OK, here it is, my comparison between the HM-601 and S:flo 2. I have been using two headphones as of late, the ER4S and Monster Turbines. Both daps had some jazz, salsa, oldies, black metal, and hardcore.
Both players performed great, but with different sets of headphones. And it comes down to your sound preference as well as the headphones that you own. I have an extensive collection of headphones, so it is not hard for me to compensate a certain sound signature of a dap with a headphone and viceversa, but for those of you that have just one pair, you need to think about your sound preferences and choose a dap that is in line with your sound preferences.
I like both players equally. I may prefer the HM-601 a bit more because the navigation is friendlier than that of the s:flo 2. Furthermore, I have verified that the HM-601 can indeed play 24-bit hd tracks while the S:flo 2 just freezes on me. The HD tracks somehow have more detail and more depth than regular 16-bit tracks a in general do sound better.
Since I hate carrying an amp, my observations are from running the headphones straight from the HO.
Here is the bottom line: The HM-601 sounds great with the ER4S’. The bass, mids and highs are just right. Very balanced and natural presentation. The highs do sparkle. I think that I agree with another poster that compared the HM-601/HM-602 with a very high quality cassette tape player. This high quality cassette tape player with the ER4S is the perfect combo. It is what the ER4S was designed to do, to emphasize the highs of sources that were dark in nature.The S:flo 2 with the ER4S’ sounded too bright and as a result the bass sounded lean and powerless. The HM-601 sounded more detailed than the S:flo 2. The reason for this clarity is that with the highs toned down, the mids can really shine and bring forward some of the details that the S:flo 2 would mask with its extended highs through the ER4S.
The Monster Turbines are not the best sounding headphones, so they did not sound particularly great with either dap, but if I had to choose the dap to go with these, I would go with the S:flo 2 as the HM-601 sounded too dark and rolled in the highs.
Conclusion: I am keeping both because I can. I like both, but with different headphones. If you are happy with the s:flo 2 and your current headphones, I do not see the need to get the HM-601 unless you want the ability to play HD tracks. If you own the HM-601, I don't see the need to get the s:flo 2 unless all your headphones are on the warm side and you are currently not satisfied with the sound provided by the HM-601.
Yeah, the headphone jack is top and it is easier to navigate than the s:flo 2. Actually, I got the HM-601 already. Fang shipped it lightning fast last week and got it last week. I need to wait until wednesday before I can sit down and really listen to it and compare it to my s:flo 2. I don't have a hm-602. I tried it out during a meet.
Edited by DJGeorgeT - 11/26/10 at 8:24pm