The much loved, original hip-dac has had a makeover! The portable, hi-res DAC/headphone amp looks ultra cool in its new vibrant Sunset Orange. Not only has the hip-dac2‘s super sleek aluminium case had an update, but its insides have also been enhanced. The new 16-core XMOS chip, which processes data over USB, delivers double the clock speed and four times the memory. This improves overall performance and adds full MQA decoding to the hip-dac2‘s skill set. There is also an upgraded crystal clock which contributes to purer, crisper sound. So, whether you are working in your favourite coffee shop or chilling on your daily commute, sunrise or sunset, you’ll definitely want to take the hip-dac2 with you wherever you go.
The hip-dac2 replaces the inferior DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Convertor) and amp circuitry in smartphones, tablets, PCs and Macs to vastly improve headphone sound. Connect your playback device via USB, plug in your favourite corded headphones or in-ear monitors and the hip-dac2 delivers a sound brimming with bold dynamism and fluid refinement. The Burr-Brown DAC chip is selected for its fluid, highly ‘musical’ sound quality and True Native architecture. Together with iFi’s custom circuitry this enables the hip-dac2 to deliver excellent sound quality across digital audio formats, including bit-perfect PCM, native DSD and MQA. The upgraded crystal clock eradicates jitter (digital distortion), using iFi’s GMT femto precision clocking system. This maintains the integrity of the digital signal until conversion to analogue and enhances sound quality.
Thanks to the XMOS 16 core tech, the hip-dac2 is now an MQA Decoder rather than a Renderer only. This enables you to play back MQA audio files and streams, delivering the sound of the original master recording. The LED glows green or blue to indicate that the unit is decoding and playing an MQA stream or file, and denotes provenance to ensure that the sound is identical to that of the source material. It glows blue to indicate it is playing an MQA Studio file, which has either been approved in the studio by the artist/producer or has been verified by the copyright owner. MQA rendering technology (used in the original versions of some other iFi products) connects to an MQA Core signal and completes the final unfold of an MQA file. Core decoding is included in streaming services such as TIDAL, as well as select media players.
The hip-dac2’s amp circuitry, like the original, is of balanced (differential) design. The circuitry incorporates a range of high-quality components, carefully selected for their performance in an audio context, including a custom iFi OV op-amp, TDK C0G class 1 ceramic capacitors, a precision low-noise power supply IC from Texas Instruments and a high-quality analogue volume pot. The amp stage can deliver 400mW into a 32-ohm headphone load, ensuring compatibility with a wide range of headphone and earphone types with power to spare. Even high-impedance headphones are handled with ease thanks to output voltage of 6.3V into 600 ohms (from the balanced output).
The amp stage features switchable gain, which iFi calls PowerMatch. This matches the level of drive to the load presented by the headphones, by adjusting input sensitivity and thereby signal strength. Use the lower setting with high-sensitivity headphone. If your headphones require more drive, use PowerMatch to increase gain. XBass is another user-selectable feature – a sophisticated form of ‘bass boost’ that enhances low frequencies without muddying the midrange, particularly useful with earphones and open-back headphones that may lack deep bass. It operates entirely in the analogue domain rather than messing with the digital signal via DSP.
There are two USB ports – Type A for audio data and USB-C for charging. The Type A port features a male connector to provide greater mechanical integrity than a USB/micro USB ports commonly found on other DAC/headphone amps. Two outputs are provided – a 3.5mm socket for headphones with a single-ended cable/connector and a Balanced 4.4mm output enabling headphones equipped with balanced connectivity to take full advantage of the hip-dac2’s differential amp design. In addition, the 3.5mm output benefits from iFi’s proprietary S-Balanced circuitry, cutting crosstalk and related distortion in half when used with regular, single-ended headphone connections – this is especially beneficial with high-sensitivity in-ear monitors.
Both the original hip-dac and the new hip-dac2 sport a 102x70x14mm extruded aluminium enclosure, sufficiently robust to be ported around without fear of breakage. However, some may wish to add further protection for the beautifully anodised metallic finish, whilst giving their beloved DAC/headphone amp a softer, suede-like feel – for them, the new hip-case is ideal. Made from ‘faux suede’ in cool Dove Grey, with stitch detail and an embroidered iFi logo, the hip-case fits both the hip-dac and hip-dac2 like a glove, protecting it without hindering functionality.
The Burr-Brown True Native® chipset means file formats remain unchanged or ‘bit-perfect’. This means you are listening to music as the artist intended in the format in which it was recorded. iFi uses Burr Brown extensively in their products having selected it for its natural-sounding ‘musicality’ and True Native architecture. Their experience with this IC means they know how to make the most of it.
The XMOS 16-Core chip processes the audio data received via the USB digital input. This new low-latency XMOS microcontroller has greatly enhanced processing power. Compared to the current generation of eight-core chips, this new 16-core IC delivers double the clock speed (2000MIPS) and four times the memory (512KB), as well as the latest SuperSpeed USB standard. iFi’s in-house digital development team has programmed the XMOS firmware to optimise sound quality and ensure a perfect partnership with the Burr-Brown DAC.
Hi-Res True Native® playback of all music formats from MP3 to DSD256, PCM384 and DXD384.
MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) MQA is an award-winning British technology that delivers the sound of the original master recording. The master MQA file is fully authenticated and is small enough to stream or download. The hip-dac2 adopts MQA technology to receive and decode MQA audio and provide master-level sound.
XBass is an analogue headphone spatialiser. It opens up your music to give you the feeling of spaciousness experienced at a live concert.
It is a superior method to the traditional single-ended circuit approach. Balanced circuits reduce noise and crosstalk. Less Interference – clearer sound. You normally find this set-up in products at the higher end of the price spectrum such as the Pro iCAN Signature but iFi is now using this across its range to produce the best quality audio for all iFi customers.
iFi’s exclusive S-Balanced® circuit delivers maximum performance from single-ended and balanced headphones alike.
|Formats supported||DSD||256/128/64, Quad/Double/Single-Speed|
|Digital Inputs||USB 3.0 Type 'A'|
|Power Output (@1% THD)||Balanced||[email protected]Ω; [email protected]Ω|
|S-Balanced (S-E)||[email protected]Ω; [email protected]Ω|
|Battery||Lithium-polymer 2200mAh||Approx. 8 hours|
|Power System||Charging via USB-C, BC V1.2 compliant up|
|to 1000mA charging current and 6.3 volts|
|Power (max)||<2W idle, 4W max|
|Dimensions||102 x 70 x 14mm|
|4.0" x 2.8" x 0.6"|
|Weight||135g (0.30 lbs)|