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iFi Nano iDSD

  1. linuxprophet
    Excellent DAC in a compact casing
    Written by linuxprophet
    Published Dec 13, 2015
    Pros - Small. portable and delivers everything you throw at it
    Cons - Lacks oomf in low frequencies
    Having owned the Oppo HA-2, FiiO E12 and E12A, I bought this device on Amazon and simply forgot it in the US. (I live in Nigeria).
    When I finally got hold of it, I upgraded the firmware to support DSD256 (was limited to DSD128 in addition to the full range of PCM and DXD up to 384KHz/32-bit).
    But, my oh my, what a wonderful device!
    No complaints really. I have tried this unit with the Oppo PM-3s and Shure SE846s.
    My range of music varies from Classical to Darshan Ambient, to Jean-Michel Jarre to Barry White.
    I strongly recommend any audition to try:
    Allegretto Movt of Beethoven's 7th Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, DG (available as 192/24).
    Watch Your Step - Darshan Ambient
    Crystal Curfew - Tangerine Dream
    After Midnight - Ray Parker Jr.
    Arpegiator - Jean-Michel Jarre
    I'm So Blue and you are Too - Barry White
    Mellow Mood, pts 1 & 2 - Barry White
    Tubular Bells: Introduction - Mike Oldfield (SACD rip or DVD-Audio)
    Moments in Love - The Art of Noise
    You can't go wrong. Just don't forget to buy a Camera Connection Kit for iOS or USB OTG for Android. And the Onkyo HiRes App.
      Hawaiibadboy and Vartan like this.
    1. Hawaiibadboy
      I absolutely love mine. Finest sounding portable DAC I own....by a mile.
      Hawaiibadboy, Dec 14, 2015
  2. sivad07
    Superb Sounding DAC with a Silly mistake in Design
    Written by sivad07
    Published Dec 10, 2014
    Pros - The Sound and Features are really very Good for the Price.
    Cons - Sounds fantastically Great with feature but the RCA RL next to volume knob surely needs some rethinking..
    1) I have Rated it 4.5/5 as I loved its price to features ratio which is the main reason for the high rating.
    2) Its portable.
    3) Its pretty to look at.
    5) Sound is Just fantastic for the price You will pay for it.
    1) Its very Easy to install, but still there are some issues with the latest update driver. My windows had to install the previous version of the driver  v1.2 to actually make it work.
    (Update: Dac suddenly stops processing the sound when another application is simultaneously used like youtube on web browser and mediamonkey. Need to turn volume knob off and on for the sound to be again processed through the DAC)
    2)When it comes to commonly used functionality I am definitely disappointed I really feel it was not a good Idea to have the RCA out next to the volume knob; as most people would prefer it at the back and volume knob in the front for convenience. (Ideal for desktop speaker).
    3) I think a seperate on/off Switch would have made a big difference as we need to turn the volume knob to switch the device off and not let it drain its battery. (Ideal for desktop speaker so we can have the volume set and leave it there forever)
    4) Does not have universal driver for android phones to process all sound that come out of the phone. We need to purchase a music playing software which process sound only coming from the the software player.
    5) The headphone Amplifier may not be able to drive more demanding headphones.
    All in all a superb gadget to get hifi sound quality at a budget offering.
    There are lot of improvements to be made on the design and overall performace which probably if taken due care it would proably be crowned as no 1 Portable Budget DAC right now.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. sivad07
      Pokenguyen you are wrong on the amp part. iFi Nano iDSD has an inbuilt headphone amplifier but it is not powerful enough to drive headphones with bigger power requirement. And the Volume Knob controls both the rca out volume and headphone out volume simultaneously. (It can easily drive my UE600s as well as Grado SR60i).
      h1f1add1cted I was not aware of the hibymusic app. Thank you.. But It still does not provide a universal driver to all audio coming out of the android phone through USB DACs.
      sivad07, Dec 16, 2014
    3. hennezzy
      is it worth spending more to get the micro? or is nano good enough as a dac.
      hennezzy, Jan 9, 2015
    4. sivad07
      Hi Hennezzy,
      I Don't Own a MICRO cant compare it with NANO. But at the same time if you see the various online reviews Nano has the great sound and lots of features when compared to other budget DACs.
