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Xuelin H6 (ihifi1969) review and impressions

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by ilmothedude, Nov 26, 2018.
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  1. ilmothedude
    Xuelin H6 or ihifi1969 as I like to call it seems pretty unpopular here, so since I own one I'd like to write something about it. I have grown to like Xuelin brand after I purchased their ihifi780 dap, and since ihifi1969 uses same UI and button/screen layout aswell navigation wheel, and since I love navigation and UI on 780, 1969 was logical upgrade for me. So let's begin!

    IMG_20181126_115459.jpg
    Package
    My Xuelin ihifi1969 came in plain but hard and sturdy cardboard box, which includes: (p)leather case for player and micro usb cable, manual in chinese and english, two usb wall adapters (us and eu plugs) and customer card.

    IMG_20180910_172008.jpg
    Appereance
    Looks of ihifi1969 is pretty unique, matte silver color and interesting shape. Build quality feels topnotch. It might look a bit dull in pictures, but it's pretty elegant in real life. I like it. It's still a bit large sized, so it's not maybe most preferred pocket player on the go. Also the fact that it has Class A amplifier inside means it might get very warm when in pocket for prolonged time. I haven't used mine as pocket player too much, so I can't comment too much about that, but I've used it some time under blanket when in bed and it indeed got quite warm. Maybe front panel stripe texture is actually intended to help ventilation when used in pocket... However when it's playing uncovered, it only gets very slightly warm, so it doesn't seems to be a problem at all, only something worth to mention.

    h6 sides.jpg
    User interface and usability
    Ihifi1969 shares almost exactly same UI as ihifi780. Left side of 1969 has four bigger buttons (play, previous, next and back), two switches (gain low/high and side-screen on/off) and small button (main-screen off or song delete in folder view). Right side has side-screen which shows nice spectrum visualization while playing. On top of player there's single-end 3.5mm headphone jack and balanced 2.5mm trrs headphone jack. Underside has reset pin-hole, micro sd slot and micro usb port. Volume wheel goes through the player and is used to navigate menus and to control the volume. Ihifi1969 also supports lrc synced lyrics like 780 also does but for some reason it dismisses the first line if it starts right from 0:00:00 seconds. I don't know what's the actual safe margin for first lyric line, but I've used 1 second (0:01:00) and it works alright.

    Here's little chart of firmware and settings I made, I hope it makes sense.

    h6 fw strip.jpg

    Xuelin ihifi1969 has resume feature. Boot time is very good, approximately 5 seconds from button pressing to hearing the music. Volume wheel controls volume only on "now playing" screen, otherwise it scrolls menu lists. It's very fast and easy to control menus with wheel. You can return to "now playing" screen very quickly at any time by pressing "back" button many times and selecting "now playing" icon.
    I always liked navigation system on 780 very much and 1969 is maybe even better. Reason is that 1969 is much bigger and since the scroll wheel is also bigger which means it's also easier to use. It's usable with both hands, but interestingly enough I find left hand usage more convenient, which suits me as I'm lefty. I have pretty big hands so I can't say if it's convenient with smaller hands though.

    ihifi1969 VE Zen.jpg
    Ihifi1969 and VE Zen Omega. Side screen shows a cool real-time visualization of playing song.

    Sound
    Sound quality is simply wonderful! I mostly pair ihifi1969 with Soundmagic E80, Fiio EX1 2nd gen and VE Zen 2.0, and they all sound fantastic. Note that Zen is 320ohm and not the easiest to drive, but I think ihifi1969 drives it very well. I think sound is very balanced and natural. Soundstage and imaging are amazing. Soundstage has very good width, and depth. Sound feels very 3 dimensional with a lot of air in it, which gives sound realistic tone, and all the details are easily heard. Afterall it's Class A amplifier, and it's said that Class A amplifiers alter the sound very little, so maybe that's why ihifi1969 sounds so natural. Backround is completely black, no hiss at all. Sound is so non fatiguing and airy that sometimes I forget I'm listening headphones. Volume control might be the best digital volume control I've encountered, finally one that has small enough steps across the whole volume range when increasing volume, it's heavenly, very important feature for me. There's four different filter settings in music settings, but honestly I'm not sure if I hear any changes at all, or maybe my ears just aren't golden enough. :grin: EDIT: Filters definitely change sound in high treble, it's easily heard with pink or white noise. Note that you have to confirm the selection before filter makes effect to sound. Sharp roll-off filter is brightest, slow roll-off filter rolls high-treble off most. Short delay sharp roll-off is sligthly more rolled-off than sharp roll-off, and Short delay slow roll-off is slightly less rolled-off than slow roll-off filter. I don't know what exactly those short delay filters actually do, but they seem to sound different as described. Differences aren't however massive and are difficult to hear in normal music for me personally.

