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Article: iFi Micro iDSD Black Label DAC and Headphone Amp Review



DuckToller
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I also enjoy my Micro iDSD BL. I bought it primarily for headphone listening, something I don't actually prefer to speakers, but since I travel a lot, it is how I do a lot of listening.  It was definitely too big for daily travel use - I tried, but when you're in different cities every day, and trying to live light and small and fast, size matters. My Meridian Explorer 2 owns that duty.  But if I'm going someplace and going to be there for a few days... the BL comes along. It plays wonderfully well with every earphone/headphone I have, from CIEMs to my planars. 

 

I've only recently tried it out in my speaker-based systems, and I'm very impressed. I've got a couple of other DACs at a bit over the same price point (since I have an office, a studio, then listening room, bedroom, and living/dining room...) and the only DAC that is clearly better is the one that costs 7 times as much in my listening room. However... most of those other DACs are in a streaming device of some sort, and the thought of replacing one box with two in multiple rooms... no. 

 

The new Nano BL is on my holiday gift list. If it's got anywhere near the same sound quality as the Micro BL, I just may slip it into a couple of the smaller room systems, fed by the existing streaming device.

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39 minutes ago, saintkrusher said:

Hi

I have a question for you. My If iDSD Black read only DSD256. In Roon settings shown that only DSD256 is active. DSD512 is red and not support. What you suggest? I have a MacBook Pro and macOS High Sierra.

regards Grzegorz

Hi Grzegorz,

what is your computer type (Mac/Linux/Win) and which drivers are installed?

Cheers,Tom

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Hi saintcrusher,

I am not a Roon user myself, but I had the impression, that their support is very responsive on that subject.

I can tell you from my own experience, that the setup for DSD512 output under Windows with ASIO is not trivial, but it works.

You may like to ask your question as well in the AMR/iFi or Roon subforums at this site ...

Cheers, Tom

 

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15 minutes ago, saintkrusher said:

ok, thanks

what about jRiver Media Center or Audirvana or HQPlayer? You have any information about this?

Grzegorz

JRiver for Win does work, with newest iFi drivers and Asio Proxy 0.8.3 (from sourceforge), as noted in the review.

If it is a hardware (mac) specific problem, other software might run in the same limitations.

Cheers, Tom

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Thanks for the write up.  I have a Grace M9xx which is DSD capable, however I usually convert DSD to 352k PCM on the fly.  That way I have software control of volume and a DSP available.  One might consider the highly regarded Shiit Yaggi does not do DSD, or PCM past 192k.  As for DSD 512, those are huge files, even for today's cheap big hard drives.

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  • 3 weeks later...

?,

 

i have a question. How is it that the ifi black label is superior to the micro dsd with the improved components, if the specifications are the same?

 

does Audio not have the right specifications suite, or is ifi unable to properly measure in their own fascility?

 

i have the ifi nano dsd, and I absolutely hate the sound. I expected it to make the sound better, as a great decent DAC, like going from the Sennheiser HD 650 Ovation II to the Stax 007 Omega II. Or like going from the Rotel 980BX to YBA1 amplification in solid state amplification.

 

going from the audio engine D1, it made the sound much more terrible.

 

likewise, the audio engine D1 DAC made the sound much worse, though with less noise, than the on board intel audio chipset.

 

i had really hoped an external battery power supply, like that in the ifi nano idsd would of improved the sound through reduced noise further like a reference Jeff Rowland monoblock power amplifier.

 

is the ifi idsd micro black label any better than the to me terrible and I mean unbelievably so ifi nano idsd DAC or are all these external dacs just terrible piles of shit, and wasters?

 

i really like ifi products and cases. I have the ifi ipower and it improves the sound of all USB dacs I have tested. I have the ifi Gemini USB cable, and though it’s terrible design, it’s cool though, also. Nice to look at!

 

man, I’d love the ipurifier.

 

yours,

 

John

 

 

All Stax (www.stax.co.jp) all the time! (Except sometimes, Etoymotic, Sennheiser, Sony, or Panasonic, all with lesser gear - Synth, IPod, PC).

