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✒️ Written by Kah Hon | 📷 Photo credit : Hai Wei
The wildly successful Hip Dac which came out nearly 2 years ago, has once again graced us with an updated version of their slim portable design DAC/amp combo, sporting the same comfortable, portable hip flask shape but now with a new anodized metallic bronze orange colour.
While the exterior looks remain the same, it’s what’s under the hood that gets interesting. The main highlight of the Hip DAC V2 is the addition of full MQA coding support. What this means is that it can now do the complete “3-fold” decoding for MQA tracks, compared to the majority of other MQA DAC/amps which would only support “2-fold” decoding only. This is a huge upgrade considering most MQA-supporting DAC/amps that can do full decoding are priced way above the Hip DAC.
iFi has also upgraded the jitter clock with a new GMT femto-precision clock, allowing for lower jitter, producing a more precise, accurate sound. The previous 8-core XMOS chip used for USB procession also received a new 16-core XMOS chip upgrade with improved digital processing, further elevating the Hip DAC v2’s sound quality. As common tradition with the iFi product line, the Xbass button still remains, giving users the ability to add more analogue bass boost without affecting the DSP as well as Power Match, a feature that matches the gain output to the headphone plugged in, allowing the Hip DAC V2 to drive power hungry headphones but also sensitive IEMs without introducing hiss.
The sound of the Hip DAC V2 is a dynamic one, with a clear and authoritative sound, along with a nice gentle mid bass boost while adding some sparkle to the highs. The Hip DAC signature has always evoked a more fun, musical tuning, adding warmth which greatly compliments neutral/analytical sounding headphones and IEMS. Switch on the Xbass button and you get possibly one of the best implemented bass boost for portable DAC/amp combos go, adding more subbass without compromising or intruding into the mids. This feature greatly improves the overall experience if you find your open back headphones or treble sensitive gear in need for more rumble and thump.
Compared to the first generation Hip DAC (v1), the overall sound signature largely remains the same. The Hip DAC v2’s treble is ever so slightly smoothed off, but in return adding a smidge more fuller sound. The new jitter clock does make the PRAT more tighter and precise, having a crisper sound. Only by comparing the 2 of them side by side will you hear a difference in sound, and even then, it is minuscule.
The Hip DAC V2 continues its success by keeping all the great existing features that we know and love from the previous generation while tweaking and upgrading the internal circuitry to provide an even better future proof package. If you are looking for a portable, powerful DAC/amp combo to plug into your laptop or phone on the go, this is one to shortlist.
◆ New anodised Metallic bronze orange colour
◆ New custom 16-core XMOS chip
◆ iFi GMT femto-precision jitter clock
◆ Full “3 fold” MQA decoding support
◆ “Xbass” boost button
◆ S-Balanced output for both 3.5mm & 4.4mm
◆ “PowerMatch” switchable gain function
◆ 2200mAH battery with 8-12 hours playtime