iFi Micro iDSD BL Review and Measurements

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

  1. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

    Staff Member Friend JK47
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    6,571
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    gone
    $649 for iDSD Signature from their press release
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  2. perogie

    perogie Facebook Friend

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2020
    Likes Received:
    145
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Ontario
    Thanks. Thats a bit more expensive than what the BL goes for which is around 600.
     
  3. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

    Friend Staff Member Gearmaster
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    6,125
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Bay Area
    I hate to post something like this because it tends to start a shitstorm. But there’s definitely an mkII version of the micro BL already. I borrowed a friendly local SBAFers micro and it was rather flat and aggressive sounding though nicely detailed and more dynamic compared to my Nano. I bought one new from Crutchfield while in one of those moods one night and it sounds pretty different from the one I borrowed along with some physical changes. It sounds much more mellow- I’d say warmer than neutral and not aggressive at all while maintaining that same detail as the borrowed one. And also not flat sounding anymore. Not the king of soundstage maybe on par with the Nano but a big change from the one I borrowed.

    A few physical differences too. The tiny LED light on top didn’t turn purple for MQA albums on Tidal on the borrowed unit, but mine does. Also the borrowed unit had a tiny toothpick sized switch on the bottom to control ieMatch while this one has the same kind of switches used on the side of the unit. I’ve considered maybe the button cover just fell off the switch and I guess that’s possible. There was something else too that I’m forgetting right now.

    mine also makes a very loud thump about 30 seconds after an album ends in the Tidal app I suppose when the Tidal app goes to sleep mode or something. The borrowed unit didn’t do that. It thumps when I use the iPod touch again too, when it “wakes up” or whatever is happening.

    I didn’t like the borrowed one ultimately (I don’t know why I bought it-to fill the void I guess) but this one I like and would keep but I’ve realized how much I paid for it and that I don’t need portability right now and I’ve wound up setting up a desktop rig fortuitously with the generosity of a few SBAFer’s. So I don’t need such an investment in this. It would be better spent on the desktop rig or saved. I have a feeling that when I need portability there will be something better and probably cheaper out there.

    the impressions from the loaner tour line up with the borrowed unit pretty well.
    Just saying. I’m guessing the Signature version will be an improved version of this. Not flat or aggressive anymore.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  4. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Likes Received:
    7,977
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Pasig, Philippines
    Perhaps the loaned unit was using an older firmware, or the purchased one had yet to be updated? There've been a few releases out, and though subtle (to me) there have been distinct changes in the time I had the (silver) micro iDSD.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

    Friend Staff Member Gearmaster
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    6,125
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Bay Area
    I didn’t know about firmware updates that could explain it but the sonic differences aren’t subtle I noticed it in seconds. I have a hard time seeing a firmware update changing the sound that much but I’ve got my head up my ass with regards to firmware especially in an amp.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  6. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Likes Received:
    7,977
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Pasig, Philippines
    Yup, just tossing out a possibility since while the differences were (again, IMO) subtle I figure others could be more persnickety about and sensitive to minor changes in presentation, haha. Could well be there've been running changes to the BL (and silver) boards, but either way it kinda sucks butts that they'd be that pronounced. Were the settings all the same on the units you had?

    Add: well my reading comprehension seems to suck ass. I missed that you mentioned the loaned BL had IEMatch switches on the bottom (which is how it was on the silver as well) and that the one you bought had it on the side. That's new, I think, and pretty certain proof that there's been a running change haha. Care to share photos?
     
  7. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

    Friend Staff Member Gearmaster
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    6,125
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Bay Area
    No, they physically are the same except the LED going purple on MQA albums with the new unit, and not the borrowed one. The ieMatch switch isn't on the side on mine, it's on the bottom, in the same place, but it's the same kind of switch as the ones on the side. the borrowed unit had a little toothpick/needle sized switch you had to use a fingernail to get in to switch. Again, it could be that the button on the switch just fell off.

    But the sound difference wasn't subtle. Purr1n would like this one.
     
  8. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Likes Received:
    7,977
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Pasig, Philippines
    Oh then yeah the button definitely just fell off, haha. Happened to me a few times, which is why I love iFi for sending me a full baggie of buttons for when I inevitably lose one or three in transport; they're known to fall out :rolleyes: Also, dammit, I swear I know how to read!

    The MQA light thing is what made me wonder whether it could be a firmware change since that's one of the marquee features for one of their major FW revisions for the micro line: https://ifi-audio.com/firmware/unified-firmware-for-various-products/. I didn't think the firmware changes were massive, really, but maybe it's a cumulative thing as I kinda just followed along with releases from 4.04 (I think) up to the new GTO filter before I properly lost access to the unit.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
  9. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

    Friend Staff Member Gearmaster
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    6,125
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Bay Area
    Well, maybe it's firmware. But I would think they would have sent you all an updated version for the loaner tour, and the impressions from that tour match the borrowed unit really well.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  10. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

    Friend Contributor
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,157
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SF Bay Area Peninsula
    Haha, I removed the button because it kept falling off and I didn't want to lose it. I also don't use it with IEMs so I never needed that switch.

