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hip-dac USB DAC/headphone amp looks like a hip flask

Cool design and an audio boost for your pocket.

USB DAC/headphone amp

UK audio gear maker iFi has launched a new USB DAC/headphone amp with the claim that it delivers “sound as flavorsome and richly detailed as a delicious single malt.” The hip-dac tucks into your back pocket just like a flask.

USB DAC/headphone amp

The new digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is designed to replace inferior audio circuitry found in many smartphones, tablets and computers.

The hip-dac USB DAC/headphone amp features a Burr-Brown DAC chip and custom iFi circuitry for Hi-Res PCM and DXD audio file support at sampling rates of up to 374 kHz, and up to DSD256. The DAC chip handles PCM and DSD formats separately so that the latter can remain what iFI calls “bit-perfect” all the way through analog conversion. LEDs to the side of the rotary volume dial up top – which has the look of a hip flash stopper – different colors ishow the audio format and sampling rates in play.

The hip-dac features balanced audio circuitry at the analog stage, selected for noise reduction. The portable audio enhancer has custom op-amp, ceramic capacitors, a low-noise power supply and more.

On the headphone amp, the device has a nominal power rating of 400 mW, but can deliver more than 700 mW.

There’s also something iFi calls PowerMatch included, which adjusts input sensitivity to match the level of drive required by the cabled-up headphones. iFi says that in-ear monitors, for example, probably won’t need the technology engaged, whereas circumaural cans might.

Elsewhere, the 102 x 70 x 14-mm (4 x 2.7 x 0.5-in) DAC/amp has a 2,200 mAh battery for around 12 hours of per charge use, and comes with a bass boost feature that’s promised not to bleed into the midrange. It features USB-C and USB Type A ports, a 3.6-mm headphone jack and a Pentaconn 4.4-mm output (designed for headphones that can take advantage of balanced output). iFi has also added its proprietary S-Balanced technology to cut crosstalk and distortion in half when using high-sensitivity earphones.

You can buy it this month for $149. If you’re going to CanJam NYC 2020 on February 15-16, iFi will be there and you can check it out..

A little more detail from my colleagues at What HIFi?

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