Purest signal path
Burr-Brown is best
|MP3 up to DSD with aplomb||Direct-Coupled closest
to ‘no capacitor’
|Battery or USB powered||DSD/PCM remains
The nano iDSD Light Edition (LE) is newest entry-level DAC from iFi audio. The iDSD LE has the same DNA as the multi-award winning nano iDSD but without the SPDIF output, digital filter selection and runs on DSD128/PCM384. This ‘pocket rocket’ comes in at the entry level with a pedigree that offers the same sonic performance as its sibling. Its scares the living daylights out of other entry level DACs and many other more expensive DACs too.
|The High-Res Heart|
|The nano iDSD LE is able to play True Native® meaning there is no conversion; PCM stays PCM and DSD stays DSD. This means no signal loss as it ensures the music file is ‘Bit-Perfect.’ This is important because it ensures the highest sound quality as there is no loss from file conversion.
The nano iDSD LE supports Hi-Resolution formats up to 384kHz and DSD128.
|Burr-Brown is best|
|At iFi, we care little for ‘which format is best.’ Rather, we are obsessed with replaying each format at their optimum.
What does this mean? Selection of the most advanced chipset and exemplary implementation.
The Burr-Brown DAC chip used was developed by BB Japan and BB themselves (as opposed to BB/TI). Though the product introduction was post-merger, this chipset represents Burr-Brown’s “swan song” for the best of their converter technology and remains to this day, held in very high-regard.
|On-the-go enjoyment of music|
|The latest advancements in Smart Devices such as iPhone/iPad/Android has transformed them from a mobile phone to a portable, high-end Computer Audio Source*. These Smart Devices are able to natively encode and transmit high-res PCM/DSD/DXD audio. As the iDSD LE is able to natively decode the same, this high-end ‘Transport+DAC’ combination offers astounding sonics yet is all just palm-sized for great tunes on the move as well as at home.
Below are some screenshots taken with iPhone with Onkyo HF Player > Camera Connection Kit > iDSD LE. As you can see, each high-resolution format is being replayed, even DSD.
|Precise clock for exceptional jitter rejection|
|Timing is everything and in audio playback, this is so true. The nano iDSD LE has received fastidious attention to the signal path and the clock crystals or ‘clocks’ beat with Swiss-precision to ensure the utmost in sound quality.
Any products worth its salt should have clock crystals in the digital circuitry. However, there are clock crystals and there are the clock crystals in the iDSD LE.
|The ‘clocks’ used in the iDSD LE which have been supplied by AMR, are military-grade temperature compensated master clock modules which avoid the creation of unwanted beat frequencies. Such crystals reduce overall digital noise and push jitter to the vanishing point. These clocks have been specifically-sourced from the telecommunications industry where standards are far more exacting than those in the industrial sector (which normally supplies to the audio industry).
Just like other products in the range, the iDSD LE benefits from AMR trickle-down technology to lock out jitter, the iDSD LE does not settle for Asynchronous USB transfer alone. To truly cancel jitter, it also employs AMR’s Zero Jitter® Lite technology from the famous AMR DP-777 which has Asynchronous as the starting, not finishing point.
|Battery for on-the-go and sound quality|
|The nano iDSD LE boasts a Lithium Polymer battery which ensures 8 hours of music enjoyment on-the-go.
To connect a Smartphone/Table, just use the requisite Apple: Lightning to USB/Android: On-the-Go cable to extract the digital signal and let the iDSD LE do the rest.
Even at home, to run on battery should ensure a higher sound quality than normal USB power. For the LE, flexibility is just as strong as the sound quality.
|Analogue volume control for full dynamics|
|The iDSD LE very visibly features a built-in precision analogue volume control which is more than a match for anything found at twice, even thrice its price point. Its smooth action reflects its smooth sound. It sure delivers the sonic goods.
This fastidious attention to detail and consideration for the user is standard for iFi.
|DirectDrive® means output signal remains pure|
|A key factor behind why the nano iDSD LE sounds so ‘true’ is DirectDrive® which means there are no output coupling capacitors. This ‘direct signal’ path is without peer and is a mainstay of the iFi DAC range including the iDSD LE. The sonic transparency is there for all to hear and is second-to-none.|
|Formats supported:||PCM 44.1 to 384kHz/16-32bit
DSD 2.8, 3.1, 5.6 and 6.2MHz/1bit
DXD 352.8, 384kHz/24bit
|High-Speed Asynchronous USB 2.0
|Dimensions:||106 (l) x67 (W) x28 (h) mm|
|Weight:||167g (0.37 lbs)|
“The Nano iDSD LE sounds great straight out of the box….This product’s price-to-performance ratio is extremely good if you are looking to power anything but the most power hungry cans out there. iFi Audio has managed to produce an extremely capable, feature-rice device at a very reasonable price!”
Thank you Frederik S for your excellent review.
“The Nano iDSD Le is the entry-level DAC from iFi Audio, the slimmed-down version of the Nano iDSD.”
Many thanks Jens F. Laurson for your superb review.
“….light, but at the same time massive and suggestive. Very colourful.”
