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HIFIMAN SuperMini High-Res Portable Player

Rating:
4.2/5,
  1. daduy
    Big sound from a Tiny player
    Written by daduy
    Published Mar 7, 2017
    4.5/5,
    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
    Disclaimer
     
    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.
     
    Introduction
     
    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.
     
    Interface
     
    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
     
    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.
     
    Summary
     
    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.
      trellus, gr8soundz and Brooko like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. glassmonkey
      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, Mar 12, 2017
    3. daduy
      @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.
      daduy, Mar 12, 2017
    4. glassmonkey
      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.
      glassmonkey, Mar 12, 2017
  2. tenedosian
    Hifiman SuperMini - A Power Plant Weighing 70 Grams
    Written by tenedosian
    Published Feb 20, 2017
    4.0/5,
    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!
      golov17 and trellus like this.
  3. avitron142
    A Powerful DAP That Brings a Lot to the Table!
    Written by avitron142
    Published Dec 24, 2016
    4.0/5,
    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.
    Introduction:
     
    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.
     
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    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.
     
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    Sound:
     
    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.
     
    Conclusion:
     
    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.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. glassmonkey
      I tried DSD128. It does not work.
      glassmonkey, Jan 1, 2017
    3. avitron142
      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?
      avitron142, Jan 1, 2017
    4. glassmonkey
      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. 
      glassmonkey, Jan 1, 2017
  4. kamikaziH2Omln
    HiFiMan SuperMini: A Pocket Sized Monster
    Written by kamikaziH2Omln
    Published Nov 11, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Form Factor, Output Power, Included IEMs
    Cons - No Internal Storage, No MicroSD Card Supplied
    I’m a 20 year old student currently studying electrical engineering. I was introduced into the world of high end audio roughly 7 years ago, so I’m definitely not new to the game, but it would be a disservice to those who have stuck around for much longer to call myself well experienced. The introduction of high end audio definitely influenced what I want to do with my career, and the constant changes and introductions of new ideas and new companies is something I constantly keep up on! I am known as “the audio guy” by my peers and try my best to give them a solid introduction to the community without making them bankrupt. I’ll leave bankruptcy to the University.
    So, what do I look for? I’m a sucker for a warm sound that allows me to “drift off”. Accuracy is definitely important, but if the sound is too clinical to the point of depriving the sound of life, it becomes a turnoff. However, if it is too warm to the point of muddiness, the same effect is achieved. My desired sound can be attributed to many loudspeakers made in the 80s and 90s. Not brutally accurate, but something that is comfortably warm.
    In terms of sound signatures, I have found myself changing preference constantly. I like a sound signature with a warm bass, forward mids, and slightly elevated treble. I was introduced to the world of Hifi by the Ultimate Ears 600s (BA Driver) years ago. Headphones and IEMs that make me smirk uncontrollably include the Heir Audio 3.ai, AKG K7XX, as well as the Fostex TH-X00.
    Sources:
    1. Schiit Modi 2U DAC+ JDS Labs O2 AMP
    2. HifiMan Supermini
    3. HifiMan Megamini
    4. Fiio E07K
    5. LG G3
    6. LG V20
     
    IEMs:
    1. Fiio EM3
    2. MEElectronics M-Duo
    3. Hifiman RE-6xx (More on this later)
    4. Hifiman RE-600
    5. Heir Audio 3.ai
     
    Headphones:
    1. Ultimate Ears 4000
    2. Sennheiser Momentum (v 1.0)
    3. AKG K7XX
    Like everyone here, I am not sponsored by the company nor affiliated with them beyond writing this review. I was provided these units to review them under a reasonable amount of time and will return them after analysis.
    Opening and Initial Impressions:
    I hate unnecessary packaging, I hate it a lot. I try to be utilitarian and I’m particular about providing something to the end user that can be used reasonably and usefully in the future. Good news, Hifiman did a solid job on it. Similar to how Apple is praised for presentation, Hifiman has taken similar steps and, dare I say, improved upon it.
    Foregoing the usual paper-based construction, foam cradles the player with a small plastic sheet above. Below you will find a small pamphlet about the device and below that again, a small compartment for some balanced earbuds (we will call these the RE-6xx), some eartips for said earbuds, a screen protector, and a micro-USB charging cable. Hifiman is offering a premium product and the unboxing experience definitely helps reinforce that.
    000423.jpg 000447.jpg
    Design and Construction:
        The body is solid aluminum with a smooth, matte black finish. The buttons laid out on the right side of the body or the 3 main control buttons giving a small bump in front. It rocks a simple OLED display that displays text information, whether it be menus or song information.The side buttons control from top to bottom, Volume, Back button, and Lock/ Power. The reset button is located just below the Power Button. On the bottom, we have two 3.5 connectors. The left one is for balanced headphones and the right one is for unbalanced headphones. More on this later. There is a micro-SD card slot which is a bit tough to use, as well as a micro-USB charging port.
        The statement that Hifiman tries to exude here is one of bold simplicity, and it works. The Supermini is incredibly well balanced in the hand, and is the first music player that felt comfortably small and easy to use since my beloved 1st Generation iPod Shuffle. My only complaints are that I’m awful at applying screen protectors, and you only get one shot with the one provided. Also with the button layout, the media player heavily favors usage with the left hand. With the left hand, the button placement is perfect, but when I use my right hand, my thumb finds itself confused.
        In terms of durability, the Supermini holds itself quite well, in fact, I was a tad impressed about it. With something so seemly delicate, it was able to survive my commutes in the backpack with no physical wear whatsoever in contrast to its smaller sibling, the Megamini. Any scratches I thought I had, were wiped away with a brush of the finger. Additionally, the smoothed corners were a lot friendlier than the Megamini when placed in the same pocket as my phone. It didn’t cause any damage to its neighbors in my pocket.
     
     
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    Extras
    The Supermini also comes with a small assortment of accessories. In addition to the Supermini, you also receive a charging cable, a screen protector,  and the RE-6xx with some assorted eartips. The charging cable is a standard microUSB to USB cable for your charging and media transfer needs. The included screen protector is about average and will protect your screen. However, it will not save you from being bad at applying it like me. After application, I highly considered taking it off since the device looks fantastic without a screen protector. I wish they had more than one screen protector though. I’m not fantastic at applying them still, and I can’t imagine everyone who orders one of these will be able to apply it perfectly the first time either. Additionally, I really wished that HiFiMan had included some sort of silicone holder for the device, similar to the E07K. Although the device seems pretty rugged, a lot of people, myself included, would feel significantly more at ease with a little more protection. Also, a small microSD card would have been very welcome. I could imagine being flustered about not having a microSD card and not having a means of using the product right out of box. Finally, that leaves us to the RE-6xx.
     
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    The RE-6xx
    Unmarked, unnamed, and unseen till the release of the Supermini, these unknown earbuds may be someones first venture into the world of balanced sound. Many ties have been made between both these and the RE-600, and I think that is a good baseline to start explaining these IEMs.
    Listening in comparison to the RE-600, it is easiest to draw similarities between the two IEMs.
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    Similarities
    Imagining is still a wonderfully maintained between both IEMs, and easily is my favorite aspect of them. They aren’t necessarily the widest IEMs known to man, however their ability to separate individual sounds are incredible, especially with the size footprint of each respectively.
    The soundstage across all frequency ranges are flat, perhaps unapologetically. Trebles are seemingly bright, with mids forward, and bass reduced. It is a theoretically dry sound, but  I found myself perplexed at how something at a critical listening standpoint was so enjoyable to listen to. Reading in on the RE-600, I stumbled across something user HiFlight mentioned, which I think explains my enjoyed listening. The reproduction of sound is more or less , “a lifelike representation of what [is] most often heard during most non-amplified live performances” (user HiFlight). Naturally this isn’t a sound signature suitable for everyone, especially with a industry tendency to selectively boost bass and cut trebles. However, with an open mind, you may find this sound signature to be something you didn’t know you could enjoy! I noticed that songs with more live instrumentation and less artificial instruments provide for a more pleasant sonic experience, whereas more the converse can create a more dry experience, especially with the precision that both IEMs offer.
     

    Differences
    Although the RE-6xx are fantastic IEMs, they are not of same caliber as the RE-600, but the 6xx some within striking distance of the 600s so frequently that it is more fair to associate it with its bigger sibling rather than its smaller sibling, the RE-400. Aurally these differ mostly in precision of the drivers as well as breadth of the drivers. Primarily, the 6xx is slightly less accurate than the 600s, and has a slightly more narrow soundstage. The sound signature of the two IEMs slightly differ as well, with the 6xx being a more “fun” IEM with a hair more bass presence and slight veiling to the treble. Finally, the construction of both IEMs slightly differ. The 600 has about 50% of the cable reinforced within a sleeve, where the 6xx runs a rubber reinforced cable construction throughout instead.
     
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    Specifications
    I’m bad at formatting tables, so I will redirect you to HiFiMans Product page for the Supermini for specifications.
     
     
     
    Software and Related
     
    Luckily, the control and navigation of the Supermini is quite simple and fairly intuitive to use. The device uses an organized list of menus, akin to the system used by Apple in the iPod Classic. The button layout is obviously different, but idea is the same.
    The Operating System for the most part was rock solid stable, but there were several occasions infrequently where the OS would hang, and a reset was necessary (stick a pin in the hole beneath the power button). Luckily, cold startup time is about 10 seconds. Past initial formatting of the microSD card inserted, the file management worked similarly to a USB Flash device when connected (which means no drivers either). If you are using Musicbee as a music client, you can Drag + Drop files directly into the Supermini when connected!
    Metadata was hit/ miss for me. Sometimes the metadata would be read perfectly, regardless of language or file type. Other times, the metadata would include track numbers in the title, and other minor quirks of similar nature. It could easily be an issue on my end, but I am fairly through with metadata. On a similar tangent, the Supermini played almost any and all file types I threw at it, from MP3 to ALAC to WAV to DSD64.
    DSC_0981.jpg
     
    The screen is beautiful to look at and looks great under most situations. However, the ability to change brightness of the Supermini would have been quite welcome for the very few situations that the brightness wasn’t ideal for.
    Finally, the Battery, although quite often quite good, definitely doesn’t live to its 22 hour advertized length unless possibly sitting idle the entire time. User Brooko stated that at 7/32 volume, the device approaches 15 hours of battery life, which feels very similar to what I have been getting. It is critical to keep in mind that the device does not have any auto-shutoff and will drain battery in standby, even without anything plugged in. Additionally, the device will not stop audio playback when disconnected.
     
     
    Sound
     
    Treble
    The Treble of the Supermini was unarguably my favorite part of the device, hands down. The upper registers which typically are fatiguing were surprisingly crisp and forward. In regards to all of the mobile devices I have ever used, I think this one provided my favorite experience in the treble regions. Although not perfectly lifelike, the reproduction of sound easily ranked among the best I have ever heard on a portable solution.
    I listened to “Jupiter’s Lightning” by Cœur de Pirate to listen for Treble reproduction. The symphonic midtones highlighted by crashing cymbals and bright Flutes was an absolute pleasure to listen to.
     
    Midrange
    The midrange of the Supermini are decently clear and gives presence to the vocals. However, this will not give additional presence to equipment that doesn’t highlight it. For example, my Heir Audio 3.ai, which is notoriously V-shaped, would not see any benefit to vocal reproduction in comparison to something like the RE-600 or K7xx did. Vocals had a very close and personal feel, and were pleasant to listen to, but often could be overshadowed by instrumentation in the same frequency range. Midrange felt less precise when comparing to the Modi 2U+ O2 Stack, but felt more realistic and musical. This is one of the “warmest” solid state playback devices I have had the ability to experience, managing to give a little more fun and musicality than its other solid state counterparts.
     
    Bass/ Sub-bass
    The bass is something that I think that Dr. Feng did perfectly on the Supermini. Originally, I was quite concerned that similarly to many portable DAPs, the bass end of the player would either A) non-existent or B) would have started clipping when power demand got too high. The Supermini does not suffer from either one of these issues. Listening through multiple multiple in-ears as well as headphones, I found the bass to be deep and impactful, but cautiously so. The low frequencies are disciplined and precise, not lingering and punchy. I think the cautious nature of this bass response contributed to a sound signature that allowed for hours of non fatigued listening across all of my playback equipment. Additionally, the Superminis unrelenting ability to keep up when connected to demanding equipment (AKG K7xx in my case) at maximum output was definitely one of my favorite aspects of the entire product itself. I loved playing Madeon and Porter Robinsons - Shelter and passing around the headphones to curious colleagues. The warm soundscape and impactful lows caused every single person who was listening to grin from ear-to-ear. Clearly Hifiman is doing something right here.
     
    When I received the Supermini, I spent about a week isolating myself from other mobile audio devices, primarily my LG G3 and also My Fiio E07K. It was after this time that I went back to my other devices to listen to again and was able to discern the differences. Below are the different Players that I compared them to.
    DSC_0957.jpg  
     

    Supermini vs. Fiio E07K “Andes”
    With the price point difference between the devices, I was initially confused about how the E07K performed decently well in comparison. However, the consideration had to be made that the E07K is not a media player, and is only a DAC/ AMP. This point aside, the Supermini not surprisingly outperformed the E07K. However, the most apparent conditions where the Supermini outperformed the E07K were when using IEMs. Soundspace was noticeably wider and easily significantly more accurate in favor of the Supermini. My main complaint here is the lack of EQ on the Supermini. The E07K in contrast had an Equalizer available (10 Step Treble/ Bass EQ). It’s not a deal-breaker, but isn’t an uncommon feature in DAPs, and I hope to see it possibly implemented through software in the future.
    DSC_0988.jpg
     

    Supermini vs Megamini
    Between the two devices, there are significantly more traits that these devices share sonically then they differ. However, one of the things I noticed when comparing the two were the differences in soundstage. The Supermini was wider comparatively, not to a significant degree, but enough to appreciate the extra sound space. Additionally, the sound of the Supermini is well described by Dr. Fang as “dynamic, sweet, punchy [...] similar to their flagship HM901”, especially in the treble region. The bass of the Supermini has a more noticeable sub-bass region. If users are familiar with the “bass mod” for the AKG 700 series headphone, the difference between the Supermini and Megamini felt similar on a similar tangent.
    DSC_0986.jpg  

     
    Supermini vs. LG G3
    The LG G3 was my EDC (everyday carry) for a long time now, and I had grown comfortable to its warm, fairly accurate sound. Enter the Supermini. This little monster took almost everything I loved from the G3, and made me infuriated that the Supermini could present it better. Soundstage was wider. Treble was crisper and cleaner. Bass was extended, punchy, and clean. However, the Superminis ability to drive my AKG K7xx to pleasure was my favorite contrast between the two devices. It felt like a crime being able to wear them on casual walk outside. I enjoyed the experience enough to forgo the judgement and scorn the people around me probably had for walking around with open-back headphones. However, the UI of the phone completely outclasses the Supermini, and for good reason. The two devices serve different purposes at the end of the day. Additionally, at release, the phone was at least 50% more expensive than the Supermini, and the fair majority of the cost was likely dedicated to the manufacturing of the screen (first 2k screen phone on the market) and usability of the device.
    DSC_0989.jpg  

    Supermini vs. LG V20
    This is the only portable source that I have had that caused me to hesitate on the recommendation on the Supermini. The Supermini is clearly a superior audio product to the V20, but the casual listener doesn’t always need a superior product. Especially with what LG calls their “Quad DAC” and ESS, the V20 is able to drive headphones often out of the range of a typical cellular device. I was able to drive every single headphone in my inventory well with it, and even the 7XX became unbearably loud with it maxed out.
    Compared to the Supermini, the V20 is still audibly quieter at max volume than the Supermini. Maximum sound output was measured using a National Instruments myDAQ, which although not laboratory grade equipment, will give us a fairly accurate idea of measured output. A 440 Hz constant tone was played through both devices. The soundstage is definitely in favor of the Supermini having the edge in breadth of sound. Additionally, the lows hit harder and with more fervor, the mids were more present, separated, and personal, and the treble were more delicately handled, with the most subtle aspects of music to be picked out.
    Comparitor.jpg
     
     
     
    In the end, the decision between the Supermini and LG V20 is determined by the needs of the end user. The Supermini is a more precise instrument which produces a more pleasurable experience to the discernible ear. It provides an incredible sound experience with a small size footprint. However, LG made a compelling offering here to the casual listener. Keep in mind however, that similarly to the G3, the V20 has a hefty price tag of $800 USD unlocked.
    DSC_0992.jpg  

     
    Balanced Vs. Unbalanced
     
    If you do not know what balanced is, check out this link.
     
    1000x800px-3e7cd58a_RE-ZeroPlugandWireDiagram.jpg
    (Image edited from User rvas18)
     
    Before receiving the Supermini, I couldn’t comprehend what other users reviewing the Supermini were writing about a balanced output being superior in sound. Theoretically, it shouldn’t make a significant difference in sound quality output, however, when I took a comparative listen on both outputs on the Supermini, I was shocked. The balanced output defies the theoretical minute differences in sound reproduction, producing an audibly wider soundstage, and less crowded reproduction of sound. Notes and sounds were more easily discernible and more natural.
     
    I was able to listen to the RE-600 in addition to the RE-6xx when I had the Supermini as mentioned earlier, and both of them had solid improvements when listening to them balanced. I just wish that I had other balanced equipment to also test as well, due to the countless similarities between the RE-6xx and the RE-600. However, based on the Supermini, I do think that balanced output devices will definitely have a place in the future. My only hope is that more companies adopt this output. Keep in mind that TRRS doesn’t necessarily denote Balanced, which would explain if you don’t get proper output on a Smartphone for example!
     
     
     
    Functionality
    The biggest question I am constantly asked is, “is it good?” However, I don’t think that this is the correct question to ask. I own a Fiio E07K, and initially owned it to be a portable DAC/ AMP for my daily use. Is it a good product? Yes. But is it something that I bring around with me everyday reliably? No. I think the appropriate question that should be asked is, “Is this something you would use reliably on a daily basis?”. In regards to the Supermini, the answer is for the most case, yes.
    As someone who had an LG G3 as a daily carry until recently, the Supermini was an easy choice to also carry in my pocket. The sound quality is vastly superior, and having a device that performed better, lasted longer, and provided less drain on the phone was a no-brainer to have around. However, picking up the LG V20 and it became harder to find a definitive answer. If you are particular about sound accuracy, tonality, and soundstage, then the Supermini is the answer. However, if you are looking for a device that has reasonably good sound quality that can power your more demanding headphones/ IEMs, the V20 may be good enough.
     
     
     
    Conclusion: Supermini Vs. Megamini
    Overarchingly, they both are fantastic devices, but I find more personal enjoyment from the Supermini. Everything else about the device aside, the sound of the Supermini is more dynamic, forward, cleaner, and punchier than its smaller sibling. With considerations for the other elements of the device, such as included accessories and construction, the clear value winner is the Supermini as well. With the subjectively better design of the chassis, more responsive software, RE-6xx included, and better ergonomics, it is hard to recommend to the Megamini between both of them, keeping in mind that the Supermini has so much to offer. If you are looking for a pocket sized “end-all”, you may have found the device you were looking for in the HiFiMan Supermini.
    DSC_0929.jpg  

    1. View previous replies...
    2. DiamondPilot
      The purpose of balanced line level audio cables is to reduce noise induced into cables. The signal is sent down the line both in-phase and out of phase, plus a common ground (hence the 3-pins). At the receiving end, the out-of-phase version of the signal is flipped back into phase. This inverts the phase of any induced noise. Then the two signals are summed. When the summing occurs, the noise cancels as the noise is in-phase on one wire and out of phase on the other.
      DiamondPilot, May 31, 2018
    3. DiamondPilot
      Balanced amplification is something entirely different. There are no out-of-phase signals sent down the line, and there is no cancellation of induced noise in the wire. Rather, instead of the L & R amp channels sharing a common ground and the amp only driving one pole of each driver so to speak (single-ended), each channel has a separate ground, which allows a complementary push-pull amplifier design to be used enabling twice the voltage swing.
      DiamondPilot, May 31, 2018
    4. DiamondPilot
      The primary benefit of balanced amplification is twice the output voltage rails for a given power source, without having to use a DC-to-DC converter to achieve this.
      In portable devices where power supplies are limited, this is an important benefit.

      In other words, more output power to the headphones than would otherwise be achievable without more batteries/battery cells, or additional DC-DC converter circuitry.
      DiamondPilot, May 31, 2018
  5. glassmonkey
    HiFiMan SuperMini: Pint-sized nuclear powerplant for your ears
    Written by glassmonkey
    Published Nov 11, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Tiny form factor, excellent build quality, nice looking, easy UI and intuitive control scheme, ton of power, good battery life
    Cons - formatting errors, microSD compatibility, no external DAC, no line-out, no gapless(firmware?), limited playlist capability, useless screen protector,
    SuperMini-6.jpg
     

    Acknowledgment

    Thank you HiFiMAN for providing this review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.
     

