iFi Nano iUSB 3.0 Power Supply


100+ Head-Fier
Ifi nano iUSB3.0 : a huge set of improvements
Pros: Significantly improves sound quality when used on budget- and mid-tier stacks
Extremely easy to use
Cons: Not really inexpensive
"Nano" model discontinued, "micro" version appears too expensive vs budget- or mid-tier stacks
Simply put ifi nano iUSB3.0 is an active (i.e.: autonomously powered) device which makes communication much better between a digital music player (e.g. a laptop, a multimedia server, etc) and a USB-connected and possibly USB-powered DAC or DAC-AMP.

Nano iUSB3.0 does 3 main things:

1 – Provides clean(er) power
Nano iUSB3.0 forwards the clean(er) power coming from its own power supply to the downstream DAC / DAC-AMP, which will stop receiving the “dirti(er)” power coming from the host’s non-audio-grade PS, furtherly dirtied by host’s internal circuitery and activities.
Nano iUSB3.0 comes bundled with ifi’s iPower, a good quality audio-grade SMPS (Switched-Mode Power Supply). It can be furtherly upgraded adopting an even better PS e.g. ifi’s own iPowerX (an even more sophisticated and cleaner SMPS) or any suitable third party SMPS a Linear PS if need be. Mind you: a Linear PS may cost a few times the price of your DAC :)
That said, ifi themselves warn that nano iUSB3.0 already does some great job at cleansing the power it passes along that it is quite resilient to variations on the upstream PS. Read: an even better PS will indeed improve output, but probably less than expected.

2 – Actively cancels (a lot of) noise
Nano iUSB3.0 features “Active Noise Cancellation”. The concept is quite similar to that applied on Balanced analog lines: a second signal is generated identical to that of the incoming electrical noise, but in the opposite phase; the two signals are then “summed” together, which cancels the noise leaving the “good” part intact.
According to better engineers than myself this approach is significantly better than the cheaper “passive filtering” alternative: passive filters remove hi freq interference only, active filtering act on lower frequencies too. According to ifi, this technology only inside iUSB reduces the noise floor by > 40dB (> 100x).
Of course having less noise to start with - e.g. from the power suppy - is always good but even when the power supply is not so great, nano iUSB3.0 (see point 1 above) "cleanses" the signal significantly for us.

3 – “Fixes” the USB data stream
Nano iUSB3.0 re-clocks, re-generates and re-balances the USB data signal. What does that mean?
The key thing to understand here is preliminary: unlike what happens when moving digital data (e.g. a MS Word file) between a pc and a hd, or between a pc and another pc, precise timing is a relevant factor when digital audio data (e.g. a FLAC song file) is streamed between a pc or similar “host” and a digital input audio device “client”.
  • Any USB communication requires some sort of “timing” (called “clock”). This is typically offered by the Host (in our case, the PC). Guess what: the host’s clock accuracy is “good enough” for digital data communication, but easily gest “too inaccurate” for the sake of digital audio communication. Nano iUSB3.0 reverses the Host/Client clock relation : it uses its own internal clock (Re-Clocks) instead of the host generated one, thus removing all undesidered incoming frequency variations (“jitter”) and other stuff.
  • The presence of possible DC offsets between the two ends of an USB communication channel - e.g. due to ground loops, or to EMI - is another potential source of inconsistencies. Nano iUSB3.0 corrects - Re-Balances - DC level differences at the two ends of the USB line to prevent these issues..
  • If there is “noise” (interference or whatever) down a USB line during a transfer between two digital data devices, then some digital data packets will get disrupted, and a retransmission of those packets is seamlessly requested and executed between the devices. All this is so automatic and smooth that we don’t perceive any issue even in a relatively (electrically) noisy environment e.g. while writing data from our PC to a USB-HD: worst case, due to retransmissions the file transfer speed will be a tad slower – but data (i.e. our actual file contents) will always be perfect at the end.
    If the receiving device is an audio digital device, instead, a retransmission for error correction screws timing up (much more than clock jitter by the way). Accurate data will still reach the destination, but not “on time”. On digital audio, this *is* a problem. Nano iUSB3.0 Re-Generates the entire USB data stream, cutting the rope with host-incoming packet noise and providing the downstream DAC / DAC-AMP with a “fresh clean renewed”, correctly timed stream. Very simplistically put, it's much like it buffers the incoming packets just a bit, and supplies them to the output USB port (where the DAC is plugged) following its own "precise" timing.
Last but not least: Nano iUSB3.0 does all this at USB3 speed (5 Gbps), which means it can process on-the-fly digital data streams up to the maximum resolutions currently supported by TOTL DACs.

