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iFi Audio hip-dac

Portable USB DAC and headphone amplifier

Item # 246HIPDAC

This battery-powered DAC/amp combo delivered an immediate sonic upgrade to the rotgut audio circuitry in my phone.

This battery-powered DAC/amp combo delivered an immediate sonic upgrade to the rotgut audio circuitry in my phone.

Discontinued item
10 questions - 21 answers

Item # 246HIPDAC

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About the iFi Audio hip-dac

Flask-shaped portable DAC serves up top-shelf sound

The iFi Audio hip-dac sports one of the coolest portable headphone amp/DAC designs I've seen. And not just because it resembles an old-fashioned hip flask! It's so compact and thin that it slipped right into my jacket alongside my phone, without creating much pocket bulge. But even though it looks slim and unassuming, as the old country lyrics go: "don't let it fool you about what's inside."

Flask-shaped portable DAC serves up top-shelf sound

The iFi Audio hip-dac sports one of the coolest portable headphone amp/DAC designs I've seen. And not just because it resembles an old-fashioned hip flask! It's so compact and thin that it slipped right into my jacket alongside my phone, without creating much pocket bulge. But even though it looks slim and unassuming, as the old country lyrics go: "don't let it fool you about what's inside."

iFi hip-dac with phone

The super-slim, battery-powered iFi hip-dac connects to your phone and headphones to give you better sound on the go.

I tested out this battery-powered DAC with both my phone and laptop. It bypassed the rotgut audio circuitry inside those devices, and the sonic upgrade was immediate. My headphones sounded much more dynamic and detailed than when connected directly to the phone or computer. 

Makes all your digital music sound better

The hip-dac features digital connections and a high-grade Burr-Brown DAC chip that can squeeze out more musical detail from Spotify®, Apple Music®, YouTube, and other digital audio sources. This DAC will decode high-resolution music files up to 32-bit/384Hz resolution, and DSD files up to 11.2 MHz. It also offers full MQA support.  

My listening impressions

I only had a few days to audition the iFi hip-dac before its big debut at the CanJam NYC 2020 headphone festival in Manhattan. It performed well with with two very different types of headphones — the Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 closed-back over-ears and the Meze Rai Solo in-ear monitors (IEMs). I primarily used the lossless streaming service Qobuz for music, and the hip-dac's LED lights changed colors to verify the resolution of the incoming signal.

The Aeon 2s are easier to drive than most planar magnetic headphones, but I would still always recommend listening with a separate headphone amp like this one. I thought the hip-dac powered them well, and really had a grip on the start-and-stop movement of those special drivers. The results were improved dynamics and imaging — there was real depth within Aeon 2's spacious soundstage.

(I will say that the iFi xDSD portable DAC/amp was an even better match with these headphones, providing more power and control. But when you look at the value here, I would be more than pleased with the hip-dac.)

There are two front-panel buttons for sound processing options. One is called "PowerMatch®" and adjusts the gain for larger headphones like the Aeon 2s. I personally preferred the more precise volume control that I got from the old-school analog volume dial. But I did find myself hitting the other "Xbass®" button to add some extra low-end to certain songs.

It worked particularly well with the Rai Pentas, which have a very powerful, defined bass on their own. But I really enjoyed the extra low-end oomph when listening to the album No Requests by legendary DJs Stretch and Bobbito. They assembled a formidable live band to "reinterpret" classic soul, reggae, and jazz numbers that are often sampled in hip-hop. Those new arrangements and basslines really had my head nodding with iFi's Xbass processing engaged — a potent punch of low end, without extra bloat. 

iFi hip-DAC with laptop

The compact, lightweight iFi hip-DAC was sturdy and substantial enough that it didn't slide around my desk during use.

Versatile connections

iFi certainly made the connections easy. The hip-DAC is one of the most uncomplicated DACs I've ever used. A USB cable (with a Type A USB male on one end and Type A USB female on other end) is included for connecting to a PC, and a USB Type A to Type C is included for newer Android™ phones. I was able to connect to my older Samsung Galaxy phone with an additional adapter (there are mini-USB and Apple Lightning® adapters for iPhone® sold separately). 

And I didn't have to download any USB drivers to play my music. My phone automatically sent sound through the DAC, and on my computer, it was a quick click on audio settings to get things going. 

S-balanced headphone amp

On the front panel, there is a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack along with a balanced 4.4mm headphone output. The latter is the new industry standard balanced connection that helps cuts down on signal noise and distortion.Sony developed this special connection, and a growing list of headphones from multiple brands use it.

Either way you connect takes advantage of what iFi calls "S-balanced" headphone amp technology. Their dual-mono circuitry keeps the left and right audio channels separate for as long as possible to avoid cross-talk and distortion.

