iFi audio iDSD Diablo-X - eXperience innovation!
Jun 23, 2023 at 11:56 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 81

iFi audio

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eXperience innovation

The Diablo-X is the first DAC/amp on the market to support the revolutionary xMEMS‘ solid state monolithic speaker technology.

This unique technology features:
  • Ultra-fast mechanical response (~15µsec; 150x faster than a typical dynamic driver)
  • Flat 2° phase response for more accurate sound reproduction
  • +/- 1° phase matching (part-to-part) for more accurate spatial sound
  • Silicon speaker diaphragm (95x more stiff/rigid than plastic) for reduce speaker break-up (less muddy mids/highs)
Brian Lucey, 8-time Grammy Winning Mastery Engineer, calls it “truly disruptive’ with “phase performance unlike no other speaker technology”. Discover why in 3 minutes.

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This level of performance requires a higher voltage solution to drive it, so iFi have partnered with XMEMs to produce the Diablo-X – a first to drive a first!

xMEMS eXplained

The xMEMS microspeaker technology uses the piezoelectonic effect to create a paper-thin solid-state speaker. These micro-speakers offer great potential to push the boundaries of IEM and headphone performance.

xMEMS_Technology_anim-05.gif

Diagram taken from xmems.com

As xMEMS themselves say, “The inverse piezoelectric effect is created by applying electrical voltage to make the piezoMEMS contract or expand, converting electrical energy to mechanical energy. This energy excites an integrated silicon membrane to move air and generate acoustic sound waves…. xMEMS’ piezoMEMs actuators offer an increased range of movement enabling rich, loud audio”.

Still devilishly delightful…​

The Diablo-X can still also be used with your favourite IEMs/headphones and, just like the original, uses two Burr-Brown DAC chips and the 16-core XMOS chip to process the data received via the USB and S/PDIF digital inputs. This means the Diablo-X can handle up to PCM 768, DSD 512, 2xDXD. Both PCM and DSD remain ‘bit-perfect’. It provides full MQA decoding.

Balanced, differential analogue circuit design reduces noise and cross-talk within the signal path by fully separating the left and right channels. The Diablo-X includes our PureWave tech – refinements to our balanced, symmetrical dual-mono topologies with short, direct signal paths.

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Negative feedback is used in amplifier circuits to compare the output signal with the input signal and correct errors. BUT there are drawbacks. iFi turns the negatives into positives with OptimaLoop.

…and diabolically driven.​

Able to drive all manner of headphones with ease, including those incorporating the new XMEMs tech, the Diablo-X sports fully balanced 4.4mm outputs with 4,100mW of power.

Three modes are used to adjust power and gain.
  • xMEMS – use with compatible IEMs/headphones
  • Turbo – ramps up the level of drive for current-hungry headphones
  • Normal – for most over or on ear headphones

Perfect pairings

While we were working on the Diablo-X, two companies were pushing the boundaries to deliver XMEMs compatible earphones.

Singularity have created the ONI. This sleek, minimalist looking IEM contains two xMEMS drivers to deliver superior sound.

And Soranik are firing things up by combining both xMEMS and USOUND technologies in their new MEMS-2! Available within 21 days.


Unadulterated performance

The Diablo-X focuses on pure, unadulterated performance, means much attention has been applied to the power supply circuity.

Battery power provides ultra-clean and stable DC current avoiding the issues of mains electricity – dips, spikes and noise-inducing RFI/EMI pollution. BUT there are sonic downsides resulting from low output voltage and inconsistent output impedance as batteries discharge.


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In order to make less efficient headphones, like planar magnetics, sing, the voltage needs to be stepped up from 3.7V to +/- 15V. We use a step-up converter running at 1.2MHz – a frequency far beyond audibility that is easier to filter than a typical switch-mode supply, enabling high linearity and ultra-low noise.

The devil is in the detail

Whether you are using your favourite IEMs/headphones or a pair of xMEMS compatible IEMs, the Diablo-X connections have you covered.

At the front of the unit, alongside a standard 6.3mm single-ended headphone socket, resides a 4.4mm Balanced output for headphones offering balanced connection.


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At the back are two digital audio inputs: USB-A and a S/PDIF socket that accepts both electrical and optical signals, the former via a 3.5mm connector and the latter via a supplied adapter.

The USB-A input features a ‘male’ connector, rather than a typical ‘female’ port for greater mechanical integrity. A separate USB-C charging port is also provided, along with a 4.4mm Balanced output to connect to an external amp.
 
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Jun 23, 2023 at 7:17 PM Post #4 of 81
So basically this is a new kind of electromagnetic amp, where you can only use certain items/headphones with to get the most outta it?
 
Jun 23, 2023 at 7:43 PM Post #5 of 81
Basically it's all the benefits of the Original Diablo, plus the added capability to take Advantage of the newest XMems tech!

Cheers!!
 
iFi audio Stay updated on iFi audio at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
https://www.facebook.com/iFiAudio/ https://twitter.com/ifiaudio https://www.instagram.com/ifiaudio/ https://ifi-audio.com/ comms@ifi-audio.com
Jun 24, 2023 at 6:13 AM Post #7 of 81
Basically it's all the benefits of the Original Diablo, plus the added capability to take Advantage of the newest XMems tech!

Cheers!!
And have to give away ECO mode.
 
Jun 24, 2023 at 1:07 PM Post #11 of 81
Uuuhh new driver technology with more power and dynamics, sounds exiting! I hope this isn't only a marketing gimmick that will disappear in a short time, but a true milestone in experiencing sound. I'm curious what other brands will jump on this train..?
 
Jun 24, 2023 at 1:53 PM Post #12 of 81
Uuuhh new driver technology with more power and dynamics, sounds exiting! I hope this isn't only a marketing gimmick that will disappear in a short time, but a true milestone in experiencing sound. I'm curious what other brands will jump on this train..?
Having heard the xmems demo, I can assure you it's no gimmick. This technology is truly gamechanging. Xmems is going to be everywhere.
 
Jun 24, 2023 at 3:42 PM Post #13 of 81
I believe that xMEMS IEM will remain a very niche product for a fairly long time until the price drops substantially.

The Diablo X has dropped Eco mode and retains the conventional volume pot.

If ifi has left the internal gain set set up alone so that normal on the X is the same as the current Diablo’s normal that will mean the X will be even less well suited to conventional IEM and easy to drive headphones.

Additionally, if the gain cannot be set lower than the current normal mode the channel imbalance problem with some of the original Diablo’s will be even more of a problem if you happen to get a unit with worse than usual channel imbalance.

The response from ifi to these issues is the inclusion of an IEMatch but I think a lot of potential owners will not see that as an appropriate solution.
 
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Jun 24, 2023 at 3:57 PM Post #14 of 81
Apart from the addition of the xMEMS tech, does the Diablo X have the same internals as the Original Diablo, resulting in identical performance/specs?

That's correct.
 
iFi audio Stay updated on iFi audio at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
https://www.facebook.com/iFiAudio/ https://twitter.com/ifiaudio https://www.instagram.com/ifiaudio/ https://ifi-audio.com/ comms@ifi-audio.com
Jun 24, 2023 at 4:18 PM Post #15 of 81
I think there will be some early market shyness around xmems just because it's new. But once the reviews start rolling out and people actually hear them, these are going to catch like wildfire. Even at these intro prices. I'm not kidding when I say that for me the sound quality is rivaling systems that cost tens of thousands of dollars. So even though I just spent more than I normally do, I feel like I'm getting an insane deal. But don't take my word for anything. Try to hear a demo.
 

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