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M2 Tech HiFace usb dac

Rating:
4.25/5,
  1. martelanc24
    Clean and clear sounding 24bit/384kHz plastic stick
    Written by martelanc24
    Published Apr 10, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - easy to setup and use, clean, clear, detailed, emphasis on the trebble
    Cons - soundstage, les emphasis on the low end
    I was looking at DACs in the price range of 100€ to 150€ to use with my Objective 2 headphone amplifier. Objective DAC and USB powered Modi 2 were the two I narrowed it down to. Both at arroud 125€ in Europe. But the ODAC (revB) only goes up to 24/96 so that meant a lot of downsampleing, the USB powered Modi 2 had reports of USB noise, or at least the first Modi did.
    Then I saw the M2 Tech HiFace DAC which retails for 150€ to 190€, but used at half the price. There is not a lot of reviews of this DAC online, but still in most of those reviews the main downside is the build.
     
     
    Packaging:
     
    The box it comes in is roughly 100x135x40 mm, it has a sleeve around it with the graphics and on the back a hand written serial number. The same one is also hand written on the device. Inside there is a white box. When you open it up there is foam, in fact there is foam all around the DAC so you can kick the box and the HiFace DAC would be safe.  I did not get any papers inside, but I bought it used so I am not sure if it originally came with any papers.
     
     
    Build:
     
    It feels like a cheap 88x14x20 mm orange USB stick with a thin plastic housing. The plastic 3.5 mm output is sturdy and it will securely hold you plug in. The writing is actually stickers, this goes fort he front and the back, the one in the back is not applied on straight. On the back it says MADE IN ITALY, right next to this there is the hand written serial number. And above it says DOWNLOAD MANUAL FROM WWW.M2TECH.BIZ, so maybe there was not supposed to be any documentation with the device after all. The previous owner did open the device because there is marks from a screwdriver on the seem. So now the two plastic halves do not align and the DAC squeaks when you squeeze it.
     
     
    Some specifications:
     
    Taken from www.m2tech.biz website.
     
    Input USB 2.0 Audio Format
    Output stereo analog
     
    Sampling Frequency
    44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4khz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz

    Resolution
    16 up to 32 bit
     
    Output voltage:
    2.0Vrms @10kOhms
     
    Frequency response:
    5-22kHz (fs=44.1kHz)
    5-150kHz (fs=384kHz)

    THD+N:
    112dB (@ 1kHz, A-weighted)
     
    Weight:
    20gr approx.
     
     
    In use:
     
    On Linux, you plug it in, select the output device and it works. On windows it is the same, but if you want to go beyond 24/96 you need drivers. You download them from the website www.m2tech.biz and it is 1.5MB in size. Then install, select your preferences and you are set. It only takes a few minutes. I tested all the advertised sampling rates and frequencies, they all work with no problem or extra settings. I have this DAC for 6 months now and all that time it has been plugged in my PC. There were only three times it stopped working. I just unplugged it, plugged it back in and it worked again. So I would say it is reliable and extremely easy to use. It also does not get warm. If you touch it with cold hands you can just feel some warmth. So cool operation.
     
     
    Sound:
     
    Tested on Sennheiser HD580, HD215 and Takstar ts-671 and the Objective2. After getting this DAC I noticed how much the Sennheiser HD215 and Takstar ts-671 lack behind the Sennheiser HD580. Listening to the three with no DAC, they sounded pretty similar, but with the M2 Tech HiFace DAC, the HD580 is just clearer, more detailed, less muddy than the other two. Bas salso improved on the HD580, not in quantity, but in quality. The sound is just pleasurable. And when listening to the HD215 or ts-671 there is just something missing.
     
    In general the DAC is detailed, I would say there are more highs than lows. But at the same time the sound is not fatiguing, you can listen to it for extended periods of time. The vocals always come to the front. By this I mean when someone starts singing, it is the main portion of the sound and the instruments get less noticeable. The bass is just enough for me, I do not like a lot of bass, and here you hear it when you are supposed to hear it, so it does not overpower anything. Therefore the DAC is flat, leaning slightly towards highs.
     
    Or I am describing my amplifier and headphones, because good DACs do not have a sound?? Check the reviews for the HD580 and the Objective2 and then asses if the sound I described here is to your liking. There are a lot of reviews for both.
     