A note about charging

The hip-DAC has a built-in rechargeable battery that offers 12 hours of music listening on a full charge, depending on how you use it. This amp runs completely on battery, and must be recharged via the USB-C port (a charging cable is included). You'll want to ensure it is charged up when you take it out and about.


Product highlights:

  • battery-powered portable USB DAC with built-in high-performance headphone amp
  • pocket-sized design with metal chassis
  • improves sound from your PC, digital music player, iPhone, and/or Android phone
    • USB-A and USB-C cable included
Built-in digital-to-analog converter:
  • Burr-Brown "True Native" digital-to-analog converter chip for high-quality sound
  • supported audio files: up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM; DSD 256 (11.2 MHz)
  • offers rendering for MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio files
  • Type A USB input for connecting PC, smartphone, and other mobile devices
S-balanced headphone amplifier:
  • two headphone outputs:
    • one 3.5mm stereo minijack
    • one balanced 4.4mm output
  • iFi's dual-mono circuitry helps reduce crosstalk between the left and right audio channels
  • output power: > 2.0V / 400mW @ 16 ohm
  • XBass sound control processing for boosting bass
  • PowerMatch switchable gain
  • manual power switch/volume control dial with 40dB-0dB attenuation
General info and specs:
  • USB-C charging cable included
  • rechargeable battery provides up to 12 hours of playback on a full charge
  • completely self-powered, cannot borrow power from your computer, phone, or playback device during use
  • color-coded LED indicator for incoming sample rate
  • includes selection of silicone grip pads
  • 2-3/4"W x 4-1/16" H x 1/2"D
  • weight: 0.28 lbs.
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
  • MFR # 312001

What's in the box:

  • Portable DAC/headphone amp (blue)
  • 6.5" USB cable (Male Type A USB on one end and USB-C on other end)
  • 4.75" USB cable (Female Type A USB on one end and male USB-C on other end)
  • 12.5" USB 3.0 cable (Female Type A USB on one end and Male Type A USB on other end)
  • Instruction card
  • Warranty

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iFi Audio hip-dac reviews

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More details on the iFi Audio hip-dac

Mark G.

Features & specs

Type Portable
Built-in Rechargable Battery 2200 mAh
Built-in Headphone Amplifier
Output Power 400mW / 6.3V
Output Impedance (Unbalanced) 32-600
Output Impedance (Balanced) 32-600
Audio Specs
Bit Depth (USB) 32
Max Sampling Rate (USB) 384 kHz
Bit Depth (S/PDIF) 0
Max Sampling Rate S/PDIF N/A
S/N Ratio (Unbalanced, in dB) 0
S/N Ratio (Balanced, in dB) 0
THD (Unbalanced) Not given
THD (Balanced) Not given
Supported File Types
PCM Up to 384kHz
Total Inputs 1
USB Male Type-A 3.0
Optical Digital None
Coaxial Digital None
3.5mm Digital None
Stereo RCA Analog None
Stereo 3.5mm Analog None
Stereo XLR Analog None
Headphone Outputs
3.5mm Unbalanced 1
1/4-inch Unbalanced None
4.4mm Balanced 1
XLR4 Balanced None
Other Headphone Outs None
Line Level & Digital Outs
RCA Line Out None
3.5mm Line Out None
XLR Line Out None
Subwoofer Out None
Optical Digital Out None
Coaxial Digital Out None
Wireless Connectivity
Bluetooth No
Wi-Fi No
Apple-compatible No
Android-compatible No
General Info
Width (inches) 2-13/16
Height (inches) 4-1/16
Depth (inches) 0-9/16
Weight 0.29 lbs.
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year

Product Research


Overview: The iFi Audio hip-dac is a miniature digital-to-analog converter and headphone amplifier that will greatly enhance the sound of your digital music collection. It is designed for use with your smartphone or tablet, or your PC or Mac. The hip-dac has a Type A USB 3.0 input port and two headphone outputs (3.5mm and 4.4mm). To use the device with your smartphone or tablet, you'll need an Apple CCK (Camera Connection Kit) cable or Android OTG cable (both sold separately). A USB-C port is provided for charging the device. Dimensions: 2-3/4" W x 4" H x 9/16" L; Weight: 4.7 ounces.

Digital-to-Analog Conversion: The hip-dac plays Hi-Res audio in the original format, including DSD (up to 256 MHz), DXD (up to 384 kHz), and PCM (up to 384 kHz). You can also listen to MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio. It uses a Burr-Brown "True Native" DSD1793 DAC chip to lower noise (by 3dB) and provide better channel separation. The signal remains in its native format, so you get the best of each format. The hip-dac portable DAC is compatible with the following audio formats:

  • DSD: 256, 128, 64 MHz (Octa/Quad/Double/Single-speed DSD)
  • DXD: 384, 352.8 kHz
  • PCM: 384, 352.8, 192, 176.4, 96, 88.2, 48, 44.1 kHz
  • MQA

MQA (Master Quality Authenticated): The hip-dac includes MQA rendering technology, which enables you to play back MQA files and stream MQA audio from sites such as Tidal Masters. MQA delivers the sound of the original master recording, so you'll hear the music exactly the way the artist intended.

