ddHiFi TC35B USB Type-C USB-C DAC

Ichos

Reviewer at hxosplus
TC35B 2021 Aluminium version
Pros: - Great sound for the size
- Tiny form factor
- Feather weight
- Low power consumption
- Excellent build quality
- Lighting to 3.5mm also available
- Supports CTIA standard earphones
- 32bit/384kHz (PCM)
- Inexpensive but not cheap
Cons: - Low power output but this is something to be expected for the size
The TC35B was provided by ddHiFi free of charge but they never asked for a favorable review.
As always this is my honest and subjective evaluation of it.
All links provided in this article are not affiliated in any way.
The selling price is $42 or €43 and you can buy it from here.
A lighting to 3.5mm version is also available.

Introduction

Although ddHiFi is a relatively new brand needs no introduction since it is well known among the headphone enthusiasts.
It was established in 2017 by Mr. Demond Ding, a former engineer and lead designer for FiiO and Oppo.
They started by building some very useful audio adapters and they have grown to include earphones and small dac/amps with the top model being the TC44B.
They have stripped their products from unnecessary cosmetics and fancy packing in order to offer good quality at an affordable price.

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TC35B 2021 Aluminium version

The TC35B is not a new product since it was first introduced back in July 2020.
As for July 2021 it has been updated featuring an all new aluminium alloy body so it has become even lighter but the metal luster is still great.

The TC35B is the tiniest USB type C to 3.5mm adapter without cable, measuring only 18.8x11.4x10.4mm and weighing a mere 3.6gr.

It's a quite common issue for the cable on the little tail adapter to wear out as time goes on.
But the design of a pure adapter completely avoids this problem.
The all-metal shell can more effectively shield electromagnetic interference and further ensure the
lossless transmission of sound quality.

When the earphone is not plugged in, the TC35B won't work, even if it's connected to your phone or
computer.
It will detect and recognize automatically when the earphone is plugged in.

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A very useful feature of the TC35B is that it supports CTIA standard earphones.
When you plug in CTIA standard earphones with microphone and controls, you can answer phone calls and use the play/pause, volume and track selection controls.
(Volume control on Apple headphones is not supported).

The DAC chip inside is the humble Realtek ALC5686 that is also used in various PC motherboards to handle generic audio duties.
So how can it be for the TC35B to sound better than the average PC audio output?
Because as we all know it is the implementation that matters and believe us, the guys at ddHiFi know exactly what they are doing.
The ALC5686 used in the TC35B is optimized to offer the best possible sound quality for iem listening on the go.

The technical specifications

According to ddHiFi are:
Output Power: 30mW@32Ω
Drive Ability: 16~200Ω
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
Support to: 32bit/384kHz (PCM)
THD+N: <-92dB
DNR: > 110dB
SNR: > 120dB

Sound impressions

It is important for someone to understand the intended use scenario of this little adapter in order not to expect miracles from it.
Since it is mainly addressed for listening on the go with easy to drive iems we have tested it accordingly.
We have used earphones like the iBasso IT01X, the Meze 12 Classics V2 and the brand new FiiO FD3.
With all these models the listening volume was more than sufficient and everything sounded certainly louder than the generic 3.5mm output.
Power consumption is minimal and is not going to severely affect the usual battery duration of the host device.

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The TC35B brings to the table an instant upgrade to the sound quality over most, non special, 3.5mm outputs of phones and computers.
Very enjoyable and well balanced without deviating from linearity, it is suitable for all kinds of music and is going to do justice to every entry level earphone.

Surprisingly clear and noise free for an entry level DAC, it features an extended and well controlled bass which is quite full bodied with some sufficient dynamic contrast.
Mids and highs sound open, spacious and well articulated without overall weight loss while resolution and detail retrieval are very satisfying.
The soundstage is wide enough and fairly extended with good positioning cues to sound without congestion.

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Of course this is not the most technically competent or powerful DAC out there but it was never meant to be so.
What matters is that for the intended use it offers surprisingly great sound, far better than most embedded analog outputs while it certainly fits in the smallest pockets.

