iFi audio iDSD Diablo - A portable reference done our way!
Jun 11, 2021 at 5:55 PM Post #1,472 of 2,429

Soundizer

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I was informed by iFi that volume ideally needs to be between (12 and 2pm) for normal listening.

Even in ECO mode I couldn’t get past 10pm with Focal Radiance via Pentac 4.4 balanced.

I don’t understand this. So it means Focal Radiance is too sensitive for DIABLO?
 
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Jun 11, 2021 at 6:03 PM Post #1,473 of 2,429

KaOs492

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I was informed by iFi that volume ideally needs to be between (12 and 2pm) for normal listening.

Even in ECO mode I couldn’t get past 10pm with Focal Radiance via Pentac 4.4 balanced.

I don’t understand this. So it means Focal Radiance is too sensitive for DIABLO?
That's weird, with my elegia thru 4.4mm on eco 12-2 is great for me
 
Jun 12, 2021 at 10:24 PM Post #1,474 of 2,429

KaOs492

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Fun new rig
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Jun 13, 2021 at 12:03 AM Post #1,475 of 2,429

fsi22

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Been using the Diablo for a few months, feel that I have tested this device enough to have a concrete opinion on it.

Ifi have every reason to be proud of this device. That they stuck with Burr Brown and learnt that chip like nobody else, is what the Diablo is the culmination of. In engineering everything is a compromise and this device is the perfect balance.

It's continuous output power , particularly into 300 Ohm loads is unheard of, I tested my unit @ 16.5V in Balanced.

With my Susvara it will maintain 109dB in Balanced until the battery runs out.

The smaller you go in physical size, the less cooling tricks you are able to implement, which is always the biggest obstacle. Aluminium chassis only gets you so far. This unit having a battery and still producing the current and voltage it does, as well as having the dynamic range it does, is an engineering feat of substantial levels.


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Jun 13, 2021 at 5:42 AM Post #1,477 of 2,429

utdeep

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I bought it again after a dalliance with another Dac/amp. Might not be great for IEMs but no portable is better for planar headphones.
 
Jun 13, 2021 at 12:35 PM Post #1,479 of 2,429

utdeep

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@iFi audio, @Sebastien Chiu - I purchased the Diablo again through Amazon with Headphones.com as the seller. My assumption was that since both Amazon and Headphones.com were official distributors, this would be covered by warranty with no issues. Is that the case?
 
Jun 13, 2021 at 4:33 PM Post #1,480 of 2,429
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@iFi audio, @Sebastien Chiu - I purchased the Diablo again through Amazon with Headphones.com as the seller. My assumption was that since both Amazon and Headphones.com were official distributors, this would be covered by warranty with no issues. Is that the case?

Yes - you're all good, nothing to worry about here! @TaronL is awesome!
 
Jun 14, 2021 at 4:09 AM Post #1,482 of 2,429

whitedragem

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ahhhh Diablo: such joy in musical reproduction; thankyou iFi.

Has been a moment or ten since I last ‘caught up’, so, got a few pages of reading I should go back on and distribute some ‘likes’ (cheers peeps!), needless to say I have been keeping up with the Diablo as a newsworthy new toy.

Has been a very revealing couple of months for me, in terms of audio journeying...
Due to a replacement turntable, and the shenanigans that comes with going Moving Coil (MC), and matching a quality phono stage into my main rig etc, I had created an interesting ‘battle’ ground between analogue and digital audio sources.
Has been whilst I have had radio silence for a wee bit: lots for me to check and compare (and a lot of equipment rotated to ensure an honest battleground).
Ended up decommissioning the valve mono blocks (power amps), and ran with a ‘very high end’ solid state amp, which allowed changing the speakers to much larger and more revealing (less compression up high) designs that also required redoing room setup -it took awhile to find the right distance from the rear wall/‘toe in‘ etc..
The end result is a sound setup with a ‘small sweet spot’, but is awesome to check playback kit.

In fact listening to the canons on the 1812 overture (and their very specific locations/direction of firing), I now have a stereo reference that exists somewhere beyond my fireplace, and there does seem to be a pattern to which recordings render ‘in the room/between the speakers’ and ‘thirty -fourty feet away’ (beyond the walls of the main listening room)..

Due to the much higher power levels at my disposal, I have the ability to fire up many more genres and enjoy them ‘as intended’. (some of my vinyl includes Pendulum/the Prodigy etc and my kid is smart enough to go for a walk to ‘get away from the noise’ when I am spinning through certain genres..)

True this is regarding speakers and not ‘head-fi’- but for those that bear with me on this- GOOD stereo systems can be very handy to discern the limits of kit. (as can studio monitor headphones for some checks as well).

