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iFi iDSD Micro DSD512 / PCM768 DAC and Headphone Amp. Impressions, Reviews and Comments. - Page 23

post #331 of 1223

Here are some kinda older first impressions I made jotted down a few hours after I got my iDSD up and running. It's basically a short comparison of the iDSD's amp section and my Cypher Lab Duet

 

 

Duet

 

darker treble and more laid-back

soundstage deeper but similar width

more mid bass body and thus more rumble

 

 

iDSD:

 

faster attack and decay and slightly thinner note presentation

better PRaT

better instrument separation

tighter bass and has a snappier punch

vocals are more forward

detail is more obvious

 

 

As a DAC/amp unit I've experienced more burn-in in device than I ever experienced in my headphones. I'm right now at 44 hours and it has improved quite considerably. Compared to my previous DACport LX and Duet, before any burn-in, the iDSD had an obviously wider soundstage but rather 2 dimensional compared to those two devices I find to be soundstage depth monsters. Bass was rather lean for me but deeper. It was more musical but imaging wasn't as precise. Over around a dozen hours it suddenly started sounding brighter and I was experiencing and bass was altogether lacking except in detail. Imaging also suddenly became more precise. 

 

Right now at 44 hours (I leave it playing overnight). Soundstage depth is closer to my previous rig and there is more body to the sound similar to my earlier impressions but keeping the clarity that was gained earlier. Bass is much stronger, tighter, and deeper. It currently seems detached from the rest of the music as to not colour the midrange. It's rather hard to describe. All instruments seem more palpable like it's as if you can almost chew on them… I'd be quite happy if they stopped changing right now. The iDSD the best of musicality and the technicality is good enough that you'd never complain that it's lacking nor feel it to be intruding into enjoying your music. 

 

I'm still deciding wether I should post a formal review after the 100 hour mark

 

 

*small edit* 

 

On my Macbook Air (Mid 2011) and on USB power mode there is a slight hiss on BitPerfect when 3D is turned on. Putting it into "Standard" or "Minimum Phase" would remove the hiss again. 3D seems to only affect a small number of songs… mostly those with extremely different sounds coming out of the left and right channels. On other songs, there is a increase of soundstage depth and soundstage width but this is dependent on the track as well. Overall, the 3D is something that is rather hard to describe too as it seems to emphasize only certain higher frequencies yet is track dependent?? These higher frequencies include some hiss present already on the recording. At first I thought that even on battery mode the BitPerfect mode had hiss but then I realized even switching filters, as the 3D feature is part of the analog domain, there was no differences in noise between the digital settings. Lastly, the XBass feature is honestly subtle relative to the other bass booster features I've experienced beforehand. I actually prefer it this way but it will in no way fix bass-light headphones. 

 

*huge huge development*

 

I'm noticing hiss (not from from the recording) from the iDSD while 3D is off, on battery mode, while BitPerfect. This is almost negligible as I didn't notice it at all up to now. It just so happens that it was a long silent passage in a song when I changed BitPerfect to Minimum Phase and poof, it's suddenly noise free with a black black background. This occurs both with the iDSD attached to my laptop or my phone. I find this quite disappointing as "BitPerfect" should be the best sounding setting. I doubt hose of you with an iUSBPower or a coaxial out will have these problems with "BitPerfect."

 

Interestingly enough, the free DSD tracks that I downloaded have no noise in any setting. I'm sure it's not already present hiss in the PCM files. Would anyone be experiencing the same thing? I prompt you to try picking a song with a quiet passage or a sparsely recorded PCM track and swapping BitPerfect to any of the other digital filter options even while on battery mode. 


Edited by maricius - 8/16/14 at 12:32am
post #332 of 1223
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post



 




 

Battery charges in two way, voltage and current. First it charges mainly on voltage difference, then it goes into a current charging phase once it is near the max upper voltage limit. A smart battery charging circuit will usually detect how much voltage and current are being used and switch accordingly to ensure the battery is getting the right voltage / current and so it won't over-charge the battery. But that doesn't mean the battery stops charging all together. Usually in most case, the battery can still take just a little more to be actually full, but the charging circuit won't know it as they are usually not that sophisticated in design. I'll assume the 24 hours recommendation on the first charge is to help to 'recondition' the battery to make sure the chemicals inside the battery will get fully activated in the first run (a.k.a. getting an actual full charge instead of what the charging circuit thought it has). In other word, the blue LED is likely acting as an indicator where the voltage charging phase is over, but may not be that accurate on the current phase, thus the advised extra time to make sure a full initial charge. It probably doesn't actually need 24 hours but I'll think iFi is just being extra safe for a longer number.