So much for the technology. But does it work?

Hell yeah !

Very simply, I started putting nano iUSB 3.0 up in between my laptop and my USB-powered dongles: a Meizu HIFI DAC Pro - cheap but wuite nice in its category - as a first case, and a quite high-class Apogee Groove as a second case.

As test IEMs I used two kinda “reference” models – “reference” for my ears, at least: final E3000 and TIN T4.

The improvement when listening to Meizu HDP is nothing less than huge.

The difference is very apparent on Apogee Groove too, while the delta is smaller as expected: Groove in facts already incorporates high-end (for its class and size) power cleansing technology, so nano iUSB3.0 impact is “mainly” about USB data stream “fixing”.

The overall sound in both cases is evidently clearer. The difference is totally apparent on Meizu, less gigantic on Groove, but still very much there. Low tones are where the effect is more perceivable (ofc): back instruments and vocals suddenly gain better readability.

Listening via Meizu to a well mastered song with “silent moments” on one channel I would normally say such silence is “quite silent”. Then I plug nano iUSB3.0… and I find out that such supposed “silence” did in fact have “some SPL”, litreally as in “pressure felt on the timpanus”, which is now gone.
Via Groove sans nano iUSB3.0 in the middle, those same “silent moments” are nearly on par with those reproduced by Meizu+nano iUSB3.0, while stacking nano iUSB3.0 I perceive further de-pressure, and some very faint background sounds (e.g. a player moving) get audible, or more audible, which were covered before.

Powering Groove via nano iUSB3.0 generates a whiff more of SPL accross all frequencies, whilst perceivably reducing the high/low tones gap. In more vulgar words this means that without iUSB3.0 a song lead vocals and instruments are presented by Groove at (say) SPL=10, and back guitars at SPL=5, while by adding iUSB3.0 I will have front lines at 10.5 and back lines at 6. That is: everything is a little bit louder, but low tones gain more loudness than high ones and this of course grants further clarity and detail to back-line voices.

The effect on bass frequencies is better control and texture. Again, on Meizu the difference is nothing less than huge. On the Groove, which is already making masterful bass control a main cipher of its art, this equates into further bass texture – of which I’ll always be thirsty anyway.

On trebles significant more crystallinity is offered. On some tracks, and on bright-leaning drivers this is even more apparent and may lapse into an unforgiving output (the IEM tuner’s art will show here… if some has been applied, that is…).

Soundstage: improves not much in term of size rather in terms spatiality: E3000 being already a blessed IEM on that respect, it now allows me to better guess the room size / shape. Sound is more “coherently around me”.

Imaging: not only instrument positioning is furtherly palatable in a “more clearly lit” stage, as it sounds logical, but – less expectedly at least by me – some instruments also appear better reciprocally spaced.

OK, it works. Do I (or you) need it ?

Ah well, it depends – in less then a thousand words – from the current status of your stack. And pockets!

I have zero practical experience with high end systems, so “by logic” (yet not by experience) I would tend to believe that you will need it less (if at all) if
  • Your DAC is already self-powered (and you already adopt an at least decent SMPS), and
  • Your DAC already includes competent GND-managenement and power filtering features, and
  • Your DAC already features key noise-dampening features e.g. USB-line jitter removal (reclocking), etc etc
On the contrary – and by direct expericence – will need nano iUSB3.0, or “part of it”, if (like me)
  • Your DAC is host-powered (i.e., if it gets powered via the USB cable connected to the PC, and cannot accept power from a separate port), and/or
  • Your DAC is non-pro class (not even low-end-pro-class), and lacks all or most forms of USB-noise prevention / suppression features
My reference DAC being Apogee Groove, I check the first one only of these latter two bullets big time: Groove takes power from my Laptop’s “dirty” line. A “cleaning” there is certainly welcome.