    Introduction       

    HiFiMAN has been around a long time now. They’ve gone from bargain OEM to one of the best and brightest headphone manufacturers in the world. Personally, I have a long history with HiFiMan.
    In 2009, I had gotten tired of my $70ish Sony IEMs (can’t remember which ones they were and tossed them long ago) and was looking for a new pair of budget headphones to play out of my PSP—dated. Through |joker|’s thread, I discovered the RE0, and through the extinct Head-direct website, I got my first pair of audiophile headphones for $80. It was a really good deal, and the start of something beautiful and terrible, a love and lust for new audiophile gear. In a way, HiFiMAN provided me with my gateway drug, and all of you on HeadFi are now regretting it.
     
    My first post on HeadFi after years of lurking was a 3 way review comparing the RE0 to two closed circumaural headphones: the Shure SRH-440 and the KRK-KNS 8400. It did pretty well.
    I’ve listened to a lot of HiFiMAN gear, and still have my RE0. The HE-6 is probably my favourite headphone of all time when properly driven, and the HE-1000 is among my current favourites in production headphones—I haven’t been able to do side by side with the Focal Utopia or Mr. Speakers Ether (C) Flow, so can’t state that the HE-1000 are my favourite outright. With all the listening I’ve done, I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to do a true review of some HiFiMAN gear, so when they called for reviewers, I jumped, in spite of a busy review schedule that won’t resolve itself before the new year.
     
    Like most sensible people I started falling in love with music as a child. My first portable audio device was a Sony Walkman (the cassette kind) that I got when I was 10 years old (24 years ago).  I listened with the cheap Sony on ears that came with the Walkman until I bought a Koss CD boombox and started listening to UAF College Radio and 103.9 (alternative rock at the time) in Fairbanks, Alaska. I once listened to Louie, Louie for 3 days straight, and I’m not insane—did you know there is a Spanish gospel version of Louie, Louie?
     
    Like political tastes and tastes in friends, my musical tastes evolved through association and then rebellion and experimentation. From the songs of my father (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, ZZ Top), to the songs of my peers (Dr. Dre, Green Day, Nirvana, Weezer), my tastes evolved, expanded and exploded into the polyglot love that is my current musical tapestry. Like a Hieronymous Bosch mural, my tastes can be weird and wonderful: dreamy Japanese garble pop, 8 bit chiptune landscapes percolated with meows, queer punk, Scandinavian black metal; or they can be more main-stream with minglings of Latin guitar, Miles Davis trumpet, and banks of strings and percussion in the Mariinsky Orchestra. Mostly my audio drink of choice is a rich stout pint of heady classic rock and indie/alternative from my musical infancy and identity formation (the 90s). Come as you are, indeed. Beyond the weird, the wonderful, the interesting and accepted, I’m a big fan of intelligent hip-hop artists like Macklemore, Metermaids, Kendrick Lamar, Sage Francis and Aesop Rock. I even dabble in some country from time to time, with First Aid Kit and the man in black making cameos in my canals.
     
    My sonic preferences tend towards a balanced or neutral sound, though I’ll admit to liking a little boosted bass or treble from time to time. If I have to choose between warm and bright, I’ll choose bright almost every time. A few screechy high notes are preferable to me than a foggy unfocused bass guitar. As my tastes are eclectic, and a day of listening can involve frequent shifts in my sonic scenery, I don’t generally want headphones that try to paint my horizons in their own hues. I need headphones that get out of the way, or provide benign or beneficial modifications. I desire graceful lifts like an ice-dancing pairs’ carved arc, not heaving lifts like a man mountain deadlift.
     
    My last hearing test with an audiologist was a long time ago and under strange circumstances. However, I have heard tones all the way down to 10hz and all the way up to 23Khz using headphones in my collection. Either my headphones tend to have a hole in frequency at 18kHz or my hearing does, because I never seem to hear it. I’m sensitive to peaky treble, and treble fatigue, even when I can’t hear what might be causing it. I do enjoy smooth extended treble. I like deep tight bass and impactful drums, and dislike upper mid-bass emphasis.  I like my vocals crisp, so stay away from Josh Tillman’s voice you nasty upper mid-bass hump.  I like air in the stage, not just cues to distance and height, but the feeling of air moving around and through instruments. Soundstage shouldn’t be just about hearing, I need to feel it. I listen at volume levels that others consider loud (78 to 82 dB), but I just set it to where the dynamics peak. I’m not here to shatter my eardrums. I like them just how they are.
     
    I generally don’t believe in using EQ, not even for inexpensive headphones, especially in reviews. I won’t claim that I haven’t done it, but I generally try to avoid it.
     
    I believe that burn-in can make a difference, but I also acknowledge that there isn’t any measurement that appears to give conclusive proof that burn-in exists. I trust my ears, fully acknowledging that my brain may fill in expected details, may colour my interpretation, or may be subject to its own settling period with a headphone. In my experience, burn-in effects are not as large as proponents of burn-in tend to advertise. I’ve also noted that using white/pink/brown noise, I almost never observe changes beyond 24 hours of burn in. When people tell you that you shouldn’t listen to your headphones until they have 200 hours on them, I think these people need to be ignored. No matter what, you should be listening to your headphones at different stages, right out of the box and at intervals. How can someone observe a difference without baseline observations and follow up observations to measure change trajectories? If you really want to be serious about controlling for effect, you need volume matching, source matching, and tip/pad matching.
     
    I’m a firm believer that cables can make a difference, but I don’t think they always do. When I tried out Toxic Cables line, they were in a bunch of baggies at the Cambridge 2015 HeadFi meet without any labels telling me what I was listening to. The cheapest looking one was the one I liked the best. I was excited that I wouldn’t have to spend much to improve my sound. It turned out that the cheapest looking one was the Silver/Gold top of the line cable. I’ve heard the difference that USB cables can make, from upgrading from the crappy cable that came with my Geek Out 1000 to a Supra USB, and then again when upgrading to the LH Labs Lightspeed 2G with the iUSB3.0. When I picked up a cheap shielded power lead from Mains Cables R Us to replace my standard kettle lead on my integrated amplifier, I heard more crunchy and clearer treble. I switched the leads with my wife blinded and she heard the same difference. I didn’t tell her what I heard and let her describe it herself. But cables don’t always make a difference. When I switched from my standard HD650 cable to a custom balanced cable (Custom Cans UK, very affordable), the sound stayed exactly the same when hooked up via a top tier (custom made by my local wire wizard, @dill3000, out of  silver/gold Neotech wire) 4-pin XLR to 6.3mm converter. Balanced mode made a difference in clarity and blackness of background—this indicates that the amp was the deciding influence, not the cable. Your mileage may vary and you may not hear a difference, but I have.
     

    Vital Statistics (specs from manufacturers and distributors)

    So what does the manufacturer have to say about this piece of kit? Sometimes it’s enlightening, sometimes not. First, here are some measurements. HiFiMAN didn’t provide the output impedance value, which is pretty ridiculous as it significantly affects sound and purchasing decisions for those in the know about impedance mismatches. Correct that, HiFiMAN.
     
    Specifications
     
    Dimensions
    45mm x 104mm x 8.5mm (1.77” x 4.09” x 0.33”)
    Weight
    70g (2.47oz)
    Frequency response
    20hz – 20kHz
    Output Impedance
    ~2Ω (as measured by @thatonenoob, comment linkie)
    Total Harmonic Distortion
    0.04%
    Signal to Noise Ratio
    102 ± 3dB
    Power Output
    320 mW into 32Ω (balanced output), no data given for SE
    Battery life
    22 hours stated
    Formats supported
    16/44 to 24/192 WAV, FLAC, ALAC; 16/44 to 24/96 APE; DSD64 (single rate, DSF and DFF formats); also supports MP3, OGG, AAC, WMA
    Memory
    MicroSD to 256GB, no accessible internal memory

     
    HiFiMAN founder, Fang Bian provides some information about the SuperMini and MegaMini in a letter:
     
     
    I think that the threading argument is voodoo audiophilia. I think that most DAPs use multi-threading, as Fang Bian says: gapless has not been possible without it. I’ve heard plenty of players that sound excellent that have gapless, so this claim requires evidence. Either Fang needs to show some quantitative or qualitative data, or he needs to wait till he has it to make this claim. Until then, I’m going to disregard it as a bit of marketing parading as science.
     
    In addition to the update about gapless, firmware and threading. The SuperMini product page gives some information about what makes the SuperMini, super, where it’s copious power comes from. The SuperMini has 8 op-amps and can output 4.2V peak voltage. The site provides a grid of headphones that normal people and crazy people might try to power using the SuperMini. I’ve recreated that grid in Table form below.
     
    Difficulty to drive
    Headphones
    Drives Perfectly
    Audeze LCD-2, Audio Technica A2000X Ti, Beyerdynamic DT9901, Beyerdynamic T-5p, Denon D7000, Fostex TH-900, Grado SR125/225/325, HiFiMAN Edition X, HiFiMAN HE400s, Oppo PM-1, Oppo PM-3, Sennheiser HD600/650, Sennheiser Momentum
    Wide Dynamic Range
    AKG K812, Audio Technica AD2000, Audio Technica W5000, HiFiMAN HE400i
    Challenging
    AKG K712/701/702, HiFiMAN HE1000, HiFiMAN HE560, Sennheiser HD700, Sennheiser HD800
    Hard to Drive
    AKG K1000, Audeze LCD-4, Beyerdynamic DT880 (250Ω), Beyerdynamic T1
    1Version not specified

     
    From the list I judge two things, the judgments on difficulty to drive were done subjectively, and the SuperMini should be able to drive anything a reasonable person throws at it. Only a crazy person would try to drive the Beyerdynamic T1, HiFiMAN HE1000 or the AKG K1000. I’ve spent a bit of time with the K1000, and it takes about 4W minimum into 32Ω to make it sing a little tune, which is more than 10 times the power output of the SuperMini. The K1000 will never be confused for a portable headphone. You can get sound out of any of these headphones with the SuperMini and the right cable, but to say that the headphones are being fully driven would be insanity—I’d have to think you are more barmy than my home country’s politics right now (I’m an American in the UK). I can power the HD600 off my laptop, but that isn’t how I’d prefer to listen to them.
     
    Returning to the first judgment I made from the grid, I’ve listened to the HD700 for a little bit, and found it was driven just fine out of my iBasso DX50, whilst the HD600 I found more difficult. The resistance on the HD700 is only 150Ω, which is half the resistance of the HD600 and it has higher sensitivity. Similarly, I found the HD800 sounded better out of the Chord Mojo than the HD600, as while they have the same resistance, the HD800 is much more sensitive. I still, somewhat controversially among my peers, hold that the HD600 demands more than the Mojo has to offer for peak or near peak performance. Whomever was making this table has a different opinion than me, and that’s okay. Just don’t be surprised if you disagree with them on certain headphones when you try it out.
     

    Form & Function

     
    SuperMini-3.jpg
    SuperMini-4.jpg
    SuperMini-5.jpg

     

    Form

    The SuperMini is sveldt yet powerful. It is light and firm in the hand with clean, solid lines machined from a single block of aluminum. There are no visible screws—stylish! The screen glass is thick and looks like it will hold up to some beating from the thickness—I didn’t test it, but it would be pretty cool to see a durability test on this one. I think it might perform really well. It would perform even better if the screen protector was functional. I had two SuperMinis sent to me due to problems with microSD card compatibility and formatting—you’ll see more below—and I wasn’t able to apply the screen protector on either without it being completely covered in dust. Another reviewer, thatonenoob (whose written a great review), found that the screen protector had dust on it before he even attempted to apply it—it was dusty out of the factory. This isn’t good enough for a screen protector. Ideally, the unit should come with a screen protector applied, and a spare screen protector. HiFiMAN needs to step up their screen protection game. It wouldn’t take the Golden State Warriors, not even the Orlando Magic, to be scoring all over this flaccid screen protection.
     
    The screen is a simple black and white OLED with good viewing angles that does alright in the sun. I think that is just fine for this type of machine. This thing isn’t designed for fancy displays, it’s supposed to be designed for power and efficiency. If this thing output some colour on that display, I’d expect that a sacrifice would have to be made in power output to maintain battery life performance. If you want a fancy schmancy display, there are lots of players that can do that, but how many of them advertise 22 hours battery life (more on this later)?
     
    The SuperMini uses a three button layout on the front. None of the buttons have labels, instead the screen tells you what the buttons do. Other buttons for power, a back button and volume controls are on the right side of the player. Personally, I much prefer the button layout of the MegaMini, it’s more intuitive and I can access all the buttons that I use regularly with my thumb. The back button is a pain in the butt to use on the SuperMini. I imagine the buttons are distributed in the way they are because of that chain of 8 op amps that must be running on the left side of the player down to the balanced and single-ended headphone jacks at the bottom of the player.
     
    The headphone jacks are right next to each other. In fact, they are so close to one another that you can’t have two headphones plugged in at a time. I wanted to use two 2.5mm balanced adapters to test what the difference between balanced and single-ended is on the player, but I can’t plug both adapters in at the same time for the cable, which means that my time lag between switches is longer. This isn’t a good thing. Like others have said, a bit more distance between the two headphone outs would be good, and not just to prevent plugging the wrong stuff into the wrong jack. Unfortunately, I’d bet that there wasn’t any room on the board layout for having greater separation between the headphone outs. This is one of the sacrifices of being small.
     
    Also on the bottom of the player are the microSD slot, and the micro USB slot. The microSD slot has a deep actuation point and doesn’t have a dip like the MegaMini to make it easier to insert the card. I had some difficulty having cards stick and really had to get my finger nail up in there. Like on the MegaMini, the micro USB slot isn’t deep enough. I found the micro USB plug hangs half-way out of the slot. This is a recipe for a damaged slot, damaged cables, and intermittent charging. When the SuperMini is connected, I don’t feel confident about moving it.
     
    SuperMini-8.jpg
    SuperMini-9.jpg
    SuperMini-10.jpg
    SuperMini-7.jpg
    SuperMini-12.jpg
    SuperMini-11.jpg

     

    Function

    The operating system on the SuperMini is much the same as the MegaMini, so you can head over to my MegaMini review for more about that. The only differences are that the Playing Now screen doesn’t have any art, it instead gives a bit more information, and it’s all in black and white.
     
    Another difference I found is that the MegaMini had no problems with any microSD cards I used whilst this SuperMini unit told me to format my cards every time I put them in. This led me to sending one review unit back to HiFiMAN as I thought that maybe the reader was broken. The second unit had the same problem. To get the machine to work I had to format the card in the machine, and then plug it into a computer to load music, as every time I took out the microSD I was told to reformat again. I’m glad it worked, as otherwise all I would have been able to say about the unit was that it was defective, instead of being able to comment on sound. HiFiMAN needs to fix this immediately. The two cards I used were the Sandisk Ultra 128GB and 200GB cards, two of the most common and most popular memory cards for audiophiles. A production unit shouldn’t have these problems and HiFiMAN risks alienating those who purchase the SuperMini if they have problems. Christmas is too far away for a fix on this problem. The solution should be there, as the MegaMini has no problems with microSD cards.
     
    The battery life of the SuperMini is listed by HiFiMAN as up to 22 hours. I have a feeling that test was done with 128kb/s MP3s at next to no volume, as when playing mixed redbook FLAC and HiRes content, I only got 11 hours and 42 minutes with a combination of the Vibro Labs Maya and UERR as load. When I tested again using the included nameless headphones in balanced mode I got about 10 hours, and similar results using the HD600—that’s impressive. I don’t think they need to advertise 22 hours of utterly fabricated or completely unrealistic playtime. Getting 10 – 12 hours playing a mix of HiRes and redbook is good enough for such a tiny device with so much power, driving the HD600 for 10 hours is downright impressive.
     

    Those nameless included headphones

    SuperMini-5.jpg

     
    The headphones included are pretty dang good. They’ve got an open sound that edges a bit towards the bright end in the treble and is smooth in the bass. Mids are presented at a slightly forward depth. It’s a pretty common and pretty popular tuning. The soundstage on them is good.
     
    The headphones are too good to be given the disrespect that HiFiMAN gives them in the box. They come with two sizes of double flange tips, medium and large, and neither of them fit my ears at all, and these things need a perfect seal or they sound very thin. HiFiMAN put these in the box and treated them like hot garbage. These should come with standard accessories that IEMs come with: a little pouch, three sizes of silicone single flange tips, one pair of medium foamies (preferably a medium and a large), an actual presentation spot in the bottom of the box instead of tossed in like an afterthought in plastic coated wire wrapping in the empty space below the SuperMini presentation area.
     

    Audio quality

    The SuperMini in single-ended is better than the MegaMini, but not better than the DX50. The MegaMini has a bit less dynamism and stage depth compared to the SuperMini, but the SuperMini in single-ended doesn’t sound as musically thrilling as the DX50, it’s still kind of flat sounding (not in the good way) and it doesn’t impress that much. But when you switch to balanced mode…
     
    4492511091238595630.jpg
    That’s weird, this usually only happens when I’m alone (from memes4laughs)​

     
    The background is blacker in balanced mode, which allows the sound to be more dynamic. The stage is bigger. Notes are fuller and dynamic range is extended. It is just better.
     
    The other benefit of balanced is sheer driving power. This driving power allows the HD600 to be driven comfortably. I hooked up my HD600 to the balanced output using a WyWires Red and a DIY Neotech OCC copper XLR to 3.5mm TRRS adapter made for me by my local wire wizard. The HD600 sounds how it is supposed to sound. While it can be driven even harder and made to sing in an even richer character with amps like my Airist Audio Heron 5, the SuperMini does an amazingly good job and it’s smaller than a Snickers bar. That is friggin’ impressive. The DX50 can’t drive the HD600 with any authority, and that is a significant coup for this miniature marvel.
     

    Comparisons

    For comparisons using the Maya I volume matched using a dB meter and white noise to 78dB, for the Maya, and 72dB for the UERR. I found that because the insertion is deeper on the UERR, I don’t need as much volume. All tests were done with single-ended outputs as I had no way to keep cables consistent across single-ended and balanced mode operation. My general approach to comparisons is to control for the variables that I can so that my comparisons are as fair as they can be.
     

    MegaMini

    The sound signature of these two is nearly or completely indiscernible to me at matched volumes. I tested with the Vibro Labs Maya, and couldn’t consistently tell a difference between the two players’ signatures, which is a good thing, they are both fairly neutral players. Both players have some low level hiss with the Maya, but I think this is going to the case for the Maya on many rigs—I got some soft hiss at low volumes with the Maya on the iBasso DX50 also. I thought I heard a bit more depth and body in the SuperMini, but that may be expectation bias, as I’ve already read @Brooko’s excellent review of the SuperMini and the measurements show lower distortion, which in my experience has usually improved depth. Short story shorter: I can’t confirm any differences between the Minis whilst using the Maya.
     
    Switching to the UERR, the SuperMini sounds like it has a little bit bigger soundstage when listening to Amber Rubarth doin’ some Tom Waits on Hold On. Differences are small and still subject to all the biases that come with non-blinded testing. It might all just be in my head, and not just because the UERR are several mm closer to my brain than the Maya.
    I like the simple black and white screen on the SuperMini better. Navigation is basically the same between them, but the playback screen tells me more on the SuperMini. I found the CD picture in the middle of the MegaMini screen pointless—it didn’t display album art for me.
     

    iBasso DX50

    In single-ended mode, the DX50 still slays the SuperMini. When you switch over to balanced mode, though, the background is cleaner, the stage is more open and it can drive a pair of HD600 headphones like Burt Reynolds in a Trans Am. Watch ol’ Bandit run! Did you know that Smokey in the Bandit was second only to Star Wars in 1977 for theatre sales? I didn’t.
     
    [​IMG]

    Conclusions

    The HiFiMAN SuperMini is explosively powerful in balanced mode in a package smaller than a pair of Twix bars. The SuperMini plays HD600 like a child with a mallet and an old yoghurt tub, loud and enthusiastically. Most players fall over under the weight of the HD600, the SuperMini stands at attention awaiting more orders. It is one of the only balanced DAPs under $500. I can think of two others: the Lotoo PAW 5000 ($200) and the Cayin N5 ($300). Whilst the SuperMini doesn’t offer all the features of those other players, it also bodyslams them from the top of the cage in terms of power, they are lucky to survive the comparison. My little brother is a big WWE fan.
     
