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M2Tech hiFace USB DAC Preview

M2Tech hiFace USB DAC

M2Tech hiFace USB DAC


  • Product Name: hiFace USB DAC
  • Manufacturer: M2Tech
  • Review Date: May 17, 2013 00:00
  • MSRP: $295
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool


  • USB A type male input
  • 3.5mm stereo output


  • Sampling Frequency: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz
Resolution: 16 up to 32 bit
  • Output voltage: 2.0Vrms @10kOhms
  • Frequency response: 5-22kHz (fs=44.1kHz): 5-150kHz (fs=384kHz)
  • THD+N: 112dB (@ 1kHz, A-weighted)
  • Dimensions: 8.8"D x 1.4"H x 2"W
Power Supply: 5V DC from USB bus
  • Temperature: 0°C to 70°C
Weight: 20 gr.

What if you could fit an entire high resolution DAC into a USB thumb drive? That's what M2Tech's hiFace DAC promises and delivers. This DAC redefines compact. It's just 8.8" deep by 1.4" high and 2" wide...the size of a typical USB flash drive. The hiFace USB DAC was designed to deliver "hi-end equipment performance" to budget-conscious audiophiles. And M2Tech claims to do it without compromising audio quality. The hiFace DAC costs $295 but with this little DAC you can turn your laptop, Mac Mini or even an iPad into a hi-end music file source—and you can do so for about the price of an overpriced active HDMI or premium speaker cable.

The hiFace DAC includes a lot of features, including asynchronous data transfer mode on USB 2.0, compliancy to USB 2.0 Audio Class (no drivers needed for MacOS, IOS, Linux and Android), very low phase noise oscillators and last-generation conversion IC capable of 384kHz and 23 bits. That's a lot of tecchy details for something the size of a USB stick, so our bet is that the tech is on-chip. Windows users can use it in Direct Sound, with Kernel Streaming, WASAPI and ASIO (depending on the OS version). Mac users will be able to take advantage from Integer mode and Direct mode. While the hiFace DAC output is purposely designed to give its best with amplifiers’ and preamplifiers’ line level inputs, it may also be used to drive medium- and high-impedance headphones.

If you understand even half of the specs, then perhaps you're the market this product is after. For us, we just wonder how much penetration a $295 USB-stick-turned-DAC is going to get.


Low jitter, Low Phase Noise, High Stability Oscillators

Most audio interfaces and USB-provided DACs refer the data stream clock to the same USB interface clock, that often suffers a very heavy jitter (short range oscillator frequency variations). Thanks to two quartz precision oscillators used on M2Tech hiFace DAC, the clock source for internal interface to the conversion IC features a very low jitter. Low jitter produces a very limited sound image distortion and degradation. Phase noise (main responsible for jitter) is also very low: this guarantees a short and long range clock stability, also reinforced by a board supply voltage regulation (e.g. at environmental temperature stability is 2-5ppm approximately, compared to 50-100ppm performed by oscillators normally used on commercial CD players).

USB 2.0 Audio Compliance

Because the USB 2.0 interface takes care of everything audio, there's no need for custom drivers and using the hiFace DAC is very easy. You just connect it to your Mac, iPad or Linux computer, and it will be immediately visible in the devices list and ready to use. For Windows computers, a driver is still necessary to enable DS, KS, WASAPI and ASIO mode.

Compact Size, Ease of Use and Very High Performance

The M2Tech hiFace DAC is compact in size and can be directly (or using an accessory USB A-A adapter, not supplied with hiFace) connected to a High Speed USB 2.0 port of any computer or tablet. A 3.5mm stereo jack socket then lets you take an output stereo line-level signal. While you could just use headphones, the output is sufficient for connection to a Hi-End system. To aid in simplicity, there is no external power supply required. The hiFace DAC draws all of its power from the USB bus and regulates it with its internal regulators. The hiFace DAC connected to a High Speed USB port makes for a complete digital music source. And with just the single USB DAC, the hiFace claims you can start listening to any density and resolution music files (up to 384 kHz/32 bit). You can play your own CD's using a CD ROM drive, obtain access to CD-quality web streams, or listen to any other network source of high resolution audio.

Is that enough to entice you to purchase this little product? M2Tech certainly hopes so.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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