iFi hip-dac Merges Classic Design with High-Res Audio Tech
StereoNET first met the neat-looking iFi hip-dac in December 2019 and were sworn to secrecy. The petrol blue and copper colour scheme of the hip-dac's 102x70x14mm, extruded aluminium enclosure gives the latest offering from Southport UK's finest a very classy appearance. It is also remarkably tactile.
The AUD $249 hip-dac features iFi's goto Burr-Brown DAC chip at its heart chosen, in part, for its True Native architecture. Hi-res PCM and DXD audio data are supported up to 384kHz, alongside DSD from 2.8MHz to 12.4MHz (DSD64, 128 and 256). That previously mentioned Burr-Brown True Native design means that PCM and DSD take separate pathways. The upshot here is that both PCM and DSD remain 'bit-perfect' in their native form right through to analogue conversion. MQA is also supported by the hip flask-esque DAC / amp.
Furthermore, thanks to extensive clock-locking, jitter (digital distortion) is removed using iFi's GMT femto-precision clocking system. Additionally, the hip-dac's XMOS USB audio data processor is programmed in-house instead of relying on off-the-shelf firmware.
Over in the analogue section, the hip-dac's amp circuitry is of balanced (differential) design. It is the result of the work of the renowned engineer, John Curl and iFi's in-house technical team, led by Thorsten Loesch. The circuitry features 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 headphone amp has a nominal power rating of 400mW and is capable of delivering over 700mW from the balanced output, depending on the impedance of the attached headphones. Naturally, the hip-dac features iFi's XBass and PowerMatch, the latter matches the level of drive to the load presented by the headphones, by adjusting input sensitivity and so signal strength.
The hip-dac's asynchronous USB Type-A input handles audio data up to 32-bit/384kHz. The USB-C port supports the 'SuperSpeed' USB 3.0 standard, as well as USB 2.0 for backwards compatibility.
Outputs are a 3.5mm socket for headphones with a single-ended cable/connector, and a Pentaconn 4.4mm output. Additionally, the 3.5mm output gets iFi's proprietary S-Balanced circuitry, cutting crosstalk and related distortion in half when used with regular, single-ended headphone connections.
Finally, the hip-dac's 2200mAh battery lasts up to 12 hours of playing time, depending on volume level and how power-hungry the connected headphones are.
Price and availability
The hip-dac is available now and sells for $249.
For more information, head on over to iFi Audio.
StereoNET’s resident rock star, bass player, and gadget junkie. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.