     
    Use as a DAC/AMP:
     
    This is also advertised and yes it does work. My HD580 gets slightly to loud on already loud songs bust slightly below listening levels on quieter songs. For my taste at least. I listen to music at slightly lower volumes, so I assume for most it would be slightly to underpowered. It does change the sound a little. The bass is more in quantity, less highs and there is less detail all around. I used it with no amplifier just a few times so that may not be entirely accurate. But the feature is there and it works just perfectly if you want to use it like that.
     
     
    Imaging and soundstage:
     
    The horizontal sounds coming from the front sound like they are coming from in between your ears, and not from in front of you. You have to focus picturing the performer in front of you to move the sound slightly forward in your head. But really the sound is coming from in between your ears.
    From the left, right and rear, horizontal sounds come from around you. By this I mean you can hear how far an instrument or performer is away from you.
    Vertical sounds, for example in test tracks with a single instrument changing heights, you can clearly hear the height of the instrument. This also holds true fort he front.
     
     
    Noise:
     
    With the volume maxed out on my Objective2 (on high gain of 6.5X or 16dB) with nothing playing and making sure nothing is going to play, so I do not blow out my ears, there is no noise, no buzzing, no nothing, absolutely quiet.
     
     
    Conclusion:
     
    A few main points. The M2 Tech HiFace DAC is plug and play on Linux, on Windows it takes a few minutes of your time install the 1.5MB driver. After that it just works, but only stereo.
    The sound is detailed, with more highs than lows but at the same time not fatiguing. The bass is detailed but less in quantity, you hear it when you are supposed to hear it.
    The only downside is the build quality and the lack of additional inputs and outputs. But for my use not an issue.
    The value is high if you can find it used for less than 90€. For the retail price I would recommend you look at something else.
  2. ExpatinJapan
    M2 Tech HiFace 24/384 DAC
    Written by ExpatinJapan
    Published Sep 19, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Works well with pc.mac etc, clear, great clarity
    Cons - bit bright for iphones, needs CCK, needs lots of volume on mobile devices, soundstage narrow, more height than width

    M2Tech HiFace 24/384 USB DAC Review - Expatinjapan

     Head Pie 
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    I met M2Tech at the Fujiya Avic headphone show in Tokyo in April and talked with a representative of the company about their products. They were in one of the back side rooms which are often not so populated so we had a decent amount of time to talk. We swapped cards and later I was contacted and offered one of their M2Tech HiFace DACs for review.​
     
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    Packaging
     
    Packaging is simple and effective. No needless frills.
     
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    Build.
     
    The unit itself is made of hard plastic. I would assume is it is durable enough but of course one would not want to make a habit of standing on it or tossing it around. The same for any piece of audio gear, we have to take care of the internals.
    It appears sturdy enough. Pulling and tugging at it - I can`t pull it apart.
    Construction is not 100% seamless where the two plastic halves meet, but I don`t see that as a particular major problem for this device.
     
    As can be seen in the pictures below, one end is the USB-A connector and the other end is a 3.5mm jack.
     
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    Use
     ​
    One can use it with an Apple CCK (camera connection kit) with a recent iphone or ipod touch or with an android device, PC or Mac according to the specifications. I myself tried it with an ipod touch 6G and a Macbook pro.
     
    It was simple plug and play. the device itself contains no amplifier, only a DAC so I did find I maxed out the volume with my IEMs.
     
    Its intended use is with a home system or a computer for best results.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    General specs (more information to be found on their website).​

     
    Hi-End Async 2.0 Audio Class USB 384/32 DAC
     
    Connections
    Input 1 x USB A type male
    Output 1 x 3.5mm stereo jack socket
I/O
     
    Standard:
    Input USB 2.0 Audio Format,
    
Output stereo analog
    Sampling Frequency
    44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4khZ, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz
    
Resolution
    16 up to 32 bit
     
    Output voltage:
    2.0Vrms @10kOhms
    Frequency response:
    5-22kHz (fs=44.1kHz)
    5-150kHz (fs=384kHz)
    THD+N:
    112dB (@ 1kHz, A-weighted)
     
    Dimensions:
    8.8(d) x 1.4(h) x 2(w)
     
    
Power Supply:
    5V DC from USB bus

    Temperature:
    0°C to 70°C
    
Weight:
    20gr approx.
     
    DETAILS 
    Highest quality stereo analog audio up to 384kHz/32bit available on your PC, Mac, Linux computer, iPad or Android tablet.
    2.0Vrms line output level, 112dB THD+N.
    Very low jitter oscillators, asynchronous 2.0 Audio Class USB.
    Also drives most medium- or high-impedance headphones.
    Highest value-for-money.
     
