The end of a search?
- Ease of use.
- Potentiometer, buttons, construction.
- Reduced size.
- One-click function to add favorite songs.
- OpAmp Pre-Amplifier MUSES02.
- High output impedance.
- Battery life.
- For now only reads one level of folders.
- Limited handling.
- Fatter than other competing DAPs.
- The USB-DAC consumes a lot of battery, it does not charge during this use.
- The back cover is glued with double-sided tape.
Link to the Store
Latest Firmware Download Link
According to its website, ACMEE is a Chinese brand that has accumulated experience since 2014, in the manufacture and development of audio equipment, specifically amplifiers. The MF-01 is its first HiFi player. Its philosophy is based on sound quality as the top priority, with the simplest and most practical handling possible. And this DAP is really like that. When it comes to sound it’s sensational, a product completely finished in this aspect. The design and construction is also quite careful, as it does not give the feeling of being a DIY product. The level of the components used and the electronic design are high and their fruits are reflected in that particular sound it has. The handling is simple, perhaps too much. But a virtue of the brand, is the intention of constant improvement, based on frequent firmware updates, to raise the value of a product, which they know is a winner.
- Decode chip: AK4490EQ
- Pre-amp: MUSES02
- Post-amp: TPA6120
- Audio power supply: ±9V(audio dedicated power, can output 1950mAh current)
- Decoding parameter: 384kHz/32Bit
- Support impedance: 10-300Ω (no pressure to push high impedance amplifier)
- Support language : English and Chinese
Size: 53mm x 80mm x 21mm
- Weight: 133g
- Screen size: 1.3inch
- Screen material: OLED
- Screen resolution: 128×64
- Battery: 2000mAh
- Playing time: 6-8hours
- Support formats: MP3/FLAC/APE/WAV/DFF/DSD (new formats will be added in future updates)
The packaging of the MF-01 is minimal: they come in a small black box, measuring 110x83x43mm. The letters of the brand and the model are inscribed in silver, in the lid of the box. Once opened, the MF-01 is encased in a black foam mould, covered with velvet simile, at the top. The outside of the box is lime green. Once the mould has been removed, an instruction manual appears in Chinese only. Underneath it, there is a white cover, which only protects the USB connection cable. The connector of the MF-01 is micro USB. Nothing more. The minimum required. It does its job, but there are fewer instructions in English, at least.
Another accessory that is not present, is a custom case to protect a DAP that, because of its thickness, construction material and weight, can be susceptible to shock and scratches.
Construction, Design and Comfort
The design is truly unique, asymmetrical, three of its corners are rounded and the fourth is bevelled. If held with the right hand, the thumb fits comfortably to this chamfer, providing a very appropriate ergonomics. It has been tried that the size and the design, allows its use with only one hand. The large potentiometer wheel can be moved with the index finger and thumb, while the DAP is held with the rest of the fingers. The reach of all the buttons, by means of the thumb, is not forced, and its handling is possible and adequate.
The construction is metallic, not light, but has a very pleasant micro texture. On the front face there are 5 cross buttons, the middle one is larger and the rest are joined by a groove. Each button produces an audible but pleasant click. The buttons are not in the center of the vertical axis, but more to the left, since to the right there is another groove that gives way to the great potentiometer, located in that face. This wheel has a great rough texture, is almost completely embedded in the body of the DAP. To facilitate access there are two large triangular openings on it. The movement has just the right hardness and precision, its use is very pleasant and almost perfect. Not only does it rotate, but it can also be pressed inwards, as if it were a button. Above and below the potentiometer, there are two small Allen screws, which support its internal circuitry. At the bottom of the right side there are three large slots, which give a radiator look, with some personal air and aggressive.
In the upper side, to the left, there is an oval slit, where are the two audio connections of 3.5mm, the left is the headphone output and the right is the line output.