At the same time, as mentioned above Groove already incorporates quite a lot of input data noise control, which makes the second bullet point a lesser priority at least.

In terms of minmaxing my best option would have probably been fixing the USB data line “purification” part initially, by means of an iPurifier3 , and add a better PS part later (e.g. by means of ifi iDefender3.0 + ifi iPower).

The reason why I got a nano iUSB3.0 (incorporating the features of iDefender3 + iPower + iPurifier3 + some minor other stuff) has just one honest reason: luck. The "nano" package having recently been discountinued by ifi in favour of the dual-sized (and dual-priced!) micro iUSB3.0, this triggered a stock clearance sale from my local disty whereby I could harpoon a nano iUSB3.0 for less than the regular price of an iDefender + iPower. How could I not get that?

Micro iUSB3.0 is the current incarnation of the device. It apparently does the exact same job, the exact same way, but allows for two USB downsteam devices to be connected at the same time, for something like twice the previous nano price. I don't want to argue on ifi's marketing choices ofc but this in my opinion leaves the market orphan of a fantastic €200-ish most-in-one-solution like nano iUSB3.0 used to be.
Last edited:


500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Excellent construction, ease of install, demonstrable increase in audio fidelity
Cons: none of note
The previous reviewer did an outstanding job detailing the unboxing experience, and going over the technical specs. Below I am going to add some thoughts of my own....

It was the middle of 2009 when I got my first taste of computer audio via USB. Actually, that isn't correct. I had been dabbling with USB audio RECORDING devices since around the year 2000. 2009 was the first time I tried to integrate a computer via USB into my Hi-Fi playback system.

Those were rough days. Poor clocking, data dropouts, excessive noise, limited sample rates just to name a few problems. The resultant sound was hard edged and lacking in musicality. My, oh my how far we have come!

The USB interface itself is still quite compromised for audio taken as it is. But thankfully companies like iFi have given us solutions to many of the issues that plague the interface.

Back when 'asynchronous' USB came out, it was supposed to be the 'cure all' for USB audio woes. And granted, the much more stable clocking it provides has gone a long way in making USB an 'audiophile' interface. But it isn't enough. Computers tend to be very, very noisy beasts, and they will transmit massive amounts of EMI and RF noise through the USB interface. Additionally, many downstream audio DAC's obtain their power supply directly from what is already a very, very dirty USB signal. All this extra noise is burdensome on what may be the single most important component in the signal chain; the CLOCK. I am not going to go into a deep discussion on jitter, nor an I really qualified to do so. Suffice to say, jitter is bad. And a compromised CLOCK is going to create a jittery audio signal. Asynchronous USB can only go so far is achieving this jitter free signal. What may be the cleanest clock ever created will be compromised by a dirty USB connection, regardless of which component is host or slave.

Devices like the iUSB 3.0 Nano address these USB issues. To get the most out of your USB DAC, you need more than just an asynchronous interface. Furthermore, you may need more help than in-DAC galvanic isolation provides. Many DAC's place the opto-isolators post USB interface on the outgoing I2S line. Which means dirty USB still affects the onboard clocking of the USB interface, and can still travel the ground plane via other paths, affecting the DAC conversion clock.

I used the iUSB 3.0 Nano with two different DAC's, and heard astonishing results in both instances. If you have a budget DAC, or even if you have a DAC that is several thousand dollars, you can expect positive results from the iUSB Nano.

The first setup in which I inserted the Nano (from henceforth I will simply be referring to the device as the 'Nano') was my work/office rig consisting of a laptop PC and an iFi iDSD Micro. All listening was done via Monoprice M560 headphones. The first thing noticed upon inserting the Nano was the increase in fine detail and the apparent increase in signal to noise ratio. The background just sounds 'blacker'. With the Nano, imaging is tighter. What was a slightly hazy sound is now very clear, clean and articulated, while still maintaining warmth, musicality and beauty.

