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iFi audio Pro iDSD (Official) - NEW Firmware - MQA and more.

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  1. doggiehowser
    In the past there was a lot more room to the design choices around the surrounding circuitry so yes a Naim Implementation of a BurrBrown chipset could sound very different from another manufacturers implementation of the same chipset because of filtering tech ahead of the chipset. In a way that’s kinda why the Pro iDSD sounds imho as good as it does vs another implementation of the same chip and why different Naim streamers sound similar even with different BurrBrown chipsets.

    but the newer chipsets like Sabre32 and AKM44xx do a lot more of the processing and filtering internally and there is a very noticeable Sabre32 flavor across different implementations. You can refine the sound with better analog stages and power supplies but I can’t get rid of the House sound.

    The best 9038 implementation I’ve heard was on the Ayre streamer but you can still hear that signature on the Oppo 205.

    Granted it is my preference and I’m always reluctant to rank DACs because of that reason. There are days when I prefer my Atom CD5S with its old school R2R PCM1704s over my DSD DACs like my EMM Labs, Playback Designs or PS Audio. Especially with certain recordings.

    Also with DACs like the DSJ or any DAC that can be reprogrammed such as with dcs, I would always indicate the firmware or OS revision on them when commenting on them

    The DSJ with RedCloud is a huge step up over the Huron OS. And I’ve preferred the older Yale over Huron.
  2. doggiehowser
    duplicated.. ish
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  3. webmi
    hmmm, i´m on v1.51 (i guess) :thinking:

  4. project86 Contributor
    Agree to disagree I suppose. Personally I don't hear anything like a "house sound" between, say, the BMC UltraDAC, ExaSound E20, McIntosh MCD1100, and Ayre Codex - despite all using the ES9018 chip. And that's not even counting the differences brought by the newer ES9028Pro and ES9038Pro, or the smaller 2-channel Sabre versions often used by portable audio players. Yes, the ESS chips have a lot of internal processing but so do most other TI/Wolfson/Cirrus/AKM chips.

    Anyway, to help my point as well as get us somewhat back on track - the Pro iDSD (with quad TI chips) can be configured to sound pretty similar to an Auralic Vega (Sabre 9018) or Exogal Comet+ (FPGA) or Parasound D/AC 2000 (R-2R UltraAnalog chips).
  5. mt-hifidelity
    Anyone have thoughts on the ifi pro versus Chord dacs? Hugo TT and Dave in particular. Of course they are more expensive but they seem to have garnered the most mindshare in the last couple of years.
    Also, both are British companies. Not that that should be of major significance.
  6. project86 Contributor
    I personally don't love the Chord sound. Something about it just rubs me the wrong way. I totally respect the innovation involved, particularly the statement design of the Dave, but even still I'm not completely sold on it.

    Hugo TT (the original, I haven't heard the TT 2 yet) has sounded different every time I've heard it. Not sure if just sample variation or if I'm going crazy (or both) but I've heard it sound excellent and I've heard it sound pretty terrible... multiple occasions for each. When it sounded good, it was in the same general league as the Pro iDSD. In other cases it was vastly inferior. That's about as far as I will go without having both here to compare.
  7. mt-hifidelity
    I hear you. I thought the idsd pro's physical design echo'd the Dave a bit with its circular display. Mercifully it does not ape their other products' color-coded interface.

    I own the Hugo 2 and generally I like the sound it generates. Interesting to hear that the TT can vary wildly; I haven't heard it yet. Although I only tried the Dave once during the NYC Canjam, I came away quite impressed. I just don't know if the performance delta, assuming there is a significant delta, justifies the cost for me.
  8. hop ham Contributor
    I prefer the Dave by a fair margin, understanding that the cost difference is significant.

    Pro iDSD is more impactful and dynamic. More fun sounding and I can groove to it easier when just kicking back. But that's not to say it's not detailed and a great sounding DAC. More forgiving than Dave.

    Dave is more involving and holographic. Higher resolution. I can completely get immersed in the life-like representation - maybe that's because of what I sense with its timing and pace.There seems to be less between me and the music, and it can make me feel more.

    I also own Hugo 1. I think Hugo is closer to Pro iDSD but doesn't quite reach it.
    Currawong likes this.
  9. mt-hifidelity
    Yep, my recollection of the Dave aligns with your description. I'm happy with the pro idsd so far but it seems upper-mid tier, not truly top tier, when it comes to detail retrieval.
    I need to start buying lottery tickets. The ability to "recreate the air" of a recording... Its very addictive.
  10. gordec
    I had Hugo 1 and Qutest. Pro iDSD just walks all over them. I really don't need any more detail based on my listening habits. More holographic presentation is the only area I feel I could use an upgrade. Maybe I need to audition the Dave. Just can't justify that amount for a DAC.
  11. mt-hifidelity
    Then you may not want to try it :smile_phones:
    I remember hearing things in favorite recordings out of the Dave that I hadn't before, even with very high end equipment. Holographic is an appropriate description. But yeah I just can't have my girlfriend kill me for that purchase.
  12. doggiehowser
    The DAVE is one of the best sounding DACs I've heard but it is "transport" dependent. I've found a good custom PC front end vs a bog standard PC can make or break the DAVE.

    Put a well optimized CAPS PC in front of it and another DAC and the differences are stark. I have not heard the M-Scalar so I can't be sure how dependent it is on the front end.

    Put in a generic PC and the gap between the DAVE and other DACs become less striking. I noticed the same with the Hugo TT as well.

    The Pro iDSD's network streaming is where I feel the biggest gains are over a standalone DAC. I guess that's why I am keen to push iFi to support Roon RaaT on the Pro iDSD. Having the computer away from the DAC and connected only via the network cable just makes the DAC perform much closer to its full potential.

    And Tube+ on the Pro iDSD just seals it in for me. I know the distortion is higher in Tube+ but that sense of soundstage and realism just does it for me.
  13. project86 Contributor
    On that we can agree - Tube+ mode can be spectacular. I was using it today with the GTO filter, DSD1024 upsampling, paired with the Cayin HA-300, listening on the HD800S. Beautiful, fluid midrange, superb soundstage, dynamic slam about as good as I've ever heard from the HD800S.... while the amp had a big hand in this, the Pro iDSD laid the foundation, and in this particular configuration Tube+ was the clear choice.
  14. youurayy
    What is your theory on what is actually causing the differences in USB transport between good and bad PCs?

    All good DACs will

    1. isolate itself from the PC power and thus noise,
    2. reclock the USB data stream (the PCM audio carried within),

    so as long as the PC is able to fill up the buffer quickly enough, all PCs should be the same.

    Note that you cannot have uncorrected errors on the USB transport (no matter what the PC) as things like USB backup drives or USB printers would not work.

    (I'm not talking about Roon here as I found that Roon has a software issue which in some cases (e.g. high-spec DSD conversion) makes it overly dependent on the host PC not running any other tasks.)
  15. doggiehowser
    If PCs were all created equal, products like USB Regen would not make a difference and the whole idea of CAPS music servers would be redundant. And yet they do
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