HiFiMan HM-801 Portable-ish Music Player Review

HiFiMan's HM-801 ($790, head-direct.com) is the size of a Walkman - I mean literally. A cassette could fit inside it, with plenty of room leftover for the heads, playback motors, and whatever other analog hoopla those things had.

Instead the HM-801 (the big brother of the HM-602 I reviewed in S+V's June-July-August issue), is a high-end "portable" music player. As something that would hardly fit in most pockets, I'd hesitate calling it truly portable in the modern sense, but it is hand-holdable, so I guess that's something.

Inside is a bunch of audiophilia: a modular amplifier section, a Burr-Brown PCM1704U-K DAC, and an SD card slot. This latter augments 8 GB of internal storage. Two USB connections line the bottom, one for importing music, the other to use the 802 as a USB DAC. For outputs you've got a coax output so you can digitally hook up to a receiver, and a line-level analog one for portable speakers or what-have-you.

Control of the player is the via the same oddly configured (and mildly infuriating) interface as the HM-601. Once you get used to the simplicity of Apple or Android designs, everything else is a noticeable step back. Importing music is drag-and-drop from your computer, or you can use software like MediaMonkey (which also burns lossless FLAC files, if so desired).