LED Indicator: The hip-dac has an LED that indicates the sampling frequency received from the source. It also shows the charging and battery status. The LED color scheme is as follows:

  • Power On:
    • Green: PCM 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 kHz
    • Yellow: PCM 176 / 192 kHz; DXD 352/384 kHz
    • Cyan: DSD 128 / DSD 64 (2.8/3.1/5.6/6.2 MHz)
    • Blue: DSD 256 (11.2/12.2 MHz)
    • Magenta: MQA
    • No LED: No valid signal
  • Battery Status (flashes when charging):
    • White: > 75%
    • Green: > 25%
    • Red: > 10%
    • Red (flashing): </= 10%

Headphone Amplifier: The iFi hip-dac's headphone amplifier can drive most headphones and in-ear monitors with a 2.0V / 400mW output at 16 ohms. The balanced 4.4mm headphone output uses inverse positive/negative electrical paths to deliver equal and opposite audio signals to each side of the headphone driver voice coil. The balanced output offers double the voltage output for driving bigger and more difficult-to-drive headphones. It also produces reduced THD distortion and crosstalk, compared to unbalanced, single-ended outputs. The hip-dac also features a single-ended 3.5mm unbalanced headphone output with iFi's S-Balanced circuit topography, which is specially suited for IEMs (in-ear monitors). S-Balanced features a dedicated negative wire for each channel, and supports both TRS and TRRS headphones.

PowerMatch: The headphone output is equipped with iFi's PowerMatch technology. You can turn PowerMatch on or off as needed to match the level of the drive to the load presented by the headphones. When switched on, PowerMatch adjusts the input sensitivity and signal strength, which works best for less sensitive large headphones. Leaving PowerMatch off works best for the more sensitive IEMs.

XBass: The iFi hip-dac features iFi's analog XBass circuitry that adds back the lost bass response to give you a more accurate reproduction of the original music. XBass work well for many open-back headphone designs.

USB Input: The hip-dac has a Type A USB 3.0 input that can be used with your smartphone, tablet, or home/office computer. For iPhone and iPad, you will need an Apple CCK cable, such as the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter or the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter (sold separately). For Android, an OTG (On-the-Go) cable (with Type C or Micro USB, depending upon the device) is required. When connecting to your home or office computer, you should use the included USB 3.0 cable.

USB Charging Port: The unit also has a USB-C port for charging the device. The hip-dac charges in approximately 3 hours using a high-powered USB power source (5V/1000mA).

Rotary Volume Control: The hip-dac has a precision analog volume control with an integrated power on/off switch.

Battery: The hip-dac is powered by a built-in 2200mAh Lithium-polymer rechargeable battery. For best results, you should always switch on the power first, before plugging in your device.

