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Review and Measurements of Musiland MU1 Headphone Adapter

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Musiland MU1 portable DAC and Headphone "dongle." It is on kind loan from an overseas member (the third of the package he sent me!). The MU1 costs $35 so quite a bit more than $10 price we are used to but in grand scheme of things, it is not much money if it brings more enjoyable than other throw-away dongles.

From the outside, the MU1 does have a premium feel compared to cheaper alternative:

Musiland MU1 Headphone Adapter Reviews.jpg

We have that aftermarket braided wire which in this case is functional and gives the impression that it won't fall apart quickly. There is a proper logo so you know what you own too. :)

Getting this dongle working required using USB-2 port again as I was the case with the HTC dongle I reviewed earlier today. Unlike the other dongles though, I did not have to jump through hoops to get the MU1 to output its maximum level.

Looking around, I found these specs for it:

1551815689121.png


Let's get into measurements and see if delivers on that.

Measurements
Starting with our dashboard, we see truth in advertising:

Musiland MU1 Headphone Adapter Measurements.png


We actually get better than specific SINAD (signal over distortion and noise) at 93 dB. This puts the unit in tier 3 of all DACs tested regardless of price:
Musiland MU1 Headphone Adapter SINAD Measurements.png


As noted, the ASIO4ALL wrapper yet again truncates bits to 16. Using that interface, the best I could get was 90 dB. So keep that in mind if you want to use this with digital audio workstation software. For normal music listening that is not an issue because you can use WASAPI (on Windows).

Measuring the all important power at 300 ohm, we get:

Musiland MU1 Headphone Adapter Power at 300 ohm Measurements.png


Hey, this is looking good! Yes, the Google V1 remains the champ in Android compatible world but that is a discontinued product. Similar performance is demonstrated with 33 ohm load:

Musiland MU1 Headphone Adapter Power at 33 Ohm Measurements.png


Note the complete lack of distortion in both loads. You can safely operate this dongle at max volume and not worry about it getting distorted.

Here is how various dongles and small adapters rank with respect to power:

Musiland MU1 Headphone Adapter Power Comparison Graph Measurements.png

Output impedance is thankfully very low:

Musiland MU1 Headphone Adapter Output Impedance Measurements.png


Listening Tests
I must stay, I was not prepared by the good sound I heard the moment I plugged in my Sennheiser HD-650s. Yes, I had to keep the volume at max but there was decent bass with very nice clarity and dynamic range. Mind you, it is no match for any desktop product but compared to other dongles, it does very well.

The situation improved even further with low impedance Hifiman HE-400i. Here, there was plenty of volume so you could listen a notch or two below max. There is a level of fidelity here that you don't expect from such a diminutive device.

There is a note in the advertising of the MU1 that has high current ability for short durations. This must be at play behind these subjectively good results.

Conclusions
The Musiland MU1 seems to be a well engineered DAC and headphone amplifier for ultraportable use. For a bit more money than throw-away ones, you get very good performance where it counts: power delivery. I also like that I did not have to play around to get it to deliver max performance unlike other dongles I have tested where what they deliver is load sensitive.

This review comes on the heels of another dongle from Musicland, the MU2 which also did well in testing. So it seems like Musiland puts in good engineering in their products based on these two tests.

I am happy to recommend the Musiland MU1 based on build quality, looks and performance.

------------
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Veri

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#2
Awesome, some much needed good dongles :)

Now I just need to figure out how to buy one of these musiland headphone adapters, seriously.
 
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#3
Yes great to see equipment that is worth its price. Now if I could just figure where I would ever use it. Is this for Iphones without 3.5 ports?
Or maybe laptops with lousy internal DAC's? Showing my age again
 

amirm

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#5

tired_guru

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#7
This site should change its name to donglesaudioreview.com. I keep on dreaming we go back to serious dacs/headamps tests one day :)
 
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Dogen

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#11
I’ve really enjoyed these dongle reviews, if only to see how much performance can be packed into such a small, cheap product. There’s no rationale for an expensive desktop amp that performs worse than one of these little appliances, yet they exist.
 

tired_guru

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#13
I’ve really enjoyed these dongle reviews, if only to see how much performance can be packed into such a small, cheap product. There’s no rationale for an expensive desktop amp that performs worse than one of these little appliances, yet they exist.
Don't get me wrong. Liked it a lot too. But just out of curiosity how other companies design their stuff and how their engineering looks like for big $.
 

Jimster480

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#17
I’ve really enjoyed these dongle reviews, if only to see how much performance can be packed into such a small, cheap product. There’s no rationale for an expensive desktop amp that performs worse than one of these little appliances, yet they exist.
There are actually more poorly engineered desktop products vs dongles.
I guess because there are so many cut and paste desktop designs that companies are just selling based on advertising and looks at this point.
 

amirm

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#19
@amirm Any idea when we can expect to see the Hidizs Sonata HD review?
I have to get a few more urgent reviews out of the way and then I can test it.
 

soundwave76

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#20
My MU1 dongle arrived today and seems to work just fine. Shame it doesn't have an Apple lightning port and I have to use Apple's USB adapter + MU1s USB adapter as well. Oh well, with this price it's forgiven... :)
 
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