    I've also tested balanced 2.5mm output, and sound seems a bit better as for soundstage depth imaging and more air. Ihifi1969 also has lineout but I haven't used it much as I feel I don't have portable amp on par with ihifi1969's internal amp. There's unfortunately slight cut-off in beginning of songs, but it's not too bad. In certain situations, such as when pausing the song, then moving to next track and pressing play, there's kind of hiss/pop combination sound which is pretty annoying. But normally song changing is silent (from 3.5mm single-end output).

    IMG_20181125_130839.jpg
    There's micro usb port on left side of board, but no hole on case. What's it for?

    Getting more technical
    Xuelin ihifi1969 has Omron G6K-2F-Y relay on 3.5mm single-end output, but interestingly not on 2.5mm balanced output. Balanced output has slight pop/zap sound when changing tracks (it's not too bad), and powering on and off. There's also something that feels like bad design, when pressing play shortly when dap is powered off, there's quite loud popping sound and it's really not recommended to do this because it also outputs some dc offset spikes to headphones. Note that you don't have to do that in normal operation, and normal powering on (long press on play button) doesn't do that bad popping sound. Still the fact this is happening is a bad design imo. I bet Omron relay on 3.5mm output is there to protect headphones from that flaw. There is (or was) also something strange going on with relay, and some chinese users seem to have reported the same issue, so my ihifi1969 isn't the only one with the issue, which is kind of concerning. Thing is, that Omron relay caused sometimes imbalance problem right channel being weaker sometimes, panning sound to left. It happened rarely but got more frequent, amount of imbalance varied each time relay clicked (pausing and song changing makes relay to click, muting channels). Problem became so annoying that I decided to remove the relay and short it, because I knew from balanced output what kind of popping sounds I would be dealing with, and actually when gain is set low, those pop/zap sounds aren't even as loud (balanced output is fixed to high gain). I still bet that a lot of ihifi1969's won't have that bad relay problem, but I'm not sure what could be causing this in a first place. I would believe that since Omron is major manufacturer, their relays should be good quality (and I don't doubt it) so I wonder if there is or was some kind of problem in Xuelin's production line.

    Relay removed and shorted:
    h6 relay jumped.jpg

    Summary
    Even though there's some issues and relay was bad, I still absolutely love Xuelin ihifi1969 dap. It sounds really fantastic, it's powerful to drive phones, battery life is good (13 hours advertised, haven't measured but it feels long enough), volume adjustment is great, fast to boot up and fast music library navigation.

    IMG_20181125_111922.jpg

    All questions are warmly welcome! :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
  2. gazzington
    I have recently got a XUELIN IHIFI990 and absolutely love it. Powerful, portable with a great sound. I'll definitely be trying more xuelin daps in the future
     
  3. ilmothedude
    Cool, nice to hear. I bet it's awesome dap :L3000:
     
  4. Nayparm
    Great post, I've been looking at these, my IHIFI990 is my favorite DAP
    Is the EQ on the 1969 only 5 band ?
    So with bypassing the Omron most of your issues are OK (apart from the pops)
    The 990 has the same Omron, i've had no issues with it, I had planned on bypassing the relay, but only as part of my (possible) upgrade project, new caps, better battery etc.

    Hi Gazz :wink:

    990.jpg
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
  5. ilmothedude
    Thanks! :ksc75smile: Yes EQ has only those 5 bands that are shown on EQ screen of chart photo. Yeah there's no other problems but those pops, afterall balanced output is on default without relay so my single-end output just behaves the same way as it does now. I of course would prefer relay there if it worked without problems, but since I can live with pops I'm not installing new relay at least for now. I don't think there's really sound quality loss that relay would cause, altough all switch contacts do affect but very minimal way.
     
  6. Nayparm
    Cool :wink:

    You could try a Hongfa HFD4/5-S relay instead of the Omron G6K-2F-Y
     
  7. Nayparm
    I might get one of these :)
     
  8. ilmothedude
    Thanks for a tip! Looks like its pin spacing is exactly same. :)
     
  9. Nayparm
    No worries dude, yep a direct replacement :wink:
     
  10. Andrei Sprogis
    I’ve ordered this player for the very sweet price (250$). But there are no information about comparability with MacBook. Can I use it as usb-DAC?
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
  11. ilmothedude
    Ihifi1969 doesn't work as usb dac, unfortunately. But great price, where did you buy it?
     
  12. Andrei Sprogis
    Thanks for information.
    Here in Russia, there are several reviews comparing 1969 directly to AK Ultima 1000.
    The price difference is almost x10. Does this little guy sound that good?
    I’m still waiting the delivery...
     
  13. Andrei Sprogis
    Through a local Chinese vendor on a platform similar to AliExpress (Pandao). They had a Black Friday sale with a 50% discount.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
  14. ilmothedude
    I don't have any other such high end players as ihifi1969, so I can't really compare how good it actually is, but it competes very well with my desktop gear, which seems quite impressive itself. Keep in mind that AK has quite a bit more features and apparently luxurious build quality which may affect to its price quite a bit.
     
  15. Andrei Sprogis
    I know just a little bit about AK. I’ve used their new beginner model SR15 and I wasn’t that impressed) so I hope that 1969 will deliver more solid sound.
     
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