AAC (Advanced Audio Coding)

AAC is one of the most commonly-supported Bluetooth codecs in the wireless headphone and speaker markets. It’s also the default audio compression codec used by Apple’s iTunes and YouTube, and is supported across both iPhone and Android smartphones.

Active Noise Cancellation

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) reduces unwanted sound by the addition of a second sound wave specifically designed to cancel out the first. This basically results in no sound at all as it reaches unwanted sound even at the lowest frequencies.

Passive noise cancellation is done by means of insulating filters and works best on the middle to high frequencies. It does not work on the lower frequencies meaning that some sound can still be heard.

Active 'v' Passive Speakers

So, what's the difference?

Active speakers have an in-built power amplifier and just need a power cable (or battery) to operate. Passive speakers require an external power amplifier to operate.

In short, you need an amplifier for passive speakers, you don't with active speakers.

Airplay

Apple AirPlay is found on all Apple devices. It lets you share videos, photos, music, and more from Apple devices to your Apple TV, favorite speakers, and some smart TVs.

Analogue 'v' Digital Signal Processing

Most modern systems use Digital Signal Processing. DSP samples analogue soundwaves into a limited set of numbers and records them. The overuse of DSP can result in an overcompressed unnatural sound and the translation and reassembly of data make digital devices prone to loss of quality.

All iFi products use Analogue Signal Processing as we believe it is better suited to audio. ASP does not cause signal quality to be lost as it records waveforms as they are and produces a more natural sound. 

Analogue 'v' Digital Volume Control

For cost and convenience, modern DAC chips have a built-in digital volume control. The drawback is that a digital volume control works by 'truncating' the signal. Or 'chopping Bits' of resolution. For a 16-Bit music file at 50% volume level means the listener is actually listening to 14.5-Bits!

All iFi products bypass the digital volume control and use a separate analogue volume control which does not 'lose Bits' so a 16-Bit file stays unchanged which delivers maximum resolution.

Losing Bits of resolution (quality) is like having missing pixels on a computer or TV screen.

Apple CCK and Android OTG

So, why don't we provide these two cables with our products?

The Apple CCK cable can only be purchased from Apple. We can't make one ourselves as it has a special chip in the cable that we'd need to use for them to actually work with Apple hardware. Sadly, Apple has not released this chip to anyone. 

We can and do make two versions of an Android OTG cable - Type C and micro.

aptX

aptX Bluetooth transmission is found in most Android phones, media players, Apple computers (macOS on iMacs and MacBooks) and on higher-quality Bluetooth headphones. It is not available on iOS (iPhones and iPads use Advanced Audio Codec).

aptX LL

aptX™ Low Latency audio ensures your Bluetooth® wireless enabled device can deliver sound in sync with visual media. It reduces delay and improves end-to-end speed of the audio transmission, resulting in a high-quality, synchronised user experience.

With aptX™ Low Latency you can enjoy the freedom of wireless for applications such as gaming and watching videos.

Balanced audio

This is a type of audio circuitry topology that uses individual left & right channels.

It is a superior method to the single-ended circuit approach. Balanced circuits reduce noise and crosstalk.

While single-ended is used by most at this price level, iFi is implementing balanced circuits across the Zen range which is quite a step-up.

Balanced 'v' Unbalanced

Let's talk headphone cables.

An unbalanced headphone cable has a left + and right + wire, for each respective side. The other, the third - wire is shared by both left & right channels. As this is shared, this gives rise to undesired coupling noise which is commonly referred to as 'crosstalk.'

A balanced cable has the same left + and right +. But it has a separate left - and right -. With totally separate wiring 'crosstalk' is negligible.

Therefore, a balanced connection is the superior headphone wiring configuration.

Bit-Perfect

If a file is "Bit Perfect' it means it has stayed the same. For example, if a PCM file is played through a DAC to improve the sound quality and the DAC does not change the file format. The file is 'Bit Perfect'.

Bluetooth 5.0®

This is the latest version of the Bluetooth wireless commnunication standard.

