iFi hip-dac2, not only the new Sunset Orange color, but iFi hip-dac2 also has a new 16-core XMOS chip, which processes data over USB, delivers double the clock speed, and four times the memory. This improves overall performance and adds full MQA decoding to the hip-dac2‘s skill set. There is also an upgraded crystal clock which contributes to the purer, crisper sound.
The Burr-Brown DAC chip selected for its True Native architecture, together with iFi custom circuitry, enables the hip-dac2 to deliver sound quality across digital audio formats, including bit-perfect PCM, native DSD, and MQA.
The upgraded crystal clock eradicates jitter (digital distortion), using iFi’s GMT femto precision clocking system. This maintains the integrity of the digital signal until conversion to analog and enhances sound quality.
Thanks to the XMOS 16 core tech, the hip-dac2 is now an MQA Decoder rather than a Renderer only. This enables you to playback MQA audio files and streams, delivering the sound of the original master recording. The LED glows green or blue to indicate that the unit is decoding and playing an MQA stream or file, and denotes provenance to ensure that the sound is identical to that of the source material. It glows blue to indicate it is playing an MQA Studio file, which has either been approved in the studio by the artist/producer or has been verified by the copyright owner.
The hip-dac2’s amp circuitry, like the original, is of balanced (differential) design. The circuitry incorporates a range of high-quality components, carefully selected for their performance in an audio context, including a custom iFi OV op-amp, TDK C0G class 1 ceramic capacitor, a precision low-noise power supply IC from Texas Instruments, and a high-quality analog volume pot.
The headphone amp delivers 660mW of power from the balanced output (520mW from the single-ended output) into a 32-ohm load – ensuring compatibility with a wide range of headphones. With a rating of 200mW from the balanced output into a 300-ohm load, it drives most power-hungry headphones with ease.
The amp stage features switchable gain, called PowerMatch. This matches the level of drive to the load presented by the headphones, by adjusting input sensitivity and thereby signal strength. The lower setting is used with high-sensitivity headphones. If headphones require more drive, PowerMatch is used to increase gain.
XBass is another user-selectable feature – a form of ‘bass boost’ that enhances low frequencies without muddying the midrange, particularly useful with earphones and open-back headphones that may lack deep bass. It operates entirely in the analog domain rather than messing with the digital signal via DSP.
There are two USB ports – Type A for audio data and USB-C for charging. The Type-A port features a male connector to provide greater mechanical integrity than USB/micro USB ports commonly found on other DAC/headphone amps.
Two outputs are provided – a 3.5mm socket for headphones with a single-ended cable/connector and a Pentaconn 4.4mm output enabling headphones equipped with balanced connectivity to take full advantage of the hip-dac2’s differential amp design.
In addition, the 3.5mm output benefits from iFi’s proprietary S-Balanced circuitry, cutting crosstalk and related distortion in half when used with regular, single-ended headphone connections – this is especially beneficial with high-sensitivity in-ear monitors.