    Compact size (2x1.4x8.8cm) with hi-end performance hiFace DAC has been conceived to make hi-end equipment performance at hand to budget-conscious audiophiles, without any compromise. One hiFace DAC and a laptop, Mac Mini or even an iPad make for a hi-end music file source at the cost of a middle range digital interconnect.
     
    The hiFace DAC includes all necessary features to be the perfect DAC for all kind of hi-fi systems: asynchronous data transfer mode on USB 2.0, compliancy to USB 2.0 Audio Class (no drivers needed for MacOS, IOS, Linux and Android), very low phase noise oscillators and last-generation conversion IC capable of 384kHz and 32 bits.
     
    Windows users will enjoy it in Direct Sound, Kernel Streaming, WASAPI and ASIO (depending on the OS version), while Mac users will be able to take advantage from Integer mode and Direct mode.
    While the hiFace DAC output is purposely designed to give its best with amplifiers’ and preamplifiers’ line level inputs, it may also be used to drive medium- and high-impedance headphones: try it with iPhone’s in-ear headphones.
     
    [​IMG]
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    Sound
     ​
    The sound it clear and concise. It favors not the dark end but a more accurate representation of the music. It is more towards the light end,  but not bright side.
     
    Using the ipod touch 6G 128GB with Flacplayer app by Dan Leehr the CCK to the M2Tech HiFace DAC and Campfire Audio Andromeda.
     
    The sound is clear and enjoyable.
    Bass and mids seem more recessed than what I am used to.
    I suspect the M2Tech may have an output impedance of 10ohms or so due to my earlier testing sessions with the Centrance Hifi-M8 and its output impedance switches of 11, 2 and 1ohms OI.
     
    I find that I need to max out the volume to 95%+ while using the M2Tech HiFace, its a straight DAC without an amp inside.
    When I get to 98% the sound gets fuller whereas on a lesser volume the bass is reduced, the DAC has more height than width when it come to soundstage.
     
    When paired with an portable amplifier, in this case one of the earlier Penguin amps The Royal it becomes more easier to use, volume control and not having to over tax the ipod touch amplifier. But then the drawback is having one more device in the chain. I was getting hiss when I used the amp. With the Hiface DAC itself I can`t detect hiss.
     
    Using my Macbook pro with the ATH-ESW11 Ltd.Ed headphones the music was smoother and closer to what I would expect, volume was again set at a high point of 95% plus.
    Sound stage although acceptable is not as wide as I prefer, instrument separation isn`t distinct.
    Straight from the Macbook is seems to have more body to the music.
     
    This device as lacking an internal amplifier would be better suited as part of a chain for home system.
     
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    Value
    The M2Tech HiFace is $195.00 on the Amazon US site.
    There are several reviews on the Amazon site.

    Keep in mind it is designed mainly for use with a home sound system, or with a computer as source....not as a portable device. Although its manual does state it recommends mid to high impedance headphones of 32ohms or more.

    Value in this case is dependent on which function one chooses.
    Computer or home system then yes.
    Headphones 32ohms plus then yes.

    Portable device with CCK etc and IEMs then no.

     
    Overall​

    The M2Tech HiFace DAC certainly delivers on its promise to give listeners a hifi experience.
    Although I tested it with the ipod touch 6G and also my computer I suspect its intended use is more for a home stereo system.
    Its sound is clear, has great detail and clarity and playbacks music fairly accurately. I did notice bass and mids seemed to be recessed. Soundstage was narrow, there was also more height than width.
    Some might describe it as neutral but that wasn`t my experience as a portable unit.

    Whilst I could get the volume to output at acceptable levels I found I was maxing it out on both the ipod touch and my macbook pro which isn`t the best use of their internal amps. Straight out of the ipod touch headphone out I can listen at around 50% with the Campfire Andromeda, with the M2Tech HiFace DAC I had it at 95+.
    The M2Tech Hiface DAC also has plenty of competition out there with other small sized dacs and dac/amps on the market such as the Cozoy Aegis and the Audioquest Dragonfly (Black and red).

    The M2Tech HiFace DAC is recommended for headphones over 32ohms and using a computer or home system and not as a portable unit.

    To achieve maximum satisfaction this would be better used in a chain of a home system rather than with headphones.

    `While the hiFace DAC output is purposely designed to give its best with amplifiers’ and preamplifiers’ line level inputs, it may also be used to drive medium- and high-impedance headphones: try it with iPhone’s in-ear headphones.`
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    [​IMG]
     
    Thank you again to M2Tech for sending Head pie the HiFace DAC​
    -expatinjapan​