The HM-901 is one of the most ambitious personal digital music players ever conceived, with ability to play digital music files at resolutions of up to 24/192, or to serve as a high-resolution DAC, if so desired. The HM-901 will incorporate user installable amplifier modules, giving buyers the flexibility to install amp modules specifically geared to fit the power requirements of their chosen headphones or earphones. Finally, the HM-901 will be offered with an extra-cost dock that provides a USB input module and that is intended to remain connected to the owner’s high-end audio or home theater system. In this way, the HM-901 can be used both as a portable device (its primary purpose), but also as a top-tier DAC in a home-based system. Is the HM-901 up to the task? HiFiMAN’s CES show demo suggests that it is, as Dr. Bian invited direct A/B comparisons between the HM-901 and a $2000 high-end component-style DAC—comparisons in which the HM-901 fared very well indeed.
Though Kingsound is perhaps best known for its full-range electrostatic loudspeakers, we suspect the firm is about to become even more famous for its shockingly good (and also unexpectedly affordable) Emperor electrostatic headphone with matching amps (offered in both solid-state and tube-powered versions).
The Emperor headphone alone sells for $500 (a bargain basement price for a full-range electrostatic headphone), but we expect most interested parties will buy one of two King Sound headphone + amplifier bundles: the Emperor + Solid-State amp bundle (priced at $800, which must be considered a screamin’ good deal) or the Emperor + Tube-Powered amp bundle (priced at a still quite reasonable $1600). After listening to both packages, my personal conclusion was that the solid-state package was good, but that the tube-powered package was even better—so good, in fact, that it basically upended many of my preconceived notions about value for money in the world of very high performance headphones. This is a product that bears watching and will surely become a Hi-Fi+ review subject in the not too distant future.
After hearing the Emperor + Tube-Powered amp combo and then learning its price, Hi-Fi+ Editor Alan Sircom offered up a succinct, two word commentary: “Oh, wow…” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Koss is one of the (if not the) oldest headphone manufacturers in the world and is widely credited with creating the world’s first music-oriented (as opposed to spoken word-oriented) headphones. This tradition of innovation continued at CES with the announcement of the world’s first Wi-Fi-enabled (note that I did not say Bluetooth-enabled) headphones and earphones: the Striva Pro and Striva Tap, respectively. What makes the Striva models special is the simple fact that they can, from any Wi-Fi hot spot, access a special MyKoss.com web site, which can in turn allow users either to access a number of music channels provided by Koss or to access personalized music channels through which their home music servers are connected (again via Wi-Fi) to the MyKoss.com site. If that last sentence sounds a little convoluted, then let me diagram the audio data flow path, below:
Home Server --> Koss-provided “CAP” module --> Network connection to MyKoss.com --> (Wi-Fi) --> Koss Striva-series Wi-Fi headphones.
In short, Koss’ self-powered, Wi-Fi-enabled headphones and earphones enable you to access your home music library from hundreds or thousands of miles away. Cool concept, no?