iFi iDSD Micro DSD512 / PCM768 DAC and Headphone Amp. Impressions, Reviews and Comments.
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Joaqu2n

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Let's address this in even more thorough way, shall we?

TL;DR

If you want to keep your iDSD micro on all the time, you can still use the battery mode and normally not worry about the battery state. This is best if you usually use it to play music for a few hours at a time and then shut the music source off to allow the iDSD micro to top up its cells' charge. Using a USB port that is BC1.2 compliant and can deliver 1.5A of current is strongly recommended and essential if using Turbo mode.

If you want 100% availability and 24/7 operation while never worrying about the battery state or which amplifier setting is engaged, power your iDSD micro from a BC1.2 compliant USB port and make sure power is available 24/7.

If you want to have maximum play time "on the go" make sure to TURN OFF the iDSD micro when charging. If you don't need maximum playtime, make sure to TURN ON the iDSD micro when charging. and to make sure that your smartphone battery does not get drained when music stops, flash Firmware 5.2B.

Long Version

iDSD micro has a fairly sophisticated charging system, but in the best Apple style, rather than festooning the device with a million gauges and LED's, we kept it as minimal as possible (we felt there where enough switches etc. as is).

If the iDSD micro is turned on BEFORE being connected to a USB source (or just a USB charger) it is in "Battery Mode" until turned off next time.

If the iDSD micro is turned on AFTER being connected to a USB source (or just a USB charger) it is in "USB Mode" until turned off next time.

Now unless Firmware 5.XB is used, the iDSD micro will actually re-charge in either mode, unless it detects a "weak power source" which is assumed to be a smart phone. Equally, in either mode the iDSD micro may draw on the battery if needed.

So it might be better to call the modes "Battery Power Priority" and "USB Power Priority".

In battery mode, if music is playing via USB or SPDIF power is drawn ONLY from the battery, the USB power connection, if present is shut off.

However, if no music is playing on any input for 3 minutes, the iDSD micro will shut down the whole analogue and amplifier circuitry to conserve power (as these draw the most). And if it has detected a "strong" (500mA or greater) charge capable source it will recharge it's battery while no music is played.

The re-charge is set to not fill the battery up to 100% capacity as this would cause cells to wear out quickly, instead charge is capped at 75%, which means battery life in this case is equal to shelf life.

Powersave mode is indicated by a blinking green LED, and if the iDSD micro is in powersave + recharge mode, it with show a blue LED.

This means as long as 'eco' mode is used and you do not play music for more than 8 hours without interruption (and your computer settings allow the iDSD micro to go to sleep and charge), the iDSD micro may be operated in battery indefinitely, if it remains connected and turned on, because it will recharge automagically whenever there is no music playback for any length of time.

In USB mode the iDSD micro will first and foremost apply USB power to keep internal systems 'alive'. If any power from the USB is "left over" after operating internals, it will be used to charge the battery.

If the power available from USB is insufficient, the iDSD micro will automatically draw the difference from the battery, which acts in effect as a booster pack.

If no music is played on any input for 15 minutes, the iDSD micro will shut down the whole analogue and amplifier circuitry to conserve power (it draws the most). Then more power is available to top up the battery.

Again, the re-charge is set to not charge the battery to 100% capacity as this would cause the cells to wear out quickly. Instead charge is capped at 75%, which means battery life in this case is equal to shelf life.

The power from a standard USB port is sufficient for operation of the iDSD micro ONLY in 'eco' mode, using a standard USB port and USB mode with normal/turbo may slowly drain the battery even in USB mode, unless the iDSD micro is allowed to enter powersave frequently enough to allow it to keep the cells topped up.

This is because the iDSD micro is USB standard compliant, so it will never draw more than 500mA, unless the USB port it is attached to includes USB standard BC1.2 signaling, in which case the iDSD micro will draw the current it needs up to a maximum of 1.5A which is enough for both 'turbo' mode operation and charging a flat battery to 80% in under 12 hours.