     
    [​IMG]
     
    The comparisons also don’t have the build quality or power of the SuperMini and they don’t come with a pair of good balanced headphones. Also, in spite of the patently false or grossly misleading 22 hour battery claim by HiFiMAN, 10 to 14 hours battery life with playback consisting of mixed lossless FLAC and HiRes content is really good. It gets about 10 hours in balanced mode while driving the HD600—this thing gives out more energy than Brawndo (democracy works 115% of the time). This player is good value for money.
     
     
    [​IMG]
     
    On value, there isn’t another package like the SuperMini. For under $399 you won’t find a player with power enough for an HD600, and a miniature size that comes with a very good set of balanced headphones. The package is compelling and worthy of consideration, but it is not without it’s limitations. For value, I'd give this 5 stars due to the balanced output, total package and ease of use. On sound quality, I would give it a 4.5 as it loses a little due to the lower performance standard of the single-ended output. For user experience, the problems with microSDs bring the rating down further. If the formatting issues are fixed in later firmware, this player is a 4.5 player, instead of a 4.0 player.
     
    The player is limited on features: no gapless, no USB DAC, no USB OTG, no line out, no equaliser, no gain adjustment. Some of these could be added via firmware update, and I know that gapless is already in the works. They can’t add a line out to the player, and I highly doubt that two of my favourite DAP features: USB DAC capability, and USB OTG are in the cards. The player also currently has compatibility issues with popular memory cards and doesn’t recognize cards when they are removed from the player. This problem is supposed to be fixed in the next firmware, and I really hope it is. Because of the problems with memory cards, I had to deduct half a star.Pink Floyd really just isn’t right without gapless. If the next firmware fixes the issue, and adds gapless playback that half star returns.
    1. jinxy245
      Great review...thanks!! I'm still looking at my upgrade path, and this is on the list.
       
      Was wondering of you've heard the Cayin N5? A couple of reviews I've read say it has a goodly amount of power on tap...I was wondering how comparable.
       
      thanks again!
      jinxy245, Nov 15, 2016
    2. Ancipital
      Ah, nice to see an honest write-up of this one, finally- thanks!
       
      I have been peering at this and the new RHA DACAmp, as an almost affordable way to get some balanced on the hoof. I had a brief play with the DACAmp at a show (but need some quiet time to see if the Sabre glare is too much), but haven't been able to get my hands on this little player yet.
       
      I guess it's worth watching, but I may hang back until there have been some major firmware revisions.
      Ancipital, Nov 15, 2016
  6. FortisFlyer75
    SuperMini adventure in true pocket portable Hi-Fi sound!
    Written by FortisFlyer75
    Published Oct 27, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Excellent Build, Sound Quality, Size & Weight, Power, Balanced, Clear Screen, Easy to use/ navigate.
    Cons - Battery life not quite as to HFM specs, no music auto cut off when 3.5 plug pulled out.
    HIFIMAN SuperMini review
     
     
    DSC01200.jpg DSC01121.jpg DSC01174.jpg
     
     
     
    Oct 2016
     
    INTRO
     
    Just some background on me with previous experience of daps and why I’ve arrived here at this point in time.
     
    ...In a Hi-Fi qalaxy far far away since a young age I’ve always had a Cassette Walkman of some sort and then in my teens in the early 90’s moved onto Sony Minidiscs format and went for the smaller top end models that were more compact and then when that had its day it became the HDD players into the mid 2000’s which again on the whole I stuck with Sony Walkmans due to back then there was not the explosion of all the specialist companies around now like HIFi Man for example.
     
    Then after a couple of bad experiences trying early Cowon D2 model and an Ipod Touch 2nd Gen I moved to flash based players but stayed with Sony’s for the most part albeit each model was hit and miss with the sound but the most common theme was I always went with something that was a reasonable small size you could put in your pocket and forget it’s there when on the go commuting.
     
    The last few years with portable daps trying to go for a high quality Hi-Fi sound or studio grade sound in your dap is they have got bigger, one of the reasons I have never really checked out something like the HM901 despite them been good sounding daps is the size to fit in the pocket without been bulky so it is not a annoying presence all the time. 
    The biggest I have gone so far was with the Sony ZX1 which I still like and fits in the pocket okay still but the battery is not what it used to be and have been looking at a player that also does SD card slot also.  I have not been one for using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on my ZX1 either in three years I have had it.
     
    So I have been in the hunt for a smaller on the go dap for a while now without compromising on the sound in a world where players seem to be getting bigger and heavier and see reviewers wanted for the Hi-Fi Man SuperMini thread and was not prepared I would be receiving not just the SuperMini but a MegaMini also, so I could not complain I had two players to try and demo in the comfort of my own home for several days (who was I to argue!) so this will be a unbiased and fair review as I am looking at potentially buying one so has to live up to a certain criteria personally in what I’m looking for in a small portable dap which is a good quality sound with plenty of power and ability to take an SD card with good battery life.
     
    This review is for the SuperMini but there will be comparisons along the way with the MegaMini where relevant as I am treating each player on its own merits and will keep things in more perspective for each player in its own right.
     
    So thanks to Fang and Ryne for making this possible and letting me try these out in comfort of my living room at home for several days to try them out. 
     
     
     
    Equipment tested with for this review:
     
    JH16 Pro Ciem (with Whiplash Hybrid V3 cable)
    RHA T20 iem
    HiFiMan – Supplied balanced iem (RE600 equivalent?)
    Meze 99 Classics (with original mrk 1 pads)
    Grado GS1000e
    Mr. Speakers – Ether (open back)
    Sony MDR-7520 (modded with Whiplash Hynrid V3 welded to both drivers & Beyer Velour pads)
    Sennheiser HD560 Ovation  (300 ohms)
     
     
     
    IN THE BOX
     
    The SuperMini comes in a nice black box with foam housing to protect the player in the box and underneath is another compartment which houses the supplied USB data/ charge cable and the balanced iems that are included with warranty & Quality Control (QC) passed stamped card.  It would be nice if it had a more comprehensive start guide booklet although it can be downloaded from their website via PDF document file. 
     
     
     
    DESIGN
     
    DSC01188.jpg DSC01177.jpg DSC01176.jpg
    The SuperMini comes in a understated black finish made from a block of aluminium for its chassis with a OLED screen which displays text information only but is easy to read and fairly bright but for some reason does not have a brightness control at all so stays at that brightness all the time which is fairly bright but just strange the option is not there which I am guessing is something to do with the battery life. The screen itself although looks the part is a finger print magnet but does come supplied with a Screen protector which in all honesty have not had the time to get around to doing at time of writing so cannot comment on how good that is with its application.
     
    Unlike the MegaMini it sports smoother edges on the corners and has flat side bezels so is more comfortable to hold in the hand to the MegaMini is.
    The layout of the buttons is the only thing here that I think could have been laid out a bit better as the MegaMini has the return button along the main buttons on the front so is right next to the other relevant buttons that are in the chain to use so makes it easy and quick to use. 
     
    But with the SuperMini they have made it look tidier having only three main buttons on the front which the middle one is the play/ pause button and the two buttons either side of that are the rewind and forward buttons which has left the back/return button located on the right hand side middle which makes it a bit more awkward to use when using player single handed in the right hand as I do and is a shame it was not like MegaMini and located on the front.  The power/wake button is also located in an odd place on the bottom right hand side and should have been placed on top of the player or higher up on the other side as the volume buttons are on the top right hand side bezel. 
     
    It is a nice designed and lovely to look at and is well built dap but do question the logistics of the buttons for using this effectively with the best layout possible.
    A shortcut I found with the play/ pause button is when playing if you press of the play button for longer whilst in play mode brings up the Repeat and shuffle options instead of having to go back through to the settings menu which is handy and quick to execute like this. The bottom of the player houses the 3.5 headphone jack which is next to the balanced plug socket with the micro SD card slot and USB micro USB port for charging as there is sadly no OTG function or digital line out for the USB on this player.
     
    I cannot report on the SD card ability with higher cards at moment as I currently had my 128gb micro card go corrupt on me and only have a 64gb card to hand at time of writing but have had no issues with writing and using the card and transferring between this and the Supermini with the same card.
     
    DSC01206.jpg DSC01212.jpg DSC01210.jpg
     
     
    In addition there are some small quirks with the player at the moment with turning on power has quite a thump if iems are plugged in when the player is turned on or off (even with volume very low)
    No auto cut off if 3.5 jack plug pulled out so potential for playing to keep playing and drain without you knowing about it until it is too late. 
     
    Only two bigger known caveat’s here currently is both the Supermini and the MegaMini do not support Ex-fat which Hi-FI Man have already stated they are working on rectifying before the year is out.  The second is the player is not supporting gapless playback currently but they have announced they plan to release this with the official firmware update later on this year so hopefully these two points will be a irrelevant soon once they are updated…
     
    DSC01208.jpg DSC01196.jpg
     
     
    The SOUND department
     
    DSC01123.jpg DSC01171.jpg DSC01180.jpg
     
    First thing I have noticed after coming from spending time with the MegaMini for a few days whilst I done a review for that was the Supermini immediately sounded more full bodied and filled out in the mids to the MegaMini and was showing more nuances with detail coming through like vocal resonation and trailing edge detail to instruments are and the overall signature is a slightly warmer feel in comparison to the MegaMini.
     
    It still shares the top end presence and has a dynamic punchy side to its sound yet the bass is a little more seismic in the sub bass region and would say despite the MegaMini having less detailed sounds with a more flatter organic type of sound with the Supermini in SE mode also where the SuperMini is a bit more musical with its fuller bodied warmer and weightier with its lower bass presence.
     
    They are not a million miles apart but there are some characteristics that set them apart to the point I enjoy the MegaMini still with it been leaner and more neutral airy sound. 
    The SuperMini still has a nice tight control of kick drums in the mid to lower bass but has a richer texture with the SuperMini. Everything still sounds transparent with a crispness to the top end with vocals been forward still like the MegaMini. 
     
     
     
    JH16Pro Ciems
     
    With my JH16pro ciems they really went well together with good cohesion. With the MegaMini which paired well with most of my stuff it didn’t seem to match the best with my 16’s and was a bit of a mismatch.  It didn’t sound bad at all but by experience of how I know the 16’s can sound this was not it.  But with the SuperMini they shine and are at home with the frequencies matching in the right places to the way the 16’s are tuned and think it may just be the fuller slightly more warmer signature complimenting the 16’s warmer preference also. 
     
    Everything with the 16’s has a dynamic driven presentation with great lows through the combination of the SuperMini way of handling the lower end and JHA with the way they have tuned the bass on the 16’s which is about +5 db approx. Very well separated and clean still with a warmer timber to the mid bass and quite a lively treble still even with the sweeter treble drivers of my 16’s.
     
    The SuperMini does not mess around here and shows of all frequencies equally without one overshadowing the other. It’s like I’m getting with a rock track like Nothing But Thieves all – Drawing Pins track the bass and treble info hitting me hard yet the mids are still floating around without been congested and can be heard easily so is quite a full on track but the HIFIMAN somehow manages to present a busy full on rock track in a balanced manner without congestion.
     
    DSC01178.jpg DSC01179.jpg DSC01223.jpg DSC01182.jpg DSC01143.jpg DSC01175.jpg
     
     
    RHA T20 iem (using normal reference balanced filter set)
     
    With the RHA T20 universal it went to show how tips can make so much difference as the tips I found that worked best with the MegaMini did not suit the SuperMini and gave it too much of a mid-bass hump making it sound off key yet it was just a different shape and size comply that done the trick that brought back a right balance to everything which just went to show always keep a varied selection of different tips available for such instances when you listen to a different piece of equipment. 
     
    I am now noticing the Supermini in SE mode is slightly narrower in soundstage width to the MegaMini enough it is a little noticeable so am wandering if this is to do with the different op amp/ dac configuration for balanced in the SuperMini playing a part. There is still plenty of headroom with the SuperMini is still transparent and tonally sounds natural with instruments like the MegaMini does even with the signature overall been a bit warmer with the SuperMini.
     
    The T20 needs a little bit more volume than the 16’s even though both are 16 ohm but guess this is where the customs go in a bit further and do not need the extra volume so with the T20 I have it set to anywhere between 18-22 depending on difference for track volumes and combination of mood I am in and the JH16pro I have set anything between 15-19 depending again on each track recorded volume off sets and mood.
     
    Compared to my Jh16Pro ciems which I have now owned and loved the sound of for last 4+ years I absolutely love the sound of the T20 and perform really well for the money yet they sound like they were made for the SuperMini as they complement the SuperMinis ability to show of each range in a very evenly balanced manner and suit the transparency of the Supermini. 
     
    The T20 keeps up with the pace and reflects the authoritative manner with drums staying tight and responsive and the treble is actually more natural in tone than through my 16’s and scales well with the low to high frequency’s and never gets ragged with songs that are becoming hectic with lots of information even in the upper frequency’s which must be down to the amount of Op-amps this Supermini has to drive with great control and authority especially with thee iems been so efficient anyway.
     
    Despite the T20’s not been able to retrieve as much detail as the JH16’s at the end of the day can I can still sit happily listening to them on the SuperMini which is a testament to both the T20 and SuperMini here.
     
     
    HIFIMAN supplied balanced iems
     
    DSC01139.jpg
     
    Straight away playing Fleetwood Mac Little Demons remastered is night and day to single ended mode here and the soundstage has opened up in balanced with more space and width with the harmony ghoul vocals on this track are more panned from the sides instead of congested in the central region.
     
    The placement of certain instruments has changed and everything is given more air and space to breath. It makes timing better also and with something like Rodrigo & Gabriela’s Hanuman track it plays with more space to work feels like it is not so congested and flows easier now like when you hear a high end speaker to a budget speaker it sounds more natural with its ability to make music feel like it was sprayed with WD40 as it sounds more naturally free in movement and not forced which is what plugging in balanced sounds like after SE mode.
     
    Another track that I heard in depth with both SE and balanced was Ryan Adams Live at Carnegie Hall in New York and this was transformed in balanced. It was almost as if it was made for balanced as it is just an acoustic set recorded very well to start with and Balanced mode really opens up space in the mid-range amongst musical notes in which Mr. Ryans vocals become even more clearer with instrument resonation echoes in the hall been more wider in the hall and more sense of depth to notes travelling with the bigger soundstage.
     
    I must admit I was not prepared for balanced to be this much better over the SE way on a small player like this but it surprisingly is.
     
    I just wish I had other balanced headphones or iems to compare it with but compared to SE in general on this particular machine was surprised how different it all became with sense of space and soundstage width and height as well as placement of instruments been better placed and separated.
     
    In addition to the balanced effect how do the supplied HIFIMAN iems actually sound?
     
    …Well they sound rather good in fact for a supplied pair and by all accounts as they do not have the model version stamped anywhere on these are meant to be good as they are their circa $80 pair but probably better as they are balanced compared to SE version. The sound with these is actually even more relatively flat compared to even my T20’s and adds not much coloration to proceedings and is perfectly balanced (pardon the pun) across the range and has a nice tone and delivery with vocals.
     
    When you see how light and small they are with the fairly thin cable which looks like they have coated it to reduce the microphonics of which there is hardly none by the way with this cable the supplied iem really does sing with its own player that I will probably actually use these just as much alongside my other iems with the Supermini as it has a lovely organic no thrills synergy together. Whether the SuperMini could have been done cheaper as a standalone player is another thing but I’m glad they done it as there will be a lot of people who will not have balanced iems/Headphones when buying this and think it was the right call by HIFIMAN to include them.  It might have been an idea to of maybe done a player only and one bundled with the balanced iem package for first time owners.
    All in all I’m impressed not just with the balanced ability but the sound of these supplied iems from HIFIMAN.
     
     
     ​
    ---Intermission---
     ​
     ​
     
    Now time for some headphones...
     
     
    Sony 7520 (with cable and pad mod)
     
    I will start with my Sony 7520’s studio monitors which are modded to both drivers with a Whiplash Hybrid V3 cable SE termination with pad mod to Beyer Velour pads and the SuperMini drives them not too much different to my iems with volume around the 20-22 mark.  The Sony’s sounds really nice with the SuperMini and have a really good combination both producing a timbre to instruments that show the mids with plenty of detail.  
     
    The 7520's are usually quite bass heavy but with the SuperMini it sounds refined and not overdone on the Sony’s and there is plenty of height with the soundstage yet normally the 7520 only major drawbacks has always been a closed in more narrow soundstage but yet here is an irony to the iems in SE mode with this the Sony’s are sounding fairly wide with good dispersion of sound from the sides. I found the MegaMini had a good soundstage with both iems and headphones but not so much with iems for the SuperMini until I used it  balanced but is not the case with the SuperMini plugged into my Sony 7520’s. Do not know why but it is welcomed as the Sony sounds good with the Supermini with the mids really shining with this combo and a surprisingly more refined rained in lower bass on the 7520’s. MJ’s classic Dirty Diana track sounded epic with plenty of scope with a large dynamic presentation and mastered really well it made me imagine how the 7520's would sound if balanced now on the SuperMini.
     
    Grado GS1000e
     
    Once again, the SuperMini pairs quite well but maybe not quite as good in some respects to the MegaMini. The Super seems to give the mids a bit more body which the Grado’s love and vocals seem closer and the detail is definitely easier to pick out but overall tonality I actually think the MegaMini suits the Grado’s just a bit better than the Super all though I could quite happily still listen to the Grado/ SuperMini combo.  The soundstage is much like the MegaMini with the Grado which is just football pitch dimensions with good imaging. 
    The volume for these I found I have around 20-24 which is the reverse to what I thought the Sony’s would be with the Grado volume.  This is certainly the headphone for hearing all the micro details the Supermini has to offer and does it in a more delicate presentation to other headphones yet the Supermini or even better still the MegaMini both respect the Grado and compliment it which I was never expecting.
     
    DSC01149.jpg DSC01147.jpg
     
     
     
    Meze 99 Classics
     
    My newest fav headphone in many ways and goes to show you don’t always have to pay top dollar to get a good bit of kit.  Granted not everyone loves these but for many who like me do the SuperMini is a turbocharged marriage made in heaven. The MegaMini is just as good with the Meze but the Super just does it differently and does what the Grado did for the MegaMini over the Super and just accentuates the already similar characteristics the player and headphone shares.
     
    In this case the Superminis slightly warmer side with that extra little bit of more sub bass region and punchy mids just match perfectly together and the prominent treble of the Super also just brings out the Meze treble a bit more than normal although not recessed has always been the frequency that was just tuned to mix in more with the amongst the mids and bass information but already loving the Meze a lot I’ve found a perfect match player for it. 
     
    Even material that is usually maybe suited better for the Grado’s or even the Sony’s sound good on here even though they have a more warmer glow with the enclosed wooden cups I find even            St. Petersburg Choir or New World Symphony and even Acoustic sets sound still transparent, big and spatial with drive and authority to the mid – low bass.
     
    The Meze I have always said were a more of a fun musical headphone that had the detail added to them where the SuperMini I would say had the detail with the musicality added in which makes them a good match.  Usually too similar can be like added two slices of bread with a ton of peanut butter on each side, when put together it is too much!  But this happens to be like jam on one side with a bit of mustard on the other! Ok, maybe not best analogy there!
     
     
    Mr. Speakers - Ethers
     
    Just like the Meze are they have followed suit and match the SuperMini just like a glove and just like the Grado’s the large soundstage and amazing imaging of the Ethers really helps the Supermini come to life with to die for mids and the treble really shines with the Ethers and gives a reasonable powerful low end on them even for a pair of magnetic planners. 
    The way the Ethers do imaging and micro detail is like having a magnifying glass put on the SuperMini in a washing machine as it gets all the detail information the SuperMini has to offer yet you hear instruments pan in and out with precision timing not even sounds like that on a pair of HD800S in that respect so the SuperMini is just at home as with the Meze here or even more so I dare say. 
     
     
    Finally with….
     
    Sennheiser HD560 Ovations (approx 15+ year old classic open backs @ 300ohm)
     
    Got to try these for a day with the Senn’s as they are 300 ohm and the Supermini was a great match for them again.  The MegaMini was actually okay with to drive but the SuperMini drives them with more purpose and authority which brings out the Super’s dynamics much easier and lets it sing so can vouch it has enough juice and swing for 300 ohm but unfortunately do not own any 600ohm anymore for what would be the King Kong of Ohm testing with these for those who wanted to know.
    I’m sure other reviewers will have some 600ohm in their collection though and report on that combo.
     
