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iFi iDAC2 - which firmware?

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I just bought the iDAC2 yesterday. It was the retailer's floor/demo unit, so I'm presuming it had not been updated, but don't know for sure. System Info shows an otherwise unidentified iFi USB DAC described as 'Version: 5.00'. But I wonder if the Mac errantly retained the info from the prior nano iDSD I was using. I don't know how else to analyze the attached DAC.

 

I went to iFi's download page and found the descriptions to be vague. Now that iFi has been moved to the general DAC subforum here, searches don't yield much.

 

Anyway...

 

My system is: 2013 iMac > macOS Sierra 10.12.6 > JRiver > iDAC2 > ancient integrated and speakers. No headphones. Various formats and resolutions, including DSD/DSF via DoP.

 

The update page describes some things I absolutely DON'T WANT: namely, ANYthing related to MQA, or anything that will disable SPDIF passthrough. Passthrough is half the reason I bought this DAC. (The other half is the sound quality of my nano iDSD). I obviously need to avoid 5.3 'Cookies & Cream' for this reason.

 

Still vague, but it looks like 5.2 'Limoncello' is the firmware I should get. But there is no explanation of the 5.2a vs 5.2b sub-versions. Or if I must install previous firmware before 5.2.

 

Mostly for fear of the damage I would do with 5.3, before installing I'd like to hear some clarification on what the correct firmware updates will do for me.

 

Thanks in advance.

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On 10/4/2019 at 5:39 PM, mansr said:

If you need DSD256 using DoP, get 5.2B. Otherwise get 5.2A.

 

Thanks for the reply, mansr.

 

I'm not very familiar with the details of DSD, and have only a few such files (mostly rips from disc).

 

Does 'DSD256' refer to the sample rate? If so, and all my DSD/DSF files and rips show as 'Sample Rate: 2822400 Hz' in JRiver, does that mean I'm employing DSD256? Even if the numbers aren't a dead match?

 

Further confusing the issue is that when playing these files, the iDAC2 (and the nano iDSD that preceded it) display a White light, which seems to indicate 'DXD352/384kHz' - which I know nothing about. Does my choice of using DoP have something to do with this?

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5 minutes ago, gd0 said:

I'm not very familiar with the details of DSD, and have only a few such files (mostly rips from disc).

 

Does 'DSD256' refer to the sample rate? If so, and all my DSD/DSF files and rips show as 'Sample Rate: 2822400 Hz' in JRiver, does that mean I'm employing DSD256? Even if the numbers aren't a dead match?

Those are DSD64 (2822400 = 64 * 44100). You don't need the special firmware for those.

 

Also, I misremembered the confusing numbering. 5.20 is the version you want.

 

5 minutes ago, gd0 said:

Further confusing the issue is that when playing these files, the iDAC2 (and the nano iDSD that preceded it) display a White light, which seems to indicate 'DXD352/384kHz' - which I know nothing about. Does my choice of using DoP have something to do with this?

Are you sure JRiver isn't converting DSD to PCM?

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2 hours ago, mansr said:

Those are DSD64 (2822400 = 64 * 44100). You don't need the special firmware for those.

 

Also, I misremembered the confusing numbering. 5.20 is the version you want.

 

Are you sure JRiver isn't converting DSD to PCM?

 

Good catch.

 

Output Encoding is set to None, as I think it should be, now that I've read, and tested, again. Apparently DoP up(down?)samples EVERYthing to DSD(?). I want simple bit-perfect as much as possible.

 

Don't know why I remembered being set at DoP; must've tried it early on. I tend to set and forget.

 

So, when I play DSF files, the White light on the iFi is the appropriate indicator? What is DXD, anyway?

 

Obviously, I've got few DSD/DSF files. It's a negligible format to me, just something else to fuss over. I can't detect any significant improvement over a comparable 24/96 PCM. But that's just me.

 

Oh yeah, the OP...

 

So given my disinterest in DSD, and assuming nothing I've got exceeds DSD64, are you suggesting I don't need the firmware update at all? Are there no other benefits / improvements?

