Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 12.2), PureMusic 2.04, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, COS Engineering D1, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, SOtM dX-USB HD w. super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, S.A. Lab Lilt [on loan]]
Preamplifier: COS Engineering D1, Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8, FirstWatt S1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [on loan], Vinnie Rossi LIO [on loan]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Gallo Strada II w. TR-3D subwoofer
Headphones: ALO-rewired Sennheiser HD800, Beyerdynamic T1 & T5p, Audeze LCD-2 and LCD-XC, AKG K-702; stock-cabled HifiMan HE-6, HE-560 both with upgraded pads; MrSpeakers Alpha Dog and Alpha Prime; Aëdle VK1; Ortofon eQ5
Headphone amps: Bakoon AMP-12R, Eximus DP1, Stello HP100MkII, Questyle CMA800R
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event MkI and MkII; KingRex uArt double-header USB; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s and subwoofer
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves and Krion or glass-based Exoteryc stand/s for amp/s
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2
nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces (pictorial tour here)
Review component retail: €1'499 for portable, $499 for matching dock w. remote; $2'990 for headphones

Flatman. From the German Flachmann. A flat often metallic gentleman's container which will conceal a healthy dose of hard liquor inside a jacket pocket. Booze on the run.

Pacman. A legendary arcade and video game launched by Namco/Japan as 'Puck Man'. Also the nickname of popular Phillipino boxer Manny Pacquiao.

Walkman. Legendary Sony portable tape deck that launched the music-on-the-go phenom of which iPod & Co. are nothing but latter-day developments.

Cool, man! Outdated hippie approval whilst spotting the early Walkmänner in the wild, rocking their shit to Earth, Wind & Fire.

Crap, man!
Related hipster disapproval when the batteries of early Walkmans would invariably expire to render the wearer suddenly shitless and with no more tunes. Common sentiment when Pacman lost to Floyd Mayweather on points.

Holy crap, man: HifiMan! Modern portable audio gear of high-resolution players, docks and headphones, particularly planars. With little fuss but a nicely lubricated whistle, we arrive at today's destination: the very best portable high-rez player with matching dock for stationary use plus the top headphone model all from US/Sino maven and HifiMan boss Fang Bian. Groovy, man!

Dock it to interface with your PC and desktop system.
Via email, I asked Fang questions for answers which would map the road that leads to our three products today. PR manager Peter Hoagland interfaced me with Fang who was traveling between shows. In China, hi-rez portables are big business. Perhaps no populace around the world is as plugged in as are the younger Chinese. Hence hifi suppliers which our stationary sort recognizes like Calyx, Opera/Consonance, Questyle and Shanling ply these fields with abandon. So do other brands that we may not recognize, like Lootoo. Of all Far-Eastern portables designed to dethrone Apple's iQuivalents with up to 384kHz PCM and DSD128 support, after Astell&Kern it's the HifiMan name which is arguably most familiar to us in the West. Still, we mostly know the brand for their headphones, not mobile players. That however doesn't tally with their standing and sales in Asia; nor speaks to the scale of their operations. That record should be righted to serve as backdrop for my look at their HM-901s portable player with optional dock. To go full circle, we'll also do proper planar worship at the altar of their freshly minted statement HE-1000.

HifiMan HM901s options on one side | competitors from Shanling, Opera/Consonance, Questyle, Calyx and Astell&Kern on the other.