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Hifiman HM-700 impressions

post #1 of 120
Thread Starter 

CONTEXT

 

I have been using a HM801 DAP for four years.

While this player isn’t neutral sounding or technically inclined in terms of soundstage precision, ultimate transparency, extreme frequency extensions, uber imaging... that sort of “Hi-Fi” qualities, it delivers rich tones, lush mids, natural sounding instrument timbres, bold/deep bass and an overall organic sound signature similar to analogue rather than digital. I find it very enjoyable, musical, and consistently great sounding with every style of music.

Two years ago, I upgraded to Balanced mode. This amp module improved soundstage, clarity, depth, speed, instrument separation, and power by just a tad but put together, it sure felt like a worthwhile fine tuning, a tighter sounding HM801 (RE262, Re272, Re600, Senn HD650 and AKG K701Q all benefited from it)...

So when I saw the tiny balanced HM700, I wondered if that little guy was the new mini balanced HM801.

 

 

HM700-RE400 IMPRESSIONS

 

My first reaction was “Nice!!! balanced mode in action!”

I was listening to “Pollen” by AES Dana (Ambient electronic). Sound came across as neutral with a wide soundstage, plenty of bass (slightly “bloomy” but not “boomy”), smooth mediums and highs, combine with a decent amount of speed. Not a slow sounding player. It felt transparent, well defined, fast and yet pretty smooth.

I wanted to listen to the HM700 longer before I brought in the HM801 so from memory, this pairing felt more transparent but definitely less bold and organic than the HM801.

 

Bringing in the HM801, it was fairly obvious that the Balanced HM801-RE400 (great pairing btw) belongs to a different league. Perhaps a tad less transparent and airy, the HM801  is noticeably more refined and rich sounding (more texture, micro details, natural timbres, longer sustain, fluidity, bolder, more articulate bass + sub bass, weightier)

But compared to the stock HM801 (equipped with the power amp module instead of balanced), these differences still apply but to a much lesser degree. The HM700 keeps up pretty close overall!

 

At $249, the HM700 is NOT a mini balanced HM801 but very good sounding nonetheless. 

In a way, the HM700-RE400 pairing feels more of a “High-Res DAP with character” than a “Hi-Fidelity” player, that is, when compared to the balanced HM801 (an unfair comparison considering the price difference)

 

... ... ...

 

HM700-RE600 IMPRESSIONS

 

The soundstage depth increases at the expense of the width. 

Tonality is slightly warmer (sounds more "orangy" than white) with a noticeable touch of “liquidity”. 

That liquid touch, as subtle as it may feel is no small detail to me. It actually affects many areas in a positive way:

Bass seems to extends a little bit deeper and feels a tad bolder.

Sustain/resonance last longer which enriches tones and makes timbre feel a little more natural

Imaging improves a little, separation is clean, speed is still there, smoothness is still there...The overall presentation becomes a little more bass-mids oriented and feels more bold and musical in a way. This combo sounds closer to the HM801-RE600 than the previous comparison. 

While the HM801 is still richer, bolder, and more refined overall, the HM700-RE600 sounds a little larger, softer, and more transparent. Some may actually prefer the HM700-RE600 larger and more airy presentation than the similar richer sound signature... 

 

Not sure I would label the HM700-RE600 as “Hi-Fidelity” but certainly Highly musical and enjoyable.

As far as getting as close as possible to the HM801's performance, it's certainly to my ears the better compromise.

 

I’ll try to add further comparison between iphone 4, and HM700 at some point. 

I was also going to comment on the difference between HM700 and HM601 but I no longer have it and was using different iems anyway so I’ll refrain from doing so.

 

Hope it helps more that it confuses those wondering about the HM700. I’m not an expert at reviews, just wanted to share my opinion ; )

 

 

EDIT 08/04/14: Update about burn in

 

Having bought them pre-owned, I assumed they were already fully burned in when I received them. Apparently not. A couple of noticeable changes within a week following my first impressions (I already edited them)

I experienced:

1. A peak with voices/sax that was a bit edgy/smeary to borderline unpleasant level at times

2. The resonance/sustain were a bit dull resulting in acoustic instruments sounding a little artificial (cymbals felt a little muffled...)

