Strolling into our native AMC to take pleasure in “Cocaine Bear” for the third time, my daughter caught me tinkering with a pair of FiiO IEMs I would been which means to make use of so I might take heed to the hockey sport whereas watching the film: one is on the market to pure throat at this level and never take heed to the dialogue.
With greater than a dozen DAC Dongles at present in my desk drawer, it was determined I wanted one thing extra highly effective and refined to drive a few of the new IEMs and on-ear headphones in my assortment; together with the fantastic Meze Audio 109 Professional and FiiO FH5.
iFi Audio has been in a stoop for the final couple of years delivering one excellent product after one other, together with the GO Hyperlink dongle DAC, Gryphon xDSD Moveable Amplifier, and the ZEN Signature Collection.
The iFi hip-dac2 is paying homage to a whiskey flask and positively packs a punch with the ability of an 18-year-old Glenrothes. The 135 gram amp seems to be very effectively put collectively, though we did discover a slight rattling coming from the quantity/energy knob when shaking it in our hand.
If the “Sundown Orange” end would not catch your eye, the commercial design certainly will. My first response to the iFi hip-dac2 was that the late Sean Connery would put on certainly one of these in his tweed jacket; proper subsequent to her Walther PPK and Tatiana Romanova’s picture.
The iFi Audio hip-dac2 is a transportable digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and headphone amplifier designed to enhance the audio high quality of music performed from cellular units and computer systems. It is an up to date model of the unique hip dac, with a variety of enhancements to design and performance.
The hip-dac2 helps a variety of digital audio codecs, together with PCM, DXD and DSD, and might decode excessive decision audio recordsdata as much as 384kHz/32-bit PCM, DSD256 and DXD384.
How are you aware the bit/pattern fee when listening?
PCM recordsdata at 44.1kHz and 48kHz are represented by a yellow glow, whereas 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8 and 384kHz recordsdata are represented by a white glow. DSD64 and DSD128 recordsdata are marked with cyan and DSD256 recordsdata are displayed with LEDs lit purple. MQA can also be supported.
The hip-dac2 makes use of a Burr-Brown Multi-Bit DAC chip. It additionally has a USB Kind-C enter for connecting to appropriate units. The rear panel additionally encompasses a male USB Kind A knowledge enter port.
iPhone customers will want Apple Lightning-to-USB (digicam adapter cable) which permits customers to make use of their iPhone as a supply. Nevertheless, the hip-dac 2 comes with three USB cables: a USB-C OTG (On-The-Go) cable for connecting Android units and PC/Macs with USB-C ports; a USB-A cable (for all the pieces else); and a USB-A to USB-C for charging.
The hip-dac2 additionally contains iFi’s proprietary XBass audio enhancement expertise, designed to reinforce the bass response of music. It has a built-in rechargeable battery that may present as much as 8 hours of steady playback and may also be used as a transportable energy financial institution to cost different units.
Along with its DAC capabilities, the hip-dac2 additionally has a strong headphone amplifier with a balanced 4.4mm output and a regular 3.5mm output. It could actually drive headphones with impedances as much as 600 ohms and has a most output energy of 400mW per channel (32 ohms) utilizing the 4.4mm output. Single-ended is proscribed to 280mW per channel (32 ohms).
Even excessive impedance headphones are in play with an output voltage of 6.3V into 600 ohms (from the balanced output).
The entrance panel is fairly busy but it surely all serves a reasonably helpful goal; the aforementioned quantity knob/energy button is within the heart and has a strong really feel as you rotate it.
The balanced and single-ended 3.5mm headphone jacks occupy the precise facet of the highest panel, and there is greater than sufficient room if utilizing thicker headphone cables.
The left facet options the PowerMatch button, which permits customers to vary the achieve of the headphone amplifier. That is helpful should you alternate between on-ear and over-ear IEMs and headphones.
Only a few (if any) IEMs require that stage of energy enhance and it’s best left off. The button has a white gentle which signifies that the amplifier is boosting the sign with headphones which can be tougher to drive.
The second button activates the XBass; which has proved to be a slightly helpful function with some headphones and IEMs with a leaner bass response.
|Supported codecs||DSD extension
|256/128/64, Quad/Twin/Single pace
|digital inputs||USB 3.0 Kind “A”
(appropriate with USB 2.0)
|Output energy (@1% THD)||Balanced
|Drums||Lithium-polymer 2200mAh||About. 8 hours|
|Energy provide system||Charging by way of USB-C, BC V1.2 compliant as much as 1000 mA charging present and 6.3 volts|
|Most energy)||<2W idle, 4W max|
|Dimensions||102 x 70 x 14mm
4.0″ x 2.8″ x 0.6″
The iFi hip-dac2 has spent a while on the highway with me; tucked away slightly neatly inside my new Helium Out of doors Analysis rain jacket which has already taken a beating from just a few latest storms on the shore. Working at 5am with the wind and rain hitting me on the seashore, the hip-dac2 proved to be no huge deal weight-wise within the chest pocket. Whereas heavier than any common DAC Dongle, it by no means felt like a distraction and it is clear that iFi Audio constructed this factor to final.
