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ifi hip dac review (DAC & Headphone Amp)

enricoclaudio

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I see that the new hip-dac 2 was released today. @iFi audio any chance that you could send one to @amirm for review?
 

Georgrig

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@amirm , as always, thanks for the review. I appreciate the fact that we have got a dedicated person in the community loyal to the measurements.

Also, thanks to all the people who build their constructive feedback on a basis of merit. Such an opinion, whether positive or negative is always welcome, as our main goal is to keep on improving. However, if someone tends to share negative comments on a product, he did not even try, then I guess he would do well in politics or should engage with philosophy more.

If you have a product that you think beats the hip dac (a few were brought up in the discussion) that's great. The more the products, the higher the competition and the higher the quality of the products on the market. If you share your measurements, that's even better. We can compare, discuss and learn from each other. However, it is a little infantile to say that you are certain you can find a better product for a cheaper price not even mentioning the exact product, its measurements or the SQ.


I agree with the findings that the output circuit causes a slightly higher distortion. We aimed to design a circuit with a sound signature high on openness, just like a tube amp can. We purposefully employed a very shallow negative feedback design philosophy. It is much closer to a zero negative feedback design than a traditional output stage.

In other words, as the hip dac is an entry-level portable device, we have the following design decisions to make:
1. Excellent measured distortion performance (0.00x%) with a lot of feedback, but the sound will be a bit lifeless and not so musical.
2. Very good measured distortion performance (0.0x%) with minimal feedback, but the sound will be vivid and highly musical.

Can we achieve both? Yes, but not within such a budget and size requirements.

In the end, we are pleased to say that we have achieved our goal and hip dac is one of the most open (if not the most open) sounding DAC/head-amps in its class.

However, as with the zero negative feedback circuits, the measured distortion will be slightly higher, but still, it is kept well under audibility.


Regarding design – Does it remind me of a flask? Of course. Is that a bad thing? Sure not. For a second, we thought of producing a special, limited edition of the hip dac flasks as a joke. Who knows, maybe, one day we'll offer one.
Whether you like the shape and colour it is up to you. We are happy that 100% of our clients and now 99.99%(Amir makes it less monotonous :) ) of reviewers are satisfied with the trendy looks it offers. Hip dac is dedicated to everyone who enjoys high-quality music, but we predominantly thought of the people who are embarking on their audiophile journey during the design stage.


We see a disagreement as a positive phenomenon. We like to be challenged and intellectually stimulated. Just a few of a very long list of reviewers, who would disagree with this review:

"It’s a balanced presentation that’s refined and free of harsh edges. You can listen to the hip-dac for hours and not feel fatigued ... this undemanding nature is still partnered with expressive dynamics and pleasing rhythmic precision."
-what HiFi

"a very natural, uncolored, and slightly warm sound with forward mids ... excellent with great resolution, transparency, and separation. "
-headfonia

"The iFi hip-dac has a detailed, natural, and engaging sound, which will not fatigue over long hours."
-positive-feedback

Going forward, I would challenge everyone to listen to a product first and then look at the specs to avoid hindsight bias. A simple analogy to explain how our mind plays tricks on us. We go to the supermarket, and we find a perfectly fine hummus in a pretty, trendy, eye-catching, original packaging. We obviously buy it. It is so cool-looking we actually send a pic to one of our friends. We get back home. We try it. It is delicious. With the third bite, we start reading the food additives on the label. E160, E164 and E300 draw our attention. Instantaneously, the hummus is not tasty anymore, and all you can taste are the ‘Es’. It gets worse with every bite, to an extent that you throw it out not finishing it. Moreover, the packaging you admired 15 minutes ago turns out unattractive now. It is a shame that the hummus lover did not realise that the additives were all totally natural and harmless and in fact, they made the hummus tastier and healthier. It is a shame the reader did not know that E160 stands for paprika, E164 for saffron and E300 for vitamin C.

I was a victim of this phenomenon multiple times, with many of the dacs, amps, etc., not sounding the same after I've seen the AP tests, even though I loved them at first.
Took you long enough to spew out your nonsense.
 

iFi audio

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When it comes to the hip-dac2 here is what we improved:

We upgraded crystal clock which contributes to purer, crisper sound. It eradicates jitter, 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 full Decoder rather than a Renderer only.

We have redesigned the custom iFi OV op-amp.

