General Information

iFi hip-dac warms the soul with intoxicating sound

With a sound as flavoursome and richly detailed as a delicious single malt, the hip-dac portable USB DAC/headphone amp delivers the perfect pick-me-up for any music lover on-the-go


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Southport, England – iFi adds to its award-winning range of portable DAC/headphone amps with an all-new design – the hip-dac.

Smartly dressed in petrol blue with a touch of copper, the go-anywhere hip-dac is designed to slip discretely into a pocket and offers an extensive hi-res specification that belies its eminently affordable £149, (€159, $149) price tag.

The hip-dac replaces the inferior DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Convertor) and amp circuitry in smartphones, tablets, PCs and Macs to vastly improve headphone sound. Its design and performance set it apart from other DAC/headphone amps in its class – connect your playback device via USB, plug in your favourite corded headphones or in-ear monitors and the hip-dac delivers a sound brimming with bold dynamism and fluid refinement, effortlessly engaging the listener with all manner of music.

In the home, in the office, on a train or plane – the hip-dac is the music lover’s inseparable friend.

Latest reviews

Antick Dhar

New Head-Fier
iFi Hip Dac- A warm flask of audio goodness?
Pros: -Solid Build construction
-phenomenal looks
-Forward and dynamic sound
-Precisely administered Bass slam on X-Bass mode
-Warm with smooth sound presentation
-Non fatiguing treble
-Excellent midrange
-Value for money
Cons: -Slow Charging
-There is no LED for signal charging level
-Average Soundstage
-Not including OTG cable for Iphone
Summary- The hip-dac portable USB DAC/headphone amp helps improve your mood by adding the delicious, full-bodied flavor of single malt whiskey to your mind.

Disclaimer- No one has paid me or given me with a review unit for this iFi Hip dac, which I bought from Gears For Ears - Bangladesh with my own money. As a result, everything I've said in this review is totally based on my own personal experiences
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Build (5/5)-
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The quality of build is Solid and great with The aluminum case feels, and the metal volume control (which also serves as a power switch) has a pleasing cooled feeling to it.

-Both the 3.5mm and balanced Pentaconn 4.4mm jacks are available. The argument is that the balanced output takes full use of the DAC's internal circuitry, and offers the hip-dac something of a unique selling proposition (USP) in today ’s market.

-The Power Match button switches between low and high gain modes.
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SPECIFICATIONS-
-Inputs: USB Type-A, USB 3.0, 3.5mm audio | Outputs: 3.5mm, 4.4mm | Bluetooth: No | Native sample rate support: PCM (up to 384kHz), DXD (up to 384kHz), DSD (up to 256kHz), MQA | Dimensions (hwd): 1.4 x 7 x 10.2cm (length) | Weight: 125g

-iFi still supports all of their features with the entry-level devices. The larger iFi devices have those X-Bass and 3D features, and they kept the X-bass on with the hip Dac.

-Up to 32-bit/384-kHz PCM and DSD256 files can be played on the hip-audio dac's output. MQA is on the menu as well. That said, there's a good possibility the hip-dac will serve as your personal music server.

-The 2200mAh Li-Poly battery is not particularly big. It lasts between five and seven hours, which is much less than I would want. Considering that I listened to it loudly, it might take you up to 8 or 9 hours if you listen quietly. The charge time is about two hours, which is again very slow.

Pairing IEMs- Dunu Zen , Dunu Titan 6 , Moondrop Aria , Final E5000, Fiio Fh3, Blon Bl-05s

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N.B Use the 3.5mm S-Balanced for those ‘hissy' IEMs. Your single-ended connection gives you access to all the advantages of balanced audio. In my review sessions, though, I tend to utilize the 4.4 balanced output most often.

Sound Section (5/5)

Tonality- Warm, Smooth, Full

Bass
- The IFi Hip DAC's sound is controlled by its bass slam, which is the greatest section of its sound. This brand of Burr Brown Dac chips is famous. And the primary bass has a lot of substance. For most entry-level headphones, this amp offers excellent dynamics. When it comes to bass-loving headphones and IEMs with poor bass or bright tuning, the X-Bass may actually be useful as it is not boomy. The X- bass works very well, and with Moondrop Aria and Dunu Zen, it was a wonderful experience and extremely detailed.

