iFi unleashes hip-dac 2
If you’ve a thirst for something snazzy, iFi Audio has updated its hip-dac (HFC 461)with internal enhancements and a brand-new colour. The hip-dac 2 comes with a Sunset Orange anodised finish applied to its aluminium enclosure, replacing the original’s Petrol Blue and the eight-core XMOS chip – which processes the data received over USB – has been replaced by a new 16-core XMOS processor, delivering double the clock speed and four times the memory. This chip was initially introduced to iFi’s latest DACs at higher price points, such as the Neo and Diablo (HFC 474), and is now trickling down to the company’s entry-level devices, including the hip-dac 2.

Other circuit improvements include a new version of iFi’s Global Master Timing (GMT) circuitry, featuring a new crystal clock to lower jitter for a purer, crisper sound. Like its predecessor, the hip-dac 2 is designed to slip into a pocket or bag to improve headphone sound. The DAC section is based around a Burr-Brown chip selected for its fluid, natural musicality and True Native architecture. This provides compatibility with formats including bit-perfect PCM, native DSD and MQA.

Hi-res PCM and DXD is supported at sampling rates up to 384kHz and DSD256. The Burr-Brown chip’s True Native design means PCM and DSD take separate pathways so they remain bit-perfect.

The hip-dac 2’s analogue amplification stage benefits from a balanced (differential) circuit design intended to help reduce signal distortion and the circuitry incorporates a custom iFi OV op-amp, TDK C0G Class 1 ceramic capacitors, a low-noise power supply IC from Texas Instruments and an analogue volume pot. The company claims the amplifier stage can deliver 400mW into a 32ohm headphone load, ensuring compatibility with a wide range of different head and earphone types, thanks to output voltage of 6.3V into 600ohm (from the balanced output).

To further tailor the output to suit the connected headphones, the amp stage features switchable gain – a feature called PowerMatch. XBass is another user-selectable feature – a form of bass boost that enhances low frequencies without muddying the midrange, which operates entirely in the analogue domain rather than messing with the digital signal via DSP and may be switched in or out of the signal path. The hip-dac 2 has two USB inputs – an asynchronous Type A for audio and C for charging. There is also a 3.5mm socket for headphones with a single-ended cable/connector and a 4.4mm Pentaconn output.

The hip-dac 2’s 2200mAh battery has a quoted running time of between 8-12 hours, depending on volume level and how power-hungry the connected headphones are. It comes bundled with three USB cables: a USB-C OTG (On-The-Go) for connecting Android devices and PCs/Macs with USB-C ports; a USB-A; and a USB-A-to-USB-C charging cable.

The hip-dac 2 comes in a 102 x 70 x 14mm (WxHxD) extruded aluminium enclosure and further protection is offer ed via a new hip-case, made from vegan-friendly ‘faux suede’ in Dove Grey, for an extra £29.

The hip-dac is available to buy now for £189 and you can find out more about it here.

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