On the underside there are separate slots for the micro USB port and the micro SD memory card slot. There is nothing on the left side. While on the back side there is a clearly differentiated and superimposed cover. A small slot on the lower left side allows you to lever it out. It is said that this cover is glued with double-sided tape. Personally I haven’t tried to open it. If this is so, would not be the best way to close a product, a priori, so well finished.
Finally, there is the screen, a 1.3 inch OLED, whose resolution is 128×64 monochrome pixels. In this way, on the screen you can see 4 lines, which have an adequate size, a smaller font would make it difficult to read.
In my opinion, the distinctive beauty of this DAP is undeniable, intimately linked to its philosophy of offering something simple and extremely functional, where the important thing is quick access and, above all, quality, not only sound. Only the closing system of the back cover lowers the overall score. It would have been much more appropriate to use, 4 screws, Allen, for example, as the ones that are used around the potentiometer.
On the other hand, the size is smaller than it appears a priori, but the thickness is somewhat greater than desirable, as is its weight. Despite everything, the whole is comfortable, very solid and proud-looking, a feeling that is contagious.
Use and Handling
Ergonomically speaking, DAP can be handled with one hand, although by weight and thickness, it could be easy for it to slip and fall. A cover would have been desirable to prevent undesirable slippage. Each button clicks, audibly but pleasantly. The handling of the potentiometer is totally adequate, one of the best that I have been able to test. In addition, you can click, with the function that add the current song, to a list of favorites. The same process is used to remove it from that list. The potentiometer has the dual use of volume control as well as scrolling in menu lists. Its use is preferable to that of the buttons, in this scrolling task, because these buttons do not allow continuous scrolling, while they are kept pressed. There are five cross buttons, 4 of the same size, around a central, larger. The top button is the menu button, the sides are for forward, backward songs, and during playback, if held, fast forward and backward. In the middle of menus, they are used to move forward or backward in the list. The lower button acts as a backspace function.
All buttons respond when the display light turns off. When the screen is off, the menu button just turns it on, so does the back button.
The menu button accesses the list of options, pressing the central button acts as «Enter».
Music List: accesses the list of folders.
- Marker List: access the list of favorite songs, which have been added by pressing the potentiometer.
- Cycle: All, Single, Random
- Disp Time: 0s, 15s, 30s, 01m, 02m, 05m, 10m. Time the display remains on.
- Sleep Time: 0, 15m, 30m, 45m, 60m, 75m, 90m, 120m, 150m, 180m. Timer for Auto Power Off.
- Brightness: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06. Adjusts the brightness of the screen.
- Style: default, Slow, SD-Slow, SSLow, Sharp. Filters.
- Car Mode: No, Yes. If it is set to Yes, when powered on the USB port it automatically turns on.
- Boot Lock: No, Yes. The DAP is switched on by long pressing the central button. If this option is set to Yes, it requires that you also press the potentiometer at the same time, to avoid accidental start-up.
- USB ADC: No, Yes. Activation of USB DAC function, no additional driver required.
- Seek Speed: 01s, 05s, 10s, 30s, 60s, 90s. Allows you to modify the time jump value when the forward or reverse buttons are held down during the playback of a song. Very useful function.
- Auto Play No, Yes. When it is turned on, when this option is set to Yes, playback starts.
- Memory Play: No, Yes. When set to Yes, the DAP memorizes the exact point where it was before the shutdown.
- Language: English, Chinese
- Update App: Activates the firmware update.
- Update Font: Activates font update.
- Info Ver: Allows you to view system information, firmware version (V2.1.5.D at this revision point) and serial number.
- Scan Music: allows you to scan the memory for new files.
- Delete File: allows you to delete the current file.
On the playback screen you can see it:
- Top line, left to right: Playback mode. Status (play, pause). Current track/total songs in folder. Volume Battery status.
- Line 2: title of the current song
- Line 3, from left to right: Second current. Playback bar. Duration of the current track
- Line 4, from left to right: Bit depth. Encoding frequency.
On the playback screen, the lower button accesses the list of tracks in the current folder. A new press returns to the playback screen. When you are in the track list, press the menu button to access the delete menu for the selected song.
