FiiO Q3 Vs iFi Hip DAC 2

Sometimes your computer or media player doesn’t have the adequate hardware to drive your headphones, so DAC like FiiO Q3 Vs iFi Hip DAC 2 are becoming necessary. This amplifier will help improve the audio quality and listening experience, especially for you with audiophile equipment. If you wonder which of these compact DACs to invest in, let’s see what they can offer below.

In this comparison, we are going to talk about:

  • What is DAC
  • What are FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2
  • How are the Designs of FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2
  • What are the Supported Format of FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2
  • How are the Output of FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2
  • How are the Connectivity of FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2
  • How is the Battery Life of FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2
  • How is the Sound Quality of FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2
  • FiiO Q3 Vs iFi Hip DAC 2

Digital to Analog Converter

Audio is complicated, and whatever you put the audio information in the equipment will affect it one way or another. Most of us are satisfied with the earphone or headphones’ sound from direct connectivity, but some may need more. Computers, smartphones, and tablets are built with DAC to let you listen to the audio file. It is a digital-to-analog converter, and while the general population is not familiar with it, they use it almost daily.

This is why we can listen to songs from our smart devices because its purpose is to convert digital information to an analog signal that is readable by our headphones, earphones, and speakers alike for the human ear to pick up. Every device that plays a certain type of digital sound, including a CD or Blu-ray player, needs a DAC to convert its audio to an analog signal before sending it out. In conclusion, your device already has DAC, but why are separate DACs?

The reason is that you may need it. One of the reasons is that while every device has DAC, they are not created equal. For example, they may not support all file data rates. The poor conversion process can introduce unwanted noise during playback caused by poor design or circuitry and errors. There is also a jitter that may happen due to the poorly designed digital-clock circuitry because precise timing of a digital music stream is crucial for the best performance.

 FiiO Q3iFi Hip DAC 2
Product Dimensions4.29 x 2.32 x 0.51 inches
4.02 x 2.76 x 0.55 inches
Shipping Weight3.88 ounces4.8 ounces
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About FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2

Overall, you need one because of the lack or reliability of the DAC in the main device and if you think adding one will solve whatever issue you currently face. But of course, having a hi-fi DAC doesn’t mean audio quality is guaranteed because the other components are just as important or even more important such as the quality of your audio file. To get the most out of your DAC, we need to start with a good source.

The ideal source is usually a CD-quality audio file and above, which can be stored in your device with FLAC, WAVE, or ALAC lossless PCM format. It will be hoping for a miracle if the audio is within mainstream quality and format, such as the typical 128kbps MP3s. If you have high-quality audio files and a high-end listening device but feel the smartphone or laptop’s DAC lacks, investing in one may noticeably improve the experience. There are plenty of DACs, mostly travel friendly such as FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2.

These DACs are some of the most popular for users who are always on the go or prefer something not too obstructing. They are the perfect choice if you use compact media players such as smartphones, tablets, and similar pocket players. The size will be about the same as your older smartphone, and the best this is that they work well. Many people like them for the ability to improve audio quality, making your favorite song more pleasant to the ears.

Of course, as different models from different companies, the FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 are not identical. They have some technical differences, but the sound quality matters the most. We think they are very close because while the former Hip was strong on the warmth, this new variant is more laid back. However, the Q3 is slightly more articulated, and depending on what type of sound you like better, any of the two is fun to listen to. Read also: Lewitt LCT 440 Pure Vs AKG C214 here.

FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 Design

Before checking what the FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 can offer, let’s look at the unit first. Both DACs are sleek and compact, boast portability, and look like a version of each other unless you check the brand name. The FiiO is simpler because it chooses black as the shade, while Q3’s bright orange casing makes it stand out more. The unit is made of metal, so we are not worried about the overall build quality, but they get warm.

FiiO is almost like a complete package. It comes in a mesh pouch along with the accessories. The DAC gives you four cables and two pairs of elastic bands. Our highlight is the USB-C to lightning adapter necessary for many people. The Q3 only offers the standard cable and no lighting, so you need to buy it separately. In addition, their cable may be too short for some people depending on how they set up the unit, but we don’t find it annoying.

FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 Supported Format

One of the most important factors you may want to consider when buying a dedicated DAC is what they support. The FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 support DSD and PCM. As for the DSD, both support DSD64/128/256, but the Q3 also supports DSD 512. The Q3 also supports a very high PCM 768kHz/32 bit for PC in which the Hip DAC 2 is 384kHz. We are unsure whether Q3 supports DXD, but this DAC’s amp does not support MQA, which the Hip DAC 2 supports up to 384kHz.

FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 Output

As for the pairing, the FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 should work well for most people but also depends on your listening device. The DAC 2 is not ideal for sensitive headphones or monitors. Its balanced output is 400Mw@32Ohm; 6.3V@600Ohm, and if you have a headphone that is more on the sensitive side and prefers to listen to the music in a quiet tone, the DAC will be too loud. But, on the other hand, it is better if your can is very demanding.

FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 Connectivity 

We also like a no-brainer device; plug and play are how FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 work with your phone or computer. There is no issue when connecting the device to Mac or Win 10 computers as they instantly recognize it. But, some people may want to install the firmware, especially with the iFi, if you will listen to MQA so we can get full support. If you have an older computer or Win 7 and below, the FiiO may require installation for the USB driver.

On the phone side, iPhone users may want to buy a suitable cable, especially for Hip DAC 2, for it doesn’t provide the cable, but once you get the correct cable, they will work seamlessly too. We instantly prefer the FiiO because of its accessories, so you can hook the device regardless of whether you have an iPhone or Android phone.

FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 Battery Life

Both FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 are powered using a built-in battery which requires charging. The Q3 has a 1800mAh battery, similar to its Q1 Mark II. It has quick-charge support, and this is an excellent addition because now we can charge faster or less than 4 hours from empty to full. With moderate play, Q3 may last for a few days, and it has an on/off switch for the charging function for those who want to stop the USB power from the computer.

The Q3 has an even larger battery of 2200mAh, which is claimed to last for 8 hours of continuous playback. But, the real-life application shows it is not as long-lasting. Probably if you have an efficient IEM and don’t drive the volume high, the battery will last longer. If your can is demanding and not very sensitive, the battery will last at least around 3 to 7 hours of continuous playback.

FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 Sound Quality 

Lastly, we want to talk about the sound of FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2. The former Hip DAC was very well-known for its warm sound signature, and we can still feel it on the Hip DAC 2, but it is more moderate now. There is an improvement in clarity and separation but still mid-forward. On the other hand, Q3 is best if you prefer articulation and a wide soundstage. The frequency response feels more controlled and modest, but the Hip DAC 2 is just as good.

FiiO Q3 Vs iFi Hip DAC 2

Both FiiO Q3 and iFi Hip DAC 2 are ideal options if you are on the market for a compact yet effective DAC. They have slightly different tonality, which is normal, and Hip DAC 2 is more on the warmer side even though it is not as warm as the previous version. On the other hand, Q3 focuses on clarity and separation, making it more controlled and neutral. The Hip DAC 2 is very powerful, perfect for more demanding cans. It also supports more formats, and the playback should last longer than Q3.

- Utilizing AKM’s new efficient AK4462 VELVET SOUND DAC and XMOS XUF208 USB chip allowing it to easily support decoding up to 768kHz/32bit PCM and DSD512, the Q3 achieves excellent performance.
- With THX’s patented feed-forward error correction topology, the AAA amps have low distortion, high power and a pure, uncolored sound. You’ll experience subtle details and shocking swings in your music effortlessly with the AAA amp in the Q3.
- Multiple interfaces headphone jacks. The Q3 is equipped with 4.4mm/2.5mm balanced and 3.5mm single-ended outputs, allowing you to connect all kinds of headphones.
- USB Type-C input interface.USB-IF USB C compatibility certified: meets standard transmission interface specifications to ensure the compatibility of its USB solution
- PORTABLE DESIGN - Your music will never stop with 6-8 hrs of battery life (depending on use) and a slim, lightweight design perfect for carrying in your pocket wherever life takes you.
- HIGH RESOLUTION AUDIO - From Spotify to Tidal MQA to MP3 and beyond, play any high res audio format with native digital to analog conversion so you can listen to any song the way the original recording was intended
- POWERFUL AMPLIFIER - Suited to your style, listen to in ear monitors or drive over the ear headphones with 400 mW max power output from the on-board amplifier
- EASY CONNECTIVITY – Connects directly to your smartphone with the USB Input, and works with balanced 4.4mm or S-Bal 3.5mm headphone plugs for ultimate convenience and versatility

Conclusion 

The decision is all yours because we like these compact DACs. But, we recommend iFi Hip DAC 2 because it is slightly better, especially if you prefer the warm signature sound. It is also powerful to drive less sensitive cans and supports more formats.