iFi Audio Micro iDSD Signature Portable DAC/Amp Launched
iFi's Micro iDSD Black Label gets a Signature upgrade and a special Space Blue finish.
The iFi Audio Micro iDSD Black Label has been iFi's top-of-the-range battery-powered DAC/headphone amp for the past three years, and now the new Signature edition builds on that reputation. The iFi Micro iDSD Signature promises exceptional sound quality and versatility. Furthermore, it boasts enhanced circuitry in critical areas and a new 4.4mm Pentaconn headphone output, among other upgrades.
The new Signature model is housed in a 177x67x28mm extruded aluminium enclosure, as have all products in iFi's longstanding 'Micro' range. But, rather than black, the Micro iDSD Signature sports a Space Blue finish. We are told that this new colour will be specifically reserved for future 'Signature' versions of iFi's most popular products.
As well as making it portable, being battery-powered also gives the Micro iDSD Signature a performance advantage over mains-powered products. Thanks to ultra-clean and stable DC power, you avoid the nasties such as dips, spikes and noise-inducing RFI/EMI pollution. Battery life is quoted as being between 6-12 hours of playing time, depending on the type of headphones connected and the performance mode engaged. If it is running low, you can, of course, plug it into a power source to charge and play at the same time.
Leveraging the power from a pair of interleaved Burr-Brown DAC chips to do the number-crunching, selected for their natural-sounding 'musicality' and True Native architecture, enables four pairs of differential signals – two pairs per channel. The result is a lowered noise floor, improved channel separation and enhanced resolution of fine musical detail and micro-dynamics, says iFi.
The Micro iDSD Signature can handle PCM data to 32-bit/768kHz, all levels of DSD up to DSD512, and single- and double-speed DXD. MQA is also supported. Thanks to the Burr-Brown chip's True Native design, PCM and DSD take separate pathways – this enables DSD, as well as PCM, to remain 'bit-perfect' in its native form right through to analogue conversion.
Extensive jitter-eradication technologies are applied to the digital engine, including iFi's GMT (Global Master Timing) femto-precision clock and intelligent memory buffer. There's also iFi's GTO (Gibbs Transient Optimized) digital filter - although you can load alternative digital filters as firmware updates.
The outgoing Micro iDSD Black Label's amp stage was already great, but the new Signature version has seen the circuitry fine-tuned. The result is still being able to deliver up to 4100mW, but the signal path has been refined to maximise sonic texture and detail.
iFi continues to select high-quality components such as custom ultra-low-distortion OV2028 and OV2627 op-amps in both the digital and analogue respectively. These join a hand-selected range of capacitors including the multilayer ceramic type TDK C0G, polyphenylene sulphide film type Panasonic ECPU and aluminium-polymer solid type Panasonic OS-CON. MELF thin-film resistors and inductors from Taiyo Yuden and Murata also feature in the circuit design.
An important aspect of the circuit design is the fact that there is no coupling capacitor, iFi calls this approach Direct Drive Servoless.
The digital stage benefits from a variety of filter settings for PCM and DSD file types. The amp stage also has three settings to adjust power and gain. Further optimisation for sensitive in-ear monitors is supplied via iFi's IEMatch technology, which adjusts the output level to suit. Naturally, iFi's familiar XBass+ and 3D+ settings are also present.
At the back of the chassis, you'll find a USB Type-A male connector and an S/PDIF socket. The male type USB connector provides greater mechanical integrity than the USB/Micro USB ports. It also offers an advantage to users of iPhones and iPads with Lightning ports, as it accepts Apple's Lightning to USB Camera Adapter.
Also, you can connect the Micro iDSD to powered speakers thanks to the pair of RCA analogue outputs. Moreover, when using it as a DAC/preamp like this, you can engage a different version of iFi's 3D+ analogue signal processing, specifically designed to create a more spacious soundstage with speakers rather than headphones.
There is a 6.3mm output for headphones that have a standard single-ended connector (headphones with a 3.5mm jack need an adapter) and a 4.4mm Pentaconn output for headphones offering balanced connection. Both headphone outputs utilise iFi's 'S-Balanced' output circuitry, said to deliver the sonic benefits associated with balanced connections with all headphone/earphone types – even those with single-ended connectors.
Rounding things off is a USB-C charging port and vibration damping feet.
The iFi Micro iDSD Signature is available now for pre-order for US $649 / SGD $899. We have been advised that only a limited number will be made.
StereoNET’s resident rock star, bass player, and gadget junkie. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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