Hilidac Atom 2 MQA USB Portable DAC/Amplifier Review (with Tanchjim Tanya)

The loss of life of the headphone jack has left headphone followers within the lurch. There’s no scarcity of dongle DACs stepping in to fill the void, however there’s extra to nice smartphone audio and a easy headphone adapter. That’s the place the Atom 2 from Hilidac is available in. That includes an ES9281AC Sabre DAC that helps all the newest HiFi codecs, together with MQA for Tidal, a wholesome dose of energy, and an exceptionally excessive sampling fee in a tiny, ultra-portable bundle, is that this $79.99 DAC courtesy of Shenzen Audio the correct alternative for you?

Since Shenzen Audio additionally despatched alongside the Tanchjim Tanya, we’ll even be looking at this inexpensive IEM in the present day too for a part of the listening expertise. Coming in at $21.99, we’ll see if it punches up or is “simply one other” twenty-dollar earphone.


Hilidac Atom 2: 

  • Present Worth: $79.99 (Shenzen Audio)
  • DAC Chip: ES9281AC
  • Headphone port: 3.5mm Single-end
  • Plug: Sort-C/Lightning optionally available
  • Frequency response: [email protected]
  • Output Energy:
    • ≥30mW (16Ω)
    • ≥62mW (32Ω)
    • ≥7mW (600Ω)
  • S/N Ratio: -118dB
  • THD+N: 0.0004%
  • Sampling Fee: Helps as much as 32bit/768kHz
  • DSD Supported: As much as DSD512
  • Weight: 18 grams 
  • Dimension: 28 x 14 x 11mm

Tanchjim Tanya

  • Present Worth: $21.99 (Shenzen Audio)
  • Impedance?16Ω± 10%
  • Frequency Vary: 20-42KHz
  • Sensitivity:[email protected]
  • 1K T.H.D<0.3%
  • Wire: Litz oxygen-free copper wire
  • Transducer :7MM shifting coil transducer
  • Diaphragm materials: PEEK
  • Plug:3.5MM in-line (gold plated)

Hilidac Atom 2 – Overview and First Impressions 

The Hilidac Atom 2 isn’t your common dongle DAC. The truth is, it’s not likely a dongle in any respect — a minimum of within the conventional sense. Whereas most dongles have a size of cable beneath the USB jack, the Atom 2 is basically a small steel brick with a USB Sort-C header on the highest and a 3.5mm jack on the aspect. Whether or not this design is an enchancment or not will range from consumer to consumer, however you’ll must consider a brand new block on the backside of your telephone. Although that’s doubtless how most customers will use a tool like this, Hilidac additionally features a USB-C-to-A adapter to be used with PC to rapidly enhance your pc audio, as effectively. 

Below the hood, the Atom 2 affords a wonderful DAC and sufficient energy to drive all however probably the most power-hungry earphones and even many headphones. It provides as much as 30mW of energy at 16 ohms and 62mW at 32 ohms. How loud your listening gadget will grow to be will depend upon its impedance (resistance) and its sensitivity (how every mW interprets into decibels of quantity). Talking typically, nonetheless, most client earphones run from 16-32 ohms and the Atom 2 will enable them to succeed in their full listening potential. Headphones may be tougher to drive, so this DAC/amp is finest fitted to in-ear headphones, however there are nonetheless very many that may run extraordinarily effectively with the Atom 2, just like the Audio-Technica M50X.

The DAC portion of the Atom is an ESS Sabre. Particularly, it’s the ES9281AC chip. This gadget can run at an exceptionally excessive decision — 32-bit/768kHz — which is effectively past even most hifi audio recordsdata in the present day and what the overwhelming majority of listeners would even be capable of understand as enchancment. What this implies, nonetheless, is that you’ve got headroom for nearly any music recordsdata you’d care to load and listen to in full-fidelity. Extra vital to your listening is its help for MQA.


MQA is the file format embraced by Tidal for its Grasp High quality tracks streamed over the online. MQA has come underneath some scrutiny just lately, however if you happen to’re a Tidal listener, the one option to entry the tracks it deems to be the very best high quality is to have a tool able to receiving them. Fortunately, these units have grow to be extra accessible and plentiful over time. It’s good to see it seem right here on such a tiny, transportable gadget. For those who consider in the advantages of MQA and luxuriate in them, the Atom 2 will assist you to expertise them anyplace.

