iFi Micro iDSD BL Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Jan 20, 2020.

  1. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    I LOVE LOVE this bitperfect filter. The iFi BL was my gateway to more expensive R2R/NOS products. It sounds so good! My only complaint here is that this natural sound has a small 'haze' to it. That DSD1793 chip can only go so far I suppose.

    If @iFi audio ever revamps their iDSD portable with balanced 2.5/4.4mm, usb-c etc, while keeping the BitPerfect filter I'd buy it instantly again. I really do kinda miss it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
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  2. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    We can't say a word. Not even yay or nay. But we hear you.
     
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  3. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Kudos, great stuff!
     
  4. YMO

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    Interesting, how does this play well with sensitive IEMs (CAs)? I wonder if this will be good enough for a simple desktop setup running mostly IEMs and I guess the HD600 that's I have laying around?
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Will examine with high hiss IEMs like Andro and Solaris and get back to you.

    --

    Maybe last measurement (kind of getting sick of them because measurements are telling us absolutely NOTHING about how it sounds). The only thing we have discovered is that measurements are sufficiently good to tell us nothing is wrong. Distortion harmonic profile appears to be primary 2nd and 3rd, with diminished 5th. 4th order is lower than 5th. And pretty much nothing else until clipping.

    Note that the X-axis is input from the built-in DAC, not measured amplitude at the output. We are using the internal DAC here as a volume control. The volume pot was set to max.
    For reference -3dbFS = 4.68Vrms, -10dbFS = 2.06Vrms, -20dbFS = 0.651Vrms, -30dbFS = 0.205Vrms.
    We are getting in excess of 4.2Vrms before clipping. I'll let you guys do the calculations using P = V^2/R
    upload_2020-1-28_10-25-54.png

    Note that these is no loss of power from battery (at full charge) - and again battery sounds better to my ears. It's possible less AC mains or ground loop from USB helps in this regards, maybe in IMD, or other factors not show from steady state sine wave tests.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
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  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    On normal gain and no IEMatch, slight hiss with Campfire Andromeda. (I would use Turbo gain for obvious reasons, and Eco gain doesn't sound as lively).

    On normal gain and High Sensitivity on IEMatch, maybe some hiss. I'm too old and need younger people to test this out. However this setting has Zout of over 2.5-ohms, which could be too much. Sometimes Zout of up to 5-ohms is OK with Andromeda, especially from a slightly blurry and warm sources like a smartphones. But since the Micro BL is on the incisive sounding side, not my preference in regards to the Andromeda.

    The best setting (for Andro IEM) would appear to be the Ultra Sensitivity on IEMatch, which has a Zout of over 1-ohms. Typically we'd like see just a but more to tone down Andromeda's bass, but the combination is quite good - keeping in mind that I prefer a slightly darker sound. Whatever the end, I'm sure there is a setting to fit most people's tastes, given that we also have the digital filters to play with that adjust the high-end. Note that I also use foam with a filter to even out the Andro's mid-treble peakage.

    Forgot to mention, I'm pretty sure absolutely zero hiss from the Andro / Micro BL combination on the Ultra Sensitivity IEMatch setting. I heard hiss, but it was the tape noise from the Pat Benetar My Clone Sleeps Alone recording (DCC 24k).
     
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  7. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    At least there's tons of options for CA IEMs I guess. I was thinking about the BIforst 2 and THX AAA for another setup. I know Biforst 2 should at least be different or perhaps better, but the iFi appears to me to be more practical for simple good sound in a corner of a living room.
     
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  8. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    Actually now I'm thinking about it, @purr1n after you finish getting your thoughts together, who's the target audience for it? I must admit the flexibility of the iFi is winning me over ATM.
     
  9. kris2014

    kris2014 Acquaintance

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    Love to see final wrap-up on this device. I have picked one up not long ago and I am enjoying almost every bit of it. Showed off to 2 friends and got them impressed as well.
     
  10. squishware

    squishware Friend

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    I have been using my Ifi Micro BL as a DAC for a few hours a day on my second system. I really like the sound. It has a direct analog type sound that differs from Schiits multibit sound. I enjoy both but really enjoy having the contrast at my disposal. Right now I am listening on battery as an DAC/amp out to my ZMF classics and there is definitely synergy with this pairing.
     
