Jump to content
IGNORED

New professional review of iFi iDSD nano


Recommended Posts

Thanks Andrew and Vincent, I enjoyed that review even though I read it with Google Translate, quite thorough. Actually, the whole site is good with several DIY Projects.

 

I am actually enjoying the iFi DSD Nano. Very solid little piece of kit in an affordable package. Tested it in DSD/DOP Mode with Audirvana+ and JRiver's realtime upconversion to DSD - satisfactory Magenta LED colour shows my PCM is upconverted in real-time to DSD 2x and received as such by the iDSD.

 

I also tried the DXD downloads from 2l.no today. This, with Audirvana+ gives me some clicks when I move the volume knob though and I tried all configurations of volume control. I find this odd as the volume control is analog and in the last stage of the iDSD output. If anyone else can confirm or contradict this, that would help to see if I have something off in my setup.

 

Very cleverly-designed little DAC with trickle-down technology from Abbingdon Music Research.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

Link to comment

I get little clicks when moving the volume control, regardless of input format. I believe this is normal behavior for the analog control used. I am sure with some more expense, this could be remedied. But it has no effect on performance once you set it where you want and just listen.

 

The best sounding music I have is a tossup between the Opus 3 DSD 128 analog to DSD transfers, and the DXD files from 2l. Both sound incredible. DSD with that characteristic special smoothness, DXD with incredible detail, and little or none of that typical "thin" PCM sound.

 

 

 

Thanks Andrew and Vincent, I enjoyed that review even though I read it with Google Translate, quite thorough. Actually, the whole site is good with several DIY Projects.

 

I am actually enjoying the iFi DSD Nano. Very solid little piece of kit in an affordable package. Tested it in DSD/DOP Mode with Audirvana+ and JRiver's realtime upconversion to DSD - satisfactory Magenta LED colour shows my PCM is upconverted in real-time to DSD 2x and received as such by the iDSD.

 

I also tried the DXD downloads from 2l.no today. This, with Audirvana+ gives me some clicks when I move the volume knob though and I tried all configurations of volume control. I find this odd as the volume control is analog and in the last stage of the iDSD output. If anyone else can confirm or contradict this, that would help to see if I have something off in my setup.

 

Very cleverly-designed little DAC with trickle-down technology from Abbingdon Music Research.

Link to comment

I don't get any clicks with DSD, only in PCM. Maybe the volume knob controls some stepped attenuator?

 

My preference goes to DSD, but I agree, 2L's DXD samples are fantastic. Actually, some of the music is great too like Ola Gjeilo and Hoff Ensemble.

 

Opus 3's Eric Bibb sample, 'Meeting at the Building' is awesome, and I'm not a big fan of the genre usually, but now I may well become one!

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

Link to comment

The sad thing is though, it only takes 5 or so titles on DXD from 2l to exceed the cost of the iDSD itself!!!! 42 USD a piece!

 

 

 

I don't get any clicks with DSD, only in PCM. Maybe the volume knob controls some stepped attenuator?

 

My preference goes to DSD, but I agree, 2L's DXD samples are fantastic. Actually, some of the music is great too like Ola Gjeilo and Hoff Ensemble.

 

Opus 3's Eric Bibb sample, 'Meeting at the Building' is awesome, and I'm not a big fan of the genre usually, but now I may well become one!

Link to comment

Well, the audiophile market segment is supposed to spend more after all. On the other hand, my preferred music is often not in DXD or DSD, but since the iDSD does a good job of oversampling to DSD 2x, I'm fine with listening to my existing collection (some Redbook lossless, some mp3, very small number of DSD, and even smaller DXD).

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

Link to comment

Actually, I tried a multi-channel DSD and had clicks with it. It seems the clicks d not occur with all files.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

Link to comment

Interesting point, John. Do you think there's a way to alleviate the microphonic pickup?

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

Link to comment
Interesting point, John. Do you think there's a way to alleviate the microphonic pickup?

 

I should get my Nano DSD soon and I will verity the issue. My current understanding is that the volume control itself is strictly analog.

 

P.S

 

I found this by Thorsten Loesch, Head of R&D (AMR/iFi)

"The actual Volume control Potentiometer is not part of the signal path, but instead varies a DC voltage applied to an AD converter which in turn sends the position of the pot, derived from DC voltage to a Microprocessor. The Microprocessor then controls a 64 Step attenuator which form an integral part of the output stage.