Comparing the Diablo with Vinyl?!
Alright so a few concessions need be made here regarding Vinyl (analogue) vs Zeros and Ones (digital)-
To do Vinyl right requires a serious investment, in time AND coin.
The same could likely be said of digital, but most people do not understand that stored ‘zeros and ones’ (digital) have a very hard time being moved around AND interpreted to honest/accurate reproduction of the original analogue wavelengths...

Has been a part of my longer scale testing- vinyl to my understanding doesn’t render bass, say ‘below 100hz’, in stereo, and can be a pain to get it to sound right- not just breaking in a new stylus, but matching a great phono stage that doesn’t rob resolution from the playback.

I went in with a few expectations- such as what frequencies and instruments I thought would shine better on a given format; and mostly my biases were ‘met’.
A few stand out points that make considering Vinyl easy (if cost and time were free) is how electronica (as a genre) really benefits from having reproduction of the sounds from digital equipment sound as they should- if a $30k computer makes a sound and that sound is etched onto Vinyl, people spinning that Vinyl get to hear that digital sound as if played back by the $30k device...

Hearing high frequency sounds (Prodigy -Music for the Jilted Generation and Pendulum -Hold Your Colour) play back so effortlessly and ‘fast’ is nice. When Minidisc launched it could easily generate ‘bandsaw’ type sound from certain high frequency soundwaves, generally on ‘man made’ digital sounds (think ‘lots of electronica’).
I knew back in 1998 that Vinyl was a great source for electronica styled catalogues, but as a ‘returning student’ (leaving workforce) I couldn’t justify the high cost per title vs a CD burner (which suited my ‘student life’ -eg playstation/music and ultimately dreamcast games)

When I got an iFi Diablo I seriously enjoyed much of its ‘up top‘ sound frequency playback - it surprised me that such a ‘budget box’ got so close to actual (good) analogue playback.
Listening to some recordings through the Diablo gave me hope that ‘budget’ DACs could chase Vinyl (finally).

Sort of..(!)

Alan Parson -Turn of a Friendly Card; an album I am intimately familiar with, has a piano part in the opening song that I have used as a test track (later part of song the Piano is GOING OFF during a rock out ‘wall of sound’. In the late 90’s I heard this track the best I had ever heard it (till recently); the setup consisted of three amps, the best speakers I have ever had the good fortune to own, and a trial of some esoteric speaker cables.. (I had spent the previous year or two working an ‘unfun’ tech support role with the lion share of the results poured into a digital transport (that I still have and use))..
The sound of that one setup has kept me chasing my ‘audio’ tail for decades..
Having recently heard that Parsons album (TOAFC) on a vinyl setup that was ‘best bang for buck’ and well setup; the clarity of that piano returned- every key being hit during rock crescendos from the rest of the band was ‘as it was’ from when I was [/i]more than twenty years younger[/i] PHEW!!- my ears still worked and I hadn’t just lost my high frequency acuity as I was starting to fear (having not heard that piano clearly for over 20+ years)...
Nope; hearing (is) sound -pun intended- as tests show me (a lil down in the extreme top on one ear)

So Vinyl has given me hope, and in many ways, for a ‘small(ish) outlay’ a great audio source can be had.

Where else did I predict/experience Vinyl ‘superiority’?
First (black) disc I spun was Florence and the Machine, and true to my expectations the ‘harp’ during a high volume rock song, stood out in ways that are ‘very beautiful’.


Now lets bring to reality what we are comparing here...

Vinyl rig with every detail tweaked for optimum sound, expensive media, lots of manual setup/maintenance (time/effort and HIGH costs)
VS
Digital rig (same rig/setup) using an iFi DAC with a cost nearly equal to my Tonearms’ cartridge alone. (easy to use/no change to my existing listening setup needed)

What do I prefer listening too?
I’d like to say Vinyl.
probably Vinyl.
If I had the money to rebuy my entire catalogue in black- I wouldn’t.
I’d take a holiday, with the family. We would visit many continents/see many cultures. See quite a few live music shows by artists we care about. And still have plenty of change left over to buy a DAC more expensive than the Diablo if I so wished.

And that is a simple/no brainer decision. From a person who LOVES music and will spend nearly anything on it to ‘get it right’.

In the last few weeks (month or so) I upgraded my headphone cables and spent enough time breaking them in, and ‘guess what’?
That piano piece I always go ‘searching for’ in the opening track from Alan Parsons ToaFC (Turn of a Friendly Card) is there... (playing digital files via the Diablo!!)

vs a full analogue playback chain;
I’d down rate the harp by a half point in the Florence recordings (maybe a full point, but only if I was TRYING to make Vinyl have the better outcome to justify the huge outlay in $$$))
A few genres that I already have all the recordings I am likely to ever own, won’t need to be micromanaged whilst listening too, but rather than getting up every twenty odd minutes to flip discs and do the ‘dust removal dance’ etc, can just be ‘set and forget’ and even shuffled/randomised if the mood grabs me.

