HIFIMAN SuperMini High-Res Portable Player

General Information

It will be shipped from China before it is in stock in US warehouse. We spent years on a crazy project: SuperMini. We selected a low power consumption controller chip with a DAC built-in. After heavily modifying firmware and drivers of decoding/Audio/DAC, we have changed its original sound signature and achieved an amazing result: a sound signature similar to our flagship hi-fi music player HM901. That is why SuperMini sounds transparent, warm, sweet and punchy. It is one of the smallest portable hi-fi devices. Its battery life is 22hrs. Full Size headphones? Not even a challenge The swing of output voltage is 4.2V peak to peak, capable of driving most full size headphones The output power can reach 320mW which can perfectly drive the HIFIMAN HE400i and HE400S planar magnetic headphones. Thanks to the power saving design, the SuperMini is built with 8 op-amps and it can reach output 4.2V @ 32Ohms. That is powerful enough to drive most headphones on market. Dimensions: 4.09" x 1.77" x 0.33" (104.0 x 45.0 x 8.5mm L x W x H ) Weight: 2.4oz (70g) Output:320mW@32Ω(Balance Output) TF Card:Up to 256GB Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz THD: 0.04% S/N: 102 ± 3 dB Battery Life: 22 hours Supported Music Formats: (Up to 24Bit / 192kHz): WAV, FLAC, AIFF, APE, MP3, OGG, AAC, WMA, ALAC, DSD (DSF, DFF)

Latest reviews


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Awesome sound quality, very portable, simple and easy to use, build quality
Cons: Lacks basic features such as EQ, no music pause when headphones is disconnected
I was approached by @TeamHiFiMAN to review the SuperMini and Megamini, in which I happily accepted, thank you very much for including me in this tour.
I am just another music fans in this world, I love listening to music, and that made me stumble into head-fi around 10 years ago when looking for the best way to listen to my music. I am not in anyway an audiophile, heck not even close, so please forgive any lack of details in my review. Most importantly this is my personal impression on the unit, most likely i heard things differently than you, my ears, my preferences, my brain :)
I've listened to Supermini for about 4 weeks. I've used them mainly when traveling to/from office.
Music preferences
My music preferences is mostly instrumental, whether it's Classical, Jazz, Celtic, New Age, etc. I also enjoy music with vocal on them, but my playlist is mostly instrumental. I would say around 80/20 mix.
Example of the music I listen (not limited to):
- Acoustic Alchemy
- Tony McManus, Soig Siberil
- Hawaiian Slack Key guitars
- Fusion Jazz (Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, Fourplay, Special EFX, you get the idea)
- Akira Jimbo, Tetsuo Sakurai, Casiopea
- Incognito
- Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi, Musica Antiqua Koln, Rolf Lislevand
- Yoko Kanno
- Madonna
Sound signature preference
Hmm...not sure what my pref is, I enjoy Fostex TH-600 very much, It's one of the best headphone I've heard, so that make me a fan of U or V shaped sound signature.
Having said that I also enjoy ZMF Blackwood which have mid-centric sound sig compare to the TH-600, so I guess I am flexible :)
My typical listening gear is: Asus Xonar STU -> Project Polaris -> ZMF Blackwood
When travelling I usually use MEE P1 straight out of DAP/Phone.
Build Quality
The supermini is CNC machined and build from solid block of Aluminum alloy, as such they feel solid and sturdy, quite small and light as well. Buttons has satisfying firmness and depth as you click them. I like them a lot, and the size is perfect to be a portable DAP. One thing to criticize is the display which is a fingerprint magnet. It's almost impossible to keep them clean, I always end up smudging them with my fingerprint, but to be honest that's me being picky.
The interface is quite simple, which I think is a big plus. It's designed to do one thing, plays music from the SD card. Done. While I usually favor devices with more features, I found the
simplicity of Supermini quite refreshing, not much of options there, you can choose to play your music based on file explorer, artist, albums or genre. You can also play all songs on your SD card, and of course you can shuffle or repeat. Done. Just play some music and enjoy, don't worry about other thing.
Having said all that, I kinda wished they have EQ support, and some basic function like pausing the music if I disconnect the headphone, hopefully future firmware update will make this possible.
Sound Quality
Ok the most important part for me, sound quality, so how do they sound? I would say they sound neutral, balanced with a very slight boost treble. They are also quite transparent that when I change my headphones I can immediately hear the difference in the sound signature. I found their overall presentation to be very polite and smooth, but firm. separation is quite distinct and clear, bass has good impact and presence.
There is one thing that I really love out of the Supermini, the trebles sounded very sweet for me. When listening to acoustic guitar, the higher frequency sounds very articulate,
there is a spotlight on some region of the higher frequency. It is very enjoyable for me, I never heard such sound before on any other DAP. It's not overly bright, it's just trebles done with such and grace and finesse that is such a highlight for me as a self proclaimed treble head.
