Hippo CriCri+ Review
I would like to thank Hippo Audio for sending me this CriCri+ for review, I will try and write as honest a review as possible.
All opinions expressed are my own, others may not agree.
Toshiba netbook – Foobar2000 – CriCri+ - SoundMAGIC HP100
IPod Classic 160gb (rockboxed) – Fiio L3 – CriCri+ - SoundMAGIC HP100
The Hippo CriCri+ is an external DAC and Headphone amplifier, it can use sample rates up to 24bit/96KHz, I have no other specs for the moment.
Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality:
I didn’t receive the actual retail packaging, so I cannot comment on that.
Accessories are good, with a small velvet pouch, a short mini to mini cable and a standard USB cable, not a lot included, but enough to get started. Fiio’s E17 has a lot more included, I would like to see Hippo maybe up their game accessory wise.
Build quality feel solid, the casing is brushed metal, and the sides are rubber coated plastic, all jacks and switches feel sturdy and like they should last. One thing about this DAC is that it is tiny, I can’t get over the fact of how small it is compared the the Fiio E17, but then again it doesn’t have half the features of the E17.
One thing I will say, if you use sensitive IEM’s be careful, as the gain is a tad high for sensitive headphones and IEM’s, it will be over comfortable listening volumes by the time you get past the channel imbalance point.
This is purely a DAC and Headphone amp, it does all that is was designed to do, it has no bass boost, not treble adjustments, it does have one handy switch which allows you to use it via USB and not charge the battery at the same time.
It is super easy to use, it will automatically install all drivers needed, no problems here, the volume control is a small wheel, that moves a little too easily, I think it could do with being a little tighter. The on/off switch is on the side, and a blue LED will tell you if it’s on, a red LED on the back will tell you if it’s charging or if you have USB plugged in.
I will write about it as a DAC + amp and also just as an amp.
For those of you who don’t know what a DAC is, it is the chip that converts all Digital audio to Analogue signal. Most computers DAC’s are not very high quality, and most computers suffer from noisy audio paths, this is where a DAC helps, it converts the audio outside of the computer, thus getting rid of any noise and using a higher quality DAC chip, means better audio quality.
Using this as the combo it is, it does a very good job, no noise to be heard, very clean and clear signal. It does pair better with slightly warm/dark headphones, as this does have a slightly bright sound, details are easily heard.
The bass is very tight and precise, the mids are a tad forward and the highs have excellent detail retrieval and sparkle.
Using this just as an amp, it again has a very clean sound, very spacial and with excellent detail retrieval. Just be careful if you have bright headphones or sensitive headphones, as this is a bright amp. One very good thing is that this is super portable as it is so small, and would be very easy to attach to an iPod.
No hiss can be heard using either combo.
I can’t comment much on the soundstage and imaging as this amp portrays what is in the recording it doesn’t add to the soundstage or imaging, it all just sounds as it should, no more, no less.
CriCri+ VS E17
Well the E17 comes packed with accessories and features, variable gain is very helpful, and it also has a fairly clean sound, but does sound a bit warm compared to the CriCri+, I think the E17 has the upper hand in features and accessories, but the CriCri+ sounds better and is smaller and a lot more portable, as it really doesn’t add much weight or bulk to a portable setup that can be used with your computer when you need it.
I personally prefer the E17 for its features, but that is because I use IEM’s most of the time, if I used more full size cans then I would probably go for the CriCri+ as it has the upper hand in detail retrieval and overall cleaner sound.
Conclusion:Well done Hippo, if you included a few more accessories, that would be better, but as it is, it is a great little amp + DAC, and I think that for $150 it is good value, although the high gain lets it down for IEM users (maybe work on that next time). I really am impressed by the details I can hear, and the size of this.
Tracks Used:Skrillex – First Of The Year (Equinox) (320kbps MP3)
Paramore – Franklin (320kbps MP3)Diana Krall – The Girl In The Other Room (FLAC)
Deolinda – Passou Por Mim E Sorriu (live) (ALAC)
Suicide Silence – Unanswered (FLAC)
Massive Attack – Angel (ALAC)
Eat Static – Dzhopa Dream (ALAC)The XX – Crystalised (FLAC)
Funeral For A Friend – Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings (ALAC)
Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (FLAC)
The Scene Aesthetic – Humans (259kbps MP3)
A Hero A Fake – Swallowed By The Sea (254kbps MP3)
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, Spring Allegro (ALAC)
Johnny Craig – Children Of Divorce (161kbps MP3)
Deadmau5 + Kaskade – I Remember (Caspa Remix) (320kbps MP3)
Black Uhuru – Utterance (ALAC)
We Are The In Crowd – Never Be What You Want (226kbps MP3)
Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront (320kbps MP3)
Concept Of Thought – Our Thought (FLAC)
Nirvana – Something In The Way (Unplugged) (ALAC)