     
    CONCLUSION
     
     
    DSC01173.jpg DSC01170.jpg DSC01152.jpg
     
    Different to the MegaMini for starters, not so different in many respects but different enough it does add up to enough by the end of the long day or week in this case!
    Where the Supermini is tonally still sounding within the bounds natural timbre to sounds or instruments with a good balance across the range at all times it does sound step up in warmth and been more full bodied signature with the mids and has a slightly lower sub bass delivery that is more encompassing and then add in balanced which seemed to make quite a big difference on its own merit does make the Supermini an attractive proposition.
     
    The MegaMini if you heard both might and if you didn’t mind the reduction a little bit on the micro details still like the more, what I call a little more reference & airy with an almost nuetral impression with the treble sounding more prominent to the SuperMini and was not bothered by balanced either could still be a player to consider very much. 
     
    Personally as I was looking for a smaller player anyway which took into account above average sound and power after hearing how they both are with my stuff am seriously contemplating both now but if it was just one it would be a hard decision with all the different factors to consider. Not as clear cut as first thought with the MegaMini if I’m been honest.
     
    All I can say is really it’s been a while coming for someone to take more interest in making smaller players that just focus on sounding good as some of the bigger higher priced models and think HIFIMAN have pretty much pulled it off.  Okay, they are both not totally perfect and a lot of that will hopefully be sorted out with Firmware update coming out before end of the year but really for the money and putting performance and quality of sound first with its weight and size is a major achievement.
     
    So thankyou to HIFIMAN for not just bringing one small good dap on offer but actually two to choose from and look forward to getting one soon or maybe two!
     
    An end to a Mega/Super Mini adventure…
     
     
    DSC01147.jpg DSC01149.jpg DSC01247.jpg
     
    DSC01249.jpg DSC01257.jpg DSC01254.jpg
      rocketron, gr8soundz and trellus like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. smial1966
      Surely gapless playback is de rigueur at product release for any DAP in 2016 and not an afterthought addressed by a later firmware update?!? Interesting device though and a very comprehensive review with great photo's. Bravo Fortis Flyer75.
      smial1966, Nov 5, 2016
    3. thatonenoob
      @FortisFlyer75 Agree with you on the balanced IEM (or at least making it optional).  Haha I'm not a whiz either...just trying to put some numbers to the stuff I hear.  It's not exactly clear about what goes on inside the player, or the output impedance and other key numbers (which measured fine anyways).  I totally understand not getting a touchscreen player, and have used some myself.  Indeed, it would be nice to get a nice OLED with album art (though battery life will be dead by the time that happens).  Anyways, quibbles.  This player's form factor and battery life are it's greatest sells, and it succeeds in that sense.
      thatonenoob, Nov 6, 2016
    4. Amitl
      Considernig my earphones are all of low impedance, how would this player (or similar players) compare to a smartphone? (i'm using Sony smartphone...should have a good sound quality)
      Amitl, Nov 7, 2016
  7. Jackpot77
    Supermini vs. Megamini - battle of the two little DAPs with the huge names from Hifiman
    Written by Jackpot77
    Published Oct 26, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Supermini - battery life, dynamics, SQ, usability, driving power, form factor / Megamini - SQ, screen (compared to Supermini), usability, form factor
    Cons - Both - no EQ, no extra bells and whilstles (USB DAC pass-through etc), no playlist support
    20161026_205750_HDR.jpg
     
    Hifiman Supermini and Megamini – initial impressions / comparison
     
    I first heard the Hifiman Supermini in demo unit form at the Canjam London 2016, and while being impressed by the fact that the tiny player was apparently able to drive some of their heavy duty over-ears without any additional amp assistance, didn’t pay too much more attention at the time. Fast forward a month or so, and Hifiman were looking for reviewers on Head-Fi to try out their new Supermini and Megamini DAPs for beta testing and review purposes – having recently had the privilege of hearing the Soundmagic M1 Pro on another tour and having a few similar price (and form factor) bracket DAPs like the Cowon Plenue D to compare to, I put my hand up for the review programme and was very lucky to receive both Hifiman units to review. This is my first “proper” exposure to any Hifiman gear outside of a few minutes listening to their DAP and over-ears at Canjam, and the units were sent to me free of charge for a few week audition period (apart from a brief intercession by the remarkably overzealous UK customs officials) in exchange for a frank and unbiased review. As the units share multiple characteristics (and target audience), I have decided to combine the two reviews into one for easier side-by-side comparison for people considering both.
     
    About me: reasonably new audiophile (currently in the awkward “teenage” years transitioning from entry level to mid-fi or higher level gear), late 30s, long time music fan and aspiring to be a reasonably inept drummer. Listen to at least 2 hours of music a day on my commute to work – prefer IEMs for out and about, and a large pair of headphones when I have the house to myself and a glass in my hand. A large portion of my library has now been converted to FLAC or 320kbps MP3, and do most of my other listening through Spotify Extreme or Tidal HiFi. I am a fan of rock, acoustic (apart from folk) and sarcasm. Oh yeah, and a small amount of electronica. Not a basshead, but I do love a sound with some body and thickness to it. My ideal tuning for most IEMs and headphones tends towards a musical and slightly dark presentation, although I am not treble sensitive in general. Please take all views expressed below with a pinch of salt – all my reviews are a work in progress based on my own perceptions and personal preferences, and your own ears may tell you a different story.
     
    20161024_220856_HDR.jpg
     
    Tech specs
     
    HifiMan SuperMini
       
    Approx cost
    $399
     
     
    Dimensions
    45 x 104 x 8.5mm
     
     
    Weight
    70g
     
     
    Lossless PCM support
    WAV, APE, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, DSD64
     
     
    Lossy support
    MP3, OGG, AAC, WMA
     
     
    Highest lossless res
    192/24
     
     
    Play time / Battery Life
    22 hours (quoted) / 15-16 hours (actual)
     
     
    S/N (H/O)
    102 +/- 3dB
     
     
    THD+N (H/O)
    <0.04%
     
     
    Output into 32 ohm
    320 mW (balanced)
     
     
    Max output voltage
    4.2 V @ 32 ohms
     
     
    Balanced Out
    3.5mm Hifiman standard connector
     
     
    Line Out
    No
     
     
    Digital Out
    No
     
     
    External storage
    1 x Micro sdxc up to 256Gb
     
     
    Internal memory
    None
     
     
    Shell / Casing
    CNC machined aluminium
     
     
    Bundled earphones
    Yes (as yet unspecified Hifiman IEM)
     
     
        
     
        
     
        
     
        
     
        
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

     
    HifiMan MegaMini
       
    Approx cost
    $249
     
     
    Dimensions
    43 x 100 x 9mm
     
     
    Weight
    69g
     
     
    Lossless formats
    WAV, APE, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, DSD64
     
     
    Lossy formats
    MP3, OGG(some issues), AAC, WMA
     
     
    Highest supported res
    192/24 bits
     
     
    DSD/DSF/DFF support
    Yes
     
     
    Play time / Battery Life
    15 hours (quoted) / 10 hours (actual)
     
     
    Gapless playback
    Expected by Q1 2017
     
     
    S/N (H/O)
    102 +/- 3dB
     
     
    THD+N (H/O)
    <0.04%
     
     
    Output into 32 ohm
    54 mW
     
     
    Output voltage
    1.4V @ 36 ohms
     
     
    External storage
    1 x Micro sdxc up to 256Gb
     
     
    Internal memory
    None
     
     
        
     

     
    20161024_221015_HDR.jpg
     
    Unboxing / package contents
     
    Supermini
    The Supermini comes in a small oblong carboard box with the Hifiman logo emblazoned on the front, and a nice “soft touch” finish. Opening the box, the player is presented in a bed of foam, with the included (and as yet unspecified) Hifiman balanced IEMs, micro USB charge cable and screen protectors hidden underneath the main insert in the bottom of the box. The packaging is nicely done, and “fits” the suggested RRP for the Supermini, giving a premium feel and simplicity to the unboxing like some more well known fruit-based brands are famous for. The included extras are suitably well made – a good DAP doesn’t need too many additional items, and the inclusion of a balanced set of IEMs based around their RE-400 and RE-600 models is a very nice touch.
     
    Megamini
    In comparison, the Megamini arrives in a same-sized box with the logo and lettering in the same place, except this time everything is in soft-touch white instead of black. The Megamini is presented on a similar foam bedding when you slide the lid off the shoebox-style outer, with the charging cable being hidden in the compartment underneath. As this is the lower priced of the two models, a charging cable is the limit of the included accessories, with no additional headphones or screen protectors like on the top end model. Like the Supermini, the overall presentation feels suitably premium, and leaves a good impression of quality on both models.
     
    20161025_220319_HDR.jpg 20161025_220301_HDR.jpg
     
    Build quality and ergonomics
     
    Supermini
    The Supermini is a very slick looking device, with a small candy-bar shape reminiscent of one of the original “flat” mobile phone handsets from companies like Motorola back in the late 90s/early 2000s. In terms of size, it is just a touch smaller in height than the Sony A15/A25 series DAPs, being roughly the same in width and depth. The rectangular corners are rounded nicely, with a premium metal finish and nice fit and finish to the glass portion of the front containing the screen. On the front, three unmarked buttons sits raised in a sloping wedge shape to delineate the border between the screen and the rest of the face, and correspond to the on-screen icons that sit directly above them when the screen is active. The rest of the buttons sit down the right hand side of the DAP, with standard volume controls at the top, a “back” button sitting a little way below them and a power button nestling towards the bottom of the case just above a pinhole to access the hardware reset. All buttons are marked with icons on the case itself, and sit pretty well for a right handed user in terms of ergonomics, all being easily reachable with a thumb when the DAP is in hand and having a short but definite range of travel, without any “sponginess”.
     
    In fact, the feel and weight of the Supermini does feel pretty spot on in day to day use, feeling balanced and light enough to be properly portable, but still having enough heft to feel like a premium device. The paint job and precision machined edges also add to the premium feel of the device, with the paint sharing similarities with the vapour-deposited metallic finish used by Microsoft on their Surface Pro range of tablets, having a nice matte finish and durable look.
    The only other ports are along the bottom edge of the device, with separate colour coded 3.5mm outputs for both single ended (SE) and balanced output, and slots for the micro-SD charging cable and micro-SD storage. Due to the player’s size, there is only one available storage slot, but this does work quite comfortably with my 200Gb Sandisk card (once formatted correctly), so there is room for plenty of Hi-Res audio for all but the most fervent of DSD-buffs. Like the rest of the player, the ports feel well built and finished, so look like they will stand up to daily use without any reliability issues.
     
    Megamini
    The Megamini is a slightly less premium looking build, being smaller in height by a few mm and also not quite as wide, by roughly the same amount. The body of the DAP is made with a more traditional looking metal finish (presumably still aluminium) with a standard light grey metallic finish. Rather than the rounded angles of the Super, the Mega has more angular corners, with the sides angling outwards from the front to meet in the middle of the “depth” in a triangular shape about 3mm from each sideward edge. This bevelling only appears on the sides of the player, with the top and bottom both having more traditional flat edges. This helps to make the player feel slightly smaller in hand and fractionally lighter feeling than its more expensive counterpart.
     
    The main navigation button layout for the mega follows a similar design pattern to the Super, protruding out from the chassis half way down the face of the player where the screen finished. Unlike the Super, the Mega has a four button horizontal layout, with each button clearly marked (from L-R: back, skip backwards/rewind, skip forwards/fast forward, select). The sides are comparatively more barren than the Super, with only the volume buttons on the top of the left hand edge and the power button on the top right hand edge, along with a “reset” pinhole on the bottom right. Completing the layout, there is one micro-SD slot contained in the bottom edge, along with the micro-USB charging port and a standard 3.5mm single ended headphone socket. Like the Super, the Mega has no problems with my 200Gb Sandisk card, so storage shouldn’t be too much of an issue for most users with normal sized libraries.
     
    Overall, the Megamini is a light and reasonably sturdy feeling DAP, but lacks a little in fit and finish in direct comparison to the Super (which is only appropriate considering the price difference). It doesn’t look out place when compared to players in its own bracket, but just lacks the finishing touches and polish that bring the Supermini into the same design space as the more mainstream consumer brands like Apple and Samsung.
     
    20161026_205602_HDR.jpg
     
    User Interface (UI) and usability
     
    Supermini
    The Supermini has a monochrome screen, set up to look like an old fashioned “dot matrix” grid with black background and bright white pixels. The resolution is reasonable for the small screen, but as a result, the entire interface is text based, with no cover art option available.
    On boot-up, the player displays a nice dot-matrix style logo and then loads directly into the menu interface. The menu is presented in list format, with small icons to the left of each option. The layout is basic but very functional, showing the “Now Playing” option at the top of the list, and then cycling through Artist, Albums, Genre, Favourites and then finishing with All Songs and Settings on a separate page (the screen flicks across to a new page when you reach the bottom of any list rather than scrolling down as you go).
    The main functions all behave exactly like you expect, with the Supermini doing a good job of consuming the tagging data on my library of files in record time to build a usable database of the various artists and albums on my SD card. This is notably quicker than other DAPs I have used when first building a database, taking only a few minutes to build a database on a 128Gb card I use for my portable Hi-Res players, compared to 10-15 minutes on some other DAPs I have tried recently. It seems like a simple thing, but it does make a nice difference when loading new media for the first time, so the Hifiman team should definitely share their secret with the rest of the DAP manufacturers out there as waiting for a library to load is one of my pet hates.
    In the “Settings” menu, the options are as follows:
    1. System Version – shows you what version of the firmware you are currently running
    2. Repeat – this sets the protocol for albums/artists (either to all songs in an album/category or just to loop the same song over and over)
    3. Shuffle – option to turn this on or off
    4. Backlight – set the duration of the backlighting on the screen (which is practically irrelevant as this doesn’t appear to alter the brightness of the writing on the screen in any noticeable way)
    5. Auto power off – select the time period over which the player will automatically power down. This is very limited as the player doesn’t count playing music as remaining active, so if you set the player to shut down after 5 minutes of inactivity, it will turn off exactly 5 minutes after the last button press, regardless of whether you are in the middle of a song or not. The software is only in beta currently so this will be easy to fix in a firmware update, but in current format it isn’t particularly useful.
    6. Screen-lock switch – allows you to lock the player down when the screen is off so it needs to be unlocked with the power button before it can be used. This is useful to avoid any random volume increases or track skips from your pocket.
    7. Language – currently able to select between three Asian languages, English and French
    8. Updating Database – triggers a reindexing of the SD card currently inserted
    9. Reset Settings – returns the player to factory defaults
    10. Format SD card – formats an inserted micro SD card into FAT32 format (see suggestions for improvement)
     
    The interface is simple, but very intuitive – the learning curve from picking the Supermini up for the first time to becoming a de facto expert on all possible functions is roughly the same amount of time it takes to boil an egg. While it may be lacking the graphical bells and whistles of similar units, there is something classic and just plain useable about the text-only interface, which leaves the user feeling comfortable rather than short-changed. For those with meticulously tagged files containing album cover art this might seem a little basic, but in use I didn’t find this a major issue (I don’t often need to see the cover of an album to identify what I am listening to, unless it’s a Primus album, in which case it always lets me know it’s isn’t just random white noise or a player malfunction).
     
    Megamini
    Unlike its more expensive sibling, the Megamini has a colour screen, which while being the same size actually appears to be slightly higher in resolution, displaying the text on the screen in a smaller font. It also turns on with a nice (if pixelated) animation of the Hifiman “H” logo, rather than the dot-matrix style fixed “X” logo of the Super. The general layout and menu structure is identical, with the only operational difference being the movement of the “back” button on to the front rank of buttons on the player from the right hand side of the chassis. For a more detailed description of the various menu options, please just refer to the Suoermini description above.
     
    The fact that the Megamini has a colour screen does actually bring up quite a major difference – the inclusion of album art on the “Now Playing” screen. The Megamini seems to be reasonably picky about the format of the album art (I am not particularly fussed about having art embedded in my tracks, so I have never done a thorough “audit” of my music library to correctly tag everything) – in my main library card, it picked up about half the relevant album art on indexing. For people who like that, it is a nice touch that the Supermini’s monochrome screen doesn’t offer.
    The final point of difference is the “backlight” option on the settings menu – as the Megamini actually uses a backlit screen, the setting makes a noticeable difference whereas it is irrelevant for the jet black visual background of the Supermini.
     
    Again, like the Supermini, the Megamini has a simple and basic UI, but the intuitive setup means the learning curve is practically non-existent, and the well thought out design leaves this feeling like a solid and easy to use player rather than a basic one. The addition of a full colour screen and album art actually makes the Megamini feel a little more polished and less stylised compared to its black and white screened sibling.
     
    20161024_220827_HDR.jpg
     
    Suggested improvements for the UI (both players)
     
    The UI for both players is quick, functional and robust, but there are definitely things that can be improved. Suggestions apply to both Hifiman DAPs as the basic menu structure and functionality is identical on both, despite the different “skins”:
    1. Implement gapless playback (currently in development for a future firmware release) – I know that the “single threading” used by the players to optimise sound quality and reduce jitter makes this very difficult as the audio quality is optimised by only using one CPU process rather than multiple streams, but it does occasionally jar when listening to live albums to dip in and out of the tracks as they blend together
    2. Improve the UI so that when you start a song, it plays FROM THE START, not around 1 second in – again, I imagine this is related to the single threading, but missing a second of your favourite tune every now and again does get mildly annoying when flicking through the DAP and grazing your music collection.
    3. Allow onboard playlist generation – the only way you can add songs to a list that I can find is to long-press the “select” button when choosing a track, which then pops up an option to add this to your “Favourites” list. Want separate playlists for the gym/commuting etc? The only option is to build a separate folder on the SD card containing all the files you need in one place and use folder browsing.
    4. Implement a search function or alphabetised skipping in the main “Folder Menu” or “Artist / Album” screens. If you have a large SD card full of music (about 170Gb in my case for my in a main “library” card), scrolling all the way through from A is far from ideal. The page scroll speed is pretty quick when the left or right navigation buttons are held, but this still feels a little “manual” and unnecessary given the slickness of the rest of the interface.
    5. Expand the SD card compatibility to include formats other than FAT32. The player currently doesn’t support NTFS or exFAT formatted cards, and seems to be a little picky with normal FAT32 cards that haven’t been formatted in a specific way. The player does have a format function which will ensure the card is compatible, but if you already have a card that is good to go, having to reformat it (and fins somewhere to “park” the music data while you do so) can be a little tedious.
    6. Allow onboard EQ – while this is less of an issue for the cheaper Megamini, not having the option to tweak any sound settings on either of the players can seem a little limiting when comparing them to competitors in similar price brackets like the Cowon Plenue D or Sony A25.
    7. Adjust auto power off to count playing music as “activity” (see description in Supermini interface section above for more details)
    8. (Supermini only) – remove the backlight option as it only seems to apply to the Megamini.
     
    20161026_205822_HDR.jpg
     
    Sound quality
     
    Test gear:
     
    IEMs – Vibro Labs Aria, Ibasso IT03, 1More Triple Driver IEMs, Hifiman balanced IEMs (as yet unspecified – somewhere between RE-400 and RE-600 in spec from recent reports on the web), Trinity Audio Vyrus
    Headphones - Audioquest Nighthawks, Focal Spirit Professional
     
    Main test tracks (mainly 320kbps MP3 or FLAC)
    Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – S.O.B. / Wasting Time
    Blackberry Smoke – The Whipporwill (album)
    Slash – Shadow Life / Bad Rain (my reference tracks for bass impact and attack, guitar “crunch”)
    Slash & Beth Hart – Mother Maria (vocal tone)
    Sister Hazel – Hello, It’s Me (bass quantity and quality)
    Richie Kotzen – Come On Free (bass tone)
    Elvis – various
    Leon Bridges – Coming Home (album)
    Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (album) / Tron (various versions)
    Rodrigo y Gabriela – various
    Mavis Staples – Livin’ On A High Note
    Don Broco – Automatic
    Foy Vance – The Wild Swan
    Audioslave - Audioslave
     
    20161025_220041_HDR.jpg
     
    General impressions on the sound signature
     
    When looking at the current “mid-fi” DAP landscape, the pricing seems to be roughly dependent on the perceived competence of the standalone DAC chip being used by the player. Competing efforts by Sabre and Wolfson have dominated the market in recent times, with the Japanese firm AKM picking up some recent traction with their AK4490 in some more recent offerings and Burr-Brown having their own share of the mid to high end market. Hifiman have chosen to go a different way with their player, utilising an unnamed integrated controller chip with onboard DAC (a solutiuon usually shunned for its low quality), basing their pick on the low power consumption of the integrated solution rather than the separate voltage-glugging DAC chips mentioned above. Their approach was to spend time working on the firmware and drivers of their chosen solution to bring the output up to a similar level of their previous flagship DAP the HM901, while keeping the power consumption to a minimum.
     
