path to the source. Just don't ask for it to drive very hard headphones and you'll be fine with the built in jack. πŸ™‚

  • Reply October 13, 2010

    GoldFish

    Thank you. How did you manage to did all that? Exhausting? Good job, good job. Thank you again.

    • Reply October 13, 2010

      Mike

      Yea.. my head spins after all of those critical listening… Surprisingly differentiating them is easier when listening direct than via the Beta22 amp.. signal loss perhaps.

  • Reply October 13, 2010

    GeorgeGoodman

    Great review, Mike. However, I felt like the Ibasso combo got slightly short changed because you did not run it fully balanced. It has 25.2 volts of swing this way, twice the amount of single ended. On Head-Fi, the word is it is much better that way. With HIfiman releasing a balanced amp card soon, things are going to get interesting.I am considering getting the Toucan as my first amp. overall, this is a great review on current portable-fi.

    @Bebop McJiggy: I have the Iriver H120, which has an optical digital out. You can hook this up to the Ibasso combo and it is semi portable. Check out the beautiful rig this makes on head-fi.org by searching "Ibasso Boomslang and Toucan pictures." I hope this helps.

    • Reply October 13, 2010

      Mike

      Hi George, thanks for the comments.

  • Reply October 14, 2010

    GoldFish

    Did you sense roll-off at low end bass? At Head-Fi, one person believed it was the case when he hooked up 602 to big speakers.

    • Reply October 13, 2010

      Mike

      Yes, a slight low bass roll off with the HM602. Perhaps not a real roll off, as in a cut-off in the low frequency, but more like not being very evident and not too present.
      The Ibasso and the QLS was a bit better, but the HM-801 was very good with low bass.

  • Reply October 14, 2010

    Daniel

    Mike, thanks for this awesome comparison review. Would you be perfectly fine with any of your headphones or earphones straight out of HM-801 if it was the only source you could have?

    • Reply October 14, 2010

      Mike

      I’d probably still want a good desktop amp in the set up, but source wise, I think I would be happy to have the HM801.

      • Reply October 14, 2010

        Daniel

        Have you ever approached the same level of detail and transparency of the HM-801 with it's built in amp module while using an external amp? Or is it simply impossible due to the short and clean signal path from the DAC to AMP inside the HM-801?

        • Reply October 14, 2010

          Mike

          Unfortunately, no. Even with my B22 which uses SCAG silver wire for input and Burson attenuator, some detail loss is noticeable than when I use the HD800 direct to the HM-801.

          It's pretty hard to beat the very short signal path inside the HM-801, and the built in amp apparently is very transparent.

  • Reply October 15, 2010

    Bebop McJiggy

    Well I don't own any K1000s or HE-6s or things of that nature to ask it to drive anyhow so I think I am safe there. It sounds quite nice with my HD650s and LCD2s (and every other headphone I have tried thus far.) A certain review claimed it was "effortless" with the T1, HD800, k702 and HE5-LE but I have no real comments there.

    I just ordered an improved power supply, I wonder if I will really be able to tell a difference or not.

  • Reply October 15, 2010

    HD 25-1-II Fan

    Hi Mike.
    Earlier you’ve told me to buy the 801, which would be a good combination with the HD 25-1-II.
    But you’ve said in the review that the 602 sound is more likable.
    Which one should I buy then?
    Thanks

    • Reply October 16, 2010

      Mike

      I think that with the HD25-1, either one should be fine. The 602 has a more forward midrange, but the HD25-1 already got a forward mid, so that boost may not be needed. Personally I’d get the HM-602 over the HM-801 just due to size considerations.

  • Reply October 16, 2010

    nurbren

    Hi

    Thanks for review but i wish you compared hm801+DB1 balanced or singled to direct hp out of hm801(power wise)

    • Reply November 4, 2010

      Mike Mercer

      How did you drive your headphones from the HRT??
      I just finding it hard to believe (and I wrote about the HRt LONG before I worked there) these portable devices (I’ve heard almost all of them) gave you better micro and macro-dynamics than the HRT Music Streamer+.

