Pros: Very competitive
I must be lucky enough to stand a chance for reviewing iFi Audio products. Previously iCAN and not so long ago the iUSB, thanks Vince from iFi Audio sending me these goodies, I appreciated them.
There are four products in iFi Audio product range currently, none of them have disappointed me in any way I can say. They all have respectable performance, with similar design and good price. I have really having hard time to find something that I don’t like with iFi Audio products.
Now the trilogy has come to final, I will be reviewing the iDAC today, which I received few weeks back, it is a shame for we to delay the review until now although I am enjoying and using iDAC more than writing a review needed to be, Yes, I am enjoying the iDAC.
Description/ Packaging and Build Quality
iDAC has same tank like build quality such as iCAN and iUSB, by using same form factor as well. I see this as a good thing as both of the iFi Audio products are tough and built to last. Also, they are transportable.
Sound Quality (Mostly regarding the DAC performance)
iDAC has been tested together with iFi Audio iUSB and iCAN, Soundmagic HP-100, Sony MDR-1R, Thinksound MS01, Thinksound Rain, Creative Aurvana Live!, Perfect Sound S101 and Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 250 Ohm. Connected through Charleston Cable Company RCA and USB cable.
iDAC is really a performer when talking about sound quality. You see, I have compared iDAC to various of latest hot and good DAC/AMP combos, I am finding the fact that iDAC is far more better choice in the price range.
In the price range I can say nothing can really came into this close, iDAC is truly a performer, that is why I put iDAC to fight the higher end DAC, the Yulong Audio D100 II, you can see the comparison later.
There is nothing really lacking in iDAC, it is smooth, spacious, fast and quite revealing for details. If you really want me to say, I do think it is little bit short on playing back the ambience. However, I am happily worked with iDAC, especially I can just put any of my headphone/IEM into iDAC, I can easily getting good sound.
iDAC has now became my work horse, some has better sound, but with pricier price tag and bigger dimension, also demanding a dedicated power supply (iDAC can worked directly with USB output). But nothing really this versatile, for some comparison purpose, I think that iDAC has a weightier and fuller sound than lately high praise Audinst HUD-MX2 (Which Earmass just reviewed not too long ago).
Compared with Yulong Audio D100 II
Tested with Hell freeze over by The Eagles, Diabulous in Musica by Aerpr and Lindsley Stirling.
Yulong Audio D100 II has already been my favourite DAC for very long time, they are some price differnces though, D100 II is higher in price (By a league) but for some reasons I still put them into this fight., both connected to iFi Audio iCAN and Charleston Cable Company USB and RCA cables.
D100 II has significantly lively and striking sound than iDAC. Resolution wise, I think that D100 II resolved better as well. However there is something that I think iDAC is better, especially the bass depth (but worse in impact and body). iDAC is not a warm DAC in reality but if I put them in comparison, iDAC is somehow warmer than D100 II. Also arguably, iDAC has sound signature that can let you listened to them for a long time.
Soundstage wise, I am kinda impressed at iDAC. To be frank, D100 II still better here , but not really in a significant way, there is some difference but don’t forget D100 II is one of the famous DAC that has good soundstage, iDAC is not far behind. Considered the price, there is a lot has smaller soundstage than iDAC.
Sound differences are there so do price differences. My honest opinion is both of them are no slack when come to performance, but they are different classes of DAC, also don’t forget that iDAC can work with a USB as power source, while D100 II has to use a power cable to supply power. Size wise, D100 II is few times bigger and heavier than iDAC. I also connecting D100 II with a 890USD Rein Audio power cable. There are no winner nor loser here, both of them are champion.
Internal headphone amplifier
I seldom talked about the internal headphone amp, because I like to do things separately. However, I found that internal amp is quite nice, please see iDAC as a DAC and amp as bonus. Power wise, I doubt that you will really need to buy another amp, I paired with Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 250 Ohm, I can have volume that is higher than my regular listening volume, full bodied. This is really impressed. While the internal amp is really nothing worth to say when sit beside to his sibling, iFi Audio iCAN which is a dedicated headphone amp, but output impedance of iDAC do give a huge room for IEM, iCAN has too much power for an IEM and low impedance headphone, while iDAC is just nice.
iDAC internal amp do hiss a little bit, but nothing worth to mention, it is good and remarkable. I am enjoying it with wide range of IEM that has wide range of sound signature. For such a price, please, I don’t have anything that worth making noise on.
iDAC worth the price, and performed beyond what the price can say, if you are searching for a DAC/Amp combo that can work with headphone/IEM that with high or low impedance, also, iDAC is transportable, and work with just an USB cable, this is a remarkable achievement, without saying much, I really have nothing to complain against iDAC. I wish to see next generation of iFi Audio products in future.