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HiFiMAN HM-101

USB digital-to-analog converter/headphone amplifier

11 Reviews

Item # 818HM101

This item is no longer available.

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Our take on the HiFiMAN HM-101

If you're still plugging your headphones or powered speakers directly into your computer's headphone jack, please stop — and read this! Computers are a fantastic source of movie and music entertainment, but most are saddled down with sadly sub-standard audio circuitry (yes, even the fancy expensive ones). And that means you're probably settling for sound quality that's just so-so.

Treat your computer like a real audio source

If you're still plugging your headphones or powered speakers directly into your computer's headphone jack, please stop — and read this! Computers are a fantastic source of movie and music entertainment, but most are saddled down with sadly sub-standard audio circuitry (yes, even the fancy expensive ones). And that means you're probably settling for sound quality that's just so-so.

Better sound for a song

HiFiMAN's HM-101 portable USB sound card is a simple and affordable solution that can help you discover what you've been missing. This tiny, outboard digital-to-analog converter plugs into one of your PC's USB ports, bypassing the computer's built-in audio circuitry and replacing it with hi-fi-grade hardware. By processing music files outside your computer's noisy electrical environment, you'll instantly hear more detail and dynamics in the music you love coming through on your headphones, powered speakers, or sound system. And it's not just about music. The HM-101 can boost the sound of all your computer-based audio sources, including game and movie soundtracks in stereo.

Easy to use

Operation is simple. Just connect the HM-101 to any USB port on your computer, and it will install itself and be ready for use in a matter of seconds. There are no settings or volume knobs to deal with, either. Simply continue using your computer's volume control to adjust the sound. And since the HM-101 draws its power through the USB connection, there are no external power supplies or batteries to worry about.

Product Highlights:

  • compact design for portability
  • built-in headphone amplifier
  • powered by USB connection — no need for external power supply
  • 1 Mini USB (Type B) input for connection to a computer (USB A to Mini B adapter cable included)
  • 1 minijack (3.5mm) audio output
  • 1 minijack (3.5mm) headphone output
  • supported sample rates: 44.1kHz, 48kHz
  • input bit depth: 16 bits
  • built-in USB driver — no downloads required
  • frequency response: 20 to 20,000 Hz
  • THD: 0.07%
  • stereo crosstalk: 78 dB
  • headphone output power: 62mW (at 36 ohms), 26mW (at 150 ohms)
  • 1-7/16"W x 9/16"H x 2-7/16"D
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • Portable USB sound card
  • 16" USB cable (with Type A USB on one end and Mini-B 2.0 USB on the other end)
  • Instructions

HiFiMAN HM-101 Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(11 Reviews)

HiFiMan HM-101

Odbmon from Knoxville, Tn on 7/21/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Though I don't have anything to compare this digital converter, but so far it has done exactly what I bought it to do. The quality and clarity of music being played thru my computer is simply superb. I could have opted for a higher priced converter, but I don't see how the sound could be improved upon. I have already recommended this to two of my friends.

Pros: Sounds great, easy to install.

Cons: Haven't found any yet.


JohnR from BOSSIER CITY, LA on 6/14/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

i have enjoyed it and for the most part listening to youtube. the bass is smooth not overpowering, i have not tweeked the laptop settings and the headphones are just some 60dollar jvc's. i am sorry i waited so long to make the move and get it

Pros: price and sound, definitely got what i paid for with no regrets

Cons: none that i can think of.

Did Not Work

Waymie from Sherman, TX on 6/13/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The device puts out no audio signal to the wireless headphone transmitter. USB power supply worked properly, but transmitter went from low amplitude to flatline.



Crutchfield response on 6/17/2014 We forwarded this review to our Technical Support team for follow-up. Lifetime tech support comes with every Crutchfield purchase.

great product and staff

Mr Natural from Springville, IA on 5/18/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

unsure of what product would suit my needs I spoke with a customer rep and based on his recommendation I made my purchase. My rep did not try to upsell, but provided the most cost effective item for me, not his company, best of all it works great.

Pros: the honesty of their customer service

Cons: none that I can think of

Power Baby

LION from Dover, NH on 5/2/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Well for you skeptics out there. This thing rocks. I study and use headphones all the time. I have a pair of Coloud inexpensive HP. Dude, I kid you not, this thing makes them sound like a high end pair. I can't wait to try my JVC's with 50mm drivers.

Pros: works well with dell and iTunes. crisp, clear, punctuated, and lots of bass. Warm from the DAC.

Cons: a very faint click or start up syncing noise when you first start up, goes away very quickly.

Why is this Product Sold?

Tom G from Nope on 1/24/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This is a terrible product. Read any real review of this on any other site and you will learn why. It is poorly shielded and will emit constant, abrasive noise via whatever pair of headphones is plugged into it. The "amplifier" does next to nothing for the sound, and the DAC in my laptop's onboard sound must do a better job than this poor excuse for audio equipment. Crutchfield should be ahsamed for their staff review. This unit was actually out of stock due to demand for a while. It should be permanently out of stock. Please do not ever buy this. Spend more money and boycott this company. This device should not have been released.