      I think perhaps gain was an issue here – so I’m merely curios at this point.

      • Reply November 4, 2010

        Mike Mercer

        I’d love to see, IMO, a comparison of outboard DACs to other outboard DACs.

        • Reply November 4, 2010

          Mike

          That would be fun, won’t it? Help me out to get the DACs together?

          • Reply November 4, 2010

            Mike Mercer

            Would be my pleasure sir!!

      • Reply November 4, 2010

        Mike

        Hi Mike, good question. For the comparison I used a Class A Beta22 headphone amplifier that's considered the best solid state headphone amp for many. I also used the same interconnect cable (I have several identical pairs that I use for source comparisons) to hook up the different sources to the amp. I was quite surprised with the result as well, to be honest, as I've always regarded the HRT very very highly.

        It's hard to believe such comparisons, but the HM-801 also trashed my Grace m902 DAC, and it also took on another desktop PCM1794 based DAC. The HM-801 didn't have as wide of a soundstage compared to the desktop stuff, but everything else including micro details, ambiance, soundstage imaging, the HM-801 was superior.

        Thanks for asking!

        • Reply November 4, 2010

          Mike Mercer

          GREAT answer!! Thorough as always

  • Reply October 16, 2010

    nurbren

    Hi

    Thanks for review but i wish you compared hm801+DB1 balanced or single to direct hp out of hm801(power wise)

    • Reply October 16, 2010

      Mike

      Hi, power was not quite a priority in the review, but the PB1 amp in single ended has a tad more power than the hm801’s headphone out.

      • Reply November 15, 2010

        soulgalactic

        hey mike , im a little confuse in the usb department from the hm 802 and 602

        i have a usb connection in my car stereo. do you use the usb dac or the exchange data?

        which portable is better for home/ car stereo ?

        thank you

        • Reply November 15, 2010

          Mike

          Hey soulgalatic, I don't think you can use the USB connection on the Hifimans that way. The USB on your car stereo most probably is designed to take files from USB drives. You can try connecting to the "Exchange Data" port, but I don't guarantee it'll work.

  • Reply October 19, 2010

    kantong kresek

    another great review from mike.

    btw regarding the qls mod that you review is mod v1 or mod V2? coz now we already have the V2 mod

    • Reply October 19, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks! The QLS Mod is a self mod, Sem only replaced some of the caps with Nichicon brand ones.

      • Reply October 20, 2010

        kantong kresek

        ooo you have to ask other member for the V2 mod. the performance is far better than the V1 mod.

  • Reply October 20, 2010

    Daniel

    Mike, do you hear the HM-801's smooth, buttery but super clear sound? Compared to my iPod Touch. The iPod's sound is more energetic with an increase presence in treble leaving aside the other huge inferior aspects of the sound quality to the HM-801. With the custom IEM's I use ( Westone ES5, JH13 Pro ) the HM-801's tamed treble leads to a more analog and smooth sound because those custom IEM's are very neutral. With darker sounding phones the HM-801's sound signature may be over the top in warmth. Just wondering though do you think ( via HP out ) the HM-801 is neutral and iPod's over emphasize treble or do you think the treble is slightly tamed to give a analog sound? Thanks!

    • Reply October 21, 2010

      Mike

      Daniel, I don’t really hear a “smooth and butttery” sound on the HM-801, sorry. πŸ™‚ But I do understand if you feel that the Ipod sound is more energetic. Indeed I think the majority of Ipods have a more energetic sound than the HM-801 and HM-602. The Boomslang and the QLS is still quite energetic, and may be quite close to the Ipods in that department.

      I do think that your observation with the ES5 and JH13Prowith the HM-801 is accurate, and yes with darker sounding phones the HM-801 may be a bit over warm. The headphone out is less warm than the line-out though, so you may want to try them direct.

