iFi audio iDSD Diablo - A portable reference done our way!
Oct 17, 2021 at 2:57 PM Post #1,847 of 1,891

floydfan33

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@iFi audio Hey iFi, a bit of a good natured ribbing, but also a suggestion. Just re-bought my 2nd Diablo (new, sealed). Can I suggest that next time you include a limited edition bonus item that you mark the box? There were no markings on either unit I bought, but one had the iPurifier 3 and the other did not. Lotteries are fun, but less so when you don't win!
 
Oct 17, 2021 at 10:20 PM Post #1,848 of 1,891

whitedragem

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Thanks, man. I can't for the life of me figure out why connecting them would have done anything to it. Seems to be a fluke I think. Bummer.

As far as diablo vs dx300, the more I go back and forth, the more I realize that there's no way I could tell the difference in a blind test. Maybe some super audiophile could dial it in, but I am beginning to wonder if it's all nonsense meant to sell products we don't need. I'm a fitness need and supplements are the same way. They literally out things in pre workout to make you feel like you are energized without actually energizing you. Could this be the same with audio? Hey guys, this sounds way better! Pay us $1200 for it. Meanwhile, it sounds slightly better than the hipdac. Right now, I'm listening to mest mkii on fiio utws3 and it sounds great and is super convenient... for $70. Granted, they are $1500 headphones. These really do sound amazing. Super tip dependent for me. Spinfits seem to do the trick.
All things are equal until they are not.

Quad gave literature with the Quad33 that ‘any amp built before this (mostly valves at that time in history) and any amp built after this (market moving to solid state); if they sound different to this- they are built wrong’. NOT VERBATIM

Arguably if an amp/cable/transport/DAC etc are ‘built right’ they should do their job (and ideally ‘get out of the way’ of changing the sound (if that is the intent); ie the ‘wire with gain’ school of sound.

I’d argue the DAC is a great way to tailor sound, but then then true best way to tailor the sound is the speakers/their placement (and requisite room tuning). With headfi a little of the ‘speaker tuning’ is taken out of the game, but then there is always pads and cables swaps.

I do believe the lionshare of budget should go to speaker (headphones) and then requisite amounts of $$$ elsewhere to make said speakers perform admirably.

Tailoring sound with cables is the LAST STEP to be done after everything else is ‘the way it should be’. (and generally only if their is still budget /hobby money to spend)

Most people will not benefit from cable changes. For many people cable changes are MORE SIGNIFICANT than changing source audio files up from compressed ‘low bitrate’ to lossless,.. Headfi has a lot of representatives for cables and ‘esoterica’ etc BECAUSE this is s hobbyist site and is the ‘practical place’ to post such trivialities.

The problem is that most headfi posters are oblivious to the neophytes who are just wondering if an amp can even help their headphones...

SO it comes down to user acuity for this stuff (and ultimately what suits YOU)
If an enduser cannot hear the difference between a compressed file vs a super high resolution file,.. then great- they can save money on data storage etc.
if an enduser cannot hear the difference between a $300 headphone and an $800 headphone, I’d start to look at the (audio) chain until they can.


Case in point- had a friend visit me who was adamant that MP3s (high bitrate) were transparent and ‘equal’ to redbook audio (Compact discs are 44khz sampling rate, generally 16 bit sound)..
so 320kbps vs 1400+kbps sounded the SAME to them.
Which was very true, until they heard the same songs through a ‘reference setup’ (with an amp and speakers worth the cost of a house in ‘modern money’).
It only took a few seconds to realise that the MP3s were garbage sound vs ancient CDs. (on the right kit).

I used to train my ear to hear all sorts of distortion, and have been playing with kit for many decades now. Having lived through ‘compressed data files’ audio as it evolved (eg minidisc and ever increasing MP3 quality) I am ‘very sensitive’ to this stuff.
Sadly I cannot ‘untrain’ my ears- but I’d still listen to music I like through the worlds worst hifi, rather than ‘stuff I do not like listening too’ through the worlds best hifi.

At the end of the day, we take from the hobby whatever WE WANT. It is our hobby, not our ruler!