Its main benefits are improved speed and greater range - it's faster and can operate over greater distances than older versions of Bluetooth. You can find out more here.

Busbar

A busbar is simply a conductor through which current flows.

CD Transport

A CD transport concentrates on reading the information held on a compact disc without expending effort in turning that digital signal into an analogue output, unlike a CD player. All you need to do is add an external DAC.

Class D Amplifier

A class-D amplifier or switching amplifier is an electronic amplifier in which the amplifying devices operate as electronic switches, and not as linear gain devices as in other amplifiers. Just like SMPS (Switch Mode Power Supplies), standard Class D amplifiers have an inherent noise issue due to their 'switching' nature.

Common Noise Filter

The common noise filter cuts out most noise gremlins found in typical audio systems such as RFI/EMI.

DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter)

DACs convert digital information, stored or streamed by computers, into music we can hear through speakers or headphones.

Every device that's a source of digital sound has a built-in DAC (TVs, games consoles, CD players, phones, portable music players etc). Dedicated external DACs sound much better than standard DACs used in digital devices such as phones.

DAP (Digital Audio Player)

A DAP is a device like an iPod or an MP3 player that stores and/or plays back music digitally.

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic device or application used for recording, editing and producing audio files. It's basically a mixing desk.

DC Offset

DC offset is a naturally occurring phenomenon of the electrical system. It is a potential source of clicks, distortion and loss of audio volume.

DSD (Direct Stream Digital)

DSD is a very high-quality digital audio format that's even better than CD quality. The higher the 'DSD rate' – DSD64, 128, 256, 512 and 1024 - the greater the amount of music information available, which means better sound quality.

Files can be remastered to higher file rates to improve sound quality. The pinnacle of this is DSD1024. Not many machines out there are capable of this feat.

DSP (Digital Signal Processing)

Digital signal processing (DSP) is the use of digital processing, such as by computers or more specialized digital signal processors, to perform a wide variety of signal processing operations. When it comes to audio the overuse of DSP can result in an over-compressed, unnatural sound.

EMI (Electromagnetic Interference)

EMI is a type of interference caused by errant and unwanted electromagnetic waves that are received and amplified by an audio system. They cause some of the annoying 'audio gremlins' we often talk about.

F.A.S.T (Full range And Super Tweeter)

This is basically a super tweeter. A speaker driver intended to produce ultra-high frequencies in a multi-driver loudspeaker system. They are used to supplement the sound of tweeters by reproducing frequencies which the tweeter may produce only with a narrow polar output, or perhaps with distortion.

File formats

MP3 – this is the most popular format, every device in the world can use it.

DSDDirect Stream Digital is a very high-quality audio format, better than CD quality. The higher the number (sample rate), the better the recording - DSD64, 128, 256, 512 and 1024.

PCMPulse Code Modulation is the most common format for CDs and DVDs.

DXDDigital eXtreme Definition is a very high-quality PCM format. It was developed to edit hi-res (high quality) recordings recorded in DSD.

Filters

Filters are used in music to alter the harmonic content of a signal, which changes its timbre or sound.

Just as using a coloured filter on a camera lens will alter the look of the resulting photograph to set the right mood, filters work in a similar way in audio.

Gain

Gain is the amount of increase in audio signal strength. Gain is often expressed in decibels (dB).

Galvanic Isolation

Galvanic isolation is a design technique that separates electrical circuits to eliminate stray currents that contain noise. Signals can pass between galvanically isolated circuits, but stray currents, such as differences in ground potential or currents induced by AC power, do not pass. This means little or no noise interference to the audio signal from stray currents.

Ground Loops

In an electrical system, a Ground or Earth loop occurs when two points of an audio system both have a ground reference which causes a 'potential voltage difference' between them. Ground loops are a major cause of the noise, hum, and interference in audio, video, and computer systems.

HWA

HWA is Bluetooth® wireless audio powered by LHDC™ and used by Huawei.

LHDC™ is codec developed by Savitech and stands for 'low latency and high definition' audio. Compared to standard Bluetooth®, it allows 3 times more musical date to be transmitted.