      It’s hard to define what’s neutral. I think that probably 99% of us started our audio journey with the Ipod, and for that reason, I do think that the Ipod sound is more neutral than the HM-801 or HM-602. The HM-801 has a very good low end body, though not really bassy. The HM-602 has a very good mid body, while still maintaining great midrange clarity. So the colorations on both Hifimans are quite clear. But as we know by now, people in audio loves pleasing colorations (me included), and neutrality is not as big as people thought it was.

      • Reply October 21, 2010

        Daniel

        Thanks for response Mike. It is very true, many of us aim for a neutral sound but in the end we much prefer a sound that is slightly colored. Neutral isn’t natural.

        • Reply October 21, 2010

          Mike

          "Neutral isn't natural."

          I like that. πŸ™‚

  • Reply November 23, 2010

    Luna Argenteus

    Great review as usual.
    btw, what do you think about the recently-released HM-601? The price is much more affordable than its big bros, and the DAC chip is supposed to be the same as HM-602.

    • Reply November 23, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks, Luna.

      I can't remember if the HM-601 accepts external memory, but since the internal memory is only 2GB, that's a big turn-off to me. The sound, I'm quite sure, will be more or less the same as the HM-602, after all, Fang said it's going to be the same sound and he knows what he's talking about.

      Cheers. πŸ™‚

  • Reply November 27, 2010

    sinan

    Hi have you tested DB1/PB1 with a balanced HD800 cable? Do you think balanced ibasso can better than hm801?

    Also I didn't get why coaxial and usb sounds different? Aren't they both digital signals? I mean if you plug it to the same PC (not qa350) with optical, coaxial or usb, shouldn't it sound same.

    • Reply November 27, 2010

      Mike

      I haven't tested the boomslang with a balanced HD800. However, balanced or not has little effect on the actual DAC quality. The HM-801 is clearly on a superior resolution level. πŸ™‚

      When you are connecting through USB, there is another circuitry involved that is the USB receiver circuitry. The design and implementation of this circuit is very important to the overall sound quality.

      • Reply November 27, 2010

        sinan

        Mike can you be more specific please? I mean why that circuitry would make a difference, how can a cable or a circuit can modify a digital data? If it modifies the data, how it is music anymore, not static? Did you had any chance to test same DAC connected to the same source with both optical (or coaxial) and usb. I am new to this hobby and on the edge of ordering a DB1 to enhance my PB1 use, but HM801 pops questions.. Thank you.

        • Reply November 27, 2010

          Mike

          It is a widely known fact that USB receivers affect sound quality in a big way when dealing with USB DACs. It's far more complex than simply “they are the same digital data”.Sorry I can't explain it right now. But you'll also notice that the HM801 is rated as much inferior when used as a USB DAC. Don't you wonder why?

        • Reply November 27, 2010

          Mike

          Sinan,
          The DB1 is still a fine DAC, and since you have the PB1, might as well go ahead and get the DB1 to make a nice pairing. πŸ™‚

          • Reply November 28, 2010

            sinan

            Ok then Mike, I research myself why usb decreases quality, still curious. After realizing how "bad" USB to HM601, my mood got better πŸ˜› Thanks again, great site btw, keep it up.

            One more question, it might be silly but: how much "percent" would it differ between db1/pb1 and quality desktop amp (lets say about $1500) in terms of what you get from a hd650. Could you grade as taking best quality you heard ever from hd650 (with which setup?) as %100 and then grade ibasso and $1500 amp please.

            • Reply November 29, 2010

              Mike

              Lol… I'll give you two rules:
              1. You can't treat all amplifiers within the same price-range (ie $1500).
              2. You can't put numbers for judging improvements. πŸ™‚

              My advice is, if the current set up sounds good, just enjoy it. I know sometimes we want to know how much better a set up can sound, and that's what drive us to buy more expensive products, but at the end of the day, more expensive may not always mean better music enjoyment. πŸ™‚

              • Reply November 30, 2010

                sinan

                Yes, sometimes I get loss with the all equipments and prices, and miss the real point. I need more time and more money to try and understand more. Good thing I study dentistry πŸ˜› Thanks again Mike.