One other benefit of the hip-dac2 is that it would not eat the ability of your smartphone; as an alternative relying by itself inside battery to drive the headphones or IEMs.
Sitting in an area cafe engaged on my MacBook Professional, the hip-dac2 caught the attention of some prospects who wished to know what it was and if it labored on their iPads and residential computer systems. Certainly it could.
My Meze Audio 109 Professional headphones function an open-back design and weren’t significantly suited to working in a bar setting the place others can be subjected to my music listening. I took the iFi/Meze combo with me on a visit to Florida to go to my mother and father and listened to it lengthy into the evening within the privateness of their visitor bed room.
Now I can hear clearly…
The Meze Audio 99 Classics and FiiO FH5s IEMs grew to become my favourite decisions whereas working in public and it was clear from the outset that the hip-dac2 delivers its claimed energy utilizing each single-ended and balanced connections.
A number of years in the past, I spent practically $150 on a 4.4mm balanced cable for my 99 Classics and have by no means regretted that buy; higher readability, element and a a lot tighter sounding low finish.
The cable works nice with the hip-dac2 and I discovered the iFi amp elevated the sound of those workhorse headphones in some areas.
The 99 Classics is usually a little bass-heavy; the bass response advantages from a DAC Dongle or moveable headphone amp which might beef up the definition, take out a few of the bloat and add some pace to the proceedings.
The hip-dac2 does all of this stuff with out the XBass turned on and that is how I made a decision to maintain it for many of my listening.
Tonally the hip-dac2 is a really impartial sounding amp and this benefited the 99 Classics because it added much more readability within the higher bass and midrange; Sam Cooke, Sinatra, Nick Cave, Tom Russell and Orville Peck all managed a really excessive stage of decision and element with out stripping the flesh.
“Let Me Drown” by Peck from Bronchus the discharge actually showcases his wealthy, baritone vocals, and the hip-dac2 did not take away any of the colour or drama which might have been a giant destructive in my guide.
The hip-dac2 was always enjoying ahead with all IEMs and headphones on my desktop; vocals have been pushed forward of the instrumentation, and whereas that wasn’t essentially a nasty factor, some care ought to be taken concerning which headphones and IEMs pair with it.
The Meze headphones benefited from the presentation model; as did the FiiO IEMs, however I would not use the hip-dac2 with thinner sounding headphones or IEMs that additionally push the voice too far ahead.
The hip-dac2’s high finish wasn’t overly aggressive and positively benefited headphones and IEMs needing extra readability and element within the high finish, however with out including an excessive amount of emphasis.
One of many greatest surprises was how spacious the sound was with the hip-dac2 with all headphones and IEMs; basic closed 99s want all the assistance they’ll get in that division and whereas the hip-dac2 hasn’t turned them right into a pair of 109 Execs or HiFiMAN XS Versionthe advance in soundstage width and depth was fairly noticeable.
“Pricey Previous Good friend” by Invoice Frisell (4, Qobuz, MQA Grasp) and “The Pioneers” have been each delivered with glorious tonal accuracy and a transparent sense of house within the studio the place Frisell, Greg Tardy, Jonathan Blake and Gerald Clayton recorded this actually strong album. Nothing much less ought to be anticipated from Frisell.
“D’un feu secret” is a funkier observe Ccile McLorin Salvantit is the most recent and it is spinning a bit in your head with the precise headphone/amp mixture; the iFi/Meze 109 Professional does this fairly effectively, however falls in need of the hip-dac2/HiFiMAN Version XS in that division.
The iFi hip-dac2 does all the pieces you want in a reasonably small package deal that feels extra substantial than every other DAC Dongle I’ve tried to this point. The shape issue will not be for everybody and this is not one thing you possibly can let dangle out of your jacket all day tethered to your smartphone.
However for individuals who need one thing extra highly effective that doesn’t drain the battery of your smartphone and delivers a reasonably nice sonic efficiency in full-sized headphones and high-end IEMs, it’s extremely onerous to go improper with this amp.
The battery life is lengthy sufficient for any commute or airplane journey (10 hours or much less), and it is too huge to get misplaced in your cluttered workspace desktop.
For below $200 USD, there are few moveable DAC/headphone amplifiers that actually stand out or really feel as substantial within the palm of your hand.
For extra info: ifi-audio.com/merchandise/hip-dac2/
The place to purchase:$189 on Amazon|Crutchfield