IEMs

IEMs stands for In-Ear Monitors.

These fit inside your ear. You've been using them for years. You just called them something else.

You will also see these referred to as earphones, ear buds and CIEMs. CIEMs are Custom In-Ear Monitors - IEMs made specifically to fit your ear shape.

LDAC

LDAC is an audio coding technology developed by Sony, which allows streaming audio over Bluetooth connections up to 990 kbit/s at 24 bit/96 kHz (also called high-resolution audio).

It is used in Sony headphones, smartphones, portable media players, active speakers and home theaters.

LDAC is a lossy codec which means is disgards some of musical info to make the file smaller.

Lossy v Lossless

Lossless and lossy compression are terms that describe whether or not, in the compression of a file, all original data can be recovered when the file is uncompressed.

With lossless compression, every single bit of data that was originally in the file remains after the file is uncompressed.

On the other hand, lossy compression reduces a file by permanently eliminating certain information. Lossy audio files do not retain the natural authenticity of the original.

MQA (Master Quality Authenticated)

MQA is an award-winning British technology that delivers the sound of the original master recording. The master MQA file is fully authenticated and is small enough to stream or download. More here.

NAS (Network Attached Storage)

Network-attached storage (NAS) is dedicated file storage that enables multiple users and client devices to retrieve data from centralized disk capacity.

Users on a local area network (LAN) access the shared storage via a standard Ethernet connection. NAS devices typically do not have a keyboard or display and are configured and managed with an app.

Native playback

Native playback simply means that the file format has not been changed.

You wanted to listen in PCM, you'll still be listening in PCM. The DAC does not change the format of the original file.

Noisebusters!

Reference to the 1984 film Ghostbusters. Four guys, a girl and ghosts. And proton guns that would destroy the world if you crossed the streams. Watch this.

Omotesando

Omotesandō is known as one of the foremost 'architectural showcase' streets in the world, featuring a multitude of fashion flagship stores within a short distance of each other.

These include the Louis Vuitton store (Jun Aoki, 2002), Tod's (Toyo Ito, 2004), Dior (SANAA, 2004), Omotesandō Hills (Tadao Ando, 2005) and Gyre (MVRDV, 2007), amongst others. More here.

Polarity

In simple terms, polarity refers to the way a signal flows.

Audio signals generally flow one way, like DC current, and have positive polarity. Inverting the polarity can have a negative impact on sound and equipment.

Pulse Load

A 'load' refers to a current drain that is applied to a battery. For example, charging the flash in a camera. The term 'Pulse Load' indicates that the load is automatically applied for a specific period of time, then disconnected without user intervention.

RFI (Radio-frequency interference)

Radio-frequency interference (RFI) is very similar to electromagnetic interference (EMI) but is found in the radio frequency spectrum. It is another source of irritatiing, unwanted noise often talked about as an 'audio gremlin'.

Top tip: just don't add water.

Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban (坂 茂 Ban Shigeru, born 5 August 1957) is a Japanese architect, known for his innovative work with paper, particularly recycled cardboard tubes used to quickly and efficiently house disaster victims.

He was profiled by Time magazine in their projection of 21st-century innovators in the field of architecture and design. Find out more here.

Solid-state 'v' Tubes

A solid-state amplifier uses electronics such as diodes and transistors to amplify the music signal. A tube amp uses valves/vacuum tubes to do the same job.

There is a noticeable sound difference between the two methods. Some feel that tube amps create a warmer, more musical tone. Some companies choose to build 'hybrid' models that combine the two methods.

Soundstage

So, what is soundstage?

Imagine yourself in a small theater, 10 rows from the front, dead center, watching an orchestra perform on stage. Now close your eyes. This is the 'sound stage'.

In audio speak, it is an imaginary 3D space created by the high-quality reproduction of sound in a stereo speaker system. In other words, the soundstage allows the listener to hear the placement of the orchestra vis-a-vis instruments when listening to a given piece of music.

Spotify Premium

Spotify Premium allows you to listen better quality music. It's all about bitrates. The bitrate is the amount of data processed over a certain amount of time. The higher the bitrate, the better the quality.