  • Reply January 13, 2011

    Ubik

    I known it isn't in this comparative.

    But what is the place to the colorfly compared at the concurence, for you ?

    And the Hifiman has got a random touch ?

    • Reply January 13, 2011

      Mike

      Hi Ubik,Did you read the Colorfly review? I compared it to the HM-801 there. Also, what about the Hifiman random touch? I don't quite understand the question. Sorry

  • Reply March 7, 2011

    Kkch

    Don’t be angry with me, but I’ve the qa-350 as my main stereo gear. I mean directly to the amps and big spks too. I think that every one here surpasses most of actuals CD/DVD players and whatever you choose, you will not regret.
    About the soud in a big chain… well with the new firmware 05 and without any mod yet, it really show you what was recorded (goods or bads). I found mysel asking why there are so many compressed and overdubbed records, thats sucks!.
    SHM, XR or MFSL make a great differnce with the others ones (I think cuase they had payed more attention on remasterings, not the type of cd itself).

    • Reply March 7, 2011

      Anonymous

      Nice. I think you really should try modding it. Local QLS owners have been modding their players like crazy, replacing every caps they see in the circuit with boutique stuffs. Word is it’s much improved from stock.

      I think the players here surpasses most $300-$500 CD Players, but they’re not quite up to the level of $1000+ players.

      Cheers.

      • Reply March 30, 2011

        Thomasjamespoole

        I bought a qa350 before I had heard of the hifi man players. To my ears it’s the best DAP I’v ever heard by far. unfortunately I managed to destroy it and now I’m torn between buying a qa350 mod2 or hm601. I know the 350 and love the dynamics and vibrancy. I’ve got no idea what the hm601 sounds like but have heard contradictory reviews all over the place from overpriced rubbish to best sounding thing ever. I’m a bit worried about it sounding soft which would turn me off but maybe I could counter this with bright headphones. it is also a lot smaller, longer bat, better ui and takes flac. help!

        • Reply March 30, 2011

          Anonymous

          Hi Thomas,
          The HM601 does a few things better than the QLS, like what I wrote on the article. However the sound signature is indeed warmer, and it wont be as lively as the QLS. Hence I cannot guarantee if you will absolutely like it, since you’ve been accustomed to the QLS.

          The HM601 does take FLAC files though, but the battery life is rather short around 6-8 hours. If you like trying things around, then do give it a try. Otherwise it’s safer to stick to the QLS which you already know.

  • Reply May 6, 2011

    Sharklordy

    Is there any portable setup dap+dac+amp much better than hm-801? I don’t mind the price and the size unless it can fit my bag. I am going to pair it with Ed8. Cheers

    • Reply May 7, 2011

      Anonymous

      Mmm.. tough. I still think the HM-801 is the best currently.

      • Reply May 8, 2011

        Guest

        How about SR-71B in balanced?

  • Reply May 7, 2011

    Sharklordy

    Ok now i have the HM-801 and i am still not satisfied with it. From what i heard, Hm-801 has the best DAC in portable right? So i just need to buy an external amp for an upgrade. Which portable amp do you think is the best match for Hm-801?

    • Reply May 7, 2011

      Anonymous

      What are you not satisfied with it? Perhaps can help me better.

      IMO the direct headphone out is very good and I tried it with some amps
      before but the sound quality is not as good as direct from the headphone
      out (due to longer signal path, interconnects, etc)

      • Reply May 7, 2011

        Sharklordy

        So it be a waste of money if i add an external amp? Do you think Hm801 dac line out surpass DB2 in balanced? I have sold my hm801. I want to start from scratch again.I thought there is a better portable setup.

        • Reply May 7, 2011

          Anonymous

          The HM-801 uses the legendary PCM1704 chip. I think the DB-2 is going to
          be great, but I can’t say if it has what it takes to compete with the
          PCM1704. The Wolfson WM8740 chip used in the DB-2 is good, but most
          agree that it’s not quite the level of the Burr-Brown PCM1704.

