Ifi Micro IDSD Black Label

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Cellist88, Dec 6, 2016.

  1. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Great stuff, thanks! It's good to see that iFi gets some love here too. I have their iDSD BL and all things considered, for the money I'm very happy. It does the job for me during casual activities, yet I won't complain. Nicely written review btw. Thanks.
     
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  2. Pillars

    Pillars Embarrassment to Colorado crew

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    I really enjoy the BL. I picked it up for $380 on sale at Adorama. A strong leap ahead of my old iDSD silver from memory, which I considered a more dry experience. This seems a bit more musical. It is also better than I remember using as a PC dac/amp - surely thanks to the improved USB.

    Some interesting comparisons (I've given it about 72hrs of pink noise) vs the Modi Multibit with and without JOT in the chain are as follows:

    -Mad credit to the Jotunheim, this amp is a monster and reveals the DAC well.

    -Modi Multibit has better tonal weight and is well ahead when it comes to music use in most areas EXCEPT when it comes to sound separation. It sounds a bit rounded to me up top as well, the Modi Multibit bass though.. nice. The iDSD has a better soundstage/accurate location portrayal. The tones are sharper on the iDSD. This leads me to prefer the iDSD for gaming where positional audio is important. The Modi Multibit is fantastic for music, however the layering has been my main issue. I'd spring for a Gungnir Multibit to see if this issue disappears if it also has the Modi Multibit musicality but.. I mean.. $1200+.. I can't justify it. YMMV, these are just my observations (K702M, HE-560)

    This is a keeper. I bought the iDSD telling myself that it'll be my portable setup to replace an X5/A5 and if it isn't a lot better I've got 30 days to return it. Yeah.. this isn't going anywhere. The unit also runs cold to the touch, and only itself needing power via USB and to provide this kind of sound quality is really quite the feat combined with the HUGE amount of functionality this unit has. Very impressive piece of kit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
  3. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    I have to agree with the musical part. As the iDSD BL owner myself, I've found this hardware to be great for the price and aimed to be musical in general, hence quite dense, vivid and fast. And it's... well... black, which I subjectively consider a much better looker than silver thingies from the same manufacturer. Orange lettering is also great.

    All in all, in comparison to the original iDSD which I also had, the BL version is a major step-up. iFi was very vocal about hardware changes they did, so yeah, it did the trick for me. BL is my main OTG device since December or so and I don't see a scenario of going abroad and not have it with me. Smartphone charging saved my a** several times.

    Downsides? Not many, two rubber switches I almost lost but putting some pressure on them fixed their position and these work like a charm ever since.
     
  4. Pillars

    Pillars Embarrassment to Colorado crew

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    I ended up selling off my Schiit gear.. I prefer the iDSD+K702 Modded to HE-560 Modi Multibit/Jot. Synergy is King and the prior is so much more resolving and engaging. The soundstage, layering and detail got me. YMMV.
     
  5. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    My one gripe is that the bass boost is a little overdone for my taste with the BL. The original was a little more subtle and consequently useful for my purposes. But overall a great device.
     
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  6. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I find XBass to be just right on the silver iDSD for my HD650Ms when I need a subbass boost. For content that already thumps down low, it can push them too far into the bloom range.
     
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  7. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Hi,

    I am using the iDSD as a DAC, feeding into iCan SE. Does the iDSD XBass stack to the iCan SE XBass? If it does stack up, then I could have 4x XBass (3x from iCan SE and 1x from iDSD).
     
  8. Pillars

    Pillars Embarrassment to Colorado crew

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    The iDSD xbass does work on DAC mode. I'm not sure how much bass you need but.. obviously 4x as much as I do :D The iDSD has solid bass with it off for my uses. The BL xbass I think is overdone.
     
  9. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Strange, I'm not feeling it stacking up. The same with the 3-D thingy.
     
  10. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    You probably need to set the RCA output to Preamplifier using the switch on the bottom.