I do apologize for my rambling, it's a very enjoyable sensation for me :)
Comparison mostly done using ZMF Blackwood and focused on sound quality
Supermini vs LG V10
The LG V10 is no slacker in the sound department, carrying a ES9018 DAC. I find they both shared a very similar sound signature, balanced and quite neutral. However I find the supermini to deliver a more refined sound overall, especially on the treble area. But they're pretty close
Supermini vs Cayin i5
Very similar experience with V10 here, i5 and Supermini share similar sound signature, again Supermini managed to deliver a slightly more airy, refined and extended treble compare to i5.
Supermini vs Megamini
Now these two are very similar in build quality and dimension. The difference is Megamini have colour LED while Supermini only got monochrome LED. It's also worth mentioning that the Megamini doesn't have any balanced output. In term of sound quality, they also share very similar sound signature, HOWEVER, I notice that Megamini is a tad muted on the treble, compared to the Supermini, and bass is also bit more fuller on the Supermini
Bundle Earphone
The Supermini come with a bundle balanced earphone, and to be honest I have low expectations when I saw the looks of them, the cable seems quite thin and the build
quality doesn't scream premium. However when I tried them they are actually very good sounding.
The earphone have a quite balanced sound signature, with a bit of spotlight on the mids and midbass. However it's a slight bump and I still would call them evenly balanced.

I still prefer my MEE P1 but the bundled earphone is not that far away in term of SQ. So I would say you're getting a good deal.
Having said that, personally i would prefer Hifiman to remove the earphones bundle in favor of lowering the price of the Supermini. My argument is that people who is willing to spend around $400 for a DAP most likely already have a preferred Ear/Headphones so not sure whats the target market here. Again this is purely my personal preferences.
Balanced output.
In case you didn't know, the Supermini also feature a balanced headphone out. Now I don't own any balance headphone or earphone so I am not crazy about this. The bundled earphone is a balanced earphone so I give it a try and compare between the balanced and normal output, but i can't really hear any big difference (if any). YMMV but yeah I am not sold on this balanced things. Just another personal pref.
Well, this has been interesting experience, as a heavy user of google music I didn't expect myself to be attracted to the Supermini this much.
At first the idea of a $400 music player that only does basic things is a bit much, remembering that  it's the age of streaming music.
But once you hear how they sounded, oh boy, sweet love! MEE P1 sounds great out of it, ZMF Blackwood sounds great out of it, the bundled IEM sounds great out of it. This tiny DAP
got enough power to drive some heavy headphones!
While there is some obvious room for improvement, especially on the software area, I can't argue that The Hifiman Supermini deliver what it's advertised: mini in size, great in sound and easy to be driven.
If you want features, look elsewhere now, this is not the DAP you're looking for.
If you're looking for a true portable music player that delivers great sound, look no further, it's the Supermini.
The SuperMini is laden with irony. It is quite small, but it is made for driving big cans. It has a quite audible noise floor and doesn't perform terribly well with sensitive IEMs. I found the sound quality on the i5 to be better and the amenities to be far better. The i5 also drives cans fairly well, but can't really handle demanding 300 ohm numbers like the HD600 (not much can in the portable domain). The SuperMini has a beast of an amplifier circuit.

This thing is loaded with power and is really remarkable for what it is, but a bit strange on it's ideal headphone pairings.
@glassmonkey hmm....I personally prefer the Supermini to i5, MEE P1 sound sweet out of the Supermini compare to i5, but that's the only IEM i've tried with them, other have been full size headphones. I do agree that i5 lacks power compared to Supermini.
The Pinnacle is probably just about the perfect IEM for the SuperMini as it has high resistance and low sensitivity. Other good matches would be the new RHA CL1 and CL750. Sensitive headphones will hiss like snakes in the grass on the SuperMini. Sensitive multi-BA IEMs are unlikely to sound their best.


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Very clear, transparent and dynamic sound. Tiny form factor, good build and decent UI. Powerful in both balanced and SE. Very good battery life.
Cons: Average soundstage. No sound enhancements.
Hi Head-Fi’ers!
I’ve waited quite a bit long to use SuperMini and obtain its possible rival players at the same time (like Sony A15 and the new A35).
I came across SuperMini a few months ago, and only by looking its specs and “promises”, I instantly wanted to give a try to it. So I volunteered for a review that you are reading right now.
I want to thank from here to Hifiman for the review sample.

In the previous reviews, many Head-Fi’ers shared beautiful photos of the device with some satisfactory descriptions of the players user interface. So to not to repeat some obvious things about the player, in my review, I’ll focus more on the sound performance of SuperMini.

