HAA FEE

DAC Chip: AKM AK4493 (Single)
PCM 32bit – 768khz DSD512, SNR: -117dB, Power: 2 Vrms SE, 4 Vrms BAL, Type-C Female, 2.5mm BAL & 3.5mm SE (Microphone: No), Aluminum Chassis


LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE TO SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING


💚PROS

  • Neutral and natural warm smooth timbre
  • Smooth and polished dynamics, well controlled vibrancy
  • Superb coherence with pristine clarity and transparency
  • Intimate Mids, richly textured and smooth
  • Realistic Male/Female vocals
  • Crispy smooth Treble offering great depth, extension, and textures
  • Well balanced fast Mid-Bass responses, smooth decay
  • Deep, richly textured Sub-Bass with smooth decay
  • Excellent details retrieval, Macro and Micro
  • Realistic and crisp guitar, piano, cello, and bass guitar tones
  • Spacious soundstage with great depth
  • Great imaging, holographic spatial staging
  • Reference grade speed and transients handling
  • Super clean with zero floor noises
  • Devoid of any coarseness or grainy edges overall
  • Very powerful SE and BAL output with commanding drive
  • Great driving power for anything below 600 Ohm
  • Good battery draw on the host

💔CONS

  • No hardware volume adjuster
  • Odd cylindrical design may not appeal to some
  • Slightly warm after prolonged usage
  • Drains battery slightly more on BAL mode

VERDICT

HAA FEE by SaoMai Audio. The version that I tested here is the higher end model which offers both 2 Vrms SE 3.5mm and 4 Vrms BAL 2.5mm. 80% of the impressions were done on BAL mode.

Among the many Dongles that I have owned and tested, this HAA FEE is definitely the one that retains AKM native signature the most, being generally warm, analogue and smooth. Thankfully it does not sacrifice transparency and details while at it. It was quite apparent SaoMai Audio placed huge amount of tuning expertise to make this HAA FEE a very polished sounding unit that pairs amazing especially with an already bright sounding partners.

Driving power is nothing short of being stellar. Just like the rest of 5 Star performers, the HAA FEE on 4 Vrms (with HiBy Music Player USB Exclusive Mode) delivers great fidelity to drive both of my favorite Magnetic Planars the FOSTEX T40RP MK3 & 7Hz Timeless. While it is a bit warmer on the T40RP MK3, transparency level is great and does not sound dark at all, very organic yet detailed and sparkly. End to end dynamic range well extended to exhibit satisfying Treble and Bass extensions with smooth audible decays. On the Timeless, it is a bit brighter overall, but equally natural and analogue-ish. There was no hint of distortions or unsavory sibilance at any frequencies.

Pairing with my longtime favorite of Etymotic ER4SR was equally effortless. Much similar to the way the ER4SR paired with Ovidius B1, CEntrance DACport HD & Apogee Groove. It’s airy and naturally organic sounding. HAA FEE helped to impart a good sense of soundstage to the otherwise narrow sounding BA unit. While being musical and organic, the technicalities remained highly competent with reference grade resolution, imaging and details.

On the opposite side, driving highly sensitive and efficient TForce Yuan Li, SeeAudio Bravery and KZ EDX Modded, the HAA FEE exhibited great synergy as well. I was very relieved it did not end being dark sounding as the three IEMs I regard as warmer than the rest. HAA FEE was able to keep the presentation as neutral warm as possible yet retaining the same sparkle as exhibited with my planar devices. This is quite impressive. It shows that HAA FEE has been meticulously tuned to have the versatility on different type of IEMs/HPs/Earbuds. Technically, the speed, resolution, staging, imaging, tonality and dynamic range all presented in great fidelity – perhaps if I am to nitpick, the layering and separation can be perceived as not razor sharp as exhibited by the rest of #donglemadness top performers. But then this can be attributed to the fact that most AKM based DAC are natively smooth edged. Another element that impressed me a lot, super clean background with zero floor noises even with the most sensitive of IEMs in my collection – all driven on the 4 Vrms BAL port, such a contrast when compared to the likes of Ovidius B1 or Apogee Groove (B1 being outright noisy and Apogee Groove being a bit more forgiving). I can actually place HAA FEE on the same level of CEntrance DACport HD on this clean background aspect.