Mids- The mids have an energetic yet detailed tone, with a forward but punchy sound. Even though it has a little thickness to it, the midrange sounds so dynamic. With music from artists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Safkat Amanat Ali, the iFi provides lots of punch and energetic sounds that are powerful, open and expressive. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's unique voice comes through with complexity, while the background music is so good.

Treble- It's full, rich, and extremely smooth in the treble. In other words, a less fatiguing, smoother presentation is offered.

Soundstage – The soundstage is basically average and does not have an immersive soundstage. But after the GTO filter update, it increased and presented a decent soundstage. In imaging, I gave it a go with the GTO filter, but I felt little toward it on soundstage and separation.

Again, I really appreciated how the portable DAC/AMP adjusted for the tricky harmonic circumstances while listening to just a few songs. The Hip DAC has a warmer sound yet is still forward and dynamic. As a result, when I paired the Hip-dac with DUNU Zen, a notable peak in the upper midrange was entirely gone from Dunu Zen surprisingly.
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Conclusion

It has a sleek and absent of harsh edges appearance. It takes a lot of energy to listen to a hip-dac for long periods of time, and you won't feel fatigued subsequently. In addition to that, the battery life, which is only adequate for one day of use, is a little disappointing. A second two-hour charge is required, although you may still use it during this time. I would recommend updating the GTO filter after purchasing the hip Dac. Lastly, for the price, this is the best value for the money and Hip Dac won't let you down.
Antick Dhar
Antick Dhar
S
Sifat Redwan
Great review ! Can this power the Hifiman 400se ?
T
tonymcross
Thanks for the review! Could you compare sound quality between 3.5 usual and 3.5 balance?

Sajid Amit

1000+ Head-Fier
Pocket Rocket!
Pros: Sound Quality, A well-executed Bass Boost, Build Quality, Looks, basically everything!
Cons: Charges a tad slowly, but nitpicking here!
Mini Review:

Using a Burr-Brown DAC Chip, the iFi Hip DAC offers surprisingly good sound quality for its price. I managed to get a review unit from Gears for Ears, a leading audiophile store in Bangladesh, and was very impressed. For reference, I am used to large desktop amps and dacs. My current setup is a Holo Audio May DAC and an Accuphase e380 Integrated Amplifier which I use to drive both headphones and speakers.

This is a warm sounding DAC Amp combo with 400 mW of power, which is enough to drive headphones. Both my Focal Clear and Sennheiser HD 650 were driven well. I used the Final Audio A8000 which can be analytical, and while the Hip DAC represented the A8000's sound signature well, I did notice a slight dip in lower treble, compared to the upper treble.

The bass-boost function works exceedingly well, and it was rollicking good fun with the Sennheisher HD 650. :)

Video Review:

Samin Zaman
Samin Zaman
Exilent Bhai ❤️
Somatic
Somatic
Do you think the Hip Dac is worth it for the A8000? How is the sound different than stock IPhone? I have a Chord TT2 that I can use in desktop mode but wondering what a good portable solution would be for the A8000. Thanks.

asifur

100+ Head-Fier
IFI Hipdac - The new DAC/AMP champ for the price category
Pros: + Great design & Build Quality
+ Balanced Output of 4.4mm with regular 3.5mm
+ Clean Sound
+ Powerful enough to drive most IEMs
Cons: - Battery Life
- Slow charging
- Shallow Soundstage
IFI Hipdac - The new DAC/AMP champ for the price category

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Disclaimer:

I have bought this Dac/Amp with my own hard earned money and no one has paid me anything or supplied me with any review unit. So, everything mentioned in this review are purely my own based on my experiences with the Dac/Amp.

Introduction:

IFI Hip-dac is the newest portable integrated amplifier and DAC designed to replace your smartphone’s audio output. Featuring a BurrBrown DAC and MQA decoding, the hip-dac is priced at $149.

