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  1. #1

    iFi iDAC Has anyone purchased one?

    I am looking to purchase a DAC in the under $300 range for following uses:
    XPS laptop (stream MOG)>DAC>Perreaux SXH1 (headphone amp)>HD650
    XPS laptop>DAC (stream MOG)>Denon AVR3806> Revel Concerta F12 speakers
    Denon DVD 1920>DAC>Perreaux SXH1 (headphone amp)>HD650

    As you can see, I do not have high-end or 'audiophile' equipment. I have been looking at the Audioquest Dragonfly, standalone ODAC and Audioengine D1, but now that I've come across the iDAC, I will definitely add that to the list. I will mainly stream music from MOG and play CD's. For my use, here are my concerns/thoughts:

    Dragonfly ($270 w/Dragontail):
    Although I am not a 'road warrior' and will use at home, I'm leery about the durability. If I purchased, I would purchase the Dragontail and velcro the bottom of the Dragonfly and attach the DF to something stable and mobile for use next to my listening/reading chair and attach to shelve of audio system when using AVR. I know that it has received great reviews and is on the CASH list. I like that it uses analog volume control. 24/96 is probably fine for me.

    Odac ($159 w/RCA's):
    Love the price and it also receives good reviews. For me, what is most important is how something sounds to me, not whether you can check off all of the 'required' or 'newest' tech options. Thus, I'm not as concerned as some that NwAvGuy uses a 'minimalist' approach. If the Odac does not have a trial period (I need to check w/ various retailers), I will not be able A/B the DF and Odac. Has anyone compared the DF, Odac and/or Audioengine D1? Is the volume control analog?

    Audioengine D1 ($169):
    I believe most who have done comparisons between DF and D1, prefer the DF. However, the D1 accepts an optical input, thus I could run my Denon DV1920 through the D1 either to my headphone amp or AVR. However, as I will stream music from MOG quite a bit, I'll be giving up sound quality if the D1 is not as good as the others. They do have a 30 day trial, though.

    iDAC ($299):
    Looks very intriguing, but as it is so new, there are very few reviews and I have not come across any comparisons. Though I may not need or use 24/192 that much, it is nice having that capability. Like the DF, volume control is analog. Another potential consideration is that I will probably pick up the iUSB sometime in the future, and maybe upgrade my amp (iCAN???) and assume they will all work well together. I have a hunch that the iDAC will be just as good, if not better than the DF, and hope that there is a trial period.

    Any and all thoughts, suggestions and tips will be appreciated.

    TIA,

    Dino
    Senn HD 650, Perreaux Sihoutte SXH1 amp
    Dell XPS 8100 Realtek HD Audio SC w/ Tru Studio PC software (Creative/THX) & Dell XPS laptop, Swann D1080 Mk II speakers
    Denon AVR 3806, Denon DVD 1920, Revel Concerta F12 speakers, Monster HTS 3500 Mk II and various cables.

  2. #2
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    Dino, I will let you know when my pal gives me feedback. In the meantime, see his feedback below on the iPhono. Later I will post links to reviews on the iDac which you can find on the iFi Audio facebook page!

    "I followed up on your mention of the ifi products and did some checking.

    The result is that I bought the i-phono. It arrived last Friday and, cold out of the box, it was unimaginably better than any phono stage I’ve ever had.

    I exchanged a series of e-mails with Vince Luke at AMR regarding my assessment. I had met Vince and Thorsten when they visited the Boston area several years ago and was fortunate enough to have lunch with them and then talk for several hours. Thorsten is the engineer at AMR; Vince is the marketer.

    This thing is truly amazing and brings LP significantly past my current CD replay. It is the only phono stage I’ve ever heard which is dead silent.

    I’ve been using my $5000.00 Auditorium 23 T-1 Homage step-up transformer for a number of years now. This allows me to connect my Miyajima Shilabe MC cartridge (< 0.3 mv output) to the MM inputs of a preamp and only apply 40 dB of gain. Despite doing this, background phono noise has always been vastly noisier than that of CD.

    Now, I can run the Shilabe directly into the i-phono, apply 66 dB of gain, and get a background noise level which is the same as the background noise level of my CD inputs!!! No analog guy, including me, would ever believe that without hearing (or not hearing) it. Even then, it still seems impossible.

    Extreme transparency, thunderous dynamics, unmatched timbre, positively spooky imaging and spatial cues, etc. etc.!!! I could go on and on but you get the idea. All of this for less than $400.00 is incomprehensible. Anybody making and selling phono stages should be afraid; very, very, afraid.

    For reference: My Shindo Vosne-Romanee with the Homage T-1 step-up together retail for over $25.000.00. The i-phono plus W4S STP-SE retail for less than $$2400.00. How’s that?? Less than one tenth the price and unimaginably, pricelessly better!!