    Manual says:
    Direct: fixed RCA output (bypass, FULL volume)
    Preamplifier: the iDSD functions as a DAC/preamplifier. The volume control is now enabled for the RCA line output and when used in conjunction with the Power Mode offers gain of:
    Eco = 0 dB
    Normal/Turbo = 9dB​
    Tip: Only make the selection with the unit powered off.

    Someone on HF says: "Pre-amp" is variable output and the XBass and 3D still functions. "Direct" is direct from the DAC so only the digital filters come into play.
     
  11. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    D
    Dang, you're right. Thank you:)
    But I wont add another amp to the chain. Might degrade the sound.
    I'm loving this full XBass on the iCan SE. Not only hd800, but i find HEKv1 to be enjoyable as well. I'm sure it's not for everyone, but It adds impact to HEK's warmth and smooth sonic character.

    My current chain
    iFi iUSB Power+Gemini --> iDSD --> (coax) Schiit Modi Multibit --> Schiit Saga --> the iCan SE

    I love the Saga too. Makes it easy for me to switch between headphone & speakers. But I notice the Saga doesnt add any gain to the chain (even with tube on). If anything, gain is reduced a bit. If I feed the Modi Multibit straight to iCan SE, i get more volume than through Saga.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2017
  12. limesoft

    limesoft Acquaintance

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    I'm a bit late in the game, but might as well chip in.. I tried the the idsd micro black today with my 64 Audio U12t. I was really hoping it would replace my Sony ZX2 as source (with audio enhancements off), but unfortunately the ZX2 kicks it's butt. The micro definitely sounded U shaped - I liked the sub bass, there was good amount of it, but disliked the higher treble frequencies - they seemed piercing and unnatural.. sure it wasn't burned in, but usually if first impressions aren't good, things don't improve drastically later on for me. ZX2 was more true to the source and without any painful prickly treble issues. Ifi nano black was also meh.. A real shame, I would have loved to have a little ifi stack, it's so pretty :)
    I then decided to try the Woo Audio WA8 just for a laugh.. a big mistake, I should have just walked out, but nooo I had to stick my ear where it didn't belong
     
  13. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Just got myself HiBy R6 and I still have iDSD micro. Both are going nowhere anytime soon, for the price I've found them superb. Highs in BL are OK to my ears, but then again... I've never listened to ZX2. For the money it should sound better than BL.
     
  14. Rayzilla

    Rayzilla Rando

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    I have the BL too and it's a keeper for me.

    I am looking to buy my first DAP within the next few days. At the top of my list is the Hiby R6. Now that you've had yours for just over a month, can you provide any comments on it? Thanks.
     
  15. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    UI and build quality is really good, I can't complain. The same story is with sound quality; fairly neutral and agile signature to my ears. Though with Alclairs Studio4 I need to reduce R6's output impedance via iFi's iEMATCH otherwise the sound gets too bloated and fuzzy.
     
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  16. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Just chiming in. Bought the ifi black on a whim in a hifi store nearby. Not expecting overly much.

    Holy ****! This device packs such a huge punch. I use it on battery mostly, on normal mode it has headroom to spare for the HD650. With the iematch it's also just perfectly sensitive for the AD2000. It's such a great all in one unit, much better than any DAP I ever heard at least.

    On the DAC side I leave the setting on BitPerfect which is actually sneakily a non-oversampling mode. With 44-48Khz this mode sounds better than oversampling to me, it's the first time I've heard NOS and I have to say I *REALLY* like it. Considering it is based around the hybrid multibit-deltasigma burr brown/TI DSD1793 chip (top-most 6 bits go through multibit ladder), it basically feeds it the bits but without then applying any further filtering. The output is so far removed from the typical digital-sounding delta sigma chip I can't believe how much better it sounds with most music! Sometimes oversampling can help for some detail on top and definition, but at least 90% of the time I prefer NOS, for music at least. Maybe not so for gaming/movies.

    As for DSP, I find no need for the bass switch since I already apply some EQ from the source, but the 3D switch is pretty damn great actually. I'm still testing it on various albums but so far I think I'm gonna leave it on. For a headphone that does not have a big sound stage in the first place like the HD650, it has no real drawback while it removes any serious left/right panning and other disturbances, and lowers listening fatigue. Sounds great to me!

