Destroyed 3 DACs from iFi cause of Static Dischrage, need help

I bought an iFi Zen DAC back in March, 2021. Was incredibly happy with the sound output. And soon after I got HiFiMan Sundara to take full advantage of the DAC. Before that I just had Grado SR80e and RHA T20 and other IEMs. Everything was working fine, but then one fine day, I had my Sundara plugged in the balanced O/P (using a balanced cable of course), and when I picked up my headphone, I got a static shock. Was nothing major really, but apparently it destroyed my Zen DAC. Fortunately the single ended output was still working so I just went on with using those, and thought the balanced cable was at fault. 2 days later, same thing happened, but this time with the single ended port, again using the Sundara. So I determined that my amp got fried cause of the ESD. So I send it back and raised a warranty claim, luckily I got a replacement. It wasn’t until a month later that I got my replacement unit. During this month of waiting period, I got iFi Hip DAC, same thing happened. And I had to send it back, and got a replacement for it fortunately. Now I have a HIP DAC and just a week ago I got my Zen DAC back, but today I fried it again cause of ESD.
My issues is, after the second time I destroyed me hip DAC, I learned my lesson and got myself an ESD mat, which is plugged into the ground terminal of the wall plug using the provided cables, and my headphones are always on the mat whenever I’m not using them. But just today, I wasn’t wearing my ESD wrist band and was just walking around and accidentally touched my Sundara, which was still lying on the mat, plugged into the Zen DAC while my PC was in sleep state.
I want to know how can I protect my DAC better against ESD?
I have been thinking it’s becasue Sundara has a metal body, which feels sturdy but is also destroying my DACs. For now I’ve decided to walk around barefeet in my room. We have a stone/marble type of flooring in our house. But still, what else can I do?
I want to coat the body of sundara with an insulating material, or maybe an ESD protective material. Because despite all precautions, accidental touches might still happen, and you never know.

Thanks in advance for any help.

wear slippers? rubber bottoms on em can help with that. do you wear a lot of wool or layers of cotton?

any who you can try one of these, they should do it.

edit: that link is for their anti-static mats.

I wear foam based slippers usually. I do have a pair with rubber bottom but the second incident happened while I was wearing those. I can probably buy some ESD dissipiative slippers. And thanks for the suggestion, I’ll look for a similar product in my country (India). I am still searching for an all round/fool proof solution, as I’m not the only one living in the house, you never know when and how an accident may happen.

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i would also leave your HP unplugged while not using. that should help some. when u intially pick them up, they wont be connected.

I would first look for the reason why it causes static charges.
That would be the most important.
This has nothing to do with the headphones in general, otherwise it would be the same with the Audeze Lcd 2 c because it also has a metal housing.

I would look to see if it is not due to an old power strip.check everything that is connected to it.
Also check the socket, cable, on the Pc times look whether it is grounded.

Before you do something like that always find the cause and fix it.
Work on the socket first press down the fuse.
If everything is okay, check if the charge is caused by metal objects.
So if you have a lot of metal in the desk etc …
This is not normal.
A discharge is only up to a certain degree justifiable without the same a person is injured or the device is broken.

Are your wall outlets 2 or 3 prong?

Is possible you’ve got a problem with the ground line of your house


That sounds like a nightmare.

Reading again the post I realised that it append with the hip DAC as well and it’s usb, so actually the ground problem is unlikely but better check it anyway. Can be also a short in the headphone cable or in the headphone itself

this doesn’t seem like an ordinary problem at all. Since the Sundara is the only thing related to all these cases, i would address this to Hifiman. Somehow, there seems to be static building up in your headphones. But, last time i checked, these are planar-magnetics, not electrostats? joke
EDIT: removed trump-meme. Meme was selected completely at random with zero political intend, i.e. Trump bashing China or something, as a reference to Hifiman … oh my gaad, that was a horrible mistake.


Yes Hifiman is known for a fail production error.
It’s rather strange that it shot both dacs twice.

Unfortunately, we can’t rule out the possibility that something in the house or on the PC could be causing this.

You have to approach it systematically and start with the simplest things, because they also take a lot of time.
Checking the socket, power strip and cables takes a lot of time.

I can’t imagine that a headphone would cause something like this where only plus and minus are connected.
If there is something wrong with the driver, it will fail, I don’t think it can cause a static discharge.
But you never know with Hifiman.
They have always been good for a surprise.

I would talk to Ify support again and see if they will repair it and ask what the cause could be.
Without advertising further product sales.
It might be a good idea to send the Hifiman to them, they could certainly find out if it’s the Hifiman.

Or send both separately, the Hifiman goes back for checking and the Dac for repair.
In the meantime, I would check everything at home.
It would be important to check if the socket is earthed.
Either the contact is broken or it was never connected, or oxidation is also possible.

If everything is OK, keep looking to rule out the cause. Step two would definitely be the power strip.
I recently had my wife’s power strip, which stopped working after 10-12 years, and nothing worked anymore.


So, my desk is wooden, I recently got it made. And I bought a fresh new power strip for the desk from Belkin. I built my PC just last year so all components on it are new. My PSU is a 700W Bronze from Gigabyte. All the sockets everywhere in my house are 3 pronged. I walked around the entire house with a multimeter to check for grounding issues, and after the first incident I did find that my room in particular had a floating ground, about 15-20V off. But I fixed it right after. And it still happened with my hip DAC and now my new 2nd Zen DAC.

I don’t have a lot of metallic objects around in my room. It’s summer time here and the air is really dry. I wear tees and shorts, both cotton. My floor is made of stone as well, so it’s also grounded.

3 prongs. All outlets are 3 pronged in my house. Plus I also have an ESD mat, which is connected to ground

Yes initially I thought so, and I did check with the multimeter, and my room specifically had a floating ground, off by 15-20V. But this was after the first incident, I immediately rectified the issue and now the grounding is perfect everywhere in my room. And the rest of my house as well. I even have an ESD Mat connected to the ground terminal of a different socket but same they all have same ground.

The Zen DAC is also USB Powered, I’m not using a separate adapter to power it. Hip DAC is battery powered. I believe that the metal body of HiFiMan is not isolated from the 3.5mm jack, which is causing the static build up to be carried over to the DAC via the cable. Is this supposed to be a design oversight or a manufacturing defect? I also used my Sundara with a dongle DAC for a long period of time, and nothing happened there.

Yea Sundaras are planar magnetic. I believe it’s because the metal body of the headphone is not isolated from the 3.5mm input jack on each driver. Probably this is causing the static charge to be transferred to the DAC. I’m not sure if this is a design oversight or a manufacturing defect. And if it is the later, is it possible to get a warranty claim over this?

The static build up is in my body, and the headphone just happened to be the point on which it is getting discharged. I have checked the sockets and every other connection so far. It all has perfect grounding. I got my room renovated in September, 2020. Hence all the wiring and everything is pretty much new. Sockets were all changed with new ones as well. And as I mentioned earlier, after the first incident of my DAC blowing up, I rectified the grounding issue as well and even got an ESD Mat on which I always keep me headphones and use my keyboard on top of it so my hand is always touching that, while I’m wearing the wrist strap as well. But this third time as surely accidental touch. And even then, the headphone was sitting on the ESD Mat.
I’m really frustrated and scared right now.

I’m already using these things, along with an ESD Mat.

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It should be isolated and probably the issue is there (ground fault). Static discharge can append but seems to me that it append too many times, that’s why I think that actually what you are experiencing is a short circuit or a ground fault in the headphone or in a connector.