Ifi Audio hip-dac Dac/headphone amplifier

This is the place to discuss ifi Audio’s hip-dac.



I’m really interested in this little guy. I like the warmth of Burr-Brown chips, and it should deliver enough power for my LCD-X’s so that I can use them when cozying up in a comfy chair and not be tied to my dedicated rig.

For $150USD why not? Plus it’s pretty much my favorite color.


I have the hip-dac on loan from iFi as part of the tour they sponsored via head-fi. I’ll post my impressions here once I’m ready in a few days. I’ll be comparing to the Dragonfly Cobalt.


Looking forward to it :+1:t4:

This superficially reminds me of my old Topping NX4 (original, non-DSD version). Battery powered, decent power, Burr-brown DAC. I used to use it as both a desktop and portable unit, but since then I’ve moved to a dedicated desktop DAC/Amp (Topping D10 + Atom) and dedicated DAP (LG V20). If you can afford to go the desktop + DAP route, I think that’s a nice way to go because you get the best quality on desktop and the best portability on the go. If budget is an issue, stuff like the Hip DAC and NX4 can be a good compromise, but you get neither the power of the desktop solution nor the portability of a pure phone/DAP solution.

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I have two ‘desktop’ setups, and a DFC that I enjoy with my Porta Pros (and occasionally a Focal Clear) for the above described use.

I just thought this would be a nice way to listen to my LCD-X’s while not on my desktop setups. The DFC doesn’t have the juice to push them, though it does really well with the other two headphones mentioned.

I’ll probably just wait to order one when headphones.com, but I’m in no hurry. And the color is my jam. :blush:

I just shipped my unit back to iFi and I already miss it. I think this is one of the best portable DAC/amps on the market. Not only does it have massive output, so it can replace practically any desktop setup effectively, it also has good additional features such as bass boost (which is done very well and entirely in the analogue domain!).

I’ve only tried the NX4 DSD, which is a bit larger but also less powerful. They’re quite similar in terms of feature set, with the main difference being the Topping can be used as an amplifier only. If that’s not a concern, I think the hip dac can be the better choice (but I mean, it came out two years later!).


Yeah, oddly they reduced the power in the DSD version. The original put out 307mW at 32 Ohm, which looks like it’s a bit less than the Hip DAC in balanced and a bit more in single ended. It’s annoying that they didn’t change the model number and just tacked on “DSD”, because it makes it hard to find information about the original. Thank goodness for the Wayback Machine!

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Presume it’s kosher to cross-post head-fi forum links here…if not I’m sure one of the moderators will slap my hand :slight_smile:

Link to my review of the Hip-Dac is below.
In brief, in comparing to the AQ Cobalt, I found it to offer 90% of the sonic capabilities (at least to my ear) at 50% of the cost; that is a good thing. Unless the ultra-portability (and perhaps firmware upgradable capabilities) of the Cobalt are of particular interest to you, I’d highly recommend the Hip-Dac. It’s superb.


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can you recommend any in ear balanced headphones with a 4.4mm plug to use with the hip dac? i’m using right now some 1more triple drivers. want to upgrade for my new audio toy :slight_smile:

thanks for any advice.

Hello. I have the hip DAC and love it except when I use headphones through the balanced 4.4mm port I hear a lot of static (not really sure what this sound is called). If I have the hip DAC connected to my iphone, with the phone and music player off, as soon as I turn on the hip DAC I hear the static. When music is playing I don’t hear it until the end of a track and just prior to the next track. When I plug in headphones through the 3.5mm port, I don’t hear any white noise or hum. I don’t hear anything until I play music. I have some headphones that can use either a balanced cable or a 3.5mm cable and only when using the balanced cable I hear this sound.

Is this normal? Or do you think it might be an issue with the cable or maybe the female port on the hip DAC?

Thanks for any comments.

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After dinner I’ll test it out and let you know what I hear…

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Thanks! Enjoy dinner!


Well… I tested with my IEMs UM MEST… and experienced the same issues…then switched to my Verite Opens with Hart Audio cables with swappable terminations and retested with ZERO issues… so I think it has to do with senitivity of the the headphones/IEMs

I could hear the ants eating snow if I didn’t have music playing but turned up the volume with the 4.4mm with the UM Mest IEMs and I would hear it during playback at points between tracks.

Switching to the Verite Open I had dead silence across the board.

I’ll grab my LCD-GX and test next…

and no issues with the GX with noise on the 4.4mm… So I’m going to deduce it is either the cable or the headphones are sensitive. But, I would personally reach out to iFi about it and see what they say.


i was testing IEMs. so for now i’m just going to use the 3.5mm cable. i will reach out to ifi audio to see what they say. i tested one pair of IEMs (campfire audio orion) with the balanced cable and didn’t notice the hum but when i tried some campfire audio polaris it was there. btw, what do you call that noise, interference?

thank you for testing. i’ll post here when i hear back from ifi audio.

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I’m not the most qualified to say lol… But I believe it relates to the sensitivity to impedance, which CFA IEMs are notoriously sensitive to. But, @antdroid or @Torq correct me if I’m wrong… please =)

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@Titienne mentioned that the Hip DAC is a little noisy with sensitive IEMs. I believe he tried it with the Solaris and U12t.

Some iems have high sensitivity values which make them easier to drive but also more susceptible the noise from the amplifier circuit.


Yes, I’ve tried the Hip Dac with sensitive IEMs and I definitely could hear background noise on all of them out of the 4.4mm output. The 3.5mm was a bit quieter, but still very noticeable on the more sensitive stuff like the Solaris, VE8, Tia Trio, etc.

Quite sad considering the form factor.


ifi audio asked me to check if touching the metal enclosure made any difference to the hum. It didn’t. They said they wanted to rule out any grounding issues. When I replied no, they said I might have a faulty cable and I should try to swap it out. Or I could send them my hip-DAC and they would try to see if they can find the issue. I don’t think my cable is bad because when I used it with some Orion IEMs I didn’t hear any hum. And because of the recent comments from the others experiencing the same thing. Also because of others experiencing the same thing I don’t think it’s worth the expense and time to ship my unit to them.

Are there any other similar DACs available that I could try? Thanks!

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