  11. Yethal

    Yethal Acquaintance

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    Students, people who travel a lot or pretty much anybody else with no space for a fullsize system.
     
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  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yup. I'm rarely the same place in a week and make my rounds across various locations in El Lay. So it's effective for me to set up a dedicated desk system. Some thoughts here for people who may be on the move (I forget to mention them prior):
    • The short width and long profile make it easy for me to slip into the bag along with the laptop. Other transportable gear like Objective 2, Chord Hugo, is wider. That wide makes it clumsy to put inside the bad or in a side pocket. I cannot emphasize more how much I like the form factor.
    • Only one cable is sufficient to make it work. The hefty USB cable provides both signal and power (or charging). There is no need for a power cable or power adapter.
    • The charge seems to last a long time. I've accidentally left it on overnight, and in the morning there's still charge left for hours. I use it on the battery power most of the time for best sound quality.
    Here, I'll my wrap-up: Highly recommended. (I'm not sure if I have any other categories of highly recommended like super highly recommend, or highest recommendation). At the end of the day, it's use case, and how people may like the sound (which I do try to describe).

    I can't think of a better piece of portable gear for the price, or for $2000 more. Works well with both IEMs (even super sensitive IEMs) and unlike much other portable gear, can easily power full sized headphones. The sound is neutral, incisive, and dynamic. iFi pulled a rabbit out of the hat by using a older DA chip with certain qualities, and wrung as much out of it as they could. Those who prefer a warmpoo, softer, or more pleasant and forgiving sound may want to go elsewhere; although the presentation is somewhat tune-able with the filters and gain.

    This will continue on the loaner program for more impressions.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  13. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Contributing some measurements (impressions later)

    In regards to THD+N, here are some sweeps from the Line Out, and the HP output into 300 and 33 ohms (48kHz sampling rate, USB powered, ASIO drivers):

    THD+N_vs_Vout_48kHz.PNG

    At 2.0 Vrms the device yields about 0.001% THD+N (-100 dB) for both Line Out and HP output into 300 ohms. For the more difficult load of 33 ohms, the device yields a THD+N of about -90 dB (0.003%) @ 2.0 Vrms at can go as far as about 4 Vrms. Note the Line Output can actually put a little north of 5 Vrms.

    SNR referenced to 400 mV is about 85.6 dB:
    SNR_400mVrms_ref.PNG

    Below is the THD+N signature at 2.0 Vrms from the Line Output:
    THD+N_LineOut_2Vrms_48kHz.PNG

    The CCIF and SMPTE IMD Line Output signatures follow, also @ 2.0 Vrms:

    SMPTE

    SMPTE_LineOut_2Vrms_48kHz.PNG

    CCIF

    CCIF_LineOut_2Vrms_48kHz.PNG
     
  14. squishware

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    I am probably the only one on here using a LG40 as a source on purpose but I will share my findings anyway.
    With the Ifi BL as a DAC on battery it is able to power the input to my subs and the input to my integrated chip amp by RCA "Y" adapter alone.
    The phone straight out of headphone cannot, just either or.
    The Ifi sounds great with the phone as a source the Bifrost 2 sounds terrible. I assume it is driver related or input impedance.
    The Ifi is a great transportable option with a LG V40 source and ZMF Classic cans using USB Audio Player Pro.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2020
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  15. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    After all this time, i never forgot this product and end up buying one locally and since it has been a long time (i had it, temporarily, when it was released) maybe it slips my mind but this unit presents low-volume mismatch is this normal or...?

    I am using it on my Surface 7, as on-train unit or home connected to my Sonett 2 (i much prefer this last one option and was surprised how good they actually go together) as a secondary system.


    Edit- nevermind i've read the manual and they make sure to point this situation at 9 o'clock is normal. I guess that i did not notice this with the HD600 but with the Verum and HD800 was noticeable.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  16. kris2014

    kris2014 Acquaintance

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    I am sorry to heart that. Channel mismatch under extremely low volume is pretty normal for most pots out there. (I read somewhere that conductive plastic could be better if laser trimmed). I think mine does the same thing.
     
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  17. ca_leo

    ca_leo Rando

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    @purr1n How does the sound change when the micro is used as a DAC only? Have you tried it with some amps?
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I actually did not try it as a DAC.
     
  19. ca_leo

    ca_leo Rando

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    Someone else maybe?
     
  20. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    See post #3 in this older thread.
     
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