The reproduction is not Gapless, although the cut is small. When you start a song, there is a minimum Fade-In of 1 second. The same happens when a song is paused/started by pressing the central button.
To switch it on, press the central button long. If the «Boot Lock» option is activated, a padlock inside a circle will be shown on the screen. To turn it on, hold down the central button and press the potentiometer. The text «ACMEE» will be displayed on the screen during start-up. DAP starts very quickly, it only takes a little more than 5 seconds. Tested with 128GB micro SD in FAT32.
If it is on, when the central button is pressed long, the DAP is turned off, while, on the screen, the text «CLOSED» is shown inside a box. Shutdown is immediate.
As you can see, the operation is ultra simple, without complications, but with some very useful functions.
The negative note is that, sometimes, when you navigate through the list of songs or options, you can hear a click on the music.
- No load: 3.97V
- 100Ω: 2.85V
With these measures, the output impedance is 39.2Ω. The manufacturer himself has assured me that the output impedance is that. In addition, it comments that it is the recommended value for the TPS6120A2.
As it can be seen, this value is high, which can generate modifications in the frequency responses of some IEMS with complicated or low impedances.
On the other hand, the MF-01 profile is flat, as can be seen in the frequency response graph. There is only a slight drop at the acute end, 3dB, between 17kHz and 20kHz. This drop is not very noticeable because it is at the audible end.
At last! After having bought several DAPs below 100€ with clear cuts in the lower zone (Ziku HD-10, Zishan T1, F.Audio XS03), the MF-01 has no absence in this range. The lower part is shown complete, without fissures, full, powerful, with a lot of body, nothing is left behind. The texture has some roughness, scratches slightly, is softly rough, so it is perceived with great taste, because it breaks and tears. Everything that a good lover expects and desires, something unequivocally passionate, almost raw, but controlled, specific and very descriptive. Another point in favor of the lower zone, is its color, very dark, elegant and dynamic. All this provides a great depth, perceptible, pleasant and very enjoyable.
However, ACMEE possesses a notorious virtue: its expression in the central zone is uncommon, very capable of revealing very distinctive and particular details and sonorities. When the right headphones are chosen, there is a synergy with them, then the mids shine and explode expanding light, details and nuances. And this explosion generates a great opening in the sound; even in the darkest passages, the voices shine with a fully differential colour, where the timbre impresses with its freshness, vivacity and dynamism. It is also worth highlighting the depth they acquire, gaining body and three-dimensionality, achieving a privileged situation within the scene, almost separating themselves from the rest of the instruments. The sound expansion provides a great sensation of instrumental separation, being able to perceive the dark background existing between sounds.
The mid zone of the MF-01 enjoys the true pleasure of rediscovery.
The upper part of this DAP has a tendency to narrow the treble slightly, but it does not have a crisp or too crunchy profile. It is clear that the profile is oriented by bringing that luminosity to the mids, giving them the protagonism that attracts the attention of the listener so much. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to call the MF-01 a mid-centric DAP, because its low zone is also very particular and the highs complement each other remarkably. But it is necessary to emphasize the greatness of the sound in all ranges.
But going back to the highs, as I say, they are very fine but not cut, very well executed, easily isolated and defined. Their timbre does not escape towards the unreal extreme, but is framed in that magical realism, where their perception is extended and the smallest details are distinguished between layers. Although the extension of the high zone is not total, but a slight cut is observed in the audible end. Overall, the highs sound very analogical, not cold at all, although perhaps a certain absence of air is noticeable.
The scene is big, the sound is expansive and this expansion begins, as I have commented, from the mid-range. From there, the space is filled with music, advancing towards both extremes, not only horizontally, but also frontally and upwards. The mids possess height, frontality and three-dimensionality. The bass has a halfway plane, which sometimes forces us to be attentive. Trebles bloom in tune with the mids, complementing them at all times. Thus, the scene is generated, rich and ample, accompanied by nuances, details and that distinctive perception, as if it were a different approach: another virtue that deserves to be highlighted, a different point of view.
