ACME MF-01 – Muse For Music
How about we return to the good old times of retro DAPs, with no touchscreen, and we delve into a review of Acmee MF-01, something still based on the legendary Muses02 OP-AMPs. It is priced at around 100 USD, and we will compare it to Hiby R2, FiiO M6, and HIDIZS AP80PRO. The main pairings will be with Mangrid Tea, IMR Opus Mia, and FiiO FA9.
The unit for today’s review is provided by a new shop, the kids that are so cool that you want to know more about, but you’re too shy to talk to. They are called TTAUDIO, and they are a new shop, from Canda. They mainly sell Chifi stuff, but priced for the budget-lover, and they provide some of the best warranty out there, with excellent support, and really helpful folks who do love music. I am a fan of them, and I believe that even big companies like Beyerdynamic should learn what customer support and customer satisfaction is, from small time shops like TTADIO.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with TTAUDIO. I’d like to thank TTAUDIO for providing the sample for this review. This review reflects my personal experience with TTAUDIO Acmee MF-01. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in ACMEE MF-01 find their next music companion.
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
The package of MF-01 won’t win any challenges or contests, but it gets the job of protecting the DAP done.
There’s not a lot inside, only the DAP, paperwork, and a cable. A case would have been welcome, but we’re talking about a DAP so rugged and well built that the ground will need a case to not get damaged from an impact with this old-school tank.
The build is really really simple. Five buttons at the front, a tiny display, and a wheel on the right side. The wheel is guarded by large heatsinks, and at the bottom we have one Type-C USB Port, and one microSD slot.
In actual practice, the buttons are reliable, and navigating the menu is relatively easy. It looks really old-school with no fluff, but it gets the job done, especially if you have a strong folder structure and use folder browsing a lot. I would not recommend using any other type of browsing with this one in particular. Huge playlists will be hard to manage using the small display, but the display has excellent brightness and clarity. The display has a resolution of 128*64 , so it looks really retro.
The wheel is actually solid, works for selecting stuff too, and the microSD slot was ok up to 400 GB for me. I do not own a larger microSD card at the moment, to test anything larger.
The battery life is really good, and I got up to 7 hours with intensive usage, which is right in between their stated playtime. Most companies overstate their playtime, while Acmee was pretty conservative.
Only languages available are Eng and Chinese, and it is recommended for IEMs and Headphones between 10 and 300 OHM of impedance. The DAC used is the legendary AK4490EQ, while the PRE-AMP is the Muses02, a really solid combination on paper. MF-01 is able to decide high-resolution files too. The output impedance is huge, around 40 OHM, so it will create really large changes in signature with low-impedance IEMs, and I personally would only use it with stuff that has 64 OHMs of impedance or higher. Anything else will act erratically and may have either a brighter sound or a darker sound than usual. Unpredictable is a good word to use here.
The device is extremely solid, it weighs 133grams, one of the heaviest ultraportables out there. If this drops on your leg, you’ll hurt. It won’t feel a thing. It is a tank. A TANK. I dare you try to damage it with normal usage. I trust to double its usage as a self-protection weapon.
Despite a really imposing build and look, the sound is actually really deep, rich, musical, with a slightly smooth treble, a lot like FiiO E12A, an amplifier everyone probably forgot about (except me who had it for years in the past).
The bass is deep, complete, reaches the lowest depths of heck without a bother. The bass can be described as natural in speed, full, with tons of body and impact. The textures are slightly edgy / grainy, and it provides a bit of a coloration to the entire sound, to the point where it sounds a bit like a normal DAP with a bass boost turned on. But just a bit.
The midrange is really quiet in the background, reminding me a bit of how HD800 from Senny is dead silent in the background. This is a good characteristic of Muses02, but it also inherits the other characteristic, which is a smoother, softer presentation of the midrange. It has a thicc midrange, and the sound is always rich, musical, euphonic. It is not the best to enjoy female voices, or a piano song, but for rock, metal and dubstep, it is really nice.
The treble takes the backstage, and it is slightly rolled off, mostly smooth, yet not entirely absent. The lower the impedance of the IEM / Headphone you’ll connect to MF-01, the stronger the treble will be and the less bass it will have. The stage is average in width , but has a good depth. As a result, the sound is elegant, rich and deep, but not holographic and not overly deep. Great presentation for jazz, classical and pop, but not ideal for orchestral, progressive and rock.
The main competitors for the MF-01 are Hiby R2, FiiO M6, and HIDIZS AP80 PRO. There are many others out there, especially in this price range, but those are the ones you guys asked me the most about, and the ones that I found most relevant.
