HiFiMan MegaMini: Sweet and Simple

Greetings!

Today we’re going to be checking out the MegaMini from HiFiMan.

In addition to their outstanding headphones and earphones, HiFiMan is no stranger to the media player world with quite a selection of high quality players in their portfolio, many of which have been heavy hitters in their respective categories for quite a while now. The entry level MegaMini is a media player with few frills, and one that places a heavy focus on simply providing a quality listening experience.

I’ve been using the MegaMini for about a month now and have been thoroughly enjoying it’s clean sound, powerful output, and straightforward operation. There are a few features I’ve been missing when compared to my prior daily driver, the Shanling M1, but is their absence enough to sway me from recommending this compact powerhouse? Let’s find out.

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Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Mark with HiFiMan for sending over the MegaMini, along with a few other goodies, for the purposes of review. I’m not entirely clear yet on whether this gear needs to go back to HiFiMan after the reviews are up. The thoughts within this review are mine and mine alone, and do not represent HiFiMan or any other entity. There is no financial incentive for writing this review.

At the time of this writing, the MegaMini retailed for 249 USD: http://store.hifiman.com/index.php/hifiman-megamini-high-res-music-player.html

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My Gear and I:

I’m a 30 year old professional working for what is currently the largest luxury hotel chain on the planet. I have a background in Psychology which probably explains my somewhat dry writing style. My entry into the world of portable audio was due primarily to a lack of space for a full-sized stereo system during my university years, and truly began with the venerable JVC HA-FXT90. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI’s multi-earphone review thread, reviews from other established writers, and thus being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own.

Fast forward a couple years and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to write about products for wonderful companies like HiFiMan, RHA, Accutone, ADVANCED, NarMoo, Mixcder, Brainwavz, Meze, and many more. I don’t do it for money or free stuff, but because this is my hobby and I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to a product that makes them happy, I’ll consider that a job well done and payment enough.

Some gear used during testing was; HiFiMan RE800, HiFiMan RE2000, Kinera H3, KZ ZS5, ClarityOne EB110, FLC 8S, thinksound On2, Polk Audio Buckle, and the AKG K553 Pro. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock.

Specifications:

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Image courtesy of store.hifiman.com

Packaging and Accessories:

I’ve really been enjoying HiFiMan’s packaging and the MegaMini is no exception. It arrives in a clean white box with the only markings being HiFiMan and their logo tastefully printed in orange-gold lettering on the lid. Removing the lid reveals the MegaMini on display in a foam sheet, protected by a thin sheet of clear plastic. Removing the foam sheet and cardboard divider underneath reveals the only two accessories; a warranty card and microUSB cable used for charging.

It’s a very clean and simple unboxing. For the price some additional accessories would have been welcome, like a screen protector or basic silicone case.

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Physical Design:

To my eyes HiFiMan has absolutely nailed the design with this player, creating something that’s modern and professional yet beautiful in it’s minimalism.

The more time I spend with it, the more I come to appreciate the fine creases down the sides and how they conform perfectly to your fingers when held. I have fairly average sized hands, so while some may find the compact size and light weight less than ideal, for me it is downright perfect with every button falling into place without a thought. It feels very stable to hold. The way the slim row of buttons separates the top and bottom portions of the player is quite appealing too, especially when you take into consideration the contrasting coloring of these constituent parts and how your eyes are unconsciously drawn to the different sections.

I could go on for a while and further dissect what I love about the design, but I’m sure that would get boring. I’ll instead say that HiFiMan should give the employee or employees that designed this player a hefty raise because they did an amazing job. It both looks and feels right.

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Interfacing with the MegaMini:

While the physical design of the MegaMini is godly, interfacing with it isn’t quite as seamless. First off, while the buttons have a nice tactile response it’s led into with a touch of sponginess. It certainly doesn’t ruin the MegaMini, but given the impressive fit and finish and refinement of the physical design it takes away from the experience just a touch.

Also less than ideal is the sluggish graphic interface and odd menu layouts. Turning on the player you are treated to an attractive graphic which after loading sits static for a few seconds before tossing you into the menus or ‘Now Playing’ screen. All-in-all is takes about 10 seconds to load. Turning off the player treats you to another graphic, with a shutdown time of around 5 seconds. These times aren’t particularly slow, but they’re not lightning fast either.