The complete output stage combines a differential input and lowpass filter, a 64 step stepped attenuator and a Output Amplifier/Driver. It allows both inputs from the DAC and outputs to be direct coupled (no coupling capacitors)."

 

 

That being the case not much can be done about it that I can see. Sorry I misspoke.

Link to comment

Yep, I thought I had read that somewhere in a forum. There was no mentions of clicks to be expected though and I'm not too familiar with stepped attenuators implementations in practical terms: seen them in good DIY amps or DACs, but never used one as far as I know.

 

In other words, are the clicks normal considering the stepped attenuator approach, micro-controller control notwithstanding?

 

I can live with it, but if I could prevent the clicks that would be awesome.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

Link to comment

I received my iDSD finally from MusicDirect. I am still in the early stages. I am using my audio/video computer running win7 X64 with RCA's connected to a switch box to various monitors and amps. I did noticed clicking when switching from PCM to DSD. Once switch is made no more clicking. No clicking from adjusting the iDSD volume pot at this time. Exploring WASAPI and ASIO options.

Link to comment

Depends on what your source you are using to connect. iPhone,iPad,Android Apple or PC. In my case PC. You use a USB A/B cable from your PC and the RCA jacks on the front to your active speakers or amp. I already have amps that can drive headphones quite well. I also have to download the Windows driver from the IFI web site.

Link to comment
Depends on what your source you are using to connect. iPhone,iPad,Android Apple or PC. In my case PC. You use a USB A/B cable from your PC and the RCA jacks on the front to your active speakers or amp. I already have amps that can drive headphones quite well. I also have to download the Windows driver from the IFI web site.

 

Thinking computer. Are the RCA jacks connected to the volume control? I far prefer to use my preamp. Also, is it fair to assume the USB is asynch?

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Link to comment

Main DAC here,

 

Not sure what you are finding difficult to hook up: just use the RCA outs. There's a coaxial at the back up to 192 kHz and this can be used simultaneously, say with a subwoofer.

 

if you prefer using your own pre-amp, then you should put the iDSD at max volume and leave it there for the least circuitry activated.

 

Yes, it's a new DAC, certainly the most affordable DSD 2x-capable one, so I'm not sure why you would think it doesn't do asynchronous USB.

 

iFI's technology comes from AMR who do much more advanced and expensive high-end. I suggest you read the iDSD page on their website for more info on the goodies.

 

Thinking computer. Are the RCA jacks connected to the volume control? I far prefer to use my preamp. Also, is it fair to assume the USB is asynch?

 

-Paul

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

Link to comment
Main DAC here,

 

Not sure what you are finding difficult to hook up: just use the RCA outs. There's a coaxial at the back up to 192 kHz and this can be used simultaneously, say with a subwoofer.

 

The biggest trouble with hooking it up is that it has not arrived. Thus the questions. :)

 

The Website for it is hardly informative.

 

Why would anyone use a digital output from a DAC just to go to another DAC? Coax is not going to support anything higher than 24/192K, and the DAC itself is capable of 32/384 + several variants of DSD.

 

if you prefer using your own pre-amp, then you should put the iDSD at max volume and leave it there for the least circuitry activated. [/QUote]

So the volume control is in circuit with the RCA jacks. This always leads to trouble for me. The cats think anything round and shiny, like a volume knob, is fair game to bat at.

 

 

Yes, it's a new DAC, certainly the most affordable DSD 2x-capable one, so I'm not sure why you would think it doesn't do asynchronous USB.

 

iFI's technology comes from AMR who do much more advanced and expensive high-end. I suggest you read the iDSD page on their website for more info on the goodies.[/Quote]

 

I did read the web page, it is singularly uninformative about details like that, at least so far as I can find. The normal things I want to know about a DAC are how it connects to the computer, especially details on the USB connection) (Asynch? Wavelength / Strealength code? dCS? Something else? )

 

Perhaps Thorsten does not feel that people are going to ask questions like this in regards to an under $200 DAC?

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Link to comment
Thinking computer. Are the RCA jacks connected to the volume control? I far prefer to use my preamp. Also, is it fair to assume the USB is asynch?

 

-Paul

 

Yes the USB is using asynch and more, from the web site;

 

To lock-out jitter,the iDSD does not settle for Asynchronous USB transfer alone. To truly cancel jitter, it also employs AMR’s Zero Jitter® Lite technology from the famous AMR DP-777 which has Asynchronous as the starting, not finishing point.