The second setup, in which I found the greatest increase in quality, was my main listening rig. It consists of a PC based front end, Wyred 4 Sound DAC-1LE Femto DAC, Icon Audio HP8 MKII tube headphone amp, and Audeze LCD-X headphones.

Even though the Wyred 4 Sound DAC has galvanic isolation on the I2S bus, there was a marked decrease in noise floor after adding the Nano. The W4S DAC always seemed to have some hardness/harshness in the upper-mids/lower treble. This harshness was completely gone after adding the Nano. The overall sound was much warmer, musical, and more realistic. Without the Nano, listening sessions could get a bit fatiguing. With the Nano, I could listen for hours at a time with no ear fatigue. Actually, the only fatigue was of the bodily kind, and many a late night listening session with the Nano in place was only interrupted by the need for sleep, or the unexpected sunrise that came much quicker than anticipated.

In conclusion, I give the iUSB Nano the highest of recommendations. I have used similar products from other companies, and none of them brought the same kind of musical listening satisfaction I felt when listening to the Nano. So what are you waiting for? If you have a USB audio setup and want a noteworthy increase in fidelity without breaking the bank, the iUSB 3.0 Nano is a no brainer!!!

5 stars out of 5

Equipment used in this review

iFi iDSD Micro

iFi Gemini Cable

iFi iUSB 2.0

iFi iPurifier 2

Wyred 4 Sound DAC-1 LE Femto edition

WireWorld USB cables

Intona Galvanic Isolator

Icon Audio HP8 MKII headphone amp


1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Super light, very straight forward, wonderful results
Cons: After 4 months I honestly can't think of any.
Before Carolina CanFest 5 (which was also my first audio meet), I’ve only been able to read others opinions of the well regarded brand known as iFi. Luckily, one of the most down to Earth reps. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting was able to attend and brought the full iFi lineup!
    But my impressed feelings and impressions on those will have to wait for another conversation, for this review is about the iFi Nano iusb3.0 that Mr. Censullo was kind enough to allow me to loan for a very extended period of time so that I may fully come to understand this device. So to you my friend, I extend a very heartfelt thank you. Now, with all the pleasantries aside, let’s dive into what my thoughts ate of the iFi nano iusb3.0.
EDIT: I removed "DAC" from this review for it is NOT a DAC though I myself was mistaken for the results I got from it (which were most certainly there) this is only a usb filter/cleaner.
 I'm a 25 year old firefighter currently for the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard. I was formerly a civilian firefighter in Kentucky with the Millard Fire Department before I enlisted and moved to my current location in Charlotte, North Carolina. My current goal is to begin my career again in the civilian fire service, and yes, I am the cliché of wanting to do that since as far as I can remember.
    My interests/hobbies are powerlifting, fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. On that note over the years I've really came to an understanding of what it is I like and look for in audio products.
    What I look for is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.
    My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have great extension and detail reveal but I don't like artificial treble in order to achieve that. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics & Stax SR009.
I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. They were kind enough to send me a product for an arranged amount of time in exchange for my honest opinion. I am making no monetary compensation for this review.
The Unboxing Experience
20160721_142256.jpg  20160721_142424.jpg  20160721_142444.jpg
    For those of you who follow me likely have learned that I’m a stickler for the initial opening experience. My reason for this is pretty simple and straightforward, The unboxing experience, to me, represents the initial handshake you give when you introduce yourself to someone new. Will you be greeted by a firm handshake that’s filled with confidence, charisma and character? Or, one that’s boring, limp and forgettable?
    In the case of the iFi Nano iusb3.0, I can very happily say I was given a firm and memorable “handshake”. The box is very sleek and well representative of the product held within. There’s not to much jargon written on the box and even more it’s placed and formatted in such a way that it doesn’t draw too much attention away from the product experience itself (in other words it lets the product speaks for itself).
