ISN Audio is not a new name now. If you want to buy some budget-friendly good quality cables there are no other brands like ISN Audio. I have used a few of them like ISN Audio C4, S4 and all the 8 and 16 core variants. Top of that who can forget their Rambo earbud, which was also a fantastic mid centric earbud. Recently ISN Audio has launched some high-end cable and a Type-C DAC, I haven’t tried those cables but recently does have received the ISN Audio Type-C DAC Adapter. I would like to thank Penon Audio for sending me the unit for review.
Specifications of ISN Audio Type-C DAC
- Model Number – Type C DAC Adapter,
- DAC Chip – Realtek Alc4042,
- Structure – Aluminum,
- OTG Plugs – Type C USB 2.0,
- Analog Output – 3.5 mm/2.5 mm/4.4 mm,
- Cable – 8 strands braided SPC,
- Length – 13 cm,
- USB Protocol – UAC 2.0,
- MAX decoding – 32 bit/384kHz,
- SNR – 100 dB,
- Distortion THD+N – < 0.0004%,
- THD+N: -73dB
- Crosstalk: -78dB
- Frequency Response – 20Hz-40 kHz,
- Compatibility – Windows, Android (Android 5.0 or above),
- Weight – 12 grams.
What’s in the Box of ISN Audio Type-C DAC?
ISN Audio Type-C DAC Adapter.
Tested Sources with ISN Audio Type-C DAC
Windows 10 PC, Oneplus 6T, Realme C2, TempoTec V1, Hiby R3, Shanling M0.
Tested Apps with ISN Audio Type-C DAC
USB Audio Player Pro, Hiby Music, Tidal Desktop, Audirvana plus, Hiby Music player, Foobar2000.
Tested Gears with ISN Audio Type-C DAC
TFZ My Love 3, HE 150 Pro Earbud, Sennheiser HD58x, Magaosi K3 HD, Shozy Form 1.1 and Shozy Form 1.4
Product Link – Here
ISN Audio Type-C DAC Adapter (TX-384Khz Hifi Type_C Audio) doesn’t require any driver to work on any devices. It’s a plug and play device. As soon as you insert it in your PC or phone it starts working.
Setup & File format Support
ISN Audio Type-C DAC Adapter works without any setup with devices like Android phones (OTG enabled) and Laptops with Type C ports or USB A. To use ISN Audio Type-C DAC with PC a USB A to Type C converter is required which is not included in the box. ISN Audio Type-C DAC supports PCM up to 32 bit/384kHz but no DSD playback support.
Presentation, Design & Build Quality
The presentation is simple. It doesn’t come inside any paper box with branding instead it comes inside a small leather type pouch. Through the transparent windows in the pouch, you can see the device and the pouch is good in quality and useful while carrying the device.
Design and build quality are good. Silver and black color schemes have been applied to the type C DAC. Both the type-c connector and 3.5 mm plug is very good in quality and feels solid in hand. The connecting 8 strands braided SPC cable is also very solid and nice looking. Overall the device is well built and looks good too. The only complaint is that the type- C plug could have gold plated.
Output power, Noise, and Temperatures
ISN Audio Type-C DAC is very powerful and it also supports hardware volume control via apps like Hiby Music. Though till now USB Audio Player Pro is not supporting the hardware volume and may support in near future via a software update. As per output power, it can easily drive 300 ohms headphones/earbuds. With all my IEMs and headphones I have never faced any background noise and after using it more than 3 hours no heating issue near type C plug is present.
Though the output power is very high still the input power is very low so the battery drainage from your portable devices when using ISN Audio Type-C DAC is very low. Roughly 1% battery decrease can be seen after using 30 minutes of continuous playback from a 3000mAH battery-powered device.
Mic & In-Line Controls and Standby mode
ISN Audio Type-C DAC supports standby mode so only after connecting the headphone/IEM in the 3.5 mm port the device starts working. The inline controls work fine. If your IEM supports 3 buttons inline control, then you can receive and disconnect the incoming calls by pressing the middle button. The middle button on the IEM cables also supports Play/Pause function when playing music. Vol+ and Vol- also work with 3 buttons inline controls. But the MIC function is not working which is sad.
This DAC is overall a balanced sounding DAC. Both lower and higher frequency part is adequately present and the midrange is also not behind. In terms of resolution and texture, it is capable of maintaining quality and quantity.
With all my bassy IEMs while playing songs like ‘Billie Jean’ by Michael Jackson, ISN Audio Type-C DAC successfully presented a great amount of lower frequency response. The mid-bass section is more focused yet the sub-bass section is not too low. Bass is punchy and full of energy, the speed is also commendable. The amount of quality bass ISN Audio Type-C DAC producing, is enough for any bass lovers too.
The entire midrange is sharp and natural sounding without any bass bleed. The upper midrange is more focused than lower Mids still both the male and female vocals are crisp and full of micro details. Any dull headphone or IEM can benefit from it. Songs like ‘Wonderful Tonight’ by Eric Clapton sounding pleasing and lively but less warm.
The higher frequency part has been extended properly so it’s a better idea not to use any bright IEM with it. The higher frequency part is way better than other type-C DACs which I have reviewed recently. With well-mastered tracks and at least a decent IEM, you can enjoy the sparkling and airy treble part. The Treble part doesn’t have any unusual ear piercing spikes.
Soundstage, Imaging, and Instrument Separation
The soundstage is wide but not super wide but the imaging is good. Instrument separation is superb and with very complex tracks it performing very well.
ISN Audio Type-C DAC Vs BGVP T01
Both ISN Audio Type C DAC and BGVP T01 priced the same. Build- wise BGVP T01 is nowhere near the ISN audio one. Especially the cable part of T01 is very weak where in ISN Audio DAC the cable is solid and thick. T01 supports ASIO drivers but ISN Audio Type C DAC doesn’t have any such driver. Sound-wise they also almost the same but my final choice will be ISN Audio due to more sub-bass presence. Output power-wise T01 is slightly more powerful than ISN Audio’s DAC.
ISN Audio Type-C DAC Vs DD TC35
DD TC35 comes inside a proper packaging and also less pricey. Build-wise both these two DACs are similarly well built still ISN Audio Type C DAC feels more solid. Another advantage ISN Audio Type C DAC has, that it’s 2.5 mm and 4.4 mm variants are also available to buy which DD TC35 doesn’t have. Sound-wise they are almost similar but ISN Audio Type C DAC can produce more sub-bass, details, and treble. Soundstage and imaging are almost the same.
Who could have believed 2/3 years ago that some 30-50$ portable DACs could perform such a way that 100$ DAC feel under-powered? Yes, it is true; these ultra-portable Type-C DACs performing such a way that other higher priced battery-powered devices now lost their market value. ISN Audio Type-C DAC adapter like all other products from ISN audio, is not only well priced but also good sounding. One thing missing is proper packaging and if you don’t care about packaging and want to have a great affordable DAC, ISN Audio TYPE C DAC is an ideal choice.