It seems like IFI has taken the guts of the excellent, desktop-based Zen DAC and crammed them into a smaller, battery-powered form into Hip-dac.
The Hip-dac is simply the best-looking portable DAC/Amp I've come across, and it performs pretty well too.
Priced at $149, the hip-dac isn’t too pricey for the specs it offers, and it looks great, to boot. Its luxurious petroleum-blue and copper finish alongside its hipflask-like design (hence the name) means it is, weirdly enough, a DAC you really want to show off – and it’s small enough to slip into your pocket with ease.

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While there’s no support for Bluetooth, there are lots of connectivity options and it supports pretty much every codec you could think of, meaning all your Hi-Res Audio needs should be met.

The Hip-dac uses Burr-Brown DAC chip, which IFI claims ensures audio formats to stay "bit-perfect" right through to analogue conversion, as well as eradicating digital distortion. A PowerMatch button means that it can drive just about any IEMs with ease – although very power-hungry Headphones can reduce the stated battery life of 8 – 12 hours significantly.
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Specifications Summary:

The specifications as mentioned in IFI website is below:
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Audio Performance:

Following are the key traits when it comes to sound:
- Clean Sound
- Warmish Tuning
- Bass boosting feature which can enhance bass quite a bit
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In summary, the Hip-dac is a very powerful and clean sounding dac/amp for the price.
I use Qobuz mainly and have paired it with both iPhone and Hiby R6 pro DAP and in both cases found the performance to be great in all occasions.

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Furthermore, I had paired the hip-dac with quite a selection of IEMs... such as: Fiio FD5, Fiio FH7, Kbear Believe, Dunu Zen, Mee Audio Pinnacle P1, Meze Rai Solo, Final Audio VR3000, etc.. and the list goes on...

The tracks I have used can be found from the below playlist that I have used and generally use for most reviews...



The hip-dac provides a detailed, well-balanced sound, and while listening to few tracks, I was impressed by how the portable DAC/AMP worked to accurately produce the complex harmonic situations, the guitar licks, the trumpet accents, the cello & pianos also sounded just great! Even for IEMs like Dunu Zen where I had noticed a noticeable peak in the Upper mids on other Dac/amps... on the Hip-dac it just vanished!

I've found the Hip-dac to be very fun-sounding, with overall clean sound, warmish tuning is something i liked quite a bit and despite the rather below average soundstage performance I have found the hip-dac performance to be very musical. this is likely the champ of the given price bracket for the performance it provides non doubt.

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R
Rizzo43
I really liked your review, very accurate. By your experience, do you know any desktop or portable Dac that has the same warm signature with a better soundstage?
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Reactions: asifur
asifur
asifur
@Rizzo43 I would recommend the @iFi audio Nano Black Label for affordable portable solution as it's the similar size of hip-dac with more height. But doesn't come with 4.4mm port. If you need the 4.4mm port and more power I would highly recommend that you go for @iFi audio Micro iDSD Signature which I have reviewed also.
Samin Zaman
Samin Zaman
If Value For The Money Had A Face

Comments

JoshG1217

1000+ Head-Fier
Anyone tried connecting es100 to hipdac? Love the hipdac, but wondering if that would help make it less bulky on the go.
 

JoshG1217

1000+ Head-Fier
So, got thr hip dac again after returning it the first time. Did some A/B connecting it with my G8 vs my m11. Hip dac has a noticeable hiss. M11 pro is dead quiet. Hipd ac has thr bass boost, which sounds great. Hip dac runs over ear better, whereas with the m11 Pro, I have to turn the volume waaaay up to drive my phantoms. In terms of clarity, stage, etc, I can't tell a difference yet. I remember thinking the m11 had better treble resolution prior, but I need to test again. So much time spent to eak out miniscule differences.
 

JasonLucas

New Head-Fier
Zen dac and
Hip dac sound quite different, zen is mellow and hip is more
Detailed and edgy , which I prefer

micro signature is thx level neutral but full
 
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