DAC Chip: Realtek ALC4042 (Single)
PCM Unspecified, SNR: Unspecified, Power: Unspecified, 2.5mm BAL (Microphone: NO), Metal Chassis & SPC Cable
Listening Equipment: Etymotic ER4SR, ER2XR, Shure KSE1500, TIN HiFi P1, Monolith M565C
LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE TO SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING
- Natural flat timbre with uncolored tonality
- Relaxed and polite dynamics, mildly airy presentation
- Balanced Mids with realistic textures and definition, natural toned Male/Female vocals
- Smooth Treble with fast decays
- Punchy Mid-Bass, tight and fast
- Good Sub-Bass seismic responses
- Realistic guitars, piano, percussions (chimes, bells) and drums and taps
- Decently wide soundstage width with decent depth and placement
- Decent holographic spatial imaging with proper placement/layers
- Tidy layers and well-defined separation lines
- Drives Magnetic Planars and BA at 75-80/100 volume for normal listening level.
- Superb sibilance resistance
- Excellent synergy with DD and BA (below 50Ω)
- Weak dynamics and too relaxed, lacking energy.
- Treble extensions fell short of being great.
- Instruments sound somewhat dull edged a bit.
- Moderately nuanced details
- Speed is just average and may exhibit congestion on complex passages.
- Weak driving power beyond 100Ω
- Details retrieval are just average.
- No hardware volume adjuster
Hill Audio ALC4042. This is probably the most tamed Realtek based dongle I have tested so far. Driving Magnetic Planars should be avoided at all costs, the sound is just uninspiring and meek. The saving grace for this unit is when paired with an already fast and resolving BA, in my case it is the Etymotic ER4SR or energetic DD like the HZSOUND Heart Mirror. When the pairing is matched, I especially enjoyed the very neutral and natural presentation. Just like JCally JA21, JA04 and Lotoo PAW S1 etc., this is one of the dongle that can be used for marathon listening without getting fatigued. Seems to sound great with modern music, not so much for instrumentals due to the soft edged imaging and tonality.
Best Pairing: Technically adept IEMs/Headphones (100Ω max)
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