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ifi iDSD nano BL - firmware/MQA issues

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  1. Navodar
    I have purchased the ifi nano BL and I am very pleased with the sound it produces as well as the MQA reproduction from Tidal, however there are some serious issues I am facing with it. One should have been told the device does not ship with an MQA compatible firmware and you have to upgrade it first. In doing so, you loose the led indications on the sound quality/rate as well as the full compatibility with Mac (which is very surprising), as the latest firmware is officially only compatible with Windows. Thus you get a very troublesome connectivity to Tidal, which is very unpredictable and the devices often loose connection to each other, so you have to switch off and disconnect the nano to overcome it.
    In addition, playing Masters form Tidal gets you an unmute period (actually volume muted down associated with a funny sound at the end) at the beginning of each new track, lasting for about 2 seconds, which is very annoying. Apparently the nano is trying to identify what is being thrown at it in the beginning of each track. The only other MQA-capable device I have is an Auralic Aries, and it does not behave like this by any means.
    Wonder anyone has had any similar experience when testing it with Tidal Masters.
    It seems to me the firmware needs still some work on till the device really delivers to what it promises or I am doing something really wrong..
  2. Elcapone
    Hey Navodar

    I have the same issue as you do too. I've opened a ticket to iFi to find out if there's anything can be done about it.
    At the time of purchase, mine was at firmware 5.2. I had a go with the firmware updater and downloaded the firmware for 5.3 RC2. After updating the device twice, it strangely still showed at 5.3C. Now the LED indicator stays white, regardless the audio quality that I'm throwing at it. Will update here again if I hear anything from iFi.
  3. Navodar
    Thanks a lot. I have opened such ticket back in november. The communication with support led to nowhere. They confirmed the led will stay white and turns magenta only with Tidal MQA when you follow exactly a process as follows (pasting from their instructions):
    1. Connect the iDSD Nano BL first and switch it on.
    2. Start the TIDAL application.
    3. Set to Master.
    4. Select the iDSD (speakers iFi) as the sound output.
    5. Go to the gear icon next to iFi.
    6. Select Use Exclusive mode and disable Passthrough.
    7. Play MQA file, the LED should change if not and it stays white recheck the sound output as it may have swapped to 'system default'. If it has then reselect iFi.
    My setup works and plays Tidal MQA when following the steps exactly. However the connection between nano and tidal gets often lost and then you have to shut everything, disconnect the nano and restart from scratch. This probably due to the proclaimed Mac incompatibility.
    Back in november they confirmed they are working on a firmware upgrade to get the colours working properly (and I hoped to resolve the Mac compatibility issues). However, all the other issues I have raised, such as the mute period with Tidal MQA has been ignored by them as they believe this is how it should work and I have been suggested to purchase elsewhere if I do not like this... Again, this has been back in november and I have expected they resolve this rather quickly. I was wrong, nothing happened since...
    The nano gets very positive reviews so I was quite surprised how all the reviewers really tested the device without having any issues as those firmware issues render an otherwise excellent device unusable.
    Thanks for updating me on your progress with ifs support.
  4. Elcapone
    Yes, I just received the same instructions from iFi to troubleshoot the issue (http://support.ifi-audio.com/kb/faq.php?id=787).

    Regardless if the passthrough is enabled or not, my unit's LED will not change to magenta and stays white all the time.
    I use it both on my Windows laptop and Mac Air and experience the same thing as you are too, so the issue doesn't seem to be restricted to Macs alone.
    The only time the LED works to show the different bitrates, was when it was on the original firmware 5.2, which I think I will go back to.
  5. Navodar
    Well, let it have another try. Close Tidal first (on Mac you need to righthclick and close, so it shuts really). On Mac look for Midi Audio and try to set the ifi bitrate to the max (384k). IF this is possible, try to change the bitrate to something else. IF you can do this, get back to 384k and then start Tidal and check the streaming settings. If they are on ifi, try to play a Tidal Master file. If this works, LED should be magenta. If not, close Tidal, switch off the nano and disconnect its cable from the mac. Then connect it back and switch it on, check on the Midi Audio and only then start Tidal. It should work now. At least for me this double starting always works. I have been thinking about going back to 5.2 but ifi did not confirm this is possible. Ask them first. I will stay on this buggy version as I am using the unit exclusively with Tidal Master/MQA and I will try to survive till they resolve it.
    Anyhow, it is really a pain and seems they really shipped the product with unfinished firmware. Very odd. Wonder nobody complains really. Perhaps all the head-fiers do rather not so they get loaners to test in future from ifi...
  6. sciman111
    Has anyone heard from ifi regarding the firmware upgrade that will add osx compatibility. I was bummed to find out the FW version that adds MQA supports is incompatible with osx.
  7. Navodar
    I have received nothing so far. Pretty annoying, latest FW is dated back in november...
  8. sciman111
    Thanks for the update!

    That's unfortunate but I'm not surprised. I ordered from Amazon so I guess I'll just wait and see what happens between now and the end of my return period.
  9. Navodar
    Big news! Finally! iFi released a new unified FW version for the whole iDSD nano family. Its available for download from iFi web site at https://ifi-audio.com/nano-idsd-bl-xmos-firmware/
    AT first glance FW 5.30 works with my mac setup. When playing Tidal hi-fi you get a green LED and when playing master you get magenta! It seems they also made changes to the mute/unmute problem when playing master files. The transition between songs is far better blended and though there is still a short mute period t seems far less annoying now.
  10. parabellum777
    I´ve installed the new updated firmware in my iDSD BL, but I´m not able to get the magenta color. The colors I get are green or yellow depending on the 48kHz or 96kHz master albums. Magenta color is supposed to be reserved for DSD512 quality files. How can we get the magenta color with Tidal?
  11. gto88
    cool upgrade from iFi, will try this tonight.
    I have pro-ject S2 digital which I tested with MQA file without issue.
  12. vo_obgyn
    Same thing with my micro IDSD (non Black Label). I turned in a support ticket at iFi support. Magenta LED not showing up with MQA files.
  13. Navodar
    Well, try to follow the steps as above EXACTLY. I mean EXACTLY. Also you heave to set the streaming options correctly. See the attached screenshot how. It is quite confusing as the checkbox for "Passthrough MQA" works kind of opposite way than one would think at first glance...
  14. Navodar
    Well I do not think micro iDSD supports MQA...
  15. Navodar
    After some more listening after the upgrade seems the connectivity on Mac is still troublesome. One still has to follow the right switch-on order and if sorting goes wrong one has to close Tidal, switch off the nano, completely disconnect it (mean fron the cable) and then start from scratch by connecting it back, switching it on and only then starting Tidal...
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