iFi audio's worst kept secret: the hip-dac!

Discussion in 'Product Announcements' started by iFi audio, Feb 3, 2020.

  1. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    How do you chose between this and the IFI BL Nano if looking to pair with sensitive IEMs and if SQ and not balanced topology matters most to you?
     
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  2. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Nano BL also has 'S-Balanced' output, but perhaps more importantly it has 'iEMatch' which cuts gain - and raises impedance to a bit over 3 ohms - whereas hip DAC's 'PowerMatch' is a gain booster. I believe both outputs on the hip dac are low OI ( @iFi audio , is this correct?). This would suggest Nano BL for tricky IEMs, particularly multi-BA ones whose impedance profile might benefit from a bit more OI (maybe Andromeda, although preferred OI around here for those seems more like 1.5-2 ohms than 3+).

    Nano BL also has a line-out, if that's important, and a switch for alternate filters.

    Looking forward to seeing subjective comparisons between the two...
     
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  3. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Yes, 1 ohm or so.
     
  4. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    @Biodegraded nicely addressed your question.

    On pure SQ though, internally our staff likes hip-dac more.

    Even though it's transportable, micro iDSD BL sounds like a big DAC, whereas even though hip-dac is affordable, it sounds like a pricier product. We always do our best to overachieve and I think that hip-dac actually does more than its price would imply.
     
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  5. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Just to be clear, you're saying that the micro iDSD series is comparable to some proper desktop units (I don't disagree, though my limited experience with desktop DACs means that opinion needs a chunk of Himalayan pink appended) but that the hip-dac supersedes even that?

    Presuming candor, willingness to undercut extant products, and temporarily disregarding weight of personal preferences of internal peeps, of course :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
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  6. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    I appreciate his candor, though I am going to subjectively disagree with him. Running a Verite Closed out of the hip-dac and comparing it to the HP out of my iDac2 (silver, not "BL" series - "Bit Perfect" filter setting which is the linear filter if memory serves), I prefer the latter. While not quite as warm, the HP out of the iDac2 has a resolution/separation advanage, such as when K.D. Lang's back up vocals harmonize with her. Also, there is a touch more inner note resolution/timbre accuracy out of the iDac2 such as when she hangs on to a note for a while. Keep in mind I am talking about these subtle dac vs. dac sort of differences.

    Of course these are different products in that the iDac2 is more of a desktop product with line out, etc.

    edit: perhaps I missed it in the tech postings, but what sort of filter does the hip-dac apply @iFi audio ? My guess is a min phase and/or one of those MQA inspired filters you guys seem to prefer these days.
     
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  7. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    What I meant is that micro iDSD BL sounds good enough to throw punches against many desktop DAC/amp combos, but I wouldn't go this far with hip-dac :cool:

    After hearing hip-dac, I think that it does enough to excel as an affordable portable product.

    And I agree with you. Portable/transportable/desktop usage aside, iDAC2 as a DAC to my ears is better than micro iDSD BL and substantially better than hip-dac. We did iDAC2 to be second only to Pro iDSD.

    And just to clarify, by writing that micro iDSD BL sounds like a big DAC, I meant that it sounds like a big DAC/amp combo. :eek:
     
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  8. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    This one seems interesting. Been thinking about a solution to go with my iphone and iems, do you guys void the warranty if i stick some velcro on it? ;)
     
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  9. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Nah, we wouldn't dare :cool:
     
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  10. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Old Will got it right.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. QuadFacepalm

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    Looked around the publically available specifications, but was not able to find SNR or gain (1×, dB) specs for the Hip-DAC (love the punny name, BTW). These are critical specs when pairing with sensitive IEMs that are hiss-prone.

    Currently eyeing this as my next portable DAC/amp purchase, but without those relevant specs, I'm left hanging.
     
  12. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Every specs we can list, we list at our homepage, but I'll ask internally about things you're after.
     
  13. gridmaster

    gridmaster Facebook Friend

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    [​IMG]
    Tested the ifi hip-dac with HD800sdr + balanced XLR to 4.4mm balanced adapter | IE800 | HD650 | ATH-m50x

    Other devices used for comparison: Dragonfly Black / Red / Cobalt | EarStudio ES100 | Shanling M0

    Ridiculously subjective impressions:
    The hip-dac on the first listen, within 10 seconds has somewhat of a "wow" factor (for the price and size of the unit).
    Good macro dynamics for a portable device, great power delivery via the 4.4mm balanced, it has a very clean, low distortion sound to it.

    Quick note on "XBass", like any other bass boost function I've ever tried, it does boost bass, at the expense of a massive distortion increase.

    I'd only take the hip-dac over the ES100 out of that bunch.
    Hip-dac appears it was made to sound like an ISO-5 clean room. Zero emotional engagement, sterile, clean. Vocals sound lifeless, air instruments lack nuance, stringed instruments lack body. Drum and Bass songs are good on it...

    ---

    Trying to look at it objectively, I'd say the hip-dac has a cleaner, more articulated sound than any of the other products listed here. One could say it's "better" than those...

    ---

    Quick background on what I like because I don't post here much:
    I'm a massive fan of Class A, no feedback, OTC tube amps. I really like the natural distortion that comes with those.
    When I listen to music, I'm not trying to listen if a cymbal sound more like Zildjian or a Sabian...
    I want to be emotionally engaged in the music, I want it to feel like I'm listening to something that has life to it.

    Finishing thoughts:
    If you prefer really clean sound with good dynamics, hip-dac = good (thumbs-up)
    If you're like me, I'd go with DF Cobalt, if you need wireless, Shanling M0.