      On the other hand seeing various online reviews I can say MICRO (which cost about 600$) is in league with other More expense DACS costing thousands of dollars.
      So If you want better sound than NANO and have the money to splash You can definitely go with MICRO as Its got better internal components and has more power and Features and better overall Better Sound Quality than any other DAC at that PRICE.
      sivad07, Jul 10, 2015
  3. ClieOS
    Great USB DAC with Decent Headphone Amp
    Written by ClieOS
    Published Aug 26, 2014
    Pros - Well built, features rich as a DAC with native PCM/DSD/DXD support, OTG for smartphone.
    Cons - Headphone amp section isn't the best, Slight bulky for portable use.
    [Impression] iFi nano iDSD and iCAN with a splash of iPurifer
    iFi Audio has gained a great success over its Micro line of small sized desktop gears, and now it is pushing into the portable world with the Nano series. The nano iDSD is USB DAC that not only works with PC, but also has OTG support for the iDevice with OS7 (via camera connection kit / CCK) and Android that have USB Audio Class driver built-in (*for older Android that doesn’t have the driver, there is still a chance that USB Audio Player PRO will work). The nano iCAN on the other hand is a pure portable amp, but infused with the magical XBass and 3D Holographic Sound we have seen on the micro iCAN. Both are retailed under US$200.
    iDSD nano
    iDSD nano
    Power Source: Battery/USB Bus power
                                    DAC/Amp always run on battery
    Battery Life: ~10 Hours playback*
    Formats: 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192/384kHz PCM
                    2.8/3.1/5.6/6.2/11.2/12.4MHz DSD
                    353/384kHz DXD
                    Bit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown (1-DAC Chip; 2-Channel; 4-Signals)
    Filter:    PCM: Standard/Minimum Phase digital (selectable)
                    DSD: Standard/Extended Range analogue (selectable)
                    DXD: Bit-Perfect Processing, analogue filter (fixed)
    Input:    USB 2.0
                    Compatible with iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android Devices USB-OTG
    Output: SPDIF RCA (only PCM up to 192KHz)
                    Audio RCA
                    3.5mm Headphone
    Dynamic Range: over 104dB
    THD &N (35mW): Less than 0.005%
    THD &N (Line): Less than 0.005%
    Output Power (16R): over 130mW
    Output Voltage: over 1.65V (over 100Ω)
    Output Impedance (Zout): Less than 1Ω
    Power Consumption: Less than 3W (charging battery and playback together)
    Dimensions: 87(l) x 68(w) x 28(h) mm
    Weight: 162g (0.43lbs)
    iCAN nano
    iCAN nano
    Power Source: Battery / external 9V
    Battery Life: ~70 Hours
    Input:    RCA Stereo
    Output 6.3mm Headphone
                    3.5mm adapter included
    Analogue Processing / EQ: X-Bass, 3D Sound
    Gain: 6dB/18dB (selectable)
    Input Impedance: 100k
    Output Impedance: Less than 1 ohm
    SNR: 112dB(A)
    THD &N (100mW): Less than 0.02%
    Output Power (32R): 150mW (external power)
    Dimensions: 87(l) x 68 (w) x 28 (h) mm
    Weight: 160g (0.35lbs)
    Accessories and Build Quality
    Both gears come in pretty standard iFi while hard paper box, which we have seen on the micro line. With nano iDSD, you will get an RCA cable, an USB cable, a soft pouch, 4 rubber feet sticker and a pretty simple manual. With nano iCAN, you get the same RCA cable, soft pouch and rubber feet sticker, plus a 6.4mm-to-3.5mm adapter, 2 rubber bands, a small screw driver that is meant to help on pushing the gain switches, and a 9V iFi Ultra-Low-Noise power adapter. Two accessories that I wish iFi had included are a lower profile 6.4mm-to-3.5mm adapter and a short microUSB-to-USB-B OTG cable (*and I reckon a short USB-A-to-USB-B cable for the Apple foes). Both are actually not that easiest thing to find, but I was eventually able to source them from TaoBao myself. While the included 6.4mm-to-3.5mm adapter is fine by itself, it is really quite protruding with the 3.5mm plug from the headphone. I was able to find a lower profile version of the adapter that is 6mm lower. Well, every bit helps when you are traveling around.  As for the OTG cable, there simply isn’t that many places that you can find OTG cable for an USB-B socket.