First things first ; let’s take a look at the presentation and “offerings” of SuperMini, by its creator who is also the CEO and founder of Hifiman, Dr. Fang Bian :
“We spent years on a crazy project: SuperMini. We selected a low power consumption controller chip with a DAC built-in. After heavily modifying firmware and drivers of decoding/Audio/DAC, we have changed its original sound signature and achieved an amazing result: a sound signature similar to our flagship hi-fi music player HM901. That is why SuperMini sounds transparent, warm, sweet and punchy. It is one of the smallest portable hi-fi devices. Its battery life is 22hrs. Full Size headphones? Not even a challenge. The swing of output voltage is 4.2V peak to peak, capable of driving most full size headphones.”
From one point, this review would be an evaluation of how the performance of SuperMini measures up to the companies claims.
Introduction :
In the recent years, I have used more than 30 players from different brands (including Fiio, Ibasso, Sony, Astell & Kern, Hifiman etc.) with various different headphones and iems.
Four years ago, eras popular player Hifiman 601 had been my first Hifiman device. Though I liked the devices sound signature, lovely mid-bass, detail and separation performance, 601 was weak in measurements ; especially in distortion levels.
Despite it's weakness in measured performance, I considered Hifiman 601, as my first portable “Hi-Fi” player.
Following that, I’ve used lots and lots of players ranging from $100 to $3500 and most of them utilized some fancy discrete DACs like the ones of Texas Inst. PCM 1792A, Wolfson WM8740, ESS Sabre 9018S, Asahi Kasei AKM4490 or Cirrus Logic CS4398.
These DAC’s, while elevating the sound quality of daps above the ones built-in DAC’s provide, come with a considerable drop in the players battery life.
And with my experience, I came to the thought that, in practical terms, it was the implementation of the amp section that contributes to the sound performance more obviously than the DAC section. That observation brought me to the idea that power hungry flagship DAC’s were more or less extravagant on entry to mid range portable players.
Thinking about that, incidentally I came across SuperMini.
The idea of a highly modified built-in DAC supported with a strong amplifier section instantly grabbed my attention. The following are my findings about this little player.
So let’s hit the road.
a) Design, Build, User Interface
The SuperMini is super small. If you have some chance the hold a Sony A17, you should know that SuperMini occupies roughly the same space. Apart from the glass on the screen and plastic buttons, it is all metal. It has a very fine build quality, especially for its class. Definitely better than Sony A17.
The screen is real glass (not a popular “glass-looking plastic”) and it looks one-piece as its corners are not highlighted. Very stylish.

The monochrome OLED display (reminds me of atari graphics of the past) performs nicely even under direct sunlight. And a screen-protector comes with the player. Yet, I would rather prefer if the screen protector was attached. It may be cumbersome for many users to attach these screen protectors properly.
In the past, I’ve used several players from Chinese brands, and I can easily say that the user interface of SuperMini is the slickest and most bug-free one among them. (Well, very occasionally, the player exhibits some bugs / freezes, but it is not a big deal. Even Sony players can freeze sometimes)
As a little bug, the player sometimes skips the first like 0.5 seconds of some songs, but it is occasional.
The players buttons respond quite swiftly, and overall operation is fast. It took me like one minute to get used to the players interface.
I tested the player with various Sandisk Ultra and Samsung Evo micro sd cards with capacities from 16 to 64gb, and encountered no big problem with them. In case of a failure, I resetted the device and the cards were read correctly.
SuperMini has no equalizer or any kind of sound tweaks. It may upset some people, but if you match the player with a headphone of balanced sound signature I would doubt that you would need any equalizer. Yet still, it would be a nice thing if the player has some sort of bass control option.
Besides, the playback screen does not show the duration of songs. That would be a nice addition.
When the screen is off, the first button you press would turn the screen on, then you can do whatever you want to do. I believe, that is a good thing in general principle, but volume buttons could have been added as an exception to that.
In other words, in order to adjust volume, you first press a button and turn on the screen, then you adjust it. Changing volume without turning on the screen would have been more convenient in terms of user experience. Maybe in the following firmwares, Hifiman can address this issue.
b) Sound :
Character :
I tested SuperMini more than a dozen of headphones to reach a generalizable average on sound and output power.
Besides, as a trustworthy indicator of sound signature, I plugged SuperMini directly into my Yamaha HS7 Reference Monitor.
Through Yamaha HS7, the player exhibited a little bit of warmth as it was suggested while retaining it’s clarity.
However, on most of the headphones I used, the player showed to have a quite neutral sound signature.
It is not a dark or bright sounding player having no easily noticeable “colour” in sound. However, I should say that it may sound a bit "flat" for people who got used to coloured sounding devices (like Sony's).
There are some slight bumps in the frequency response of the player, but overall I can easily say that SuperMini is a balanced sounding device.
Bass :
Nice and textured bass with good control and tightness. Does not show any bleed into the mids. I felt a little bump in the mid-bass section, but it does not present any muddiness or overpowering.
