Ifi Micro IDSD Black Label

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

  1. TjH

    TjH Rando

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    OOOH i did normal+iematch to high and WOW that noise floor/staticy noise is almost GONE. The only problem is the volume knob is damn always near the max level. Should do until I can get back home to return this though. Let's hope my next one is problem free!
     
  2. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Strange. On Normal and High I'm usually around 12 o'clock IIRC. Haven't listened to my HD650s much since I got my Andromedas :D

    Massdrop says TH-X00 is 94 dB/mW
    Audiobot9000 says HD650 is 98.5 dB/mW

    So it may be a combination of less efficiency and lower levels (I forgot what kind of music you listen to). If you're almost maxed out on High, just turn iEMatch off. As long as you're past 10 o'clock you won't have any channel imbalance. And there's even less in the path this way.

    As for your scratchiness, if it goes away on HIgh, it could be there's something wrong with your iEMatch switch and in the Off position it's actually doing something bad - just a wild guess. After over 1.5 yrs, my switch is scratchy when changing settings and has to be jiggled when on High to get both channels even, so I change the setting as little as possible now.

    If you're not getting enough volume on Normal/High, try Turbo/High. That might tide you over until you can get back home. I never use it and even cut out a piece of foam to go into the slot and stop me from accidentally pushing it there and blowing out my ears.
     
  3. TjH

    TjH Rando

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    12 o' clock with normal+high IEM match O.O damn. Is that supposed to be where people listen to normally?

    [ I've only got into hifi audio recently, prior to that I was always listening to terrible laptop audio with $5 headphones or over laptop speakers so i just got used to putting everything on high volume so i can at least hear everything. ]

    I mostly listen to post-grunge and progressive.

    As for the scratchiness thing, I've now concluded that it is in fact due to some fault electronics or shielding or something that likely just got more pronounced once the electronics warmed up after a few hours of listening. The fact that an un burnt in th-x00 are known to be a bit sibiliant, or ALMOST sibilant likely is just adding to this. However I feel like the reason Normal+high is working is because if I set it around 3 o'clock or so, the volume is not anywhere near what i am used to but low enough that the sratchy/static/noise thing does not present itself (or perhaps is too low in dB for me to hear it). This happens in any setting with volume low enough tbh. but normal+high and volume pot at or after 3 offers me a good balance of volume but low dB noise...for now. Man, I'm really kicking myself for not realising this and exchanging it sooner, it would literally have taken a day + an extra day to order another one.

    Extra note: at 12 O'clock with normal+high the noise is at almost 0dB, I can FEEL it (or perhaps psychologically know it's there?) but can't hear it at all.
     
  4. loplop

    loplop Acquaintance

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    I agree about sounding best in normal mode. Even with my LCDX, which I have trouble staying above the channel imbalance issue, and therefore you wouldn't think need the "power."

    I saw a measurement here that makes think that might be related to the gain-scaling ifi is using to keep power usage down in Eco:
    [​IMG]
    I believe ifi stated they are using computer-controlled gain and power scaling; perhaps it is actively dulling transients or something that makes me enjoy normal better. I haven't liked the LCDX when using Normal with iEMatch, but that could be an interaction particular to that headphone, as I've used it successfully with IEMs.

    The treble splash may be related to "break-in." Like you, I did most of my break-in in a secondary rig while not listening; I just used the BL whenever I felt like it, at various intervals throughout. I have since stopped "breaking it in" and am just listening now, and with nearing 400 hours, I feel the treble has settled in very nicely. I completely agree with your impressions: the BL is not what I'd call "refined" but rather quite vivacious, with excellent dynamics, vibrancy made more evident by an extremely quiet background. Rather extended and lively treble balanced by punchy and deep bass that's pretty impressive (to me, at least) from such a small unit. It bests one of my Desktop amps, in that regard (Audeze Deckard). The BL isn't the best amp for background listening while reading and the like, it tends to pull me in and make me want to listen attentively... Which, in the end, is fun and does add to my enjoyment of music. I sometimes wish I could get a more lush sound with it for more casual listening, but I find if I switch to something like the Deckard which does have that characteristic, that I really miss the vivacious performance of the iDSD BL.
    I'd also say that the iDSD BL retains a fair amount of what I now believe is the ifi house sound; the iDAC2>iCAN Pro does sound "better" but the iDSD BL sounds similar enough to make me feel like it's a little portable ifi stack, all in one. I don't feel like I'm short-changing myself when listening to it, even though I know I like the iDAC2>iCAN Pro better, and could walk into another room to hear that setup; sometimes the portability of the BL is more important to me than the ultimate enjoyment.