What will I use Vinyl for? Making cassette tape masters from some of my favorite albums (for more casual playback)
Buying LPs with distinct art, or that are favorites of the house.. -but truth be told: my budget for rebuying recording I already own is extremely limited.
Like rebuying DVDs as Blurays, and then 4K =>sometimes the end does not justify the means (doubling or tripling the costs doesn’t always net better product; especially true for 4k discs of drama productions (that don’t care about surround tracks/‘ATMOS’).. Is my Vinyl version of Gomez ‘Liquid Skin’ really going to sound twice/three times as good as my compact disc version? (NO!-not unless I spend a half years’ salary on a turntable)

So getting back to comparisons to the Diablo- the Diablo is ‘good enough’ to achieve transparency to high fidelity sound.
It isn’t the last word in digital playback, true, but it gives me all the benefits of digital (easy/low cost) with most of the sound I am seeking, and certainly more sound than I expect from this price bracket.
When I first brought home the Rega ‘Planar 3’ I hated it vs the Diablo. Massive case of ‘its not good enough to justify the cash outlay’. The sibilance with the included (quality) Rega cartridge should have been dealt with with a budget ortofon cartridge, but then I was risking ‘big investment’ for sound parity to digital (some things better/some things worse); so going high quality MC cartridge was the only way to step ahead of (similar price point) digital..
The cost of the phono stage to get the most from said Stylus and table setup, is worth nearly the asking price of the Diablo,. the Stylus is worth nearly the cost of the Diablo, the Table is worth nearly the cost of the Diablo, and a weekends tunes to spin on them would be the same again....

The last Turntable I had was roughly half the cost of the Diablo and it had so many shortcomings that DID NOT justify the heavy media cost associated with ‘going Vinyl’; if I was going to spend that much per disc- it had to at least beat out my digital playback chain...
Which leads me to feel educated enough with recent Vinyl shenanigans to believe that Vinyl can be more expensive to nearly equivalent digital.
For the record I am not a muso and if my ’instrument of choice’ was noticably butchered by cheap DAC conversion, then I could see myself easily favour Vinyl as a superior format.
Due to having a fairly wide range in music genres that I spin regularly, the pay off for either delivery method could be given on any specific title..
eg I bought some ‘pan-flute and organ‘ tracks (for $1, immaculate) that sounded so perfectly woody and ‘natural’ that I cannot imagine enjoying the digital counterpart as much.. and the flute recordings that I now listen to happily (thanks Diablo) would no doubt play back well on Vinyl systems (where as most digital systems I avoid ‘certain instruments’).
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My previous belief -I would normally put 2x the $ in digital as ‘equal’ to Vinyl as my ‘old formula’ (it was 3x back in the nineties), but now, having recently gone through the process (again), making an antiquated format (ie requiring preamp boosters as modern amps just do not care for having ‘decent’ phono stages), the total cost of ownership to get a Diablo beating Vinyl setup (?,!)- I‘d rather spend LESS MONEY on digital and know that much greater than 90% of audio fools wouldn’t have the required transparent system to net most of the benefits of ‘good analogue’, vs the dollars saved UPGRADING to ‘good’ modern digital is an easy ‘no brainer’.. at least for anyone who doesn’t want to blow 25% of every pay packet buying expensive media and put the time investment in.
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Of course this is all hobby and there is fun stuff to say about handling giant discs (and enjoying the art/liners; eg War of the Worlds LP has no doubt fueled many imaginations)- this picture does show what is presently my source (and has been all day, bar a spin of Joe Bonamassas’ High Tea and Julia Stones‘ latest LP); digital, for me, is 5k albums in my pocket/car, that a Diablo can boost to ‘close to parity’ to the alternate ‘analogue’ system (that costs more)...

This article written in the inverse?!
Vinyl is a great hobby that will take all your time and cash. The fun of swapping discs and the delicate nature of the ritual involved ensure that no one can get too drunk/party too hard and still be happily listening to their tunes. The nature of every playback being different is at odds with the digital nature of the modern world. Dust is true ‘white noise’.

Now that I’ve totally tweaked my system out to make the analogue source sound its’ best, naturally my digital playback benefits from the same room tweaks etc, and the Diablo has never sounded this good. Consistently. Every time. No effort needed- hit one button from any of a range of sources... (all of which it will make sound ‘analogue’)

Like most music playback the engineers effort and the original artists work is MAJORITY of what we will get from the playback.
“Good recordings”>format.
 