    As you begin opening the, not cheap at all looking or feeling, box you’re greeted with the resistance only provided by that of a well sealed product (which means no dust, etc..). Then once the seal is popped you’re presented a centered and pedestaled iFi Nano iusb3.0 in all its clean, polished and shiny aluminum bodied glory. As I picked up the small device I was honestly off put by how light it was. NOw granted, I wasn’t expecting it to be that heavy but this little thing’s almost like paper. Under its pedestal laid all the cables needed to operate the unit (which is always appreciated and honestly a service aspect that;s overlooked way too often) as well as the warranty and owner's manual.
    I must say, I was rather impressed by the level of pride and care given to ensure the customer is given a memorable initial experience. Not just from the product either. But even the representative who was able to attend Carolina CanFest 5 presented himself as a calm and knowledgeable professional but yet very approachable, very fitting of the iFi brand.
20160721_142743.jpg  20160721_142656.jpg  20160721_142723.jpg
    So a company's initial “handshake” is important and all but if the product isn’t built competently (with respect to the price) then it’s all smoke and mirrors to a disappointing illusion. This is absolutely not the case with the iFi Nano iusb3.0. The construction is very durable and very lightweight aluminum that unfortunately, has been tested with a drop or two but thankfully without so much as a single scratch. The left side is where you;ve the wall wart power input and the usb (from your source) as well as an auto/on toggle switch (that tells you’re computer to automatically detect the device or so solely use the computers dac [confusing I know but just leave it on the "ON" setting]). On the right you’ve two (2) usb 3.0 inputs; one to be a charge out and the other for charge and audio.  The cables included are your standard cables that are nothing special, however, seeing that they at least provide you with at least something, is a huge plus side.
    The iusb3.0 is wonderfully well built, and not just for its price point either. Serious attention to detail and product security went into making this and any consumer who would be to purchase this can rest assured that you’ll have it working its wonders for a very long time to come, even if the misfortune happens and you’re to drop it (within reasonable conditions of course).
    The ability to use a device is, or rather let reword that, this device was one of slight embarrassment for me I will regrettably admit to. For when you first look at the device and all the parts (“parts” merely refers to as cables, I do believe I was making even that sound more complicated to make myself feel better) it has you, or at least myself, think way too much into it.
    This device is extremely straightforward and once I finally realised this for myself I couldn’t help but laugh at my goofiness, and be humble and let y’all have a laugh with me. So after the roughly 2 hours it took for me to figure this out I learned to utilize the iFi Nano iusb3.0 you simple do the following steps
  • Plug the power wart into the wall and then into the unit to power it on (this device can be powered either by it’s own designated power source [i.e. the wall] or by a computer. However for optimum results and performance I found the best to be by it’s own designated power source).
  • Plug the usb cable from the iusb3.0 into your source of choice.
  • Plug the usb cable (from the charge and share usb port [the one with a charge and music icon {I’m unsure if the other port will do anything but charge a device but from my experience that’s all I could get it to do}]) from the iusb3.0 to your amp..
  • Ensure the toggle switch is on the “ON” position (this is to ensure the computer will register the iusb3.0 and use it vs overlooking it and using only the computers dac).
  • Play your desired track.
Yup, that’s it. That’s all that’s to this very simple device. So after I finished laughing at myself at the simplicity of the device the final judgement is the functionality is clean, swift, and instantaneous. There’s no software to install (from my memory) and the results are immediately apparent.
Specifications (copied from the manufactures website)

Output Voltage:
Output Current:
Noise floor:
USB 3.0:
Ultra-speed 5.0Gbps
Input Voltage:
AC 100 – 240V, 50/60Hz (iFi iPower included)
Power consumption:
< 15W (includes powered USB device)
141g (0.31 lbs)
Warranty period:
12 months
Specifications are subject to change without notice.