    It’s so good I ordered another one before they come to their senses price / performance-wise. In addition, I got an i-USB and an i-DAC at, I think, ~$300 each."

  3. #3
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    Deletion of duplicate.
    Last edited by wisnon; 12-15-2012 at 03:57 PM. Reason: Deletion of duplicate post.

  4. #4
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    iFi Audio Micro iDac / iUSBPower REVIEW
    ========
    iFi Audio Special – Amazing New Brand! « Audio Elevation Blog
    ===============
    We just received this from one of our distributors:

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    This is from the Vice President of the XXXXXXXX Audiophile Society. He wanted to try the iDAC and then bring it to the society meeting for some comparisons. I thought you might enjoy his comments:

    "I have been critically listening for a couple of hours...

    Holy sh!t. This thing blows away the sub-$500 competition. Wipes it. The myDAC (dull, very poor USB handling) is not on the same planet, nor is Dragonfly (a bit dark and muddles complex material).

    The closest that I have in this category is the ESI stuff.

    (I'd love to hear that 777 - never have.)

    Brilliant.

    Greetings XXXXX

    PS If those fancy USB cables can make this iDAC sound better...

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    XXX - Names have been omitted to protect the privacy of those involved.

    ========================
    A review: IUSB Power - panhead - Computer Audio Asylum

    ============================
    Joe Adler and friends did an extended evaluation of the iDac. He writes:

    We compared the iDAC to the Lindemann, Wavelength, and AMR CD-77. The results were interesting... We spent 5 hours listening to all of these DACs but our main focus was on the new iDAC from iFi Audio.

    Our conclusion was that the iDAC is a transformative device with the ability to convert a humble computer into a wonderful music player. It proves to us that you don't need to spend megabucks to hear good music. Nor do you have to put up with edgy sound to hear detail, as the iDAC's high resolution is accompanied by silky smooth transitions and rich tones. The sound stage is bold, open and deep.

    In Bellini's "Norma" we heard the soprano walk in front of the alto while they both sang. In Patricia Barber's "Winter" we finally discovered that the strange sound that accompanied her, the piano and the bass, was the finger slide on the bass fret, not a plaintive cricket. And to top it off, China Forbes' tongue clicking start to "Una Notte a Napoli" suggested we run for cover lest be drenched in saliva.

    This not to claim that this little device bested AMR's CD 77 or the Wavelength Cosecant, far from it. But to get into that league you really do have to spend megabucks.

    ==================================

    This was orginally originally posted below and on the wall.

    We are re-publishing this so it can get the attention it deserves, thank you Joe and Felicity Adler for your help.


    iUSB - Fantastico in Italy!

    Marco from bella italia comments:

    “Ok, let's say I wasn't expecting too much from the iUSB. I connected it yesterday night and what I was hearing, I have to say, surprised me.

    I am not suggestible, I don't believe in gold-plated usb cables or better sounding hard disks but with the iUSB, everything seemed more focused just as it is in the picture on the box, well, maybe not that much! But it was clearly audible.

    I found better highs and lows, I wasn't aware that PC usb power was so bad.”

    System shown:

    Shuttle PC as a source,
    Wyred for sound dac 2 (via USB)
    Primaluna pemium pre-amplifier
    Primaluna prologue seven power-amplifier
    Magnepan MG12QR Speakers

    Grazie mille, Marco! Auguri.
    =========================
    iFi iDac customer review posted on on douban.com:

    “iFi iDAC is the only USB DAC that is under RMB 10,000 (USD 1,500) which I have encountered that can completely outclass the internal DAC from the MacBook Pro.

    For music lovers, iFi iDAC is the simplest way to upgrade our computer music source.”
    ==========================

    Felicity Adler **As per my father, on whose behalf I posted this photo: We spent 5 hours listening to all of these DACs but our main focus was on the new iDAC from Ifi Audio.

    Our conclusion was that the iDAC is a transformative device with the ability to convert a humble computer into a wonderful music player. It proves to us that you don't need to spend megabucks to hear good music. Nor do you have to put up with edgy sound to hear detail, as the iDAC's high resolution is accompanied by silky smooth transitions and rich tones. The sound stage is bold, open and deep. In Bellini's "Norma" we heard the soprano walk in front of the alto while they both sang. In Patricia Barber's "Winter" we finally discovered that the strange sound that accompanied her, the piano and the bass, was the finger slide on the bass fret, not a plaintive cricket. And to top it off, China Forbes' tongue clicking start to "Una Notte a Napoli" suggested we run for cover lest be drenched in saliva.