Now a few things I have gleamed through the years is that ‘we need familiar reference material‘ when comparing equipment.
Even better if that music is actually good for testing certain aspects of music.

I have a slew of test tracks that I use to check various aspects of an amp, before I am willing to spend ‘further time’ listening to it. (critical listening)
If a piece of kit cannot pass a few test tracks admirably, I do not continue. I know that the amp will ‘butcher’ anything else I play back...

That being said, I generally keep several hifi rigs in house for ‘different recording qualities’.
eg properly mastered and engineered albums for ‘high fidelity‘ setups: live in the two channel hifi room.
’made for radio’ (mass market cwap) recordings live near the home theatre setup.

Each rig or ‘setup‘ performs well with its’ respective media, and I can enjoy all recordings.

When I test DACs I again use different recordings to ‘trip up’/check the output quality.

Some recordings scale really well with better kit, and some simply do not.

If testing equipment with audio files that do not scale well to ‘better equipment’ we literally will not hear a difference.
 
Oct 18, 2021 at 3:09 AM Post #1,849 of 1,891
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@iFi audio Hey iFi, a bit of a good natured ribbing, but also a suggestion. Just re-bought my 2nd Diablo (new, sealed). Can I suggest that next time you include a limited edition bonus item that you mark the box? There were no markings on either unit I bought, but one had the iPurifier 3 and the other did not. Lotteries are fun, but less so when you don't win!

That was no lottery :)

The first batch of iDSD Diablo units had iPurifiers inside, but not products that came later.
 
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Oct 18, 2021 at 8:57 AM Post #1,850 of 1,891

JoshG1217

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All things are equal until they are not.

Quad gave literature with the Quad33 that ‘any amp built before this (mostly valves at that time in history) and any amp built after this (market moving to solid state); if they sound different to this- they are built wrong’. NOT VERBATIM

Arguably if an amp/cable/transport/DAC etc are ‘built right’ they should do their job (and ideally ‘get out of the way’ of changing the sound (if that is the intent); ie the ‘wire with gain’ school of sound.

I’d argue the DAC is a great way to tailor sound, but then then true best way to tailor the sound is the speakers/their placement (and requisite room tuning). With headfi a little of the ‘speaker tuning’ is taken out of the game, but then there is always pads and cables swaps.

I do believe the lionshare of budget should go to speaker (headphones) and then requisite amounts of $$$ elsewhere to make said speakers perform admirably.

Tailoring sound with cables is the LAST STEP to be done after everything else is ‘the way it should be’. (and generally only if their is still budget /hobby money to spend)

Most people will not benefit from cable changes. For many people cable changes are MORE SIGNIFICANT than changing source audio files up from compressed ‘low bitrate’ to lossless,.. Headfi has a lot of representatives for cables and ‘esoterica’ etc BECAUSE this is s hobbyist site and is the ‘practical place’ to post such trivialities.

The problem is that most headfi posters are oblivious to the neophytes who are just wondering if an amp can even help their headphones...

SO it comes down to user acuity for this stuff (and ultimately what suits YOU)
If an enduser cannot hear the difference between a compressed file vs a super high resolution file,.. then great- they can save money on data storage etc.
if an enduser cannot hear the difference between a $300 headphone and an $800 headphone, I’d start to look at the (audio) chain until they can.


Case in point- had a friend visit me who was adamant that MP3s (high bitrate) were transparent and ‘equal’ to redbook audio (Compact discs are 44khz sampling rate, generally 16 bit sound)..
so 320kbps vs 1400+kbps sounded the SAME to them.
Which was very true, until they heard the same songs through a ‘reference setup’ (with an amp and speakers worth the cost of a house in ‘modern money’).
It only took a few seconds to realise that the MP3s were garbage sound vs ancient CDs. (on the right kit).

I used to train my ear to hear all sorts of distortion, and have been playing with kit for many decades now. Having lived through ‘compressed data files’ audio as it evolved (eg minidisc and ever increasing MP3 quality) I am ‘very sensitive’ to this stuff.
Sadly I cannot ‘untrain’ my ears- but I’d still listen to music I like through the worlds worst hifi, rather than ‘stuff I do not like listening too’ through the worlds best hifi.