    So, if this is the equivalent of spending two or three years meticulously stripping out and race tuning a Mini Cooper and then entering it into a Formula One race against the high-powered competition, the questions is simple: has it worked? In a word, yes. In the rarified air of the mid-level DAP market, the basic reality is that almost all DAP solutions will sound noticeably better than the entry level audio put out by the low-end players and mobile phone audio solutions most non-audiophiles use, but when compared against each other, the differences are far more difficult to identify. That isn’t to say some DAPs aren’t better than the rest, but the margins for improvement are an order of magnitude or two smaller, so it becomes a lot more difficult to split the merely “good” from the “great”. Whether these are great will depend as much on what you want out of the sound signature of your DAP as what they can actually deliver, but for me the performance the Hifiman team have managed to eke out of the integrated chipset is pretty impressive.
     
    Supermini
    Translating all the random analogies into sound, the Supermini produces a clear, balanced sound that doesn’t skimp on detail but doesn’t sound overly analytical either. Dynamics are pretty impressive for something the same size as a stack of two or three credit cards, with the high output power allowing the hardware to drive most low and mid impedance IEMs and headphones to a fair portion of their full potential without needing to lug around a separate amp stack. The overall tone of the player leans a little more towards musical rather than technical, pulling together a nice sense of lower end substance and presenting a smooth and slick midrange and treble, with a nice sense of weight and clarity. You won’t be blown away by the finest of micro-details on the Supermini when listening to your Hi-Res collection, but the nice amount of body to the tuning does provide a good sense of energy and engagement for most tracks. These pair excellently with more analytical sounding IEMs to give them a bit of life, with the Ibasso IT03 midrange and treble really coming alive when plugged into the Supermini, and the bass benefitting from the solid foundation provided by the player.
     
    Soundstage and imaging are pretty dependent on the IEM being used, so I always find this difficult to separate in terms of what is being provided by the source and what the output gear is producing. The Supermini doesn’t appear to significantly enhance or reduce soundstage or imaging on my Vibro Labs Aria or the Ibasso IT03, but the power on tap does allow both IEMs to be used at “maximum headroom” to really bring out the most in terms of dynamics. One noticeable trait that goes with this player is the enjoyability factor it has been bringing to my music with both the Aria and the IT03 – I have found myself on multiple occasions nodding my head and tapping my feet along to the track being played (slightly embarrassing on a long haul flight), which I can only attribute to sense of dynamism it brings for me.
     
    Overall, the sound is clean, clear and carries a decent weight with good but not stellar detail retrieval – I would agree with some of the initial Hifiman marketing descriptions where it can almost be described as “sweet”. It sits just over the border into warm and musical, and plays well with lower resolution files as a result, while making a good fist of the higher resolution formats (including 24/192 compatibility and some DSD capability up to DSD64, which is impressive in this form factor). I have seen some other comments recently which highlight a slight rolloff at either end of the frequency spectrum under measurement, but in day to day use, I don’t notice anything “missing” at the top and bottom of the frequency range with my usual testing tracks, so not a major consideration for me personally.
     
    Megamini
    The Megamini is definitely cut from the same cloth as the Supermini, with sound quality that sits on a par in most aspects, and can actually sound fractionally better with certain setups, so the above description holds true in most instances.
     
    As far as points of difference go, the Megamini has less output power than its super-sibling, but this actually makes it slightly more compatible with more sensitive IEMs in terms of fine tuning the volume and reducing the audible hiss when music isn’t playing (both players are effectively silent once music is being played back for all but the most sensitive of ears/IEMs). The Mega is still more than capable of driving all my gear with good headroom and output “oomph”, only needing a couple more notches on the volume setting in order to achieve a roughly similar output volume. In truth, I would be hard pressed to tell the difference between these players (apart from the telltale hiss) unless they were trying to drive a more power-hungry setup, in which case the Supermini would pull slightly clear. In all other facets, both players are clear, reasonably detailed and pretty “true” to the music while putting a slight warmth through it. The Supermini can occasionally feel like it offers more in terms of separation or dynamics, but I suspect that is a mixture of poor volume matching on my part when comparing A/B, or the additional output power making its presence felt with gear that reacts well to additional voltage.
     
    20161024_221135_HDR.jpg
     
    Background noise / output power
     
    Supermini
    As mentioned above, the Supermini can provide plenty of power (somewhere in the region of a 4V “swing” and up to 320mW in balanced mode, although details are scarce on the exact specs as of time of writing this). As I don’t have anything particularly power-hungry in my collection at present, there isn’t anything I own that this DAP needs any help driving. Pairing it with the Audioquest Nighthawk (which scales very well with extra power), the Supermini never feels lacking, allowing the Audioquest gear to really spread its wings in a manner that doesn’t usually happen when driven straight from a mobile phone or my other lower end “standalone” sources. I listen reasonably loud (not ear melting, but a good few volume steps up from my fiancee’s “comfortable” listening zone) and with all my single ended gear, I have been somewhere between 12 and 18 on the 32-step volume scale to hit my personal sweet spot.
     
    I have also briefly auditioned the DAP with a few higher impedance / lower sensitivity cans like the Beyerdynamic DT990Pro and the Beyer T70, and I was still able to get a good volume and sense of dynamics out of them at one or two notches below full output for single ended output. Unfortunately there were no Hifiman / 3.5mm TRRS cans easily available at either of the well-known Singapore headphone stores I visited when doing this to see what effect the expected “power bump” from the balanced output would have on the driving ability, and I don’t currently have any balanced cables for my Nighthawks to test out at home.
     
    The noise floor on the Supermini is pretty good, but can be prone to slight levels of hiss with very sensitive sources (I can faintly pick some up using the IT03, which is rated at 8 ohms impedance).
     
    Megamini
    The Megamini has a slightly lower power output than the Supermini, and while still being capable of pushing all my current IEM stockpile in terms of dynamics and “headroom”, was unable to quite match the Supermini when auditioning the heavier hitting 250 ohm Beyerdynamic headphones. It was a close run thing, with the volume setting hovering in the high teens through to early twenties for IEMs but being unable to push above the ceiling to really make the Beyers sing when I tried them out. The bottom line here is that the Megamini should have enough juice to cover most of the mainstream IEMs out there without needing any additional help from an amp stack, but the lack of balanced output (with the additional power it can bring) and lower power output may make that necessary when you start looking at over-ear cans with lower sensitivity or higher impedance. In terms of hiss, there is slightly less with the same IEMs than the Supermini, but it is still not totally silent with my more sensitive IEMs.
     
    20161024_221302_HDR.jpg
     
    Storage and format support
     
    All the main lossy and lossless formats are supported here by both players, with DSD compatibility up to DSD64. There have been a few comments on the forums regarding patchy compatibility with Ogg Vorbis files, but as I don’t have any of my collection in that format (it is split pretty well between various denominations of FLAC or 320kbps MP3 files in the main), I haven’t checked to see for myself.
    Neither player seem to have any issues reading and indexing my main “library” 200Gb microSD card, with the indexing speed sitting somewhere between good and very good in practice, indexing a 64Gb card I use to store about 20Gb of my favourite music and review tracks in a few minutes – compared to some DAPs I have heard recently or owned previously, this is quick enough not to become a tedious issue, which is something to commend Hifiman on as all manufacturers are certainly not equal in this regard.
     
    One point about large capacity files: if you intend to use either player as your main portable music repository, it will be worth organising the tags in your collection or setting up a logical folder structure before plugging the relevant memory card into either player, as the lack of any form of search functionality can make it quite time consuming and painful to scroll through your entire list of recording artists to find someone in the middle of the alphabet.
     
    20161025_220118_HDR.jpg
     
    Included IEMs (Supermini)
     
    The Supermini comes with as-yet unnamed balanced IEMs which bear a striking resemblance to the RE600 model from Hifiman’s range. As this is a review of the DAPs, I will keep this section short and sweet, but the balanced IEMs are really quite impressive as an “added extra” in terms of sound quality and design. They house a single 6mm dynamic microdriver and are absolutely tiny, being only a fraction bigger than my old Flare Audio R2As, disappearing into my ears when inserted. They are terminated with a Hifiman 3.5mm balanced plug, so I have only tested them on my Supermini, but the sound they produce is very impressive. The bass is lean and textured, with a sparkling and slightly forward midrange and decent extension on the highs. Separation and microdetailing is very good, with a nice sense of space and staging present as well. I haven’t heard any of the other Hifiman IEM range, but for fans of a neutral and detailed signature, these IEMs certainly feel like they punch well above the entry level IEM sound point and would sit comfortably in the $200 price range like their fraternal cousin the RE600 if I had to put a price on them in terms of raw SQ at the moment.
     
    20161026_205630_HDR.jpg
     
    Comparisons
     
    Supermini vs Megamini
    ​As you can no doubt infer from the above, this one is almost a dead heat, with both players sharing the same intrinsic DNA and feature set (or lack of, in some cases). The key differentiators for me are the lower power output on the Megamini and the related lowering of hiss on that model with sensitive IEMs as a result. The screen on the Megamini is also more in line with “normal” DAP expectations, being a higher resolution colour screen compared to the monochrome “dot matrix” style used on the Supermini. If you are looking for a DAP to pair solely with very sensitive and low impedance IEMs and cover art is important to you, then the Megamini would be a good option at almost half the price of the Supermini. If you are looking for a DAP with balanced output and a driving capability that far exceeds its competitors in the “super-compact” arena (with approximately 50% extra battery life to boot), then the Supermini is the one you should choose.
     
    20161024_223355_HDR.jpg
     
    Supermini vs Cowon Plenue D
    In the battle of the small form factor DAPs, the battle is reasonably even, with the sleek simplicity of the Supermini stacking up well against the smaller but chunkier Plenue D. The Plenue D is the shorter of the two DAPs by some considerable margin, but that is traded off with an increase in both width and depth compared to the Supermini, with the cigarette packet sized Plenue D feeling chunkier in the hand (and pocket) than the sleek and slimline Supermini. In terms of sound, using the Plenue D in normal play mode (without any of the Jeteffect equaliser options) gives a sound that feels slightly thinner and less dynamic than the warm and clear sheen that the Supermini adds to the music. Switching through the various EQ presets on the Plenue D will get you a reasonable approximation of the Hifiman DAP presentation, but this feels slightly more “artificial” and slightly less clear and detailed as a result.  In terms of driving power, the Plenue D can drive my gear well, having plenty of power as well, so I haven’t had cause to reach for a mobile amp stack yet. Build quality is mostly even, with the smooth glass and metal lines of the Hifiman model holding up well against the slightly less dense feeling but still solid metal and glass parts of the Plenue D. It isn’t a straight slam dunk for the Supermini, and two areas where the Plenue D does offer more for the casual audiophile are the battery life and the EQ affects/general UI. The battery on the Plenue D is rated for around 80 hours of playback, and in my time owning the Plenue, that has seemed pretty accurate, with the player being able to run all afternoon without making a dent in the battery. The Supermini is also good for a mid-fi DAP, with a quoted maximum battery life of around 22 hours and a “real world” usage figure of somewhere around 16 hours before the battery dies, but just can’t quite compare to the stellar battery life of the Plenue D. The “Jeteffects” EQ on the Plenue D is also a major plus for those who like to play with their sound signatures, offering a far higher level of “tailoring” the sound to your personal preferences, and an opportunity for bassheads to really go to town with their multiple BBE and Mach3Bass options to really hulk out the lower end of the soundscape. Personally, I would take the Supermini’s clean sonic signature over the more digitally manipulated output from the Plenue D in most cases, but it would be nice to be given the option by the manufacturer of making a few basics tweaks should the need arise. Overall, the Supermini offers a slightly more compelling sound signature for me than the basic “sound” of the Plenue D, and more punch and dynamics in the sound in tradeoff to the almost infinitely configurable but more artificial sounding Plenue model. The bottom line is that both are excellent performers in their respective price brackets, with the additional cost of the Supermini being somewhat offset by the excellent set of IEMs they ship with to bring the basic “player cost” into line nicely. What you gain in simplicity from the Supermini’s clean and clear UI and presentation (and basic SQ) can be lost with the lack of bells and whistles (gapless playback, EQ, cover art, onboard playlists etc) that the more polished Plenue model provides, so this boils down to whether “pure” SQ and driving power is the main point on your DAP checklist.
     
    20161024_223320_HDR.jpg
     
    Supermini vs Sony NWZ-A25
    On paper, the Supermini should have some stiff competition from the Sony DAP, with the prices being reasonably similar when new (if you include the matching Sony H.ear noise cancelling IEMs into the package to correspond to the balanced IEMs included with the Supermini). In practice, while the A25 does indeed run rings around the Supermini in terms of functionality, the actual SQ is quiote comprehensively won by the Hifiman product. In comparison to the Supermini, the A25 comes across as quite flat and lifeless, lacking the punch and dynamism of sound that the Supermini brings. Surprisingly, it also feels less detailed than the Supermini (probably a side effect of the flatter overall tuning), with the Hifiman feeling both clearer and sharper when played side by side. The Sony does have roughly double the available battery life, but the output power is a fraction of the Supermini, requiring a portable amp to reach the full potential of most of my current gear, which can limit the actual playtime of the hardware to the battery capacity of the amp stack you are using. This lack of output power also limits the portability of the A25 – it has a roughly similar size to the Supermini, but if it can’t be used to drive anything more powerful than some of the Campfire Audio range without help, it quickly loses the practicality of the small form factor. The Sony does come with a few interesting features – the UI is well thought out and easy to use, and the onboard EQ and other DSP tools are reasonably good (although not in the same league as the Cowon Plenue D), and it is also equipped with bluetooth and onboard noise cancelling via its own proprietary range of in-ears (the H.ear series). Again, the limiting factor with the noise cancelling is the need to use Sony’s own earphones – while they are certainly no slouch, they don’t hold up well to anything in my current IEM collection, so negate some of the benefits of using a Hi-Res player as the IEM is not making the best use of the source output. Even given the added functionality (not even mentioning full playlist support and gapless playback on the A25), the difference in the SQ is just too big for me to see past at the moment, with the Supermini just sounding flat out better, and far more capable as an ultra-portable solution to drive most headphones.
     
    20161024_220754_HDR.jpg
     
    Megamini vs Cowon Plenue D
    Like the Supermini, the Megamini stacks up well against the Plenue D in terms of basic sound quality and detail retrieval, with less of a power advantage and the same shortcomings in other areas compared to the more configurable Plenue D such as battery life (the Megamini only approaches around 10 hours of real world usage before the battery is depleted, which is a lot less than the Plenue D). The Megamini is roughly the same cost as the Plenue D at current “street price”, so again the choice will come down to whether you are after a more simplified interface and cleaner and more dynamic basic sound signature, or whether you are a basshead looking for battery life and EQ as the major deciding factors in your purchasing decisions.
     
    20161024_223203_HDR.jpg
     
    Megamini vs Sony NWZ-A25
    At the lower price point, the Megamini is actually an even better proposition against the A25 than its big brother, with the same SQ but still more than enough driving power compared to the anaemic output of the Sony DAP. As with the Supermini, unless you have nothing but super easy to drive IEMs and need the additional software or Bluetooth features, the extra SQ and oomph offered by the Megamini at the lower pricing point make this an easy nod towards Hifiman for me.
     
    20161025_220235_HDR.jpg
     
    Overall conclusion
     
    It has been quite interesting comparing the two DAPs from Hifiman side by side for this review, and has proved to me that price tag is not the only deciding factor when it comes to ascertaining the quality of an audio product. In some ways, the Megamini actually feels like the more polished of the two products, with a colour screen and higher resolution display you would normally associate with a DAP in this price range. In terms of SQ, both players are also neck and neck, with the only differentiators being the balanced output and extra gas in the tank of the Supermini (both in terms of battery life and output power), which ultimately provides more headroom for heavier duty gear. That being said, if you only run your 300+ ohm headphones from your home setup, then the additional horsepower will most likely sit there unused most of the time, so the Megamini comes into its own for people who mainly use IEMs. As alluded to in my opening, DAPs in this price tier are all a marked step above the output capabilities of most mobile phones, but are quite close to each other in overall performance. These aren’t a holy grail product that will immediately make anything you plug into it sound ten times better with clever EQ tricks or mind blowing detail retrieval, but if you are looking for a tiny pocket solution to taking up to 200Gb of your favourite music on the road with you without having to lug a portable power station and a sack of interconnect cables to really enjoy it, these fit the bill admirably.
     
    The choice between the models boils down to what you need to use them for – power users or people with lots of balanced gear will opt for the Supermini, while the casual IEM user who wants to get the most out of their 6-driver BA earphone will be more than comfortably looked after by the Megamini. The price difference between the two is also offset nicely by the inclusion of the as yet unnamed balanced earphones with the Supermini, which have drawn favourable comparisons to the RE600 model from Hifiman’s existing range (a $200 IEM in its own right), so add an extra element of value to go along with the boosted power and battery. In the final analysis, both players provide a dynamic and musical presentation without need for external help, a simple but intuitive interface and wide format support, all in a form factor that can be slid into your pocket without any hassle. This represents a strong bid by Hifiman for the ultraportable DAP market, and if they can nail the gapless playback while keeping the single-threading approach intact (and add playlist support), then these will definitely be a very strong contender in their chosen price brackets.
    As this is a joint review, I have awarded 4 stars – if I had to categorise them individually, I would award the Megamini 4 and the Supermini a 4.5 for the additional power and balanced options it provides. Neither player is worthy of a straight 5, but on a simple SQ only basis, I haven’t heard anything more engaging or musical in this price range on my Head-Fi journey so far. Well done to the team at Hifiman.
      Amarphael, puppyfi and hqssui like this.
    1. hqssui
      Excellent review. Thanks.
      hqssui, Oct 27, 2016
    2. Amarphael
      Congrats on a stellar review.
      Amarphael, Oct 28, 2016
  8. Brooko
    HifiMan SuperMini – Pocket sized dynamo
    Written by Brooko
    Published Oct 18, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Sound quality, build, form factor / size, ease of use, simple interface, battery life (although less than stated by HFM), included IEMs, power output
    Cons - Lacking features, price is high compared to feature set (DAP only)
    supermini47.jpg
    For larger images - please click individual photos

    INTRODUCTION

    One of the benefits in being a regular reviewer of audio gear is that I've had the chance to try a lot of different gear. It doesn't stop me using my own gear – in fact far from it. Most of the gear I use regularly are the products I own (rather than the review samples), and in the DAP world, I still get most of my day-to-day audio use out of my iPhone 5S, and FiiO X3ii (mostly with E17K riding shotgun).
     
    I own the FiioX1, X5, X3ii, and have access to review samples for the X5ii, X7, L&P LP5, L5 Pro and L3. I’ve used them all (a lot) over the last couple of years.
     
    One of the things I've watched from the sidelines is HifiMan's range of DAPs. They've been out of my price range, and I don't solicit review samples (unless companies advertise on Head-Fi looking for reviewers), so I've missed out on reviewing their products so far. Then earlier in September HifiMan advertised for reviewers of their new MegaMini and SuperMini DAPs. So this time I posted in the thread and was lucky enough to snag a review position.
     
    ABOUT HIFIMAN
    HifiMan Audio was founded in late 2005 by Dr Fang Bian when he was resident in New York. He started Head-Direct, and in 2007 began use of the HifiMan brand. They started initially with in-ear earphones, branched out into building hi-res portable players, and this was followed by planar magnetic headphones. As the business grew, so did the need to expand, so in 2010 Dr Bian started two small factories in China, and moved the HQ to Tianjin China in 2011. They are now a well recognised brand globally – particularly in the field of portable or personal audio products.
     
    I found most of these short facts from a couple of interviews with Dr Bian posted on line, and among the interviews were a couple of direct quotes which I found fascinating and illuminating:
     
    I started listening to a lot of music when I was in high school. I used a Walkman and Discman all the time because I had nothing else available to me. They were designed more for convenience than great sound. I wanted both- convenience and great sound so that set the stage for my dream to build the best sounding personal audio products.
     
    Starting with me, everyone is passionate about what we are doing at HiFiMAN. We may not always do everything perfectly from the beginning but we try hard to get it right in the end and our track record is pretty good. Most of all, I want our customers to know how much we appreciate them. Their support and feedback is invaluable.
     
    DISCLAIMER
    I was provided the HifiMan SuperMini as a review sample and it will be returned once the review is completed.  There is no financial incentive from HifiMan in writing this review. I am in no way affiliated with HifiMan - and this review is my honest opinion of the SuperMini. I would like to thank them for making this opportunity available though.
     
