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How does the HIFIMAN EXPRESS HM-101 DAC sound? Not the amp!

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I've read reviews on the HM-101 describing it as sounding "warm", and "not analytical or cold". The thing is, the reviews didn't specify those characteristics as being attributed to the DAC+AMP, or just the DAC itself. Is the HM-101 DAC "warm" sounding? Or is it the combination of the DAC and built-in amp that sounds "warm"?

 

I plan to use the HM-101 as a DAC only -- it will be laptop -> foobar + wasapi for bit-perfect output -> HM-101 line-out -> cmoy amp -> ER-4S. I will be adjusting the volume only through the cmoy.

 

I actually prefer an "analytical" sound -- kind of why I got an ER-4S. I like all of my audio components to be "accurate". I would not be the type of person to get a pair of darth beyers or a pair of bright-sounding Grado headphones.

post #2 of 3
Thread Starter 

I bought it, own it, and am using now. It is too warm for my tastes. This is line-out to my cmoy to my ER-4S.

 

The low end is too loud and distracting for me now. In some of my music, the bassist is given too much attention, when the saxophonist is supposed to be the center of attention.

 

That said, it doesn't sound bad. Its sound is just not my preference. Take my impressions with a grain of salt. I could be exaggerating, but it's my perception. What you should take away from this is that the HM-101 line-out is warmer than neutral.

 

So if you're a "purist" like me, and only seek for accuracy, then steer clear from this DAC. If not, then you may very well enjoy it. YMMV.

post #3 of 3

Hey, I bought this as my first AMP/DAC to upgrade the poor sound quality of my 2009 laptop sound card. Currently using it with MDR-V6 and it fits quite well IMO.

 

However, I am planning on using this as a separate DAC with LO to a FiiO E09K amp, then to DT-770 250 ohms that I should obtain shortly. As it would be quite cheaper as a DAC choice than other higher grade models (E17 for example), I'd like to stick with it obviously. Then again, as I am investing quite some money in the rest of the setup, I am worried that it won't live up to my expectations and affect the sound quality badly.

 

Do you believe that as a separate DAC it is performant enough to match a 110$ amp and 200$ headphones? Or should I look elsewhere?

 

Thanks for your input!

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