As usual, the final test being done with the pairing to my Shure KSE1500, serving as Analogue AUX feed (via 3.5mm SE) to the Electrostatic unit. As per expected it is nothing short of being stellar due to HAA FEE being super clean and natural (despite being a little warm-ish). The overall sonic experience decidedly analogue-ish organic yet amazingly transparent and detailed with great articulation throughout the dynamic range. It was so lifelike with great airy touch to the notes. It’s just mesmerizing.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ ($91.99)

Best Pairing: Performs the best with bright sounding partners

Back to #donglemadness

15 Comments

  1. Sebastiano says:

    I noticed that you can buy 2 versions: the version you tested 2.5 mm + 3.5 mm (BAL) and a version only 3.5 mm. Can I take the risk and buy the unbalanced version and get the same result?

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      The 3.5mm SE version is limited to 2 Vrms of power while the 2.5mm version has 4 Vrms. So half the power. But if you are not doing any hard to drive items then 2 Vrms is already a very good option

      Like

      1. Sebastiano says:

        Perfect! I have always been a Fan of ESS for their detailed tone (FIIO BTR5, iBasso DC05, etc …).
        I’m curious to see what it’s like to have a warmer sounding Dongle and pair it with Final E3000 and Final A4000

        Like

      2. Andy.EF says:

        On the ESS side, Shanling UA2 being a great warm sounding Dongle (with filter set to Slow Roll-Off). You can consider that too. Or Hidizs S9. All great warm sounding sources

        Like

  2. Sebastiano says:

    So Shanling will fare better overall than HAA if you are looking for a warm sound?
    Strange to see HAA at the top of the chart and Shanling so low… 😅
    You have given me food for thought and I will also have to consider the price difference to have in Italy (70 USD for HAA and 100 USD for Shanling)

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      No it simply mean HAA FEE is still a better unit overall in my opinion. You ask for something warm and Shanling UA2 is among the warmest ESS based Dongle I have tested. It is warmer than HAA FEE actually

      Like

  3. Wasu Chaiwan says:

    Does HaaFee work with High SPL low Ohm IEMS too BigBrother

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Yes absolutely

      Like

  4. Kunter says:

    Great work on the reviews!

    Just ordered one of these… do you think the usb c cable which comes with the unit is good? Any suggestions/experience for a really good cable?

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Great choice. The stock USB cable is okay but I actually prefer something simpler and more robust. The good thing is, you can swap in any USB C to C and it will work fine

      Like

      1. Kunter says:

        Received the device last week, and after some burn in, enjoying it very much through a pair of Meze Elite!. I bought it initially for use in my car but now it is a permanent addition to the uber expensive headphone’s 2.5mm silver upgrade cable. Great thing is I can move around with this attached to my Samsung phone instead of a fixed location headphone amp.

        The orientation of the usb c connector makes a difference though. The wrong orientation sounds looser and much condensed. Just rotating the connector 180 cures it all…

        Cheers

        Like

  5. Vicia says:

    After reading many of your tests, I decided to go with Haa Few, SE version. I really like how it sounds with the DT990 Pro 80 ohm 🙂 I have the impression that these headphones don’t need anything else – this dongle is that good!

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      That’s great. And you are right. Hitting the right synergy will ultimately produce tthe best results. In your case, the natively bright DT990 with HAA FEE is just fitting

      Like

  6. Vander says:

    Hey there thank you for the review! Wanted to ask, would this be able to power DT 770 Pro 250 Ohms easily with headroom? Or should I get the 80 Ohm version instead? Thank you Andy!

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Yes it can. 250 Ohm is not that demanding compared to what I have tested the HAA FEE with

      Like

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