At the end of the day, we take from the hobby whatever WE WANT. It is our hobby, not our ruler!

Now a few things I have gleamed through the years is that ‘we need familiar reference material‘ when comparing equipment.
Even better if that music is actually good for testing certain aspects of music.

I have a slew of test tracks that I use to check various aspects of an amp, before I am willing to spend ‘further time’ listening to it. (critical listening)
If a piece of kit cannot pass a few test tracks admirably, I do not continue. I know that the amp will ‘butcher’ anything else I play back...

That being said, I generally keep several hifi rigs in house for ‘different recording qualities’.
eg properly mastered and engineered albums for ‘high fidelity‘ setups: live in the two channel hifi room.
’made for radio’ (mass market cwap) recordings live near the home theatre setup.

Each rig or ‘setup‘ performs well with its’ respective media, and I can enjoy all recordings.

When I test DACs I again use different recordings to ‘trip up’/check the output quality.

Some recordings scale really well with better kit, and some simply do not.

If testing equipment with audio files that do not scale well to ‘better equipment’ we literally will not hear a difference.

Hi man,

Thanks for that thorough reply. I get all of that. I have a list of test tracks; I buy CD's and flacs, including a smaller number of 24 bit; I go back and forth and spend hours doing A/B/C tests. In this case, the difference between the Diablo and dx300 when accounting for all other factors is pretty small, at least to my ears, especially with iems, but even with the he6se, it's small. Micro details go slightly in favor of diablo, but it's hardly discernable. You have to really listen for it.
 
Oct 18, 2021 at 8:25 PM Post #1,851 of 1,891

whitedragem

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Hi man,

Thanks for that thorough reply. I get all of that. I have a list of test tracks; I buy CD's and flacs, including a smaller number of 24 bit; I go back and forth and spend hours doing A/B/C tests. In this case, the difference between the Diablo and dx300 when accounting for all other factors is pretty small, at least to my ears, especially with iems, but even with the he6se, it's small. Micro details go slightly in favor of diablo, but it's hardly discernable. You have to really listen for it.
I’d agree with this as what is typical. It is why many people will say that ‘all amps sound the same’ (and take away that ‘amps are JUST for extra volume’)..

Yet audiofoolz who have been doing this for yonks, mostly the ones with a ‘music’ background (as their profession or has been ‘serious hobby’), describe how amps change up the soundstage playback,.. talk about ‘veil‘ being lifted etc.

The notion is that with or without veil, the underlying music (from the recording) is still there, they are rather describing the playback differences that the amp (or DAC etc) changes the presentation to...
Its why an amp that appears to make certain instruments holographic might be preferred for certain recordings or genres.

I must apologise as my previous post wasn’t really finished (nor reviewed)- I had an inbound phone call and had to rush away (and didn’t return)... What I had hoped to write/ the intent of my post was to list a few specific recordings that scale well.
It isn’t about recording quality specifically, nor whether files are compressed or otherwise- I could use a disc of MP3s to test equipment.. (but I would generally enjoy their recordings, if critically listening, a lot more if they were lossless; that being said, a ‘three piece band’ that isn’t too musically dynamic, not using much echo/reverb and with poor attention given to spacing the instruments in a 3D plane, would sound so near to be identical to a lossless version of the same track that MOST PEOPLE COULD NOT PICK THEM APART. However an orchestral recording with rows of musicians and the environmental sound that is the recording space (various halls and cathedrals etc) would be murdered as an MP3, again, mostly for critical listening.. (although the reduction in air space that the Mp3’d version would impose would kill enjoyment even casually for ‘many’).

It isn’t really about file sizes but engineering attention and effort.
Some discs just have a cleverer mix that needs better equipment to pull out the layers..
Whether it be phase shifting electric guitars, or super dynamic ‘highly layered’ complex recordings.. heck even ‘near vintage’ blues recordings with tape hiss - each song can reveal strengths and weaknesses of certain equipment.
I can also honestly say that I have thousands of albums that barely change in playback from one piece of kit to another.