    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.
    I'm a 49 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (including the FiiO X5ii, X3ii, X7, LP5, L3, and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). I also use a portable set-up at work – usually either X3ii/X7/L3 > HP, or PC > E17K > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD800S, Beyerdynamic T1, Sennheiser HD600 & HD630VB, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and lately it has mainly been with the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and Adel U6. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).
     
    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.
     
    I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 49, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays). My usual listening level is around 65-75 dB.
    For the purposes of this review, I have used the HifiMan SuperMini with a wide variety of headphones including both sensitive and harder to drive IEMs, portable headphones (HD630VB), full sized headphones (HD600 and HD800S), and of course the included balanced IEMs included with the SuperMini.
     
    WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A DAP
    I thought I’d list (before I start with the review) what I really look for in a new DAP.
    1. Clean, neutral signature – but with body (not thin)
    2. Good build quality
    3. Reasonable battery life
    4. Easy to use interface
    5. Able to drive both low impedance and (within reason) higher impedance cans without additional amping.
    6. Value for money
    7. Enough storage to hold either my favourite albums in red-book, or my whole library in a reasonably high resolution lossy format (for me – aac256)
     
    At the completion of the review I’ll refer back to this list and see how the SuperMini performed.
     
    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

    THE REVIEW

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
    The SuperMini arrived in a smart black retail box and lid with minimal white detailing. I really like it – minimal, clean and stylish. The box measures 160 x 100 x 40mm. The lid is simply adorned with the HifiMan logo and name.
     
    supermini01.jpg supermini02.jpg supermini04.jpg
    Retail box
    Under the cover and first glimpse of the SuperMini
    Bottom compartment

     
    Removing the lid reveals the “stealth” black SuperMini safely nestled in a foam cut-out. There are no markings on the surface – it just looks simple, elegant, and kind of cool. Removing the foam cut-out reveals a warranty card (which also has links to the downloadable manual) and a spare screen protector.
     
    Underneath this is one final compartment which houses the included IEMs (which look suspiciously similar to RE600s), a USB to micro-USB cable, and a small bag with a pair of dual flange and single flange ear-tips, and some replaceable wax guards for the RE600 (not sure if it is the RE600 – but appears to be, or at least a tweaked version of it). One small note – I did see other review samples with more tips and a shirt clip. In my box was just the two tip choices, wax guards, but no shirt clip or other tips.
     
    supermini05.jpg supermini06.jpg supermini07.jpg
    Accessories in bottom section
    Full accessory package
    RE600 Variant

     
    The overall package pretty much includes everything you would need – and the addition of the balanced IEMs is a really nice touch.
     
    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
    The tables below list most of the relevant specifications. I have (as a comparison) also listed specifications from FiiO's (X5ii) and also the L&P L3, which both sit in a very close price bracket to the SuperMini.
     
    I have also asked Ryne at HifiMan for further specifications, however have not received a reply at this time. Critical specifications such as output impedance are unfortunately not stated by HifiMan.
     
    Specifications
     
    HifiMan SuperMini
    L&P L3
    Fiio X5ii
    Approx cost
    ~ USD 399
    ~ USD 399
    ~ USD 299
    Dimensions
    ~ 45 x 104 x 8.5mm
    ~ 60 x 114 x 15.2mm
    ~ 109 x 64 x 15mm
    Weight
    70g
    165g
    165g
    Lossless PCM support
    WAV, APE, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC
    WAV,FLAC, ALAC
    APE, FLAC, WAV, ALAC
    Lossy support
    MP3, OGG, AAC, WMA
    MP3, OGG, AAC
    MP3, OGG, AAC, WMA
    Highest lossless res
    192 kHz, 24 bits
    768 kHz, 32 bits
    192 kHz, 24 bits
    DSD/DSF/DFF support
    Yes
    Yes – Native
    Yes – Native up to DSD64
    Play time / Battery Life
    ~ 22 hours (~15 hrs actual)
    ~ 10 hours
    ~ 10 hours
    DAC chip used
    Not stated
    Dual CS4398
    PCM1792A
    Main amp chip
    Not stated
    1812A
    OPA1612+BUF634
    S/N (H/O)
    102 +/- 3dB
    116 dB
    114 dB (A-Weight)
    THD+N (H/O)
    <0.04%
    <0.0017%
    < 0.001%
    Output into 16 ohm
    Not stated
    Not stated
    >436 mW
    Output into 32 ohm
    320 mW (balanced)
    Not stated
    >255 mW
    Output into 300 ohm
    Not stated
    Not stated
    >27 mW
    Max output voltage
    >4.2 Vp-p
    1.2V SE, 2.4V bal (3.4/6.8 Vp-p)
    >8.2 Vp-p
    Balanced Out
    Yes 3.5mm
    Yes 2.5mm
    None
    Impedance (H/O)
    Not stated
    Not stated
    < 0.2 ohm
    Line Out
    No
    Yes, shared with digital out
    Yes, shared with digital out
    Digital Out
    No
    Yes – 3.5mm to coax
    Yes – 3.5mm to coax
    External storage
    1 x Micro sdxc up to 256Gb
    1 x Micro sdxc up to 128Gb
    1 x Micro sdxc up to 512Gb?
    Internal memory
    None
    16Gb
    None
    Screen
    2” OLED (~30x45mm)
    OGS 480x320 touch screen
    IPS 400x360
    Shell / Casing
    Aluminium alloy
    Aluminium-magnesium alloy
    Aluminium alloy – gun metal
    Bundled earphones
    Yes (RE600? - value RRP $200)
    No
    No

     
    Feature support
     
    HifiMan SuperMini
    L&P L3
    Fiio X5ii
    Equaliser
    None
    6 presets
    Yes, 10 band adjustable + presets
    Use as external DAC
    No
    Yes up to 16/44.1
    Yes up to 192/24
    Use as digital transport
    No
    Yes 3.5mm SPDIF out
    Yes 3.5mm SPDIF out
    Adjustable gain
    No
    No
    Yes 2.6 dB L, 8.6 db H
    Adjustable DAC filter
    No
    Yes – high / low
    Yes – high / low
    Replay gain support
    No
    No
    Yes
    Gapless support
    No
    No
    Yes
    Balance control
    No
    No
    Yes
    Tagged browsing
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Explorer/folder browsing
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Searchable library
    No
    No
    Yes
    Playlist support
    Internal
    No
    Internal and External

     
    I’ll also look further at features as we continue with the review.
     
    BUILD / DESIGN
    The build on the SuperMini really is excellent. For a start it is tiny compared to a lot of my other DAPs – about the same height (104mm), but super thin (just 8.5mm) and only 45mm wide – so perfect for slipping into a pocket, or simply holding in the palm of your hand. And at a mere 70g, the SuperMini is simply a joy to have for on the go.
     
    supermini16.jpg supermini17.jpg supermini18.jpg
    Left hand side of the SuperMini
    Bottom headphone ports, sdxc slot and USB port
    Right hand side and side buttons

     
    From what I understand, the SuperMini casing is CNC'd from a single block of aluminium alloy. It appears to be three piece – a frame (the sides) and then a short plate on the front face, and a full length rear plate. The body is practically seamless though. The front top section is dominated by the 2 inch OLED screen, and underneath this resides 3 clickable buttons. The buttons are easy to locate and navigate, and the click is firm and reassuring. It screams quality.
     
    On the right hand side edge are 3 button sections. The top has a volume up and volume down button. Toward the middle is the back button. And at the bottom is the power button. Just below this is a reset pinhole.
     
    At the bottom is the 3.5mm balanced out socket, a 3.5mm standard SE out socket, the micro SDXC socket (up to 256 Gb) and at the right hand edge is the micro-USB port for charging and data transmission (loading the micro SDXC).
     
    supermini19.jpg supermini20.jpg supermini22.jpg
    Profile view - showing front face buttons
    Rear of the casing
    Tiny SuperMini vs FiiO X5ii

     
    The rear of the casing simply has the HifiMan logo and some compliance information.
     
    The screen is OLED, mono-chrome, and both very clear and also reasonably easy to see in direct sunlight. It has great contrast, and viewing angles are almost 180 deg. The actual screen content is very minimalist – we'll go into this shortly.
     
    From an overall build and aesthetic standpoint, I absolutely love this little device. I'm very much into simple, clean, minimal designs, and this does really tick all of my boxes.
     
    DESIGN – INTERNALS
    I will add to this section at a later time if I am able to. What we do know is that the SuperMini uses a combined DAC and amp in a single chip, and as it has balanced operation, there will be at least two of them. This is bolstered by 2 sets of 4 OP amps to bring full output power in balanced mode up to 4.2 Vp-p and 320 mW into a 32 ohm load.
     
    I have requested information from HifiMan on a variety of internal information and specifications including the DAC chip used, OP amps, specs like output impedance and more information on power output. Unfortunately so far I have not been able to ascertain any of this information and to date HifiMan's engineers have politely declined, citing proprietary discretion (which I can understand). I will say that it is disappointing that necessary specs like output impedance aren't stated – and also highlight again that other Companies (FiiO, and even L&P) have been far more forth-coming with their specifications.
     
    UI (USER INTERFACE) / USABILITY
    Please note that this is with the released firmware UI2016-09-22V015Beta.
     
    I'm going to choose my words very carefully here – because I don't want to give the wrong impression. The UI on the SuperMini is minimalist, but functional, and easy to navigate. I'm someone who has come from early audiophile DAPs like the HSA V3 Anniversary Edition, and experienced a lot of FiiO's transitions from early betas to more advanced UIs, so I tend to be a little more tolerant of minimalist designs than most.
     
    supermini27.jpg supermini28.jpg supermini29.jpg
    Main menu
    Now playing
    Play settings

     
    When first switching on the SuperMini, you are greeted by a HifiMan splash screen, and then simple hierarchical and quite simple menu system. There is a top status bar, and no matter where you are, this will always display the current volume level and also the battery status. The menu has the following options:
     
    1. now playing
    2. file explorer
    3. artist (ex tags)
    4. albums (ex tags)
    5. genre (ex tags)
    6. favourite (I'll run through this shortly)
    7. all songs
    8. settings
     
    The now playing screen takes you to the main screen when a track is playing. The first thing you'll note is that there is no album art. The top status bar now shows track number and total tracks, and the play settings (repeat on or off, and also the play-through method / shuffle etc)
     
    supermini30.jpg supermini31.jpg supermini32.jpg
    Artist menu - tagged library
    Albums listed under artist
    All songs for complete library shuffle

     
    Below this is the main screen with track number, file name, artist and album. There is a scrubbing or track position indicator, and a time played for the current track. Below this is the file format and bit-rate for the track. And at the bottom are indicators for the 3 front buttons (left = previous track or scrub back, center = play or pause, and right = next track or scrub forward). Whilst in this screen you can press and hold the center button for 3s, and hen released it allows you to quickly access the pay mode (turn shuffle or repeat on) – a nice touch. So minimal but functional.
     
    The file explorer is simply that – a means of accessing files, and has become my preferred method of playing full albums. My recommendation here (if you have a larger library) is to arrange in hierarchical folders – I use:
    /A-C/artist names/ albums/ tracks
    /D-F/artist names/ albums/ tracks
    /G-I/artist names/ albums/ tracks
    etc
    This is a pretty simple way of getting to a preferred artist and album in as few clicks as possible.
     
    supermini37.jpg
    supermini38.jpg supermini39.jpg
    Smart hierarchy in folder view - alpha .....
    Leads To Artist
    And then Album

     
    Using the tagged library (artists/albums/genre) is very simple, but everything is in a longer list. Fortunately pressing and holding the up or down button allows rapid scrolling – so this does help navigation. But it is laborious for a larger library – although I have to admit the UI itself is nice and snappy with virtually no lag. There is a slight delay from selection of song to it playing, but actual scrolling the library itself is very good. One thing to note is that you can't add a track or album to favourites from the explorer or now playing screen – it must be done from within the artist, album, genre, or all songs (tagged) lists. Personally I think it would have been handy to have this function available form now playing also. Pressing and holding the center button from any of these lists allows an option to add to favourites.
     
    The favourites menu allows access to the files you've tagged as favourites. Unfortunately they go in the order you've tagged them and there doesn't seem to be any way to manipulate the files other than removing them (done by pushing the center button when in the favourites men). There is also no option for multiple lists. You have the one favourites list, and that is it. If you're methodical and don't mind spending time setting it up – it can be pretty handy. But for those who use play-lists a lot – the implementation here is likely to drive you mad.
     
    supermini34.jpg supermini33.jpg supermini35.jpg
    First page of the settings menu
    Second page of settings
    Adding songs to favourites

     
    The all songs menu allows you to access every song (through the tagged library) and displays them via file name (alpha numeric). This is the easy way to shuffle your whole library. Put it on random/shuffle hit play and press next. The only issue with this of course is that there is no replay gain, so you'll need to be adjusting volume often.
     
    The settings menu allows you to access:
    1. System version
    2. Repeat and shuffle settings
    3. The back-light (how long it is on)
    4. Auto power off (and this is what it says – its basically an off-timer)
    5. Screen lock switch (on or off)
    6. Language
    7. Update database
    8. Full rest
    9. Format the micro AD
     
    Updating the database (with approx 6500 aac256 tracks) takes about 4 minutes, so its not super quick – but once the database is up to date, overall the UI is pretty snappy.
     
    FORMAT SUPPORT
    HifiMan list the supported formats as:
    Lossy – MP3, WMA, OGG and AAC
    Lossless – WAV, APE, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC and DSD64
    I tested all of the listed formats except for WMA and had no issues with playback apart from OGG files. Basically I started with Bob Dylan's album Infidels – I have a copy in 24/96. I didn't buy it for the hi-res, but rather for the mastering. I then proceeded to use dbpoweramp to transcode each track in succession to:
    MP3 V0, Ogg -q1, WAV 24/96, APE 24/96, FLAC 24/96, AIFF 24/96, FLAC 24/192 + I added a DSF file from Quires and Cloud to test the DSD. Everything played without a hitch (and sounded good too) apart from the Ogg file. Thinking I'd made a mistake with the encoding, I recoded and tried again (no dice). So I tried the micro AD card with my cheap FiiO original X1 – immediate success with Ogg. So I'd list the Ogg support as “questionable” - it wasn't working for me. Everything else was as advertised, and the AIFF support was actually better at 24bit rather than 16bit.

     
    POWER OUTPUT
    HifiMan publishes the output power (balanced) at up to 320 mW, and with 32 volume steps it was a good chance to test real-world how that power translated into actual performance with a wide variety of headphones and earphones.
     
    Full headphones
    For this part of the exercise I used the ordinary single ended output with my full sized headphones, SPL meter position inside the cushions adjacent to my ear, and the track “Joker man”. The SPL meter was set to measure A-weighted, and my aim was to try and match as closely as possible my desired peak listening level at around 75dB. Results listed below. Each time the SPL meter was reset, and peak SPL recorded:
    HD630VB => volume 17/32 = 75.0 dB
    HD600 =>volume 23/32 = 75.6 dB (22/32 was 74.2 dB)
    HD800S =>volume 23/32 = 75.9 dB (22/32 was 73.5 dB)
     
    supermini44.jpg supermini43.jpg supermini45.jpg
    HD630VB is pretty easy to drive
    HD600 requires power and SuperMini performs brilliantly
    Surprisingly good performance with the HD800S

     
    My original pick of these 3 headphones with the SuperMini was the HD600 – it really did combine well, great SQ and plenty of head room. The funny thing is that the longer I listened to the HD800S, the first up feeling of a little too much warmth was replaced with absolute delight with the overall pairing.
     
    IEMs and Ear-buds
    The next series of tests allowed me to compare the balanced and single-ended output, as I have balanced cabled and adaptors. So for this test I used the included RE600 variant, the Campfire Andromeda (super sensitive), the MEE P1 (harder to drive), and the VE Zen2 320 ohm ear-buds.
     
    supermini42.jpg
    Again I used my trusty SPL meter, “I and I” from the Infidels album, and recorded the following results – balanced where possible (once again the dB figures are volume peaks from the same portion of music).
    HFM RE600 => volume 10/32 balanced = 75.9 dB
    HFM RE600 => volume 12/32 single ended = 76.4 dB
    Campfire Andromeda => volume 6/32 balanced = 76.9 dB
    Campfire Andromeda => volume 7/32 single ended = 76.7 dB
    MEE P1 Pinnacle => volume 14/32 balanced = 75.1 dB
    MEE P1 Pinnacle => volume 17/32 single ended = 75.9 dB
     
    supermini41.jpg
    With the Zen2, like the full sized headphones, I simply had to test the single ended output (my pair is not balanced). At a volume of 16-17/32 it was pretty close to my normal listening level (peaks of around 75-78dB, but averaging around 70 dB).
     
    With all of the earphones tested, the SuperMini lived up to its reputation – it really is a little powerhouse. You an see from the results above that there seems to be enough output to satisfactorily drive most earphones. Of all the earphones I tested with the SuperMini, my personal favourites would be the RE600 (more on that later) and the Zen2.
     
    I got my wife to test the Andromeda. I know its really sensitive, and suspected there may be some hissing. I of course would miss this because quite simply my tinnitus masks it. But my lovely wife has excellent hearing, and she said that the Campfire Andromeda hiss was noticeable from a very low (1/32) – and still audible at Tania's normal listening volume 5/32. So for people with sensitive hearing who own the Andromeda – not the best pairing.
     
    Will you need a separate amp for the SuperMini? Definitely not in my opinion.
     
    INCLUDED EARPHONES
    I'll cover this now because in my time with the SuperMini, the inclusion of the IEMs – which aren't named, but which I'm going to call RE600s – really help with the overall value of the SuperMini package.
     
    The IEMs are tiny, just 16mm from nozzle tip to rear of the IEM and less than 10mm at their widest point. The nozzle itself is 4-5mm in length has a great lip (so works well with many tip choices), and the nozzle is 6mm in diameter. It is protected with a wax guard, and there are replacements included. The housing is metal (aluminium alloy?). I'm using T400 Comply tips, and they fit perfectly. There is a very small vent or port visible next to the cable exit, so I'm betting the IEM is a dynamic micro driver. In terms of weight, they are a mere 15g, and that includes tips (in my Case large Comply T400).
     
    supermini08.jpg supermini09.jpg supermini10.jpg
    Rear of the IEMs - very similar build to RE600
    Front view
    Comparison in size to Andromeda

     
    The cable exit has a sturdy semi-rigid relief which is clearly marked R or L. On the left hand relief there is a raised bump so you can also tell non-sighted (great job HifiMan). The cable is 1.3m long, and being balanced, must be 4 core. The outer jacket is quite satiny, and I'm thinking is some kind of PFE related jacket. If worn over ear, it has extremely low micro-phonics. The Y-split is a semi-rigid rubber and does have a very good cinch. There is very good strain relief at the 4 pole 3.5mm balanced jack, which is right angled, gold plated, and case friendly (if you have a balanced DAP with an outer case). Interestingly enough, I can use the IEM with a lot of my other unbalanced DAPs – as long as they are not designed to be compatible with 4 pole mic enabled earphones. So it doesn't work with my iPhone, or most of my FiiO's, but does with the L&P DAPs and both the MegaMini and SuperMini. Adding an amp to the FiiO's and it works perfectly.
     
    supermini12.jpg supermini13.jpg supermini14.jpg
    Y-split and cinch
    4 pole balanced right angled jack
    Works with the E17K as SE, but not with the FiiO

     
    So sturdy build and low micro-phonics, what about fit, comfort and isolation? For me they simply disappear into my ears, and that means superb comfort. I can (and have) slept with them intact, and can easily lie on my side. Isolation will depend on tip and seal, but for me with Comply T400 they are above average for a vented dynamic, and I'd have no issues with most public transport.
     
    Well – how do they sound? My graph of the frequency response and channel matching (which is fantastic) is below. My measuring system is a hobbyist system and is generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. Ken Ball (ALO/Campfire) graciously provided me with measurement data which I have used to recalibrate my Veritas so that it mimics an IEC 711 measurement standard (Ken uses two separate BK ear simulators, we measured the same set of IEMs, and I built my calibration curve from shared data). I do not claim that this data is 100% accurate, but it is very consistent, and is as close as I can get to the IEC 711 standard on my budget.
     
    re600freqresponse.png supermini11.jpg supermini15.jpg
    Channel matching and frequency response
    With Comply T400 tips
    Superb IEMs

     
    What I'm hearing is pretty well extended bass, but perfectly matched with a quite forward and beautifully lush mid-range (one of the best I've heard on any IEM period for my tastes). The mid-bass is very slightly humped, and this means they sound very natural rather than coloured. There is the slightest recession in lower mid-range, but again this sounds completely natural and in line with the bass response. There is a very clear climb from lower-mids to upper-mids centered at 2kHz, and this brings a lot of coherency and a particular sweetness to female vocals, so in that sense it is coloured – but for my tastes, it is in a good way. Lower treble is reasonably well extended, and there is very good detail and also realistic decay portrayed in instruments like cymbals.
     
