Hilidac or Audirect are the chinese audio manufacturers producing a wide range of DAC AMP and they haven’t been releasing any products for some time and now they awake and released the Atom 2 single ended 3.mm DAC with MQA decoding, DSD native and 32 bit768kHz. In this review lets see is this new product relevant in today’s market with a lot of budget options already prevailing.
This unit has been provided to me as a part of a review cricle organised by HiFiGo. I thank the team for organising this circle and giving this nice opportunity to test out the audio gears. I have not been influenced by any means to manipulate this review and hence the views are completely mine and it may vary to your observations since the source and preference changes from user to user.
>Premium ES9281AC DAC Chip.
>Full MQA decoding.
>PCM up to 32-Bit/768kHz decoding.
>Premium Crystal Oscillator.
>Compact and lightweight.
>Multi-color LED notification.
>Frequency response: 20Hz-40kHz.
>Output type: 3.5mm single-ended.
>Output power: ≥30mW(16Ω), ≥62mW(32Ω), ≥7mW(600Ω)
Specifications Credits: HiFigo
DESIGN AND BUILD:
The design of the Atom 2 is pretty minimalistic and simple. In other words i love the design language of the Atom 2 , they did it neatly and precisely. The build is made of steel and looks very premium in the hand and has some nice weight. The weight seems to be around 18 gms and gave that premium weight factor to the overall build. There are two versions available namely the Type C and the Lightning one for apple users.
The branding is done nicely in the bottom portion with a red background and the type c connector on the top portion. The led is situated in the below portion and lights up very brighter when the room lights are switched off which is quite disturbing. The 3.5mm jack is situated on the side of the DAC and is easily accessible when the DAC is connected.
The USB A connector is also encased in the aluminium casing which looked quite sturdier. There is also a USB A to Type C cable which I haven’t received since I got this as a review unit from my review circle.
This Atom 2 doesn’t support the Windows 7 and lower version which is pretty disappointing which just made me test out this DAC only via my iPhone.
The Atom 2 has only the single unbalanced output
The overall sound output is very clean and smooth. The low end is present evidently even though they have the ESS Sabre DAC which has that typical ESS sound signature which is pretty neutral to bright. The power output is however on the lower side where they are quite efficient for high sensitive iem but for power demanding headphones or the planar earphones like the Tin P2.
The noise floor of the Atom 2 is pretty neat and I have tried all the iem and have noticed no hiss in the background which is pretty nice.
The low end is the surprising factor here. They have nice bodied bass and impactful bass in the atom 2. The overall low is nicely textured, resolved and has nice separation. If you are having any nice warm sounding pair of iem then this will be a nice treat to you, where the bass separation and the texture got improved a lot
The sub bass is very nice here. It’s tight, punchy and has a nice rumble. The mid bass has a nice overall body and weight to the tone. Overall I loved the low end performance here despite the use of ESS dac since they are very balanced to neutral bright.
The Mid Section is the other sweet aspect here. The midrange is neither too forward or laid back, it just hits the right spot for me. The instruments have nice air and separation. Both the lower and upper mids are balanced pretty well and no harshness or sibilance is seen.
The mid range seems slightly on the thin side which also adds that clarity and detail in the mid section but I would have loved some more warmth and weight in the vocals. The female vocals especially need some weight eg: Taylor Swift Vocals. The clean power can be felt here in the midrange producing a lot of details and separation. Despite having the thin vocals especially female i like the midrange here due to that clean and nice separation.
The treble is the compromised part here. They sound pretty smooth and harsh. They have nice separation and air in between the instruments but the extension in the upper end is what is lacking. They extend average and also it depends on the capacity of the iem too. Overall the extension is average but the separation and the liveliness is presented well here. If you like more extended treble then this might disappoint you but when it comes to clean, fatigue free, smooth treble yet maintaining nice separation and air then this can be your best bet to get.
SOUNDSTAGE AND IMAGING:
Since the bass is nice and impactful the soundstage headroom is very nice and wide. The sweet sub bass in this Atom 2 helped a lot in this expansive soundstage creating a nice overall headroom. The good amount of air and separation in between the instruments does a great job in creating that nice wide soundstage.
The Imaging is pretty nice here where you can easily point out the instruments and the vocals even in the busy tracks. The precise positioning of the instruments can be done very well here due to those nice thin notes in the midrange which eventually helped in the clean sound output in the midrange.
The overall separation and the resolution is pretty nice here which created that nice sense of big soundstage and precise instruments positioning.
The power is the next compromising factor here since this has very nominal power output at 32 ohms.
>30mW – 16 ohms
>62mW – 32 ohms
>7mW – 600 ohms
The power output is pretty average and hence if you are using this to drive some power hungry cans or even some earphones then this might not suffice you. Even while using the in-ear monitors with nominal sensitivity I need to keep the volume at 60 percent to hear in a normal environment which makes you raise the volume in the noisier surroundings.
One other advantage of this Atom 2 is that they don’t draw power from the source if the earphones are not connected, which is a pretty nice implementation to see.
MQA: This Atom 2 supports the final fold of MQA but i haven’t tested it out since i still can’t find a big difference between the FLAC and MQA
APP: The Atom 2 uses the UAPP support to utilise the high bit rate file playback and Apple users can enjoy the direct clean output.
The device has a light indicator to show the playback rate. The following are the indications:
Red: 44.1/48kHz PCM
Blue: 88kHz – 384 kHz PCM
Green: 705 – 768kHz PCM
White: DSD Native
Atom 2, the latest dongle DAC option from the Audirect brand is a pretty nice and recommendable one. The Atom 2 has one of the clean and smooth sounding dac available in the market yet without compromising on the other technicalities. The DAC itself is made robust and neat. The design of the Atom 2 is very nice and functional where they don’t dangle, instead they look fixed and neatly attached to the device’s port. The power draw is minimal and heating is very much negligible in my testing. The bass response and the soundstage is what I liked a lot in this despite the use of the ESS dac and that sub bass tightness is nicely done here. Overall I liked this product a lot and if you want some clean, warm and smooth sounding dac with minimal and functional looking then this is the DAC you need.
PROS AND CONS:
- Excellent soundstage in all dimensions
- Clean and Smooth Sound
- Nice Separation and Resolution
- Functional Design
- Power Draw
- Power Output
- Win 7 Compatibility
This Review is Written By KATHIRAVAN.C
I’m Kathiravan from Tamilnadu. A budding audiophile here with high love towards music and audio equipment. My first experience of enjoying the hifi audio came when I started to use budget chi-fi gears and now it came all along the way of reviewing the gears with high end stuffs. I love reviewing audio products.
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