iFi iPurifier 2 - Reviews, Impressions and Discussion Thread
Oct 18, 2015 at 6:06 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 587

Turrican2

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Thought I'd kick off a dedicated thread for this little beauty. I was lucky enough to win this over on the iFi iUSB3.0 thread
 
 
 

 
 

 

 

 
I have a Schiit stack connected to my PC, a Modi DAC and Magni class AB amp.  I play Hi-Res tracks quite happily through my HE-500 phones.  I figured this would be as good a test as anything for the iPurifier 2.
 
The device itself is very robust and well engineered. As you can see from the photos it's fairly discrete. There are a couple of indicator lights for Power and Sound signal. Apparently the device also comes with a range of connector options.  I have the USB-B but it comes in A, C and Micro B also (according to the box)
 
I've got to say, I really wasn't expecting much, if any improvement in the audio quality from my Schiit stack as it is a fairly silent and quite revealing setup. 
 
For my test I fired up one of my most familiar and favourite test albums, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac (in 24/96 from HD Tracks - the max the Modi can handle) and listened to the first few tracks a few times.
 
I then added the iPurifier to the chain.  Again, I listened to the first few tracks.  At first I didn't really notice too much of a difference, until I got to the second track, Dreams.  The splash cymbal at the beginning caught me by surprise a little, it seemed more sustained and cleaner than I remembered.  I looped this part of the track a few times, removed the iPurifier and repeated.  Sure enough, I can tell the difference pretty easily.  After a few hours of listening with the ipurifier attached, I've decided it's staying put in this setup.  To my ears it makes a good difference to the general soundstage (width especially) and overall clarity of the sound. I like it!
 
Oct 18, 2015 at 11:47 AM Post #2 of 587

technobear

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Aha, an iPurifier2 thread :cool:

Here is what I wrote a couple of days ago over on the iUSB3.0 thread:

OK, yesterday evening I got to spend a few hours with and without the iPurifier 2.

Your wallets are going to hate this (and we don't even know the price yet).

Does it make a difference? Oh yes.

I'm not very good at flowery hi-fi speak and review writing so I've had to think quite hard how to describe the differences. It's not night and day. The differences are subtle but once heard, it's hard to go back.

I suppose I should list the system:


Acer Aspire V11 fanless laptop running Windows 8.1 and foobar2000.

Kimber USB 1.5m

iFi Audio micro iDSD

Krystal Kables Prism 0.3m

iFi Audio micro iCAN (with iPower)

Beyerdynamic T1


I started with the legendary Danny Gatton and a number called Red Label. There's a lot going on in this track - guitars, trumpets, saxophone, drums including a nice drum solo, lots of tinkly cymbals. I played this track about 20 times with and without the iPurifier2 to get a good sense of what it was doing.

The first thing I noticed, I can best describe as a sort of relaxation or calmness. This is noticeable on all the tracks I played and from pretty much the opening note. I don't know how else to describe it. It's kind of like I'm stealing myself against a slight roughness that is no longer present and then relax as soon as that becomes evident.

The second thing I noticed was on the saxophone, though I discovered after that it also applies to the trumpets and to voices on other tracks. A slight tendency to 'shout' is revealed by its absence with the iPurifier2. I'd never noticed this before but now it's gone, the sound is much more natural and easier to listen to, less fatiguing.

Thirdly on this track, there is something going on with those tinkly cymbals. Hard to describe it but they just sound a tiny bit more resolved.

Finally, the drum hits hit harder and faster and there is more going on in the impact of drumstick on skin. It's like I'm much closer to the sound. Less like a reproduction and more like the drum is in my head.

So, better timing, less shout, better resolution and a slight veil of roughness removed.

Then I played Fade to Black by Dire Straits...

Now this is a nice recording that I have always enjoyed from the superb capture of Mark Knopler's voice to the tinkly cymbals and brushed drums. It has always sounded good like a good recording should. Not so with the iPurifier2. It no longer sounds like a good recording of Mark Knopler. It now sounds like Mark Knopfler is standing two feet away from me. The extra texture in his voice is very obvious and makes for an eerily real presentation. Take out the iPurifier2 and it goes back to being just a recording.

I played a lot of other tracks and the same thoughts emerged. I deliberately played some rough tracks to see what would happen. I've always found Kashmir by Led Zepellin a tad rough on the ears. The iPurifier2 does a great job of cleaning this up. It even makes Drenge sound good. In fact they sound awesome.

Timing has also improved as well across the board but particularly noticeable on Burn by Deep Purple. Oh joy! Best I've heard that track I think.

After roaming my collection for a little while it dawned on me that I hadn't listened to any female singers. On went Eve Cassidy and Stormy Monday (from Live At Blues Alley). Oh - my - God. Amazing! Just amazing!

If this iPurifier2 was on demo, it would not be going back. It would appear that iFi have hit the ball right out of the park again.
 
Oct 18, 2015 at 11:49 AM Post #3 of 587

technobear

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I thought I would see how much of the effect of the iPurifier2 can still be heard with an Arcam rPAC and an Audio Technica ATH-M50 and ATH-MSR7.


