M2Tech 32/384 HiFace DAC

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There seems to be a new 'niche' developing for USB DACs / headphone amplifiers packaged in the form of a USB stick. It started with the Audioquest Dragonfly and then Meridian joined the party with their Explorer. I must admit to being intrigued by these devices because they have been getting a lot of press attention and good write ups. Being a big fan of M2Tech, (I love the Young DAC) my interest really peaked when they announced the HiFace DAC at a lower price than the competition. The way I figured, if it offered a similar sonic flavour to the Young DAC, but at a fraction of the cost and in the convenient package of a USB stick, then I would like to have one.

Fast forward to Wednesday this week and the postman very kindly brought me one to try out :D First thing I did was to compare it to the Young DAC in the main rig. I don't know what I was expecting. Perhaps something similar to my Roland Quad capture which I use on my iMac to drive a pair of Yamaha HS50's. The result was better than that which was a nice surprise. This is proper HiFi was my first thought. Natural, open and fluid with no nasties. Nice!

So how does it compare to the Young? It has similar sonic attributes - a great sense of timing and an open communicative midrange. However, the Young is the better DAC by a decent margin. The HiFace DAC can't live with the Young's punch, dynamics and outright resolution. However, I can't think of another DAC for <£200 which offers the performance of the HiFace in my main rig.

Next I tried it with my iPad / Grado RS2i. This will be my primary use for the DAC. The performance here in terms of outright sound quality is superb. A very obvious and worthwhile leap over the standard iPad 3.5mm audio output. In my opinion, if you are looking to maximise the sound of your iPad / computer with headphones, you can't do better for the cost. I've never been convinced by the use of headphone amplifiers being fed by standard analogue computer outputs. The 'improvements' being subtle at best. This is an obvious upgrade.

The only downside is that the volume capability is somewhat limited. (at least with my Grado RS2i). Maximum volume corresponds to just a smidge over my normal listening level which suits me fine, but I am conscious that I listen at a lower level than most folk, so it's definitely worth trying it out first.

Here's the obligatory pic:


M2Tech HiFace DAC by Koopa-Troopa, on Flickr


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