 

Hi,



 

The Blue LED thing is somewhat different. Please allow us to chime in here.



 

1) The Blue LED Charge indication is current based. It will go off if there is not enough charge current (the iDSD micro needs at least 500mA).



 

2) The 24-Hour rule is simply for "conditioning" the battery. Because we care about the very last detail, we are offering our recommendation for giving the battery the best start. We dont think many manufacturers are as finicky as we are. So dont lose sleep over this. It is not that big a deal. Anyway, the battery voltage will drop as the battery settles and then will receive a small top-up charge. It is mainly meant to re-condition the battery if it has been idle for a long time due to sitting on some shelf in some warehouse (should not apply to current units).



 

3) The iDSD micro will charge when turned off and under some conditions when turned on.



 

If turned off it will charge from any power source (even at very low current) and will charge the battery to 100% Capacity.



 

However, when turned on it will charge the battery to only 80%. This has been shown in tests to give a service life for the battery equal to shelf life. It is meant for use where the iDSD micro is always on and attached to a desktop PC / Media Server and is used stationary.



 

If the battery is charged to more than 80% and the unit is turned on it will not charge until the battery drops to less than 80% charge.


 


 


 

For example, if there is not enough current to charge from the source (bad/cheap charger + high DCR cable) the Blue LED will be off.


 

Interestingly, in this case there will be still be a bit of charge current flowing, but it will be below ~ 100mA, which for all intent and purpose is "nothing" (around 60 Hours+ for full charge).

 


 

So the Blue LED is on if the Charge current is > 100mA.

 


 

If the unit is blinking alternating red-blue it means it is charging, but in "under voltage lockout". This can only happen if the unit is switched on.


 

It is kind of a message telling the user "switch me off and let me charge PLEASE". :regular_smile : It is called Smart Power after all!

 

Thanks.


Edited by iFi audio - 8/16/14 at 1:43am
post #333 of 1223
Quote:
Originally Posted by Somphon View Post

 

The LED does not illuminate with blue USB when I plug it in to my universal charger or attached to my Macbook Pro, yet it has no juice. So maybe my unit is defective.

Still have not decide if I want to keep it or trade it in for something else.


Hi,

 

 

1) Please read the contents page on the Crowd-Design thread about the charging function behind the micro iDSD. It is a big battery as portable devices go.

 

Does "No juice" means the Red "Low Battery indication" is on, or the unit is completely dead?

 

 

2) In either case, please turn the unit OFF and plug it into a charger,preferably a "Fast Charge" model capable of supplying over 1A @ 5V. USB Ports of Mac/PC Hardware also charges fine.

 

Please be aware that some inexpensive cheap and cheerful chargers actually do not even remotely meet the claimed specifications and cannot charge the iDSD micro and they are often designed in way that violate electrical safety rules and can cause serious harm or death. Only use Chargers from reputable sources.

 

See this test for some more background:

www.lygte-info.dk/info/usbPowerSupplyTest%20UK.html

 

Equally, some USB Cables have so high DCR (again, mostly inexpensive items) and thus can drop so much voltage that the iDSD micro cannot charge.

 

This is why we recommend the blue USB3 cable, among many cables we tested it has the lowest resistance on the power legs (well, a an iFi Mercury or Gemini Cable has lower DCR),we could not find any reasonable length USB 2.0 Cable that did at least half as well.

 

The very short cables included have low DCR by virtue of their short length.

 

 If you are still stuck, open a support ticket and we'll go through the steps one by one. Absolutely fine.

 

http://support.ifi-audio.com/

 

Thanks.

post #334 of 1223
Quote:
Originally Posted by iFi audio View Post
 


Hi,

 

 

1) Please read the contents page on the Crowd-Design thread about the charging function behind the micro iDSD. It is a big battery as portable devices go.