The bass is not shallow, definitely, but it may sound a bit "flat" for some. Besides, due to lacking a bass equalizer, you would not be able to make any adjustments.
Midrange :
Neutral, very clean, defined and well separated.
Instruments have weight in their sound and they’re portrayed with a pleasing level of accuracy. Timbre is impressive and on spot.
Varying on headphones, vocals can sometimes sound a bit upfront, which can slightly affect the balance of the sound. However I did not witness any hint of shoutiness.
Clarity is top notch. There is no veil between you and the instruments.
(This is one of the points where SuperMini performs considerably superior compared to Sony A15 which sounds veiled and a bit “simulated”.)
In fact, this can be the very point where SuperMini performs above its class.
Comparing SuperMini to Hifiman 901U (with balanced card), Astell & Kern AK380, Sony WM1A / WM1Z over Hifiman HE560 and Sennheiser HD700, I was surprised to see that in terms of clarity and transparency, SuperMini was very close to the above “flagship” devices that cost several times more.
Definitely impressive.
Treble :
Again, a strong point for SuperMini.
Resolving, very crisp, controlled and dynamic.
Not too aggressive (free of fatigue) and not too smooth (free of being boring) at the same time. Nice balance. Good job.
I noticed a treble roll-off, so the treble extension is not the best of its class ; but it is barely percievable, and it does not cripple the dynamics of the player. (This was a noticeable case for the past era players like Hifiman 601 or Fiio X3 1st Generation ; both of which presented a steep treble roll-off, causing the players to sound a bit dull without sparkle)
SuperMini is not the most airy sounding player in the market, but with its limited soundstage it does not give any feeling of boxiness. There is also some nice sensation of space between instruments. Imaging is decent.
Resolution :
SuperMini is not the most analytical player resolving every bits and nuances of a recording, yet it produces some decent level of instrumental detail easily matching its class, and these details are quite accessible by ear thanks to its high level of clarity and transparency.
Instrument Separation :
Hifiman SuperMini again does a good job on instrument separation and crosstalk performance. Not only in standart popular songs having four to five instruments, but also in complex musical passages, the instruments do not collapse over each other or give the feeling of any kind of congestion. Decent crosstalk performance.
Soundstage & Imaging :
In my opinion, probably the weakest link in the chain.
Despite the players mighty performance on many areas, soundstage size is just average It is not very wide nor deep, so I suggest a compensating headphone to be paired with this player (like Sennheiser HD600 which gives great soundstage virtually free of the source).
If you plan to use SuperMini with Grado’s, TTVJ Flat Pads do present a nice soundstage also with a balanced sound (for a Grado).
Noise Performance :
SuperMini has low distortion levels and quite a black background with a good signal to noise ratio. I did not hear a noticeable hiss on any headphones I’ve used. Nice job again.
Power :
SuperMini is one little beast when it comes to output power.

Let me state that in single-ended output comparison, it delivers more power to headphones compared to Sony’s new WM series Walkman’s.
Apart from some easier cans, I used SuperMini through various 300 ohm headphones (like Sennheiser HD600, 650 and 700), and the player drove these phones to a satisfactory level even in single-ended connection!
And as another plus, I was unable to perceive any extra audible distortion at maximum volume!
(However, the player can have more volume steps than its current number of 32, especially in the higher volumes. There is a great difference in volume from 30 to 32)
Through 3.5mm balanced connection, I believe what you would get will probably be better body and soundstaging.
It is such a surprising feat that Hifiman has achieved, delivering so much power from a tiny player weighing only 70grams.
Headphone Matching :
SuperMini has quite a neutral and balanced sound which makes it ideal for a variety of different phones. However, again a headphone with a balanced sound signature would most probably match SuperMini best.
I especially liked the match of Sennheiser HD600 and 650, and Hifiman He560 (though this one is stated as “challenging” in Hifiman’s chart).
On the other side, there had been one headphone whose synergy I disliked with SuperMini :  
Audio Technica R70X Pro.
In SE, SuperMini again drove 470 ohm R70X Pro to a satistaftory volume level, but the sound was edgy, mids were harsh and treble roll-off just absorbed any energy in sound. Definitely a no-go.
Apart from that, SuperMini responded well to matching with other headphones.
Battery Performance :
Another exciting feature of SuperMini due to the clamied “22 hours of playback” by the company. However, this part may be the one that the player falls a little bit apart from Hifiman’s claims in real-life conditions.
If you use SuperMini with relatively easy-to-drive headphones, then you may reach a playback time of 20 hours. (I often use SuperMini with my Grado HF-1 outside, and battery lasts +15 hours – all files flac – very good)
But in other cases, in case you pump up the volume of the player, the battery life will fall considerably to ~10 hours level. (Yet even at that case, SuperMini is a clear winner with its tiny battery)
(One criticism I can mention is that the battery indicator should be more precise. The indicator can show a full battery when you actually have 4 to 5 hours of playback time, and then it drops swiftly.)