          • Reply May 7, 2011

            Sharklordy

            Have you tried to pair HM-801 with SR-71b/Lisa III/Stepdance/P51 Mustang? Which one will give a livelier and brighter sound?

            • Reply May 7, 2011

              Anonymous

              If what you’re looking for is a brighter sound, then the Ibasso DACs
              will give you that. Pair it with the Stepdance, that should be quite
              bright.

  • Reply May 16, 2011

    Edvard

    How would S:Flo2 Line out to TTVJ SLIMΒ  compare with the HM-801? That is my current setup and I’m curious about how it is in comparsion to other portable dac+amp combos.

    Great article Mike!!

    • Reply May 18, 2011

      Anonymous

      The HM-801 remains far superior in the source quality. Better micro
      details, ambiance, etc.

  • Reply December 9, 2011

    Kanon

    I don’t understand, as an dedicated DAC MS2+ is at the same price as 601, yet the sound quality is far worse not considering 601 is a standalone player?

    • Reply December 9, 2011

      Mike

      I don’t understand, where did I say it is far worse?Β 

      • Reply December 9, 2011

        Kanon

        it doesn’t nearly have the refinement, micro details, and the soundstage depth of the good portable sources.

        • Reply December 9, 2011

          Mike

          Yes but also this:Β 
          The HRT MS2+ stands out as having a very wide soundstage that’s even wider than the HM-801.Β 

  • Reply January 2, 2012

    Arten

    Mike,

    Could you recommend me a portable amp to be paired with HM-801?
    HM-801 surely can drive my HD650 to loud enough volume.
    But with portable amp, can i get more refinement on the low, mid and high?
    Since i already spent this much on HM-801 and don’t want to buy another DAP.

    Thanks Mike

    • Reply January 2, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Arten,
      In my experience it’s best to use the HM-801’s internal amp. I don’t know why but using a separate amp on the HM-801 never seem to yield a good result. I lose too much of the DAC quality through the line out-mini to mini link.

      • Reply January 2, 2012

        Arten

        Wow Mike, i never realize that HM-801’s internal amp is that good , but sure is sounds very good :D.
        So i guess what i could do:
        1. Install HM-801 Balanced amplifier modul
        2. Use iPod + CLAS/HP-P1 + SR71B/L3

        By choosing the 2nd option, could i get the same quality as HM-801?
        Or could you please recommend me the best portable setup to be used with full size?

        Thanks Mike

        • Reply January 2, 2012

          Mike

          Aside from the sound signature differences between the HM-801 to CLAS/HP-P1, I think having the L3 in the chain is going to put it far ahead of the HM-801. But you do realize that this is not going to be a practical portable system anymore due to its size?

          • Reply January 2, 2012

            Arten

            Sorry Mike, i forgot to tell you that i’m going to use them as portable home setup. So i guess size wouldn’t be a problem.

            If L3 will push the sound far from the usual portable setup, what setup do you think best for HD650? (DAP – Portable DAC – L3 – HD650).
            I prefer the setup to be lush on the mid and smooth on the high.

            Thanks Mike

            • Reply January 2, 2012

              Mike

              The L3 is not exactly your lush on the mids and smooth on the high sound. But if you want the best portable amp, currently that’s the best portable amp there is. I’m publishing a review on it later this month.

  • Reply February 25, 2012

    8043350051

    How is the DB1 connected to the PB1? Can the Fiio E17 take the role that the DB1 is taking? Are there any other portable transports other than the QA350?

    • Reply February 25, 2012

      Mike

      DB1 is connected to the PB1 using the special 6-pin Hirose interconnect cable.
      Yes you can use the E17 but it won’t output balanced signal.

      I think you can use the Ipod+CLAS as a transport. Also there is an iRiver DAP but I don’t remember the model number.

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