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iFi Micro iDSD right channel muted at low volume, left-centered at high


akay
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TL;DR: iFi Micro iDSD produces more sound in left ear than right, to the point where at a sufficiently low volume there is no sound at all, and at higher volumes the vocals are produced on the left side. What should I do?

 

After months of thinking I might be going deaf in one ear, I've just found out that my Micro iDSD has a weird fault.

I don't really know how to explain it in technical terms, since I regretfully admit that I don't know much about audio, so bear with me.

 

I have a SACD file (Wish You Were Here) that I've been enjoying very much since I bought the DAC, but one thing always bothered me: it felt like the vocals were not fully centered and it was always on the left side of my headphones. Since I've been happy about the quality of this combo (SACD + Micro iDSD + ATH-M50), I've pretty much accepted that my right ear has started giving up. After all, it seemed natural that after six months of rifle shooting in the army without protection, and going to nightclubs and standing in front of the speakers, and the worsening tinnitus, that this would happen.

 

Recently I've purchased Shure SE846 and ten minutes ago, enthusiastically plugged it in the DAC and started playing the same music. The vocals still seemed left-centric. Of course I didn't expect it to change, because it's my ear that's not functioning as it should be...

 

...or so I thought.

 

I just plugged my headphones directly into my mac, and vocals seemed...centered. Then I played some music on YouTube, before I played some left-right testing videos, and it all seemed centered.

 

This prompted me to try lowering the volume to see if anything changes and it didn't; even at the lowest volume, it seemed centered. At this point, I plugged the earphones back into the DAC, and lowered the volume slowly.

 

Oh my god.

 

In Audirvana (volume control set to DAC only), while listening to the same music, when my DAC volume knob is at 9 o'clock, the right side is completely silent, and ALL of the sound comes from the left ear. While listening to the same song at higher levels (10-11 o'clock), the vocals seem to be at around 11:15 (you know what I mean...) in my head.

 

While I'm happy that I'm not really going to be deaf in the right ear as soon as I thought, this means the DAC is bad.

 

Now, don't ask me why I never tried to wear my headphones the wrong way, to test if it was the headphones; I just didn't think of it, it's that simple. But the DAC is really favoring left.

 

Can anyone who has the same DAC try if it's the same case for them? And if not, what do you think I should do?

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I've also noticed a mismatch between left and right levels when the volume knob is just past off.

 

What do you have the Power Mode and iEMatch switches on the bottom of the unit set to? With the Shures, you probably want to set to Eco and Ultra Sensitivity, allowing the volume knob to be used in a higher position.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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I've also noticed a mismatch between left and right levels when the volume knob is just past off.

 

What do you have the Power Mode and iEMatch switches on the bottom of the unit set to? With the Shures, you probably want to set to Eco and Ultra Sensitivity, allowing the volume knob to be used in a higher position.

Power Mode is Eco, but the iEMatch is on High Sensitivity. If I put it on Ultra, the mismatch becomes even more apparent.

 

Just realised: pressing the iEMatch switch when it's on Ultra makes things a bit better, but there seems to be a malfunction of some sort, because when I lift my finger it goes back to left-heavy. Feels like there's a connectivity problem that gets better with pressure on the switch?

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Power Mode is Eco, but the iEMatch is on High Sensitivity. If I put it on Ultra, the mismatch becomes even more apparent.

 

Just realised: pressing the iEMatch switch when it's on Ultra makes things a bit better, but there seems to be a malfunction of some sort, because when I lift my finger it goes back to left-heavy. Feels like there's a connectivity problem that gets better with pressure on the switch?

 

Sounds like there may be a mechanical problem with your unit. With my unit, the overall volume goes down when I switch to Ultra which requires me to turn the volume knob up.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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Sounds like there may be a mechanical problem with your unit. With my unit, the overall volume goes down when I switch to Ultra which requires me to turn the volume knob up.

There definitely is a mechanical problem. I have created a support ticket with iFi Audio.

 

I have found many threads about this, by the way. Apparently the recommended position is between 1 and 3 o'clock, using High/Ultra Sensitivity.

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  • 3 years later...
  • 5 months later...

Just want to add to this.

I had experience a similar issue. It turned out the 3.5mm jack was playing funky.

ifi has jack detection in the 3.5mm, when you connect analog input it shuts the digital. The mechanics is not working fine after yrs of non-usage. After used it for a while and unplug, i had either no sound when using digital input from SPDIF or extreme low level on the right channel. I manage to rectify by tweaking around the 3.5mm jack...

 

ifi products sounds great and beats everything else in terms of functionaltiy

However their build quality is not really there...at least for their micro series.

I have experience multiple switch, socket failure on more than one ifi products..

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