The bundled iem with SuperMini (that seems to be between RE400 and RE600 quality-wise) has 3.5 mm balanced connection, and sounds decent. As a listener (and lover) of headphones, the bundled iems bass sounded not quite the most enjoyable to me, but it is very clear in mids and treble with good soundstaging.

However, I believe SuperMini’s true potential would be revealed through matching it with a suitable high-end headphone in balanced connection ; otherwise it would be domesticated with the bundled iem.
Conclusion :
From the time I’ve seen its specs on the internet, I approached SuperMini with some great expectations, and I am here relieved to say that it is a highly worthy product.
With it’s serious sound quality and excellent price / performance ratio, I do not hesitate to recommend it to any music lover.
Good job Hifiman!


500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Tiny Form Factor, Great Battery Life, Driving Power, Good SQ, Balanced Option, OLED Screen, Included Earphones are Quite Good.
Cons: Volume with Sensitive IEM's, A Few UI Quirks, Sound Signature May Not Be For Everyone, Lack of DAC/Amp Support, Screen Protector.
It can be hard to find the right portable player for your needs – there’s an absolute sea of them, and most audiophile manufacturers try their hand at making a DAP (Digital Audio Player) or two.
You have people swearing by Fiio’s products, others by Aune’s, yet others by Shanling, Ibasso, Astell & Kern, Shozy… the list goes on. When everyone shouts that their player is the best, how do you figure out which one really fits the bill?
You can, of course, go to a megastore and demo them all – but such stores that include DAP’s are pretty rare, and definitely are hard to find in rural areas.
But what most don’t realize is that some – if not most – of the research can be done without hands-on experience. It’s easy to just look at sound comparisons and pick the one that sounds best, but in reality there are many other factors that influence whether it’s a good match or not. Battery life, for one – let’s just say it’s difficult to go portable with a 4 hour battery life like the Calyx M. Specs and charts aren’t only theoretical – they either help or destroy ease of use and enjoyment of the product.
The Supermini is one of those DAP’s that not only promises to sound good, but also shows great promise when it comes to lack of complications. Battery life? 22 hours, way above average. Form factor? Tiny – even smaller than the AK Jr., which form factor caused a few issues. Outdoor screen visibility? OLED – the best there is for outdoor viewing. How about power? 320mw output at 32ohms, and I suspect enough for even 300ohm loads – in other words, plenty.
So unlike most DAP’s, that make me nervous before I even receive it, the Supermini covers and preempts most of the trouble areas. Now, it’s down to the wire – does it sound good? Let’s find out.
The SuperMini in this review was provided as a loaner; I will be returning it in a few days. I'd also like to thank the HiFiMAN team for allowing me the opportunity to review this player.  
I apologize for the picture quality; it's not up to my standards and I should really have them replaced. Unfortunately, I don't have good lighting where I currently live so that will have to wait. Thanks for reading!
Packaging & Accessories:
 The Supermini comes in a minimalistic black box, with the HiFiMAN logo in white, as well as white borders along the edges. Take off the cover, and you have a great view of the Supermini, separated by a clear sheet of hard plastic.
There aren’t many accessories here, but there also aren’t many needed. Charging cable, a good pair of (unnamed) IEM’s, a pair of tips in addition to the ones installed on the headphone, and a screen protector were provided, along with a warranty card and a user manual.
I found the screen protector to be rather hard to apply, and even when applied correctly, it collects dust and moves around a bit. It isn’t a big deal, but something you should know. As for the headphone, it’s actually quite decent – something above the RE-400 level, but not quite the RE-600 model either. It pairs well with the Supermini, with a warm sound, yet still detailed and balanced. Vocals didn’t have as much clarity as I would have liked, but otherwise it’s great. Definitely great for people who are just starting their Hi-Fi journey, and want an all-in-one package that sounds good.
Another thing – the headphone is small, and I mean really small. Many IEM’s end up being too big or uncomfortable for the ear, but this one is snug and fits very well.
Unfortunately, the warranty card is in Chinese, but as usual with HiFiMAN, an English one should be in the works. The user manual is intuitive and easy to follow, and makes operating the Supermini a cinch – though it’s already quite easy to use even without instructions.
Overall, packaging is good, and other than the gimmicky screen protector, everything works quite well.
Build Quality, Design, & Form Factor:
The Supermini is a solid DAP – literally. The body is completely metal, while the three buttons in the center are made of hard plastic. No “hollow” sounding body here – it’s a brick in quality, without the size and weight. Same goes for the buttons; they have a satisfying click and are well placed.
The screen takes up half of the player, and looks quite nice. Large enough that you don’t need to squint, yet not a full length screen like some have been moving towards. Still, I don’t find there to be a lack of space on the screen during playtime, though I’ll come back to that later.
