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HiFiMAN HM-101

USB digital-to-analog converter/headphone amplifier

11 Reviews

Item # 818HM101

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Overview

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.

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

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
Reviews

HiFiMAN HM-101 Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(11 Reviews)
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Details

Hands-on research

Product Research

Features

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.

Specifications:

  • 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?

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