TC35B vs Periodic Audio Rhodium ($49)

The TC35B features the same DAC chip as the Periodic Audio Rhodium which sports a different form factor with an embedded cable.

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Both dongles have almost the same technical specifications and they also sound quite identical although the Rhodium is a touch cleaner and more detailed - refined.
This must be attributed to the extra care taken with the power supply and the careful selection of the accompanying internal components.
The Rhodium is available in a USB type C only version while the TC35B is also offered in a lighting variant.

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If someone wishes for more power, DSD and MQA decoding plus an upgraded sound quality but with the same cable-less form factor then the ddHiFi TC35PRO Mountain ($99.99) fits the bill.

At the end

Very good and enjoyable sound, excellent build quality, minimal power consumption in the tiniest form factor for only $42, it should be in everyone's pocket.
As long as you don't need something very powerful and don't aim for reference sound on the go, then go grab one.
You will be surprised to find out how useful this little fellow is, no matter what we never part from it.

Test playlist

Copyright - Laskis Petros 2021
abheybir
abheybir
Good review! 👍
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Ichos
Ichos
Thank you very much!

notaris

New Head-Fier
ddHiFi TC35B: Top quality, great sound!
Pros: Top quality; diminutive size; very nicely balanced and extremely articulate sound, with good soundstage and image; very affordably priced.
Cons: Nothing at this price.
Introduction

Guangzhou DD Electronics Technology Co., Ltd., aka ddHiFi, is a young company, established in 2017, specializing in the design and making of audiophile products, in particular, DACs, cables, earphones and accessories. The founder of the company had previously working experience in both OPPO and FiiO.

ddHiFi is dedicated to make user-friendly products, of high quality and great sound, by paying attention to the materials used and to all production details, while at the same time controlling carefully the cost, such that the resulting products are truly affortable. One such product is a tiny DAC, TC35B, which is up for review. Its MSRP is just $37.99, so it would be very interesting to see how much a DAC of such a moderate price can achieve.


Description

As already mentioned TC35B is a tiny little DAC, probably the tiniest you can find overall; its dimensions are 18.8 mm x 11.2 mm x 10.2 mm, and I really don’t think that you can find a smaller one. It is made of stainless steel 316, which is the typical stainless steel grade used in the watchmaking industry. Now, if you are like me a mechanical wristwatches lover, then you know the importance of good quality stainless steel for a wristwatch case, particularly one with high anticorrosion properties. So, it is easy to understand that 316 stainless steel is of top quality, and this is useful for protecting the DAC, while at the same time adding to its looks.

TC35B.jpeg


The chip used for TC35B is a USB Codec, the Realtek ALC5686. This is a Codec chip used in many computer motherboards, so one might wonder whether TC35B is any better than what his computer has to offer. The answer is very simple: A critical factor in a DAC’s performance is not just the chip used, but also how the whole design is implemented. To put it in simple words, a top chip alone does not guarantee that the DAC would have a great performance, while a humble chip, with the proper implementation, can do miracles. Now, to start with, ALC5686 is not a bad chip, and because of that it is used in many computer motherboards; the mediocre sound that you usually get from the earphones output of a computer has mostly to do with the fact that computer companies do not pay much attention in making a good implementation. ddHiFi paid the effort, and the result is shown in the specs: DNR >110 dB, SNR >120 dB, even THD+N <-92 db, which are all very respectable. The output power is not very high, 30 mW @32 Ω; however, this is a bit tricky! What I heard through my auditions was certainly more than 30 mW @32 Ω. Whatever the case is, I have to say that the output is more than sufficient to drive headphones up to 200 Ω.

The TC35B is able to deliver PCM 32 bit / 384 kHz, and it is compatible with MacOS and Windows (for XP/7/8 a driver is available). The output is a stereo 3.5 mm jack, headphone or line output.

And of course, the cherry on the tart is that, as already mentioned, TC35B costs a mere $37.99; honestly, I cannot think of a brand name DAC with a lower price tag. Furthermore, it comes in a very stylish wooden box, which adds to the top quality of the theme.


The sound

When I started my auditions, I really did not know what to expect, but TC35B was a very pleasant surprise.