    Build quality is pretty much top notch for both the nano, which isn’t surprising as we have seen such level of quality on the micro series. LED indicator is located on the top, near the rear, with different color indicating different status. The shape of the housing is a bit awkward for a portable device, mainly due to the irregular shape of the front and back plate. The overall design of the nano series is pretty much like the micro series but half in length. Some of the elements that make perfect sense in the more desktop oriented micro series do look a little odd in a portable setting – such as RCA sockets, 6.4mm socket in nano iCAN and the USB-B socket in nano iDSD. I would think 3.5mm socket and micro USB might be more appropriate, as far as convenience is concerned, even though they are not that big of a deal. Beyond those, both nano are well designed and built.
    iDSD nano
    Battery Life
    Nano iDSD can be run on both battery and USB power. If you switch it on before connecting to a PC or smart device, then it will run on pure battery power until the battery is flat. If you switch it on after connection, it will begin recharging. That makes it easier for the use with smartphone as many will reject USB DAC that draw too much power. The quoted battery life is about 10 hours on battery, which is pretty spot on from my own experience. For the most part, it will last around a day of normal usage before needing to recharge. That shouldn’t be a problem given most modern day smartphones probably won’t run much longer as well.
    Nano iCAN on the other hand can run for a very long time before a recharge is required. The official number is around 70 hours. I haven’t actually drained the battery dry to test the battery life but it does seems to last like forever with a single charge. The only minor complaint I have with the nano iCAN is that it can only be recharged with the ULN adapter, which means you have to bring it with you on a long travel. The upside is that nano iCAN has more power when plugged in. So it is the case of win-some-lose-some.
    iCAN nano
    The gain switch on the bottom of nano iCAN
    Gain, Hiss and EMI
    The max voltage output on the nano iDSD is about 1.66V, pretty close to the 1.6V quoted in spec. It is not full 2V line level, but it should be plenty for portable use. From my observation, the RCA socket on the front is linked to the 3.5mm headphone socket and both are controlled by the volume knob, so the nano iDSD doesn’t really offer a line-out. According to iFi, the volume knob is actually a digital control over analog attenuation so you won’t lose any digital resolution by using it, yet it should offer near perfect channel balance at any volume. My measurement over the voltage output pretty much confirm that the channel balance is indeed perfect. They also point out that turning the volume to max essentially remove any analog attenuation and the signal should be at its best SNR, to approximate a line-level signal. Hiss is pretty good. Even with the hiss prone Shure SE530, I can’t hear any until the volume knob has passed around 2 o’clock, and that’s way too loud in normal listening with SE530. EMI is quite excellent on the nano iDSD as it remains in total silence right next to a smartphone when receiving call.
    Nano iCAN offers two levels of gain, 6dB and 18dB. I’ll consider both being too high for IEM and sensitive headphone. You will probably want a low gain between 0~3 dB for IEM. As a result, hiss is quite noticeable with SE530 and I assume it will be the same for most of the sensitive IEM. EMI is also not particularly good as it is quite noticeable during call. That means the nano iCAN won’t be a good pairing with smartphone in general. Also, there is click and pop during startup and shutdown. Not very severe, but I’ll recommend unplugging headphone before startup / shutdown, especially if your headphone is quite sensitive. Unlike nano iDSD, the volume control in nano iCAN is fully analog, so there is some channel unbalanced coming from the volume pot when it is under 9 o’clock.