On normal Spotify you listen at 96kbps, the 'standard' bitrate on mobile or at 160kbps, 'standard quality' on desktop and 'high quality' on mobile.

With Spotify Premium, you get 320kbps which is 'high quality' on desktop and 'extreme quality' on mobile. Basically, more bitrates for your buck.

Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando (安藤 忠雄 Andō Tadao, born 13 September 1941) is a Japanese self-taught architect whose approach to architecture and landscape was categorized by architectural historian Francesco Dal Co as "critical regionalism".

Read more here.

Tidal Masters

Tidal is a subscription-based audio streaming platform, similar to Apple Music and Spotify, but with lossless-quality audio. Tidal Masters is the section with the highest-fidelity music streamed including some files in partnership with MQA.

Lossless-quality means that no music quality is lost in this format.

USB Audio

USB audio is a digital audio connection used to send digital music from your computer to a digital to analogue converter (DAC). Usually computer manufacturers spend most of the overall budget on the processors and screen, leaving minimal budget for the built-in DAC and audio outputs.

Volumetric Efficiency

In electronics, volumetric efficiency quantifies the performance of some electronic function per unit volume, usually in as small a space as possible.

ZEN

Zen emphasizes rigorous self-control, meditation-practice, insight into the nature of things and the personal expression of this insight in daily life, especially for the benefit of others. Discover more here.

iFi audio AC iPurifier

AC iPurifier

Our multi-talented power conditioner will clean up your dirty mains power and make your music sound clearer.

Analogue buff? Digital junkie? Or like a bit of both? Our AC iPurifier will purify and protect your system.

Mobile Content

Plug. Play. Believe.

Our AC iPurifier is for anyone whose audio is troubled by interference or distortion caused by dirty mains power.

It will rid your system of electromagnetic (EMI) or radio-frequency (RFI) interference and brings clean, clear sound to your audio in an instant.

It is available for UK (via an adapter), EU and USA power sockets and can handle from 100 – 240 volts.

Desktop Content

Plug. Play. Believe.

Our AC iPurifier is for anyone whose audio is troubled by interference or distortion caused by dirty mains power.

It will rid your system of electromagnetic (EMI) or radio-frequency (RFI) interference and brings clean, clear sound to your audio in an instant.

It is available for UK (via an adapter), EU and USA power sockets and can handle from 100 – 240 volts.

iFi audio AC iPurifier

Military grade

The AC iPurifier uses iFi’s Active Noise Cancelation technology inspired by military engineering.

It ACTIVELY eliminates far more noise across the frequency range than a passive product, even across the lower frequencies.

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No harm. No hum.

The AC iPuriifier boasts inbuilt earth/ground and polarity detection.

You can always be certain the polarity is correct and that you have the necessary ground/earth connection.

No harm. No hum.

Desktop Content

No harm. No hum.

The AC iPuriifier boasts inbuilt earth/ground and polarity detection.

You can always be certain the polarity is correct and that you have the necessary ground/earth connection.

No harm. No hum.

Smart’ thinking.

Our Intelligent Ground system ensures the AC iPurifier will not introduce a ground loop when one isn’t needed.

Use the 4.4mm grounding socket safe in the knowledge that the AC iPurifier‘s ‘smart’ thinking will keep your system ground loop free.

No ground loops mean no annoying hum or buzz. Now, that’s music to our ears.

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Safe and sound.

And with in-built surge protection, the AC iPurifier will shut down if it detects a short or a power surge.

Your equipment will remain safe and sound.

Desktop Content

Safe and sound.

And with in-built surge protection, the AC iPurifier will shut down if it detects a short or a power surge.

Your equipment will remain safe and sound.

ifi Audio AC iPurifier

Many hands may light work…

And the same can be said for AC iPurifiers… The more you use, the cleaner the power.

And, you can also add them to your power strip. Why not separate your digital and analogue devices to lessen noise contamination even further?

This is an active not a passive product. As can be seen from the graph, it cancels far more noise across the frequency range than a passive product.