Its sound is very well balanced, to the point that some people might find the low frequencies inadequate; this is not true, and it is due to the fact that TC35B is tuned to be almost perfectly balanced, as the idea is to improve the sound and not to color it.

So, the low frequencies are sufficient and well controlled, while at the same time the upper end of the spectrum is quite extended, so the presentation is overall quite revealing.

The mid frequencies are not forward, but not recessed either; in particular, female vocals have a very nice presentation, right in the center of the stage.

However, what really impressed me is that TC35B opens your sound, so its soundstage and image are certainly above average.

Is TC35B going to improve the sound of your computer, laptop or smartphone? By all means! I compared it to what I get through my iMac, and there was simply no comparison. The sound through TC35B was balanced, musical and sweet, while the sound through the earphones output of the iMac was almost annoying; and this in spite of the fact that iMacs and iPhones use, at least in some cases, proprietary Cirrus Logic DAC chips.

TC35B-computer.jpeg



In conclusion

TC35B really impressed me with its top quality, diminutive size and extremely articulate sound; and all this for a mere $37.99.

If you want to improve the sound of your computer, laptop or smartphone with just one move, don’t think for a second time: You go ahead and buy TC35B, and you won’t regret it.

Well done by ddHiFi and most recommended.

Many thanks to Lily of ddHiFi for providing a sample for TC35B.

https://www.ddhifi.com

B9Scrambler

Headphoneus Supremus
DDHifi TC35B: Size Matters
Pros: Impressively small – Clean sound – Affordable
Cons: Not great for overly sensitive or extremely hard to drive earphones/headphones – No physical controls
Greetings!

Today we're checking out a neat little accessory from DDHiFi, the TC35B.

As we all know by now, smartphone manufacturers are slowly weeding out the 3.5mm jack in their more premium offerings, forcing users to either go wireless or carry around a cumbersome dongle to add that feature back. Not ideal.

DDHiFi is well known for their various adapters that solve a wide variety of problems. One of them, the TC35B, brings back the headphone jack to those devices the utilize USB type-C and have dropped the venerable 3.5mm port. It also provides additional amplification and improved sound quality to devices that have a 3.5mm jack, but otherwise have fairly mediocre output from their aux port. You might be thinking to yourself that there are plenty of devices that do this. What makes the TC35B special? Easy answer: size. This DAC is by far the smallest I've ever come across, making your typical dongle DAC look and feel massive and awkward in use.

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Packaging and Accessories The TC35B arrives in packaging that is in line aesthetically with other products from the brand, but fairly unique among the industry in general. The exterior sheath is mostly plain, uncoloured cardboard with the same black bands we saw used for the C-2019 carrying case, but of course this time around it contains model info and descriptors for the TC35B. Sliding off the sheath reveals a simple, fairly squat wooden box with the DDHifi logo cut into the front. The use of wood gives the TC35B's unboxing experience a premium feel that none of the competition matches.

Opening the box you find the TC35B safely stored in a plastic bag, a silica packet, some balled up paper strips to keep everything from moving around too much, a social media information sheet, and a lone accessory; a small strap with a plastic nub that tucks into the 3.5mm opening of the TC35B.You could use this to attach the DAC to a keychain when not in use, but I'd still worry about losing the TC35B. I'm glad it's included, but I personally prefer to leave the device plugged into my phone, DAP, or attached to an earphone cable since it's so light, compact, and low profile, especially compared to other dongle DACs.

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Build Quality/Features The shell of the TC35B is composed of a slab of hallowed out 316 stainless steel. A gold-coloured plate surrounds the 3.5mm opening on the front containing the brand, year, and model information in extremely small but very clear laser-etched writing. Out back is the Type-C USB plug. Everything fits together perfectly. Not much else to say. There are no obvious weaknesses or negatives to the build or design. It is very compact, durable, and with no controls or cables there is no learning curve. You plug it into your device, plug in your headphones or earphones to turn it on, and enjoy.

