Muse Hifi M3 Review
Today we have a brand new DAC and Headphone Amplifier release from Linsoul’s Muse Hifi brand: the Muse Hifi M3 DAC. Let’s take a peek inside the box before we get into some of its sounds and features.
What’s In The Box?
-Muse Hifi M3 DAC
-2 Lightning to USB-C Cables
-USB-C to USB Adapter
Look And Feel
The Muse Hifi M3 is no frills, with only its output jacks, volume button, and USB-C input visible on its small, aluminum-like body. It is strikingly small, with a size and shape that reminds me of a key-chain flashlight. Though the body feels sturdy, the volume button feels a little cheap and clicky and could benefit from a firmer feel and/or some rubber reinforcement. A subtle carved ridge on the body gives it a degree of grip and an added aesthetic character that elevates an otherwise plain and simple design. Of minor note is that it might get a bit warm in your pocket after some extended use, but not to a worrisome degree by any means.
The unique semi-curved shape of the Muse Hifi M3 is more than an aesthetic, and actually results from its custom circuit structure. Both 4.4 and 3.5 mm outputs are built-in, making it accessible to more casual listeners who just want to plug in a standard set of headphones and be done with it. It uses the ESS flagship DAC ESS9038Q2M and an independent op amp. Seven filter settings are included with the M3, which can be toggled through by holding down the volume button. I’m not such a fan of playback EQ, but at the very least I can say that the filters were somewhat subtle, tasteful and eclectic. Lastly, volume control was quite precise with 60 notches of adjustment.
-Max PCM: 32bit / 384 kHz
-Signal to Noise Ratio: 122 dB (1kHz 32 ohm)
-Outputs: 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced
I primarily used a pair of Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro headphones to test the Muse Hifi M3, firstly for my familiarity with them since they are my personal everyday use headphones, and secondly because they are flatly EQ’ed and capable of wide imaging, making them good for analytical listening.
The M3 delivers a very rich, full sound that brought my generally quiet 770’s a touch above comfortable loudness, which is an ideal threshold for a headphone amp (of course, volume will vary accordingly with your headphone impedance). Even at max volume (and a little wincing on my part), I found that imaging and level were represented with high accuracy.
I adjusted the volume on the M3 to match the volume coming from the headphone jack on my phone and jumped back and forth between the two. I was pleasantly surprised to find that volume wasn’t the only enhancement the M3 was making. Tones across the entire frequency band sounded more saturated and high def.
The full and accurate sound of the Muse Hifi M3 coupled with its loudness capabilities can really bring out the character of any pair of headphones you use with it. I felt an emphasized brightness in the highs of my 770’s, and an even greater impact in the lows of the Sennheiser Momentum 4.
The M3 conveys an ethos of “Shut up and just make my music louder.” I find its size to be one of biggest draws when it comes to features, as it can fit inside even the most stuffed and cluttered pocket. Its sound gets to a perfect loudness level and allows for precise volume control, and gives some solid filter settings if you’re into that sort of thing. At just $150, the Muse Hifi M3 manages to combine portability, purpose, quality and affordability into a single DAC.