 

Does "No juice" means the Red "Low Battery indication" is on, or the unit is completely dead?

 

 

2) In either case, please turn the unit OFF and plug it into a charger,preferably a "Fast Charge" model capable of supplying over 1A @ 5V. USB Ports of Mac/PC Hardware also charges fine.

 

Please be aware that some inexpensive cheap and cheerful chargers actually do not even remotely meet the claimed specifications and cannot charge the iDSD micro and they are often designed in way that violate electrical safety rules and can cause serious harm or death. Only use Chargers from reputable sources.

 

See this test for some more background:

www.lygte-info.dk/info/usbPowerSupplyTest%20UK.html

 

Equally, some USB Cables have so high DCR (again, mostly inexpensive items) and thus can drop so much voltage that the iDSD micro cannot charge.

 

This is why we recommend the blue USB3 cable, among many cables we tested it has the lowest resistance on the power legs (well, a an iFi Mercury or Gemini Cable has lower DCR),we could not find any reasonable length USB 2.0 Cable that did at least half as well.

 

The very short cables included have low DCR by virtue of their short length.

 

 If you are still stuck, open a support ticket and we'll go through the steps one by one. Absolutely fine.

 

http://support.ifi-audio.com/

 

Thanks.

 

Thanks for your comment.

 

I use the blue usb provided for charging through either my Macbook Pro retina or my iPad original charger. So quality of parts should be ok. 

I kept the device off for 12 hour charging (not first charge) with the iPad charger and came home, plug it back in to my Macbook for listen, it come up blue and blinking red - no sounds.

 

Some how later, its working. It's probably just me not being able to figure the Micro out. At the same time, I think a music device should have less conditions for use and allow owners to enjoy the music it is reproducing. 

post #335 of 1223
Quote:
Originally Posted by Somphon View Post

 


 

Thanks for your comment.


 

I use the blue usb provided for charging through either my Macbook Pro retina or my iPad original charger. So quality of parts should be ok.

I kept the device off for 12 hour charging (not first charge) with the iPad charger and came home, plug it back in to my Macbook for listen, it come up blue and blinking red - no sounds.


 

Some how later, its working. It's probably just me not being able to figure the Micro out. At the same time, I think a music device should have less conditions for use and allow owners to enjoy the music it is reproducing.


Hi,

 

Totally understood.

 

Actually, the instruction card took quite a while to write.

 

Dont worry - we are still getting questions daily on the LEDs and what they mean etc.

 

As you can appreciate - the micro iDSD is pretty feature-packed, hence there are more Q+As.

 

Thanks.

post #336 of 1223
Quote:
Originally Posted by Somphon View Post

 


 

Thanks for your comment.


 

I use the blue usb provided for charging through either my Macbook Pro retina or my iPad original charger. So quality of parts should be ok.

I kept the device off for 12 hour charging (not first charge) with the iPad charger and came home, plug it back in to my Macbook for listen, it come up blue and blinking red - no sounds.


 

Some how later, its working. It's probably just me not being able to figure the Micro out. At the same time, I think a music device should have less conditions for use and allow owners to enjoy the music it is reproducing.


 

Hi,

 

You're welcome. All good.

 

 

As you have the iPad charger. To charge on iPad charger follow these steps:

 

1) Turn unit off.
 

 

2) Plug into charger (use the accompanying USB cable)
 

 

3) Watch for Blue Light to come on and stay on - then leave to charge until the blue light goes off.

 

 

As for the rest. Having a charged battery (at least around 10% charge) before turning on is not much of a condition.

 

Neither is the requirement to use a charger that is compatible.

 

If the battery is flat, as with any battery-powered device, it wont turn on. Hence is what we think you have experienced.

post #337 of 1223

Another sonic update - I had been really impressed so far with how the micro iDSD was working together with a good USB cable and Audeze LCD2 headphones. Now I connected the headphones to the speaker taps of a small tube amplifier with Mullard NOS 12AX7 and EL84 tubes. The micro iDSD was then used for DAC duties only.

 

Fireworks! There was no lacking in depth and drive with this setup. Bass was hard and fast, and treble was sweet.