    I haven't done a ton of critical A/B, but by general feel I'd say the iDSD BL has both increased level of boost, as well as boosting more frequencies. By "feel" I'd say it more matches the measurements I see here for the iCAN Pro's 20hz setting:
    [​IMG]
    The 10hz setting on the iCAN Pro is more like the silver Micro iDSD's.

    I feel the iDSD BL's XBass+ (and to a certain extent) 3D+ settings play really well with headphones that have less extension overall. I tend not to use them with my LCDX/LCD3, but really enjoy them on less expensive headphones such as my Thinksound ON2 and B&W P5s2. On the iCAN Pro, I do use the 10hz setting with the LCDX/3 quite a fair amount.

    In any case, I don't know if anyone has measured the iDSD BL, but I hope my subjective listening "feel" helps put it's XBass+ in context.
     
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  5. rainer.skill

    rainer.skill Rando

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    I tried the iDSD BL's Xbass with the HD800 and for my taste it was too much. Silver iDSD's Xbass was fine with the HD800.
     
  6. TjH

    TjH Rando

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    DAmn it you people don't make me upgrade my silver version to a BL one :(
    On another note: I don't HEAR the channel imbalance? But then again I seldom go below 9-10 O clock I'd think.

    also: geez looking at that normal vs eco vs turbo graphs: It's funny how the curve of all 3 are different especially after a point. Like I'd have expected similar curves but at different heights (after the "Climbing" stage in the graph). The turbo one getting a bit squiggly there towards the end.

    Add:
    Just saw this interesting post from Ifi Audio over at the BL thread in HF, the post is not recent but I just saw it:

    Note: bold added by me for emphasis.

    I've always been wondering about the choice of 6.3mm at least this is some kind of explanation. What do you guys think of this explanation though? Someone who knows more about audio and electro-magnetism physics stuff than I?
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
  7. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Don't question it, just enjoy the fact you have a good pot ... or a load that needs enough juice that you don't encounter it.

    In theory all multi-channel rotary potentiometers exhibit some degree of channel imbalance. I have to say this is the first time I've ever encountered it at a level where it could be a problem. I never noticed it at all with my ancient Headroom Supreme, the RSA Intruder (though it had a noisy pot that no amount of twisting would clean up), ALO International+ OE, or anything else ... but it was instantly apparent with the iFi Micro iDSD BL.

    Driving something like the HD-650 you wouldn't notice it at all. But with the TH-X00 it isn't gone until somewhere between 10:00 and 10:30. At 08:45 or so one channel is completely silent while the other isn't.
     
  8. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I really don't know how this keeps happening*.

    I'm starting to think the little bastards are breeding when I retire for the night ...

    They-Are-Breeding.jpg

    Yes ... spot the difference ...

    This is going to complicate things. And delay them. Or maybe I'll simplify the whole thing and only deal with the DAC/amps and leave the players/sources for another post (follow-up or something entirely different).

    *It definitely wasn't due me finding a used WM1A for sale, locally, at a good price, at 06-too-bleedin'-early, while browsing for something else entirely. No, not at all.
     
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  9. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    That post is from when they were gathering feedback while designing the micro iDSD and the change from 3.5 to 6.3 mm jacks was WRT the iDAC (iDAC2 still has a 3.5 BTW). I think the reduced resistance comes simply from increased contact area in the larger connector, but I don't know how this relates directly to channel separation. The iDSD is intended to be used with a wide range of headphones so the 6.3 mm jack is just more practical as a big-to-small adapter will fit inside the larger connector.

