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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    I really can't think of too many DACs out there that do non USB either tbh. My issue with USB and portable are
    1. I've been using a dx80, nothing leads me to believe it can do USB out to a DAC.
    2. My experience with multiple android phones and usb DACs like Fiio have led to the conclusion that, even WITH usb-c (which doesn't require any special circuitry/software for usb out on a phone/tablet) android+USB is VERY hit and miss at best and again, either I use my phone (which is VERY hit and miss with usb sound) or I buy a DAP and a lot of them are android, so again, I don't trust it.

    Honestly it is a problem I know. A lot of DACs i've researched I've cut off the list due to lack of non usb input, but the way it stands I have no way of feeding a USB DAC musical information on a reliable basis on the go.

    Alternatively I could just sell my DX80 and get a $1000 DAP like AK300 or something.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  2. HAL9000

    HAL9000 Almost "Made"

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    @TjH there is one more option... The Teac HA-P50. It has a TOSLINK input and SQ on the par with Fulla 2. Since almost no one knows about it, they can be had inexpensively -- There is a like new one for $100.
     
  3. TjH

    TjH Rando

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    ooh wow, i didn't even encounter this while searching around...and cheap. One question though: I don't know what the fulla sounds like but is this better than FiiO E18k or whatever in terms of SQ?

    Thanks.
     
  4. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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  5. HAL9000

    HAL9000 Almost "Made"

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  6. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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  7. HAL9000

    HAL9000 Almost "Made"

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    Nope, this one is from AL...
     
  8. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Well, that's the chap I sold it to ... so unless he had two, it's the one I sold him. Which means it was thoroughly tested as I used it for part of my portable DAC comparison.
     
  9. HAL9000

    HAL9000 Almost "Made"

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    "I see" said the blind man...
     
  10. TjH

    TjH Rando

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    So i finally returned both silver versions and the th-x00 for good measure. GOt me a new th-x00 & idsd BL.

    Literally just got it so i'll wait for a week or so at least before starting to judge. BUt immediately DAMN so much better. I don't know if BL is functionally better than silver version (can't say yet), but there's no sonic wierdness ruining an otherwise enjoyable experience.

    Also: DAMN ppl are right about that bass boost button. It's quite a bit more.

    Immediate reactions: things sound a bit more...i wanna say "intimate" but that sounds like a bad thing, I'd say a combination of more proper spacing, detail and soundstage combined together to give a better sense of being right there in the recording studio room.

    Side note: man bad recordings are bad. MOnths after getting my th-x00 i'm still not used to how well they reveal bad recordings. I can literally hear the noise floor/hiss on everything now. I mean it's not as bad as it was with my bad idsd silver's, cuz now I'm just hearing what
    s in the recording already I think...but I think now that I am listening for it I can hear it in everything but the best recordings.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  11. TjH

    TjH Rando

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    OK guys be honest here. I know for sure that USB audio can be iffy at times (especially with the macbook for instance). But does ipurifier really work that well? (esp considering BL already has a built in version right?)

    Also, are the moon-audio usb cables worth the extra money there? I've heard plenty of good things about ipurifier2..just wondering how much better a cable can be?
     
  12. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    It works, but it's not worth it in the case you're citing.

    No.
     
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  13. TjH

    TjH Rando

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    It's frankly a bit sad how much #6 helps in terms of grain (i called it "noise" or hiss but yea). What helps more is not using USB at all, it's amazing. While USB decrappifiers may not help (thanks for sving me a bunch of money on that Torq), I've been using mac->usb->BL this whole time. I finally got my custom BJC cable so dx80->BJC->BL.

    My fave test tracks for noise or hiss etc is "money for nothing" and "low spark of high heeled boys". (I really need to find a better version of the latter right now it's only 44/16). The starting/intro sections on those 2 are really good for testing black BG. And I gotta say the above mentioned #6 makes such a huge difference (and moving from usb to spdif without charging makes a bit more of difference).

    Side note: I had a 96/24 RIP of the LP version of the RL remaster of "brother in arms" and i just downloaded the original from 7digital and GEEZUS it's SO MUCH cleaner thn the ripped RL remaster.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  14. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    If you really want to test to see how much noise or hiss is coming from the unit vs. what's part of the recording, find or create a silent .WAV file and just listen to that. Any hiss or noise you hear there is coming from the DAC or amp. Anything beyond that, when you're actually playing music, will be from the recording.

    And the noise floor in recordings can vary significantly.
     
  15. TjH

    TjH Rando

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    Wait really? holy crap then some of these recordings are bad. I did do a silent .wav test and it's pretty damned silent on this BL. WOW in that case dang.

    Maybe a topic for somewhere else, but I feel like:
    LP->LP Player->DAC/Amp
    would sound better/cleaner than
    same LP->RIP->flac->DAC/Amp (assuming the rip is done right/well etc). Am I wrong?
     
