In this review, we take a look at ddHiFi’s TC35B/TC35i, two ultra-compact DAC/AMP, available for $49 each.
Disclaimer: the ddHiFi was sent to us free of charge by Masters Of Audio in exchange for our honest opinion.
Established in 2017, ddHiFi is a new brand of adapters, DAC, and more recently, earphones. Led by Demond Ding, a former member of FiiO and Oppo, the brand has gained some fame recently, and I was pretty curious to try their products.
The company goal?
“To use concise and brief design language to make user-friendly accessory products, abandon any decorative design that is irrelevant to practical usage and pay more attention to product material and craftsmanship details with cost-controlled”
Or in simple terms: good products, at an affordable price. Which is equal to chi-fi if you want to short it even more. And, today I’m reviewing two of the shortest DAC I ever hold in my hand but, does size matters?
Design & Build Quality
In picture, the ddHiFi TC35i and TC35b looked pretty small for a USB DAC. But, once I received them, I was even more amazed by how tiny those two little dongles appeared to be. I reviewed the EarMen Eagle, NuPrime Hi-mDAC, or even the Maktar Spectra X2, and each time I praised their compactness. But this is on a whole new level.
End to end, these DACs are just 2 cm long and 1,12 cm thick. Most multi-BA IEMs are BIGGER than that! And, it gets even sillier when you plug in a middle to high-end headphone whose end termination weights twice as much as the TC35i or TC35b.
In fact, during my time with them, my main concern was how easy it would be to lose those dongles. Compared to my usual DAC and even my earphones, it’s incredibly light and could be lost in a few seconds if I were to put them in my pocket.
Fortunately, ddHiFi didn’t skip design class and the TC35i/TC35b are as sturdy as they are small. Wherever you touch, it’s just thick solid metal and with my iPhone, I was more anxious to break my Lightning port, than the DAC. (fortunately, that never happened).
The brand uses surgical 316L stainless steel for the main body. Neither polished nor galvanized, each DAC is supposed to display its own cutting lines. But honestly, if I put the TC35b and TC35i close to each other, discrepancies are hard to find. Fortunately, that’s a very good thing, as each device really gave a strong impression thanks to their excellent build quality.
No screws, no gaps, no loose parts.
Comfort and Specifications
The ddHiFi TC35i / TC35b are extremely simple to use.
You plug it into your phone, insert your headphone’s jack, and you’re good to go. There were nos issues with my iPhone 11 and was pleasantly surprised to see how well it worked on iOS. Compared to the Eagle, it’s even more practical as a daily drive and, obviously, it’s a league above the FiiO Q3, even if FiiO provides a USB-C to 8-Pin cable.
Same results with the TC35b, linked to my computer through the mighty USB-C port. Once again, I just had to plug in and Windows directly recognized the device, even if I didn’t install the driver beforehand.
Good job so far.
At the heart of ddHiFi’s DAC, you’ll find a Realtek ALC5686 SOC. Yes, the same Realtek that’s been powering computers motherboard for decades now, and even some iPhones!
To my surprise, I was not able to find any information regarding this particular chipset on Realtek’s website. All I could get was tech specifications that ddHifi sent me:
- up to 32bits / 384kHz PCM decoding support (no DSD/MQA)
- 124dB SNR and 95dB THD+N
- auto-impedance sense function
- up to 30mW @ 32ohms
So yeah, we are far from our usual DAC/Amp, boasting massive figures at 32ohms. But, considering the size, I’m more interested to see if those offer a real improvement compared to the embedded chips found in the usual iOS/Android dongles.
- Type: USB DAC
- Chipset: Realtek ALC568
- Impedance: < 1 ohm
- Size: 18,2 x 11,2 x 10,2mm
- Weight: 6g
- Socket: Lightning (TC35i) / USB-C (TC35b)
- Weight: 6g
- Frequency range: 20 – 20 000Hz
- Price: $49
Let’s check out how it sounds on page two of the article. Click here!