    I haven't heard the BL so I'm just talking out of my ass, but I'd be surprised if there's noticeably improved sound quality compared to the BL. If you're happy with the sound of the silver (aside from the noise problem your unit has), I'd pocket the difference and put the $ towards a more significant upgrade in the future.

    +1 what @Torq said about channel imbalance. You'll hear it when turning the volume up from just past the ON position. Goes away by about 9:30.
     
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  10. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I think that's a good plan. Different but related animals. Probably better to focus on 1 species.
     
  11. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Nice find! Go into "unit information" at the bottom of the settings menu, see how many hours played are listed, just for shits and giggles. It'd be fun to know how many hours the previous owner put on it.

    (Though maybe they were A/Bing with the 1Z, which would be more forgiveable..)
     
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  12. TjH

    TjH Rando

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    Aah see, I just plug in go directly to 12 O Clock THEN put on the headphones. Currently my idsd is broken obvouisly, but yea enjoying the non imbalanced experience however :D. I think it's just me though not the idsd itself.

    Honestly I would be surprised too. Anyway, not gonna upgrad my idsd (after i RMA it) I'd rather save up some money for a nice vinyl player and some vinyls to be honest, at this point (since i mostly listen to stuff made in the 70s and 80s).
     
  13. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    It had 221 hours on it (224 now). Something the seller made me aware of when we first connected. While not a big believer in burn-in, I took that as a positive. It'll make comparisons something I can do a lot faster.

    The seller wanted to upgrade to the 1Z which is why he was selling. The 1Z was my original ntent as well. Likely still is ... more because I really need the extra storage than anything else (can't say I fancy the gold color or the extra weight). But since it was local, I could have it today, and it was usefully cheaper than new, as well as being known-uncapped, it was hard to say "no" too.

    I'll probably overlap the purchase of the 1Z (unless I can get by with the 1A and card-swapping ... need to time it indexing a full 256 GB card) with the 1A for comparisons either way.

    ...

    I will say it's quite engaging so far. At first listen ... I'd second your initial, provisional, comments that put it ahead of Mojo.
     
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  14. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Yeah, I'm not a massive fan of burn-in woowoo, either, but Sony are quite insistent about their precious caps. Have a look at the "guide to high quality audio" in the menus, bless them.

    Weirdly, for the first hour or so, it did sound like hammered shit, mind- thin and cold, with a grainy, almost fricative bass. I was horrified, and glad that I'd bought from Amazon, and was all for returning the thing. Pretty sure that it wasn't just brain burn-in, either. I'm willing to give caps settling in the benefit of the doubt, at a pinch- as caps do seem to change a bit.

    Also, have you noticed that if you take it out of source direct mode, turn on DSEE HX (or whatever it's called, the upsampling interpolator thingy) and the "DC phase linearizer" (with, for example "standard B"), you lose detail, it gets warmer, and more bloomy.. and sounds oddly like the Mojo from a clean source? Not a useful trick, but an amusing one nonetheless.
     
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  15. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Not yet.

    All my listening (a total of 4-5 hours at this point) has been in "Source Direct" mode, with all the special stuff turned off (was nice to have a one-touch option to kill all of that).
     
  16. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Yeah, I took the one-touch source direct mode as a hopeful sign of good intent. All of my "proper" listening has been in source direct, but I did want to mess with the options, to see how they differed from the stuff that Marvey and co. had to fight with on the Android-based ZX2. There they had to kill tasks manually, to get rid of sound-fuddling "enhancements"- not good.
     
  17. TRex

    TRex Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    The price difference between 200GB & 256GB microSD is nuts. Blame monopoly - only Sandisk (and another brand CMIIW) are selling 256GB microSD.

