It’s June 2020, the world is still affected by a deadly virus and our daily life is not the same as even a few months back. To sustain a livelihood, we have to go to work. The only protection we can use is wearing a face mask, sanitize our hands and sanitize items we use daily. Portable music gears need sanitization too as they are very close contact with us. Outdoor music listening is not the same as what we used to, now I use as fewer gears as possible. In these difficult times, portability matters to me the most. And one particular device from my collection proved it’s high importance, though it is the world’s smallest DAC too. I am talking about DD HiFi TC35B, which I received a few days back and I would like to thank DD Hifi for sending the unit to me for review purposes.
- Model Number – TC35B,
- Structure – 316 Stainless Steel,
- OTG Plugs – Type C USB 2.0,
- USB Protocol – UAC1.0/ 2.0/ 3.0,
- Analog Output – 3.5 mm (CTIA Compatible),
- USB Codec – ALC5686,
- THD+N – <-92dB
- SNR – 120 dB,
- Output Power – 30 mW @ 32 ohms,
- Driveability – 12 to 200 ohms,
- Frequency Response – 20 Hz to 20 kHz,
- MAX Decoding – 384 KHZ/32 bit,
- Weight – 6 grams,
- Dimensions – 18.8 x 11.2 x 10.2 mm,
- Compatibility – Windows, Mac OS, Android, IOS (I pad pro with Type C).
Product Page – Here
What’s in the Box?
- DD HiFi TC35B Type C DAC dongle,
- 3.5mm Earphone Jack Anti-dust Plug with rope,
- Warranty card.
Apple OS and Android don’t need any driver. Windows XP/7/8 users first need to install the driver before using this device. Tried to install the drivers in windows 10 but the ‘Realtech USB audio manager’ is not working. Instead, it has been identified by the PC’s Realtech Audio Console as headphones but still the Realtech ASIO drivers not working. As the main usage of DD TC35B is with portable devices, I am not concerned with ASIO drivers. Driver Link 1 , 2 .
Firmware and Standby
Till now DD TC35B doesn’t support user flashable firmware upgrade but maybe in the future, it can. The good thing is like other portable USB Type C DACs, DD TC35B supports standby feature. If nothing is connected in the 3.5 mm port the device remains in standby mode which helps to reduce battery usage when the device is not in use.
Windows 10 PC, Realme C2, TempoTec V1-A.
Sennheiser HD598, Magaosi K3 HD, Shozy XB, Shozy 1.1.
USB Audio Player Pro, Foobar2000.
To showcase the presentation, I have made an unboxing video which you can watch below. Presentation of DD Hi-Fi items is always nice and this time the wooden box also has a ‘dd’ logo.
Design & Build Quality
Design and build quality are excellent. The main reason behind DD Hi-Fi’s growing popularity is its unique design choice on every product. This time also no exception, TC35B’s design is unique and very nice. The device is so small that it is hard to imagine how they fitted the electronics and 3.5mm port inside. The entire body is made out of stainless steel and the front side is covered with a golden brass plate. Even being so small the device feels solid in hand, but chances of losing it in your backpack are very high so storing it in a small IEM case is always a better idea. Only one side of the device is flat with the type c plug so when using with smartphones you can’t use it facing on the other side up, it can harm the type c port of your phone.
Output power and Noise
The output power of DD HiFi TC35B is high but mostly suitable for IEMs and not so demanding headphones. Strangely with PC, the output power is much higher than mobile devices and even can run 300 ohms headphones easily. Very minimum background noise can be noticed too.
Power Draw and Heating
Though the output power draw is not mentioned in the specification sheet, it is very negligible and the device doesn’t heat up at all.
Hardware Volume control and Mic/in-line control
DD TC35B supports hardware volume control via applications like USB audio player pro. Both Mic and in-line controls work fine. I have tested lots of type c dongles but DD TC35B is one that supports Mic and in-line controls without any problem.
Frankly speaking, when the new TC35B launched a few months ago, I thought it may not as good as the old TC35 which I revied earlier. Now the reason I thought the new TC35B might not that good due to its size. But surprisingly the DD TC35B sounds good. No, it’s not as good as your 500$ desktop DAC but it is far better than what we used to listen from our smartphones. Sonically I would say the DD TC35 is overall balanced sounding DAC with a hint of warmth.
TC 35B is mainly mid-bass oriented but with bassy IEM, you can still feel the punch in the sub-bass region. The sub-bass rumble is less but present. The quality of the bass is here much more prominent than its quantity. The speed is average but the decay is close to perfect. I am not a huge fan of bass and I prefer a liner lower frequency, so DD TC35B managed to please me too.
The entire midrange in TC35B is very transparent and free from any coloration. It feels very natural yet energetic. Upper-midrange is slightly more focused than lower mids. As a result, male vocals sound clean and calm where female vocals sound a bit more transparent and sharp but not shouty. So overall a clean and detailed midrange is what you can expect from TC35B.
The higher frequency part is not too extended, a roll-off is present at the 10kHz region, thus the sparkle is missing. As no roll-off in the early stage, the treble region is crispy and has a good definition. If you always worried about treble when buying new audio gears, TC35B is safe for you. It’s neither blunt nor harsh for ears.
Soundstage/ Instrument Separation
The added imaginary soundstage is not super wide and depth is also less. Instrument separation is good and can handle complex tracks too. If your IEM is capable of producing a good soundstage then you are good to go but don’t expect TC35B to add any extra in it.
TC35 Vs TC35B
The old TC35 was a 20$ wonder. Seriously good but sadly discontinued now. The new TC35 is more appealing than the old one for me due to its size. Now the new TC35B is more expensive than the old one and has both advantages and disadvantages. If the price is the disadvantage, the advantage is sound. New TC35B is more open sounding and can produce better details. The Treble region is also better in TC35B. Some sacrifices have been done in soundstage but that’s not huge.
TempoTec Sonata HD Pro vs DD HiFi TC35B
Tempotec Sonata Hd Pro and TC35B are also similarly priced device but in terms of portability, TC35B has an advantage. TC35B doesn’t have detachable cable so no issue with finding cable every time. But I would like to give TempoTec sonata HD pro some extra points, for having on-device volume control and better lower frequency response. TC35B also has an advantage, which is its capability fo producing more details and output power. Between these two DACs TC35B is more convenient and powerful where Sonata HD pro has a small edge in the sound part. So the choice is yours.
Affordable smartphones have flooded the market and the manufacturer almost minimized the gaps between high-end equipment and our smartphones. For example, smartphone photography is now capable of producing stunning images that were only possible by DSLR a few days ago. But the audio section is neglected and no such effort can be seen. Even modern phones started ditching the headphone out too. In this time devices like DD HiFi TC35B is a boon for users who want to experience rich music from their affordable smartphones. There are plenty of people out there who don’t want to invest a huge amount of money on portable music gears and still want an overall better listening experience from their smartphone. DD TC35B is a good option for them.