Regarding amps it can often come to ‘headroom’; does some classic Cat Stevens recordings (or just about any Quentin Tarantino soundtrack) sound softer vs other recordings (encouraging users to turn up the volume on specific albums?
Some amps homogenise the sound and make all recordings come across as ‘similar volume’.
I have given the example of Suzanne Vegas’ ‘Fat Man and Dancing Girl’ (album “99.9 farenheight degrees“), as a track I use to test dynamics.
If that track turns into a ‘wall of sound’ I simply stop listening to the amp, as many other tracks that push dynamics (require headroom), they will playback, sure.. and might even sound viscerally engaging.. but to me they would be fatiguing, and a few test tracks can tell me a lot about what equipment does right, and what it doesn’t.

When I was playing around with some Sony MDR Z7s and a PHA3 headphone amp for the first time, I couldn’t believe how well the ‘Mika’ album ‘Life in Cartoon Motion’ scaled to reveal the nuances that the amp could bring to the playback. Sure the headphones were good, but without the right amp they could easily be constrained to delivering ‘less performance’.
That Mika album isn’t on my test discs lists, but ‘casually listening’ - the extra layers that that well mastered album had been hiding showed that it was an album that scaled well to ‘better equipment’.

Many years ago now I posted a thread on headfi regarding how a range of amps could affect the playback quality of music, and ‘not simply because of the extra power that some might house’.
To be honest I have close to zero interest in amplifier power. It is one metric that doesn’t qualify sound quality, and I have seldom had need for more power.
That being said, I do run outboard power amplfiers FROM THX ULTRA receivers, quite often I let a flagship receiver drive surround back and front presence or height speakers (ie the speakers that need the least power).. I am sure amps that can deliver 130-180Watts of power per channel to 7 or more speakers can easily drive four speakers that are hardly used and are generally not peaking at the same time ‘very easily’.
As long as an amp is in its comfort zone for the music we care to hear, then we have ‘enough juice’.
Where differing quality amplifiers can reveal themselves is in nuances like soundstage and 3D depth.

I use an old Enigma track to test soundstage as it has a lot of bass and a soundstage that is easy to fall apart as the track layers more powerfully.. as a track it proves handy for testing ‘just a couple of metrics’, and that is the catch; knowing which tracks demonstrate ‘certain aspects’ of sound quality, and having a range of test tracks to check WHAT MATTERS MOST TO YOU..

eg I am not musically trained, and never had a good grasp of correct tonality.
For the first twenty years of my hifi journey the two most important metrics to me, without a doubt, was soundstage and noisefloor.

TJ Eckleberg “Two Inches of Darkness” is great for revealing whether an amp can make the lyrics clear.
Songs like ”Trout” by Neneh Cherry should have layering and Michael Stipes voice can actually be ‘clear as day’ towards the end of the song (when they are layering); on good kit it is easy to hear what BOTH ARTISTS are singing.

As a great album or two I’d suggest
One Giant Leap “What About Me” (complex well mixed tracks)(diverse)
soundtracks - Blues Brothers 2000 and City of Angels

Many could give a tonne of others (I could too),.. and none of the aforementioned are my ‘goto test tracks’ (TJ Eckleberg certainly is, but mostly cause I enjoy spinning him)

For amps testing I used to love Nine Inch Nails and Tool etc,.. but that is when driving large speakers etc..
regarding headphones (amp matching), generally getting output impeadence right is the only trick to worry about, so long as you can turn it up to the level you seek.
Beyond that there is a lot of sound tuning as amps DO have different playback characteristics that can favour macrodynamics, microdynamics, soundstage, holography etc...
Its why PRaT gets a mention from musician backgrounded reviewers- we all seek out performance, sure.. but knowing what we want and what tests can ensure we are getting it is a ‘long road’.

Ideally headfiers who understand can help (a little) on the quest...

As Guttenberg often states “Enjoy the Music”.

(And I will reiterate often- buy the part that gets your ‘toes tapping’)
 
Oct 18, 2021 at 9:22 PM Post #1,852 of 1,891

JoshG1217

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Thanks, man. I appreciate everything you're saying and your commitment to this! Ultimately, I've decided on thr DX300. Like I said, I could barely tell the difference and the single unit vs stack is just more convenient. Both sound great, but I have Mesy mkii, Sony Z1r and Hifiman he6se, and feel pretty content with that line up (haven't decided if thr mest will stay as they fit me weird).