    DAPs with 1TB of internal storage: or might be power restraint. Either 4 x 256GB SSD (plus more powerful controller) or HDD. Putting more chips is fine with efficient players like Sony DAPs, but with Chi-fi & SKorean-fi players which maintain 8hr life from 4hr charge, I wouldn't put more power-hungry components.

    Btw, you found a WM1A in Seattle! I've been looking for one within CONUS and all I've found were ZX2. Lucky you!
     
  18. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Normally I'd agree. Right now fabrication and yield are a problem on VHD (very high density) flash storage. It'll change and come down. It always does. But we're approaching physical limits for current technology and, absent 3D fabrication, or new materials-science, it'll take a form-factor change for meaningful uptick in capacity.

    Happily not. Flash storage consumes no power. You only expend energy reading or writing to it. And capacity does not impact that one way or another. It does for RAM, which needs to be constantly refreshed (for dynamic RAM anyway), but for solid-state flash storage ... it's all passive until read or written.

    I had been looking at ZX2s as well. Other than one in Singapore and another in Kazakstan I hadn't seen any. I chanced upon my WM1A in Seattle (well, Bothell) around 6 AM this morning. Wasn't even specifically looking for it. Glad I found it though.
     
  19. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I made these measurements because of the Andromeda's ski-slope impedance curve and I wanted to confirm what I was hearing with different devices and iEMatch settings and adapters (I have these iEMatch prototype pigtails). I measured my micro iDSD (iFi spec <1Ω w/ iEMatch off, micro iDAC2 (iFi spec <2Ω), and Samsung A8 (2016). Method used was taken from here and the load resistor was 323Ω (330Ω gold stripe). I used a T50RP Mk3 (male-male 3.5mm) cable to break out the signals and its resistance was 1.0Ω. These measurements doesn't really fit anywhere, but a micro iDSD is involved so I'll put them here so I can refer to them in the appropriate threads.

    micro iDSD (silver)
    Eco (iEMatch setting):_____ 0.6Ω (Off), 4.2Ω (High), 2.0Ω (Ultra)
    Normal (iEMatch setting):__ 0.5Ω (Off), 4.1Ω (High), 0.7Ω (Ultra)
    Eco (iEMatch off, adapter):____________ 2.7Ω (-12dB) 1.7Ω (-24dB)
    Normal (iEMatch off, adapter):_________ 3.0Ω (-12dB) 1.7Ω (-24dB)


    micro iDAC2
    proto-pigtail:_____________ 2.0Ω (none) 2.6Ω (-12dB) 1.2Ω (-24dB)

    Samsung A8 (2016)
    proto-pigtail:_____________ 6.3Ω (none) 2.4Ω (-12dB) ~2Ω (-24dB)


    The Andromeda sounds a bit bass heavy with near zero Zout devices and sounds more neutral with a Zout of around 2Ω, which the standalone iEMatch on High is supposed to give. My measured Zout for the micro iDSD's built-in iEMatch on High is a bit higher, but I like the tonal balance at the setting. My proto-pigtails seem to add similar amounts of Zout to the micro iDSD as those for the standalone unit. So my conclusion is that the built-in iEMatch implementation on the iDSD is a bit different to the standalone unit.

    The micro iDAC2 doesn't sound that different to me with or without the adapters, which is more or less confirmed by my measurements. The Andromeda is noticeably bass light straight out of the A8 which is why wanted to make these Zout measurements in the first place. After measuring it with the -12dB adapter, I listened to it and confirmed that bass response was lifted to a more neutral tonal balance. It's interesting that the -24dB (Ultra) proto-pigtail adds impedance to the low Zout iDSD, but lowers the Zout for higher Zout devices.

    Edit: I used a 440Hz tone from http://onlinetonegenerator.com
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  20. loplop

    loplop Acquaintance

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    @gixxerwimp interesting stuff, thanks for sharing.

    @Torq , I have a ZX2 if you'd like to trade for that 1A I'd be interested :) I actually just bought the ZX2 recently, as I stream a lot when portable, but the 1A is calling me... And I can't afford both, and buy the other stuff I want :)
     

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