HM-801 for MX400? Are you all out of your minds? It's all S'Flos, HifiMans and Clips on every single thread, in every single forum these days. What is going on?
Sonic boy, right now I have a JH13, a UM3X, an Ed.8 and a HF2 next to me. I have a Benchmark and a Lavry on my side. I have a Raptor and a Phonitor in fair distance. A serious Naim player on a shelf, next to my Naim/Neat main system. I have more than 10,000 euros to spend but you know what: I am not going to buy your player. I am not going to look like a twerp carrying a brick with a prehistorical design in my pocket, dragging the charger in a trolley because the battery will die in less time then that of my Vaio, I am not going to carry 150 tiny SD cards because your high-end masterpiece has less capacity then a 20$ DAP. And even if I could live with all these shortcomings, then what? You're going to tell me I need to pay another 1000 dollars because your fantastic player can't even drive my IEMs straight out of its pathetic HO?! And then a certain Chinese manufacturer has the guts to sell me another crap amplifier to compliment as badly (it's not me, it's users who have actually bought the Game who say it) my IEMs? Are you serious? Are you absolutely, 100% serious? Because if you do, I pitty you.
For the people who live in this world and want good value and usability for their money, I have three portable players right now, each with its own strenghts and weaknesses.
The latest Ipod Classic is definitely a hit, it has much improved in SQ compared to its predecessors and it still has the best interface in the world, the best support, the largest number of accessories, including several docks that can feed a digital signal to an external (a proper one, not the above) DAC. Even with JH13 Pro, the new Classic is almost hiss free and the battery life is in the 30 hours range. It's no high-end, it's not a Naim experience in any way, but it's entirely enjoyable.
D2 comes second (soon I will get an S9 so I will be able to tell you more about the new generation of BBE+ effects) with great format support, a huge battery life (about two weeks), excellent SQ and an impressive power on HO, capable of driving even serious headphones to decent levels. It sounds kind of flat and lifeless with everything off but once you start playing with BBE, I can guarantee that you will find something to suit your tastes. The only problem with BBE - the sound becomes a tad digital, cold, analytical so I would pair it carefully, headphone wise. More hiss than the Ipod Classic with JH13 Pro but still low and bearable.
Sony X1060 is a great player in many respects, looks and feels great, the Amoled screen is gorgeous, its responsiveness is second to none, the sound is impressive (and probably better than both the above) but there are two big problems: first of all, you are stuck with mp3. Secondly, the hiss. Big, fat, annoying, almost unbearable. If you plan to use it with a HF2 for instance, it's a beautiful match and a great player. For high sensitivity IEMs, forget it.
These are, as far as I am concerned, the players of the moment, the players I can easily carry in a pocket, that offer decent capacity and battery life (more than 30 hours) and a usable interface. I have tried, by the way, several portable amps and, while they certainly tweak the sound (I wouldn't say improve), I wouldn't call it "the next level", "night and day", "goosebumps" etc. The kids to fall for all the hype are the ones ho have never owned a decent setup at home.
Besides the whole idea of high-end in a train or on a plain is ridiculous, plain ridiculous. Get one of the above for the plain/train, and buy a decent DAC/amplifier for home. My Benchmark DAC1 HDR, on the lowest gain setting for headphone out, drives JH13 Pro beautifully, far better than any portable DAP/amp will ever be able to. Because it's only if you do the math of Mr Sonic's rig: 800 for the 8th portable wonder of the world, 300 the Twag balanced (this never fails to make me lough, by the way) cable, 500 the Protector, you realize how far the madness can go and how much you can get for the money.
Edited by revenge - 5/15/10 at 8:23pm