On the right hand side of the player are four buttons – volume up, volume down, return, and the power button. As someone left-handed, I feel the button placement is excellent for me. However, I’ve found that the power button placement was a bit tricky to get used to when using it right-handed. My thumb would always hover to where the volume buttons were, and not intuitively to the power button, located near the bottom of the player.
The bottom of the player is also packed with features – normal audio out, balanced out, microSD card slot, and a charging/file transfer port. The regular out is colored blue, while the balanced out is colored black – a nice and easy way to differentiate between the two.
The left hand side of the player is bare, along with the back of the player – besides for HiFiMAN logo and a bit of information, there’s not much here in the way of functionality. I would have preferred the power button to be located on the left side, near the top, but it’s a matter of preference – to each their own.
Form factor is absolutely great – I’m not sure I’ve even seen better on an audiophile player. This makes it easy to carry around, where it practically disappears into your pocket. This may not sound big, but besides for the AK Jr., practically every other player is a brick – heavy, bulky, and hard to carry around. To those that keep primarily their DAP’s collecting dust in their drawers, then this isn’t much of a factor. For those who actually use them often, this is practicality heaven.
Firmware is still being worked on, but the initial ones are quite developed – no more of the “I can’t get this stupid player to play” sort of garbage. The Supermini’s UI is smooth, easy to navigate, and without hiccups. While there is no scroll wheel, the left/right buttons in the center of the device allow for scrolling, when held down. Before getting the Supermini, I thought there was no way for that to work well. But you know what? It works really smoothly, and I actually prefer scrolling using the Supermini’s buttons, to the scroll wheel of the Aune M2. Scroll timing is something that so many companies get wrong, yet is so fundamental to easy navigation. And HiFiMAN nailed it this time.
Just something I’ve noticed after I finished the review, there have been a few comparisons to the Hisoundaudio Studio V/VI players, and I personally have to disagree with that sentiment entirely. The Studio VI I had couldn’t even play music in order – and here’s the Supermini, which does every function I’ve tried without a hitch. Whether it’s scrolling through a large collection quickly, skip forward/backwards to different songs, get out of the song screen back to the menu, to the options, back to the song playing – nothing was half baked, everything worked perfectly.
Volume works well, though 32 steps are more than I’ll ever need. Even the volume-hungry Pinnacle P1 was perfectly loud with the volume set to 8. I can’t imagine a headphone being non-sensitive enough to actually need even half those volume steps… perhaps it would be better to leave most of the higher volume steps out, and allow for more fine-tuning.
As for fast-forward/rewind, that’s the death of me on most DAP’s – it’s either too damn slow, or too fast to actually get to where I want. With the Supermini, it’s absolutely just right – The second I tried fast-forwarding, I was pleasantly surprised. This should be the benchmark for all other DAP’s to follow.
You’re probably thinking, “Well, it’s just fast forwarding, right? How important is it already?”
Speaking in terms of practicality, pretty darn important. Using the DAP’s I have, I very often want to move to other parts of the song, audiobook, or podcast, and a rewind/fast forward option that isn’t tuned well is just flat out annoying. I see people complaining about gapless playback like their life depends on it, while navigation, the real applicable factor, slips by unnoticed. Like I mentioned earlier, timing plays a large role in ease of use, and HiFiMAN nailed down the timing – again. I just wish more DAP’s had their rewind times down like the Supermini does.
On the main menu, there are a number of options. “Now playing” appears at the top of the list, an option I don’t see often enough on the main menu. After that there are sorting options, firstly a regular file explorer (sorts by folder), followed by sorting by artist, album, genre, favorites, and all songs. Last on the list is the Settings option, to which there are a plethora of sub-options that let you modify everything from backlight times to repeat, shuffle, and screen lock.
I should mention that there is no EQ option available at the moment, but personally I’ve found most EQ options to be very primitive and not well implemented – with the glaring exception being Cowon’s players.
On the playing screen, there is quite a bit of information, yet it all looks very smooth and not crowded. On the top bar, you can see the position of the song within the folder/album, followed by the shuffle/repeat signs (either on or off), then followed by volume level, finally ending with a battery indicator. Sounds like a handful, huh? It’s actually pretty clear to see, and very nicely shown.
Below that is the name of the track, followed by the artist and album name – quite nice. There isn’t any album art, but again, that doesn’t interfere with functionality, and is a bell/whistle that honestly doesn’t make using the player any easier. If the file name is longer than the screen, it’ll scroll through the rest of the name at a nice pace, showing exactly what you are listening to.
Under all this is a time bar, showing how far you are into the song. As if this wasn’t enough, it also displays the elapsed song time on the right, format under the status bar, and sample rate under that. What’s really nice about all this is that this is useful information that isn’t present in many other players – at least not on the playing screen. Sample rate is something I pay attention to, and having it there along with everything else makes it easier for me to enjoy what I’m listening to, without having to jump hoops trying to find information that is essential to the song.
