If you're a music fan and you just bought the best headphones you can afford, you probably want to make sure you're getting the most out of them - and a portable DAC might be a good way to make your smartphone/headphone combo sound better. than ever.
If that sounds like you, you might want to check out the MFP's new portable headphone amplifier; The Hip DAC MFP looks like a hip flask, but instead of coming with alcohol inside, the audio company claims it's beautifully designed to make your headphones sound better.
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With petrol blue aluminum trim and copper accents, the hip DAC should be small enough to slip in your pocket even though it looks so sleek you might want to show it off.
At £149 (that's roughly $190 / AU£$290), it's cheaper than our top portable DAC, xDSD MFP, and slightly more expensive than the Audiolab m-DAC nano.
Like other portable headphone amplifiers, the hip DAC is made to replace the amplifier chip inside your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer to improve the sound of your headphones.
Using the Burr Brown DAC chip, the MFP Hip DAC delivers "bit-perfect" digital audio formats up to and including analog conversion, which is unusual for headphone amplifiers and PCM-enabled DACs (both of which support sample rates up to 384kHz) , technology (hi-res codec used by tidal masters), and other codecs, your music should sound almost flawless.
This DAC chip, along with 'clock-lock' technology and the MFP's proprietary firmware, is essential to eradicate any digital distortion, keeping the digital signal perfect until it is converted to analog. The MFP writes that the firmware can be updated to add new features, and that customers can even "install different MFP firmware versions to experiment with different digital filters."
MFO claims that the hip DAC is capable of delivering over 700mW from a balanced output - although this depends on the impedance of the headphones you're using, this is an impressive amount.
With switchable gain, you can adjust the ride level that the headphones you are using, for example, if you are using headphones that usually require more drive, you can press the 'PowerMatch' button on the front of the DAC to increase gain.
There's also a bass button that if it says "boost low frequencies without muddying the midrange" rather than via DSP (digital signal processing), it does so for the analog signal.
There are two USB ports include - a USB port for audio data and a USB-C port for charging. What's unusual about this set is that the USB input has a "male" instead of a "female" port, which the MFP claims will provide "greater mechanical integrity" than its competitors' standard USB ports.
In terms of results, you have a 3,5mm headphone jack with a single cable, as well as a 4.4mm output that allow balanced headphones to take "the full advantage of hip-DAC differential amplifier design".
A portable headphone amp is no good if it can last you all day and a hip DAC MFP has a playback time of 8 to 12 hours, depending on volume and how power-hungry your headphones are.
That should be enough to keep you going though your early-morning commute – and until it's as warm as a flask full of whiskey, the Hip-DAC MFP should treat your ears to some toasty slightly-beautiful tunes.
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