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CanJam NYC 2022: HiFiMAN HM800 Dongle DAC

Did HiFiMAN just start off CanJam NYC 2022 with a $299 fully balanced Dongle DAC? Meet the HiFiMAN HM800.

HiFiMAN HM800 Dongle DAC Lifestyle

CanJam NYC 2022 begins on Saturday and we will be on-site to provide coverage for the first time in over 2 years. HiFiMAN isn’t waiting until Saturday and has let us know about the brand new HiFiMAN HM800 Dongle DAC that is making its debut.

We’ve covered a lot of Dongle DACs over the past two years along with a new wave of true wireless earphones. Both categories are growing as more consumers use their smartphones as their primary digital source.

HiFiMAN jumped into the TWS market with the TWS600 awhile back, but the HM800 represents a logical step for the headphone manufacturer that faces increased competition from brands like iFi Audio and FiiO in the personal audio category.

The one perplexing thing is the market that they are going after.

HiFiMAN HM800 Portable USB DAC

HiFiMAN has designed the HM800 to be one of the smallest Dongle DACs on the market which is a smart move but the decision to not include a 3.5mm jack will certainly turn off some people.

On one end, it offers a USB Type-C input which makes sense based on the number of laptops and smartphones using this type of connection.

The headphone jack portion offers a pair of MMCX ports.

HiFiMAN HM800 Portable USB DAC with cables

The HM800 uses a pair of MMCX outputs and comes with MMCX to MMCX, MMCX to 0.75mm bi—pin, and 0.78mm bi-pin cables.   

This should be a big tip off that it is designed to work with IEMs and earbuds. Not having a conventional 3.5mm jack does limit what can be connected, but it also prevents connecting models that are not appropriate for use with the HM800.

Internally, the HM800 uses HiFiMAN’s Himalaya R2R DAC module to handle decoding. The Himalaya is a field programmable gate array designed by the company and allows the HM800 to overcome a lot of the limitations typically associated with ladder DACs.    

Specifications have not been released yet, but we know the limit of the Himalaya is 24/768 PCM and that it supports oversampling. HiFiMAN’s oversampling filter is designed not to push small details into the ultra-sonic space like some others do and is purported to improve clarity and detail.

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HiFiMAN HM800 Portable USB DAC connected

The DAC output is then fed to an amplifier designed for minimal power consumption while providing 40mW per channel output power. The HM800 provides a fully balanced DAC/amp that isn’t any bigger than a pack of gum and provides fully balanced output.   

You might not notice it as there is no 2.5mm, 4.4mm or XLR jack, but the HM800 is fully differential and fully balanced. The HM800 sports an SNR of 112dB and a THD+N of 0.0025%.

HiFiMAN HM800 Dongle DAC size compared on keyboard

Those are Impressive numbers for any DAC but even more impressive for one designed at this price point.

The cable options allow the HM800 to be compatible with nearly every removable cable on the market and no doubt third party options for more esoteric connectors like those used by Ulimate Ears and Fir Audio will likely follow the release of the HM800.  

Price & Availability

If you have an interest in the HiFiMAN HM800, it is available for pre-order now with expected deliveries beginning in March 2022 at a retail price of $299.

Key Specs

  • Signal to Noise Ratio : 112dB 
  • Weight : 9.65g (excluding cable) 
  • Output Power : 40mW x 2 
  • THD+N (with Amp) : 0.01% 
  • THD + N (DAC Module) : 0.0025% 

For more information:

Related reading: Best Dongle DACs

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