Active filtration is MUCH better in the lower frequencies, at -40dB. Passive filtration is only truly effective in the very top-end of the frequency range.

Discover more about passive v active filtration and noise contamination here.


Based on military technology originally used in aircraft, our Active Noise Cancellation® (ANC) generates a signal identical to the noise signal but in the exact opposite phase to actively cancel all incoming noise.

Read more here.


Our Wireless Purification System (WPS) is a complex circuit that reduces power line noise without audible or measured side-effects.

This is important because other solutions, while attempting to curb noise, also hamper dynamics.


The LED indicators show Polarity and Earth detection. As usual, green is good, red signifies an issue.

There are four possible combinations and these can be found in a brief table in the User Manual. This tells you what the issue is and suggests how to remedy it.


Our Intelligent Ground is a smart diagnostic tool.

It only actively provides an earth/ground connection if your system needs one. It will NOT create a ground loop even if the system is already earthed/grounded.


The Over-voltage Surge Protection (OSP) is an auto detection and cut-off circuit.

Should it detect an excessive power surge or short in the mains electricity it will automatically cut off. If this issue persists, it will not reboot and will protect your equipment from harm.

It is effectiive to max. 30,000A @ 1,000V/10uS.


You can use multiple AC iPurifiers simultaneously in your system.

The more AC iPurifiers you use, the cleaner the overall power. If the AC iPurifier is placed in the middle of a power strip, it will also act as a noise shield. Noise is reduced, isolated and confined to the respective left/right sections of the AC iPurifier.

Try in different locations to discover which has offers the most improved sonics.

Support

Specifications
Noise reduction: > 40dB (> 100x)
Surge Protection: max. 30,000A @ 1,000V/10uS
Operating Voltage: 90V – 265V
Size/Weight: (USA): ø 40mm x 105mm (L)
108 (g) / 0.24 (lbs)
                    (EU): ø 40mm x 115mm (L)
126 (g) / 0.28 (lbs)
Warranty period: 12months

Reviews

IFI AC iPurifier Mains

Thank you very much for purchasing your product. I personally think that you will be able to produce black products in the future, because white is not very fashionable and does not match advanced audio products. Thank you.

(Click name to read original review)
More reviews…
More reviews…

I like the purified sound

Great product

(Click name to read original review)

I found this to not be a solution, but an enhancement

The difference was indistinguishable when directly connected to dirty mains. No configuration I tried, nor sockets seemed to have any effect. Treble has been horrifically harsh in my flat, I even forged a hookup to utilize the ground point. Holding back, I did another examination but this device seemed to have no effect. I found exorbitantly sibilant tracks were again unaffected, with identical tonality.

Where I was surprised was when I used the iPurifier with a mains conditioner, there is a clear difference in fidelity. Robert Plant has some wonderfully produced, and so I listened to Trampled Rose from the album Raising Sand, one of my favourites. I noticed a quiver in Alison’s voice at around 3:50 became more distinct. Paying attention to the drums I then noticed they were flat when I removed the IPurifier. Wow! I am mindblown.

(Click name to read original review)

It works! Reduces noise from AC line for less than other conditioners

Great for making your music sound clearer and come from a more silent background. You have to use the device for a while, and then remove it to appreciate what it does. This is not a fix all, though. Many power supplies inside gear generate noise and this can only help reduce that pollution from reaching another component over a shared AC circuit.

All your electronics need low noise power supplies or modified to have them before you can realize your system’s full potential. Even unplugging unused components can help reduce noise they put on the AC power.

(Click name to read original review)

Overview of iFi Audio accessories and filters – does filtering matter?

This article was born in my head a long time ago, mainly due to repeated questions from time to time, whether I had contact with filtering devices like iSilencer, Jitterbug etc. But since I run my humble blog, I’ve probably got used to most people to a few maxims, which I am guided in total not only in the field of audio equipment, but generally in life…

(Click name to read original review)

Great at reducing noise

Really crazy that they work as well as they do, reduced noise all over my system.

(Click name to read original review)
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