Where the GUI’s sluggishness comes into it’s own is while using the player. If the screen is in sleep mode, pressing any button will bring it back to life though the time this takes will vary. If a track is playing, it can take anywhere from a second to two. While it’s not consistent, playing higher quality files seem to increase the delay. Skipping tracks takes around a second and a half. Even when moving through menus there is a slight delay after every press of a button. When you want to get somewhere you’re always spending time waiting for the player to react to your inputs. This may seem like nitpicking and for the first couple days these mild delays were easy to overlook, but after using the MegaMini for weeks now these pauses and delays really started to aggravate. Thankfully the MegaMini recalls your previous listening session, so randomizing my entire playlist via the “all Songs” menu ensured I wouldn’t have to run through menus, unless I really wanted to listen to a specific song.

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Speaking of the ‘All Songs’ menu why is it on the second page of the home menu above settings? It should be one of the first options, just like it is on nearly every music playing device. Instead, after the ‘Now Playing’ option you get ‘File Explorer’, something thats usually at the bottom of the menu with the ‘Settings’. The same sort of obscure layout continues into the ‘Settings’ menu which seems to contain various items in a somewhat nonsensical, unorganized layout. For example, the first page in the ‘Settings’ menu contains; System Version – Repeat – Shuffle – Backlight – Auto Power Off. Why is ‘System Version’ the first thing you see? The value of that information is low and something you would check every once in a blue moon just to ensure you have the most up-to-date firmware.

In the GUI’s favor, it is easy to follow with very clear, easy to read font. I never found myself struggling to read anything, or noticed text extending beyond the confines of the screen as happens on the Shanling M1.

While the interface on the MegaMini could definitely use some work, it is quite usable in it’s current state, you just need to have some patience in dealing with delayed reactions to your inputs.

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Sound and Pairing:

The MegaMini comes across to me as a fairly neutral player with a warm tilt and slight mid-bass bump. Detail and clarity is good without the overpowering presentation of something like the Walnut V2s. Concurrent listening with the same earphone (KZ ZS5, of which I have two) and songs, I found the MegaMini quite similar to the Shanling M1 in it’s tuning, but with a less spacious stage and slightly smoother presentation. Oddly enough, despite it’s similarities with the M1 I found they paired best with opposing signatures; M1 with darker gear, MegaMini with brighter gear.

The MegaMini seemed at home with most of my headphones and earphones, only showing itself to be less than ideal with darker, less detailed products like the Polk Audio Buckle or Brainwavz M100. With products like those, the MegaMini would sound somewhat stuffy and muddy. Normally I would counteract this with some mild eqing, maybe upping lower treble and dropping mid-bass a touch to compensate, but the MegaMini shockingly doesn’t have any EQ functions, not even a couple built in presets.

Overall I found it a very clean sounding player that was suitable for all the music I listened to. It does hiss with particularly sensitive earphones like the ClarityOne EB110 and I would avoid pairing it with products that feature a darker tune as this quality becomes exacerbated through the MegaMini. Adding an EQ or some built in presents would be a nice addition in a future firmware patch as it would improve the MegaMini’s compatibility with a wider variety of sound signatures.

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Battery Life:

While the MegaMini’s 500 mAh battery is rated for up to 15 hours of use, I can’t say that I’ve ever managed to exceed more than 10. That’s with my listening volume generally sitting between 12-30% of the maximum (4-10 out of 32). At least it’s charge time seems quite standard, around 2 hours through the USB output on my computer.

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Final Thoughts:

Despite the sluggish software, odd menus, and limited feature set, the MegaMini is a pretty capable player. It’s small, light, durable, has good enough battery life, sounds fantastic, outputs with plenty of power, and is stunning to sit back and admire. It’s not a jack-of-all-trades, packed to the gills with features like some other players. Instead, it focuses on delivering a quality listening experience and to my ears it does that very well.

That said, I wish it was more feature rich as this would add value and functionality, making it more competitive with similarly priced players. Given it’s current feature set and GUI sluggishness I feel it’s priced too high, especially when compared to something like the Shanling M1. The M1 goes toe-to-toe with it on sound quality but is much snappier and more reactive in use while adding in a ton of extras like Bluetooth, DAC/AMP functionality, gapless playback, and a ton more, all for about 50 USD less. Now, the Shanling doesn’t look anywhere near as premium and I still haven’t gotten used to the annoying scroll wheel setup, but those are small qualms to deal with when it can do so much while handling it all quite well.

That said, if all you want is an easy to use player that looks amazing, sounds fantastic, and you are willing to pay a slight premium to get it, the MegaMini might be just the ticket. It’s a pleasant product to have on hand during your daily activities.

Thanks for reading!

– B9Scrambler

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