    I'm interested in hearing the difference between the two, would it be possible for me to try your iDSD or did you already send it back? Also if I like yours better, I hope the firmware is all I need, don't plan on purchasing another one of these.

    I've had my iDSD for a little over 3 years, I imagine there could have been a number of firmware updates since then.
     
  11. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

    Friend Staff Member Gearmaster
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    6,125
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Bay Area

    Sure thing, I haven’t returned it yet. I’ll send you a pm. :)
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  12. Tudor

    Tudor Rando

    Joined:
    May 26, 2020
    Likes Received:
    27
    Trophy Points:
    13
    Location:
    Romania
    I can't say anything about sound differences between versions since I only listened to my own, but there are 2 versions of the BL. I found this out when trying to figure out why the led doesn't turn yellow during MQA like it says on their site. Instead it was purple(like all other ifi devices when playing MQA).

    Turns out initial versions of the BL show the yellow colour, but newer ones turn purple. This was in a statement from Ifi on Head-fi:

    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/ifi...-in-depth-review.833933/page-32#post-14855806
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
  13. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

    Friend Contributor
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,157
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SF Bay Area Peninsula
    I spent some time recently comparing the two iDSDs that rythmdevils was talking about. Settings between the two were the same and I did my best to match the volume pot position between them. Source was an iPhone 11 using an adapter.

    Older iDSD (mine):
    • Muddier, especially in the bass
    • Elevated bass, different from when using the bass boost (which I almost never do)
    • Brighter
    Newer iDSD:
    • Lower gain, I had to go further on the volume pot for the same level
    • Easier to hear details. Probably not more detailed, more a function of the muddy bass in the older one
    • Overall a more enjoyable listen
    I found the differences less obvious with the classical music I tried (Zimmerman playing Chopin's Piano Concerto #2).

    I will be updating the firmware on the older one. I'm not sure if my aural memory is good enough to know if the firmware will solve these differences but I will listen again for a while right before applying the update. I still enjoy my older iDSD and wouldn't have noticed these shortcomings without another one for comparison.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
  14. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Friend

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,260
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Finland
    Where does the ifi stand compared to the Magni/Modi? I currently have the Asgard 3/ Modius stack, but would like to simplify my desktop setup at work. Currently office headphones are the Elegias. Although all this talk by @rhythmdevils about going all wireless with a Audeze Penrose also has me tempted...
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2021
  15. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

    Staff Member Friend JK47
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    6,571
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    gone
    I recently purchased the iFi iDSD Signature for transportable (around the house) and office use.
    with ZMF Verite Closed and IEMs, would whole heartedly recommend it over a magni/modi stack, especially IF you want flexibility for use with IEMs.
    sorry haven't heard an Asgard3 or Modius.

    the iDSD Signature throws a larger headstage than the m/m stack with both headphones and IEMs, and would have more than enough power for Elegia.
    iDSD Sig is less warm than the previous iDSD BL version, and slightly warmer than the more neutral iDSD Diablo.
    there's clean accuracy with good tone from the Signature and no sins of commission.
    the Xbass and 3D switches I don't use much, but if needed the Xbass is the more subtle and welcomed feature.

    there is a small "pop" heard if headphones are plugged in when unit is turned on.

    the iFi Sig also delivers a black background, likely due to it always running off battery power.
    This may not be a good thing for 100% desktop use.
    ^ ignore and read about circuit protection in next post.
    YMMV.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 6
    • List
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2021
  16. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2017
    Likes Received:
    976
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Many places.
    Home Page:
    Thanks a lot for your feedback! As for battery, yes, it's always engaged and there's no way to bypass it. One of internal circuits monitors how it works and i.e. prevents it from charging all the way to 100% if iDSD Signature is constantly connected to a power source, so I wouldn't worry about desktop use.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  17. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Friend

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,260
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Finland
    Does this also apply to the Black Label version?
     
  18. Baten

    Baten Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2018
    Likes Received:
    930
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    EU
    The original BL had different logic. If you turned it on with no power it operated on battery. If you plugged everything in and turned it on it would operate on the incoming power. In the Sig this changed to what's described above.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  19. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2017
    Likes Received:
    976
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Many places.
    Home Page:
    That's factually accurate, the desktop mode was abandoned after micro iDSD BL's release and the new battery management system that came afterwards allowed us to control everything better. That results in longer battery life and even lesser chance of failure.

    Although various sorts of failures are unavoidable, especially considering thousands of products out there, as a manufacturer we always look for ways how to reduce that :)
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  20. wkw

    wkw Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2018
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Eugene, OR
    @iFi audio

    Does the Diablo work this way as well?

     

Share This Page