NuPrime Hi-mDAC Review

NuPrime-Hi-mDAC

Disclaimer: NuPrime sent us the €139 Hi-mDAC free of charge, in exchange for our honest opinion.

 

 

Last time, we just made a quick presentation of NuPrime’s latest DAC. Time for the full review !

About Nuprime

In 2014, Jason Lim bought back the assets NuForce’s High-end Division, which he co-founded a few years ago. From there, NuPrime was born, with a simple goal: produce high-end products at a (relatively) affordable price.

Since then, the brand has gained popularity from both reviewers and listeners. And, if most of their products were befitted for home or studio, NuPrime decided to ride the headphone wave and launched the Hi-mDAC. A small, USB-key sized DAC, with a Cirrus-Logic chip inside, a tad cheaper than the Dragonfly Cobalt, but announced as at least as good.

Good news, today, we are fact-checking!

The NuPrime Series

As usual, we are gonna take a quick tour of NuPrime’s range. Not the full range, since most products are designed to work with speakers, but the ones which can be used in a classic headphone setup.

Nuprime DAC-9 / DAC-9H

The NuPrime DAC-9 is (or was now) the introductory DAC from the brand. It embeds a classic AKM AK4490EQ chip, decodes PCM streams up to 32bit-384kHz or DSD256 and can feed a power-amplifier through its RCA and XLR port.

It’s a quirky device with many features and many more inputs than you’ll ever need: AES, USB, Coaxial, Toslink or even a classic RCA, to use the pre-amp section only and by-pass the DAC.

Why quirky you say? For example, the USB Type-A port at the rear can carry S/PDIF data directly through the PIN3. You can just connect a (compatible) streamer, power-up the device and get your usual digital stream, with just one cable.

Another cool feature is the LED-Matrix screen on the front panel. Like Burson’s Conductor, when the device is off the small dots are nearly invisible, until you turn on your DAC-9 and see the blue numbers getting alive.

I happen to have one, paired with the NuPrime STA-9 to drive some B&W speakers, and I’m keen to praise the combo for the superb performance/price/size ratio. Taking up only a third of my previous combo, and offering almost twice more power. Hurray !

For those who need a full-fledged DAC-Headphone Amp combo, Nuprime has produced a DAC-9H. It’s the same device, with an additional headphone amp circuit built-in, and two headphone outputs: a single-ended 3.5mm one, and a balanced 4.4mm Pentacon.

NuPrime DAC-10 / DAC-10H

As the name suggests, the NuPrime DAC-10 is a desktop DAC sitting just above the DAC-9 in the brand catalog. Albeit being a bit older, it still offers high-end specs like a Sabre ES9018K2M chip, symmetrical signal processing and more digital inputs that you’ll ever need.

NuPrime DAC-10H Special edition

The manufacturer ditched the two potentiometers on the front panel and replaced them with two headphone outputs. One singled-ended 6.35mm port and an XLR 4-Pins, for those of us who seek a balanced port. Also, if paired with a compatible device like a computer, the DAC-10H supports playback control. I don’t know who would rely on those buttons when playing some music, but clearly, someone at NuPrime pushed that idea until the end.

Like the DAC-9, the DAC-10/DAC-10H supports 32bit PCM streams, DSD256 files, and thanks to its High-End root, the device can drive any headphone on the market. Oh, and it costs a little less than €1800, so cheap for a High-End device, expansive for a consumer one.

NuPrime Hi-mDAC

We introduced the NuPrime Hi-mDAC earlier this month on Headfonia. If you have already read our presentation (thank you !), you can directly get to the next page. If you haven’t read our First Look Sunday, here is a quick summary :

– it’s cheap, €139
– it’s small, so much that some of your friends won’t believe it’s a true DAC
– I like the design, aluminum case with a glass panel on the upper side

Nuprime Hi-mDAC

Nuprime Hi-mDAC

That said, it’s time for us to get more “intimate” with the Hi-mDAC.

The article continues on Page Two, after the click here

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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.

    8 Comments

    • Reply April 2, 2020

      New Eve

      Any chance you can compare it to the following:

      – Cozoy Takt C 102 / USD 150
      – Ikko Zerda / USD 80

      I have all three and I *really* struggle to justify the costs of most portable DAC/Amp compared to Apple’s Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter… whether with my Campfire Audio Andromeda Gold, Jomo Audio Haka or A&K T5p 2nd gen.

    • Reply April 3, 2020

      Doktor Trychtyr

      Does it hiss with sensitive IEMs? This is my issue with iBasso DC01.

    • Reply April 3, 2020

      Seventy seven

    • Reply April 3, 2020

      ZolaIII

      Well it looks like they at least didn’t exaggerated in published specs regarding SNR, it probably goes higher than specified (more than 100 dB SINAD). When someone tells how mids are elevated & crisp and clear that only means one thing, the interference shilling isn’t good but it’s pretty much the same old story for most small one’s. Aluminium ain’t good for lo frequency interference, graphite is good, silver even better. So far we didn’t see flowles CS43131 implementation, this IC is prone in picking up interference noise pretty similar to ESS one’s, but there are better ones than this with same CS43131 DAC that literally cost one third of the price. Meizu HiFi Pro DAC dongle is the best regarding power consumption, TempoTec Sonata HD Pro has better SINAD & will work with i things, both are around 45$. For a bit more money you can get a USB audio card such as Sound BlasterX G6 which does have lot of additional futures & series amplifier for portable one’s but it won’t work with mobile phones (not enough power to feed it) & suprise DAC is the same one. E1DA9038 is still among most powerful (mV) dongle sized DAC’s thanks to balanced out only & still cheaper than this. DragonFly’s are utter garbage! In the end buy something with battery and easy to fix & disassemble & put a graphite layer coating to it as you will need it.

    • Reply April 4, 2020

      Felipe Luco Navarro

      Excellent review. Thank you very much.

      Have you ever tested the Fiio BTR5?

      I’m going to buy a Sennheiser HD-600 and I would like to know if this device has enough power and sound quality for this headset!

    • Reply April 9, 2020

      Sp12er

      cna it output line level output to an external amp? sometimes I’m interested with usb dingle sized dacs but they just don’t have the proper volume know I know I need.

    • […] NuPrime Hi-mDAC Review […]

    • Reply May 24, 2020

      Asta Mahendra

      Is it compatible with Samsung Galaxy S10?

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