Pros: Looks pretty

Cons: Horrible awful EMF noise due to poor shielding making the device unusable in any environment

Second Chance

Ricky from San Diego, CA on 1/5/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

the first couple of times I plugged in the HiFi Man HM 101 to my laptop I got a green light which made me think it was on and working but no sound came thru the headphones but I think that green light means it is loading the drivers, the third time last ditch effort the light came on blue now it was on and surprisingly a much improved sound was coming thru Sennheiser HD518's all of a sudden there was much more clarity and more weight to the bass, percussion bass drum the highs were crisper and with the smooth mid's the frequency balance was very good and much more enjoyable, you can tell by my equipment that I don't have much of a budget but I love when products that are affordable actually produce, thanks HiFiMan I am now dreaming of a pay increace that will allow me to by the HiFiMan HE 300.



ok for the money

lee from hillsboro, mo on 9/3/2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

It was ok but had too much bass I think the computer is better it also has a sound like a mouse chewing on the cord sometimes it can be heard over the music. I got the nu force and am very impressed it sounds great if you can the nu force is worth the money the hifi man had to go.

Pros: was good if you just need it a little louder and don't mind a little more noise, and a little more bass

Cons: the mouse thing drove me crazy I don't know how much it happens but their was other reports of it online it also uses the volume on the computer to control it and that means the computer can change the bit rate if you turn it down a lot then the d/a is getting a bad signal according to the nuforce paper work the Crutchfield advisor and online reports agreed


Rick from Phoenix Az on 5/30/2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Got this to replace my Macbook Air's internal sound card to run my Audio Technica ATH-M50's and my creative gigaworks desktop speakers. For a Headphone amp there is a noticeable difference in sound reproduction while using the Hifi Man Express. Tighter Bass response, more a more realistic sound-stage. I didn't however notice much difference in my desk top speakers, using the DAC portion. But for the price its a steal. Great headphone amp, and im sure if I had better desktop speakers the difference in sound would be more noticeable. If your on a budget and you spent more than $100 on your speakers or headphones and currently do not have a Headphone amp and/or DAC this product is a must. Unless you have the money for something like the Audio Engine D1. The only reason it didn't get 5 stars is because there is a noticeable hum when plugged in. Sometimes depending on were the device is (next to a phone or close to my laptop) it can even be heard when listening to music witch is kind of annoying. For the Price the sound quality upgrade is great.

Pros: The value of the Hifi Man express is very high for the price, noticeable upgrade from Macbook Air's Sound card.

Cons: Noticeable hum when no music is played, if next to a phone/computer hum is noticeable through music.

HiFiMAN HM-101

ANDREI from BLUFFTON S.C. on 5/22/2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Doesn't work with apple mcbook pro lion


Cons: Doesn't work with apple mcbook pro lion


webbman from Waterloo,Iowa on 1/29/2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This is the best $ i have ever spent. This little amp brought my itunes and spotify to life. paired with my Beats Executive headphones to a new sharp, detailed and powerfull sound. Even at lower volumes the crisp sound is great. A" can't miss" on this one!!




Hands-on research

Product Research


Overview: The HiFiMAN Express HM-101 is a tiny portable USB sound card with a built-in headphone amp. It dramatically improves the quality of the sound coming out of your computer's on-board sound card.

Single Input/Dual Output: The HM-101 has a single USB (Mini-B 2.0) input and two 3.5mm minijack outputs. The HM-101 connects to your computer via the supplied USB cable. The line output lets you connect the sound card to an amplifier or a pair of powered speakers. The other output comes from the built-in headphone amplifier for plugging in your favorite headphones.

USB D/A Converter: The USB sound card uses a high quality Burr-Brown PCM2702 digital-to-analog converter for exceptional sound quality.

Headphone Amp: The HM-101 uses the TDA1308 headphone amplifier chip to provide a robust 50-70 mW headphone output.


  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20k Hz
  • Distortion: 0.07% (line output)
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 96dB (line output)
  • Stereo Crosstalk: 78dB (line output)
  • Headphone Amp Output Level: 1.5v at 36 ohms; 2.0v at 150 ohms
  • Maximum Output: 62 mW at 36 ohms; 26 mW at 150 ohms

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Staff Reviews

Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs

Audiophile Sound 101

Written by Ralph Graves, Staff Writer - Creative, on 1/21/2013 12:19:00 PM

I didn't need many Crutchfield Lab resources to test out the HiFiMAN HM-101. I just plugged some headphones into one of the computers and listened to some music for a while. Then I pulled out the headphone jack from the computer, inserted the HiFiMAN's USB connector, plugged the headphones into the HiFiMAN, and listened to the same music.

The difference was quite impressive. The soundstage became more expansive, and the music became richly detailed — and considering some of my music sources, that was pretty impressive. In addition to listening to music files saved at various bitrates (including some uncompressed tracks), I also sampled Pandora® Internet Radio, MOG, and RDio.

Sound quality isn't always the best on these streaming services (especially if you haven't opted for the premium versions), and just listening directly through the headphones the music seemd somewhat closed-in and soft around the edges. Adding the HiFiMAN HM-101 made a dramatic difference. Although I could still tell this was compressed audio, there was much more detail at the high and low ends. Plus, the mids seemed much cleaner, too. It's difficult to describe, but overall the music sounded deeper somehow.

I also tried this test with different types of headphones. Overall, the better quality the headphones, the more noticable the differences were. It's small, portable, and delivers great sound. What's not to like?

What are the Labs?