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ifi hip dac review (DAC & Headphone Amp)


Active Member
Jan 7, 2021
I see that the new hip-dac 2 was released today. @iFi audio any chance that you could send one to @amirm for review?


Oct 7, 2018
@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. "

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

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.
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