It is also dressed in a new vibrant Sunset Orange.

hip-dac2-header.jpg
 

dmac6419

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When it comes to the hip-dac2 here is what we improved:

We upgraded crystal clock which contributes to purer, crisper sound. It eradicates jitter, 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 full Decoder rather than a Renderer only.

We have redesigned the custom iFi OV op-amp.

It is also dressed in a new vibrant Sunset Orange.

hip-dac2-header.jpg
What about the battery,why didn't you improve that? Also can I trade in the old one for a new, only used once since it's a replacement for the broken one.Let me know, send me a link I'll pay the difference.
 

raif71

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When it comes to the hip-dac2 here is what we improved:

We upgraded crystal clock which contributes to purer, crisper sound. It eradicates jitter, 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 full Decoder rather than a Renderer only.

We have redesigned the custom iFi OV op-amp.

It is also dressed in a new vibrant Sunset Orange.

hip-dac2-header.jpg
If I don't care about MQA, what other extras this V2 has over V1 (which I already own) ? Is the op-amp better than previous?
 

iFi audio

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What about the battery,why didn't you improve that? Also can I trade in the old one for a new, only used once since it's a replacement for the broken one.Let me know, send me a link I'll pay the difference.
That's not a problem. Please send me your email address in a PM and I'll send you all the details.

Most of requests/feedback coming from the clients referred to MQA and the colour of the chassis. This is why we focused on it.
 

dmac6419

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That's not a problem. Please send me your email address in a PM and I'll send you all the details.

Most of requests/feedback coming from the clients referred to MQA and the colour of the chassis. This is why we focused on it.
That's fantastic
 

iFi audio

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We have also launched a hip-dac case if someone is asking.

hip-case-IMG_3766.jpg

Both the original hip-dac and the new hip-dac2 sport a 102x70x14mm extruded aluminium enclosure which is sufficiently robust to be carried around without fear of damage or breakage.
However, we know that some of you wanted further protection for the beautifully anodised metallic finish and the hi-res interior.
You can now give your adored hip-dac or hip-dac2 a softer, suede-like feel by wrapping it in a bespoke case from iFi, offering protection both at home and on the go without hindering the control functionality.
 
Last edited:

GaryH

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When it comes to the hip-dac2 here is what we improved:

We upgraded crystal clock which contributes to purer, crisper sound. It eradicates jitter, 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 full Decoder rather than a Renderer only.

We have redesigned the custom iFi OV op-amp.

It is also dressed in a new vibrant Sunset Orange.

hip-dac2-header.jpg
We have also launched a hip-dac case.

hip-case-IMG_3766.jpg

Both the original hip-dac and the new hip-dac2 sport a 102x70x14mm extruded aluminium enclosure which is sufficiently robust to be carried around without fear of damage or breakage.
However, we know that some of you wanted further protection for the beautifully anodised metallic finish and the hi-res interior.
You can now give your adored hip-dac or hip-dac2 a softer, suede-like feel by wrapping it in a bespoke case from iFi, offering protection both at home and on the go without hindering the control functionality.

The Desperate Dealers forum is that way.
 

Paolosnz

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I am an unfortunate owner of ifi hip dac with bad battery .. How can I get the change?
 

dmac6419

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I am an unfortunate owner of ifi hip dac with bad battery .. How can I get the change?
If you're pass the return date or out of warranty you're out of luck.My second or replacement hip dac (original)is basically new,just took it out of the box to see if it works, which reminds me I have to check it,last one went bad because of the same issue of not using it.
 

iFi audio

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I am an unfortunate owner of ifi hip dac with bad battery .. How can I get the change?
@Paolo
we offer a one-year-long warranty on our products. Please bear in mind that the country-specific regulations may apply.

You can read more about our warranty policy under this link

If you meet the requirements please open a ticket in here.

@staticV3 and @dmac6419 thanks.
 

Paolo

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@Paolo
we offer a one-year-long warranty on our products. Please bear in mind that the country-specific regulations may apply.

You can read more about our warranty policy under this link

If you meet the requirements please open a ticket in here.

@staticV3 and @dmac6419 thanks.
Wrong user :D

My HipDac battery is fine, but since you’ve mentioned me, I will ask the same thing everyone here is thinking about: can you please send one Hip DAC v2 to Amir? I bet many here would purchase a new one if there are measurable improvements over the v1.

The XBass feature does marvels with many headphones, a new portable amp, without the pronounced channel imbalance will have my money over something like the Hidizs which perform better but had no XBass…
 
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