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iFi's Pro iDSD (official) - NEW Firmware - MQA and more.

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On 10.01.2018 at 6:40 PM, Totsipaki said:

Very Impressive and considering the phenomenal price/ performance ratio of the cheap ifi dac amps I presume this dac will be killer.. Not without a price though.. At 3000eur approximately It is also very very close to the AMR dac.

 

Our Pro iDSD is in many ways different than AMR DP-777, hence not really comparable.

 

On 10.01.2018 at 6:40 PM, Totsipaki said:

In fact if someone has that sum available in cash the only thing from stopping them from going straight to the AMR 777 is it's much poorer format support. So will you update this as well I am not asking about the price as It is sure to go higher with any update..

 

We have no idea honestly.

 

On 10.01.2018 at 6:40 PM, Totsipaki said:

Finally a personal comment. Even though at this price it is not realistically, financially  approachable by me at this point of my audiophile life I can't help but saying that If it had an Iphono2 incorporated instead of the tube output stage It would surely make me lose a few hours of sleep. So are there any plans for such a version anytime in the future?

 

Out of curiosity, why would you put a phono stage in a DAC?


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42 minutes ago, AMR/iFi audio said:

Out of curiosity, why would you put a phono stage in a DAC?

 

Because Mytek is doing it? :ph34r:

 

Me, I don't care for a phono stage.


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8 hours ago, EVOLVIST said:

 

Because Mytek is doing it? :ph34r:

 

Me, I don't care for a phono stage.

 I do It too with a Brooklyn And have been very impressed with the results. Anyway because I love Ifi have alot of records and I’m not really fond of tubes that is why I asked

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2 hours ago, Totsipaki said:

 I do It too with a Brooklyn And have been very impressed with the results. Anyway because I love Ifi have alot of records and I’m not really fond of tubes that is why I asked

 

In my view it does not make sense at all to put a phono stage in a DAC. 

If you look for a phono stage I would recommend a Lejonklou Gaio.

Very musical and not expensive.

 

Matt

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20 hours ago, EVOLVIST said:

Because Mytek is doing it? :ph34r:

 

Honestly that's great for them, but we have our own point of view and our own ways of doing things in audio.  


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7 minutes ago, AMR/iFi audio said:

 

Honestly that's great for them, but we have our own point of view and our own ways of doing things in audio.  

 

Right. I wouldn't want iFi to try to emulate anybody else. I was just stating who has one, and the OP backed that up by stating he has a Brooklyn.


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Just now, EVOLVIST said:

 

Right. I wouldn't want iFi to try to emulate anybody else. I was just stating who has one, and the OP backed that up by stating he has a Brooklyn.

 

Point taken. It seems that some people might benefit from such unique feature in a DAC. But at the same time we wouldn't drop our fabulous tube stage to have it on-board instead. 


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On 1/7/2018 at 10:58 AM, AMR/iFi audio said:

BNC multifunction In (SPDIF/AES3id In, DARS In, 10MHz In, Atomic clock in)

 

A very intriguing product! Thanks for the teaser info shared to date.

 

Can you provide any details of the internal clocks? XO, TCXO, OCXO? Same quality for system (USB, ethernet, motherboard) and data? 

 

I see you support a 10MHz reference clock input. Does that mean you use a frequency synthesizer, with an internal reference clock, that can be overridden by the external reference clock? I find this very exciting, and hope you can share more details.

 

Finally, what is the word on release date?

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2 minutes ago, austinpop said:

Finally, what is the word on release date?

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/29373-ifi-audio-pro-idsd-official-thread-its-happening-folks/

 


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On 16.01.2018 at 1:49 AM, austinpop said:

Can you provide any details of the internal clocks? XO, TCXO, OCXO? Same quality for system (USB, ethernet, motherboard) and data? 

 

We use the same GMT clock system as originally developed for AMR DP-777.

 

Feel free to take a look here:

 

...and here: 

 

http://amr-audio.co.uk/html/tech2.html#p2


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I’m still considering a new DAC, after much hesitation. Hesitating mostly because my Nano works so well; the system is iMac > JRiver > old amp + speakers. Files are lossless, locally stored. No streaming, headphones or mobile. Still, I keep coming back to the PRO iDSD, even at its higher price, mainly for its complete all-in-one-box solution.

 

I was disappointed to read that iFi would install MQA circuitry in DACs going forward. Don’t want to have that debate here, there’s plenty elsewhere; suffice to say that, for several reasons, MQA is a non-starter in this house. Still, I figured I can consider iFi anyway, assuming that MQA circuitry could be easily bypassed.