    Clarity is really good – especially in the mid-range and lower treble, but its not an overly bright IEM – more one that is just extremely well balanced. Sound-stage is intimate rather than expansive, but it is circular giving good impression of both width and depth) and imaging is very good within the sound scape projected.
     
    This is really subjective – but if you were to put this IEM in a fancy ergonomic casing, with a nice braided cable, and told me it is an $800 IEM, I would simply nod my head. Slightly coloured in the upper mid-range – yes. One of the best IEM's I've heard in terms of overall tonality for my personal tastes – definitely.
     
    OTHER ERATA
    1. Updating database – 6500 aac256 tracks – approx 4 minutes
    2. Battery life – I haven't been able to time a full charge and full discharge yet, and the 7 day testing time encompassing both Super and Mini unfortunately means some short cuts have to be taken. This is a guess based on the last few days use – and I'll try and refine if I get a chance – but I'd suggest that charging time is around 3 hours from empty (depending on your charging output source). The stated 22 hours from HiFiMan would be based on relatively low single-ended power output, and the screen off most f the time (ie ideal conditions). With my day to day usage – mostly with the RE600 (sometimes the Andromeda, and also the U10), I've been taking a fully charged unit to work, and with on and off usage during the day and evening still had power remaining the next day. So for normal usage I'd say expect (single-ended) around 16 hours or so continuous. EDIT : Had a chance to do a battery test.  aac256, using included IEMs through balanced socket on volume 7/32.  Continuous play, with screen off most of the time gets 14hr and 40 minutes.  Well under HFMs stated 22 hours - which I can now only conclude is the battery time if player sits in idle mode (no play time). 
    3. There is no shut-down after inactivity. The screen will switch off but the SuperMini remains on. This is something to consider if you are the forgetful type, as in idle, you will use battery life.
     
    SONICS
    This review is getting on and we haven't yet talked about how the SuperMini sounds.
     
    Some of you may find this section a little limited, so I’ll give you some insight into the way I’ve changed my opinion on how to describe the sound with any competently made DAC, DAP or amplifier. The problem with trying to break the sonics down to bass, mids and treble is that DAP / DAC / amp is designed (or should be designed) to be essentially flat across the frequency spectrum. If it has enhanced bass, then isn’t it adding colouration that should come from the headphones or EQ or recording? Likewise, I won’t comment on sound-stage, as this is primarily a by-product of the actual recording, or the transducers you’re using.
     
    So how do I go about describing it? Well I can’t measure it this time (I’d need to be able to isolate the signal from the SuperMini, and it can't be used as a stand alone DAC, nor as a pass through amplifier). I’m pretty confident the SuperMini will be very linear in its measurements, so you’ll be left listening to the recording pure and simple (and isn’t that what we all want?). Edit – thatonenoob has measured it via RMAA (view the info here - http://www.head-fi.org/products/hifiman-supermini-high-res-portable-player/reviews/17055) – and it is indeed pretty linear, with some slight roll off in the higher frequencies under load – however this is very small, and in the fundamental primary audio range (50Hz – 10kHz) is is essentially very flat.
     
    So instead, I’ll just say that I really love the sound so far from the SuperMini, and give you my (very) subjective impressions of the Supermini compared to my other DAPs. But if I was to give a one line sentence on the overall sound characteristic, I would say “linear with a slight tendency toward warmth” I think in audiophile terms – this might be construed as being “musical”.
     
    With each of these comparisons, I used a 1 kHz test tone to exactly match volume, and used the included RE600? IEMs to directly compare to other DAPs in a similar price range. Where there were balanced options, I also compared those. The adaptors I used were a set supplied to me by Venture Electronics for use with their ear-buds.
     
    Warning – very subjective impressions ahead.
     
    SuperMini vs MegaMini
    The two have very similar build and dimensions with the MegaMini being slightly smaller at 100 x 42 x8.5mm. Button layout is slightly different with the Mega having 4 buttons on the face and 3 on the sides compared to the Super's 3 on the face and 4 on the side (the return button being the point of difference). The Super does have a longer stated battery life (~22 hours vs ~15 hours) Edit : real battery life is ~14-15 hours vs approx 9 hours, and is also slightly more powerful – out of both single-ended and of course the Super has balanced which yields even higher power output. With the RE600 I used for testing, 10/32 on the Super yielded 79.1 dB while 11/32 on on the Mega was 79.3. The quick A/B was made on both single ended ports.
     
    supermini24.jpg
    I really think I’d struggle to tell these two apart in a completely blind test. Tonally they are extremely similar, and during the course of the A/B the only feeling I got was that there was slightly more depth or separation to the Super. But this could have simply been the very slight difference in volume (0.2dB), and also natural expectation bias in a sighted test. If I was to choose one purely based on what I'm hearing, I would lean toward the Super. From a recommendation POV, it would come down to what you need. If you value the balanced option, and need a little more power, plus if the included IEMs have value for you – then the choice is an easy one (the Super). If you are simply looking for a great small form factor DAP, don't need balanced, and already have your preferred IEMs, then from a value standpoint the Mega is probably the better option.
     
    SuperMini vs FiiO X5ii
    The X5ii is much bigger and heavier being more than twice the weight and twice the size. Battery life is in favour of the Super (in real terms ~15 hours vs ~10 hours). It would be difficult to talk about power output – as the X5ii has full specifications released for differing loads while the Super only has balanced output at full power listed. With the included RE600 IEMs, 10/32 on the Super is ~ 35/120 on the X5ii, so I'd suggest their total power output may be very similar. What the X5ii loses on portability and battery, it more than makes for on features – including gapless playback, replay gain, searchable database, external play-lists, user configurable equaliser and use as a DAC. The Super of course comes with the RE600 bundled.
     
    supermini21.jpg
    Sonically again I'm finding very little difference between the X5ii and SuperMini during fast switching. They both have very familiar overall tonality – and this is one test where I can guarantee blind I simply wouldn't be able to tell the two apart. I will add here too that both players are simply sublime with the RE600 – it was tempting may times during the testing to simply stop and listen to the music regardless of which player was operating at the time.
     
    So the choices this time are on the overall package of the SuperMini (being player plus IEMs) vs the feature set of the X5ii. If we were comparing the players alone, the X5ii would win hands down (feature-set), but as a bundle I find the SuperMini to be compelling value. In this comparison it depends on what you're looking for.
     
    SuperMini vs Luxury & Precision L3
    Again the Super is dwarfed by the bigger L3, and again the L3 is more than twice the weight and size. The L3 doesn't list any power specs, but if the matching with the SPL meter is any indication then single ended 10/32 with the Super vs 27/60 for the L3, and a similar ratio with the balanced – the Super is the more powerful of the two DAPs. Battery life again favours the SuperMini (~15 vs ~10-11 hours). Both GUI (touch-screen on the L3) and feature set (DAC function, preset EQ, analogue pot among a few) go with the L3 – although it would be fair to say that the L3 sits a little behind the X5ii in terms of features.
     
    supermini23.jpg
    Sonically whilst the two are close, this time there are faint tonal differences. The Super is very slightly warmer or fuller than the L3 – it is very slight though. Again both sound excellent with the RE600. Its hard to pinpoint which I like more as both are really nicely detailed, and have wonderful clarity and depth of sound.
     
    Once again the value question will be one of an integrated package vs the stand-alone player, and once again it depends where your priorities. They both have similar quality of SQ. The L3 is far better in terms of features and GUI. But the Super has the extra battery life, the extra portability, and of course the bundled IEMs (plus the extra power)
     

    CONCLUSION / SUMMARY HIFIMAN SUPERMINI

    When I saw the SuperMini, started playing with it for the first day, and putting it through its paces, I have to admit I was looking at it and thinking to myself – great form factor, great power, great battery life, great SQ – but $400? This initial impression started changing from day 2, and I've done a 180 deg change the longer I've had it in my possession.
     
    What the SuperMini brings to the table is a wonderful form factor, good battery life (especially for the power output), a simple but usable GUI, and really good power output for its diminutive size. If someone had shown me the SuperMini and said it could drive the HD800S passably well and the HD600 exceptionally well – I'd have simply scoffed at them. Seeing (and hearing) is believing.
     
    What it lacks is features – and for many these will be deal breakers. No gap-less. No EQ. No DAC mode. No replay-gain. No searchable database. Limited play-list support.
     
    But what it has (if you're looking at real value and the full package) is the included IEMs (RE600 variant). This is subjective, but I do think the only way to correctly evaluate the “package” is to recognise that you are getting a really excellent sounding $200-250 ultra-portable DAP, and exceptional $150-200 pair of IEMs. That would put the total value of the package at the target $400 mark.
     
    So would I recommend this player/IEM bundle? – well it depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a fully featured DAP – then no, there are better options, and I don’t think you are HifiMan's target market for this device. If you are looking for a wonderful sounding no frills portable package – then yes, definitely yes, resoundingly yes.
     
    I'll have to return this set in a few more days (after I write up the MegaMini), and already I'm having withdrawal symptoms – and its for both components in the package. I will genuinely miss both. For simple use (album at a time, or whole collection on shuffle), for my regular walks there is really not a better DAP for portability. If I had the money I'd offer to buy this unit right now – but sadly my recent purchase of the HD800S means I must pass – until maybe a future date. Happy wife = happy life is my motto for now. Those who are married will fully understand this. Tania knows my passion for audio – and I understand her sensibility in budgeting. But there will be a time in the future when I will likely purchase this package. For truly portable use – its fantastic.
     
    FINAL THANKS
    My apologies for the length of the review. My thanks also to Dr Bian, Peter Hoagland and Ryne from HifiMan for their assistance for giving me the opportunity. I will genuinely miss this unit when I send it away next week.
     
    AND WHAT ABOUT MY CHECKLIST
    Back at the start I listed what I looked for in a new DAP. So how did the SuperMini go?
     
    Clean, neutral signature – but with body (not thin)
    Definitely ticked this box - a pure joy to listen to music with the SuperMini – and especially when you include the RE600.
     
    1. Good build quality : ​​Extremely good build quality - definite tick.
    2. Reasonable battery life : Again tick - although at ~ 15 hours under conditions where screen is not in use, it falls well short of the claimed 22 hours.
    3. Easy to use interface : Definitely a tick – it may be short on features, but the design of the UI is really good.
    4. Able to drive both low impedance and (within reason) higher impedance cans without additional amping : Definite tick with the headphones I have.
    5. Value for money : Like I said – this depends if you are solely evaluating the DAP or the entire package, and will depend on what your own “deal breakers” are. For me the answer is a yes.
    6. Enough storage to hold either my favourite albums in red-book, or my whole library in a reasonably high resolution lossy format (for me – aac256) : Another tick I tested most formats, but most of my listening is usually AAC256, and I had my entire library at my disposal with a 64 Gb card.
     
    supermini46.jpg
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Robert777
      Great review. Thank you for your effort.

      Could you possibly point me in the direction of the adaptor that i would need to connect my Pinnacle P1s to the balanced out?

      Thank you.

      Rx
      Robert777, Mar 24, 2017
    3. Brooko
      Brooko, Mar 26, 2017
    4. Robert777
      Yes, that makes sense. Thank you. Rx
      Robert777, Mar 27, 2017
  9. thatonenoob
    [PMR Reviews] Hifiman Supermini (And Megamini)
    Written by thatonenoob
    Published Oct 12, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Good Build, SQ On Supermini, Feature Set
    Cons - Screen, Firmware, Formatting
    Hifiman Supermini (And Megamini)

    Curiously Small DAPs That Deliver  



    _D702529.jpg
     ​
    INTRODUCTION​

    And Then There Were Two
    Interesting ten (or was it thirteen?) days this has been. Currently priced at $399 USD and $249 USD (post-Indiegogo) respectively, these new compact DAPs are certainly interesting value propositions. Their main selling points are a small form factor and an extended battery life. In this sense, they are pretty successful! If this had been 2014, things would’ve been very smooth sailing for the Supermini and Megamini. However, with companies like AK descending into the entry-level market, it would be an understatement to say that the game has changed. There are expectations to meet on multiple fronts, in addition to sound quality – build and UI are some of the few that come to mind immediately. I will explore these factors and how they apply to the Supermini/Megamini in this review.
     
    There’s an uncanny resemblance between the new DAPs and the HM700. Form factor wise, both the Supermini and Megamini have taken many visual cues from the HM700. Fortunately enough for users, the headphone jack is no longer inaptly placed on the side of the player’s body. Internally, little is known about the Supermini and Megamini. All that has been released is that the new players are using a lower power-consumption controller chip. This isn’t exactly a far cry from the SigmaTel STMP3700 used on the HM700, though the STMP3700 was a bit more powerful in the sense that it was a SoC, if such things are to be taken at face value. At any rate, the idea of pushing a non-dedicated chipset to its extremes remains. Point is, this isn’t an entirely new concept –and it is, to a certain extent, dated.  With that in mind, let’s jump into the review and see how these two hold up.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Disclaimer
     
    The Supermini and Megamini were both provided directly from Hifiman for the purposes of this review.  You can also find this review here on my blog. I had originally only expected to conduct a review for the former, but when I received the package I found the latter neatly stowed inside as well. I have had these for thirteen days, and the stipulated terms of the review included finishing this piece within a timeframe of ten days (yikes). Very tight schedule –and I apologize for taking a little longer (I was sick, and things slowed down a little). I won’t be keeping these units and will be sending them back to Hifiman post-review. I do reserve the rights to the media in this review, so drop me a line if you intend on reproducing any part of the writing, photography, or video in this review.  A short note on the star rating – I do not like giving stars via the current rating system.  It just doesn’t make sense to me –how do you quantify a star?  But for those wondering anyways I’d say the Supermini is 4 stars and the Megamini is 3.5 stars.  This is based on my general sense of perceived performance. Once again, thanks to Hifiman for offering me this unique opportunity!
     
     
    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES 

    The two DAPs came in a nondescript cardboard box, nicely padded and packaged. Opening the box, there were two smaller matte boxes for each of the players. The black one is for the Supermini and the white for the Megamini. Opening that will reveal the player encased behind a clear plastic screen. The included accessories vary from package to package, but there should be no real surprises here.
     ​
    1. Charging Cable
    2. Screen Protector (Supermini)
    3. Unnamed Earphones (Supermini)
    4. 1 x Spare Tips/ Filters (Supermini)

    I really feel that a 2.5mm AK TRRS to 3.5mm Hifiman TRRS adaptor should have been included for the Supermini. Seeing that most balanced earphones are terminated in the AK standard these days, I find sticking to a rare proprietary connection to be impractical. The Supermini also comes with a screen protector, but I found it unusable. The plastic is rough and striated, and there’s dust on the sticky side of the protector. Yes, this was before I even applied it. In addition to coming up with a better protector, it’d be nice if it came pre-installed.

    The earphones on the Supermini are very good. They’re supposedly better than the RE-400 ($80 USD), but don’t currently have a name. I’m going to use the term organic here (SG Zepp Headfi’ers J ) . It’s a slightly warmer sounding earphone that still maintains a good level of detail retrieval and separation. Overall presentation can err on the slightly more intimate side, and treble articulation is only above-average compared to earphones like the ER4S. I don’t think I’ll be doing a dedicated review as I will be returning this player and the associated accessories. I do like this earphone! Only thing is…the accessories are few: one extra pair of tips and a couple of filters.

    Let’s take a look at the overall package. I still think the earphones should be optional. This is because the Supermini is currently priced halfway between what I would consider entry and mid-range.   From the entry level perspective, the Supermini would still be on the higher-side, and from the mid-range level, I think many will already have a pair of earphones to use with the DAP. But I did like the fact that out of the box I had a balanced earphone to use with the Hifiman standard –especially a good one too. Overall, the package is complete –but a couple more accessories would be nice too.
     ​
    BUILD AND DESIGN

    Build on the players is fairly minimalistic. As promised, both players come in with a fairly small footprint. I started to take for granted how easy it was to slip the Supermini into my pocket when I switched back to bulkier Opus#1/ DX50. The Supermini clocks in at 104.0 x 45.0 x 8.5mm, and the Megamini at 100.0 x 43.0 x 9.0mm. The build is metal on both and feels fairly good, though there are some slight changes in form factor between the two. The Supermini is black with rounded edges, and a three-button interface (forward, back, enter). There is back button offset slightly forwards and on the side of the unit. The Megamini on the other hand has all four buttons located on the front face. The latter configuration may not look as nice, but is more convenient than the former, as reaching for the back button is easier. One thing about the Megamini though is that it has some sharp edges – which I am not a fan of. Since there is no case, the edges make it uncomfortable in hand and pocket. Another curious point – when using the Megamini in the dark – the plastic volume and power buttons light up due to backscatter from the screen. Unintended but not altogether unwelcome. In summary, apart from some small quibbles, build quality on these players is good.
     ​
    Now for some practical design considerations. We’ll start first with the Supermini. The balanced and SE jacks are right next to each other. The risk of having a user plug a SE earphone into the balanced jack is significant. Three things could’ve been done to remedy this: use another balanced standard, provide a cap to cover the unused port, or somehow move the outputs to different ends of the player.  On that note – both SE and balanced are enabled at the same time.  Moving forward, both players have basic screens. On the Supermini, it is quite obvious that the refresh rate on the screens appears to be rather low. This could either be a hardware or software concern (probably both), but a statement by a friend that I concur with is that the screen seems to be refreshing once per click.  Between the two players – there is no internal storage.
     ​
    Lens.jpg
     ​
    Let’s talk UI. Apart from the highly average screen, I actually like the UI a lot. It works very well –I’ve used some seriously frustrating non-touch screen players that just don’t make sense (Hidizs I’m looking at you). The UI on the Supermini and Megamini on the other hand is intuitive and can be navigated with a learning of curve of approximately 30 seconds. The minimalistic white on black aesthetic on the Supermini looks particularly good in my opinion. The settings page is simple, and there are no major surprises here. Currently supported are five languages (Simplified/ Traditional Chinese, English, Japanese, and French).
     ​
    However, there are some issues with the rest of the OS that need work. Let’s start with basic compatibility. Currently, only FAT-32 works with the Supermini. NTFS and exFAT both need to be rewritten. As is expected, reformatting will delete your library. A bit of a pain –but Hifiman has stated that it is working on the exFAT compatibility for future firmware updates.  USB OTG isn’t supported either.  You can choose to reformat your cards using the built in functionality -but strangely after a while the player stopped recognizing the card and asked me to reformat again.  I was able to do a quick-fix by restarting the player, which mostly solved my issues.  However, there’s been feedback that there are still further issues with higher capacity cards.  Read speed is also really slow – it took me about 10 minutes to have my 64 GB Sandisk Ultra MicroSD read. Current computer interfacing is good. You can easily transfer files, as the player will show up on both Windows and Mac. It’s a nice change from having to use Android File Transfer on Mac (Opus#1).
     ​
    Another thing to note – the timer on auto power-off doesn’t seem to care if music is playing or not, making the function unusable.  Similarly annoying – the player seems to turn on when being charged, so take care to turn it off after unplugging it, otherwise coupled with the non-functional auto power-off you’ll find yourself running out of battery pretty quickly.
     
    TECH AND SPECIFICATIONS

    First off, I’d like to offer a shoutout to @earfonia (Head-Fi). He’s an excellent reviewer (check out his work here). Through conversations I’ve gained much insight into audio evaluation and the technical aspects related to it. I’d also like to acknowledge the SG Head-Fi community, which is without a doubt a huge, organic body of knowledge –it’s definitely something that I’ve been very happy to be a part of.


    Let’s start with a brief look at the Supermini/ Megamini. Both players are using some sort of controller chip with an integrated DAC. I’ve taken the liberty to do some online surfing – there are certainly interesting offerings equipped with 10-bit differential integrated DACs. I also found an interesting article regarding the possible use of ADC’s as DACs here. Some of the chips I saw do come with powerful ADC’s –so this might be a possibility to consider. I won’t be opening the player. I can’t claim to have the expertise or the confidence to do so without possible ruining the device (something I’d rather not do if I’m expected to use this for future comparisons). One SG Head-Fi’er did mention that perhaps the DSD could perhaps be handled without a dedicated DAC w/ higher-order filter. Rudimentary testing via REW SPL logging has shown that for DSD64 playback at 15 Volume w/ DN-2000 comes in at about 12.5 hours. General use comes to about 15-22 hours with other formats. This would indicate otherwise for the filter proposal.  Another thing to note -both these players are susceptible to EMI!  You will not be having these in the same pocket as your smartphone.