And I felt like it affected music styles such as Jazz vocals, classical, opera...  Some styles sounded better than other.

This is not the case anymore so if you find yourself noticing the same things, make sure they are properly burned in before giving them your final verdict.

 

Again to summarize my impressions with HM700:

 

RE400:

• Listener slightly in front of music 

• Nice bloom in the bass, smooth mediums, a tad more/brighter highs

• Neutral tonality, balanced sounding (no particular emphasis on frequency) 

 

RE600: 

• Listener slightly more in music (more intimate and slightly more holographic sense of depth)

• A tad deeper/more Bass, smooth Mediums, slightly less Highs. Liquid sounding

• Warmer tonality, slightly more emphasized on Bass and Mediums

 

Sound signatures are audibly different to me. But they both sound very good and I’d be hard pressed to say the 400 feels like an inferior IEM. I really like them both. But I would think that most people would tend to prefer the RE600 pairing, especially those who really enjoy the HM801 analog organic sound signature.

 

 


Edited by Tympan - 4/16/14 at 6:16pm
post #2 of 120

Sub'd!

post #3 of 120

I have an HM-901 and bunch of IEMs and headphones with balanced cables, so the HM-700 seemed like a more portable little-brother to the HM-901 for on-the-go with my balanced IEMs. Because of the limited memory, I filled it with MP3 tracks instead of FLAC like on the HM-901. I haven't done any comparisons with it yet, but last night, Hell Freezes Over (MP3) sounded awfully good on the HM-700 -> Moon Audio Silver Dragon Balanced -> SE846.

post #4 of 120
Thread Starter 

Good to hear!

Obviously, the HM901 is more powerful and flexible... but for someone only using iems on the go, how much of a sound quality difference would you say there is between HM700 and HM901?

Is the HM901 clearly that much better or the sound signatures just different and therefore a matter of personal preference? (a fair comparison would involve using the same Flac files on each DAP ; )

 

Thanks!

post #5 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dog meat View Post
 

Hey there, Saoshyant, I've got HM-700 recently, and I love it. For many years I was using an old Ipod nano 2-gen with rockbox (I think that this old boy still has a bit better SQ when compared to many mainstream players/smartphones) with senns IE-6, and senh momentum. So, the combo of RE-400b with this HM-700 just blew my mind. It's great. MUCH better then IE-6 in any scenario (thou it has completely different sound signature). MUCH better then Turbines copper on any "mainstream" source". And better then Momentums on my old  iPod on many music genres. 

I've tried to used Momentum on HM-700 for about 10 minutes an I didnt recognize these cans - they were GREAT and much different than on old ipod! right now they are collecting dust on the shelf - I want to fully appreciate RE-400 first. So, I think that for the asking price the HM-700 with RE400 is a no brainer. Now some negative stuff:

- perilous construction of re-400 cords - I think that if theese will serve me for a year it would be great! Hope that I'm wrong here.

- some occasional harshness in the sound  of RE 400 - well, I'm not bothered by it, but maybe the others will dislike this

- super-thin wires of the adpter for unbalanced (normal) headphones - I'm sure that it will break very soon

- PC-cord is bad - I see the wires inside near usb - can break easily

- bad standart tips for RE-400 - some good soul included sony hybrids with the package for free - so I'm good

- I cant use RE-400 with the adapter for unbalanced players - jack of RE's doesent fit inside this adapter!!! Maybe I have to apply more force, but I'm afraid to do this.

Hope this helps! sorry for bad english!

 

Was posted in another thread, figured it might be appreciated here

post #6 of 120
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saoshyant View Post
 

 

Was posted in another thread, figured it might be appreciated here

Good find, thanks : )

post #7 of 120
My review has been done for a while I just haven't been able to find my camera charger to take decent pictures but it'll be up on Headfonics soon.
post #8 of 120

Thankya Leapy Komondor.

post #9 of 120
Thread Starter 

Impressions are up ^


Edited by Tympan - 4/2/14 at 12:33am
post #10 of 120

Here's my review: http://headfonics.com/2014/04/the-hm-700-and-re-600-by-hifiman/

post #11 of 120
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your review Ishcabible, the more impressions/reviews, the better.

Mine was more sound impressions than a thorough review so I renamed the thread title.