The most important query I hear with units like this can be a easy one: why? Our telephones have built-in DACs, in any case, so why must you put money into a separate gadget? Very like a pc amp/DAC setup, eradicating audio processing from the remainder of the parts minimizes any exterior electrical noise that could be making its method into your listening. As well as, separate amp/DAC hybrids have one job, so the standard of parts tends to be higher. The result’s an enchancment in sound high quality that’s as a lot about what you may hear as what you don’t. With the Atom 2, it’s the shortage of further noise that helps reveal particulars you may in any other case have missed.

Oh, and likewise the headphone jack factor. Most of us are going to be caught shopping for a dongle of some variety if now we have wired headphones we like. A traditional dongle DAC has minimal, if any, amplification. The brick format affords more room for parts and higher warmth dissipation, which is why it’s capable of double the amplification of most inexpensive dongles at 32 ohms.


Turning to the Tanchjim Tanya, this inexpensive pair of earphones was despatched alongside by Shenzen Audio on the similar time, so I believed it will be enjoyable to check out them along with the Atom 2. They’re a easy, single-driver IEM that makes use of the bullet design to suit immediately into the ear canal. They use a 7mm dynamic driver. The Tanya solely prices $21.99, so could be very inexpensive, however nonetheless manages to return with quantity of equipment and steel shells for the bullet portion of the shell (the nozzles are plastic). In whole, there are S/M/L pairs of slender bore and huge bore silicone ideas that sound barely completely different from each other (slender supplied extra bass to my ear), a bunch of substitute filters for when your authentic pair get clogged, and a material carrying case. The cable isn’t removable however at this value, I believe that’s tremendous. A good substitute cable will value practically the identical because the earbuds themselves.

Hilidac Atom 2 – Listening and Use Impressions

Amps and DACs range in how they sound. Some do their finest to be invisible and do their job with out coloring the sound. That isn’t the Atom 2. In my listening assessments with the Tanya, in addition to the Fiio FD5, the Atom 2 positively provides heat to the sound. Bass sounds thicker and fuller, and excessive frequencies sound softer. The change isn’t nice sufficient to utterly remodel the sound of your favourite headphones however can positively improve them. It’s a standard high quality of ESS Sabre DACs and is a sound I actually get pleasure from. Utilized to headphones I already get pleasure from, the Atom 2 provides a layer of lushness on prime that’s very nice.

I used to be additionally happy to seek out that it widened the soundstage of my FD5s. Like the colour it provides to sound, the enhancement is gentle however noticeable. 


In brief, including the Atom 2 to your transportable listening rig is certainly an enhancement, however it comes with a few caveats. First, the shape issue could make utilizing the telephone awkward and leaves me involved about injury to each the DAC and my telephone. On my Samsung Galaxy Notice 20 Extremely (6.9-inches), the Atom 2 was simply large enough the place attempting to sort out a textual content message precipitated me to press into its corners making use of a minor torque. It was uncomfortable on my hand, however, extra importantly, with none cable from the USB jack, that torque is distributed proper by way of to the interior port on my telephone. It’d quantity to nothing however it won’t and that’s a priority. 

Second, that coloration to sound might not be welcome if you happen to favor a treble-centric sound. The Atom 2 will soften the affect and sparkle of these notes. It’s minor, however if you happen to don’t like a heat sound, it’s in all probability finest to look elsewhere and out of doors the world of ESS Sabre DACs.


Tanchjim Tanya Impressions

Lastly, fast impressions of the Tanya. First off, I believe it makes a beautiful pairing with the Atom 2. The heat it applies performs very effectively with the Tanya’s already wealthy low-end. Even by itself, nonetheless, you’d by no means guess that the Tanya solely prices $21.99. Its sound is of course full-bodied and heat due to that 7mm driver, so is a good match for steel, electronica, and pop. It’s not as resolving as dearer choices just like the Moondrop Aria, so it’s positively extra for informal, enjoyable listening moderately than something important however appears like a fantastic worth general.


Closing Ideas

At $79.99, the Hilidac Atom 2 affords quantity of energy, a pleasing lushness, and an enhanced soundstage — so, good worth for the greenback. The shape issue doesn’t work effectively for my gadget, nonetheless, and is certainly one thing potential patrons ought to take into accout. The Tanchjim Tanya can also be a fantastic alternative for a really inexpensive headphone you may throw in a bag or hook up with your swap for some on-the-go gaming.

The product described on this article was supplied by the producer for analysis functions.



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