    A comparison of the stock 6.4mm-to-3.5mm adapter (left) and the low profile adapter I found (right)
    Sound Quality and EQ
    As usual, I started my sound quality review on amp and DAC with an RMAA measurement. With nano iDSD, when measured under 16bit 48kHz PCM, you can clearly see the difference between the Standard and Minimum Phase filter used (selectable at the back of nano iDSD). Standard filter only has a tiny, inaudible -0.2dB roll off near 20kHz; with Minimum Phase filer however, it is a more noticeable -3dB @ 20kHz. If I am not mistaken, it is likely a Butterworth filter we have seen on many Hifiman players before. The filter selector switch also engages different filter during DSD and DXD playback as well, but I am not that interest in DSD/DXD so I won’t go into detail about them. Beside the effect of the filter, the rest of the frequency response is about as flat as it can be. With nano iCAN, the frequency response is also flat from 20Hz to 20kHz. The rest of the RMAA result has revealed no problem with either nano – noise, dynamic range, stereo crosstalk, etc are all fairly respectable. Per my measurement, output impedance for the nano iDSD and nano iCAN are both well below 1 ohm. Output current on the nano iDSD is low but adequate, but decently abundance on the nano iCAN. Overall, I didn’t find anything wrong during measurement.
    The Standard filter vs Minimum Phase filter in nano iDSD.
    iCAN with and without XBass enable
    From my own personal experience - when it comes to USB DAC + amp, the common trend for most manufacturer is that they start with a good amp section first, then squeeze in a DAC that is just adequate for the job. Therefore many of them are more of an amp than they are a DAC. On the nano iDSD however, I’ll say you are getting a hell lot more of a DAC than an amp. If I am not mistaken, iFi is using the TI TPA6130A2 as nano iDSD’s headphone driver. It is a chip we had previously seen on FiiO E5 and E7. While it is not bad per se, it isn’t great either. It will drive your typical headphone well enough, but it doesn’t quite have the wow factor of a really good, full blown amp section. The good news is that nano iDSD does sound better than an E7, no doubt thanks to the far more mature DAC section, but you can still detect a sense of warmness that is typical to the TPA6130A2. Where nano iDSD really shine is when it is used as a source to feed into a better amp. Yes, technically you are double amping, but the result is well worth the effort [update] According to iFi, technically TPA6130A2 only acts purely as the buffer stage of the DAC when the volume is turned to max, so it is not double amping per se. Another area that nano iDSD distinguishes itself is as an OTG devices for smartphone. While nano iDSD might not be the best sounding USB DAC there is, it is still far better than the built-in audio section of most smartphone out there. If you are using Android, with third party app like USB Audio Player PRO, you can even have full HD playback without a problem, PCM and DSD included.
    One of the reason why I think nano iDSD is more of a DAC is how many features that iFi is able to pack inside. In the heart of nano iDSD sits one of TI’s top of the line DAC chip, the DSD1793. If you were to look up its datasheet, you will find it doesn’t support as much native DSD/DXD decoding as iFi has claimed. How did iFi do it then? Well, they were able to dig up some hidden features that are designed into the chip but not officially documented. Then they develop a custom XMOS solution to enable all those extra stuffs that you won’t find on any other DSD1793 implementation outside of iFi. The result is a sub$200 USB DAC that has features than usually belong to DAC that is priced in the thousands. As I have said, I am not that into DSD / DXD myself. But if you looking for a DAC that supports DSD / DXD in real native decoding, I don’t think you will find another USB DAC that does them all for such a price tag, especially one that also works well with smartphone..
    So how about nano iCAN? From what I can tell, the basic amp topology seems to utilize an OPA1642 for gain stage, followed by MAX9722 as buffer. In between them, there are the Xbass and 3D Holographic Sound that I have nothing to say but praise for. As I have said on another review, MAX9722 can go from mediocre to really good, depends on the implementation. iFi has utilized it quite successfully on the micro iDAC, and the new implementation seems to work fairly well on the nano iCAN too. Subjectively speaking, nano iCAN doesn’t quite have the kind of maturity and effortlessness found on JDS Labs C5, but it has no problem matching up to FiiO E12. With E12, you get a sense of tighter control, power and intimacy. With nano iCAN, it is more neutral with better clarity and a really wide soundstage, even before the EQ is turned on. All and all, I won’t categorize nano iCAN as a top-tier portable amp in the sub-$200 price bucket, but it is definitely a very close runner-up.