Thanks again, man!
 
Oct 21, 2021 at 10:03 AM Post #1,853 of 1,891

stersa

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Really Awesome.Dynamic,powerful,sound without additives.

1B6CCAE6-B446-4805-A247-280410D9D4AD.jpeg
329C3F10-CDED-4B1B-9998-8213415B2C16.jpeg



Best

Sisco
 
Oct 21, 2021 at 11:26 AM Post #1,854 of 1,891
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Really Awesome.Dynamic,powerful,sound without additives.

1B6CCAE6-B446-4805-A247-280410D9D4AD.jpeg329C3F10-CDED-4B1B-9998-8213415B2C16.jpeg


Best

Sisco


Lovely!!!! How would you describe the sound and synergy of each pairing?
 
Oct 21, 2021 at 12:17 PM Post #1,855 of 1,891

stersa

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Lovely!!!! How would you describe the sound and synergy of each pairing?
Well, the most obvious thing is the dynamics and detail that it brings to both headphones. Each with their differences.
To the HD800S 75th, it brings a good low end, which is difficult at times in these headphones.
To the Sony, it makes them the best Iems, for level listening
They are already good in themselves, but with the Diablo, he raises them to the Olympo

That easy

Sisco
 
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Oct 21, 2021 at 12:55 PM Post #1,856 of 1,891

JoshG1217

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How does this compare to a truer desktop offering? I would think the Diablo is more because it's "portable." Anyone compared to the signature den Zac stack? That's 600 vs this is 1000
 
Oct 21, 2021 at 1:17 PM Post #1,857 of 1,891

Terr0rSandmann

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How does this compare to a truer desktop offering? I would think the Diablo is more because it's "portable." Anyone compared to the signature den Zac stack? That's 600 vs this is 1000
I compared the Diablo with a lot of devices and it sounds just awesome for a DAC / Amp unit for under 1000€. If this is not enough, it is portable!

And why have I sold it? It just does not work well with my IEM (even if they are not sensitive), I missed the Xbass time to time and it does not work well as desktop only device because it is getting really really hot if you charge it while you are listening. I am not sure if this can damage the device after some time, but I had no good feeling.
 

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Oct 21, 2021 at 6:32 PM Post #1,858 of 1,891

CrocodileDundee

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I compared the Diablo with a lot of devices and it sounds just awesome for a DAC / Amp unit for under 1000€. If this is not enough, it is portable!

And why have I sold it? It just does not work well with my IEM (even if they are not sensitive), I missed the Xbass time to time and it does not work well as desktop only device because it is getting really really hot if you charge it while you are listening. I am not sure if this can damage the device after some time, but I had no good feeling.
I was looking at the photos before reading the comments. I was actually surprised you could use the Diablo with IEMs. It is too loud for me. Sounds amazing, but almost unusable for IEMs.

For those with Sennheiser HD800S, can you share a bit more the synergy with the Diablo? (main music genre here: Metal, Rock and Hip-hop)
 
Oct 22, 2021 at 9:43 AM Post #1,859 of 1,891

Terr0rSandmann

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I was looking at the photos before reading the comments. I was actually surprised you could use the Diablo with IEMs. It is too loud for me. Sounds amazing, but almost unusable for IEMs.
You can do it at a high volume, but if you want to hear a little quieter, that was just not possible. I would really appriciate a 4.4mm IEmatch adapter. As far as I know, ifi is working on such a product since few months.
 
Oct 22, 2021 at 11:42 AM Post #1,860 of 1,891

Soundizer

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I compared the Diablo with a lot of devices and it sounds just awesome for a DAC / Amp unit for under 1000€. If this is not enough, it is portable!

And why have I sold it? It just does not work well with my IEM (even if they are not sensitive), I missed the Xbass time to time and it does not work well as desktop only device because it is getting really really hot if you charge it while you are listening. I am not sure if this can damage the device after some time, but I had no good feeling.
What have you decided to purchase instead? Can you recommend a balanced dac/amp for Focal Clear MG for same price as Diablo. No shitt stuff as not available where i am.
 

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