There are a few minor software kinks that need straightening out, the most major of them being that the volume buttons turn the screen back on, when it should be locked. I don't seem to recall anything else that should be changed, other than the "return" button not going back to the album folder. However, a firmware update is very realistically in the works, so stay tuned.
All the way at the bottom are play, forward, and back symbols, each set above a physical button. Brightness of the display letters are just right, not too bright on the eyes, even in a dark room. As I mentioned before, this is an OLED screen – making outdoor viewing a piece of cake. I’m often on the go, and all too often have to squint to see what exactly is displayed on the screen – with OLED, that just doesn’t happen.
The Supermini supports practically all formats up to DSD 64, and I suspect DSD 128 will work as well. I did have an issue of the player freezing when playing an OGG file, but other than that it’s been pretty flawless. The UI is very quick throughout, with the only pauses being when selecting a song and switching to a second page of options on the same screen. No lag is indeed something to be happy about – there’s too many DAP’s out there that have enough lag to ruin enjoyment (I’m looking at you, AK Jr!), and cutting down on a color screen in exchange for a quicker interface with more information is a worthwhile tradeoff in my book. There are a few minor software kinks that need straightening out, the most major of them being that the volume buttons turn the screen back on, when it should be locked.
What’s the first question when you ask about a DAP?
“Does it sound good?”
Okay, fine. What’s the second question when it comes to DAP’s?
“Does it pair well with my headphone?”
And that is exactly why I am a huge fan of the headphone chart HiFiMAN published for the SuperMini. I’ve personally spent a lot of time (too much for me to quote here without being embarrassed) trying to find the best synergy for my headphones and earphones. What’s synergy? As anyone who’s been in this hobby for a while would know, you can have a stellar headphone, and a fantastic DAC, amplifier, or DAP – and the two will sound horrible together.
“Why? Isn’t it just summing the two awesome parts together?”
No – and that’s where synergy comes into play. To make this short, a lot of it is a game of luck (and hardcore calculations) as to whether a certain headphone will sound good with a certain DAP.
That’s why the headphone chart provided by HiFiMAN on the SuperMini main page is so, so great – they do all the work for you. They compared 26 different headphones with the Mini, and rated how each of them performed with it.
It may not seem like much, but this should really be the standard for every DAP producer – instead of spending hundreds of hours and dollars trying to figure out if a pairing even works, the engineers should tell you their opinion, at least on the driving capabilities. This saves us all the heartache and sweat when buying equipment – just to check out whether it works in the first place! I can’t begin to say how useful this chart is – it’s a lifesaver, for sure.
I already hear the cynics saying: “Yeah, but they’d overrate every pairing with the Supermini, right? They have a vested interest after all…” – but the complaint simply doesn’t hold up. Testing the Supermini with the Sennheiser HD650 was the best portable pairing I’ve gotten out of the headphone – and that’s saying a lot, since the 650’s usually hate everything but dedicated tube amps. It paired very well with the HiFiMAN HE400S – with and without the HM5 angled pads. True to the chart, it had a bit of a harder time with the AKG K7XX and the HiFiMAN HE400i – it sounded great for a portable pairing, but not the same level of goodness as the HD650/SuperMini provided. While I didn’t go through all the headphones on the list, the couple I’ve tried were fair and accurate enough for me to recommend the chart wholeheartedly, and go by the information it provides.
Moving on to the sound signature itself, the Supermini is an interesting player – more musical than analytical, but there’s more to it than that. It’s different than any other player I’ve heard before – it has a thick sound, but doesn’t ever get muddy, and the frequency as a whole carries some wait.
Usually that’s associated with less speed, a “slow” player that can’t keep up with rock and metal music. That isn’t the case here – it’s full-bodied (more so than “warm” players like the Fiio X5), and doesn’t lack in any department because of it.
As you’ll soon see, everything’s pretty much on point – but the SQ is distinct, different, and although I can’t speak for most of you, it will most likely be a very appealing treat.
Just to emphasize this again: it pairs absolutely beautifully with the HD650’s. HiFiMAN wasn’t kidding when they said that this little guy has enough power to “drive them perfectly” – it’s the best I’ve heard the HD650’s from a portable, and believe me, it isn’t a compromise. You’ll get a lot from that pairing.
On to the individual aspects.
Bass: The bass is prominent – a tad elevated, but nothing that will overpower you even with bassy headphones. It seems bassy – but really, that has to do with the texture and rich thickness of it, not the actual quantity. Put on even your most headbanging subwoofer music, and it treats it the way it should – not too much, and not too little.
Bass slams hard, and gives a good “thump” to headphones when necessary. It’s not lean by any means, but it’s detailed, warm, musical, and great to listen to.
