iFi Audio nano iDSD Black Label (TOUR details - PAGE 12 / TOUR participants - page 26 post #386)

  1. Mboom
    I've got a 5th gen iPod with rockbox, could I use a lightning to USB to connect to this ?
  2. BB 808
    You will need a Lightning to USB Camera Adapter
    It's a very nice fit similar to this image of the iDSD micro BL from Mr. Darko
    Dobrescu George and SteveOliver like this.
  3. Rchandra
    Just ordered my ifi black label nano, can't wait to try it out with my sony mdr z1r. Now the connection on the ifi unit is it a balanced connection via 3.5mm!? If so I am curious to compare the stock 4.4mm balanced sony connection to the ifi to see if the sonic difference is indeed similar. Can anyone chime in on this?
  4. SteveOliver
    I've been wanting to own/try the MDR-Z1R for a long time, sadly they are out of my price range.

    Yes its a 3.5mm balanced connection, all my cables are 2.5mm and I don't have an adapter yet so I've not been able to test balanced. In theory balanced should sound different (better?) though. Please let us know when you have tested it with your Z1R.
  5. jmills8
    MDR-Z1R is not a very good sounding headphone. It is a great built headphone.
  6. Rchandra
    To each there own I purchased 4 z1rs for myself and some family members, I actually think they are one of the best closed back headphones out.

    Going back to the balanced connection I will let you know. I can't wait to try out this new toy lol.

    But if you are considering the z1r or the eikon I would go for the eikon :)
    SteveOliver likes this.
  7. tim0chan
    lol, can i be your family member? I mean, even a zeus, that is cheaper than the z1r will sufficeXD
  8. Sound Infinity
    Can the iFi nano iDSD BL drive a Sennheiser HD 6XX?
  9. Dobrescu George
    Yes, I think it can.
  10. Demo3
    It has no problem driving my H650... at all!
  11. Sound Infinity
    Thanks guys!
    Dobrescu George likes this.
  12. calbearsd
  13. ItsAllInMyHead
    calbearsd likes this.
  14. ItsAllInMyHead
    Well, It doesn't look like the tour is coming through Asia, and/or I wasn't included. Anyway, I was at the hifi store getting some other bits yesterday to beat the hum out of my system, and they happened to have the Nano BL in stock. I could not resist.

    First impressions

    - DAC/AMP on the go. iPhone 7 (Tidal Hi Fi DLs and Tidal Hi Fi Streaming) => Nano BL => A&K T8IE MK II (3.5mm TRS). Pretty darn tough to imagine getting better sound for the money in this size a package. The IEMatch keeps the usable volume range I need, and it's silent. I really like that there's not much sticking out that I can accidentally flip while walking, and I don't need a 3.5mm => 1/4" adapter for my commuting phones. It's absolutely silly, I know, but I found it interesting that they chose this product to factory install the rubber feet.... It's a Super-Commuter package, and it will replace my Micro BL for daily commutes. I'm going to check it against the Sony PHA-2A that the Micro replaced just for fun.

    - DAC/AMP w/ laptop. MacBook => Nano BL => Mezze 99 Classics and A&Ks. Updated firmware and leapt into Tidal / Audirvana to check out some MQA rendering. FINALLY! Audirvana recognized the BL as a renderer and immediately provided the proper magenta light. Tidal's UI does not show (or I can't figure out how) if the device is recognized as a renderer, but I got the proper Magenta light, so there's that.

    re: MQA rendering. There's really no way to truly A/B. I very briefly compared the Micro BL to the Nano BL on a few tracks to get a quick and dirty A/B. It's completely inconclusive given how crude my methodology was and that there are so many things that may change the character of the sound between the two regardless of MQA rendering. It was interesting (to me) that Audirvana shows different depth / rate for the same MQA track based on the device - with the Nano BL being identical to the playback file and the Micro BL (or the Audirvana software) potentially doing some magic when there is no rendering. Of particular note is the funkiness with Black Keys El Camino below

    For non MQA tracks, both units behave identically in that the sampling frequency in all cases I've seen is identical but the DAC side on Audirvana always shows higher depth. I'll read up.