 

I will also check the micro iDSD in a setup with solid state Clones Audio preamplifier and mono block amps to see what my preferred use of the micro iDSD will be: (1) as a mainly portable DAC/Amp, (2) as a DAC in a tube amp headphone setup, (3) as a DAC together with SS amps and speakers.

 

Fun times.

post #338 of 1223
Hey iFi, my iDSD Micro came with a Large size T-shirt. Size wasn't an option when I ordered. How do I trade it for a Medium?
post #339 of 1223
Quote:
Originally Posted by RHMMMM View Post

Hey iFi, my iDSD Micro came with a Large size T-shirt. Size wasn't an option when I ordered. How do I trade it for a Medium?


Hi,

 

We only made 512 of the t-shirts in large.

 

As is the case with such accessories, we were only able to make 1 size.

 

When you speak to your iClub concierge, let he/she know to make a note for the future.

 

We'll bear you in mind.

 

Thanks.

post #340 of 1223
Quote:
Originally Posted by iFi audio View Post
 


 

Hi,

 

You're welcome. All good.

 

 

As you have the iPad charger. To charge on iPad charger follow these steps:

 

1) Turn unit off.
 

 

2) Plug into charger (use the accompanying USB cable)
 

 

3) Watch for Blue Light to come on and stay on - then leave to charge until the blue light goes off.

 

 

As for the rest. Having a charged battery (at least around 10% charge) before turning on is not much of a condition.

 

Neither is the requirement to use a charger that is compatible.

 

If the battery is flat, as with any battery-powered device, it wont turn on. Hence is what we think you have experienced.

 OK

 

1) Turn unit off. - DONE

2) Plug into charger (use the accompanying USB cable) - DONE

3) Watch for Blue Light to come on and stay on - then leave to charge until the blue light goes off. - Blue light come on for couple second and blue light goes off

 

4) Leave for 12 hours anyway.

 

5) Plug in to MacBook Pro Retina 

6) Turn unit ON

7) Blue light come on 1 second, red light blinking, no more light - no sound, nothing. --- how is this easy?

 

I've been around audio equipment for over 35 years where I still remember my dad's Kensonic P-300 and as an IT business owner and a gadget freak, charging batteries is not much of condition, unless it does not work or charging batteries comes with a lot of conditions and a manual (and hundreds of discussion thread)

 

As you mentioned yourself, there are a lot of Q&A about the 'light' and we are also discussing it over the quality of sound (of an audio equipment), should be a good indicator that there are things to improve upon. So please take it with constructive view instead of assuming that people here in Head-fi uses cheap sub-par charger or usb wire. (Actually I never heard this to be a condition for a unit to work even from a several thousand $ unit manufacturer). Anyway, you have a great product that I think will sell like hot cakes (this means selling a lot, btw). 

post #341 of 1223
Quote:
Originally Posted by technobear View Post


But if you want to listen to a bad recording, you can knock off some of the hard edges by engaging the Minimum Phase filter.

The micro iDSD continues to impress here. In the past and with certain CDs in my collection I have become aware that I am gritting my teeth as I listen to them. This no longer happens since the arrival of the micro iDSD. It is a very smooth performer with a very detailed and well separated treble that isn't harsh (unless the recording is harsh). The sound has great depth and seems to reveal layers of sound I wasn't previously aware of or at least was less aware of. I should add that I use the 3D function nearly all the time now. It certainly sounds different to the Audiolab (more later when it's fully burned in) but is giving me 'WOW' moments on a regular basis just like the Audiolab does.

 

Don't get me wrong ... I am enjoying the Micro iDSD very much with PCM. Just that some recordings are meh ... when compared to one with good recording. But I'll give the minimum phase a try ... have not tried it yet ... bit perfect was just sooo enjoyable :D

 

BTW, how different or how much better is the iCAN as compared to the amp section of the iDSD?

post #342 of 1223

I'm noticing hiss (not from from the recording) from the iDSD while 3D is off, on battery mode, while BitPerfect. This is almost negligible as I didn't notice it at all up to now. It just so happens that it was a long silent passage in a song when I changed BitPerfect to Minimum Phase and poof, it's suddenly noise free with a black black background. This occurs both with the iDSD attached to my laptop or my phone. I find this quite disappointing as "BitPerfect" should be the best sounding setting. I doubt hose of you with an iUSBPower or a coaxial out will have these problems with "BitPerfect."