 

When using the RCA jacks IFI states that computer or the software playback volume is to be set at maximum. Just set the volume control on the iDSD to maximum and then use your pre-amp to control the volume. If you are connected to a output device that does not have volume control it is better to use the volume pot on the iDSD not the computer or software volumne control. No actual audio signal is being passthru to the iDSD volume pot. The iDSD volume pot controls a DC level to a microprocessor which in turn controls a 64 Step attenuator as per my previous post on this page.

Link to comment

Where are you finding that? Can you link that please? All I can find (officially) is this website. iFi-audio Nano iDSD

 

Yes the USB is using asynch and more, from the web site;

 

To lock-out jitter,the iDSD does not settle for Asynchronous USB transfer alone. To truly cancel jitter, it also employs AMR’s Zero Jitter® Lite technology from the famous AMR DP-777 which has Asynchronous as the starting, not finishing point.

 

When using the RCA jacks IFI states that computer or the software playback volume is to be set at maximum. Just set the volume control on the iDSD to maximum and then use your pre-amp to control the volume. If you are connected to a output device that does not have volume control it is better to use the volume pot on the iDSD not the computer or software volumne control. No actual audio signal is being passthru to the iDSD volume pot. The iDSD volume pot controls a DC level to a microprocessor which in turn controls a 64 Step attenuator as per my previous post on this page.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Link to comment

Go to the last 1/3 of the web page you posted. Right after the picture of a clock crystal. Here more;

 

There are clock crystals and there are the clock crystals in the iDSD. The ‘clocks’ used in the iDSD which have been supplied by AMR, are military-grade temperature compensated master clock modules which avoid the creation of unwanted beat frequencies. Such crystals reduce overall digital noise and push jitter to the vanishing point. These clocks have been specifically-sourced from the telecommunications industry where standards are far more exacting than those in the industrial sector (which normally supplies to the audio industry).

Expect the iDSD to sonically compete with far more expensive DACs. Its smooth, ‘analogue’ sound is in large part, due to the overall quality of its components such as its special clocks.

 

Just like other products in the range, the iDSD benefits from AMR trickle-down technology. To lock-out jitter,the iDSD does not settle for Asynchronous USB transfer alone. To truly cancel jitter, it also employs AMR’s Zero Jitter® Lite technology from the famous AMR DP-777 which has Asynchronous as the starting, not finishing point.

 

 

It has been my experience that the human ear is very sensitive to low levels of Jitter and ringing from the filters even more so than low level of THD otherwise we would not have many people using vacuum tube equipment like me. I had a conservation with Ted Smith, the designer of the PS Audio DirectStream stated that in addition you need very good quality clocks with low phase noise and beat frequencies to reduce jitter as a whole. The iDSD is not perfect but the choices made by the IFI design team are very very good. Music to my ears. The IFI will come out with a slightly larger iDSD called the micro iDSD sometime possibility in July. For me I am waiting for even the larger one yet called mini iDSD at the end of the year for my balanced equipment. It is my understanding all three iDSD will be using the same BB chipset.

Link to comment
Go to the last 1/3 of the web page you posted. Right after the picture of a clock crystal. Here more;

 

There are clock crystals and there are the clock crystals in the iDSD. The ‘clocks’ used in the iDSD which have been supplied by AMR, are military-grade temperature compensated master clock modules which avoid the creation of unwanted beat frequencies. Such crystals reduce overall digital noise and push jitter to the vanishing point. These clocks have been specifically-sourced from the telecommunications industry where standards are far more exacting than those in the industrial sector (which normally supplies to the audio industry).

Expect the iDSD to sonically compete with far more expensive DACs. Its smooth, ‘analogue’ sound is in large part, due to the overall quality of its components such as its special clocks.

 

Just like other products in the range, the iDSD benefits from AMR trickle-down technology. To lock-out jitter,the iDSD does not settle for Asynchronous USB transfer alone. To truly cancel jitter, it also employs AMR’s Zero Jitter® Lite technology from the famous AMR DP-777 which has Asynchronous as the starting, not finishing point.

 

 

It has been my experience that the human ear is very sensitive to low levels of Jitter and ringing from the filters even more so than low level of THD otherwise we would not have many people using vacuum tube equipment like me. I had a conservation with Ted Smith, the designer of the PS Audio DirectStream stated that in addition you need very good quality clocks with low phase noise and beat frequencies to reduce jitter as a whole. The iDSD is not perfect but the choices made by the IFI design team are very very good. Music to my ears. The IFI will come out with a slightly larger iDSD called the micro iDSD sometime possibility in July. For me I am waiting for even the larger one yet called mini iDSD at the end of the year for my balanced equipment. It is my understanding all three iDSD will be using the same BB chipset.