    Alright, so we’ve discussed the “handshake”, the build quality, and the functionality. So what’s left? Oh yes, that’s right, the sound quality. How silly of me to forget such a thing (which I totally did and wasn’t just trying to add a very corny and not funny joke in at all). That thing that plays the largest part in a consumer's decision of an audio purchase (usually).
    As I began using the iufi nano iusb3.9 te first and most immediate thing I noticed was the newly found blackness of the sound presented in front, or rather, all around me. Now granted, neither of the two amp./dacs I primarily use are that noisy, in fact until I heard it with the nano I thought that they were quite silent. The now found silence gave me an idea that veers it away from its intended design. But with this new idea I really wanted to test just how quiet it make an amp.
    So I hooked it up to my PS4and my 2011 Astro MixAmp. Pro (noisiest amp./dac I’ve ever used in my entire life but it’s effects for gaming are respectable) and turned on my game of choice (Destiny for those curious). You see, as mentioned above the Astro does a decent job with 3d imaging but dear gosh is it absurdly noisey, so a perfect test for the iFi nano iusb3.0’s noise cancelling ability. Unfortunately, I can’t say it made the obnoxious Astro as quiet as an African midnight, but I can say that it drastically reduced the hiss to a more than tolerable level, so much so that I’m confident that the noise I’m hearing is from the device itself more so the PS4’s usb port. So in essence, mission accomplished.
    So it’s abilities for gaming are very prominent (though something I forgot to mention is that when using the iusb3.0 you can no longer utilize your microphone [if using one]), so now let’s discuss the music attributes shall we? So with music, the first thing that came to my mind was smoothness and a striking resemblance to my more expensive, and larger, Aune X1s. The soundstage was crystal transparent and the instrument separation was spot on. Actually, I’ll even add that they sounded even clearer than my Aune in a direct A/B comparison.
    Trying not to put personal bias into this but when I pair the iFi nano iub3.0 with my warm sounding Audio Gd NFB15.32 and plug in my Bowers & Wilkins P7 or Meze Headphones 99 Classics; dear goodness do I have one blissful experience! The nano’s cleanliness and buffering, I guess is the word I’m trying to think of, is just awesome when paired with a colored amp.
    ‘Hang on Firedawg! What do you mean “colored amp.?” My amp. Is a balanced and reference sound, will I not gain anything from the Nano?’ Well, my answer to that is yes and no. Ever since I’ve listened to a dac (dedicated to music) for the first time, I’ve became a firm believer everyone should have one. For it makes a world of difference and can compliment an amp. very well. When I pair the Nano with  X1s, I honestly can't tell much of a difference, my idea behind this is because they’re such a similar sounding dac. Now, when paired with a colored amp., like my Audio Gd or even a tube, you can really hear just how impressive this little box is. Why the difference in this case? I believe it’s because the sound curves contrast and thus highlight what I love about a warm amp./tube so much. However, I’m not a super expert as to why I’m getting the results I have and honestly don’t care. I’m just really enjoying what’s presented in front of me and appreciate the craftsmanship that it takes to make it that way.
    So, in closing, iFi really has done an outstanding job in its new Nano iusb3.0. It’s build quality, ease of use (for most people) and overall quality, at least in my opinion, earns it their self proclaimed title as “Baby-Bentley”. Add in what it did for my gaming experience over the last few months and you have yourself a product that’s more than worth its very reasonable asking price. I have thoroughly enjoyed this product and will wholeheartedly miss it when I send it back. In fact, it’s that note that I again express my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to iFi audio and Mr. Censullo for the extremely generous time allotted for my review.
Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out as well. Till next time my friends, stay safe.
EDIT: So if any of you watch my videos, in the unboxing I described it correctly, however in my review video I proclaimed it as having dac properties due to the results I was getting. However, I was mistaken and have made proper annotation where needed. I made a mistake and own up to it. Everything else about the review is correct (unless stated otherwise) especially in terms of results. I just labeled it incorrectly as a dac. 
  • Like
Reactions: kazsud
@Pastapipo Yup you got that right. This hobby is full of BS and pseudo science and as you can see people eat this up with a spoon. You find plenty of anecdotes but no real scientific empirical data to support those claims. Spend your hard earned cash on real products that could possibly make any difference.
@Pastapipo ones and zeros are really an oversimplification. Probably a better read is Darko's article found here :-


In short, a sender sending a one could be misinterpreted as a zero on the receiving end and the cable doesn't really have to be long for errors to be introduced, etc. PC data has error calculation/error correction to ensure data sent is the same as data received. For audio data, as per the article, isosynchronous USB transmissions does not have error correction. You've raised a good point about video to see if there's any error correction mechanism in video streaming.
Very interesting, thanks! I will look into the matter.