Published on July 16th, 2013 | by Kira0
M2Tech’s Tiny DAC: Making Music Better
Do you have sweet speakers and a great collection of music? Does all that music just so happen to sit on your computer hard drive? We have gone from records to tapes to CDs to MP3s, consistently making things easier to transport and store. Now all of our music is on our computer and we either have an iPod/MP3 player or phone that we play music from. However, I know when I am home I like to just play music from my computer. The biggest problem with this is that all my files are digital so they do not sound as crisp as if I was listening to a CD.
What is the answer? The M2Tech HiFace DAC. If you are like me, the name and even the look of this device about the size of a small USB memory stick, would tell me little about it. But it is, in fact, a high-end digital to analog converter. This bright orange stick has no onboard storage at all, but serves as an improved path for you to make your music sound better. The M2Tech HiFace DAC works on anything that has a USB 2.0 or higher, which can include your iPad if you get the proper adapter. For Mac users it is as easy to use as plug and play. For you Windows folks, you will just have to do a quick driver download and install.
One annoying little detail, which isn’t the fault of the M2Tech HiFace DAC, is that iTunes is not a good enough player to really notice a huge difference in sound. If you really want to hear the difference look into Audirvarna (which handles content up to 24-bit/192kHz) or Amarra (which can go as high as 24-bit/384kHz). Both programs work great with the M2Tech HiFace DAC, but do cost money (you can start with the trial versions though). Even in iTunes, you’ll want lossless files or really high bit-rate files for this to make a difference, and this is one of the few DACs that we’ve seen that can fully support 384kHz. Granted, if you are using audiophile headphones, you’ll still want an amplifier to provide enough power- our Grados and Sennheisers still needed an amp like the recently-reviewed Electric Avenues PA2V2. But listen to tracks like lossless Flaming Lips, and the difference between plugging in directly to a computer and using the HiFace DAC is definitely audible- less noise, no jitter, and a more transparent, physical experience.
My biggest complaint about the M2Tech HiFace DAC is that it sticks out from your computer or iPad, and not just a little bit. If I am using it with my laptop or iPad I find myself worrying that I will snag it on something. It’s also bright orange! Keep in mind that this DAC is more for being connected to an amplifier than working directly with headphones, meaning this might be best used with a desktop computer anyway. That said, it’s one of the highest quality dedicated DACs we’ve seen, and certainly the smallest model that is this capable. A lot of models come with combined DACs and amps, like the Matrix Mini- and it’s a solid package, but perhaps you already have an amp that you’re fond of and simply want a top-of-the-line DAC that is flexible and portable but doesn’t compromise.
Like all high-end audiophile gear out there, the M2Tech HiFace DAC isn’t cheap at $295, but it is a fair price for what you are getting. The components are top-notch, and there simply isn’t a more capable DAC this size. Available now, directly from the manufacturer.