The iUSB nano & micro implement BC1.2 and will supply the iDSD micro with all the power it needs at a quality that rivals battery operation.

Many inexpensive USB hubs also implement BC1.2 and can supply the iDSD micro with the power needed, though the results will not be as good as the iUSB.

Further, if the iDSD micro is switched off when charging, it will fill the battery to 100% capacity. This will maximize playback time in portable use, but as the battery is now cycled past 75% it's lifespan will be shortened compared to the lower charge.

So if you do not need maximum battery charge, keep your iDSD micro on while charging to be easier on cells.
Hi. In my case today I have a PC -> USB cable -> iPurifier2 -> Micro iUSB 2.0 -> gemini cable -> Micro iDAC2.

If I replace the Micro IDAC2 with the Micro iDSD (not Black Label), where should I place the iPurifier2?

Thank you!
 
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maricius

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Hi gLer

The xDSD is best considered a "super nano" with extra input options (BT, SPDIF, Optical), a more powerful headphone Amplifier with much greater dynamic range, a new digitally controlled stepped attenuator operating in the analog domain as volume control, 3D-Matrix (Headphones only) and X-Bass and with a fundamentally re-designed user experience. It has a single BB DAC and is broadly equivalent to the iDAC 2 micro in terms of sound quality. It is not a replacement for the iDSD micro Black Label which remains in production and which remains our best sounding (trans) portable Unit.

Best wishes

iFi audio team
image.png



Apologies for bringing this up but I am quite confused with the iFi line-up. "It (xDSD) is not a replacement for the iDSD micro Black Label which is the best sounding transportable unit as the xDSD is equivalent to the iDAC2 micro in terms of sound quality" but at the same time
"purely sound wise, iDAC2 is in our opinion better than iDSD BL."

Which is it?
 
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maricius

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@iFi audio is this correct?

Line-out sound quality:

iDAC 2 > iDSD BL > iDSD > xDSD


Headphone out sound quality:

iDSD BL > iDSD > xDSD = iDAC 2
 
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Hi. In my case today I have a PC -> USB cable -> iPurifier2 -> Micro iUSB 2.0 -> gemini cable -> Micro iDAC2.

If I replace the Micro IDAC2 with the Micro iDSD (not Black Label), where should I place the iPurifier2?

Thank you!
Our USB sorters should go before DACs, so your USB chain looks OK. However iPurifiers do the same thing as iUSB products, but understandably less effectively due to lower price. Please have iUSB as close to your DAC as possible, try to move iPurifier in and out of your setup and see/hear what happens.
 
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Which is it?
Line-out sound quality:

iDAC 2 > iDSD BL > iDSD > xDSD
As a DAC, iDAC2 is second only to Pro iDSD, thus above iDSD BL and xDSD as well.


Headphone out sound quality:

iDSD BL > iDSD > xDSD = iDAC 2
iDSD BL is the top unit alright, but we're not sure about the iDSD > xDSD order. Plus, what you wrote is a wee bit oversimplified. It all depends on used cans/IEMs, not to mention functionality, size etc.
 
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Our USB sorters should go before DACs, so your USB chain looks OK. However iPurifiers do the same thing as iUSB products, but understandably less effectively due to lower price. Please have iUSB as close to your DAC as possible, try to move iPurifier in and out of your setup and see/hear what happens.
Does it mean that having the Micro iUSB 2.0 (not 3.0) I can remove the iPurifier 2 from the chain because it is redundant?

Thanks.
 
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Does it mean that having the Micro iUSB 2.0 (not 3.0) I can remove the iPurifier 2 from the chain because it is redundant?
Their functionality overlaps, yes. But not having your setup we can't know what happens once you remove iPurifier, it can go both ways; you can hear an improvement or performance drop. Whatever the result might be, once you unplug and have a listen, please let us know!
 