    Really really really good unit this is. My hats off to iFi. Best chip-based sound I've heard. It also takes some balls to make no-oversampling the default option on a (expensive, but still) mainstream device such as this, in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
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  17. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Bass and 3D in iFi products aren't DSP. They're all analog. Nice take on the BL though, I have one too and for the money it does the job very well.
     
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  18. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Oh my bad. You're right it's all handled in analog domain I mistakenly called it DSP thanks for the correction.
     
  19. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    From: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...tibit-for-the-masses.2494/page-74#post-281677

    This is technically off topic since it's not about the Black Label variant, but I got the GTO filter update on the Micro iDSD (silver) recently. I still seem to prefer the Bit Perfect one, though mind I have very little experience with filters and am pretty much on the fence about calling differences between DACs huge (the highest-tier comparison I managed at home was Bifrost MB A1 vs Chord Hugo v1). I'm thankful I glossed over iFi's marketing stuff for the new filter since I get to draw my own conclusions about how it sounds.

    The GTO filter on the iDSD seems to make for a wider, more diffuse soundstage whose layers are just as flat in presentation (relative to the Bifrost anyway), but given how the rest of my chain right now already seems primed for MOAR stage, it was a bit much for me— the Bit Perfect also has more refined treble IMO, which is a Godsend with my headphones since any upstream or source treble jaggedyness goes straight through me. Blackground on all filters on Micro iDSD seem a bit clearer than on the Schiit box, but honestly that's a low-ish priority for me, ergo why I don't immediately hate my Bifrost.

    The following was also true of the iDSD before the GTO update: the Micro iDSD as a DAC always had better bottom-octave eyeball rumble and slam than the Bifrost MB A1, which is why I'm not entirely against using it as a DAC even with other sources available, just depends on what material I'm listening to. "Textures", which is my catchall term for low-level nuances, and ambiance are both a hair better on the Bifrost still, though gross resolution might actually go to the micro iDSD due to its cleaner background. I liken it to Samsung phones' camera image processing v. what I do with DNG files in Lightroom CC, haha. There's a definite bloom to the sound of the Bifrost that isn't manifest on the iDSD, though I wouldn't say it was particularly confused sounding (except in the context of a direct comparison with the Chord Hugo which, for its being a sterile-sounding DAC, wasn't as confused as the Schiit could be at times).

    I am NOT trained in listening for/detecting pre/post-ringing effery but am of the belief that it should be audible given how blatantly obvious they are manifest in measurements. Not something I'm really into just now though, I'm happy with a decent source plus good amps and headphones for now. Again, I'm probably one of the ones with less experience than most listening to nice gear in a home setting cuz, well, money, so I'd argue that my opinions about anything other than amps and transducers should all be taken with a pinch of salt.

    Topping hype is primarily reddit and A-generated, as far as I can tell. The D50 is well-received by members more experienced than I here (@Vtory, I think is one? wrong person whoops), but just out of principle I'm not considering buying any of their products— I'm petty that way sometimes.

    P.S.
    I did some measurements for fun a couple weeks back I think, the XBass on the older Micro iDSD was very tastefully executed per my preferences. Used as a preamp feeding the Lake People G109A (cuz it's cleaner for measurements etc), here are some squiggles of the XBass boost's effect on the Klipsch HP-3 and the Sennheiser HD600. Guess which is which, haha:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The 3D toggle had no measurable effects FR-wise even though there was a definite audible boost in the treble region. Probably something else that isn't easily detected by EARS like something related to interaural delay.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
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  20. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Haha, please check the facts before mentioning.. (surely joke) I don't like d50, particularly after auditioning it seriously. There are several good sabre es9038 dacs. Topping is not one of them. No idea about their d70 d90 dx9 etc etc but I doubt.

    My 2 cents

    Topping hypes = mostly BS

    I kinda like their dx3 pro (which I am using at the moment), but not as hyped. It might be a good alternative to modi 3 for those who want slightly different highs. Orange lcd panel is good.. Bluetooth is super convenient, too.

    Sorry for derailing. Move on.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
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