    The thing that really makes nano iCAN unique is however its XBass and especially the 3D Holographic Sound EQ. Sometime hardware EQ can be over implemented in portable amps, such as the case of C&C BH, where it helps a lot on some music but also ruins the whole image on others. The way iFi does its EQ is much gentler yet remains effective. They do exactly what they are meant to do without making anything sounds artificial or out of place. The degree of refinement is something I haven’t experienced on EQ from another brand of portable amp.
    To explain it in a simple way, I guess you can say that iPurifier is a kind of EMI filter for USB transmission. I have tried it on my desktop setup, with both nano iDSD and micro iDAC, but doesn’t found it to make any noticeable difference. I do however find that it darken the background when pairing with my Xperia Z2 + nano iDSD a bit, though the effect is pretty subtle. Given it is meant to filter EMI, it makes sense as such since my desktop setup hasn’t really known to have suffer any EMI issue at all. I guess iPurifier is one of those devices that would really help if there is already a persistent case of EMI over the USB connection. Otherwise, you might be able to get away without one. It is more of a fine tuning tool rather than an instant improvement.
    Just an extra note – iPurifier comes with an USB-B to mini USB adapter for the portable USB DAC, but I do hope it has an USB-B to micro USB adapter as well, since micro USB has become more and more dominant even among small USB DAC.
    [update 2] Upon reading about the comment above, iFi has decided to included the micro USB adapter into the iPurifier package in the future.
    Size Comparison (from left): JDS Labs C5, FiiO E12DIY, nano iCAN, micro iCAN, nano iDSD, iPurifier.
    I was thoroughly impressed by the micro series when they hit the market. While the nano series might not be quite the big smasher on performance as their elder siblings, they are themselves no sloth either. iFi Audio has managed to pack in some unique features to both nano iDSD and iCAN to make them stand out from the sea of portable amps and DAC in the market, while still makes sure they stay competitively priced. That’s no small feat on its own.
    A thanks to iFi Audio for the samples.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Thazzz
      @ClieOS Thanks you very very much!One last question. I see you have the ODAC. Could you compare a little (just as DAC)  the nano IDSD and ODAC? 
      MANY thanks!
      Thazzz, Dec 7, 2015
    3. abm0
      "stereo crosstalk, etc are all fairly respectable"

      Really. Then why aren't they publishing this spec themselves? This looks like Creative or Asus not publishing their crosstalk specs for their lower-grade internal sound cards because they know they're shameful.
      abm0, Apr 14, 2018
    4. Shotgunsingh
      What is the output impedance.
      Specifically how much power can it drive. 150 omh 300 omh 500 omh 600 omh or more
      Shotgunsingh, Dec 17, 2018
  4. elmura
    Below expected peformance but very feature rich
    Written by elmura
    Published Jul 27, 2014
    Pros - Crams a lot of features in for the price: DSD, DXD, volume control, LED indicator of sampling rate, RCA output
    Cons - Ultimately, the sound quality is substandard
    I had high expectations of this based on so-called "professional reviews" listed on the iFi website & ones here. Particularly the one from the audiostream "Greatest bits" award: http://www.audiostream.com/content/ifi-nano-idsd-dacheadphone-amp. First listening impressions were not great. I let it run for a few days to be sure, tried the different filter settings, tried the line out vs the headphone out, tried different sampling rates. All to no avail. 
    In Standard mode, contrary to what the manufacturer states, Standard Filter sounds better because the music has better pace, rythm and timing (PRAT). 
    Overall though, it sounded somewhat off.
    So I measured it... results were not very good. The ODAC easily outperformed it in 44k & 96k. The ODAC can't do higher sampling rates than that so no comparison there.
    Vs the ODAC - you get a fancy box, nice short USB cable, RCA stereo leads, 2x straps and a rubbery protector to place between devices, DSD, DXD, >96kHz PCM, Sampling Rate indicator and internal battery. It is also better presented with a commercial appearance. But, after a few days, that doesn't matter anymore. The ODAC is simply better sounding for 95% of the music you throw at it. I'm not sure if I'll keep the iFi just for the higher sampling rates & DSD (which I have compiled quite a bit of). 