With Earpods and the TC35B plugged into my laptop, I was surprised to find it would allow me to play/pause music and videos through the inline controls, though the volume controls ceased to function. The experience was the same with my LG Q70. Switching to earphones not specific to Apple, namely the Brainwavz Omega, I had full control over play, pause, and volume on both my laptop and phone. Nice!

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Sound and Power The TC35B isn't a powerhouse which shouldn't be expected given the size. That said, it does offer improvements in volume output and driving power when compared to a cell phone like my LG G6 or Q70. I found it more than adequate for most headphones and in-ears, though overly sensitive or demanding units caused issues, such as the Astrotec Phoenix. The Phoenix is absurdly difficult to drive for an in-ear, benefiting from powerful amps. Through the TC35B the Pheonix sounded grainy and the powerful low end lost most of its grunt. There was also noticeable distortion when exceeding even fairly modest volume levels. Flipping over to extremely easy to drive products like the 2020 Campfire Audio Solaris, the experience was also sub-par thanks to plenty of background noise and a minimum volume that was way too high for comfortable listening. With more typical and less picky and/or demanding gear, like those from brands like KZ, Moondrop, BGVP, etc. the TC35B felt much more at home.

The sound signature is fairly neutral and uncoloured with a slight upper end lift that adds a bit of brightness, quite like the Cozoy Takt C. It pairs best with warm-leaning products since it tends to exacerbate the treble and upper mids of bright earphones. End-to-end extension seems quite good. I never felt that sub-bass heavy products like the Dunu DM-480 were being held back. The same could be said for treble focused gear like the EarNiNE EN2J, keeping in mind it and the TC35B are not actually a good pairing due to the treble lift inherent to both products. When it comes to aspects such as texture and overall clarity the TC35B keeps up with the Takt C, though it isn't quite as clean and sharp sounding. The note presentation of the TC35B is slightly thicker and slower, most evident in the midrange where the Takt C comes across somewhat cold and sterile, but with a snappier feel to everything. The TC35B almost feels like a mix of the XDuoo Link and Cozoy Takt C, taking qualities from each without sounding exactly like either. That said, both of those dongles offer additional features, more power, and in my opinion sound better overall, but they are more expensive (the Link by only a small amount) and have a number of other downsides. Those downsides being they are significantly larger and more cumbersome to use with questionable long term durability thanks to their cables. They also generate more heat (Takt C especially) which is uncomfortable in the pocket and hits the battery life of your device harder.

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Final Thoughts The TC35B is a very unique product. Sure, it may not be as full-featured as other dongles on the market since it lacks any form of physical control options. Nor is it ideal for pairing with either extremely sensitive or extremely difficult to drive products. What it brings to the table that the competition cannot match is size. If you want the smallest, least obtrusive dongle possible so you can return a 3.5mm jack to your device, or maybe to provide a boost to the volume output of your device without having to carry around a portable amp or awkward dongle DAC like the Link or Takt C, the TC35B is one heck of an option. It doesn't hurt that it is it is wonderfully constructed and quite affordable, aspects that are often sacrificed in the efforts necessary to shrink a device to the extent DDHiFi has.

Keeping in mind the TC35B has some clear limitations on what it can and shouldn't be used to drive, it's an easy product to recommend. It does a good job with boosting the volume of most earphones and headphones, offers a clean, detailed sound, and the size... the small size is its ace in the hole. The last many, many months spent living with with it as one of my daily use devices has shown that the compactness of this DAC cannot be overstated. Heck, you can just leave it attached to the jack of your earphones at all times and forget it's there. I honestly didn't think I would miss the TC35B after switching back to the Link or Takt C, but it didn't take long to tire of the more traditional dangling dongle DAC design. I'm more than happy to give up physical controls and a bit of power for a device that has such a pleasant user experience.

Thanks for reading!

- B9

Disclaimer A huge thanks to Lily with DDHiFi for reaching out to see if I would be interested in covering some of their products, and for sending the TC35B for coverage. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinion based on time spent with the TC35B since June (so sorry Lily!). At the time of writing the TC35B was retailing for 52.00 CAD / 39.99 USD: https://www.ddhifi.com/productinfo/1474339.html

Specifications

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assassin10000

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Small size.
Solid build.
Better sound than most 3.5mm phone outputs.
Cons: Can't use to play music with wired charging.
Still something extra to carry around.
Disclaimer: None, I purchased this. No discount received for a review.