Well, this turned out to be quicker than I thought it would be. This was mainly because the sound from the M50 and MSR7 was so dull and boring compared to the T1 that I couldn't concentrate on it and my mind kept wandering onto more interesting things. The MSR7 is better than the M50 but with both of these phones the treble is largely missing in action. Cymbals fade to the back of the mix and are obscured most of the time. I tried with the rPAC and with the iFi but gave up after a short time. Basically if you have headphones of this calibre, forget iPurifier2 and start saving for better headphones because you aren't really going to hear what the iPurifier2 brings to the party.

As for the Arcam rPAC, the iPurifier2 does improve it but to a lesser degree than the iDSD. How do I know this given the Audio Technicas were so bad. Well I plugged the T1 into the rPAC using a short adaptor cable. The rPAC actually makes a fair fist of driving the T1 although it sounds a bit dull and boring compared to the iFi as you might expect. The relaxation/calmness phenomenon I mentioned earlier when testing with the iFi was absent on the rPAC. Nor was there any noticeable change in the treble. However I could hear the change in Mark Knopler's vocal texture when adding the iPurifier2 and the drum skins vibrating was more resolved. Otherwise I think I was up against the resolving limits of the rPAC.

So the iPurifier2 does improve the rPAC slightly but quite honestly I think you should be buying a higher calibre of DAC than this before worrying about the iPurifier2 - and you will need high grade headphones too. Think of it as the icing on the cake. If you ice a lousy cake, it's still a lousy cake just with icing.

I think I might need a better travelling can. The MSR7s aren't really doing it in the way I'd hoped they would. Better than the M50 but still not good enough.

Perhaps I'd better listen to the DT1770's :D
 
Oct 18, 2015 at 11:57 AM Post #5 of 587

technobear

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Today I posted some more thoughts on the other thread before realising this one was here so:

technobear said:
The iPurifier2 on the other hand is continuing to impress. Given the previous experience with Led Zeppelin's Kashmir - which I recall was even a tough listen on my first decent vinyl system back in 1976 - I thought I would dig out a few more tracks of music I love but find it hard to listen to for very long or very loud.

Some of you may be familiar with Derek Vincent Smith aka. Pretty Lights. I love his music but I only have it in MP3 (320k) and have always found it a bit harsh to listen to. I want to turn it up but then I want to turn it straight back down again. I am happy to say that the iPurifier2 performs its magic superbly on this material. One of my favourite tracks is Wrong Platform from the album Taking Up Your Precious Time. This features high screechy violins about a minute in that are like nails on a blackboard - or at least they were. Now with iPurifier2 they are just violins. Now I can turn it up and enjoy it properly!

I wish there were some way to add this to the stereo in the car as I listen to Pretty Lights a lot while driving.

Another brilliant track but hard to listen to as loud as it deserves is On Her Majesty's Secret Service by David Arnold and The Propellerheads from David's album Shaken and Stirred. The brass instruments on this track can be quite harsh and make your ears flinch - or at least they could before. Are you sensing a pattern here? :D

Something else I noticed on that particular track is that the boogie-factor is significantly higher with the iPurifier2.

I was so impressed with what I was hearing through the headphones that I thought I would crank up my ancient speaker system which is mostly used for TV watching. It currently consists of a pair of 25 year old Rogers LS4a and a 35 year old Sansui R50 receiver (and a second micro iDSD). I wasn't expecting much but slap me sideways with a wet kipper the iPurifier2 worked its magic here too. This ancient system really shouldn't sound this good. I think I only paid £20 for the Sansui and the speakers weren't much more.

The iPurifier2 definitely gets the technobear seal of approval.
 
Oct 18, 2015 at 12:04 PM Post #6 of 587

technobear

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I want to say a bit more about what I previously described as a slight tendency to shout or shoutiness.

This manifests in different ways on different instruments and on voices - or at least it did as the iPurifier2 practically eliminates it.

On voices it comes across as a slightly nasal quality and as a graininess.

On brass it comes across as a harsh glare.

On violins it is a screech or squeal and that also applies to female vocals.

It is a slight effect but it gives the music a slightly rough quality that makes it a little tiring to listen.

With the iPurifier2 it's as if all the musicians in my music collection have upgraded their instruments - and their voices.

Sorry I'm sounding a bit like a marketing department here but I am really enjoying what I'm hearing :cool:
 
Oct 18, 2015 at 1:44 PM Post #8 of 587

technobear

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Is there any advantage in using this if you have the IUSB3.0?


That remains to be seen. I have an iUSB3.0 here at the moment which is quietly playing to itself at the moment. I shall no doubt have something to say about it soon.
 
Oct 18, 2015 at 3:36 PM Post #10 of 587

Turrican2

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Wondering this too as the iUSB3.0 marketing speak says it does the same things as the iPurufier2 and more...


Ditto - please share your thoughts one you have formed some impressions technobear, if the ipurifier2 has a pretty decent effect on the audio, I'm thinking the iusb3.0 might soon join my other ifi components....
 
Oct 20, 2015 at 10:27 AM Post #13 of 587

rickyleelee

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as AMR iFI said on another forum, if you got $4k DAC,then go for USB3.0. But if it were me and I have both, as I can't afford that kind of DAC, I spent my money on the ipurifier two along with my original iUSB. But the extra benefit of the iUSB3.0 is the extra features like supercharger and adding a hard drive into the chain.
 
Oct 20, 2015 at 4:07 PM Post #14 of 587

technobear

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Finally I have something to say about the iUSB3.0.

Here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/781064/micro-iusb3-0-appreciation-thread/45#post_12009191

:cool:
 

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