HiFiMan's HM-901 portable player and RE-400 in-ear monitor

HiFiMan showed their ambitious HM-901 portable music player ($999). The HM-901 uses two Sabre ESS ES9018 32-bit DAC chips, provides 24-bit/192kHz upsampling, has a stepped attenuator for volume control, and is said to accept most high-res and lossless audio formats. Its internal headphone amp can be swapped to easily accommodate most headphone impedances, and storage space is practically limitless with SD cards. An optional docking base will provide USB decoding as well as digital ins and outs.

“This guy will make your iPod of iPhone look like a toy,” said HiFiMan’s founder and head designer, Fang Bian.

Possibly, but will ordinary people be willing to give up their slim, sleek iDevices for the improvements in sound quality promised by the bulkier HM-901? I’m not so sure. Yet, according to Bian, the HM-901’s target customer is the audiophile who simply doesn’t like the iPod (Sam Tellig?) or for the young music lover attracted to new technologies.

“I believe the market for the high-end portable music player will grow quickly,” said Bian.

Also new from HiFiMan was the RE-400 Waterline in-ear monitor ($99), featuring an 8.5mm titanium diaphragm, neodymium magnet, and OFC cabling. Bian says he was able to aggressively price the RE-400 because he believes the cost of materials will drop in the not-too-distant future. Partnered with the HM-901, the RE-400 produced a clean, warm, and detailed sound.

Bill B's picture

I'm willing to stipulate that it will sound better, but IMHO 99% of buyers would still likely keep their smartphone, and would not be too motivated to grab a second device for portable listening, when their smartphone already has that functionality.  Good luck to HiFiMan certainly, but seems like a market challenge, especially when it costs $1000.

Chelo's picture


I appreciate the concept, the concept of the multitude of people who simply listen to music regardless of audio quality, and only using it for entertainment while traveling to work on the train. Compare these device, with audio provided by a cell phone, is the least, ridiculous. Currently I have a Sony Xperia Z Ultra, which is truly huge, and yet, I have my player connected to a portable amp in the other pocket. The experience of listening to music on these devices, makes you never again use a phone to listen to music properly.