DDHiFi accessories, part trois: Continued success abounds.
Introit: As my continued good luck continues (endures? sustains? revives?) DDHifi sent more goodies, err adapters for my perusal. I make no qualms about how much I like their products, and recently posted my review of the Janus (E2020) with both the Forest and Air cables. In an email to another company, I espoused how I thought their company along with a couple of others have really worked to not necessarily redefine the portable audio market but refine the portable audio market. One of those “other” companies of which I speak is indeed DDHiFi. I mentioned in part deux how it seems that DDHiFi brings products to the market that we may not have even known we need. Indeed, some of the adapters seem to be of the “wow, I did not know I need that” aspect. After using these products, they have become staple to my everyday life and usage of said items does fill some necessary “holes” in my on-the-go entourage.
From day one, the quality of these products has been superb. The thoughtfulness of which DDHiFi produces the items is worthy of note in and of itself. Trying to make the items as efficient as possible, without making a fuss or taking up too much space is one of their trademarks. I appreciate this very much. It can also be said that with this level of appreciation and high marks given there are those who are delving deeper into how the little critters work and affect our gear. While a worthwhile effort, one could be forgiven for not taking too much interest in that as to me, my hearing alone would disqualify me from hearing that 1% difference in the x mHz frequency. Again, I do not fault those that are truly trying to decipher the impact these little items have on our listening (such as how much more quickly our phone batteries suffer…), but to delve that deeply into something that costs as much as you spend on Starbucks for the week is kind of missing the point to me. So, test on and keep giving us those details, for it may be worth the effort, but not to me. Listening is the point, and that is where I define my likes and dislikes.
TC05 Type-C OTG ($15.99): https://www.ddhifi.com/productinfo/401430.html
TC28i Lightning to Type-C OTG adapter ($29.99): https://www.ddhifi.com/productinfo/94995.html
BC120B Sky-series Air cable (balanced 4.4 cable, $116.99): https://www.ddhifi.com/productinfo/83588.html
DJ44B 4.4bal to 2.5bal ($32): https://www.ddhifi.com/productinfo/1429484.html
C-N6II Cayin N6ii case ($15.99): https://www.ddhifi.com/productinfo/279185.html
iPhone XS Max
Shanling M6 Pro
Cayin N6ii mk2
Unique Melody 3DT Terminator
Fir Audio M2-5
Empire Ears Legend X
DDHiFi Janus (both Forest & Air cables)
Joey Alexander-Warna album and others
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado
twenty one pilots
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Big Head Todd & The Monsters-Beautiful World
Mark Knopfler-Down The Road Wherever
Elton John-yep, still good, still cool
Replacing the cool bamboo boxes with recycled cardboard boxes is all right in my book as an environmentalist. I can still use one of the boxes to house all of the adapters, so while functional, the recycled cardboard is better for the environment. Inside you also find shredded recycled content paper to hold the adapters in place, so that is a good thing. Each adapter also is placed inside a small plastic bag, so it does not roam free around the box.
That’s pretty much it. No frills, and recycled packaging material. Contrast this with their stellar website, and you get the impression that DDHiFi means business for the product.
Tested: Each device will get a bit of time here. Some longer, some shorter.
TC05 Type-C OTG ($15.99):
Used as a hook between my MBP and the EarMen Sparrow as well as the TR-Amp, the cable functioned as expected. It is a bit shorter than the “older version.” Upgrades include four separately insulated strands of silver-plated OCC copper, and the ability to be inserted either way (top/bottom), simply follow the arrows. On some computers, the direction does not matter, but for Smartphone use, it is recommended that you follow the arrows (out from the Smartphone/source, into the DAC/dongle). The old one could as well, but I think DD was looking to isolate the strands even more, in case of audio hum. Teflon for the inner insulation and TPC for the outer should quell any concerns. I liked how the old one had the flexible metal outer insulation but do think this an improvement and one need not worry about durability. I like this cable and use it more than the older one as a result.
Sound-wise all I can say is that compared to other cables of the sort the signature does not seem colored at all. What you hear is what the musicians want you to hear. With the ability to connect and the small footprint, this travels with me as well.
TC28i Lightning to Type-C OTG adapter ($29.99):
When another reviewer espoused the virtues of the 28i, I took note. Mine was on the way as his review/conversation was had. And I can concur. Having the ability to connect a dongle/DAC/Amp directly to an iPhone via a USB-C data cable is a valuable thing to have. I had no problems connecting the device, and it worked flawlessly. Sound was source dependent of course, but I could not hear any influence from the TC28i. DD does state that it is for OTG only, and is not suitable for a flash drive or as a camera adapter, like the Apple-branded camera adapter; nor is it suitable for charging either a USB-C item connected or the iPhone itself (makes sense since the lightning connector is needed for that).