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Their functionality overlaps, yes. But not having your setup we can't know what happens once you remove iPurifier, it can go both ways; you can hear an improvement or performance drop. Whatever the result might be, once you unplug and have a listen, please let us know!
With the iPurifier2 connected to the Micro iUSB 2.0, I think I have noticed an almost imperceptible improvement in the definition through the Focal Elear. Or it is purely psychological. Therefore it could be said that, through the headphone jack, there is no difference.
 
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As a DAC, iDAC2 is second only to Pro iDSD, thus above iDSD BL and xDSD as well.




iDSD BL is the top unit alright, but we're not sure about the iDSD > xDSD order. Plus, what you wrote is a wee bit oversimplified. It all depends on used cans/IEMs, not to mention functionality, size etc.
Thanks for this. This clarifies a lot. My usage would be mostly via USB power and a laptop and with a relatively efficient pair of IEMs (not overtly efficient) meaning amplification for my uses would democratise the units a bit. I guess the driving factor of my question is that I do need a more consistent, (read: fixed), headphone out but I needed to know whether I should sell my current vanilla micro iDSD to fund an xDSD or to keep the vanilla iDSD attached to a home loudspeaker set-up due to having a better line-out than the xDSD.
 
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With the iPurifier2 connected to the Micro iUSB 2.0, I think I have noticed an almost imperceptible improvement in the definition through the Focal Elear. Or it is purely psychological. Therefore it could be said that, through the headphone jack, there is no difference.
It's great that both products together work for you, in-spite their overlapping each other. But, if its works for you then please run with it.
 
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Thanks for this. This clarifies a lot. My usage would be mostly via USB power and a laptop and with a relatively efficient pair of IEMs (not overtly efficient) meaning amplification for my uses would democratise the units a bit. I guess the driving factor of my question is that I do need a more consistent, (read: fixed), headphone out but I needed to know whether I should sell my current vanilla micro iDSD to fund an xDSD or to keep the vanilla iDSD attached to a home loudspeaker set-up due to having a better line-out than the xDSD.
If you don't need the portability or a wireless function with your DAC, then you could stay using your current micro iDSD or you could try our iDAC2 which is purely a desktop DAC. With using your IEMs, our iDAC2 has a headphone out which would suit your needs.
 
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Sorry to bring up a very old topic. I bought one of these whilst overseas a few years back, got home, got sick and forgot about it. I found it in a clean up yesterday, which was timely as I want something just like this for portable listening at the moment, but sadly I can't get it to switch on, despite having it plugged into a smart power hub last night for 8 hours and again today for 2 hours followed by another 1 hour. I am hoping I can spark the battery up again, but in the worst case, if not, is it feasible and cost effective to replace the battery on them? I don't' really want to throw away hundreds of dollars of something I never used.

I assume the LED is the thing on the top of the unit to the bottom left of the logo?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Sorry to bring up a very old topic. I bought one of these whilst overseas a few years back, got home, got sick and forgot about it. I found it in a clean up yesterday, which was timely as I want something just like this for portable listening at the moment, but sadly I can't get it to switch on, despite having it plugged into a smart power hub last night for 8 hours and again today for 2 hours followed by another 1 hour. I am hoping I can spark the battery up again, but in the worst case, if not, is it feasible and cost effective to replace the battery on them? I don't' really want to throw away hundreds of dollars of something I never used.

I assume the LED is the thing on the top of the unit to the bottom left of the logo?

Thanks in advance.
It might be worth it to send it in to iFi and have them change out the battery.
 
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It might be worth it to send it in to iFi and have them change out the battery.
Hi. Unfortunately, that's not really an option as I am in New Zealand.
Sending Batteries internationally is tricky these days too.
 
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Hi. Unfortunately, that's not really an option as I am in New Zealand.
Sending Batteries internationally is tricky these days too.
Ok, just make sure you follow iFi's directions on restarting a battery on their web page.
 
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