    Examples -
    Nora Jones - Come Away With Me (Album) - FLAC MQA 24/192. With Nano => DAC 24/192 With Micro => DAC 32/96
    Green Day - Dookie (Album) FLAC MQA 24/192. With Nano => DAC 24/192 with Micro => DAC 32/96
    The Black Keys - El Camino (Album) FLAC MQA 24/44.1 With Nano => DAC 24/44.1 With Micro => DAC 32/88.2
    Bob Seger - Night Moves (Album) FLAC 16/44.1 With Nano => DAC 32/44.1 with Micro => DAC 32/44.1

    If anyone knows why and cares to share what's happening, I'm all ears. Again... I'm learning. Yes, I've looked for answers.

    Listened to all of NJ Come Away with Me (FLAC 24/192 - MQA) using solely the MacBook / Audirvana / Nano BL combo with my Mezze's and enjoyed every moment - no fatigue. That's rare.

    - As a DAC .... Briefly subbed out my iDAC2 and used the 3.5mm from the Nano BL into my iCAN SE. Inconclusive. I tried to give the Nano a boost by playing some MQA tracks... still inconclusive.

    - Nano BL standalone - Compared to the full chain of bits (iGalvanic => iDAC 2 => iCAN SE) + their supplemental whiz bangs to keep all the hum out. The Nano BL didn't stand a chance on its own. My SWAG is that the iCAN SE is the hero in this story given that when I subbed out the Nano BL for the iDAC 2 in the same chain, I couldn't jump up and say I heard a difference (even trying to give the Nano the edge on some MQA tracks). I admit it could be expectation bias but still...... On the other hand since there's nothing that plugs into the wall - there's no need for all those supplemental whiz-bangs with the Nano (in my particular case) - so the Nano's got that going for it (which is nice). I did put an iPurifier2 into the chain for a while with the Nano just for giggles - inconclusive.

    Overall Conclusion - It's going to be my commuter package, but after a few really quick and VERY dirty direct comparisons to some existing iFi products and accessing my really bad memory banks for other recent comparisons, it certainly holds its own. I've not come across anything that beats it for the $$ and seemed like such an obvious choice. Do I wish it had come out 4-5 months ago... maybe / maybe not. Am I running to go get a demo Mojo at a steep discount (that's still quite a bit more than this) - Nope. Do I wish I could get a full refund for the Sony... I Dunno.

    Next steps - Have to find a 2.5mm A&K TRRS to 3.5mm TRRS adapter to see if the sound from the A&Ks improves using the balanced cable. If so, I'll be over the moon, but I'm skeptical given that the literature says the S-Balanced configuration already gives "1/2" the advantage to standard TRS terminated phones.

    Shameless plea - @iFi - Please put out MQA-rendering-enabling firmware for the Micro BL and the iDAC2.... if only to make everyone here on Head Fi happy and bring world peace. :) There's no way to A/B with the only difference being rendered vs. not rendered - so I'm going on the general idea that an MQA file that's not rendered is missing information or in some way sub-optimal. Somebody out there thinks it's an important link in the chain. I'd love to see it make it's way up/across your product line. I'd gladly pay since I think I heard that in addition to your coding and distribution efforts that some amount of money also has to go to some (air quotes) MQA cabal. Until then, I'm grateful that you've included it in this little black (label) beauty.

    - Cheers
  15. vo_obgyn
    Not a shameless plea at all.

    IFi Audio in a previous post said that they were looking into doing this.

    "For now all we can say is that MQA will be implemented in future iFi audio products, nano iDSD Black Label is MQA capable and we're exploring the possibility for MQA upgrades applied to our previously released devices."

    I wish that they would provide firmware that would enable MQA on the micro IDSD/ micro iDSD BL soon.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
    ItsAllInMyHead likes this.

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