O.K., I am not a professional reviewer and I have no vested interest in the HiFiMan one way or the other. A couple of months ago, I went to the Head-Fi meet here in NYC. While there, I listened to a lot of equipment; full-sized and portable. I was expecting some audiophile gear to blow away (in terms of sound quality) my humble iPod and IE8 combo. This did not happen. Did I hear superlative systems that trumped my equipment? Sure I did. I was still surprised, however, that my iPod and IE8 was the "train that could" and I walked away from the meet quite content with what I have. With that said, the HiFiMan was one of the superlative products at the meet. I have read and contributed to the, "IE8 Appreciation Thread", here on this forum. There is much that I agree with on that thread as it attempts to describe the sound of the IE8. What is easy to forget, though, is that the IE8 doesn't really have "a" sound. The IE8 has many sounds. When I plugged my IE8 into the HiFiMan I could not have guessed that my IE8 could sound this good. The IE8 scaled up to a level I did not think that it was capable of. The IE8 was an entirely different beast out of the HiFiMan; from black and white to technicolor. Yes, the HiFiMan was that good. I would say that the HiFiMan made the IE8 sound twice as good than what my iPod was capable of (All of my music is ripped from CD's to Apple Lossless.). Without a doubt the HiFiMan was one of the best sounds at the show I heard. In addition, I have got to think that the HiFiMan coupled with the JH-16 Pros has got to be the best portable combination around. To be fair, I have followed the thread about the firmware issues of the HiFiMan. Is the HiFiMan as ergonomic or teutonic as the iPod? Certainly not. It is neither as clean nor as elegant a design as an iPod either. Do I have to mention that the iPod is an icon of 20th century industrial design? Certainly not. We are all aware of that by now. What I don't understand is why the HiFiMan needs to measure up to the iPod in this department. The HiFiMan is quirky, more like a British sports car than a Lexus. If the best sound quality is what you're after though (which is the whole goal of Head-Fi) then the HiFiMan is, without a doubt, the best portable system I've heard.
Edited by davidhunternyc - 5/15/10 at 3:21am