– Guillaume Fourcadier, on-mag.fr
Translated from French
In the middle of the big living room DAC-headphone amps from the NuPrime brand, the little Hi-mDAC ant is slowly entering the world of accessible audiophile products. This device is admittedly just a mini sound card with USB-C input and simple volume control. Yes, but it could well become a small reference.
Simple little ingot, modern and unsurprising
Difficult to discuss the appearance of the NuPrime Hi-mDAC as it bets on formal simplicity. It takes the appearance of a small block (or rather 2 assembled blocks) of anodized and slightly chamfered aluminum, embellished with a glass front housing only 2 LEDs (one to indicate a PCM reading, the other DSD), a USB-C socket on one side and a 3.5 mm mini-jack output on the other. There’s nothing to complain about in terms of build quality, except (perhaps a problem with the review unit) the hole for the jack plug, which is very slightly larger than the plug.
The NuPrime Hi-mDAC is “Plug and Play” type. Connection to an Android (OTG), iOS (with the Camera Kit) or PC/MAC smartphone allows you to immediately use the product as a sound card / headphone amplifier. If NuPrime recommends installing dedicated drivers on PC, in practice the product is perfectly functional without.
Let us clarify a point that has earned us some questions: the Hi-mDAC only turns on if a mini-jack (analog or optical digital) is connected, in order to save power. A not stupid idea, but which can easily make believe that the device is defective.
The interface is practically non-existent, and therefore devoid of any artifice or more or less useful sound options. The Hi-mDAC sports only a LED to indicate the type of file, and two buttons for adjusting volume, curtain.
Rhythmic authority and attention to detail
If we were necessarily expecting good performance from its Cirrus Logic CS43141 conversion chip, a chip also fitted to the Cowon Plenue D2 (in Dual DAC on this player), the Hi-mDAC offers a completely surprising sound experience.
The sound of the NuPrime Hi-mDAC is a great little mix of power and detail, all without getting aggressive. The soundstage is not excessive but surprisingly coherent, carried by a rather neutral even slightly brilliant signature. Unless you come across monster headphones like the Hifiman Susvara or headphones with extremely high impedance, the Hi-mDAC will be able to power almost any headphone without a hitch.
Tested on the Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back , the NuPrime Hi-mDac perfectly pays homage to its sense of energy, an energy that is nevertheless demanding and very dependent on the amplifier. Only headphones that are already brilliant like the Sennheiser HD800 match the Hi-mDac a little less well, not in terms of detail and openness but in terms of acoustic signature.
With in-ear headphones, the absence of background noise and the adaptive impedance make it possible to perfectly juggle between very round-sounding dynamic headphones and models with faster balanced armature transducers, without hindering them.
Listening, the NuPrime Hi-mDAC is not the definitive product that would make all other standalone USB DACs outdated, but finding a sound rival for it under the 250 euro mark is already very difficult. Only its great austerity is a little damaging.
The opinion of ON-mag
- Build: (4/5)
- Function: (3.5/5)
- Pure performance: (5/5)
- Musicality: (4.5/5)
- Interest: (5/5)