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iFi hip-dac 3 $199

hip-dac 3

iFi Audio has come out with their new portable hip-dac 3 DAC and Headphone Amplifier. I got some time to use the new hip-dac and thought I’d share some of the new features, as well as give a rundown of returning features for those who aren’t familiar with the previous design. 

hip-dac 3 top controls


The latest hip-dac 3 comes in a new titanium shadow color and features both balanced 4.4mm and single end balanced 3.5mm outputs. And, it now has a USB-C charging and data port, replacing the USB-A port on the hip-dac 2. This is significant because the new iPhone 15 also features USB-C, as do many other smartphones, tablets and laptops, ensuring the new hip-dac will be compatible with most streaming devices.  

Another new feature is a new DAC design, featuring iEMatch switch, which means you can now use ultra sensitive IEMs with the Hip-DAC, improving sound quality, expanding the dynamic range, diminishing background noise, and enhancing vocal clarity.

Beyond these modifications, the hip-dac 3 retains its core essence, akin to its predecessor, the hip-dac 2. Returning are the IXBass button as well as the PowerMatch button. And the Burr-Brown DAC chipset with True Native architecture. This innovative design allows DSD and PCM audio files to follow distinct pathways, ensuring they remain 'bit-perfect' in their native formats as they pass through the analog stage. This design stands as a testament to iFi’s commitment to audio quality across various digital formats. 

Another pivotal component is the XMOS chip responsible for processing digital audio data. With a robust 16-core XMOS microcontroller, the hip-dac 3 optimizes sound quality and unleashes the full potential of the Burr-Brown DAC.

In the realm of audio compatibility, the hip-dac 3 supports hi-res PCM and DXD audio data at sample rates reaching 384kHz, while DSD files spanning from 2.8MHz to 12.4MHz (DSD64, 128, and 256) find a home here. Furthermore, it boasts complete decoding of MQA files, going beyond mere rendering. This feature positions the hip-dac 3 as an ideal companion for enjoying MQA files on platforms like Tidal's HiFi Plus tier.

The hip-dac 3 comes equipped with a robust 2200mAh battery, providing a commendable 7 to 12 hours of uninterrupted use before requiring a recharge. The exact duration depends on variables like volume settings and the power demands of the headphones you've connected.

Included with the hip-dac is a selection of cables designed for various connections and devices, including a USB-C OTG (On-The-Go) cable, a USB-A to USB-C cable, and a USB-C to Lightning cable tailored for iOS devices featuring Apple's distinctive proprietary connector.

For me the hip-dac 3 is perfect for two scenarios—listening at my desk or traveling. The slim profile can easily fit in my pocket when connected to my iPhone. When listening to Devin Townsend Project’s song “Deadhead Live” the music really sounded alive. I felt like I was there at the concert and the XBass button added that extra oomph. When listening to Ludwig Göransson’s “Can You Hear,” the music from the new film “Oppenheimer,” I started to notice the bow gliding across the violin’s strings–it is that detailed and revealing. The new hip-dac 3 has really elevated both my on-the-go and “at desk” listening experience. 

To learn more chat with one of our experts or visit our iFi page. You can also visit a ListenUp Showroom near you.