I was approached by @TeamHiFiMAN to review the SuperMini and Megamini, in which I happily accepted, thank you very much for including me in this tour.
I am just another music fans in this world, I love listening to music, and that made me stumble into head-fi around 10 years ago when looking for the best way to listen to my music. I am not in anyway an audiophile, heck not even close, so please forgive any lack of details in my review. Most importantly this is my personal impression on the unit, most likely i heard things differently than you, my ears, my preferences, my brain
I've listened to Supermini for about 4 weeks. I've used them mainly when traveling to/from office.
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
- Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi, Musica Antiqua Koln, Rolf Lislevand
- Yoko Kanno
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.
The supermini is CNC machined and build from solid block of Aluminum alloy, as such they feel solid and sturdy, quite small and light as well. Buttons has satisfying firmness and depth as you click them. I like them a lot, and the size is perfect to be a portable DAP. One thing to criticize is the display which is a fingerprint magnet. It's almost impossible to keep them clean, I always end up smudging them with my fingerprint, but to be honest that's me being picky.
The interface is quite simple, which I think is a big plus. It's designed to do one thing, plays music from the SD card. Done. While I usually favor devices with more features, I found the
simplicity of Supermini quite refreshing, not much of options there, you can choose to play your music based on file explorer, artist, albums or genre. You can also play all songs on your SD card, and of course you can shuffle or repeat. Done. Just play some music and enjoy, don't worry about other thing.
Having said all that, I kinda wished they have EQ support, and some basic function like pausing the music if I disconnect the headphone, hopefully future firmware update will make this possible.
Ok the most important part for me, sound quality, so how do they sound? I would say they sound neutral, balanced with a very slight boost treble. They are also quite transparent that when I change my headphones I can immediately hear the difference in the sound signature. I found their overall presentation to be very polite and smooth, but firm. separation is quite distinct and clear, bass has good impact and presence.
There is one thing that I really love out of the Supermini, the trebles sounded very sweet for me. When listening to acoustic guitar, the higher frequency sounds very articulate,
there is a spotlight on some region of the higher frequency. It is very enjoyable for me, I never heard such sound before on any other DAP. It's not overly bright, it's just trebles done with such and grace and finesse that is such a highlight for me as a self proclaimed treble head.
I do apologize for my rambling, it's a very enjoyable sensation for me
Comparison mostly done using ZMF Blackwood and focused on sound quality
Supermini vs LG V10
The LG V10 is no slacker in the sound department, carrying a ES9018 DAC. I find they both shared a very similar sound signature, balanced and quite neutral. However I find the supermini to deliver a more refined sound overall, especially on the treble area. But they're pretty close
Supermini vs Cayin i5
Very similar experience with V10 here, i5 and Supermini share similar sound signature, again Supermini managed to deliver a slightly more airy, refined and extended treble compare to i5.
Supermini vs Megamini
Now these two are very similar in build quality and dimension. The difference is Megamini have colour LED while Supermini only got monochrome LED. It's also worth mentioning that the Megamini doesn't have any balanced output. In term of sound quality, they also share very similar sound signature, HOWEVER, I notice that Megamini is a tad muted on the treble, compared to the Supermini, and bass is also bit more fuller on the Supermini
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.
In case you didn't know, the Supermini also feature a balanced headphone out. Now I don't own any balance headphone or earphone so I am not crazy about this. The bundled earphone is a balanced earphone so I give it a try and compare between the balanced and normal output, but i can't really hear any big difference (if any). YMMV but yeah I am not sold on this balanced things. Just another personal pref.
Well, this has been interesting experience, as a heavy user of google music I didn't expect myself to be attracted to the Supermini this much.
At first the idea of a $400 music player that only does basic things is a bit much, remembering that it's the age of streaming music.
But once you hear how they sounded, oh boy, sweet love! MEE P1 sounds great out of it, ZMF Blackwood sounds great out of it, the bundled IEM sounds great out of it. This tiny DAP
got enough power to drive some heavy headphones!
While there is some obvious room for improvement, especially on the software area, I can't argue that The Hifiman Supermini deliver what it's advertised: mini in size, great in sound and easy to be driven.
If you want features, look elsewhere now, this is not the DAP you're looking for.
If you're looking for a true portable music player that delivers great sound, look no further, it's the Supermini.