iFi Audio announces hip-dac3

iFi audio has launched the third generation of its hip-dac (HFC 461), the hugely popular DAC/headphone amp that’s designed to look like a hip flask.

The company says: “The original hip-dac caught the eye in Petrol Blue, while the hip-dac2 stepped up a gear in Sunset Orange. For the hip-dac3, iFi has created Titanium Shadow – a warm, subtle grey that changes tone in different lights, with hints of bronze and vintage gold.”

Further changes include the addition of two USB-C ports – one for audio, the other for charging (the previous generations used USB-A for audio). There is also a switch on the underside to engage IEMatch – a proprietary circuit designed to optimise the amp’s output to better suit high-sensitivity headphones and earphones, reduce background hiss, enhance detail and dynamic range, and increase the usable range of the volume control.

The DAC section is based around a Burr-Brown chipset that allows DSD and PCM audio data to take separate pathways, thereby remaining ‘bit-perfect’ throughout conversion. Data is supported at sample rates up to 384kHz PCM and up to DSD256, while MQA decoding is also included. Either side of the rotary volume control is a pair of LEDs that change colour to indicate the format and sample rate of the incoming audio.

The amp stage can deliver up to 400mW into a 32ohm headphone load, ensuring compatibility with a wide range of head and earphones with power to spare. The amp stage features switchable gain and PowerMatch, which matches the level of drive to the headphone load, adjusting input sensitivity and signal strength.

XBass is another user-selectable feature – a form of ‘bass boost’ designed to enhance low frequencies without muddying the midrange. It operates entirely in the analogue domain and can be switched in or out of the signal path. The hip-dac3’s asynchronous USB-C audio input handles data up to 32-bit/384kHz. IFi says including a separate USB-C port for charging maintains a dedicated audio input for the purest signal path and means you can use the hip-dac3 while connected to the mains.

Two outputs are provided: a 3.5mm socket for headphones with a single-ended cable/connector and a 4.4mm balanced output. In addition, the 3.5mm output benefits from iFi’s proprietary S-Balanced circuitry, cutting crosstalk and related distortion in half.

The hip-dac3’s 2200mAh battery lasts for around 7-12 hours of playing time between charges, depending on volume level and how power-hungry the connected headphone is. It comes bundled with a USB-C OTG (On-The-Go) cable, a USB-A-to-USB-C adaptor and a USB-C-to-Lightning cable for iOS devices equipped with Apple’s proprietary connector.

Available to buy now for £200, you can find out more on the hip-dac 3 here.

iFi Audio