iFi has just released a new and improved Hip-DAC, the Hip-DAC V2. This portable DAC/Amp runs for $189, and has big shoes to fill with how popular the original Hip-DAC was. The Hip-DAC is one of my go-to recommendations, especially for newcomers to the audio world, so I’m excited to talk about this new iteration.
What's in the Box
- Hip-DAC V2
- USB 3.0 Cable
- USB-A to USB-C Cable
- OTG Cable
The Hip-DAC V2 has an identical build to the original Hip-DAC. On the back we have a USB 3.0 Type A digital input and USB-C charging port. On the front, there’s a balanced 4.4mm and 3.5mm input. There’s also a volume knob on the front, which has a low profile, making accidental adjustments less likely. Like the original Hip-DAC, I appreciate that the V2 is small enough to fit in your pocket next to your phone or DAP.
The Hip-DAC V2 utilizes the brand new 16-core XMOS chip and supports full MQA decoding, as apposed to the original Hip-DAC, which only offered rendering. The GMT clock system has been upgraded to eradicate jitter and enhance sound quality. And finally, of course, it has been painted a bright orange. The Hip-DAC V2 features “PowerMatch” and “XBass” functions. PowerMatch “matches the level of drive to the load presented by the headphones,” giving some added torque to those extra power hungry pairs. XBass is a bass boost that operates in the analogue domain instead of interacting with the digital signal via DSP.
The Hip-DAC V2 feels like it warms up the bottom end and helps purify/polish up the top end. There’s an audible high end boost, so make sure that’s something you’re ok with when considering this DAC. Lows feel more groomed and cleansed, while mids are given a bit of a stronger bite. I found the automatic modulation offered by the Hip-DAC especially excelled at making more affordable IEMs, such as the Final Audio A4000, sound a bit more expensive. When used with pricier models, such as the Kinera Nanna, it still preserved the overall character of the IEM, but helped elevate it and built upon its pre-existing technical expertise.
When it comes to the power match and XBass functions, these definitely worked better on some headphones than others, unsurprisingly. The power match function was of course optimal for harder to drive headphones, but I also found myself using it with more average leveled models, as it seemed to increase the amps added color. The XBass function adds a hefty boost, similar to the bass boosts offered on other iFi DACs and amps, such as the Zen DAC V2. This boost could be overwhelming on some headphones and IEMs, and I found myself implementing it conservatively. To me, the XBass seemed perfect for any headphone that feels lacking in the low end, as it will neutralize that hollowness, and often even add some extra power after the fact.
With its small size, reasonable price, unique character, and versatility, the Hip-DAC V2 proves a successful upgrade of its predecessor. The Hip-DAC V1 was already a home run for me, and the V2 felt like a victory lap. If you’re looking for a relatively portable DAC, but still want some controls and a large dose of power, the Hip-DAC V2 is hard to pass up.
You can purchase the iFi Hip-DAC V2 here.