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Jun 14, 2021 at 2:44 PM Post #1,483 of 2,429

Terr0rSandmann

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In the last couple of days, I used my Diablo as DAC only more often and I recognised that the device is getting really hot, even if I use just the DAC part. I can understand that when I also use the device as an amplifier, it gets hot, because it puts out freaky 5W in Turbo to drive my HE1000V2.

Edit:
Found the reason: Charging it for a short time during usage is ok, but not the whole evening while playing. At the end, it is no common desktop Amp 🤷‍♂️
 
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Jun 15, 2021 at 12:41 AM Post #1,485 of 2,429

whitedragem

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In the last couple of days, I used my Diablo as DAC only more often and I recognised that the device is getting really hot, even if I use just the DAC part. I can understand that when I also use the device as an amplifier, it gets hot, because it puts out freaky 5W in Turbo to drive my HE1000V2. And even in DAC only modus, the battery is empty after approx. 4 - 5 hours. Is this normal? Seems not to be honest.
And I have the feeling that the battery time is getting lower over the time ... In use as amplifier + DAC, I am running out of power after approx 2 - 3 hours in Turbo mode.
Do you have anything plugged into a headphone socket on the front?
regarding heat..
I am confident there have been times when mine has been warm in ‘DAC only’ mode, but I’m quietly quite confident (been dying to tag those words together in a sentence) that the heat is only when the battery needs charging.
Touching it now, playing back ‘hi res’ (although not MQA), it is cold, wamer than the room, but not by much.. (the room is cool).
One time I had both front and rear outputs tapped and the Diablo got hot then...

regarding battery power..
I am stunned how long I get from it in some modes, and then other times I am saddened to find out it is depleted. I am a big fan of ‘normal’, but true, I’m not sure the sound quality change between modes is as obvious/‘happening at all’ when running the 4.4mm balanced out from the front.. (i’m not keen to do checks presently based on the ‘enjoy the music‘ (not the kit) principle)
To be fair I am usually ‘pretty low’ on the dial (around 10-12o’clock mostly), but my initial testing in Single Ended mode (6.3mm front output) had play times pegged pretty close whether running at 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock; which even had me do a run or two at ‘3pm’ on the (volume) dial and see pretty much the same runtimes; mind you I was getting in excess of 15 hours from S.E. Eco mode output which was PHENOMINAL...

My only trick regarding batteries and heat is to ‘try and not use products whilst charging’. (I leave my Diablo plugged in to power ‘a lot’) - that sage advice was reiterated with a Chord Hugos’ owner manual which said ‘if the batteries get depleted, try to charge for at least half an hour prior to using’ (not verbatim). I believe that might have more to do with the power requirements of a running Hugo, but I liked some battery care advice was given with the product.

(edit)to confirm I did read your post= ‘yes’ (5 hours ballpark ‘as a DAC’) it feels like ‘as a DAC’ it runs in ‘Normal mode’ balanced output regarding power usage.
The differences in my run times with the Diablo have mostly come down to whether I am using it whilst charging, or when charging when it is off (apparently it might only charge to 90% whilst on/in use).
Bob (g’day); please share a word (or ten) describing links.
I am more likely to click a hyperlink if I know what it is about. Seldom do I when I do not know what it is about.....
The headphonesty review I could figure out (a bonus that I had it open on the next tab already by a freaky coincidence), but a ‘random product on amazon’? (!)
Cheers mate/thanks in advance :wink:


Since I am posting - a quick fun observation this morning-
due to a mishap I found myself listening to Jazz at the Pawnshop in high resolution but as a rip from Vinyl.
If the dust wasn’t a telltale; the scratch through the opening track (Limehouse Blues) gave me a surreal experience.
What I loved about what was happening, phenominologically speaking, experiencing this ‘vinyl via my DAC’; was my brain trying to figure out the weight of the LP, and the quality of the parts that were deciphering this ‘magic black disc’. I did briefly jump to thoughts about ADC (analogue to digital) quality and process but just kept getting pulled back into the quality of the music.
The recording features microphones from in the crowd, weirdly feeling like the ‘back of the room’, but with moments of instrument intimacy caught so beautifully (and ‘very Vinyl sounding’) it gave me a very solemn smile as I realised digital, in this instance, seems like it can capture the bounds and intimacy of the analogue format, COMPLETELY.
The “scientist” in me cannot help but walk away from this experience feeling that the Diablo is the superior playback methodology. (the total analogue sensation was transparently/seamlessly presented)
True it was ’hi res’.. :p
 
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