 

Thanx again.

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9 minutes ago, gd0 said:

Output Encoding is set to None, as I think it should be, now that I've read, and tested, again. Apparently DoP up(down?)samples EVERYthing to DSD(?). I want simple bit-perfect as much as possible.

 

Don't know why I remembered being set at DoP; must've tried it early on. I tend to set and forget.

DoP is method of packing DSD data in PCM samples. It allows sending DSD over links that don't ordinarily support it, such as S/PDIF. It is also needed on MacOS since the drivers there know nothing about DSD.

 

9 minutes ago, gd0 said:

So, when I play DSF files, the White light on the iFi is the appropriate indicator?

With firmware prior to 5.3, white indicates 352.8/384 kHz PCM. DSD should produce other colours.

 

9 minutes ago, gd0 said:

What is DXD, anyway?

DXD is a marketing term for 352.8 kHz 24-bit PCM.

 

9 minutes ago, gd0 said:

Obviously, I've got few DSD/DSF files. It's a negligible format to me, just something else to fuss over. I can't detect any significant improvement over a comparable 24/96 PCM. But that's just me.

Nor can I.

 

9 minutes ago, gd0 said:

Oh yeah, the OP...

 

So given my disinterest in DSD, and assuming nothing I've got exceeds DSD64, are you suggesting I don't need the firmware update at all? Are there no other benefits / improvements?

5.20 presumably has some bug fixes compared to earlier versions. If it's working as is, there's probably no need to upgrade.

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Hey, thanks for hangin' with me here.

 

I need to go through all of JRiver's settings again. Haven't looked at it since I first set it up, and therefore don't remember anything. I either did it wrong (what are the odds?), or it came undone somehow. A quick setting change or two got more plausible results on the iDAC2 (namely, Blue light for DSD).

 

But i'm gonna plow through thoroughly again, before returning to this.

 

Still curious about the specific fixes on 5.20. Might as well get to optimum.

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10 hours ago, gd0 said:

I need to go through all of JRiver's settings again. Haven't looked at it since I first set it up, and therefore don't remember anything. I either did it wrong (what are the odds?), or it came undone somehow. A quick setting change or two got more plausible results on the iDAC2 (namely, Blue light for DSD).

Yes, blue for DSD sounds right.

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Well, I finally re-set JRiver, correctly. I assume operator error to begin with, but it's hard to see how I could have gotten it so wrong the first time, having followed JRiver's wiki closely. But this was 3 years ago.

 

Who cares? Everything works now, indications on the iDAC2 make sense, it all sounds good.

 

But I am checking in one more time to see if I can get some clarification on the 5.20 update (my iMAC system info shows the iFi DAC (no model ID) as being Version: 5.00). Might as well optimize performance and/or ditch potential bugs, but I also don't want to unknowingly install a problem.

 

Does "AMR/iFi audio" (company rep?) respond to posts anymore since iFi got moved from the sponsored area to this general DAC area? Seems like a "demotion", or at least a reduced public profile.

 

Or maybe the iDAC2 is off the table (appears to be discontinued), and everybody has moved on to the latest gadgets.

 

? ? ?

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1 hour ago, gd0 said:

But I am checking in one more time to see if I can get some clarification on the 5.20 update (my iMAC system info shows the iFi DAC (no model ID) as being Version: 5.00). Might as well optimize performance and/or ditch potential bugs, but I also don't want to unknowingly install a problem.

The 5.20 firmware supposedly fixes some minor issues like pops when switching between PCM and DSD. See the release notes for details. If you're not experiencing any problems, there's no need to upgrade. Then again, if it would give you peace of mind, go ahead.

 

1 hour ago, gd0 said:

Does "AMR/iFi audio" (company rep?) respond to posts anymore since iFi got moved from the sponsored area to this general DAC area? Seems like a "demotion", or at least a reduced public profile.

I guess they stopped paying for their own section. No idea why.

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