 

Recently, however, it has come to my attention that a number of MQA-compliant DACs now run all files/streams through the MQA decoder and renderer subsystem including non-MQA files/streams. The Aurender A10 and the MyTek Brooklyn DAC are two current examples. With the Aurender A10, there’s now no way to use its filters because they’ve been disabled by a firmware update. The filters are still selectable in the control app, but they’re not actually functioning. Everything runs through MQA.

 

It appears that implementation of MQA in hardware renderers is making it difficult for DAC makers to also have their own filters available.

 

I’m not remotely expert on this, or DAC design in general. All I know is I won’t buy into MQA, and that if I do buy an iFi DAC, it must provide sound crafted by iFi designers using iFi filters and circuitry. No more, no less.

 

Can iFi demonstrate, and guarantee, that any built-in MQA circuitry in their DACs can be kept 100% completely out of the signal path for those who don’t want it? Ideally, disabled as a default.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Thanks for the reply; very encouraging.

 

iFi has obviously been thorough; makes me think the long wait will be worth it.

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GE5670 reserved for flagship AMR and iFi

Press release

 

We have some mixed news for lovers of the GE5670.

 

It is our understanding that we have tracked down and acquired the last known large-scale stockpile of GE5670 tubes.

 

1.thumb.jpg.b36607f576db1426f0da5c82b8041e0d.jpg 

 

The good news is that we have amassed a respectable inventory for AMR to use in their machines and for iFi to use in their flagship ‘Pro’ series for the foreseeable future (read: years).

 

The bad news is that once units in the supply chain of iTUBE2s and NOS6922s are all gone, there will be no more. The recent rise in the price of the GE5670 makes it even more the right decision to not continue with using the GE5670 in this product. Given that we need to reserve 2 pcs of the GE5670 for each Pro iDSD and Pro iCAN and for the AMR 777 machines too, priority must be given to these flagship products.

 

History of the venerable GE5670

 

For those wishing to delve into the history of the GE5670 and why we chose it over its ‘lesser’ cousin the 6922:

 

https://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/accessory-nos-6922-2/


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Pro iDSD - The easygoing perspective

The enclosure and front panel – part 1/2

Introduction

Our latest and greatest DAC – the Pro iDSD – is just around the corner. We’ve already tackled several technical matters related to this device, and all these are to be found via links in the first post of this thread:

 

 

In short, we’ve explained in our regular fashion why this product is very unique. Since there’s still some time left to the official launch of our upcoming flagship DAC’s, we thought we’d describe in a less techy and more easygoing, newbie-friendly way what our Pro iDSD is all about. First stop is its enclosure’s front, back and - later on - also innards.

 

The Pro iDSD – what is it exactly?

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This machine, in short, is a DAC, also known as a d/a converter and quite commonly as a source. This means that its main purpose is to receive a digital signal either via cable or wirelessly, convert it to its analogue form and then pass it on to devices such as a preamplifier, a stereo power amplifier, a pair of mono amplifiers, a headphone amplifier or directly to various headphones. Yes, all these devices operate in the analogue domain, which leads us on to this statement:

 

·         The Pro iDSD won’t pass digital signals to a different DAC and yes, this is on purpose

 

The Pro iDSD was primarily built as a high quality digital to analog converter and this is how it should be used. It’s already function packed as it is and - instead of making it operable as an S/PDIF converter - our goal was to use the space normally reserved for this in a more useful way. Basically, using the Pro iDSD to feed a similar device with a digital signal is a big waste of its potential.

 

The enclosure

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Now, we have all that out of the way, let’s focus on the Pro iDSD’s enclosure. This machine is the same size as the iFi audio Pro iCAN and both products look very similar. The enclosure is made out of aircraft grade aluminium and its main purpose is to dissipate heat from the devices inside as they will get hot when powered on. In order to further improve on this, the chassis has many venting holes on its sides and on top. These align in a pleasantly rounded shape with a magnifying glass with a pair of fabulous vintage JAN GE5670 valves underneath. (Quick note – these class act valves are now reserved ONLY for our Pro series products but that’s another story). Anyway, we reckon that the Pro series chassis looks very cool.

 

The front panel – LED diode and standby/power switch

Let’s start with the upper left corner. There’s the iFi Pro logo based on a LED diode. Once the Pro iDSD is powered on, this lights up with one of four different colours. Each indicates a different operational status:

 

·         Green: warming up

·         White: solid-state mode

·         Orange: tube mode

·         Red: protection mode

 

3.thumb.jpg.5305204381ed445c4ffb3830aac3ac2c.jpg

 

Moving on, there’s a small, flat button in the lower left corner. This turns the product on or puts it in standby mode if you are not shutting it down completely.  