Mids: Vocals… the SuperMini is dead neutral here. There’s a slight veil going on, though I can’t pinpoint where exactly it is. It’s a slightly darker take on female vocals, though I wouldn’t call it ‘lush’ – there’s no sibilance, but I can hear the slightest bit of harshness creeping in at times. This is more apparent with pianos, but those still sound nice, and quite natural. Listening to Para Mexer (by Animals as Leaders), the guitars ironically don’t have that edge and extension that makes the track aggressive and exciting – I could fall asleep to the SuperMini listening to it. For those that prefer an inoffensive sound signature, the SuperMini has it.
Highs: Highs are very refreshing, and definitely one of the favorite parts of the frequency. They are crisp while not harsh, detailed, and have good clarity and decent extension. It’s slightly different than the rest of the frequency, so how it meshes with the midrange veil I mentioned earlier is definitely a point of discussion. It doesn’t do badly at all, however, due to the differences sonically, I believe this is what makes it sound so different than other DAP’s on first listen.
Detail: Despite being musical, there is quite a bit of detail to go around – not as much as an analytical DAP, but more than enough to see a large difference between the SuperMini and a standard non-audiophile DAP. Still, if I were to pin a weak spot, this would probably be it, as head-to-head with the AK Jr. (a DAP costing $100 more, without any bundled IEM’s) it lags behind just a bit. This isn’t a knock on the SuperMini – it’s noticeably smaller than the Junior (which is tiny already), it’s cheaper, and the Junior has a very, very capable grade of sound as well. It’s to be expected though – musical DAP’s often fall behind a bit in this area, but the SuperMini doesn’t seem to lag too much in this category.
Soundstage & Imaging: The soundstage is smaller than I would have liked, with spacious songs sounding like they’re in a normal-sized room. It is also wider than deep, with the DN-2002 not really getting the front/back cues it usually deserves. It’s a problem that plagues most DAP’s though, so I can’t pin this on the SuperMini in particular. It does seem to get noticeably better in balanced mode (with the included RE-X00 IEM), but without any other balanced headphones to test some more, I couldn’t say for sure.
Clarity: A bit above average, I would say. Nothing groundbreaking, but nothing muddies up either. With its warm sound signature, this was one thing I was paying a lot of attention to, as previous generation DAP’s struggled in this area, but the SuperMini seems to do fine. If anything, I think more clarity would take away from the musicality of the sound sig.
Hiss: This player is powerful – not only in terms of volume output, but driving power as well. It would be heaven if there were a gain switch in the settings. Unfortunately though, as it stands, it’s perfectly suited for headphones and non-sensitive IEM’s, and less so for sensitive in ears. The hiss isn’t bad even with my sensitive DUNU IEM’s, but it’s there.
The more relevant problem pertaining to sensitive IEM’s isn’t hiss though - even with 32 volume steps, it’s a struggle to fine-tune the volume on louder tracks. It was blisteringly loud with the AKG K7XX (not a sensitive headphone by any means) at the 20th volume step, leaving lesser room to maneuver with in ears. For reference, some of my more sensitive IEM’s were too loud on the second volume step, with rock tracks.
Pairings: Obviously, this is a big thing going for the SuperMini. It can drive full-sized headphones, well? Now that’s something that most portable players can’t brag about. Like I said before, it drives the Sennheiser HD650’s astonishingly well. But like I also mentioned, it’s hard to get a good volume level with sensitive IEM’s, so regardless of whether they sound good with them or not, it’ll be hard to listen to comfortably.
HiFiMAN advertised the SuperMini as being more suitable for full-sized headphones than IEM’s, though I wish this was published before the SuperMini was released, from the get-go. I tried it with the Pinnacle P1, though while driving-wise the SuperMini wasn’t an issue, tonality was, and I didn’t find the pairing to be to my tastes. The DUNU DN-2002 and K7XX played better with it, with the HD650 coming out on top – a result that’s usually opposite of what most portable players provide.
The SuperMini is an interesting device. At $400, with the included RE-X00, it’s a quite good balanced setup, and I would recommend this for people who don’t have an IEM to go with the SuperMini. For those that do, I’d still find this a great purchase at its asking price, if battery life, form factor, and high driving power are on the top of your list of priorities - or if you have a number of balanced headphones, to take advantage of that feature. If you have the HD650’s (or an equivalent headphone that pairs as well), the SuperMini is a no brainer purchase – it’s expensive, but brings a lot to the table.
I tried DSD128. It does not work.
I'll mention that to them, that's very disappointing. I personally don't have any DSD files, but if it should work, and it doesn't, that's something to be noted of. Maybe it'll be included in the gapless update?
There are other players that don't support DSD128 but do support DSD64, and most main-stream DSD music is in DSD64. So if you want to listen to SACD rips or DSD from major studios, you are covered, if you want to listen to DSD128 avant garde jazz, tough titty. 


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