Zähl HM1 - Reference Headphone Amplifier - Official Thread

So, this just arrived. :grin:

This was a custom case I built through MyCaseBuilder. They turned the design (minus the lid graphic, which is an upcharge) into a design template, so anyone should be able to use this link to tweak the design and order your own case.

The case itself is a Pelican Air 1535, which is the maximum carry on size. The amp and power supply are perfect fits. Be aware that the lower tray cutouts are only 1" deep. That’s just enough for the power interconnect and a sensible AC cable, but the smaller cable cutouts don’t seem very practical. However, I designed it that way so there’s a solid T shape under the amp for support. Feel free to modify those cutouts and replace with something more practical…


Thanks for sharing!

We were just discussing grabbing a custom pelican case to bring our HM1 to shows and @GoldenSound had posted a picture of your case to our slack so this makes it super convenient to get some pricing and design work done :slight_smile: .

Looks great!


Outstanding! This is a must cop. Thanks so much for sharing the template!


Thanks, Taron! Glad the design will be useful to you!

I wasn’t sure how to share the design at first and reached out to MyCaseBuilder to figure that out before I posted pics, since I was certain some other HM1 owners would like to copy the design. It’s really nice.

The lid graphics are cool, too–I’d recommend doing that for sure. Maybe get the company logo up there, for example. :slight_smile:

BTW, I have another design for Hypsos + Oor, but haven’t done the test fitting on that one yet since those units are tied into my daily driver desktop setup, and I didn’t want to take the time to tear that down and put it back together in the middle of my workweek. I’ll post pics of that one, too, once I make sure the design is good. The Hypsoor case uses Pelican Air 1525, which is similar length and width to this one, but not quite as tall since the ferrum stuff is pretty small.

Absolutely! I’ve also forwarded the design to Zähl in case they want to copy it or maybe even make an official version.

I’ve been lugging HM1 to the office for the past couple days, and the case is great! It’s a little bit challenging to lift the amp out, mainly because the foam fit is snug, which is a good thing.

FWIW, the small cable cutouts can handle some short XLR adapters. I probably should have taken a picture of that earlier. These are like 1-foot, which is fine for my setup. Could do RCAs or another pair of XLRs in the second one, maybe, and have a pretty good package.


I’m not sure if you’ll like the subject matter…feel free to delete.

This Magpul “DAKA Grid” organizer seems to be the best innovation in tough, modular, waterproof cases in years. They sell Pelican inserts and standalone cases. IMO it could/should become a broader standard.



This [Magpul “DAKA Grid” organizer] seems to be the best innovation in tough, modular, waterproof cases in years. They sell Pelican inserts and standalone cases. IMO it could/should become a broader standard.


I hope you don’t ever use that adjustable wrench on that nice equipment! Magpul honestly has some innovative creations.

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@taronlissimore any ETA on shipping for North America?

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At Munich high-end 2023 myself and DMS met with Michael Zähl and opened up the HM1.
We have a video coming tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled!

Anyone who was expecting it to be empty inside is going to be quite surprised…

Here’s a sneak peek:


All ears, buddy. Way to go. :smiling_face:


Mixed feelings so far after a few listening sessions. I’m missing a little bit of fullness that AIC brings to the music.
Still plenty testing to do obviously… switch DACs, more time with the class a vs servo, Sus vs Utopia and using tone controls but yeah from the last few days thinking about what I heard so far there’s a sense of weight in AIC that feels a little missing and HM1 doesn’t draw you in as much. It has plenty of detail and very good technicalities but it felt a little bit like a tool and not a hifi component that maximizes my enjoyment.
Don’t get me wrong though, It’s clearly very good, imaging and texture are the first things that stood out to me.
I fully appreciate what he tried to do with it - the size, features, sound signature - all makes sense for an engineer’s desktop tool.

I’m very happy I opened the box, and also happy I bought it at least to experience it on my own without any sense of urgency. It is so convenient to come to my desk and just have it ready to go, no warm up or extra thinking involved.

It’s the best solid state I’ve heard (a few I owned in my past include ican signature, gsx mini, Oor/Hypsos, Bliss KTE, amp-23r) and got me to appreciate SS again after spending all my time with high end tube amps. It might be a little too neutral tuned for my ears but still plenty toe tapping.

With Enter Sandman and Seven Nation Army it made Sus a little boring and uninviting but its strengths with fast electronic music like trance is very apparent. Suddenly you notice the authoritative driver control, speed and incisiveness.

I thought it might be a little too bright with Utopia OG but not at all. Worked well in both A and servo.

More to come!


Thank you. :slightly_smiling_face:
I think you did well. You seem to give us an idea what this amp can do. I did ask you in another thread about the Class A or Class AB mode that you prefer at this point. Feel free to answer me here whenever you wish.

Cheers orrman. Nice pick up. :innocent:

so far Susvara with servo and Utopia on pure A


The HM1 is the best amp I’ve heard. I haven’t heard a ton of high-end amps but I compared it directly with the dCS Lina stack and I strongly preferred the HM1 which from memory was being fed by a Matrix Element X2 streamer/DAC. The Lina stack while obviously being extremely detailed and highly resolute, crossed the line into the overly bright, harsh, sibilant, and over-analytical side of things. It was also quite dry and boring. The HM1 was just as good to my ears as far as technicalities go compared to the Lina stack, but never sounded harsh, bright, or over-analytical. It was natural, holographic, and pleasant to listen to, never accentuating sibilant sounds. I’ve also heard the Feliks Envy which was certainly fine, but didn’t really impress me considering its price and massive size.