Audiophile fashion from DDhifi!
After so many reviews, I often get asked to name my favorite audio gear which I use on daily basis. That always makes me pause to think about IEMs and DAPs. But when I look across my desk, the gear that stands out to me the most are the accessories by DDhifi. I’m talking about cable adapters, lightning and usb-c digital adapters, usb-c interconnects, small usb/DAC dongles, and even storage cases, all of which are in my daily rotation when I’m testing, comparing, and analyzing various products I’m reviewing.
I probably have majority of DDhifi accessories and not a single one collecting dust. These audio accessories created by Demond Ding, the mastermind behind DDhifi, always stand out, and not just based on their functionality, but also their fashionable audiophile appeal. Without a doubt, sound quality and functionality should always come first, but when the product looks sexy, it’s a bonus! And when you can combine a few pieces of accessories into one compact design, you will appreciate its functionality even more!
Today, I’m going to look at 4 of their latest accessories which I would like to share about it in these short snapshot impressions.
TC44A USB DAC to 4.4mm adapter (USB-C to 4.4)
Designed around a popular CS43131 single DAC chip, this small dongle is only 19.5 x 21 x 12mm in size and 5.5g in weight. It supports up to 32bit/384kHz files and DSD256, but not MQA decoding. With 60mW power you have plenty of power for most IEMs and some efficient headphones, but obviously not for more demanding headphones. The device is very compact and has a solid build. Usb-c connector goes in tight and designed to work with smartphones and DAPs even inside the case.
What is so special about this little guy? It uses 4.4mm balanced socket, while the connection is single ended. At first, I thought it was a typo in the spec. But the spec is correct. Since only a single CS43131 being used, the audio path is SE. Realizing that many audiophiles are switching to 4.4mm BAL cables, in order to avoid using additional 4.4mm to 3.5mm adapter this tiny usb-c DAC already provides this functionality inside, making it very convenience for use with 4.4mm cables.
For my testing, I was using Galaxy S22 (Sony DAP was used only for pictures since I take my pictures with S22) and Oriolus Traillii IEMs paired up with DDhifi own BC130A NYX Silver cable. Since I also have their TC35B and TC35 Pro small usb-dac dongles, I wanted to see how these will stack up against their new TC44A. Btw, some probably noticed, DDhifi model numbers indicate the jack type where TC35x (3.5mm) and TC44x (4.4mm).
TC44A (CS43131, $79) vs TC35B (Realtek ALC5686, $45) – I hear a noticeable improvement in sound with TC44A having better dynamics, less sound compression, blacker background, and wider soundstage. Also, with TC35B being 3.5mm, I had to use 4.4mm to 3.5mm adapter, while it wasn’t an issue with TC44A.
TC44A (CS43131, $79) vs TC35 Pro (ES9281, $95) – here, the improvement was more subtle, with both having similar dynamics, though TC44A has a blacker background and a more holographic soundstage expansion. Also, TC35 Pro needed 4.4mm adapter to use 4.4mm cable, while TC44A doesn’t. The only real advantage of TC35 Pro is support of MQA.
TC09S usb-c to usb-c OTG cable
TC09S is their new usb-c to usb-c OTG NYX series data cable for use with popular usb-dac dongles and other usb-dac devices connected to your Smartphone with usb-c port. This particular cable is a bit bulkier than other short usb-c OTG cables since usb power and data are completely isolated in two adjacent separate cables with individual shielding. The power cable side uses thicker 25.6AWG wires with a high purity litz OFC and pure silver shielding plated over litz OFC. The data cable side uses 26.7AWG wires with high purity litz pure silver and combination of litz OFC and litz silver plated over litz OFC shielding.
Would I consider this double-shielded parallel cable structure with isolated power and data to be an overkill? Sure, especially since it uses wires and shielding with material that is not typical for USB cables. And the use of two separate cables with extra shielding results in 13g of weight which is a bit heavier for a typical 10cm OTG cable. The connector housing is also bigger since it needs to accommodate 2 cable wires, though the connector itself has a solid build and a tight fit when connected with smartphones and usb-dac dongles.
But to my surprise, and confirmed in numerous blind tests, I found this TC09S usb-c OTG cable to offer an improvement in soundstage expansion in comparison to other cables, having a more holographic soundstage with a sound spreading wider left/right. I tested and compared TC09S cable against stock cables of RU6, S2, W2, and UA5, and found soundstage improvement in every case. I even tested and compared TC09S against other aftermarket cables, including DDhifi own TC05 and another one from OE Audio, and still found TC09S to have a wider and more holographic soundstage. I don’t know how to explain this, but I can hear it. And also, TC09S has the advantage of being bi-directional while TC05 is unidirectional cable.