I'm on OSX 10.9.4, notes on hiss first -

Very easy to get it in Audirvana Plus, no up-sampling/both iZotope or CoreAudio - HISS is very audible for Micro in usb power/bit-perfect filter/normal power mode(eco is not enough to drive AKG K702)/IEMatch off/ lossless files or straight CD.  I pause the music and rotate the volume nob all the way up, with Audirvana hiss stays. With iTunes or iTunes/BitPerfect it subsides within a second. I tried the same ALAC files and the same CD with O2/ODAC and it is black/dead silent, made me appreciate it even more how good that combination is. Micro also has some clicks and sound artifacts when I turn it on/off that I never experienced with O2/ODAC, hopefully some of it can be remedied with firmware.

 

 

Playing with Micro for a second day here, tried JRiver upsampling to DSD, first time it appeared, that YES it is great, but then I tried it again and agin - no it was a placebo effect. First time just made me pay close attention, when the same attention applied without upsampling it sounds the same. Learned that with upsampling it is so much easier to create audible artifacts, appears in both Audirvana and BitPerfect.

Tried some hi-rez, digital masters in 192kHz, out of 6-7 that I have two have really bad distortions, first thought something is wrong with Micro, but on close listening with O2/ODAC that downsamples them distortions are in files, made me remember some articles how easy it is introduce distortion in hi-rez and how pointless they are. Some of them do sound very nice, but it also might be they very very carefully and properly audioengineered and in they would sound just as good in redbook. I have some mp3 in 192kbps that sound better then many recordings in lossless.

 

I got Micro because it seem to be so versatile - trying it on desktop, on main system, on mobile. Not cheap but does a lot and well.

 

Found that lossless on iPhone5s or iPad -> camera kit -> Micro -> NAD HP50 makes musical heaven :-) YES, musical HEAVEN.

post #343 of 1223

So iFi guys,

 

If the micro iDSD spends the vast majority of its time on my desktop plugged into my iUSB Power, should I just turn it on after the computer and all are started up (to run in bus-power mode) and then just leave it on after that? (no matter how much turning the computer off-and-on I do?) From what you said that would provide the best battery life, correct?

 

Also, when running in bus-power mode, will the headphone amp also draw on the battery when needed for power output, say in Turbo or Normal mode?

post #344 of 1223
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emerpus View Post


BTW, how different or how much better is the iCAN as compared to the amp section of the iDSD?

I'll let you know next month when I compare them. Still running in the iDSD so the iCAN is not in use at the moment.
post #345 of 1223
Quote:
Originally Posted by Somphon View Post


 

 OK



 

1) Turn unit off. - DONE

2) Plug into charger (use the accompanying USB cable) - DONE

3) Watch for Blue Light to come on and stay on - then leave to charge until the blue light goes off. - Blue light come on for couple second and blue light goes off



 

4) Leave for 12 hours anyway.



 

5) Plug in to MacBook Pro Retina

6) Turn unit ON

7) Blue light come on 1 second, red light blinking, no more light - no sound, nothing. --- how is this easy?



 

I've been around audio equipment for over 35 years where I still remember my dad's Kensonic P-300 and as an IT business owner and a gadget freak, charging batteries is not much of condition, unless it does not work or charging batteries comes with a lot of conditions and a manual (and hundreds of discussion thread)



 

As you mentioned yourself, there are a lot of Q&A about the 'light' and we are also discussing it over the quality of sound (of an audio equipment), should be a good indicator that there are things to improve upon. So please take it with constructive view instead of assuming that people here in Head-fi uses cheap sub-par charger or usb wire. (Actually I never heard this to be a condition for a unit to work even from a several thousand $ unit manufacturer). Anyway, you have a great product that I think will sell like hot cakes (this means selling a lot, btw).


 

Hi,


 

We would have to see what causes it not to charge with the iPad charger.


 

Maybe try a PC/Mac USB port or a different charger?


 

Or possibly take it back to your retailer and ask them to look at it.

 

The light is not simply to do with the charge status - it also depicts the music file/sample rate. Hence questions because it does so many things.


 

Thanks.


Edited by iFi audio - 8/16/14 at 10:42am
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