Acmee MF-01 vs Hiby R2 (100 USD vs 100 USD) – R2 is much easier to pair with low impedance IEMs and Headphones. It is also more ergonomic in general, thinner, and easier to carry around. The display is still a bit small, and if we’re talking about an ultraportable, I think buttons to a slightly better job for my fingers as thick as sausages, but still R2 is a bit better. MF-01 is better for overall driving power, being able to drive far harder cans. MF-01 has a smoother, thicker, bassier, sound with more emphasis on the low end, more chugg, more low punch, and a bit more dynamics. R2 has far more features, and I can paint more ways to use it, but MF-01 still has that magical Muses02 sound.
Acmee MF-01 vs FiiO M6 (100 USD vs 100 USD) – M6 is slightly more ergonomic, thinner and larger display. The sound is overall better for MF-01 with headphones, where it is smoother, has a blacker background, more depth, and a better bass. With IEMs, MF-01 is a bit inconsistent, and I prefer M6 for its overall clarity, especially when I’m going for entry-level Chifi IEMs, it really helps get it to have just one signature. All in all, if you have headphones, MF-01 should serve a bit better, while if you have IEMs, M6 should be your weapon of choice.
Acmee MF-01 vs HIDIZS AP80PRO (100 USD vs 180 USD) – AP80PRO is in another segment, and it is better in every way, from ergonomics, to detail, to sound. The main thing is that you have to pay almost double for it, but since we’re in the entry-level price range, going from 100 USD to 180 USD is not that much of a stretch. Both are good with headphones, but AP80PRO is much better with IEMs and low impedance stuff. I would recommend considering adding the extra money towards AP80 PRO if you can, it should save you effort down the road, and should make up for a really awesome purchase choice. If you’re on a tight budget and if you have headphones, rather than earphones, MF-01 will be a thick, warm and bassy experience that won’t give you up and won’t let you down tho.
Finding good pairings for MF-01 was actually hard. It is an entry-level DAP to drive tons of things, but not low-impedance IEMs and not low-impedance headphones.
This means finding a more expensive high-impedance headphone, or something that still sounds good out of it, which was a bit challenging. The bass is the best part about it, but if you don’t match it with the right things, it will be absent, and the sound quite bright, so be careful when picking a pair for it, this is not exactly a universal DAP. IMR Opus Mia, FiiO FA9, and Mangrid Tea
Acmee MF-01 + IMR Opus Mia (100 USD + 700 USD) – With Opus Mia, the high output impedance of MF-01 actually helps even the sound a bit. They are not low impedance enough for MF-01 to affect their signature heavily, but it actually gives them a snappy sound with tons of impact. There’s a certain musicality in the midrange too, and even with the brightest setting, the smooth top end of MF-01 compliments Opus Mia and gives them a clean and crisp sound.
Acmee MF-01 + FiiO FA9 (100 USD + 500 USD) – FA9 is also slightly affected by the high output impedance of MF-01, and you can hear some hiss in the background. You can also hear a nice deep low end, and tons of detail, paired with good dynamics and a smooth top end. The hiss is a bit loud for me, but it is liveable with if you listen medium or loud.
Acmee MF-01 + Mangrid Tea (100 USD + 200 USD) – Mangrid Tea is a nice pair for MF-01 thanks to their price and their overall design. They sound smooth, natural and the hiss is not loud enough to be distracting, although it is there. I noticed a nice deep soundstage with tons of layering and a good overall stereo imaging from this pairing.
Value and Conclusion
Despite all of the hurdles you may experience while using it, Acmee MF-01 has great value. It costs little, does much, has tons of kick, and a really good build quality.
The package is basic though, and if you don’t like pixels, you may dislike the very clean but very pixelated display. The display also has enough space for just a few lines of text, so it is not recommended for huge libraries, and I would mainly use it as a nutcracker that can do random play and a solid ipod shuffle replacement.
Even more, the sound is rich, elegant, deep, with good layering, but it has a high output impedance so you can’t pair it with most entry-level Chifi stuff, so the device itself is quite a specialist. I like the sound a lot, but I have a huge selection of headphones and IEMs to find good friends for it. If you have just one or two IEMs, I would probably go with something a bit more versatile and generalist.
At the end of today’s review, I tried being a bit more funny. I hope you liked. The DAP is good, not ideal. If you have something you need driven well and if you like a rich, deep sound, you’ll love it. It is for old-school stuff lovers, and I don’t have old-school, it has its charm.
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Full Playlist used for this review
We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature. PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality are all revealed by those songs. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music!
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