    I tested this from a laptop, a PC, and a Samsung S3 using USB Audio Player Pro. Measurements were with RMAA 6.4 using an E-MU 0204 USB Audio Interface using ASIO drivers with identical loads (my custom amp / Audeze LCD-2) on another PC - ie. One PC or phone playing the test signal through the devices, and one PC recording via the E-MU.
    The only change in the tests were the DAC, then levels were matched. So it is a direct comparison.
    Click here to view the test results! 
    The four big failings are: Frequency response, IMD, THD, and a noisy volume control.
    PS- I did further measurements with a laptop as the source, running 96kHz/24-bit. Comparatively, the iFi was similarly worse measuring pretty much across the board
    ADDITIONAL MEASUREMENTS FOR THE SKEPTICS: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/90236454/iFi%20iDSD%20Nano%20vs%20ODAC.pdf
      fotomeow and jimreynold2nd like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. fcaton
      Hi elmura,
      Of course I have an agenda: I want to know what are the real differences between the ODAC, the iFi IDSD, the dragonfly and the HRT streamers as I don't want to buy all of them. So I wanted to understand your review of the iDSD which appears as one of the more informed, and the more negative. And I have also a strong bias: I do measurements for a living (not in audio, fortunately), so I tend to question measurements as much as subjective opinions, because measurements outcome depend as much on the operator and his philosphy or beliefs than on the thing measured. For a perfect demonstration in audio: 
      BTW, your swept THD measurements should give striclty identical results to the standard method. Why it is not the case, I cannot tell.
      As a final comment, I find it interesting that you discard the one measurement where the iDSD dac significantly betters the ODAC as "insignificant".
      ODAC measurement show significant spikes above 120dB and very irregular. NwAvGuy arguments that "16 bits data would mask most of the spikes". Well that's highly debatable, but anyway, it will not mask the worst spikes!
      Marginally out of topic, one may note that the dragonfly is objectively considerably better than the ODAC in this respect (24 bits data, this time):
      So, we can agree that we disagree on the meaning of your measurements and on the measured quality of the two DACs. For me, both have their advantages and weeknesses.  ODAC: better THD+N; iDSD: better jitter.
      fcaton, Oct 13, 2014
    3. elmura
      I read your links. Some people who don't fully understand measurements publicly put a big question mark over them, infecting other readers with doubt.
      The computerphile article / Geek / Sterephile situation you reference is a perfect example. The Geek & Dragonfly were tested by Geek at the usual test setup. Stereophile did so as well, but finding very high THD, reduced volume of the Dragonfly DAC until he could get a decent measurement. Thus the Geek test result is in fact an accurate test result. So, for average Joe who plugs in the Dragonfly into a set of powered speakers, or external amp with its own volume control, would normally set the volume of Windows to 100% to obtain bit perfect audio. In that scenario, the Dragonfly distorts like hell when producing a peak signal such as with most peaks in modern highly compressed pop / rock / dubstep etc music.
      "ODAC measurement show significant spikes above 120dB and very irregular" Seriously? In what world does four spikes of up to -117dB Jitter (Only 3dB worse than 120dB)  equate to anything you said? The total difference between the two in Jitter is roughly 4.1% and below audibility.
      In most other measurement, the iFi measures significantly worse (upto 25% worse in the audible range). Why is that so hard to comprehend?
      You state "it's highly debatable" to the fact that 16-bit data masks lower level Jitter. With this comment, I realise now that you do not understand measurements. If you don't know or are unsure about something; ask, or research it. Don't go disputing it. You seem to have a library of references for articles that should either explain it or demonstrate it with graphs.
      elmura, Oct 13, 2014
    4. fcaton
      I find your take on the Geek/Stereophile debate actually amusing, in particular the "accurate" part. The dragonfly is sold as a combined DAC/headphone amp. So your average Joe will not plug a preamplifier to it, but plug a pair of headphones to it!  5 minutes on amazon will show you that most people use it with headphones where it is evidently not a problem (it is the amp that is clipping, in case you missed it...). For this vast majority of users the Geek test is not informative whatsoever of the quality (or lack of) of the dragonfly.