And, along with big sound, space and separation, they are, too, as much as the recordings and connected headphones allow.
My direct reference, in this price range, will always be the xDuoo X3II, my preferred DAP in a long time. Although its handling system and the position of the buttons, is not the most appropriate. In that respect, the MF-01 is simpler, with its cross button panel. Although the xDuoo system is almost perfect, and works well in all its aspects, it is even Gapless, something that is rare for other DIY players to have. Both use the AK4490, but the xDuoo uses it in its EN version, that is, reduced, and the MF-01, in its EQ version, which is the «big» version. Although from the AKM website, they hasten to say that both have the same sound and features. For amplification, the X3II uses the combination OPA1652+LMH6643, while the MF-01 uses MUSES02+TPA6120A2.
The size is:
- xDuoo X3II: 102.5mm x 51.5mm x14.9mm
- ACMEE MF-01: 80mm x 53mm x 21mm
It is almost impossible to emphasize that the size of the screen of both is totally different, the xDuoo is in color, supports menus and covers and ACMEE is a single color and only supports pixel arrays.
As far as sound is concerned, there are clear differences. Starting with the profile, the xDuoo has a flat, neutral profile, which has a certain inclination towards the cold side of the spectrum. Its upper zone receives special treatment and it is there where the greatest differences occur, between the two DAPs. The MF-01 does not have so much extension in this zone, and the xDuoo is perceived greater amount of air and spatiality, in this band. The sensation is of greater cleanliness and brightness, with a colder light. While the MF-01, provides a different type of light, certainly warmer. The mids projection is completed further down in the ACMEE, while the xDuoo is projected upwards, giving it a more analytical look. The warmth of the MF-01, generates a very analog sound, with more power in the mid and low range. The X3II sounds totally digital, comparatively speaking, a sound with a higher resolution, cooler, more analytical. The MF-01, however, expresses details in a different way and its texture also differs, with that more natural and perceptible roughness, as opposed to a more perfectionist and millimetric execution of the xDuoo. The bass has that difference, more than a greater or lesser emphasis, it is the analogical-digital character of each one, which generates a distinctive sonority. The MF-01 sounds more raw, while the X3II is fully controlled and measured. In the middle zone, the X3II is perceived to be cleaner, and voices benefit from it. But there is a power in the lower-mid zone of the MF-01, which makes another big difference between the two. It’s like there’s more music in this range, a bigger, more vivid and dynamic mix. It’s not a dark warmth or just a funny sound, it’s that special face that ACMEE has. It is the life in front of the coldness of the xDuoo, there is a different passion where resides the charm of the MF-01, a sound that invites to the joy of our favorite music, executed in a different way.
In terms of scene and separation there are few differences, the power of the lower zone of the MF-01 provides something more depth, a more rounded scene. But the X3II’s cooler profile and greater amount of air provides a higher point of separation and a wider scene.
By way of conclusion, the ACMEE MF-01 is the only DAP of this price that can seriously compete with the xDuoo X3II, even surpass it. There are no big differences and, as always, our sensations will decide which sound we like best.
All those who have read some of my posts in the forums will know my search for the best DAP below 100€. Is ACMEE MF-01 the end of the search? Every new player I buy I hope it is. On this occasion, in sound is positioned as one of the best DAPS I have tried, because it is unique in its kind, as it offers a distinctive seal that no other has managed to provide. That makes it totally special, different and irreplaceable. But, in my opinion, it has a negative point, something that is characteristic of some DAPS DIY: the high output impedance. It is also true that it has some limitations of use, but in view of the excellent response that is offering its after-sales service, is something that does not worry me at all, because surely they will be able to correct all the errors, even improve the handling. That’s why I can say, without fear of making a mistake: Long live ACMEE MF-01!
Headphones Used During Analysis
- Moodrop Kanas Pro
- BGVP ArtMagic DH3
- Auglamour RT-3
- TFZ MyLove 3
- DB Monroe
- Tansio Mirai TSMR-2