Pros: Very detailed but not fatiguing, very good PRaT, tight control extended to the bass
Cons: Not found yet
I spend my working days far from home and I was looking for something compact with two specific characteristics: keep the same feeling that I have when I listen to the Sennheiser HD650 driven by the Burson Conductor and have a non fatiguing and yet detailed sound to cool me down after a long and tiring working day.
During the SIAV exhibition in Shanghai last weekend I had the opportunity to try the iFi iDAC and at the first listening I understood that this was the stuff I was looking for: love at first sight.
I purchased the iDAC on the spot and I completed the system by adding the iUSBPower to clean the signal, the Gemini and the Mercury cables, and the iTube as a preamp.
The package makes the music flowing from my M-Audio BX5D2 powered monitor speakers in a very smooth and natural way, the PRaT is excellent and the bass firm and under control even at high volume.
The sound is very detailed, somehow punchy and yet not fatiguing, in other words: believe me or not but with or without the iTube, my feeling is that this iDAC sounds more analogue than digital.
Even if the performance level is obviously not the same, the Sabre ES9023 of the iDAC shares similar sonic characteristics with his sibling ES9018 Reference chipset used in my Burson Conductor.
Amazing value for money if we consider that the combination iDac+iTube is one quarter the price of the Conductor, which in my opinion remains the reference headphone amplifier in his category.
Of course the iDAC itself is not powerful enough to drive the HD650 in the proper way (the iCan amp module should be added), but it works very well with the MM450X that I use for my conference calls, to have quieter flights and also to listen to the music.
I am looking forward to listening what I can get from that system after a longer shakedown period (and with better monitor speakers )
Bravo Thorsten Loesch, good job iFi.