 

Ah thank you - I must be suffering from the website equivalent of "Fridge Blindness"....

 

I agree with you that people are very sensitive to jitter and other factors, and I do like the sound of tube equipment. I tend to prefer solid state only because I leave my gear on all the time and that makes me slightly allergic to tubes. Not to tube sound, just the beastly little things themselves.

 

I have friends with AMR 777s, and while I do not expect this to sound anywhere near that league, I am hoping it is in the same "family" of sound. Just as a DragonFly is in the "Wavelength" family for sound. I honestly do not know how they are accomplishing these teeny little miracles at this kind of cost. But that won't stop me from enjoying them!

 

Thanks again for the pointer.

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Link to comment
Ah thank you - I must be suffering from the website equivalent of "Fridge Blindness"....

 

Perhaps, since you also seemed to miss the part where I mention the use of the coaxial output for a subwoofer... The RCA & the headphones out are mutually exclusive. Therefore, you would like the coaxial option. Some people have older DACs as well.

 

iFi has opted for a minimalist design, and you can also see some of that in the packaging, very reminiscent of Apple. The instruction card is small. However, there is plenty of info on the website as you probably have seen now. Additionally, Thorsten designs the technology, I don't think he does the website copy. Besides, suffices to say the DAC has async USB, 'streamlength/wavelength code' is not something you should be concerned about - async stems from Gordon Rankin's initial implementation, so...

 

As for more info, as mentioned briefly, the iFi team is quite generous on forums and so on. So, I'd subscribe to their Facebook page where they add more information and interact, and if you were thinking of additional information linked to the volume implementation, I believe I saw those on a forum like Head-Fi or something similar.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

Link to comment
Perhaps, since you also seemed to miss the part where I mention the use of the coaxial output for a subwoofer... The RCA & the headphones out are mutually exclusive. Therefore, you would like the coaxial option. Some people have older DACs as well. [/Quote]

 

This is confusing - most subwoofers takes take line level analog audio, most DACs take S/PDIF. Are you saying the CoAxial out sends both low level audio and S/PDIF? Perhaps I missed that, would you point out where *that* is on the website as well please?

 

As for older DACs, I don't think using the iDSD as a USB2S/PDIF convertor is a very good use of of it, but different strokes for different folks. Might be the perfect answer for someone. Obviously, the designers think so.

 

iFi has opted for a minimalist design, and you can also see some of that in the packaging, very reminiscent of Apple. The instruction card is small. However, there is plenty of info on the website as you probably have seen now. Additionally, Thorsten designs the technology, I don't think he does the website copy. Besides, suffices to say the DAC has async USB, 'streamlength/wavelength code' is not something you should be concerned about - async stems from Gordon Rankin's initial implementation, so... [/Quote]

 

I do like the design. I expect I will love the device. I am far less than fond of the website.

 

Like most Audiophiles, I like to know where the Asynch code is coming from. It's silly not to tout that in the documentation, as any possible answer can only be a plus I think. Whether I "should" care of not is kind of irrelevant, because I do. :)

 

As for more info, as mentioned briefly, the iFi team is quite generous on forums and so on. So, I'd subscribe to their Facebook page where they add more information and interact, and if you were thinking of additional information linked to the volume implementation, I believe I saw those on a forum like Head-Fi or something similar.

 

I'll search around a bit more.

 

Thanks - Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Link to comment

 

As for older DACs, I don't think using the iDSD as a USB2S/PDIF convertor is a very good use of of it, but different strokes for different folks. Might be the perfect answer for someone. Obviously, the designers think so.

 

I am guessing the reason for the USB2 to S/PDIF convertor output is to allow playback from a portable device to a home system that more likely to have a S/PDIF input than using a USB input as a storage unit. The USB to S/PDIF convertor is limited just to standard PCM inputs. It is more of a PCM passthru.

 

Like most Audiophiles, I like to know where the Asynch code is coming from. It's silly not to tout that in the documentation, as any possible answer can only be a plus I think. Whether I "should" care of not is kind of irrelevant, because I do. :)

 

You can try the AMR website for a bit more info and read the manual for the DP-777

 

Abbingdon Music Research - Products - Digital Processor-777

 

IFI is quite active on the Head-FI web site for crowd sourcing for future designs.

 

John

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...