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iFi puts an audio-improving hip flask in your pocket

iFi puts an audio-improving hi...
The hip-dac is designed to side-line the often inferior audio circuitry found in smartphones, tablets and computers
The hip-dac is designed to side-line the often inferior audio circuitry found in smartphones, tablets and computers
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The hip-dac comes in petrol blue and is topped by a high-quality analog volume pot
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The hip-dac comes in petrol blue and is topped by a high-quality analog volume pot
The hip-dac supports playback of PCM and DXD files up to a sampling rate of 384 kHz, and also features native DSD 256 support
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The hip-dac supports playback of PCM and DXD files up to a sampling rate of 384 kHz, and also features native DSD 256 support
The hip-dac is designed to side-line the often inferior audio circuitry found in smartphones, tablets and computers
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The hip-dac is designed to side-line the often inferior audio circuitry found in smartphones, tablets and computers
The hip-dac is reported capable of driving all-but the most demanding of headphones
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The hip-dac is reported capable of driving all-but the most demanding of headphones
A feature called PowerMatch can adjust input sensitivity to match the level required to drive the plugged-in headphones
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A feature called PowerMatch can adjust input sensitivity to match the level required to drive the plugged-in headphones
View gallery - 5 images

UK audio gear maker iFi has launched a new USB DAC/headphone amp that delivers a "sound as flavorsome and richly detailed as a delicious single malt." The hip-dac slips in the pocket just like a hip flask.

The new digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is designed to replace inferior audio circuitry found in many smartphones, tablets and computers – and give the listener a welcome sound quality boost.

The hip-dac benefits from a Burr-Brown DAC chip and custom iFi circuitry for Hi-Res PCM and DXD audio file support at sampling rates of up to 374 kHz, and up to DSD256. The DAC chip handles PCM and DSD formats separately so that the latter can remain "bit-perfect" all the way through analog conversion. LEDs to the side of the rotary volume dial up top – which has the look of a hip flash stopper – use different colors to indicate the audio format and sampling rates in play.

The hip-dac features balanced audio circuitry at the analog stage, selected due to its noise reduction prowess. The portable audio enhancer also rocks a custom op-amp, ceramic capacitors, a low-noise power supply and more. On the headphone amp side of things, the device has a nominal power rating of 400 mW, but can deliver more than 700 mW – which should be enough for all but the most demanding headphones.

The hip-dac is reported capable of driving all-but the most demanding of headphones
The hip-dac is reported capable of driving all-but the most demanding of headphones

There's also something called PowerMatch included, which adjusts input sensitivity to match the level of drive required by the cabled-up headphones. iFi says that in-ear monitors, for example, probably won't need the technology engaged, whereas circumaural cans might.

Elsewhere, the 102 x 70 x 14-mm (4 x 2.7 x 0.5-in) DAC/amp has a 2,200 mAh battery for around 12 hours of per charge use, and comes with a bass boost feature that's promised not to bleed into the midrange. It features USB-C and USB Type A ports, a 3.6-mm headphone jack and a Pentaconn 4.4-mm output (designed for headphones that can take advantage of balanced output). iFi has also thrown in its proprietary S-Balanced technology to cut crosstalk and distortion in half when using high-sensitivity earphones.

The hip-dac goes on sale this month for US$149. And if you want to try before you buy you could head to CanJam NYC 2020 on February 15-16, where iFi will be showcasing its newest family member.

Source: iFi

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3 comments
guzmanchinky
Do these really make that much of a difference? Maybe I'm missing something but digital music sounds pretty good to me already.
Andrew S
This is the second article I've seen about this DAC. Sadly when you go to the linked website there's absolutely no mention of it!
Rob Viau
No MQA, no purchase. Can't stream DSD on the go from any service I'm subscribed to.