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iFi iDAC Has anyone purchased one?? Looking for under $300 DAC

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 

I am looking to purchase a DAC in the under $300 range for following uses:
XPS laptop (stream MOG)>DAC>Perreaux SXH1 (headphone amp)>HD650
XPS laptop>DAC (stream MOG)>Denon AVR3806> Revel Concerta F12 speakers
Denon DVD 1920>DAC>Perreaux SXH1 (headphone amp)>HD650

As you can see, I do not have high-end or 'audiophile' equipment. I have been looking at the Audioquest Dragonfly, standalone ODAC and Audioengine D1, but now that I've come across the iDAC, I will definitely add that to the list. I will mainly stream music from MOG and play CD's. For my use, here are my concerns/thoughts:

Dragonfly ($270 w/Dragontail):
Although I am not a 'road warrior' and will use at home, I'm leery about the durability. If I purchased, I would purchase the Dragontail and velcro the bottom of the Dragonfly and attach the DF to something stable and mobile for use next to my listening/reading chair and attach to shelve of audio system when using AVR. I know that it has received great reviews and is on the CASH list. I like that it uses analog volume control. 24/96 is probably fine for me.

Odac ($159 w/RCA's):
Love the price and it also receives good reviews. For me, what is most important is how something sounds to me, not whether you can check off all of the 'required' or 'newest' tech options. Thus, I'm not as concerned as some that NwAvGuy uses a 'minimalist' approach. If the Odac does not have a trial period (I need to check w/ various retailers), I will not be able A/B the DF and Odac. Has anyone compared the DF, Odac and/or Audioengine D1? Is the volume control analog?

Audioengine D1 ($169):
I believe most who have done comparisons between DF and D1, prefer the DF. However, the D1 accepts an optical input, thus I could run my Denon DV1920 through the D1 either to my headphone amp or AVR. However, as I will stream music from MOG quite a bit, I'll be giving up sound quality if the D1 is not as good as the others. They do have a 30 day trial, though.

iDAC ($299):
Looks very intriguing, but as it is so new, there are very few reviews and I have not come across any comparisons. Though I may not need or use 24/192 that much, it is nice having that capability. Like the DF, volume control is analog. Another potential consideration is that I will probably pick up the iUSB sometime in the future, and maybe upgrade my amp (iCAN???) and assume they will all work well together. I have a hunch that the iDAC will be just as good, if not better than the DF, and hope that there is a trial period.

Any and all thoughts, suggestions and tips will be appreciated.




Senn HD 650, Perreaux Sihoutte SXH1 amp; Dell XPS 8100 Realtek HD Audio SC w/ Tru Studio PC software (Creative/THX);  Dell XPS laptop; Swann D1080 Mk II speakers

Denon AVR 3806; Denon DVD 1920; Revel Concerta F12 speakers; Monster HTS 3500 Mk II and various cables.

post #2 of 65
Thread Starter 

I contacted iFi-Audio via email on Saturday afternoon and received a reply back on Sunday. Very prompt, to say the least. FWIW, herewith were my questions and the replies.

1. I have a Perreaux SXH1 headphone amp (which may end up being replaced with the iCAN). Can I feed the Perreaux with the iDAC? If yes:
a. How should I do this in terms of adjusting volume?


Yes, you can use the iDAC with the SXH1 using the line output of the iDAC. Use the volume control on the SXH1.


Would I set the volume on the iDAC to maximum?


The volume control on the iDAC is for the headphone output, the line output is always at full volume for best sonic.


2. Is volume control analog or digital?


Analog, but for headphone output only.


3. Where can I purchase an iDAC in the US? Is it only available from Avatar Acoustics


Very good question. Avatar is our distributor in the US, we have many dealers in the the US too, the dealers' info will be posted on the ifi-audio.com early next week


They already added some retailers on the website. It looks like they are using retailers who offer AMR products. This makes sense in that they already have agreements in place with those retailers. I would imagine they will expand the retail list to include quasi-audiophile retailers in order to reach a larger market of potential customers.

post #3 of 65

I bought one based on the strength of the review (below) and others but have not received it yet.

This will be my first DAC purchase. Basically after reading so much garbage out there, feel like I can trust this guys reviews. Pretty sure he is or was an EE and is somehow connected with stereophile magazine. He also reviewed the SCHIIT BiFrost, but it did not get as good a review, costs more, bigger footprint, lack of a built in headphone amp. His 2 reviews of ASUS Xonar Essence STX soundcard are very impressive and thorough.


I was trying to figure out which headphone amp / dac to buy for 3 days when I found website below, thankfully =p, as there is a ton of good information and awesome reviews there IMHO.