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Many newer cell phones lack a headphone output. Something many people miss; from the casual listener that just enjoys being able to music on their phones, to the more serious audiophiles :) . I know I did.

The first solution I tried was the prolific and oft recommended Apple USB-C dongle. The ultra thin connecting cord and lower volume output on my Android phone lead me to look for another, better solution.

I decided that I wanted a compact and more robust solution to my lack of a 3.5mm output. I did some searching and reading several threads/reviews across several sites to narrow down my options. Amongst those was the TC35B.

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It looked good to me, at least 'on paper'. So I ordered one to try.

A neat feature is this unit passes through the microphone signal. Volume control as well, if the headphones or cable connected is CTIA compliant.

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Definitely the smallest USB-C DAC I could find. It appears robust and has a nice heft to it in hand. The stainless body and brass faceplate contrasts nicely and look premium.



Sound:

For this short review I will be using the TC35B with a TinHifi T2 Plus IEM on a Pixel 3 XL. The comparisons will be to my old Samsung Galaxy S5's 3.5mm output.

Do take note that I have not used a DAP or any other portable amp solutions at this time.

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I found the TC35B to present a better dynamic range. Like having a TV that has 'darker' blacks which improves the contrast of its picture. With no other drawbacks, this alone makes it a good buy in my opinion.


Bass extension and quantity was slightly better. Probably due to more power to control the dynamic driver.

Mids were clean with no bleed. Transparency and clarity was very good.

Treble had no additional emphasis that I noticed (spikes, etc). Just clean, clear sound.


There was no change in the quantity of the mids or treble but the additional power may have provided more control. Bass quality was also probably better but these are light on bass to begin with. I did not spend the time (potentially an hour or more) to try and pin down any minute differences.


Overall I find it to be a neutral DAC with perhaps a hint of warmth. Although that could just be the increased dynamic range it does present compared to the lower powered Galaxy S5's 3.5mm output.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone else looking for a compact and robust solution to having a 3.5mm output. One that isn't wireless or requires charging separately.

___________________________________________


Note: There is even a TC35I with lightening connector for apple users. It should work the same but I can't verify as I don't have either.
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Jacobal
Jacobal
Never liked the Dragonfly much, so I’ll try this. Help me find an American retailer
Jacobal
Jacobal
The issue with audio is we all share different perceptions. One might say the Dragonfly makes the iPhone sound so much butter, but I say it barely made any difference (tried both Red & Black). Now a real breakthrough improvement in audio came when I tried the Chord Mojo. That was a game changer, where I noticed a significant improvement over the iPhone’s built-in DAC.

No idea how the ddHiFi TC35 compares with the Mojo.
assassin10000
assassin10000
I've never heard the Mojo so I couldn't say. Given the form factor, I doubt this approaches what the Mojo can do.

Yes, it's better than most phones 3.5mm output. But no it's not going to be better than much more serious self powered DAC/AMP units.

Headphones and Coffee

Previously known as Wretched Stare
Pros: Small, solid build, looks great, a noticeably improved volume and sound. Microphone and remote work with it in.
Cons: honestly nothing
This was a good step up in sound quality and quantity of volume for such a tiny Micro DAC I was impressed. Comes in eco friendly packaging that is very nice looking to.

The build quality is a 10 out of 10, so solid and light yet very premium looking and feels solid IMO. The device supports a remote with microphone too a big plus.

Conclusion: Very simply put another great looking and useful product from ddHiFi. I doubt you will find a better or smaller alternative to the many dongle DAC's out now.

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ISOLordByron
ISOLordByron
@Jacobal ??? It HAS to be a DAC, it's converting digital signal into analog signal to drive your transducer.
Jacobal
Jacobal
So if it’s an actual DAC and contains a legit DAC chip to improve audio, I’ll consider buying it
L
lenwong24
I hopeful they will sound pretty decent. Just wanted something more compact to use when I don't have the luxury of bringing my Hip DAC around
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