    This not to claim that this little device bested AMR's CD 77 or the Wavelength Cosecant, far from it. But to get into that league you really do have to spend megabucks.
    December 6 at 7:15am · Edited · Like

    ===================


    Audition: iFi Audio iPhono
    The Yumcha Diaries 飲茶後記 : 24-11-2012

    New Kid on the Block
    iFi Audio, a spin-off of UK's AMR, has been making waves all over at hifi shows, thanks to its comprehensive range of affordable, attractive and rather ingenious "Micro" components (the Micro range).

    The ironic thing is parent company AMR is still rather unknown in the US, and certainly now eclipsed by its offspring!

    In Hong Kong, the dealer is Avantgarde, and you may recall that that was where I first encountered AMR's top Reference components (link here). As I wrote in that article, I was delighted that the man behind AMR is none but Thorsten Loesch, an old internet friend (I have yet to meet him) whom I respect immensely. My delight was further heightened when I found this Interview with iFi/Thorsten Loesch when I was researching (yes, I research extensively before I write anything)!

    iFi iPhono
    The iFi Micro range comprises several components, some of which, like the iUSBPower has garnered much attention, but the one that by far arouses me most is the phonoamp, the iPhono (Detailed Official Info), which boasts Decca and Columbia equalization curves (trickled down from AMR flagship), and that is revolutionary at this price! Think about this, a specific equalization curve card from hi-end Boulder or FM Acoustics would cost you many many times the price of this phonoamp! The handsome unit is powered by a switch-mode universal power supply, with regulation built in.


    Audition at the Dealer
    After the day's yumcha, I listened to the iFi Phono at the dealer, and here I thank the impeccable professionalism and service of sales manager Tony. It was used in a smaller room, partnered by components that cost way way more. :-)

    Analog: TW Acustics Raven One - SME V - Benz Micro Ruby
    Phonoamp: iFi iPhono
    Amp: AMR AM-777
    Speakers: YG Acoustics Carmel


    A brief comment on the setup Now, this is NOT a cheap setup! Aside from the iPhono, the "cheapest" thing is AMR's integrated amp, from its Premiere series (one rung down from Reference series). The turntable is of known quality, and the use of the warm Benz Micro I think is a cunning move to balance the "whiter" sound of the YG loudspeaker and perhaps even the solid state AMR electronics. You may be interested in a review of the AMR amp. This is not necessarily a setup for a tube aficionado like me, but it has its merits.


    I have to say the sound was a just a trifle "white" for me, but I know that is the sound here, from previous experience. The important thing is, the system is able to tell what is what. From the start, it was clear the sound was clean and detailed. Although a trifle "white", in no way was the sound cutting or offensive, and the whole of the recordings were laid out before us. The coveted Muddy Waters (an Original Master pressing) was ultra clean and bass was tight and well defined, though some swagger (very important) was missing. Oistrakh's EMI re-issue is often a challenge on the ears, but here it was quite acceptable. Like Waters, Jennifer Warnes' voice was on the spot, though, again, a bit cool.

    Tony's Contraption: Symposium devices under and magazines on top!


    Tony effused over the iFi gears, and started to tweak them for us. First, he installed Symposium isolation devices under the iPhono, then put some magazines on top. Surely, the sound benefited, resulting in a sturdier and more textured sound.

    At this point, after some extrapolation I became convinced of the device's merit, and promptly ordered one (eh...to be honest, I had decided to buy one before I walked in! :-)). When I take shipment, I shall have it tested by two friends and then myself, and of course report further.

    ================
    iFi iUSBPower: Taking the Audioquest Dragonfly DAC Up A Notch | AudioStream

    =================
    Clarity cable: We took the iDac and iUSB to a friends house. He has a serious system with a custom music server and a very respected DAC. The sound from that iFi combo came scary close to his high end DAC.

  5. #5
    Winson,

    Thanks. I had read most of the reviews/snippets online and on the facebook page, but not all that you listed. Online, there are definitely more reviews of the iUSB than iDAC. Hopefully, some more iDAC reviews will start showing up. It will be interesting to see how it compares to the Dragonfly, which is on the CASH list. Hopefully, some of those who purchased and reviewed the DF will be able to get their hands on an iDAC to do some comparisons. It sounds like iFi and Audioquest have somewhat similar desires/marketing approaches (i.e., bring more affordable high-quality products to the 'masses') which is great for all consumers.
    Senn HD 650, Perreaux Sihoutte SXH1 amp
    Dell XPS 8100 Realtek HD Audio SC w/ Tru Studio PC software (Creative/THX) & Dell XPS laptop, Swann D1080 Mk II speakers
    Denon AVR 3806, Denon DVD 1920, Revel Concerta F12 speakers, Monster HTS 3500 Mk II and various cables.

  6. #6
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    The iDac seems to be an overachiever...when people compare it to the AMR stuff that says a lot!

  7. #7
    I contacted iFi Micro via email on Saturday afternoon and received a reply back on Sunday. Very prompt, to say the least. FWIW, herewith were my questions and the replies.