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  • 1 month later...

You're right about one thing:  The iDSD BL + HD650 is a match made in heaven.  The xBass and 3D switches bring out the best in the HD650.

The other thing I've found is that spending an extra $100 on an iFi iPurifier2 makes a world of difference.  Yes the Black Label has basic purifier tech in it, but the iPurifier2 takes everything up another level of refinement.   The iPurifier2 is a huge bang for the buck.

 

IMG_0246.thumb.JPG.0d12db44db4767929e6dc9fe23a37646.JPGHP 17z Laptop  >>>  iDefender + iPower  >>>  iGalvanic 3.0  >>>  iPurifier2  >>>  Micro iDSD Black Label  >>>  HD6XX and K553Pro

 

 

 

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@Condocondor
I've no experience with the IPurifier nor the IDSD Nano BL,  lets put it this way, I had thew impression that the BL was profiting from the USB REGEN, so I could imagine that in combination with the iPurifier2 the results may as well exiting.
@Staxguy
According to my knowledge, apart from the price difference, the absence of some features like XBass, 3dSound and DSD512, available inputs and outputs, FastCharger, PCM only to 384Hz, available MQA-Filter (only Nano), a sufficently lower dynamic range (109db) and finally a different DAC chip, the iFi product pages do not reveal any other differences to me . Hope that helps ;-)
Cheers Tom

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/8/2018 at 8:07 AM, DuckToller said:

@DuckToller

To quote your response above:

"According to my knowledge, apart from the price difference, the absence of some features like XBass, 3dSound and DSD512, available inputs and outputs, FastCharger, PCM only to 384Hz, available MQA-Filter (only Nano), a sufficently lower dynamic range (109db) and finally a different DAC chip, the iFi product pages do not reveal any other differences to me."

Let's be fair here.  The Micro iDSD Black Label has a S/N ratio of 117dB for the DAC section, and 115dB for the AMP section.  The iDSD can do PCM to 768kHz, DSD to 512kHz, and DXD to 768kHz.

That said, the Micro iDSD Black Label is a wonderful device.  Not only have I added an iPurifier2 but now I've added an iGalvanic 3.0.  Now, the sound quality moves from "very good" to "outstanding" and absolutely spotless, top-notch, and pristine.     And, it's still transportable since the whole rig is powered off USB and Battery. 

 

 

IMG_0087.JPG

IMG_0246.thumb.JPG.0d12db44db4767929e6dc9fe23a37646.JPGHP 17z Laptop  >>>  iDefender + iPower  >>>  iGalvanic 3.0  >>>  iPurifier2  >>>  Micro iDSD Black Label  >>>  HD6XX and K553Pro

 

 

 

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@Condocondor

Sorry, I was mistaken on the go. On the phone screen I took it as a Nano/Micro length comparison ... :S
with a second glance on my comp I noticed the chain description and felt a wry smile in my face. This on is on me ;-) :D
I hope you are happy with your gear and your HD6XX give you smiles everytimes you enjoy listen to them!:cool:
Best regards, Tom!

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  • 10 months later...

Folks I need help and I'm new dac's so please be patient.

 

My DAP's are the HiBy R6 and Cayin N8, both great.  I can't seem to get the IFI to read the DSD files on the HiBy.  There's a DSD mode setting in HiBy music and the IFI will recognize PCM only not DoD or Native.  I don't anything about drivers, etc.  please advise on what to do and thanks.

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@RJRSanFrancisco

For having some more specific information on your problem:
Which connection do you use between the Hiby & the iFi ?
USB - C or Coacial ? 

- iFi claims for the Coaxial only PCM up to 192kHz is possible "(3 Way combo SPDIF port (Coaxial In/Out; Optical In); Up to 192kHz PCM)"
- imho, for USB C you may need the correct adapter to "USB 2.0 type A “OTG” Socket." Dunno, if that would feed DSD or DOP to the iFi, but depends then on the Hiby only,  as you have no limitations from the iFi side.
Pls feed my curiosity, is the iFi DAC section so much better than the included DAC of the Hiby R6?

Best, Tom

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