Fantastic Design, Spectacular Sound, and Compact Size: The iFi hip-dac2 DAC Delivers Perpetually Smooth Sonics
The iFi hip-dac2 DAC has a sunset-orange color and an eye-catching, hip-flask shape. Beneath its dazzling exterior is sophisticated technology that delivers spectacular sound. The second generation of this portable, battery-powered, high-resolution DAC/headphone amplifier has been revamped from the outside and the inside.
The 16-core XMOS chip, which processes data over USB, delivers double the clock speed and four times the memory of its acclaimed predecessor (which, itself, earned five-star reviews). This improves overall performance and adds full MQA decoding to the iFi hip-dac2's skill set. There is also an upgraded crystal clock that contributes to purer, crisper sound.
So, whether you're relaxing at a coffee shop or making your daily commute, sunrise or sunset, with the hip-dac2, you can enjoy fantastic audio wherever you go. The hip-dac2 offers a battery life of about eight hours, and it is easy to recharge. (A charging cable is included.)
The key job of the hip-dac2 is to replace the inferior DAC (digital-to-analog convertor) and amp circuitry found in smartphones, tablets, PCs, and Macs in order to vastly improve your headphone sonics. Simply connect it to your playback device via USB, plug in your favorite corded headphones or in-ear monitors, and the hip-dac2 will deliver rich sound with bold dynamism and subtle refinement.
The Burr-Brown DAC chip (selected for its fluid, highly "musical" sonic ability and True Native architecture), together with iFi custom circuitry, 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 (i.e., digital distortion), using iFi's GMT Femto precision clocking system. This maintains the integrity of the digital signal until its conversion to analog, thus enhancing sound quality.
Thanks to the XMOS 16-core technology, the hip-dac2 is 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 it denotes provenance to ensure that the sound is essentially identical to that of the source material.
The hip-dac2's amp circuitry — like that of its predecessor — offers a balanced (differential) design. The circuitry incorporates a range of high-quality components, carefully selected for their performance, 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 analog 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 a proprietary switchable gain called PowerMatch. It matches the level of drive to the load presented by the headphones by adjusting input sensitivity and thereby, the signal strength. You can use the lower setting with high-sensitivity headphones. If your headphones require more drive, then use PowerMatch to increase gain.
The hip-dac2's XBass technology is another user-selectable feature. This is a sophisticated form of bass boost that enhances low frequencies without muddying the midrange. It is particularly useful with earphones and open-back headphones that may lack deep bass. It operates entirely in the analog domain (rather than muddying the digital signal via DSP).
Like all Music Direct products, the iFi hip-dac2 DAC comes with the 100% Music Direct Satisfaction Guarantee.
"At this level, you're unlikely to find a portable DAC as clear, zealous, fully featured, or as downright good-looking as the iFi hip-dac 2. When a product leans quite heavily on a gimmick — i.e., masquerading as a vessel for alcohol, albeit a nice one — you might feel yourself dismissing it before you've given it a chance. To do so where iFi is concerned would be wrong, because really, this DAC is anything but a joke. It improves the quality of portable music without issue, faithfully plays virtually anything you ask it to, and the extra oomph afforded by the company's more premium processor, in conjunction with its favored Burr-Brown DAC, is well worth the nominal extra outlay over the original. Said original is still a noble, inexpensive DAC. It's just that its successor is that little bit better."
—What Hi-Fi?, five-star review
"If you know what the first hip-dac sounds like, then I wouldn't expect wholesale changes in the overall sound signature, but instead a refinement of the sound with more transparency and detail. The second hip-dac is a little more analytical than the first, but not to the point of fatigue. To me, the additional resolution allows the hip-dac2 to pull out more music information, which gives you a more vivid picture of what's going on in a recording. At the end of the day, expect a more intimate performance with a lot of presence.... [The iFi hip-dac2] has an excellent mix of features, remarkable power, and most importantly, it sounds damn good.... Highly recommended!"
—Paul Cash, Hi-Fi Trends
"The iFi hip-dac2 has only one goal: improving your sound quality compared to the direct outputs of laptops and smartphones. After the time I've had with this device, I can smoothly say that it reaches that goal. The previous hip-dac was also quite successful.... However, iFi [has made] some small but rather important updates to the device to make it even better."
The iFi hip-dac2 has two USB ports: Type A for audio data and USB-C for charging. The Type A port features a connector to provide greater mechanical integrity than 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, which takes full advantage of the hip-dac2's differential amp design.
In addition, the 3.5mm output benefits from iFi's proprietary S-Balanced circuitry, dramatically reducing crosstalk and related distortion when used with regular, single-ended headphone connections. This is especially beneficial with high-sensitivity in-ear monitors.
Superb 16-Core Chip
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 eight-core chips, this 16-core IC delivers double the clock speed (2000MIPS) and four times the memory (512KB).
The iFi digital development team has programmed the XMOS firmware to optimize sound quality and ensure a perfect partnership with the Burr-Brown DAC.
DSD: 256/128/64, Quad/Double/Single-Speed
Digital Inputs: USB 3.0 Type 'A' (USB2.0 compatible):
S-Balanced (S-E): 3.5mm
Power Output (@1% THD):
Balanced: 400mW@32Ω; 6.3V@600Ω
S-Balanced (S-E): 280mW@32Ω; 3.2V@600Ω
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: 4.0" x 2.8" x 0.6":
Weight: 0.28 lbs.
User Manual (PDF, 450 KB)