    I’ve checked all of the supported file types for both the Supermini and the Megamini. Please see the chart below. The ability to handle 24/192 files is both curious and fairly impressive. Unsurprisingly, the players are unable to support either 32/384 PCM and DSD 128/256, and cannot downsample/convert to PCM. This indicates a probable lack of a dedicated sample rate converter. This is something to note if your library is comprised primarily of such material. I’ve tried loading in an M3U playlist, but the players do not recognize such files. Overall, compatibility with most standard file types is good but I am getting hit or miss performance with AIFF files.  Also, it should be noted that playing unsupported APE file types will crash the player.


    ScreenShot2016-10-13at1.32.33AM.png


     
    WAV
    FLAC
    ALAC
    APE
    AIFF
    DFF
    DSF
    16/44.1




    Seems to work with some files and not others.
    N/A
    16/48




    16/88.2




    16/96




    16/176.4



    X
    16/192



    X
    24/44.1




    24/48




    24/88.2




    24/96




    24/176.4



    X
    24/192


    ✓ (weird stutter)
    X
    DSD64
    N/A



     
    I’ve run some basic RMAA measurements on the players. RMAA results are only as good as the equipment used to perform the tests, and there has been a decent amount of coverage on its limitations and weaknesses. Consider it as a broad proof-reading of published technical specifications. Currently, I am using the Asus Xonar U7 w/ line-in mode. The ADC is a Cirrus Logic CS5361-KZZ that is capable of 24/192 w/ a 114 dB dynamic range. It uses a 5th order MBT Delta-Sigma Modulator, and attains low levels of noise and distortion. For those curious, the DAC is the equally capable CS4398-CZZ. 
     
    My RMAA results are affected by the line-in’s gain and the input voltage cap – 1 vrms (3.677 Vpp).  @earfonia has also explained to me that RMAA isn’t ideal for low voltage signals, such as those found on DAPs like these.  In practice, I’ve been able to get some decent results out of this rig w/ past gear.   Loopback testing on the rig itself indicates that performance-wise there are no glaring issues. There is perhaps argument in conducting an upgrade in the near future –though there are other equipment purchases that are in my mind more pressing.   The Megamini has less output than the Supermini out of SE.  I would advise against trying to compare directly the two sets of numbers!  
    MEGAMINI
    Megamini.png
     ​
    Megamini.png
    Megamini FR w/ Testing Gear Included

     ​

    MegaminiLoads.png

    Megamini RMAA under various loads. No serious impedance mismatch.

    -Good news as the HM700 had a casual 150 ohm impedance.

     ​

    SUPERMINI​

    Supermini.png

     ​

    Supermini.png

    Supermini FR w/ Testing Gear Included​

    -There seems to be steeper roll off. Curious as it doesn't sound as emphasized as graph looks.

    Then again, extension isn't the strength of these players.  Anyways, something for consideration.

     ​

    SuperminiLoads.png

    Supermini RMAA under various loads. No serious impedance mismatch.

     ​

    SOUND​


    At A Glance
    Hifiman describes the Supermini as being “transparent, warm, sweet and punchy”. I do indeed find that the Supermini is an enjoyable, musical sounding DAP. Is it a critical listening DAP? Not to my ears, no. However, the combination of robust lower end, varying roll off, and moderate detail retrieval is actually fairly entertaining. In the following comparisons, I hope that you will be able to gain a better perspective on its performance. As for the Megamini, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the Supermini due to its thinner sound and lack of detail. These two don’t make for a good sonic combination. I consider both of these to be in the ultra-portable category of players, not because they’re groundbreakingly slim, but because they’re not ridiculous to carry like most other “audiophile” players. I tested most of the gear in this review at my local store of choice – Zeppelin & Co.
     
    _D702369.jpg
     
    Now let me preface my impressions and comments with observations. I suppose an “ideal” DAP isn’t supposed to alter FR reproduction (if such an ideal even exists). But different DAPs do sound different to me at least –I know some will state otherwise, in which case I do think the RMAAs above will be more informative and agreeable. So, where do these differences arise? In my limited experience, the RMAA will reveal immediate issues –especially impedance-related ones when a load is applied. This can then be followed by a general examination of THD, noise, and the like (though in most cases these aren’t too bad). Detail retrieval is also important, and without a doubt DACs and their implementation will play a part in this. Moving past this, we do arrive at an increasingly subjective aspect of evaluation (and arguably one of the more important ones too).

    Before I close up this introduction I’ve got one last point to make. The differences in DAPs, when described in dedicated pieces such as reviews, may seem rather significant (and in some cases, they are). However, in day-to-day use the difference is small between decently performing products. Add in a printer or two and a noisy co-worker and you may not be able to hear a difference between a mid-range player and a ToTL offering. If you can still hear the differences in these conditions, more power to you (no sarcasm) –I know I can’t. Portable devices are not to be confused with “transportable” devices –portables still need to be assessed against a certain element of realistic use. Before anyone jumps, this does not mean that we should conduct all our testing in the subway –that’s similarly pointless. But boy would that make writing reviews easier.


    AK Junior
     
    The AK Junior is perhaps the Supermini’s most relevant competitor. Both share similar form factors (though the AK Junior is slightly larger), and are more or less targeted at the same audience. Neither player is perfect, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. The Supermini has to its advantage an excellent battery life, native DSD64 support, and a balanced output. The AK Junior can only handle DSD64 via PCM conversion. It does have a 64 GB internal storage (and unofficially 128 GB support). In addition, it has a touch screen display and USB DAC functionality. The feature set of the Supermini is a bit more practical, while the AK feature set is reminiscent of higher end players. Battery life on the AK is weak in comparison to the Supermini –coming in at around 7-8 hours. Overall, I prefer the Supermini feature set.

    Sonically, both have somewhat similar levels of sound quality, each with full-bodied, fairly robust signatures and moderate technical performance. In terms of detail retrieval –the AK Junior has the edge, weighing in with better soundstage and imaging. However, Supermini has better low-end impact, making for a more engaging and immediate sound. Midrange on Supermini is more rounded, and has a bit less energy. Upper-end articulation of the AK Junior is better. If Hifiman could make the earphones optional on the Supermini and drop the MSRP, the Supermini does have the potential to undercut the AK Jr. rather significantly. However, at its current pricing, there is no conclusive judgment to be delivered. Potential buyers will still have to gauge purchases based on which features they’d rather see in their players.

    Sony NW-A25
     
    The Sony NW-A25 is yet another interesting comparison for the Supermini/ Megamini combination. I’ll be upfront –the Hifiman’s are a better option. There are many features on the NW-A25, such as DSEE HX, S-Master amplification, noise-cancelling, ClearAudio+, Bluetooth capability, 128 GB expansion support, 50-hour playtime, and even a radio.   But here’s the thing – I don’t need half these features, and the sound just isn’t good.

    Sonically, it is very clear that the Supermini is the better of the two players. I disabled most of the features on the A25, and here’s what I found. The Sony NW-A25 lacks in both detail retrieval and dynamics, and sounds incredibly flat and slightly congested. Throw in some annoying system sounds, and I think the NW-A25 is clearly out of the running. The Supermini simply does many things better. The NW-A25 is more comparable to the Megamini, but in my opinion the Megamini still does a far better job, and has a much higher build quality too (and less annoying UI) too.

    Fiio X3 (Gen 2)
     
    I’ll preface this by saying that I haven’t always been the biggest fan of the Fiio DAP sound signature. While I do feel that detail retrieval, imaging, and soundstage of Fiio players is very nice, there’s a grain and slight lack of smoothness to it as well. That said, the Fiio X3 is a competent player, and it certainly provides very legitimate competition to the Supermini. To its advantage, the Supermini once again pulls in with better battery life and a less obtrusive form factor. Build quality is the same –both rely on physical buttons, though the X3 has a scroll wheel (if that’s your thing). There is no balanced output on the X3 either. However, the dedicated chipset is something to be aware of, and native DSD up to DSD128 is supported. The X3 also has USB DAC support, as well as a line out/ SPDIF coax out.

    Sound wise, the X3 sounds clearer, more transparent, and generally more detailed. The dedicated chipset on the X3 definitely shows its strengths here. However, the Supermini does have a slightly more musical touch to it, and those looking for a smoother, warmer signature may enjoy the Supermini. I think the two players have very different focuses. The X3 attempts to bring dedicated DAP performance to a lower pricepoint, while the Supermini aims at combining design and performance into a more user-oriented, convenient package.

    And I close this comparison by drawing the line at the DX50, where I feel the Supermini is no longer able to compete sound-wise. Another thing – balanced on the Supermini does indeed sound better. I found that it tightened up the sound, especially on the bass/ lower-mids. There is audible noise floor for both the players. Specifically, the Megamini sounds noisier than the Supermini for SE output.

    FINAL THOUGHTS

    The Hifiman Megamini and Supermini are certainly very compelling players.  There’s definitely a case to be made for them as ultra-portable DAPs.  I can tell you returning to my regular DAP brick wasn’t easy - I forgot how convenient a normal sized audio device could be.  In particular, the Supermini sounds pretty solid for what it is!   I do hope that with future firmware updates and support, most of the existing firmware issues can be resolved.  If you’re looking for a DAP with a slim form-factor and excellent battery life, then do keep your eyes open for the Hifiman Supermini/Megamini.


    R70X.jpg



      earfonia, Brooko, ozkan and 4 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. glassmonkey
      Excellent review! I've had similar problems with card formatting on the SuperMini, only I couldn't get it to recognize higher capacity cards if I took them out of the SuperMini. Both my 128 and 200GB Sandisk cards (two of the most popular cards) said they needed to be reformatted if I removed them and tried to insert them. I had to load songs via USB to the player and format the card in player. The SuperMini also didn't recognize a FAT32 card from my camera when inserted.

      I think that this is a major issue for a product that is currently available for purchase, and something that needs to be sorted out immediately. Otherwise HiFiMAN will be getting blasted by users for what is otherwise an excellent player.
      glassmonkey, Oct 23, 2016
    3. thatonenoob
      @glassmonkey indeed the SD card issue is rather serious and pressing...that and the other UI issues.  For something that already has a simplistic UI, it's really something that should've been sorted out at time of release.
      thatonenoob, Oct 23, 2016
    4. earfonia
      @twister6 sorry late reply Alex! Initially I was considering to review the MegaMini, but the hiss noise with my 1964 V3 and the slightly lacking extension on the sub-bass and treble parts, also problems with some of my large capacity mSD cards, make me decided not to review them. Honestly, I didn't see much benefit of using it in comparison to modern good smartphones with good audio quality.
      earfonia, Nov 3, 2016
  10. Army-Firedawg
    Hitting a home run in every aspect Hifiman claimed this would be.
    Written by Army-Firedawg
    Published Oct 11, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Amazing sound quality, outstanding battery life, very user friendly and simple UI, powerhouse
    Cons - Fair bit of static when listening to high sensitivity c/iems, no gain option
                                                                    20161011_220038.jpg
     
     
        There’s no way I can start this review without giving a shout out and massive thank you to my friends over at Hifiman. This is the second time they’ve sent me some of their products to review and I’m just as thankful and appreciative, probably more actually, than the first time. Like myself, there’s a lot of people who’re interested in purchasing a DAP and Hifiman allowing me the opportunity to share my opinions with others is both very humbling and something I appreciate so again, Hifiman thank you for time with your product.
     
     
    Notice: This review will share a lot of characteristics with my Hifiman MegaMini review. Though these 2 are different units they're are extremely similar.

     
     
     I'm a 25 year old firefighter currently for the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard. I was formerly a civilian firefighter in Kentucky with the Millard Fire Department before I enlisted and moved to my current location in Charlotte, North Carolina. My current goal is to begin my career again in the civilian fire service, and yes, I am the cliché of wanting to do that since as far as I can remember.
        My interests/hobbies are power lifting, fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. On that note over the years I've really came to an understanding of what it is I like and look for in audio products.
        What I look for is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.
        My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.
     
    -Amp.
        -Audio-Technica AT-PHA100
     
    -Headphone
        -Sennheiser HD650
        -Empire Ears Hermes VI
        -Audio-Technica
            -ATH-W5000
            -ATH-AD1000X
            -ATH-W1000X
        -Hifiman Balanced iem that comes w/ the Super mini
      
     I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. They were kind enough to send me a product for an arranged amount of time in exchange for my honest opinion. I am making no monetary compensation for this review.

     
    The Opening Experience
     
    20161011_221341.jpg     20161011_221347.jpg     20161011_221318.jpg 20161011_220452.jpg
     
     
     
        The initial handshake, the greeting if you will amongst consumer and company. Truthfully I’m often satisfied with a company's effort in this section; very rarely am I disappointed. So, does Hifiman continue their trend with presenting a very respectful “handshake” to their customer? Yes, The Hifiman Supermini is presented in a sublimely simplistic boc that’s matte black with the only words (other than a sticker) seen is that of the Hifiman logo.
        ‘Firedawg, why do you always praise packages that are simplistic?’ Great questions my imaginary friend. The reason for this is I’m a person of action, for better or for worse, I like to see what a product can actually do; not what’s said (or not said) on paper.
        Getting back on track, upon opening the box you have the Supermini centered inside of more black on black showing (way too much black for me but that’s just a personal thing). Underneath you are given the instruction manual, a screen protector (which is awesome), the charging cable and something that surprised me, a pair of balanced iems that according to Hifiman “is better than Re400, and less than Re600”.
        So honestly, this is a pretty rock solid unboxing. No jargon, only product. Let’s just hope the Supermini can speak for itself.

     
    Construction
     
        20161011_215815.jpg     20161011_215849.jpg
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
        So it looks nice out of the package, but that’s all for not if it breaks easily. But I’ve no worries with the Supermini. It’s built from very lightweight and slick aluminum that feels deceptively sturdy. The screen is of adequate size in respect to the rest of the unit so no complaints there. The 3 buttons on the front from left to right is reverse/back, play/pause/select, forward/next. To the right of the unit from top to bottom we’ve the volume up & down buttons, go back, and power button with a small reset button inside a small hole as well. Lastly, on the bottom of the unit again, going from left to right. Is the balanced output 3.5mm jack, normal 3.5mm jack, micro SD card slot (up to 256gb), and finally the micro usb charging port.
        There’s really not a whole lot to the construction of the Supermini but it’s quite impressive with what’s presented. It’s very lightweight yet sturdy in my hands, the battery life is ridiculously good for I only charge it maybe every other day.
     
    Specifications
        It’s not allowing me to copy the image from their website without bugging out the rest of the review, so please visit their website here so you can view the specifications.
     
    Functionality
     
        Something that has broken a many of potential DAP’s for me. True sound is the an extremely important aspect (which will be touched on later) but if the unit is a pain in the butt to use, what’s the point of it sounding great? And my goodness does the Hifiman Supermini continue to deliver. The UI is very smooth and responsive and keep exactly with the folders inside other folders I’ve set up my music by. This was the biggest and honestly best surprise I’ve gotten because no other DAP I’ve tested (as of date this review is written) has been able to keep my folders as I’ve set them.
        The sorting in the main screen I wish could be adjustable to moved to how I see fit instead of a set location (i.e. it will always be Now Playing, File Folder, Albums...All Songs. I can’t adjust it to have All Songs on top followed by File Folder etc…). It’s a minor thing for sure, but something I wish was present nonetheless.
        Finally on an ending note and it’s something at least I went through but wanted to make others aware before they do it. When I inserted my SD card (my review SD card is a 64GB Sandisk) I had to format the card before the Supermini would recognize it. So regrettably I allowed the unit to format the card to that it could read it which led me to have to resync all the music I use for reviewing. It’s not a major thing (at least for me because I can all the files I used on my PC) but if someone doesn’t save their music so that they can resync theirs then they’ve lost all of it. Then even if they do, roughly 40GB of music isn’t a quick sync either.
     
    Sound
        Aha, the part the everyone was waiting for. What we want to have to a very great degree in the DAP’s we purchase (well any audio equipment for that matter). According to Hifiman the “SuperMini sounds transparent, warm, sweet, and punchy.” I’ve heard this claim before, and seeing as that’s the sound signature I personally look for in music I tend to judge it a little more harshly. Thankfully I can say with honesty that the SuperMini has delivered this promise beautifully well. The sound is so smooth and very relaxing. It’s become on the my go to audio players to listen to as I’m falling asleep.
        The detail reproduction is superb. Every note that I’ve heard in music on my home set up (Schiit Lyr 2 & Bifrost 4490) I’ve heard on this unit. A downside I’ve noticed with the SuperMini is that it has narrowed the soundstage present to a fairly notable degree. Sure I’ve the plethora of Dr. Chesky albums to test depth and soundstage with but one of my favorite albums I’ve found due to it realism and naturalness being recorded live at an outside event is the Portico Quartet Live 2013. This album truly does a fantastic job teleporting you to the performance and everything so vast and distant (when certain things truly are way out). However, with the SuperMini I sound pretty congested to what I’m used to. The realism and detail is still there, it’s just not as spacious sounding.
        In terms of power output I tested a fairly decent assortment of equipment with it. Starting with my hyper sensitive ciem’s the Empire Ears Hermes VI.  The SuperMini presented a definite static that I was really disappointed to hear but it did mostly fade into the background with music playing. Another unfortunate was that they pushed a lot of power into the Hermes; I like to listen to these when I sleep sometimes due to the Hermes sensually warm and enveloping sound that the SuperMini matches wonderfully with, but it plays the ciem’s a little louder than I like one the lowest possible volume setting (1), actually even on zero I can still hear the music playing through.
        Next was the fairly difficult to drive mid impedance cans the Sennheiser HD650. The SuperMini did not even stutter in the slightest when paired with these (though even on the SuperMini’s product page it says it matches perfectly with the HD650).
        Lastly was my assortment of Audio-Technica products I’m also reviewing at this point and time. These are fairly easy to drive in terms of ohm resistance but they’re not the most sensitive boogers. Nope, no issue at all. The SuperMini didn’t even stutter when this were plugged in. They actually played very beautifully with the ATH-W1000X model, so much so it became my go to during my time with the SuperMini.
        So power output is laughably good from this small black box; but wait, it has another, final feature it’s been saving for last. It’s the capability of running balanced. Unfortunately the only balanced product I have is the iems that came with the SuperMini so I was forced to settle my A/B with them. A quick disclaimer as well is I’ve very little experience with balanced products. My first time ever hearing a balanced product was at Carolina Canfest 5 and it was only for a couple minutes max. Also, there’s a multitude of individuals who say there’s no discernible difference between balance and standard from cables so small. There’s forums on here designated to that which you’re obviously more than free to check out but the following is what I heard from my point of view.
    When going from standard to balanced with the iems supplied by Hifiman I was amazed by the difference. The soundstage, the positional imaging of the instruments and my location within the audience became so much better when running balanced out. In fact, this degree was so immediately notable that I’m looking into reterminating my Hermes’ Starlight cable to be balanced (and I don’t even have a balanced player [yet]). This player is definitely designed to be ran balanced, now it can also run standard ends in the balance side with no detrimental effects, it just plays louder (by about 2 volume clicks).
     
    Conclusion
                                                                                        20161011_215715.jpg
        To conclude my review of the HifiMan SuperMini, it’s in my opinion a truly splendid DAP that’s worth every ounce of the $399 asking price. It’s simplistic, to the point, and highly effective. Without having a touchscreen feature, this device has just about everything I’ve ever asked for in an audio player. I’ve reviewed only a few players thus far but at the time of this review this is definitely my personal favorite thus far.
        For those who’re looking to purchase a middle of the line DAP that is super simple to use, presents a nice, warm, and relaxing sound. I will most happily stamp my Army-Firedawg recommended brand onto this product. I honestly enjoyed this product and am confident pretty much anyone will as well.



     
    Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.
     
    1. BartSimpson1976
      still another device in 2016 which offers a hopelessly outdated MicroUSB port instead USB-C.
      How a bout a serial port to connect a floppy drive?
      BartSimpson1976, Oct 11, 2016
      Army-Firedawg likes this.
    2. Cinder
      Micro-USB is hardly outdated. It's the most prevelant mobile USB standard available and offers reasonable speeds. The body of the Supermini isn't thick enough to safely secure a USB-C port either. Just because a new standard is released doesn't mean that the one that precedes it is "hopelessly outdated".
      Cinder, Oct 11, 2016
      Army-Firedawg likes this.
    3. hqssui
      Great review, thanks
      hqssui, Oct 12, 2016
      Army-Firedawg likes this.