    Quick aside:
    I think the Cobalt is overpriced, but it is a big step forward from previous DF v1.2 / black / red (I've owned them all).

    Edit:
    I forgot to write this, and I feel it's a big deal too.
    The fit and finish of the hip-dac is amazing. I love the look, the case feel, feels extremely solid in the hand.
    But, one thing really stands out to me. The volume knob is spectacular. #1 I wish more portables had analog volume control, brilliant. #2 The actuation on this potentiometer (I assume it's a pot) is outstanding. I have no idea how they did it, but the rotational force and smoothness is sublime. @schiit get your hands on a hip-dac and feel the knob (no pun intended). I've always felt the mini knobs on some of the low end Schiit products really contributes to making them feel really cheap, on otherwise well designed cases.
    So while I'm personally not hot on the SQ, the build quality is a huge A+ from me.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2020
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  14. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    time for some thoughts on the new iFi Hip-Dac, used only with Campfire Audio IEMs Solaris, OG Andromeda, OG Polaris and the Drop JVC HA-FDX1

    Build quality: superb! metal casing is finished to a smashing blue perfection, volume knob (and power on/off) is well machined, and the unit is smaller than photos may indicate. also light enough to carry around despite a long lasting internal battery.

    Sound quality: as mentioned by others, Hip-Dac is warm, and has some slight lift and bloom in the bass compared to the more neutral xDSD and similarly the old-school GOV2+, and IIRC from long ago the iFi nano iDSD BL. there is good width to the presentation, yet hip-dac will not transport your headphones into 3D spatial zones. i don’t detect much roll off in treble, vocals are balanced- not too forward or laid back, no nasal tones. hip-dac should have better synergy with brighter IEMs needing a bit of warmth to provide a more solid listening base.

    Clearly a sonic improvement over the crap internals of smart phones and iPads and battery life more than adequate for commuting and times around the house where portability, outside summer listening, is a nice change.
    the form factor alone of hip-dac makes it easier for travel than say the larger block of nano iDSD BL.

    with sensitive IEMs, there can be hiss. as always, using iFi iEMatch for these cases is always a good first step. the Hip-Dac does have some sort of “auto mute” however, because there is no hiss present when not connected to a USB source.

    Value: HIGH ! seriously, for on the go use at such a low price - the hip-dac is easy to recommend to anyone willing to plug a cable into their smartphone or iPad. That being said, the convenience of even a lossy bluetooth signal through this good DAC chip and amp would be a welcome and convenient feature. one can imagine a hip-blue-dac appearing in the future hopefully?

    the hip-dac shares some common internal parts to the xDSD, such as DAC chip and S-balanced amp, yet my day to day travel companion will remain the iFi xDSD for that bluetooth convenience when needed and it’s more neutral , and slightly clearer amp section due to some upgraded internals.

    with these two excellent iFi models on the market for IEM usage, no longer feel the need to drag out and use, nor recommend, the older GOV2+ balanced connection unless Sabre DAC shimmer is needed with dark IEMs.

    will leave the impressions of hip-dac with full sized headphones to others, as I don’t carry around full sized closed or open cans during travel or commutes.
     
  15. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    @jexby how does hiss with the Solaris compare with the HipDac, XDSD and GOV2?
     
  16. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Let's make a small detour from the usual hardware stuff to one of our crew, Aimée. She was kind enough to answer several questions, so here goes!

    [​IMG]

    What's your role at iFi?

    I'm the company's Marketing Assistant, which means that I share my time between regular office work and iFi audio's social media

    What's your favourite iFi device and why?

    My favourite iFi product is the xDSD. It was my first-ever DAC/Amp, and I've never let go. I love it because it's portable, so I can clean, cook, work and travel while listening through my headphones!

    What type of music do you listen to?

    My music preference definitely depends on my mood and it ranges from folk, alternative rock, reggae rock and indie pop, to pretty much any 70's & 80's music, jazz, and western classical (when I'm in the 'focus mode').

    What are your favourite headphones/IEMs?

    To be honest, I don't think I've found my 'favourite' headphones yet...there's too many to choose from! I'll try whatever is available at our UK office and there's a lot of stuff in there. HifiMan and Meze just to name two brands. I like Susvaras A LOT but rarely can use them! While I may not have found 'the one' just yet, I'll give a try to whatever lands near my desk.
     
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  17. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    I don't know how much you guys and glas are into power products, but several days ago Chris Martens published his PowerStation review at Hi-Fi+. He wrote:

    "I recommend the iFi PowerStation and AC iPurifiers for the simple reason that they help unlock more music for less money than other competing power conditioners I have tried. You cannot say fairer than that."

    [​IMG]

    http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/ifi-audio-powerstation-and-ac-ipurifiers/

    Thanks so much!
     
  18. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    To Leeroy Jenkins or not to? That is the question…

    Let me first introduce you to one legandary (and a bit nerdy) World of Warcraft video...



    If you'd like to know what this has to do with audio, please take a look at our latest blog entry HERE
     
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  19. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, iFi reflects upon our environmental and sustainability responsibility. This is what Jules, our Brand Manager has to say...

    “At iFi Audio, we’ve pledged to ensure our product packaging is 100 per cent plastic-free and 100 per cent recyclable by 2021. We’ve been working steadily toward this goal and our packaging across our entire range is already 97% recyclable and plastic-free.

    As for the products themselves, we’re actively looking at different materials such as bamboo for the cabinets of loudspeakers and all-in-one music systems.

    We’re also working hard to reduce our carbon footprint with a plan to reduce CO2 emissions at each stage of the product cycle as part of our ‘environmental pledge’. We’ll be issuing more information about this soon.”

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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