I was able to spend some time with Fang at the Charlotte, NC Can Fest on Saturday and was able to do some comparative testing of the HM-602 pre-production (read: minor changes should be expected in final production) model against two HM-801 prototypes, as shown in the pix. One HM-801 (mine) was equipped with the old ST opamp card and the second one was equipped with the latest (version 2) ST opamp card. I have tested it against the GAME card as well, but both ST cards had outperformed the GAME, so I have narrowed it down to those.
Headphones used: JH13 Pro/JH16 Pro/Sony R10
In short, my findings for the benefit of those who are considering pre-order:
- The HM-602 is a bargain for the money, especially at a preorder price.
- Overall SQ is nearly identical using 16/44 music to the HM-801, very impressive at the price
- Only after exhaustive listening sessions using 24/96 DVD-A extracted files (Checkfield - Surrounded) was I able to detect the edge of the HM-801s superior DAC configuration. If I had to enumerate the difference, I'd say the HM-602 can deliver about 80% of the HM-801s overall SQ. Fang has informed me that the difference is more evident once both models are amplified to speakers instead of headphones, but I had no way of confirming this independently.
- The HM-602's DAC will work with the iPad thru the photo connector kit (USB)...so does the HM-801
- I have asked Fang to find a source in China to obtain compatible batches of SDHC cards that will be tested with both HM-801 and HM-602 and provide as a way to obtain them at a reasonable cost. Some of us including me ran into issues with various cards and if he could pull this off, that would be great.
- Near-gapless playback will be offered, no full gapless feedback. That is not a firmware issue, rather it's a limitation of the main controller chip being used in both units.
- I have strongly suggested that a form fitting case preferably with some kind of belt-clip solution for the HM-602 be offered as an option, because the HM-602 is significantly lighter and more compact than its big brother and could easily be worn on the belt.
- The HM-602 will fit perfectly in the JHA carbon fiber optional otterbox, which is great for JH custom owners who ordered it.
Hopefully this will help out some of you who have been wondering about these issues.