      So, in this case, my opinion is considerably less arrogant than yours: indeed the original dragonfly had a clipping problem, that shows up in an unusual use of the dragonfly, and I thank stereophile for showing the problem and the easy remedy: a 0.5dB turn of a button. But we're digressing, aren't we...
      I am a bit suprised that you don't see that jitter is very far from a standard distorsion test, and go lecturing me about doing my research.
      FYI, your "audibility criterion" is based on E. Winner's article which is, putting it mildly, highly speculative. I'll let you do your own research as to why. I suggest the same concerning the 16 bits input data. Maybe you should crosscheck a bit the affirmations of  the ODAC designer...
      Finally, since you claim to be so well versed in measurements, you should perhaps investigate as to why your swept THD data are so different form the standard measurement. If you had any idea of how it works and what it should do, you would have. That's considerably simpler than jitter but you obviously don't understand it.
      fcaton, Oct 13, 2014
  5. mrinspire
    A DSD ready, good sounding little DAC
    Written by mrinspire
    Published May 29, 2014
    Pros - SQ,compact size, musical, capable internal amp
    Cons - None
    iFi Audio iDSD Nano in Earmass.com

    This is not the first time that I am reviewing iFi Audio’s creation in Earmass.com, that is why I feel very excited once I knew iDSD Nano is out in the market. The Nano series, sit beside the Micro series (Which is already small in size such as iDAC micro and iCAN micro) promised a even smaller size and similar remarkable sound, with portability in mind (Thus, a built in battery too).
    So small!

    iFi Audio iDSD Nano 189USD
    I couldn’t believe just how small iDSD Nano is when I holding them in hand, iFi Audio is really good in compacting big things into small package, even the micro series, is small enough honestly, but the nano series take concept further and deeper, nano series are super small and portable in size, much more smaller than the Nano, for example, iDSD Nano is just half the size of iDAC that I have reviewed before, impressive. Luckily, it is only the weight that has been cut down, iDSD Nano is still very solid and ‘tank’ in term of build quality, the flawless finishing tradition and ‘high end’ feeling are all well keep.
    Speaking of the flexibility, it is a DAC/Amp combo and also can function as a standalone DAC unit (with volume control), I will talk on the performance of the internal headphone amplifier later but for the 189USD price, it is quite a steal here, the built in battery means it can work with the smart devices out there (iPAD, iPhone and Android), the internal battery can perform up to 10 hours according to iFi Audio, I have never run it on battery though, as I don’t have Android nor Apple devices, the only one I have with me is Window Mobile phones.
    The RCA jack in front of the unit act as a output jack, I will not say it is a smart placement, just like iDAC, I hope that iFi Audio can consider to place the RCA jack at the rear side, this is much more convenience and make more sense.
    Source : Asus laptop and play through Foobar 2K
    Headphones : Rudistor MD2, Beyerdynamic T90, ZMF V2 Bass, Philips X1, Dunu DN1000
    Headphone Amplifiers : iFi Audio iCAN Nano, Xduoo TA-01
    USB in and Coax Out

    To be completely honest with you, I really expect very much from iDSD Nano, of course I knew that it is a budget DAC/Amp combo, but blame it on how good her brothers was (iDAC Micro and iCAN Micro,iUSB and iTUBE), all of them are very good sounding and remained one of the best in the market. iDSD Nano is the latest release from iFi Audio so I really expecting something from her. I am realistic guy anyway, for the size I won’t be expecting her to outperform iDAC but at least I want something that qualified to have a ‘iFi’ badge on it.
    Fortunately, iDSD never disappointed me, not a tiny bit at all. Side by side with the iDAC, I can’t denied that iDSD sounded lesser. However, iDSD is very good on its own, the sound is forward, punchy and very meaty. iDSD is capable to render music with lots of detail, in a analog way. The overall sound is quite smooth and you can’t find any harshness in them, bass is punchy and present, impressive for a little device, it can do what DACs that are bigger in size can do, and sometimes outperform them.
    Soundstage is average but it do has a good shape of soundscape, it is round rather than being flat. I also don’t find any inappropriate coloration to my music, iDSD is very musical which is always a good thing.