Many thanks Stereoikolorowo and iFi Poland ((Moje Audio Renata Owczarek) for this awesome review.
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“What should be emphasised, is the extremely precise sound modelling, enriched by the analytical depths. Beautiful blend of clarity, speed and musicality…”
Thank you HiFi Philosophy for your awesome review.
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“iFi Audio, specialising in very innovative digital audio products, miniatures for the most part and offered at very competitive prices…Nano iDSD Le has just been ranked number 1 in Japan!”
Thank you Phillipe for your review and Elite Diffusion (iFi:France)!
“The Nano iDSD LE aims to significantly improve the headphone sound on the Mac?PC or even smart devices such as the iPhone and iPad….it offers an excellent price/performance ratio…The Nano iDSD LE is a digital/analog converter that is connected to the source via USB….the iDSD has a built-in 1,000Ah battery. In mobile operation, this relieves the battery of the connected smartphone and allows for periods of over 8 hours at a time with proper performance….it has a positive sound effect…the iDSD can shine with switching features that are not normally found in components of this price class, such as an output without coupling capacitors in the signal path. All this is housed in a solid aluminium case and costs a very tolerable 149 euros with extensive accessories….Overall the iDSD LE has impressed with its powerful, natural and never exhausting style…the Nano iDSD LE is highly recommended.”
Thank you MacTechNews for your excellent review.
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“…the soundstage is very clear and it’s just a very natural audio reproduction…a ton of features with this and really impressed by this device…really awesome accessories…very compact…really nice design…also nice design…brilliant finish…you are not getting cheap plugs…you get a brilliant connection…silver plate knob…superb quality…sound quality as you probably expected….sound quality is very impressive…so superb superb…am really liking this DAC…I recommend getting this…at a reasonable price.”
Thank you TechAudiophile for your review.
“The iFi Nano iDSD Lite (or LE) is a small multi-tasking audio device: DAC USB (for PC, Mac, iOS or Android), headphone amp and Hi-Fi preamp…The iFi Nano iDSD Lite is a small Swiss Army knife for mobile, nomadic, modern and demanding audiophiles…A very well supplied kit of accessories..In the iFi Nano iDSD Lite package there are many accessories…As its suffix ‘Lite’ indicates, this model is a light version of the Nano iDSD…A simplified audio output stage, but serious audiophile circuits…The converter is a Burr Brown model….A high-end solution to eliminate some jitter problems…It was developed by AMR (Abingdon Music Research), iFi’s Audio’s parent company specialising in professional audio and would be of military grad…it is already enough to power all types of headphones and most electrodynamic headphones…The iFi Nano iDSD LE delivers a well-balanced resume that is both warm and without excess…The sound is homogeneous, of a good consistency…for the price it is already good.”
Thank you Pierre Stemmelin for your excellent review.
“Looking for a low cost, high value headphone amplifier/DAC?”
“The iDSD LE comes from the same design place as the Nano iDSD but without the SPDIF output, digital filter selection and runs any file up to DSD128/PCM384…what iFi terms as ‘True Native.’ That is, no conversion in PCM or – and this is the important one – DSD takes place within the chassis, maintaining the initial file quality…Based upon a Burr-Brown DAC chip, the click crystals are soured from AMR (i.e: military-grade temperature compensated master clock modules) plus AMR’s Zero Jitter Lite technology. DirectDrive also means that there are no output coupling capacitors. The company believes that sound is enhanced using this diagnosis method…Inside is a Lithium Polymer battery for eight hours of music play….Playing an MP3 version of Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me, I was impressed by how the Nano approached the potential disaster that was this MP3 file. It used discipline. That is, it applied admirable focus and precision as well as a toolbox of low noise applications that gave this track excellent imagery in the structured soundstage. This meant that the reverb from the secondary percussion had genuine ambience while the bass guitar had a both heft and character. Instrumental separation gave the guitar time and space of perform while the lead vocal had a real sense of presence that allowed Gaye to offer emotion on this passionate track. Of course, the initial source track had very little information to speak of so it was all the more remarkable that the Nano could make any sense of it. A good start, therefore….I was impressed by the control over the bottom end…The Nano performed well here…For the price, the Nano performed incredibly well. The low noise approach to music play is a real and significant bonus that, along with its overall precision, gives you top quality music production from DXD and DSD at the very high end all the way down to lowly MP3. Super for hi-fi, computers and phones, the Nano is a little gem of a device.”
Thank you Paul Rigby for your excellent review.
“…the smallest and most affordable unit in the iFi fleet….Lots of quality included items…The impression is immediately one of quality and class….I was surprised at the overall quality of EVERYTHING included. I love how smooth the volume control is during operation, it just flows in hand, making it easy to find a great volume setting and make minor adjustments….The unit falls to hand with solidity that inspires confidence..You know you have a quality piece in your hands…Using this Headamp/DAC in both my systems was musically satisfying…I found the iFi to work just fine. No odd sounds, no glitches…Thanks again to iFi for the chance to put an ear on this piece.”
Thank you mcgsxr for your review.