    1. I have a Perreaux SXH1 headphone amp (which may end up being replaced with the iCAN). Can I feed the Perreaux with the iDAC? If yes:
    a. How should I do this in terms of adjusting volume?
    Yes, you can use the iDAC with the SXH1 using the line output of the iDAC. Use the volume control on the SXH1.
    Would I set the volume on the iDAC to maximum?
    The volume control on the iDAC is for the headphone output, the line output is always at full volume for best sonic.
    2. Is volume control analog or digital?
    Analog, but for headphone output only.
    3. Where can I purchase an iDAC in the US? Is it only available from Avatar Acoustics
    Very good question. Avatar is our distributor in the US, we have many dealers in the the US too, the dealers' info will be posted on the ifi-audio.com early next week
    They already added some retailers on the website. It looks like they are using retailers who offer AMR products. This makes sense in that they already have agreements in place with those retailers. I would imagine they will expand the retail list to include quasi-audiophile retailers in order to reach a larger market of potential customers.
    Senn HD 650, Perreaux Sihoutte SXH1 amp
    Dell XPS 8100 Realtek HD Audio SC w/ Tru Studio PC software (Creative/THX) & Dell XPS laptop, Swann D1080 Mk II speakers
    Denon AVR 3806, Denon DVD 1920, Revel Concerta F12 speakers, Monster HTS 3500 Mk II and various cables.

  8. #8
    Just received my iDAC today. Fred Crane of Stereodesk was nice enough to send me an iCAN to check out. Well, not sure how nice that was, as my guess is that I'll end up buying it as well. Here are a few pics. I won't be able to really listen to these units for a few days, but I'll give my impressions (FWIW, as the iDAC will be my first outboard DAC) asap. As noted on the iUSB thread, the packaging is nice and the units look very nice.

    ican-and-idac.1.jpg
    ican-and-idac.2.jpg
    1-inch-wide.jpg
    Senn HD 650, Perreaux Sihoutte SXH1 amp
    Dell XPS 8100 Realtek HD Audio SC w/ Tru Studio PC software (Creative/THX) & Dell XPS laptop, Swann D1080 Mk II speakers
    Denon AVR 3806, Denon DVD 1920, Revel Concerta F12 speakers, Monster HTS 3500 Mk II and various cables.

  9. #9
    Sawdin,

    Please let us know your impressions on both iDAC and iCAN. I am interested in both of them.

    DF disappointed me by giving up its soul after very short usage. It died after 3 weeks. It wasn't able to drive my HD650.
    @Home: AIFF > LaCie Rikiki 2.5" USB3 > MBP 15" 8GB RAM / Audirvana Plus > ifi iUSBPower > Bel Canto mLink > Bel Canto e.One DAC2.5 > Wyred 4 SX-1000 > Wilson Audio Sophia II
    @Work: ALAC > LaCie Rikiki 2.5" > DELL laptop > JDS LABS OBJECTIVEDAC (ODAC) > JDS LABS C421 > Sennheiser Momentum or Sennheiser HD650 or Sennheiser HD25

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Dj View Post
    Sawdin,

    Please let us know your impressions on both iDAC and iCAN. I am interested in both of them.

    DF disappointed me by giving up its soul after very short usage. It died after 3 weeks. It wasn't able to drive my HD650.
    Died? How? I hope you were able to return it.

    Just looked at the DF page at audioquest but I did not find any specs. The HD650's have a nominal impedance of 300 ohm. Here's a nice blog post by NwAvGuy (i.e., the guy who designed the ODAC) on Headphones and impedance, and here's one on Dacs and Amps.
    Senn HD 650, Perreaux Sihoutte SXH1 amp
    Dell XPS 8100 Realtek HD Audio SC w/ Tru Studio PC software (Creative/THX) & Dell XPS laptop, Swann D1080 Mk II speakers
    Denon AVR 3806, Denon DVD 1920, Revel Concerta F12 speakers, Monster HTS 3500 Mk II and various cables.

  11. #11
    It started cutting the sound and died. I haven't return it yet. I have to create a file on Audioquest site to get an RMA and then ship it and wait until they send me a new one. (Pain)

    Thanks for the links. I actually bought a C421 amp and was thinking of adding the ODAC to it for mobile use. The ODAC is not async though.
    @Home: AIFF > LaCie Rikiki 2.5" USB3 > MBP 15" 8GB RAM / Audirvana Plus > ifi iUSBPower > Bel Canto mLink > Bel Canto e.One DAC2.5 > Wyred 4 SX-1000 > Wilson Audio Sophia II
    @Work: ALAC > LaCie Rikiki 2.5" > DELL laptop > JDS LABS OBJECTIVEDAC (ODAC) > JDS LABS C421 > Sennheiser Momentum or Sennheiser HD650 or Sennheiser HD25