    I also found that with headphones that are relatively easy to drive, such as my Philips X1 and ZMF V1/V2, German Maestro GMP435s, I can live with the sound without a separate headphone amplifier, it performed as nice as portable DAC should, much nicer to be exact. With correct headphones (those can be easily drive, such as the highly regard Philips X1) you can really get a good on the move sound, for your tablets/smart devices or computer, keeping good sound and small size in a package.
    iPurifier, 99USD
    iPurifier is another new development from iFi Audio, which intended to cut the EMI transmission of USB audio, should also be able to rebalance the USB signal for perfect transmission. Selling for 99USD for such a small device do sounded reasonable, honestly.It is very easy to use, just connect it to USB cable and that is all what you gonna do, no drivers required.
    So how is the sound impression? I attached the iPurifier to the iFi Audio iDAC, the differences are spot on, first of all, the sound is much less noise and less harsh, means music is more quiet now. In short, sound is cleaner and clearer after the iPurifier. I understand that some would say stuffs like iPurifier is a gimmick to market, but I do hear the difference. For 99USD, I couldn't ask for more.
    Both of them are performing really good, up to my expectation and actually surprised me with the price and body size. iDSD does not disappointed me at all, it sounded musical and analog enough for enjoying my music, in my opinion it is not a inferior product even beside his own brother, iFi Audio iDAC, I can tell you that iDSD is definitely a very good and worthy product, very suitable for beginner and for enthusiast, they won’t be disappointed how good iDSD Nano is, too.
    1. cattlethief
      Good stuff,although I would have given it 5 stars,I think it is a portable marvel,very musical with a sweet analogue sound,I pair it with my iphone 4s and Sony sp(only Uapp) and it battered every dap ive heard sony f886,Fiio X5 and X3 and Ibasso DX50,looking forward to my Ican nano tomorrow!
      cattlethief, May 29, 2014
  6. potatoe94
    High end in your pocket
    Written by potatoe94
    Published Apr 13, 2014
    Pros - DSD support , wide codec support , details displayed.
    The iDSD Nano has been really good over the weeks i've owned them , and they seem like they will be good for a very very long time , it's a very premium piece with solid aluminium housing , the build looks very durable . 

    beautiful sounding . nothing to complain .

    if you're looking for a portable DAC , i'd suggest you look no further . 
    1. rptlead
      this is an outstanding DAC for the price and size. wanna try it out with the iPurifier? :wink:

      i cant wait what they will do with the micro or mini version :wink: enjoy!
      rptlead, Apr 13, 2014
    2. RadioWonder737
      It is on my short list,along with other iFi Audio products... :)
      RadioWonder737, Apr 15, 2014
  7. exsomnis
    Rocket in your pocket
    Written by exsomnis
    Published Mar 26, 2014
    Pros - Excellent SQ, extreme value for money, cheapest DAC/amp with support for iDevices
    Cons - Weird form factor for portable gear, some units have a volume control crackling issue, iDevices require CCK which isn't optimal for portability
    The iFi Nano iDSD may not be a looker and it may have a small package but it delivers performance you'd expect from regular desktop DACs at an unbelievable entry level price.  In addition to that, if you have to think twice about getting a -700 portable amp/DAC that supports iDevices - go for the Nano iDSD and know that it rivals those devices at a price that is 3 times lesser.   
    This is a transparent DAC that delivers a refined and natural sound that is difficult to find at this price point.  Instruments are rendered realistically and vocals are full of texture and nuance. There's just a wholesome-ness and balance to the sound that reminds me of high end British hi-fi.  The built-in headphone out can easily drive IEMs with a black background at all volume levels thanks to its potentiometer-less implementation of volume control.  It can surprisingly drive LCD2s well enough on its own but what really shines here is the DAC and feeding an amp will be the way to go.  
    The Nano iDSD was an impulse buy from me - I was at a headphone shop looking for IEMs, spent some time auditioning with the iDSD and ended up taking home both a brand new pair of IEMs and the iDSD.  I was that impressed by them and have not regretted my purchase at all since.
      Music Path likes this.