NuPrime Hi-mDAC Review

NuPrime-Hi-mDAC

Design & Build Quality

 

 

Casing

“I think your USB-Key isn’t working anymore, I can’t copy my files !”

If you think USB-Sized DACs are a thing of the past, the NuPrime Hi-mDAC is there to prove you wrong. Measuring 50x22x12mm, the DAC is one, if not the, smallest device we received this year. I mean, even the AirPods Pro I reviewed earlier are bigger than the mDAC!

Of course, due to its size, I had to endure a few criticisms from my friends and family. Because, whatever you may think, size matters, and you’re rarely praised for having the shortest, or the smallest one. DAC I meant.

Thankfully, the Hi-mDAC is built in a sturdy, grey-matte-finished-aluminum case. Two pieces, CNC-machined to ensure a tight fit of the board, good thermal dissipation and most of all, shielding against parasite EMI.

It’s not as polished as the Cobalt, who’s rounded edges and glossy finish gives a premium look. But, in its own way, the NuPrime’s DAC has a certain charm, thanks for the mirror-plate underlining the brand effort not to deliver just a bland, slab of metal.

Build Quality

As I said, the Hi-mDAC is a well-built device. There is no gap, nor loose plug, and even the small power up/down button gives a clean “click” when pressed. Also, as you can see in pictures, there are no visible screws, as I’m sure all of them have been hidden right under the mirror-plate?

In my opinion, the only flaws come from the LED, located beneath the mirror. When the DAC isn’t connected, it’s perfectly invisible. But, once you turn-on the Hi-mDAC, a small light emerges out of the blue, like a zit on a face.

All-in-all, apart from that annoying LED, the NuPrime DAC doesn’t fall short on this aspect.

Layout

The NuPrime Hi-mDAC is as simple as it can get.

On one side you have the USB-C port, to connect the DAC to a computer, smartphone or Tablet. And on the other side, you get a headphone output (3.5mm Jack). Additionally, the headphone port also works as a Digital output, thanks to a mini-Toslink switch.

Nuprime Hi-mDAC

Nuprime Hi-mDAC

Once you connect a mini-Toslink plug, the Hi-mDAC will automatically turn-off the amp section, and send a digital stream (pass-through) to your DAC.

Sadly, there is no balanced output as we’ve seen on iBasso latest portable DAC, the DC01. For those of you who’d need a small USB-DAC with balanced options, I can also suggest the EarMen TR-AMP, recently reviewed by Lieven.

Bundle

Inside the box

This will be fast, you don’t get much with the Hi-mDAC.

In the box you have :

  • the NuPrime Hi-mDAC
  • a USB-C Cable
  • a quick-start manual
Nuprime Hi-mDAC

Nuprime Hi-mDAC

The end.

Yes, this is a very, very, simple/dire bundle, so if someone ever offers you to make an unboxing video with the DAC, you better be ready to improvise.

Let’s get to the handle part, shall we?

The article continues on Page Three, 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.

    9 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

      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 August 20, 2020

        james wilson

        The BTR5 has plenty of power for the HD-600. Even the Hifiman Sundaras can be driven to ear bleeding levels with the BTR5 using 2.5mm balanced. After hearing how much power it has, I now assume all modern DACs with a battery have plenty of power. Thats how shocked I was at power output. Bluetooth sound quality is best in class, but nothing like a wired DAC.

        Still love my Tempotec Sonata HD Pro though for anything except Sundaras (with a *little* bit more power, it would be my favorite for everything).

    • 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.

      • Reply August 20, 2020

        james wilson

        Yes, it has line-out.

        It was very confusing in the article… to the point the author is kinda sus. Maybe English is a 2nd language. At least I hope thats why they call it a “pass thru” or say “to pass the audio to a DAC”.

    • Reply May 24, 2020

      Asta Mahendra

      Is it compatible with Samsung Galaxy S10?

    • […] 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 […]

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