DDHiFi Accessories part quatre: More goodies that provide adaptability
As part of an ongoing comparison, DDHiFi sent more adapters to be tested. The first three work in concert with each other, at least for the same purpose; to go from USB-C to 3.5se. The Tetris model was in need of an iOS adapter, so the MFi06 was sent as well. The two DJ models came earlier, but I decided to throw all together here. The DJ models are the “next generation” of DDHiFi’s balanced adapters. From the get-go I noticed how much lighter they were from previous iterations. With near faultless preformed shapes, they carry on the tradition of high craftmanship that DDHiFi is known for, as do the others. I thank Lily for the continued support and their efforts to provide enough adapters for all purposes. To specialize (mostly) such as this is a large risk, and the goods better deliver. If the past is any indication, then these will as well.
I will do my best to provide information on usage of each, as one can peruse the website for the specific specifications (if any are listed). Form and function will go together here, as to me if the form does not aid in the function, then the unit needs a bit of work.
VE BIE Pro
Thieaudio Legacy 5
Anymore, dongles are quite powerful and bring on an added bit of flair or vibrancy to your tone. One must be careful with volume from the off. Using Tidal, you are warned, “TC35 Pro is set as output, volume lowered as a result.” Even so, when I activated it on my MBP, the volume was up a bit too loud, but not too much. I like having the Tidal volume all the way up, so I can manipulate the volume by the MBP. I have always done that.
Using the Thieaudio Legacy 4, the dongle worked as expected, providing a bit brighter sound than I was expecting. Compared to some, it may be too bright. But when paired with a richer, warmer IEM you can counter that well. Mids are highlighted to me, as are guitar works. Wish You Were Here, from the Pink Floyd tribute album is bright and airy with Joe Satriani’s awesome rendition solo. He is so good anyway, any excuse I have to listen more is worth it. I followed that up with Rain Dance, by Shane Hennessy, who’s incredible performance on Woodsong should not be missed; even if you do not like Bluegrass or the accompanying types. An incredible show where many talented artists have made their mark, Shane included. His distinct finger plucks are an astonishing offering with which to gauge anything, let alone a dongle.
Coming along effortlessly, I could get the Eye to register the different formats easily, bouncing between Tidal and Apple Music on my MBP. I like the idea of the light, but then you have to learn what each color represents. I just listen and enjoy.
Mimicking the shape of the “new” adapters, the “Mountain” fits effortlessly into the USB-C socket and is recognized immediately. It also has a light, which shows the format used in each song, but this time it is on top, allowing the user to see the light easier. Built along that “new” frame, the Mountain is light and functional. It seems that over the course of the iterations, DDHiFi has fine-tuned the materials used, and the strength needed to be functional yet sturdy. Call this an ongoing case of form and functionality benefiting craftsmanship. I will add that due to the size, there is a good chance you cannot reasonably use the next closest USB-C outlet on your laptop. I could not on my MBP, hence rendering the other one useless on that side, or the need for a multi-USB-C adapter; which many do use anyway. I am not sure how that extra adapter would affect sound quality, but I am sure someone has a graph somewhere explaining it.
Sound wise to me, the Mountain is a bit brighter than the Eye. Maybe it is the view from the summit, but I do sense a bit more emphasis up top, and a bit less in the mids. The airiness of both is very good, but I would rate my seat of the pants rating here towards the Mountain. I’m not sure there really is anything to it, but that seems to be what I hear. Another excellent offering, even with the large size hindering some use.
Utilizing DDHiFi’s upgraded TC05 USB-C to USB-C in order to connect to my MBP (the MFi06 will come, don’t worry), I marveled yet again at how DDHiFi can come up with solutions we may not even think we had. In talking to Lily (and the DDHiFi engineer) in a PM with other reviewers, we noticed how thin this cable was compared to the previous iteration of the TC05. We were assured that there would be no issue over long-term use. I can say that there has not been in 9 months of hard use since arrival of said cable. It is my go-to cable for going C-C.
The Tetris is an interesting bugger, as it is shaped like well, a Tetris piece. The valuable L-shaped one as well. It also has a format light on top for the user to “remember” what format is being used by memorized colors. Or in my case, just pull the card out and have it below the unit for me to see. Of the three listed here, I do think I like the Tetris the best for its shape and ability to “get out of the way” when hooked to the C-C cable. You can easily hook it up and use the Tetris with no bother. Plus, as per everything DDHiFi has ever made, the quality of build is second to none.
