Disclaimer: DD Hifi provided the leather case and the headphone adapters for the purpose of this introduction and review. Thanks Lily & Demond!
My Video review:
Typical loudspeaker listeners are having sweet dreams at night knowing their precious loudspeakers can be connected with cables that are terminated either with a banana plug or with a spade plug (also known as just speaker plugs). However, typical headphone listeners are not sleeping that well due to a myriad of headphone standards: there is the normal single ended 3.5mm (1/8”) jack, the 6.35mm (1/4”) jack, the 2.5 mm jack, then it gets really weird with the balanced connections: dual 3pin XLR, single 4pin XLR, 4.4mm, 3.5mm, 2.5mm and there is also a 4pin ALO/RSA jack – remember those? So, making reviews for portable digital audio players, IEMs and headphones as of late feels like a roller-coaster, because there isn’t a clear headphone jack standard and everyone uses what they think is the best.
Headphone adapters became a necessity, otherwise you can’t use your DAP or your headphone at its fullest potential.
The folks of DD Hifi decided to make some of the best-looking adapters using high-quality materials and they didn’t stop there. Demond Ding formed the company in Q3 of 2017 and as a former FiiO member decided to make some high-quality leather cases for newest FiiO devices and few headphone cables along the way as well.
The goodies we’ve got form DD Hifi are the DJ44A, DJ35A headphone adapters and the C-M11 Napa leather case for the FiiO M11 DAP.
DD Hifi C-M11 Leather case
I will start with the case first since M11 deserves something more than the clear TPU case found in the package. I will spare with the boring dimensions and weight, the case fits the M11 DAP like a glove, this is everything you need to know about its dimensions.
I’ve got the Napa leather version that has a greenish tint to it, it feels really smooth and soft to the touch. The leather itself is quite thick, this surprised me the most. The thickness on the back of the case will surely absorb not only regular wear and tear but some drops as well. The C-M11 case has an interesting design I must add. It looks unusual at first with a large gap on the back but later on I started liking this feature since FiiO, Hi-Res and Hi-Res Wireless logos are not blocked from the human eyes and add just a bit of style and uniqueness.
The play/pause, fast forward and reverse buttons have markings on the leather helping identify those buttons and can be easily pushed, no issues right there.
Inserting the DAP sideways also seems like a different approach compared to the official FiiO case, a cleverer one for sure.
I’ll be honest with you, I tried the official FiiO leather case, it is called SK-M11 but I felt the quality is not really top notch and doesn’t make justice to the M11 looks. It doesn’t protect accidental drops since the headphone jacks are exposed and you can scratch it there or worse – damage it, the insertion also looks rudimental and in time when the case loses some firmness M11 can slip and drop on the ground. That is an Ok case, but not the best one for the M11.
DD Hifi version is having a softer and thicker leather, a clever insertion and offer a better protection for M11 on the bottom where headphone jacks are. It also doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (cough cough Dignis), at only $36 I think it is worth every penny. Take it as an extended warranty period for your precious DAP 😊
DD Hifi DJ44A and DJ35A adapters
I am feeling so relieved having these two in my hand, because believe it or not I am basically saving a lot of money by not purchasing additional cables instead. When 4.4mm Pentaconn headphone standard was announced and later on released I had few face-palm moments but later on I agreed this is probably the best balanced headphone standard that could work not only with desktop class headphones but with IEMs as well. Sony and Sennheiser quickly adopted it in their product lines, their current DACs, headphone amp combos and DAPs are carrying it, such a nice looking and sturdy jack.
Problem is the rest adopted the 2.5mm balanced standard (A&K I’m looking at you!) and buying two different cables for the same headphone became a thing and lots of wallet damage followed.
Enter DJ44A adapter. This thing is like Zelda’s Triforce: it’s cute, super small and really sturdy, what’s not to like? In simple words if you have a 2.5mm terminated balanced headphone cable and you want to use that headphone with a 4.4mm balanced out source, just use this adapter, it is that easy!
I was very pleased to find that every adapter is coming in a small wooden box, this is more than I expected, there is even some thin paper lining to protect the adapters during shipping. From the moment I opened the wooden box I am observed lots of tiny details and the attention to them is high.
The housing is fully transparent and I again think this looks kind of cool and amazing. You can see the PCB inside that is gold plated (to resist oxidation). The metal parts that are fixing the transparent shell are made of stainless steel – yep, that’s not aluminum and the headphone jacks are gold plated copper ones, basically the best there is. The stainless steel is even laser engraved with the company logo, manufacturing year and with the adapters name. I tested it with the FiiO M11 and of course it works as intended and sound degradation should be close to zero since this is the shortest path, a short adapter cable has a longer signal path by comparison.
If you have an amazing headphone cable terminated with the 2.5mm balanced jack but want to use it not only with balanced 4.4mm sources but with simple, single ended 3.5mm sources as well, you should also consider the DJ35A adapter from DD Hifi.
This one is of course made with the same materials and design cues as the DJ44A but is terminated with a single ended 3.5mm headphone jack. This one is also converting the balanced signal to normal single ended signal. This is made in the safest way possible, basically the earth of your L and R signal are attached to a single earth connector on the 3.5mm jack. The only headphone adapter that could potentially damage (in time) your source is the other way around: having a single ended cabled and converting it to a balanced signal.
DD Hifi proved to have style, refinement, a wild imagination, their own design-language and everything can be seen in their final products. They used some of the highest-grade materials and their end results are looking impressive. I will be using daily the C-M11 leather case and probably the same can be said about the DJ44A adapter. Thank you DD Hifi and good luck in your future adventures!
You can purchase their leather cases, headphone adapters or cables following this link.