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

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by mlgrado, Jul 26, 2014.
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  1. Panch0
    Anyone paired the micro iDSD with a DX50 coaxial out?
  2. ClieOS Contributor
    Tried, no problem to get them work together.
  3. Panch0
    Thanks ClieOS.
    Any difference between micro iDSD + dx50 and micro iDSD +x5? Witch combo sounds better?
  4. BillsonChang007
    If you were to use a coaxial out, both the DAC and Amplifier will be bypassed and in this case, the DAP will be using both Micro iDSD's DAC and amp. Thus, either of the DAP plugged into the Micro iDSD, will have the same result :)

    Hope it helps
    Billson :)
  5. ClieOS Contributor
    As BillsonChang007 said, both DX50 and X5 only serves as a transport, thus the SQ is pretty much the same. You can probably use an X3 and still get similar result.
  6. Rob N Contributor
    At last I have mine
  7. Panch0
    Thanks for the replys. I asked because my iPod 7th gen 160gb sounds better to me with my CLAS then a iPod 6th gen 80gb. For now I will stay with dx50 and see how it sounds.

    By the way, my micro iDSD arrived today :)
  8. maricius
    why don't you check whether you can notice a difference between the coaxial from your CLAS compared to the coaxial from your DX50? Even to a greater degree, why don't you see if you can notice a difference between the coaxial out with the CLAS using both iPods? I'd love to see subjective impressions. Enjoy your new toy
  9. MLGrado
    An update after listening for a few more days.  
    The iDSD Micro is so much more resolving of fine detail than the iDSD Nano.  That being the case, with the Nano I really had a hard time hearing differences with the various filters, whether on PCM or DSD, except for what I will note below.  
     Not so with the Micro.  The various filters all make very notable differences, including the DSD filters.  
    On the Nano, you had two options for DSD filtering, Standard and Extended.  I know from my conversations with iFi that the cutoff for the Standard filter is 85khz, the Extended is 185khz.  Note that these cutoffs are for DSD64 only.  The filter cutoff scales along with the bitstream speed.  
    The Micro adds an 'Extreme' setting.  185khz is the highest setting available, though, on the DSD1793 chipset.  I confirmed with iFi that the Micro is still using the standard filter options that are onboard the DSD1793, so I conclude that "Extreme" on the Micro and "Extended" on the Nano are actually the same setting.  The terminology isn't consistent between the two DAC's.  Now I could be wrong, but this does seem to be the case.  
    DSD puts a very high amount of ultrasonic noise into the signal.  Even though we can't hear it, it has a very real effect on the circuitry of our equipment, creating potential issues like intermodulation distortion that folds down from the ultrasonic band into the audible band.  So we need to filter out this noise.   The only problem is, with DSD64 at least, if we want to filter out most of this noise, we need a steep filter that starts to attenuate at the 20khz mark.  Well, this is unacceptable, because it makes our signal really no better than 44khz redbook CD!  We lose all that extra temporal information available in the DSD file.  
    So, any filter we use is going to be a compromise in allowing ultrasonic noise vs resolution.  
    On the Nano, I settled on the standard filter because I thought the Extended allowed too much ultrasonic noise through.  There seemed to be a harshness at the Extended setting.  
    On the Micro, though, I don't really hear the same harshness using the Extended/Extreme filtering.  Maybe just a touch of it, but there seems to be an increase in detail, improved imaging, and overall more life when using the Extreme setting.  Whatever extra touch of harshness there might be from the increased ultrasonics is outweighed by the greater detail, brilliance and overall increase in fidelity.  
    Also, while I believe in break-in for things like headphones, speakers, and maybe Valve electronics, I expect solid-state components to only need proper warmup and minimal run-in to 'settle in'.  But I will say that with the Micro, it does seem to be getting better with time.  Maybe a touch more open and expansive.  
  10. john57
    I noticed that my micro seems to get a bit stronger nowadays. I normally use my Fostex T50RP headphones more or less for testing purposes but I never heard my Fostex sounded so good before on the micro. I have six amps around the house but the micro iDSD takes the cake on the Fostex. The Fostex sounds more flatter and clearer on the micro iDSD.  I am going to retire my Shure 940 headphones. The high frequencies never has been good on it, kind of distorted and peaky. The durability of the headband is not good. I have other headphones to take the Shure place. The micro upscales very well with better headphones.
  11. MLGrado
    Also, I am a huge DSD fan, but the Micro sounds so spectacular on PCM, it is really turning me format agnostic.  
    Makes me wonder if a lot of the fuss over DSD is in response to improperly implemented PCM.  Don't get me wrong, I still love DSD, and it has a certain beautiful quality I find intoxicating.  But it seems that PCM can also take on those 'analog' qualities often associated with DSD.  Maybe it is all in the implementation?  
    Either way, both formats sound excellent on the iDSD Micro.  I am simply enjoying music now, and not worrying so much about format!!  Listening to Daft Punk right now, and it has never sounded better in my desktop system!!
  12. pearljam50000
    What DAC did you try before the micro?
  13. kugino Contributor

    nice. agree with you for the most part. as long as there's no cross-conversion going on, listening to DSD and PCM can both be great. what i love most about DSD and high bitrate PCM is that the mastering that goes into those files seems to much better, therefore leading to better sounding stuff. i love my micro, too...and not worrying so much about format.
  14. john57
    That's been my experience, since they are charging more for the DSD files it better have good mastering to go with it.   I still will buy some CD redbook files since PCM properly done is okay. Looking for the best recording of Arron Copland third Symphony. It is a very inspiring piece and may found it and coming next week. 
    Another advantage of the micro is that you do not have to be as concerned about horsepower from slow laptops to do PCM to DSD real time conversion since there will be less need to do this.
  15. KmanChu
    You are exactly correct. It is harder to build a good PCM dac than a good DSD dac. It's all in the implementation. 
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