 

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The front panel – input selector

Let’s now go a bit to the right. A large and endlessly rotating aluminium knob is next in line. It handles several jobs with its main one being digital input selection. You can cycle through the following options:

 

·         Ethernet/WiFi/Hard Disk/Micro SDHC (Network Bridge/Streamer)

·         Host USB

·         Coaxial/Optical Digital Input

·         XLR Digital Input

·         BNC Digital Input

 

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There are also two additional adjustment options available via the input selector:

·         Brightness (adjustable via a three second press)

·         Polarity (adjustable via a long press)

 

The front panel – digital filter selector

 

The smaller knob located a bit to the right from the input selector is the digital filter selector. It enable two things.

The first feature (available via pressing the digital filter selector) is our proprietary DSD remastering. You can choose whether you’d like to have your music:

 

·         Normal – where DSD signals are passed directly to the DAC. For PCM you may choose between a set of digital filters or bit-perfect, unprocessed PCM

·         Upconverted to DSD512

·         Upconverted to DSD1024

 

2.thumb.jpg.ef350ec32359a2e44efda131a067ea55.jpg

 

The second feature allows you to cycle through these five different filters on the fly via the rotary action:

 

1.       'Bit-Perfect' - No digital filtering is applied, one tap

2.       'Bit-Perfect+' - No digital filtering is applied, one tap, SINC roll-off @ HF is corrected

3.       'Minimum Phase' - Minimum filtering, no pre-ringing, minimum post ringing, 32 taps

4.       'Apodising' - Modest filtering, no pre-ringing, modest post ringing, 128 taps

5.       'Transient Aligned' - Max filtering, max pre-ringing, maximum post-ringing, 16,384 taps

 

Please think of these filters as different flavours. Each trades off frequency response flatness, transient response and suppression of ultrasonic images in a different way. There is no “perfect” filter option, such a thing is not possible, so select the filter that offer the right set of compromises for you.

 

We’ve already covered in detail how our proprietary digital filtering works in the Pro iDSD. Please take a look up several posts above.

 

What’s important is that the Pro iDSD is equipped with a FPGA chip that runss on iFi audio’s custom firmware and is responsible for all filters and remasters listed above. It’s worth noting that in this DAC, these operations are hardware based.


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On 1/19/2018 at 12:26 AM, AMR/iFi audio said:

 

Yes, in our iDSD Pro anything non-MQA will not pass through MQA upsampling.

 

Our nano iDSD BL's MQA beta firmware currently up-samples non-MQA streams to 8 x PCM via a filter of our specification.

 

We are working with MQA o allow us to fully bypass this upsampling, until then for all iFi products our standard firmware V5.2 without MQA is available.

 

Is the iDSD Pro's MQA implementation full decode, or render only?

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Pro iDSD - The easygoing perspective

The enclosure and front panel – part 2/2

The front panel – output section mode

One of the most unique features of our Pro iCAN is its complex output stage based on both transistors AND valves. We’ve developed it to give you the ultimate headphone amplifier and an exceptionally flexible product, which will work with headphones of every sound characteristic there is. Our goal was to create a machine that would be ‘liked’ by every pair of headphones, IEMs and CIEMs out there. We strongly believe we’ve cracked it.

 

2.thumb.jpg.c6b60ab4e2358c446b483a6b7d6373c4.jpg

 

This tech was just too good to be locked away after we used it in the Pro iCAN so, we gave it another whirl in the Pro iDSD.  The output stage of this DAC consists of three different circuitries which deliver different outcomes sound wise. You can cycle through these output stage modes:

 

1.     ‘Solid-State' - a purely solid-state J-FETs based circuit of fully-discrete Class A topology.

2.     'Tube' - the J-FET circuitry is switched to an all-valve Class A section based on 2x GE5670 tubes.

3.    'Tube+' - reduces available negative feedback to a minimum. As a result, a greater amount of the tubes natural harmonic distortion is produced (even order harmonics dominate). 

 

Toggling between these three modes can be done without shutting the Pro iDSD off, but there’s a short pause as the circuitry switches over.

 

The front panel – OLED display

We believe that a product as packed with functionalities as the Pro iDSD deserves to have a brilliant looking, readable, nicely embedded display. OLED was the only answer. Such a display provides a true black colour and looks great. Its purpose is to provide you with all the key playback info you need when using the Pro iDSD.  

 

1.thumb.jpg.77bdb755e52706a09b5749ddd3e41bcc.jpg

 

·         Operation mode (PCM/DSD)

·         Current sample rate (44kHz, 45MHz etc.)

·         Bitperfect/filtering mode

·         Base sample rate

·         Currently used input

 

The front panel – headphone outputs and gain section

Even though the Pro iDSD is a above all else a DAC , we wanted to make it as versatile as possible and, in order to do so, we built in a sophisticated headphone amplifier. This circuitry is understandably bested only by the Pro iCAN, our TOTL standalone headphone amplifier. And there’s a very good reason why this is the case.

