ddHiFi TC44B Review
A tasty slice of cheese
Pros: – Balanced and open sounding
– Clean and precise
– Dual balanced outputs 2.5mm & 4.4mm
– Build quality
– Seamless operation
Cons: – A little bulkier than the competition
I have contacted ddHiFi to ask for a TC44B review and they have kindly responded by providing one free of charge.
This review reflects my honest and subjective opinion.
ddHiFi is a relatively new brand that was established in 2017 by Mr. Demond Ding a former engineer and lead designer for FiiO and Oppo.
They started by building some very useful audio adapters and they have grown to include an earphone (Janus) and a few small dac/amps with the top model being the TC44B.
They have stripped their products from unnecessary cosmetics and fancy packing in order to offer good quality at an affordable price.
The ddHiFi TC44B comes into a simple and environmental friendly small carton box with an extra USB type C to type A adapter.
Physical specifications and build quality
The TC44B is a small USB type C (a lighting version is also available) to 2.5/4.4mm balanced dac/amp with an embedded cable.
Due to having both balanced outputs it is a little more bulkier than similar products like the iBasso DC04 but still very compact to fit with ease into our pocket.
It has a unique triangular shape that looks like a cheese slice wrapped with matcha skin as we can read at the ddHiFi website.
The dimensions are 18.3×16.8x30mm with an extra length of 98.5mm for the cable including the plug and weights about 13gr.
It is an all aluminium chassis with good build quality without hard edges and a quality green paint job.
The cable is silver plated with teflon insulation and TPU coating in order to be thin but strong although there is not a strain relief to protect the side that enters into the main body.
This is a high end miniature chip with a dynamic range of more than 120dB able to provide high resolution PCM output of up to 32bit/384KHz and native DSD64/DSD128/DSD256 decoding.
It is a low powered audio DAC with a high-fidelity headphone amplifier to provide a superior system-level audio performance without draining battery life.
The integrated Class H smart adaptive headphone amplifier can drive 2 Vrms of output into 600Ω and 30mW into 32Ω.
It provides precision volume control with 0.5 dB step size and the power consumption varies from 6.25 to 40.2 mW at maximum.
Dual configuration will double the output power to 4 Vrms/600Ω and in our case it is configured to provide 120mW/32Ω but somehow it seems that it doesn’t output 4V at 300ohm load.
Of course power consumption is also doubled so the TC44B is going to drain the host device battery much faster.
The TC44B is plug and play with Android and it will completely bypass the internal sound card so there is no need for a special application.
Sound calls are not supported.
For Windows 10 we need to install the available drivers that offer ASIO support.
We have used it with a couple of mobile phones and tablets plus a Windows PC without encountering any functional problems at all.
Sound tests were performed with various earphones like the Dunu EST 112 , FiiO FH3/FD5 and Kinera Freya.
We have also tried it with the easy to drive Sennheiser HD 660S and HiFiMan Ananda to discover that the TC44B is powerful enough to drive them with satisfying results although not to their full potential.
It’s not a secret that we are very fond of the CS43131 musical and very engaging sound presentation.
The overall sound signature is very balanced and linear with good extension both ways without any significant roll off to be noticed at least for the intended use scenario.
Bass is full sounding with satisfying levels of clarity and layering plus it never feels out of control.
This balanced configuration is certainly better than the single ended variants with upgraded driver control and ample dynamics as long as we don’t use inefficient headphones.
Mid range feels clear and well articulated with strong presence and natural voiced timbre.
Voices and instruments sound full bodied with a lifelike quality to them and deep sense of musicality.
Treble is smooth and easy going but still full of energy and crispness.
Decay feels very natural as for timing and pace are top notch and the TC44B can handle busy and complex material with ease.
Noise floor is surprisingly low and the black background helps with detail retrieval and precision that are more than enough for the price point.
Head stage presentation may lack in depth layering but feels very airy with good width and positioning.
All in all a very enjoyable sounding device with a touch of an analog feeling and great technicalities that feels at home with all kinds of music.
Vs the iBasso DC04
Compared to the iBasso DC04 ($69) the differences come down mainly into physical attributes than sound quality itself with the exception that the DC04 is somewhat more powerful at 190mW/32ohm.
Both devices sound almost indistinguishable and the decision factor should be design and size.
If all of your balanced earphones are 4.4mm then the iBasso is the obvious choice as it is $30 cheaper but if you have both 2.5mm and 4.4mm then you should go with the TC44B especially if you hate adapters as much as we do.
At the end
The ddHiFi TC44B is easily an instant recommendation because for $89 we get a pocket friendly but powerful dac/amp with two balanced outputs and an excellent sound performance.
Copyright – Laskis Petros 2021