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Customer Q&A

10 questions already asked

Can this be used with mark levinson 5101 cd player if so,how do i connect it to the cd?
[ Carlos  Jan 23, 2022 ]
1 answer
Unfortunately no, there is no way to bypass the USB DAC portion to just use it as a pass through headphone amplifier.
[ N. B.  Jan 23, 2022 ]
Can this be used when you are using a bluetooth connection to play music from a computer/iPhone/etc to a powered speaker (e.g. a Bose Wave)?? I have a Harmon Kardon BTA-10 connected to a Bose Wave radio to stream music .. can this be integrated into this setup or would it need a wired connection?
[ rbrown  Jan 10, 2022 ]
2 answers
This amplifier is meant to be hard wired, it has no bluetooth capabilities. I believe what you want is a bluetooth receiver, which will plug-in directly into your speakers. The preferred connection, when possible, is to wire the speskers directly to your BTA-10.
[ ROBERT  Jan 11, 2022 ]
I don't know.
[ BARRY  Jan 11, 2022 ]
Hi, can I use this iFi audio hip-dac with my iphone and powered EV speakers? Will it improve the quality of the sound? Thanks, Mitch
[ Mitch  Sep 24, 2021 ]
2 answers
[ unk  Sep 28, 2021 ]
You will need the USB to Lightning adapter from Apple. And yes it sounds great with Apple Music's high quality service. I recommend using the balanced output as a personal preference. I also have the iFi iDSD Nano BL both are my favs.
[ Don  Sep 24, 2021 ]
How long to charge battery?
[ Gene  Sep 03, 2021 ]
3 answers
I'm not really sure, as I typically just leave mine plugged in overnight when I need to charge it. It's sounds great, by the way! Sorry I couldn't be of more help!
[ Irwin  Sep 03, 2021 ]
About a few hours, similar to a cell phone. Indicator light turns red for low battery, green for medium and white for fully charged. If battery is fully discharged dac/amp can be powered by cellphone battery by plugging in dac to cellphone before turning on dac. For normal use turn on dac/amp before plugging in cellphone.
[ ANTHONY  Sep 03, 2021 ]
Depends on how much power has been depleted, but you can use this dac while it's being charged!
[ JASON  Sep 03, 2021 ]
Since the USB input to this dac is female and the USB outputs from a computer or iPad (with camera adapter) are also female, why are the cables male at one end and female at the other? More adapters will be needed to use the dac.
[ JazzyM  Aug 14, 2021 ]
1 answer
The actual input into the hip-dac is a recessed male usb input. You have to use the included cable to access the input but the only thing you need to consider is that the other end of that cable is a male usb connector. Whatever source you plan to use will have to be a female usb connector going into the hip-dac. I did have to purchase a special order connector for my Sony hi-res music player and a usb connector for my Ipod. The usb adapters are out there and some are easier to find than others.
[ Kurt  Aug 14, 2021 ]
any trouble with using i-fi hip-dac with usb on ubuntu linux laptop or desktop?
[ DB_MUSIC  Mar 16, 2021 ]
1 answer
Cannot comment on it as I am not using Ubuntu Linux. But not problems connecting with my MacBookPro laptop.
[ SLAWEK  Mar 16, 2021 ]
Wondering if this would work with the MassdropxSennheiser 6XX?, I read they got an impedance of 300ohms.
[ rigell  Jan 12, 2021 ]
6 answers
Not sure. Unfortunately all my headphones are low impedance cans. I can tell you that it pushes my Klipsch Hp-3's (25 ohms), Audeze LCD 2C's (70 ohms) and Mr. Speakers Ether CX's (23 ohms) very nicely. Pretty clean and powerful little amp! Hope this helps, good luck.
[ JEFF  Jan 12, 2021 ]
Works well with my B & O H6 headphones.
[ James  Jan 12, 2021 ]
Work great with HD600. You will likely want a balanced cable for more overhead.
[ Trevor  Jan 12, 2021 ]
It works, I have the 6xx as well. Now, this is my first dac and "good" headphones so I'm not even sure what it's supposed to sound like. I'll say it sounds better using the dac than not. I can max out the volume on some albums though, wonder how it would sound using the balanced headphone output and not the 3.5.
[ M  Jan 12, 2021 ]
I am using it with the 6XX and it work. However, planar is tougher.
[ Pk Duck  Jan 12, 2021 ]
That's my setup and it works great with the PowerMatch on.
[ WOONG  Jan 12, 2021 ]
Can this (ifi hip-dac) be plugged into Sony 2ch stereo receiver with powered edifies bookshelf speakers?
[ Blaine  Dec 06, 2020 ]
3 answers
You will need either a 3.5 mm or a 4.4 mm balanced cable out of the Hip-Dac that has L-R connectors on the other end for your Sony receiver, such as RCA or whatever the receiver requires. Also, in order to take advantage of MQA on Tidal, you will want Bit Perfect audio coming from the Hip Dac and all equalizer settings in the receiver turned off so you have pure sound coming through. I run the Audio Player Pro App from my Samsung A10E phone to the Hip-Dac, and then to my amp and speakers. If I want to listen through headphones, I plug into the headphone jack in the amp. Works great.
[ James  Dec 06, 2020 ]
No,hip-dac only has digital input.
[ unk  Dec 06, 2020 ]
No this made for portable like going to iPhone or android phone
[ PETER  Dec 06, 2020 ]
I use my iPhone 6s and my iPads (older model mini and new air) to listen to music, much of which is hi res, via Roon (Roon recognizes these devices as Roon endpoints). Any issue using Apple devices for this purpose with hip dac? I assume I will get to hear files at native resolution but please confirm. Thanks.
[ Lawrence  Apr 25, 2020 ]
1 answer
To play hi res music with an iPhone or iPad and the Hip Dac, you need an app that plays high res music. I have Onkyo HF player and KaiserTone. KaiserTone is my favorite. It can play high res PCM and DSD files but needs some special setting to make the DoP to work properly. Go to setting and help to find the instructions or contact the Developer. They responded to my inquiry. I do not have Roon and so I cannot be of much help. One more thing, Hip Dac comes with a lighting to USB adapter. I assume all your iOS devices use lighting port, not the old big fat 30 points connector.
[ Kam  Apr 25, 2020 ]

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