My one concern is that of the size. The adapter is extremely well-built (well, duh) but because of the electronic necessities, the size is quite large coming out from the bottom of your iPhone. Hooking a lightning to USB-C via cable is more compact, but not necessarily better as a result of the functionality. A cable will work, and the TC28i will as well, but the size is of concern to me. I do like the adapter and when paired to the Sparrow, my iPhone took on a whole new sound. Because the Sparrow has a set volume, I did find myself lowering the volume noticeably. When hooked to the TR-Amp, having that extra volume control was appreciated. Mind you with the Sparrow, the sound was stellar, I simply had to turn the volume down more than I would have without.
BC120B Sky-series Air cable (balanced 4.4 cable, $116.99):
Made of four wire silver-plated OCC, the Sky (Air series) has four distinct colors, with the blue & white for the left and red & green for the right. Each conducting wire is double insulated with Litz wire and TPE outer coating, isolating each. Available in either MMCX or 0.78mm 2-pin, the Sky fits both sides of the Janus as well as other standard IEM’s. The cable can be had in either 2.5bal, 3.5se or 4.4bal. I opted for the 4.4bal in 2-pin, since the standard Forest cable came as a 2.5bal MMCX. A nice addition (even though most cables are tight to fairly tightly braided) is two metal “buckles” at 40cm increments up from the jack. The second of which acts as the Y-splitter.
I ran the Forest first, since it is the stock cable and enjoyed the balanced sound. With a slightly narrower soundstage, it was nonetheless pleasant with good holography. Things changed with the Sky mounted to the Janus. Immediately the soundstage opened up while using the Shanling M6 Pro with the same Alex Fox song, (To The Gypsies). The Shanling has the positive of having both 2.5bal & 4.4bal jacks, so it was an easy switch.
Volume matching the best I could (had to lower the volume by 4 on the Sky), I found the Sky to provide a more vibrant sound as well. Thinking this was new toy syndrome, I enlisted the help of my wife, who helped me change cables and place the Janus in my ear without me knowing. Each time I picked the Sky cable out correctly (3 tries with her randomly choosing the cable). While not perfect, I can say that the sound was more vibrant and richer, with an air (haha) of clarity about it that makes this an easy upgrade regardless of what IEM you have.
Functionally the cable lays well and is supple in which to work. It is a bit tighter a fit into the excellent Janus case (C80B) than the Forest, but no bother really. A nice cable upgrade, that may very well put the big boy cable companies on notice.
DJ44B 4.4bal to 2.5bal ($32):
Since I now have a couple of 4.4bal cables as well as DAP’s, which only have 2.5bal jacks, this was a natural option to try. Opting out of the traditional rounded DD look, the industrial blocked shape looks good and gives an air of compactness. The critter is sturdy. With a CNC machined housing, the quality is on par with all other DDHiFi products. In other words, exemplary. With 6N OCC internal wiring of 12 insulated OCC type, there was no noise connecting to multiple sources. From the picture below, you can see that the adapter does sit up a bit, again causing me a bit of consternation with an accident waiting to happen. Most likely not, but care is needed. Even with my concerns about the size, the unit functioned as expected, and is part of my go bag of items I carry every day. And as stated above, one of those cool bamboo boxes could hold many.
C-N6II Cayin N6ii case ($15.99):
This was a last-minute addition to my order as I have a Cayin N6ii. Made of cow leather and of the same shape, the DD edition is unique as it has a side opening slot. A nice feature, since the SD slot is located on that side. So, when you change cards, all you need is to open the side flap. This flap also tucks neatly under the N6ii to keep it safe. I tried shaking the DAP out (gently) and it did stay put. Lest you think that the flap might change the internal area, and make the Cayin sit lopsided, the velvety backing has a cutout, so it fits smoothly and nearly seamless against the back of the DAP.
I will also add that the DD case seems to be a bit stronger, strength-wise; another positive. With all sides covered and protected, the case has cutouts to allow easy access to the charging port, I’s port and the headphone jacks on the top. The cut out on top also matches where the jack is on the optional motherboards as well. My E01 motherboard jack sits dead center, showing again the care in which, the case was designed and manufactured. I really like the stock leather case of the Cayin, and the velvet backing inside is of a softer variety but prefer and use the DDHiFi due to the all-sided protection and easy access to the SD slot. For those who often download music and transfer to your cards, this makes an easy choice.
More fine wares from DDHiFi come along and yet again, I am thoroughly satisfied with the results. I stated in part deux, that DD seems to produce products that we did not know we needed until they came along. And while this may be part of the allure from part trois, DDHiFi continues to impress with their products ranging from adapters, to cables, to cases, and now a thoroughly competent IEM. Yet again, I applaud DD for the progress the company is making. And as stated earlier, DDHiFi is part of a select group of companies in my mind who hold a very high place in with my regard. I do like their products, and they do perform exceptionally well. Throw in outstanding quality, with adaptability of many in the product line, and you quickly understand why they do what they do.
Thank you again to DDHiFi and Lily for the review units. Please take a look at their products, they will be worth it.