  16. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I would expect it to be silent with full-size headphones (short of putting it in Turbo mode and cranking the volume all the way up). IEMs might need iEMatch to get total silence, but it's a very quiet unit nonetheless.

    It depends on how you're doing the rip from your LP, but generally every component you add will add to the noise (though not necessarily perceptibly).

    The chain you describe suggests you have a digital output from your turntable, so it should be the same in both cases, but if you were feeding the output from your phono pre-amp/stage into the analog inputs on, say, a sound card housed in a computer, then there's a lot of room there for variation in noise floor (including from the analog inputs on the sound card, your recording level, and ambient noice in the PC affecting said sound card).
     
  17. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    iFi says that the different power modes should NOT affect sonic quality, speculating that we're "hearing things" due to level matching by ear and not using a test signal. Still, it's strange that so many (including me) feel that Eco mode sounds a bit limp dick compared to Normal mode.
     
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  18. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    In other news, I've had the original micro iDSD for coming on 2 years. The iEMatch switch started getting wonky recently. There's often channel imbalance and I have to jiggle it until it centers again. I usually leave it on High and while jiggling, one channel will sometimes such to Off intermittently. I've removed the plastic button from the switch so it doesn't get bumped after fiddling it into the right position, but the channel balance often goes out the next time I use it.

    [snip]

    It occurred to me to try some contact cleaner. Using an extension tube, I sprayed it into the small gap that's visible in the iEMatch switch in the Off and Ultra positions. Problem seems to have gone away.
     
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  19. loplop

    loplop Acquaintance

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    Yeah, well ifi also says that it is impossible for my iDSD BL not to charge if it's in sleep mode, yet 30-50% of the time after I'm done listening (in battery mode, because it sounds better!!) I have to power cycle before the thing will begin charging, otherwise it will run itself dead.

    They say that's impossible,because it's programmed to charge (if needed) in sleep mode. I say it's a hardware failure or software bug. They tell me that that's impossible.

    I've been in some capacity in software dev for 2 decades now. Trust me, it's possible.
     
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  20. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    [​IMG]

    Well I’ve spent about a month and a half with my iFi Micro iDSD Black Label, and my impressions are quite similar to what they were at the beginning. This thing is just great, for my needs anyhow. I have my main set up in my bedroom, which I use at night, but I can take the iFi around the house, or travel with it. I do travel to Scotland for quite lengthly periods of time fairly often, and it is great for that purpose. Its like having a great little desktop set up, but in a transportable form factor.

    The Black Label is powerful enough for most headphones, but can run sensitive IEM’s as well by using the “IEmatch” feature. There are so many features that I will probably forget to list a few! If you like bass, the “XBASS” feature is a great hardware boost. The “3D Sound” feature, is interesting on some tracks, but I tend not to use it. You can change the polarity to negative or positive, and there are three different filters. The “IEmatch” feature has three sensitivity settings, and the amp has ECO, Normal, and TURBO power modes. They are all easily accessible on the side of the unit, and can be changed easily, to see which suits you and your headphones best.

    The amp section sounds great to my ears. It is a tiny bit less clear sounding than the iFi Micro iCAN SE, which I also own. However, when you consider it has a good DAC built in, and all those small features as well, it really is pretty impressive. It is a bit less warm than my desktop amp, and you do lose out on some of the very fine details in comparison to some amps, but again, at this price level you could do a whole lot worse in my opinion.

    The DAC section really impressed me when I used it as a stand alone DAC in my desktop set up. It is fairly spacious sounding, and has great clarity. I was using my laptop’s headphone output as my DAC before I bought the Black Label, and the difference really was bigger than I expected. As a DAC only, I even prefer this unit to the Chord Mojo, which I also own.

    In terms of using the unit as a whole DAC/Amp combo, it really comes into its own. It just sounds good. I’m going to be using it as my only source for the next 6 weeks, and while I will miss my desktop set up, it really isn’t the end of the world as I have the Black Label. It drives my Abyss well. I can use my Nobel 3’s with it if I want to using the “IEmatch” feature. Whats not to like really?

    Fit and finish/build quality is great, and it isn’t too heavy. I was surprised at how light the Black Label is, given all that is going on inside it.

    Battery life is great. It will last 6-12 hours depending on the power setting you are using. However, if you plug it into your computer before you turn it on, it will run indefinitely. Great!

    All in all, the iFi Micro iDSD Black Label was worth every penny I paid for it in my opinion. I really, really like this unit. Fingers crossed I don’t run into any technical issues in the future, but so far so good. If you are looking for a strictly desktop use Amp/DAC combo, there are a few other options I would consider, but if you need transportability, and a good amount of power, you could do a whole lot worse than the iFi :)

    Cons? It could be a bit cheaper, but so could everything I guess. I haven’t really run into any cons yet, for my uses. Your mileage may vary, and if your uses are different than mine, there might be better options out there.
     
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