ddHiFi TC44C Review

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Sound performances

For this review, I chose to pair the ddHiFi TC44C with the FiiO FD7 – impressive IEM, go read the review –  the Janus 2 and my faithful Unique Melody Maestro, now equipped with ddHiFi Nyx cable – incredible cable.

My sources? The iPhone 13 Pro and Apple Music with the new and improved lossless catalog – big upgrade compared to before, so go read that review too. 

Overall signature

As I expected, the ddHiFi T44C sounds very close to the TC44A, as both share a very similar circuitry – the TC44C doubling down the DAC. Still, head to head there are some obvious improvements, even more once connected through the balanced output, even if the single-ended one improved too.

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It’s fast and precise, at any level of volume, and the layering is a big step above its little brother. It also feels more natural, with deeper lows and sharper mids, the TC44C pushing more micro-details, almost effortlessly. Third time is the charm and I think ddHiFi is now perfectly mastering its art, at least in terms of tuning, and this new generation is extremely impressive in my opinion. 

Micro-details, balanced signature, precise timbre, you get it all and, the end result outline years of hard work. It’s a lovely device, and honestly, to get this level of detail, out of a box this small, is like witchcraft to me. I previously said that ‘“if given twice more power, the ddHiFi TC44A would come from a great device to a killer device”, and the TC44C confirmed that impression!

Digging deeper, I switched from the 3.5mm, to the 4.4mm output, the ddHiFi TC44C outputting a real balanced signal this time. Fed with the usual audiophile tracklist (Eagles, Steely Dan, Jamiroquai) the small DAC did wonders with my UM Maestro and even sounded better than the EarMen Eagle, especially in the upper range. 

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And, if I didn’t expect the DAC to outperform my good old Eagle, I was deeply surprised by that tiny box, especially paired with my CIEM. Paired with the FiiO FD7, the difference wasn’t as striking: better detail retrieval on the ddHiFi, smoother lows on the EarMen… it really depends on your IEM/headphone. But, if I had to choose one, I’d stick with the TC44C.

Pan effects are delightful, voices are outstanding, and the TC44C gave me clean, authoritative bass, something that I would have not expected for a CS43131 powered DAC. But, when the TC44A surprised me by outputting nice mids and voices, the TC44C simply baffled me, even compared to iFi’s Go Blu, which is also enjoying a Cirrus Logic CS 43131 DAC chip. 

All in all, an excellent DAC, that will immediately replace the TC44A on my UM, as the TC44C sounds better, in every way. I love it!

Tonality

Highs : clean and transparent. The TC44C raises the bar and achieves a superb job there, with sharp, harsh-less trebles, and excellent layering at any giver volume. With the right headphone, you’ll get a level of power and accuracy that I wouldn’t believe possible a few years ago, with a DAC this small. My new reference in this price range!

Track : Believe in Me – Jamie Lidell

Mids : excellent layering and great spaciousness. The mids blend perfectly with the rest of the spectrum. The soundstage is splendid, sometimes astounding even at the highest level of volume. Compared to the TC44A the mids don’t  tend to fall behind the highs and lows, and everything sounds pretty even now.

Track : Nobody Speak – DJ Shadow

Lows : fast and powerful. Bass is impressive, very impressive. Usually, this is where small DAC falls short, but this wasn’t the case here, and I could push volume way higher than I thought. It’s fast, powerful and with a good headphone, you’ll be rewarded by deep, tight, toe-tapping bass. Plus side, it never oversteps on the other frequencies.

Track : The Chasm – Dan Terminus

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Conclusion

I’m a big fan of ddHiFi. Month after month they keep on improving their catalog and the quirkiness of their products is simply marvelous. Which lead us to the TC44C, quintessence of the brand values: sturdy design, affordable price, great sound.

And if the TC44A was the perfect on-the-go DAC for me, the ddHiFi TC44C replaced that one in my bag, as the perfect companion for both my smartphone and computer. The only drawback? It’s a limited edition – even if 600 pcs remain a lot – and I’m sure that the brand will offer something even better in the coming months. But, at the moment, it’s my new fav DAC/AMP in the sub $150!

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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