Pros: Transparency, built-in amp, appearance, accessories
The iFi iDAC provides a flawless sonic experience that is truly high-end.
Big thanks to Avatar Acoustics for the review sample!
The iDAC comes with a very nice USB cable and RCA cable for line-out.
This DAC has, by far, surpassed my expectations. It provides the finest of audio experiences.
Everything sounds super-transparent and life-like, like most ESS Sabre DACs. What is truly impressive about this DAC is the full 24/192 support.
Headphones that I tested with the iDAC
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro
Audio Technica ATH-M50
Audio Technica ATH-A700x
Rockit Sounds R50
From what I can hear, the iDAC performs and powers extremely well, especially considering it is directly from USB power. Sure, iFi has a separate USB power supply product for sale, but unless you truly want to get the very maximum out of the iDAC, I wouldn't see a reason to get it. iDAC is completely clean as it is.
Gain - I can only detect a slight amount of hissing when the DAC is turned up to around 12 o'clock or more on low-impedance headphones. IEM users need not worry! I don't truly see the need to include a gain switch like others have said they want. It'd just seem redundant to me.
Soundstage - Soundstage is rather impressive to me. I've heard a few people saying that it didn't impress, but that's not what I got from the iDAC. I can hear where instruments are supposed to be, what they sound like in terms of the venue they were placed in, and so on. It just sounds 'right' to me.
In conclusion, I highly recommend this product to anyone looking for a good semi-budget DAC. It is a real competitor in this price range, and has no significant flaws that I can see.