 

You brought up important aspects about this player.

Yes, the HM700 design is nice. I really like the look, size, and dimensions a lot over the HM801.

The UI is another improvement over the HM801. It looks quite a bit nicer and the text is easier to read indoor (it is harder to read outdoor in daylight, that's for sure!) 

 

32 GB is plenty to me. To make navigation better/faster, I just created 12 root folders: 1_Compilations, 2_Electronic, 3_Lounge... = less scrolling

No freezing/bug either other than for two albums which files could not be recognized despite being .flac ... No biggy...

 

I agree about the mini-jack on the side, it is less of an issue when using L-shaped mini-jacks but a little awkward with my RE600 straight mini-jacks (bought them before this combo came out)

 

Although I love the orange buttons look and tactile feel (volume down – Power on/off/lock – volume up), they become a problem when carried in my back pocket. Few times this week while tying my shoes, or sitting down, the volume went up really fast (way too fast for me to react in time before it became painfully loud). And I bet it wouldn't take too many of these incidents before I traded the HM700 for a hearing aid. Lowering their height below the screen would greatly reduce their tendency to get triggered so easily...

 

I also noticed that the Fast forward and Rewind buttons are very slow, details, details...

 

Haven't really tried the player with cans, the odd mini-jack-USB adaptor is just to weird/clunky for me, I like to keep this set up simple with RE600


Edited by Tympan - 4/4/14 at 12:58am
post #12 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tympan View Post
 

...

 

I also noticed that the Fast forward and Rewind buttons are very slow, details, details...

 

Haven't really tried the player with cans, the odd mini-jack-USB adaptor is just to weird/clunky for me, I like to keep this set up simple with RE600

 

When you get into song setup mode (hold Right arrow button for a few seconds), got to Scan Speed and select between x2 - x20 to change the speed of Fast forward and Rewind :)  I got my HM700/RE400B combo a few days ago, testing it now and will have a detailed review.  Since I don't see a dedicated review section on Head-fi, I guess will post it in here.  I actually like this little guy a lot, just wish they would have a version with unbalanced standard output.  All my IEMs and headphones are unbalanced, thank God they included 400B with this unit :)

post #13 of 120
Thread Starter 

Thanks mate, fixed it and congrats on your new DAP!

I doubt Hifiman will make an unbalanced version of the HM700 as it was the whole point of this player, the extra edge over other DAP similarly priced. But an on/off switch on the side like they did on the HM901 would be nice.

 

I don't think the HM700 was meant to be as versatile with iems/headphones as most other players. You can also try your unbalanced straight into the HM700 without the adaptor. I do that with my balanced HM801 and they all sound really good. With the HM700 though, they sound a bit "bloaty" in the bass and soft in the mediums.

I believe the HM700 sigmatel DAC was a somewhat limited DAC pushed to its extreme limit based on implementation and tuning when paired with RE400/600. I'm sure some will discover other iems or phones that also work well with it but just like the Tera player, most iem/phones will sound a bit off with the HM700.

 

My Koss Porta Pro which sound pretty good with iphone 4, surprisingly good with HM801, and exceptionally good with the Tera sounds pretty off with the HM700.

The AT-ESW9 sound good with some music but off with other (too much bass and bloom, borderline "bloaty")...


Edited by Tympan - 4/5/14 at 3:44pm
post #14 of 120

Yeah, I used it with a few of my IEMs connected directly (IM03, W40, etc.) and soundstage shrinks up and sound looses it's sparkle (a bit veiled rather than bloated).  Honestly, it sounds almost like connecting it to Clip+ :)  Most people won't even notice a difference, but for perfectionist - you will hear it.  But between HM700 and RE400B - its a match made in heaven.  I was always curious about their 400s.  Also, I remember reading some having issues with a cable and connection around strain relief. I actually found RE400B (I assume their latest improved design) build/cable to be very durable, and the sound signature to be neutral with a hint of warmth.  I was afraid they won't have any bass at all, but it actually there in quality, though not quantity.  And overall ergonomics and fitment is among the best with a selection of very unique eartips.

post #15 of 120

I just finished my review and published it on-line: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2707613

 

No need to copy everything over, so please visit the link above.  But I figured to embed pictures from my review in this thread.  Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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