For the majority of 2021, iFi has been updating its line of DAC/Amps like the ZEN DAC and ZEN CAN. They’ve continued this busy year with Signature editions of these models as well, and of course, introducing new products like the Go Blu. One of their latest is a new version of one of their most popular pieces, the Hip-DAC. The new Hip-DAC V2 has a lot to offer, with new build qualities and features. Let’s dive into what makes the Hip-DAC V2 different from the original.
What You Get
- 1 x hip dac2
- 1 x USB 3.0 Cable
- 1 x USB-A to USB-C Cable
- 1 x OTG Cable
- 1 x User Manual
- 1 x Instruction card
The V2 almost has the exact same construction as the original, aside from its color of course. For the V2, iFi ditches the solid blue for a more vibrant orange. I like this new cosmetic change quite a bit, as it brings something new while not changing something that was never broken. Its aluminum enclosure and volume dial are mostly the same, granting a balanced 4.4mm and 3.5mm headphone input for headphone connections. Finally, the male USB-A makes a return, as well as type C.
With the V2, iFi uses a powerful new 16-core XMOS chipset for improved digital processing. It also doubles the clock speed and offers four times the memory. With the Hip-DAC V2 you’re getting a more high-end chipset, regularly seen in iFi’s Diablo and Neo, but for a way more generous price. Like their newer 2021 models, the V2 also incorporates MQA decoding, making it able to reveal more from sources like Tidal master tracks. You also have an improved jitter clock circuitry for a hopefully more clear signal flow.
The Hip-DAC V2 has a lot of quirks in its sound signature that make it stand out from its original iteration. Like the first Hip-DAC, it features iFi’s signature XBass and Power match functions, which significantly affect the overall timbre and soundstage of everything that passes through it. With each new model sporting these controls, I tend to hear different benefits from each product. Here, the XBass helps add a deeper resonance to certain tracks, expanding its timbre to encapsulate a more rounded tonality.
On an IEM like the 64 Audio Duo, the mid-bass jumps out more effectively while the vibration of the sub-bass still stays intact. On some tracks, it can seem like overload, like on some Alt-Rock selections from Modest Mouse as an example. Another artist like Angels and Airwaves makes for a much more ideal response from this XBass, with their blend of bass guitars and synths creating a more fulfilling sense of lift. Then you have the Power match setting, which brings up the volume quite broadly, executing a more powerful gain.
I found this power match to be more of a must-use setting on the V2, as it added so much more momentous ground for the sound signature to operate in. It was most effective with IEMs, as the V2 helped bring out their sound signature much more considerably over a surface-level response. Other characteristics I came across were more articulate midrange frequencies and a huge extension of treble. I’m a big fan of how clean high frequencies come off of the V2, especially with their more impactful response. It’s nowhere near harsh, or even too bright, but I definitely felt a lot more bite from the highs coming out of the V2 than normal. The frequencies have a slight ringing sensation to them, granting them a lot more weight in the sound signature than normal.
The Hip-DAC V2 is a worthy upgrade from the original, bolstering better detail retrieval and the latest chipsets. With the original Hip-DAC, you could really never go wrong, as it’s able to process sound with ease and send out a more enhanced signal that will improve the quality of any headphone/IEM you’re listening to. Now with the V2, that sound has, even more, to offer, bringing extended sonic characteristics that keeps your tracks sounding fresh whether it’s at your desk or on the go. With the V2, the Hip-DAC remains one of the most effective and affordable portable audio devices on the market.
The iFi Hip-DAC V2 is available at Audio46.