 

The circuitry for both the Pro iCAN and Pro IDSD is actually based on classic studio circuitry. It consists of tubes given the hybrid treatment with solid state parts to give them a higher output current. This topology makes for an excellent line or headphone driver. This circuit is actually VERY SIMPLE and minimizes the number of active stages and parts in the signal path. In short, a win-win scenario.

 

6.thumb.jpg.6d795bcb13a8a130e25d8771b2c48a41.jpg

 

The main differences between the Pro iCAN and the Pro iDSD in this regard is that the Pro iCAN has twice as many output devices, is biased deeply towards class A as it is optimised as a headphone amplifier for all headphones.

 

Meanwhile, the same circuitry in the Pro iDSD is optimized as a line driver, but has enough output current to drive headphones. Its output power is reduced in the process and the bias is much less towards class A. As a result, the Pro iDSD is not optimised as a headphone amplifier, yet it will still drive most headphones well.

 

In the Pro iDSD you have several headphone outputs to choose from. Single-ended 6.3mm out is mandatory in devices of this caliber. This socket is also complimented by one 3.5mm (both SE and S-Balanced, just like the same output in our nano iDSD Black Label) and one fully balanced 2.5mm TRRS output. These two are to be found right below the 6.3mm out. To complete the picture, an adjustable gain switch is there too. It allows you to boost the signal by 9 and 18dB or leave it in default mode (0dB gain).

 

The front panel – volume control

The aluminium volume knob located near the right edge of Pro iDSD’s front panel is large and very easy to use. Our Pro iCAN uses the very same one and it does the job nicely! Why fix something that’s not broken? The Pro iDSD volume knob can be operated by hand or by a small remote control (included with the product). And lastly, in the bottom right corner of our flagship DAC, you’ll see a small black screen with an infrared receiver. No guessing what that’s for!

 

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As per usual with iFi audio products, the volume control should be around the 12 o'clock position during normal listening levels. In order to have them higher, you can increase the gain via small nearby knob.

 

Stay tuned, Pro iDSD’s rear is coming up next!  


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4 hours ago, Samuel T Cogley said:

Can you detail the switch that appears to have a transistor, valve, and valve+ symbol?

 

Please see up above.

 

4 hours ago, Samuel T Cogley said:

And is the iDSD Pro manual available for download yet, or not until after 2/15?

 

What we've been publishing for a while now is basically the Pro iDSD overgrown manual.


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On Monday, January 15, 2018 at 12:48 AM, AMR/iFi audio said:

The iDSD PRO offers the following choices of digital processing:

 

I. Direct - Bitperfect 

  • Both PCM and DSD signals are not processed in any way.
  • For PCM this is effectively what is sometimes called "non-oversampling" or "zero-oversampling", for DSD it means DSD is retained in the original DSD format and directly converted to analogue without any digital processing.

II. PCM - upsampling 

 

  • In this case PCM is up-converted to 16 X PCM (705.6/768kHz) using a choice of digital filters (Minimum Phase, Apodising, Transient Aligned) that offer different tradeoffs of time-domain and frequency-domain performance.
  • DSD remains completely unprocessed.

III. DSD - Remastering

  • In this case all incoming audio (except DSD512) is converted to either DSD512 or DSD1024 as selected, using the filter selected (including Bitperfect, meaning no digital filtering is applied).
  • All the above mentioned digital processing options apply to all sources, including the network audio bridge and AES/EBU & S/PDIF inputs.
  • Inputs other than USB are currently limited to maximum sample rates of 192kHz PCM and DSD(64) via DoP.

1.thumb.jpg.d5a8d7c793f41c991877160559e94669.jpg2.thumb.jpg.23a7acd1f516fb7d9c65f3592b9d9967.jpg3.thumb.jpg.cdf2273611030850874151e40fba9d21.jpg

 

In a nutshell, when:

  • DSD512 Remaster is selected, then all audio (except DSD512) is upconverted to DSD512.
  • DSD1024 Remaster is selected, then all audio (yes, DSD512 as well) is upconverted to DSD1024.

The upconversion process allows different digital filters, including Bitperfect (no filter), to be selected.

 

4.thumb.jpg.aec0308e5b26d6eaf1ec5256ff64a350.jpg

 

For example, this image shows the screen in DSD Remaster DSD1024 mode with a 44kHz input signal being upconverted to DSD1024 (45.158MHz) using the Bitperfect filter.

 

Why the terms of "DSD-Remastering" and sometimes "converted" are used in case of DSD, while the terms of "PCM-upsampling" and "up-converted" are used in the description of PCM?

 

Is there any difference between the terms?

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8 hours ago, simonklp said:

 

Why the terms of "DSD-Remastering" and sometimes "converted" are used in case of DSD, while the terms of "PCM-upsampling" and "up-converted" are used in the description of PCM?

 

Is there any difference between the terms?

 

No, the process is the same.


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