Edited by ed 209 - 1/4/13 at 9:48pm
post #4 of 65

I purchased the dac from stereodesk, just ordered it today. They seem like a good place to order from atleast to me. I talked with them on the phone for like half hour, they answered all my questions, me being a total audio dac noob. Free shipping too, ok it was 1 cent. SCHIIT does not offer free shipping but a better warranty than the IFI idac so Ill give them that anyway. One nice thing about stereodesk, they said we only carry what we have spent time with and like really like ourselves, I liked that philosophy personally. http://stereodesk.com/

Edited by ed 209 - 1/4/13 at 8:35pm
post #5 of 65
Thread Starter 

Guess I didn't update this thread, as I ordered one from Stereodesk last week.  Fred Crane, proprietor of Stereodesk/Audio Prana was a joy to work with.  As noted, free shipping and he said I could send it back if I didn't like it. 


If someone is thinking of purchasing any of the iFi Micro products, definitely contact stereodesk

post #6 of 65
post #7 of 65
Thread Starter 

Thanks...I had read reviews on all three and decided to go with the iFi Micro iDAC.  However, I wouldn't be surprised if most people couldn't tell the difference between any of them and this, during a well-designed double-blind listening test.  In fact, I may pick up the HiFimeDIY for my son who is at college.  If I do, I'll compare it to the iFi when he's back home for the summer.

post #8 of 65
Thread Starter 

Just received an email from Fred @ stereodesk that my iDAC arrived and will ship out tomorrow.  I should have it on Tuesday.


Again, if you are going to buy any of the iFi Micro products, I strongly suggest you contact Fred Crane, proprietor of stereodesk/audioprana.

post #9 of 65

I would be suprised based on hype surrounding amr ifi idac, if you could not pick it out on a blind listening test.

Looking forward to your thoughts on this unit while I wait for mine to show.......


Paired with the iusb it is supposedly even more amazing they say, but thats another 200.

This is my first dac and like you said we have 30 days to decide whether to keep it or not from stereo desk.

I have read nothing but amazing reviews for this product, here are 2 others 




I plan on just comparing it to what is coming out of my xfi soundcard, which sounds great to me already,

I use cplay(flac only), foobar2000, EAC to rip my cds to flac with accuraterip turned on, also like MOG.

Edited by ed 209 - 1/6/13 at 11:18pm
post #10 of 65
Thread Starter 

This will be my first outboard DAC, so I will not be able to compare it to anything besides my sound cards (desktop and laptop).  However, it will allow me to feed my HP amp and my AVR via my pc's.  Of course, any USB DAC would have allowed me to do that.  IMO, the price is reasonable for the iFi iDAC, I like the size (e.g., bigger, less prone to breakage than DF, IMO) the specs are very good and the reviews of iFi Micro products  have been great.  I view audio improvements from the DB, ABX, 'hydrogen audio' school of thought, so I'm pretty skeptical about audio products and their claims.  However, as noted above, for the me the $299 is worth it in terms of looks, quality build, etc.



Senn HD 650, Perreaux Sihoutte SXH1 amp; Dell XPS 8100 Realtek HD Audio SC w/ Tru Studio PC software (Creative/THX);  Dell XPS laptop; Swann D1080 Mk II speakers

Denon AVR 3806; Denon DVD 1920; Revel Concerta F12 speakers; Monster HTS 3500 Mk II and various cables.

post #11 of 65
Thread Starter 

Just received my iDAC today. Fred Crane of Stereodesk was nice enough to send me an iCAN to check out. Well, not sure how nice that was, as my guess is that I'll end up buying it as well. Here are a few pics. I won't be able to really listen to these units for a few days, but I'll give my impressions (FWIW, as the iDAC will be my first outboard DAC) asap. As noted on the iUSB thread, the packaging is nice and the units look very nice.  Great specs and great reviews for all of the iFi Micro products.








post #12 of 65

Looks sweet, I have to wait till Jan 21st before mine ships : ( 

post #13 of 65


I got my iDAC, iUSB and iCAN in late November.


I ordered them directly from the iFi/AMR people in the UK at the Audio Show in September where I heard the whole set! Some waiting time. I nearly cancelled my order!

That said, other than the delay in delivery, I have been really happy with the results. I don't really have anything to compare to. I used to listen to my headphones directly from my Laptop and/or Phone. It did not really sound that good, so I often did not listen that much in the office. Now it sounds much better.

post #14 of 65
Originally Posted by sawdin View Post

I won't be able to really listen to these units for a few days, but I'll give my impressions...asap.

Inquiring minds want to know! Seriously, there's a lot of chatter about Dragonfly and Modi/Magni, but little about iDAC. Maybe the iDAC availability issues have something to do with that. Looking forward to your thoughts.
post #15 of 65


I posted up some pictures of my iFi Gear. I wish I could help with the comparisons, but I really do not have the others here or much experience in comparisons...

The iFi stack complete with headphone and new cable. Normally I place the stack to the left, as the cables on my headphones go into the left side. But as I'm right handed and would plug around a lot of cables I put it on the right for the occasion. Inconvenient

More here:


Cheers Rich

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