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iFi Micro iDSD Black Label Rigs vs. Schitt stacks and Others......???

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by Condocondor, Jun 15, 2018.
  1. Condocondor
    Wanted to start a thread about iFi's Micro iDSD Black Label rigs vs. various Schitt stacks and other "All-in-one" units. I know many people have made these comparisons over the years, but my Black Label is "tricked out" and I'm starting to wonder: "How much better does desktop stacks get than my "portable" rig? How much money do I have to spend to get anything appreciably better?" I'm using the Sennheiser HD6XX open headphones. My rig improved considerably with iFi's iPURIFIER2. Then I added an iFi iGALVANIC3.0 and whoa! Then I added iFi's iDefender and iPower which made very little difference. I'm still using the standard blue USB cable that came with the unit. I upgraded the firmware of the Black Label which gives MQA capability which I use to stream TIDAL MASTERS w/MQA.

    My God! How much better does it get? Enlighten me Head-fi people.

    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  2. phthora
    Oh, man. I have some conflicted feelings about even responding to this. This is like when your wife asks you, "do you think I'm the prettiest woman in the world?" So, I'm tempted to just respond the same way. I love my Black Label, I want to spend the rest of my life with it, and it's the prettiest to me.

    "The **** you mean 'to me?'"


    Okay, seriously now. The Black Label is peerless when it comes to quality sound and incredible versatility. It's the consummate jack-of-all-trades, but also master of several. I use the thing in so many different spots in my audio chain, it's sort of silly. And that bass boost has been the difference in more than one case between selling a headphone and keeping it. However, it is not perfect.

    What you can improve by going desktop AIO or stack is resolution, soundstage and imaging, treble and bass extension, dynamism/impact, neutrality, and control. Those are, to me, the areas where the iFi comes up just a little short. The extras you've chosen to trick out your BL seem mostly to reduce distortion in various ways, which may in turn help improve the areas that I mentioned over stock. However, my desktop AIO, Audio-gd 28.38, is simply and markedly better in all those areas. It's a very noticeable, very immediate improvement. Additionally, my Onkyo DP-X1 and iBasso P5 combo are also better than the BL in a few ways. Both set-ups were about $1000. I think that's about the number for a definite, non-subjective, noticeable improvement over the BL in terms of a DAC/amp combo. Maybe $800, as the Questyle CMA400i has been getting rave reviews. But, if you're looking for a big improvement in sound, it's not going to be cheap.
    Condocondor likes this.
  3. Condocondor
    No, I appreciate your candid-ness. This is WHY I started the thread. I've NOT heard a lot of other headphone equipment. I've heard plenty of high-end stereo equipment but I don't know headphone equipment too well. I wasn't fishing for compliments. The Black Label, tricked out, does take the SQ up a whole other level for sure--maybe even 2 levels. So, I'm thinking, "What the hell would be my upgrade path? What would I buy? And how much would I need to spend to get an appreciably better sound? Would a Bimby/Lyr3 stack do it? Or is this NOT enough of an upgrade? I suspect many Black Label owners sold out before trying to trick their units out--it appears to scale very, very, well. I'm already at the $1000 mark now so....... Heading over to Audio-gd websight now.....
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  4. phthora
    The Bimby/Lyr3 would likely be a better combo, but the most obvious area for improving the sound of the BL is in the resolution, extension, and clarity. So, it would be a better move, I think, to invest in something known for those attributes, especially if you want to continue to use the BL.

    However, the best piece of advice I can give you is to try to find a local store, local meet-up, local people where you can try new equipment, any new equipment. Expand your knowledge base as much as possible. As with anything, you have to develop your palate as you move up the chain in quality. A lot of the improvements that the equipment offers may not be readily noticeable, especially as you upgrade things that are already very good. And, of course, you will develop different priorities regarding what makes good sound good.
    Condocondor likes this.
  5. riso1983
    Pre Box S2 Digital vs ifi idsd bl ≥≤ sound quality compared?? Need to buy something like that for my friend max 400usd. No separated solutions he need aio. Thank you, I will appreciate your help.
  6. FangJoker
    I have had audio gd products before and I liked them more than schitt. I think you would find a big improvement in changing headphones. I started off with the hd650 a long time ago and found that while it is good for the price, there are much better offerings out there if your budget allows for it. Just staying under the 1k mark can get you something way better.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
    phthora likes this.
  7. Condocondor
    I've owned the $1100 Beyerdynamic T5p.2 which has a lot more clarity and firmer bass. I've listened to the horrible $1500 AKG K812. So, I've not explored the planer magnetic variety. Honestly, all-in-all, the HD650 while not doing anything particularly excellent, is just a nice all-around that I seem to be able to live with. It's not the money. I understand that the HD650 scales very well with better DAC and AMPs. I've not heard Schitt equipment. The iFi equipment that I've got is now operating at a very high level with all the USB decrapifiers I've got in the chain. I'm trying to find people that have had iFi equipment in the past--that have jumped ship to the Schitt Products. How much did they have to spend? How much better did it get? I believe I'll have to do the 15-day trial with Schitt products and compare myself. Hope the Schitt people are patient with me.
  8. FangJoker
    I've had the older versions of the gungnir and valhalla and didn't like it compared to audio-gd or the original hugo. Maybe take a look at the massdrop x focal elear headphones? I've heard lots of good things about the multibit versions of the dacs so you might want to at least check those out and they have a free 15 day refund window. The hd650 was just too slow for me. I listen to rock music most of the time and it sounded too muddy down low and in the mids for me. I haven't tried the 660, but that might be a better option unless the 6xx is doing it for you. I hope you find what you're looking for. I'm just not a fan of the hd650 or ifi and schiit.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2018
    Condocondor likes this.
  9. Condocondor
    I've been checking audio-gd out. Still researching.
  10. notorious4163
    hey question guys can someone please help me out

    i have the black label i got an ipurfier3 for my micro bl (type A right?) and the guy also sold me a pear stone super speed usb 3.0 A/Male to B/Male cable that actually connects to the ipurify which connects to the imicro.

    is this cable just as good as the blue stock cable? (the blue stock cable doesn’t fit into the ipurify which is why i got the black cable

    my questions are 1) is the picture i’m uploading the correct setup for just the ifi purifer3.0?

    2) do i really need the galvanic3.0. what does it do? is it only for people who use their amps on their computer or to improve sound on their computer?? i’m so confused as to what this machine is. does it make the micro dsd bl sound better and does it come with the blue cable that attaches to the purifier?
  11. notorious4163
    is this right?

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