And get this, to me the Tetris is the warmest sound-wise of the three. Again, this is my seat of the pants impression; but it is back to back to back impressions using the same songs. Detail presentation of all three are magnificent and can effortlessly connect making your listening pleasure an enjoyable one.
Switching the Tetris to my iPhone XS Max, but still using the Tetris, I added the MFi06 to the mix. The MFi06 is a cable adapter very much like the C-C of the TC05. It uses the same cable and jacks, substituting in a lightning connection for the other Type-C.
That warmth provided above through the Tetris comes through on the iPhone as well. But I noticed that I had a harder time driving the Legacy 4 IEM’s through the Max. Mind you, I could still get it to deafening levels, but it took more effort on the volume from the phone. When driven properly, Tidal showed through with aplomb and a bit of verve. The only thing lacking was the fine-tuning of the volume. One notch was too low. The next too high for me. I can live with that, but I did wish for more fine-tuning of the phone volume.
Apple Music sounded full, rich and deep with bass responding like it should. Please Don’t Tell Her from BHT&TM is one of my favorite all-time songs of theirs and the bass line within is to die for. Using the Legacy 4 did the song justice and the Tetris/MFi06 combination afforded the song its due.
As far as use on the go, such as in one’s pocket, the cable is a bit long, but I had no trouble in my cargo pockets or the regular pockets, which many will use. Anymore, there are dedicated Smartphone pockets on pretty much any type of pant or short, and the duo of Tetris & MFi06 would be just fine. I even tried to tug one end out with a force mimicking taking a phone out by the cable, and they stayed attached. First, DON’T do this, for it is like pulling the light cable out of the socket by the cord (yes, we’ve all done it…), and second, it will most likely shorten the time of use for either attachment. I for one look towards longevity when purchasing something such as this, even if I am putting the device through its paces.
This adapter was sent to me as part of the initial release. I am late in reviewing it but have used both of these extensively. Many people have moved to the 4.4bal realm with regard to cables and headphones. I initially preferred the 2.5bal cables for their smaller footprint and ease of use across devices. I now have a couple of devices, which use not only 2.5bal jacks but also 4.4bal. As a result, I purchased some 4.4bal cables for some of my IEM’s or headphones. This does limit my use with some sources, but here is where the beauty of adapters comes in to play. If I want a quick comparison across two devices in balanced connectivity, but one is 4.4bal and the other is 2.5bal, then all I need to do is throw on the DJ44B. Yes, the two jacks respond slightly different, but my ears are not good enough to notice and if I am comparing sources, I always note that in writing.
I am partial to the previous iterations for 2.5bal to 3.5se but the 4.4bal to another is a needed adapter and fills a hole in my ability quite nicely. Even with the shape, which hinders the Mountain to me, the adapters here can be turned in any direction to keep the cable out of the way of any Type-C (or other) connection.
I really cannot comment on how it colored, if at all, the sound for I could tell no difference between the 4.4bal and 2.5bal. The adapter worked. And worked for its intended purpose.
Sometimes a connectivity is needed to go single-ended on the fly. My Cayin N6ii E01 motherboard is a case in point. If I am comparing that to another source, which has a 4.4bal connection, then this adapter is plug and play. I do find this to be a valid comparison when looking at sources, for the E01 is so, so good even in single end. Or if I simply want to hook up to my MBP, using my 4.4bal cable of my IEM or headphone (yes, I have for comparative purposes) I can. And isn’t the point being able to adapt on the fly without fuss?
I also cannot find any difference sound-wise with this either, although going between bal and se does lose a bit of spatial presence. But, when the need arises for a quick fix or change, then this adapter comes out of the case in no time.
I’m not sure what I can add to this review, that isn’t different from the other three parts. I said in the first that DDHiFi seems to be making their niche in items that we really didn’t know we needed until we use them. And with the devices listed above, we continue this trend for the most part. Some are fine-tuned or DD’s version of other products, but all are exquisitely built products, which function as they should. In other words, perfect for the need. Even if you did not know you needed it in the first place. All of these get used, and used often, and that really is the point as well. Adapt and use. That’s all one could ask of these excellent products.
I again thank DDHiFi for the products reviewed here. I continue to be a huge fan and applaud their efforts in branching out in different directions. Take my support as you may, these products are good to excellent and set themselves above others for their excellent build and usability and sound as a result. Well done, DDHiFi, well done.