ddHiFi TC44C Review

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Design & Build Quality

Casing

As usual with the brand, the ddHiFi TC44C is deceptively small. Until you get one in hand, you won’t believe how tiny it is, even more once connected to your phone. At the moment, no other device achieved the same level of compactness, while conveying such a premium feel, and that’s even truer with this new generation.

Size-wise, the new DAC is 20% smaller than NuPrime’s Hi-mDAC, or FiiO KA3, which were already one of my smallest DAC. The closest device would be the iBasso DC05, but this one doesn’t come with a 4.4mm Output. It’s a clean design, with a main aluminum body and a golden plate at the bottom, for the USB-C port, and two headphone outputs at the top – 3.5mm + 4.4mm. 

Obviously, ddHiFi being themselves, they also added a small lanyard hole on top, in case you wanted to wear the TC44C like a necklace. Because why not?

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Build Quality

Again, ddHifi ticks all the right boxes, and the new dongle is simply exquisite in this regard. Wherever you touch, it’s just thick solid metal and even the geeky lanyard hole seemed unbreakable even if I’d never use it for its dedicated purpose.

Like many devices, the TC44C enjoys a unibody construction: the main body is made of one solid piece of metal, where the PCB lives, closed by a golden cap at the bottom. No screws, no gaps, even if you look very closely, as the brand made sure that every part was tightly sealed.

Best of all, the green-tinted case, magnified by golden accents, is sleeved in a fake leather case, with apparent hand stitching, outlining the cleanliness of the whole build. A very very cool device, if I may say so.

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Comfort and Specifications

Daily use

As you’d expect, the ddHiFi TC44C was extremely easy to use. Just plug a USB-C cable to the DAC, then to your source, and you’re good to go! 

I tried it on my iPhone, the FiiO M11 Plus, and iBasso’s DX300, all worked flawlessly with the TC44C. For the iPhone I used the MFi06S, provided by ddHiFi, and the phone recognized the DAC in a mere 3 seconds.

Once done, just plug your headphone or IEM, and you’re good to go. I mainly used the 4.4mm output, paired with my Unique Melody Maestro + ddHiFi high-end BC130A cable (a Marvel) the combo offering the perfect balance of power and refinement, compared to their size.

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Like many DAC/Amp, you have to bear with an additional cable, linking your phone to the TC44C. Some may see it as a hinder – and they’ll be right – but the removable cable is, in my opinion, really handy as that allows me to use the same USB-C cable at the office, instead of bringing a new one. And that also means that I won’t be afraid of cable wear, as I could easily replace it. 

Last but not least, you won’t have access to any control, nor phone call support, just pure music. But that was to be expected.

Specifications

As the name (doesn’t) implies, the ddHiFi TC44C is a step up from the smaller TC44A.

While the A version comes with a single DAC, the C  enjoys a dual CS43131 chipset, still provided by Cirrus Logic. The same architecture is found in the line of Astell&Kern SR25MKii and Cowon’s Plenue D3, two great players, sonically speaking.

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As you’d expect, you get better dynamic range, enhanced SNR, and lesser distortion, leading to improved performances overall. The dual-channel, balanced circuit is a big upgrade compared to the previous model and feels more in line with the TC35Pro series, and their dual Sabre Chipset.

On paper, we should get better performance than the previous models, with enough power to drive moderately hard-to-drive headsets, like the Meze 99 Classics, or ddHiFi’s own IEM, the EA2020.

SNR is rated at 125dB, a big +5dB bump from the TC44A 120dB, and our power is rated at [email protected], which isn’t massive, but seeing how small and light the TC44C is, that remains impressive. Plus, I never encountered the dreaded “this device drains too much power” from my iPhone, so I’m pretty pleased overall.

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Full specifications

  • Model: ddHiFi TC44C
  • Type: DAC/Amp
  • DAC: 2x Cirrus-Logic CS43131
  • up to 32bits / 384kHz PCM decoding support + up to DSD256
  • Output Load: 16 – 300 Ohm (adaptive)
  • Output power: 60mW per channel (32ohm) Single Ended – 132mW per Channel (32ohm) Balanced
  • SNR: > 125dB
  • THD: < – 110dB
  • Dynamic Range: > 120dB
  • auto-impedance sense function
  • Dimensions (excl plug): 40,8mm x 22mm x 12.5mm
  • Weight: 12.9g
  • Price: $139$

The article continues on Page Threeo, after the click here

Page 2: Design, build quality

Page 3: Sound performance 

4.4/5 - (49 votes)

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A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.

7 Comments

  • Reply April 15, 2022

    Adam

    Just a couple of inaccuracies you might want to correct. Unlike most iFi products, the Go Blu has an CS43131 chip as well, not a Burr-Brown. Also, the “similarly price” TC44C is currently a good 80 to 100 dollars cheaper than the Go Blu.

  • Reply April 15, 2022

    John Caples

    Why did you skip the TC44B (the “matcha cheese”) in your comparisons? There’s an existing review by Lieven on the site. I’d like to know if the TC44C sounds similar/exactly the same (both units have the exact same dual Cirrus Logic DAC chips and the same specifications, as per ddHiFi’s website). I’m assuming the TC44C is simply a structural upgrade (instead of the TC44B’s fixed cable, the cable is now detachable, and instead of a 2.5mm balanced port, you get a 3.5mm single-ended port).

    https://www.headfonia.com/ddhifi-tc44b-review/

    • Reply April 15, 2022

      Lieven

      You gave the answer already. I have it and Nano does not, so they’re in different countries and as such it’s impossible for now to compare them. Sorry

  • Reply April 15, 2022

    John Caples

    Would it be reasonable to assume the TC44C has the same sound signature, if it has the same chipset and specs as the TC44B?

    Also, have you heard anything about OEAudio’s USB-C to Lightning cable? I’ve been having clipping issues with dongle DACs on my iPhone if I try to push the volume past 70% (not as bad an issue with the TC44B, but with the Hidizs S9 Pro). Someone with a Cayin RU6, which has similar output to the S9 Pro, was recommending it over stock cables from ddHiFi/Hidizs/Cayin.

    “Most of the Lightning OTG cables, which have output of 3.3V 100mA cannot fulfill the need for portable DACs. We redesigned the circuit, which the OEOTG cable can achieve a 5V 200mA output.”

    Is that snake oil?

  • Reply April 24, 2022

    Bodo

    Unfortunately we have a 3.5 mm jack with very little clearance around it. To me recessed or otherwise obstructed jacks are a major annoyance.
    Most IEM plugs may fit into, but over-ear headphones or adapter cables usually come with somewhat wider diameter or even rectangular shaped plugs. Non of these would fit into that tightly obstructed jack. That alone sadly is a deal-breaker to me.

  • Reply May 23, 2022

    ORT

    Superb! Beautifully written and equally expressed to convey the joy of music and the build quality and sound reproduction of this gorgeous piece of fine, itsy-bitsy-totally-bitchin’ audio equipment!

    How sweet it is!

    And not a mention of “MQA”. Excellente’!

    Huzzah, indeed! Thank you so very much!

    ORT

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