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) is a technology devised by iFi for reducing unwanted sound by the addition of a second sound wave specifically designed to cancel out the first.

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 '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'.

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' often talked 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

iDefender3.0
iDefender3.0
iFi audio iDefender

iDefender3.0

Tired of doing battle with buzz, hum and hiss?

Our iDefender3.0 is for those struggling with noisy audio due to unwanted ground loops in their audio chain.

Mobile Content

Bah humbuzz!

Annoyed by hum and buzz invading your listening?

Using multiple plugs means separate earth points. These multiple earth or ground points cause earth/ground loops and create an unwanted chain of noise, buzz and distortion.

Desktop Content

Bah humbuzz!

Annoyed by hum and buzz invading your listening?

Using multiple plugs means separate earth points. These multiple earth or ground points cause earth/ground loops and create an unwanted chain of noise, buzz and distortion.

Break the earth loop

The iDefender3.0 plugs into your computer USB port and auto-detects if there is more than one earth and will ‘intelligently’ disconnect the computer earth for cleaner sound.

Mobile Content

Using a USB DAC?

If your DAC is USB powered, the iDefender3.0 requires an external 5 volts to break the earth. It works pretty well with our 5-volt iPower (just saying!). Injecting clean power will ensure you get the maximum out of your USB audio.

Desktop Content

Using a USB DAC?

If your DAC is USB powered, the iDefender3.0 requires an external 5 volts to break the earth. It works pretty well with our 5-volt iPower (just saying!). Injecting clean power will ensure you get the maximum out of your USB audio.

Kills USB power noise by 'breaking' the earth/ground loops in the correct way.

It significantly reduces the system noise floor and makes for better dynamic contrast, warmth and resolution.


Inject 5 volts of clean power clean via the 'separate' micro port. This disconnects the USB power from the PC and replaces it with clean external power. For ultra-low noise our 5-volt iPower.

Adding the separate 5 volts to the iDefender3.0 is necessary to 'break' the earth/ground on USB-powered DACs. This is not required for DACs with an internally powered USB section.


So, why USB3.0? USB3.0 allows for a greater amount of audio transfer due to the better wiring specification. It is still backwards compatible with USB2.0.

Specifications

Super-Speed USB3.0 (and USB2.0 backwards compatible)
Connec­­tors: USB3.0 gold-plated connectors
Dimensions: 48 (l) x 18 (w) x 8 mm (h)
Weight: 6.5g (0.23oz)
Warranty period: 12 months

Reviews

Purchased to fix GPU whine in amp.

This little wonder cut the buzzing caused by my computer’s GPU’s performance elevating by easily 95%. It’s still there, but it’s only noticeable if I turned all sounds off.

(Click name to read original review)
More reviews…

Works great for GPU ground loop

I bought this because I was hearing awful ground loop noise through an external dac/amp whenever my GPU did any kind of work.

Using it just by itself, it only reduced the noise a little. But with a DC power supply, I am pleased to say that this completely eliminated the noise! I didn’t buy the iPower 5v adapter they recommend. I just used an extra micro-usb adapter I had lying around, and it works great!

(Click name to read original review)

The sound of silence!

This product solved my ground loop noise issue the second I plugged it into my CPU. I’ve been frustrated with unwanted line noise from my Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 for a number of years now.

The Focusrite has a power supply so I didn’t buy the extra power supply for the idefender which saved me some money.

The background noise had become more pronounced when using VST plugin instruments as well as games the call the GPU. Long story short, my problem is solved with the product and I couldn’t be happier!

(Click name to read original review)

Works

Worked at removing whine and noise for USB device. But did not work on all computer/USB set ups. But worth the purchase for trouble shooting and working through issues.

(Click name to read original review)

Eliminates Ground Hum

Only thing that eliminated ground hum absolutely and completely when fed external power. Just have a usb cable running directly from my surge protector into the unit.

(Click name to read original review)

USB Audio Ground loops are gone.

I bought two for my external, powered recording studio devices. They work – they remove ground hum like the old hum isolator boxes for inline audio feeds worked – they don’t alter the bits or pseudo-magically improve the imaging or sound staging or clarity. They remove ground hum. They don’t remove broadband hiss or improve signal-noise ratio. They just remove ground hum.

Which is exactly what I needed.

I wasn’t excited about the cost. But hey they worked and I can throw the boxes away now because I’m keeping two of them. No one else makes these as far as I can tell.

(Click name to read original review)

Compare

iSilencer3.0 iDefender3.0
Primary use Home Home
Who is it for? Generalist-for reduced USB port noise Specialist-for breaking Ground loops
Also inject clean 5v via additional iPOWER

(External power supply needed for iDef3.0 to break the Ground when USB-powered DAC is used. Not required if USB is internally-powered by DAC.)

USB standard (max) USB3.0 Super-speed 5Gbps USB3.0 Super-speed 5Gbps
Active Noie Cancellation Yes -
REBalance Yes -
Reduced jitter Yes -
IsoEarth (auto) - Yes
Inject 5v for clean power (iPOWER rec. ) - Yes
Dimensions 48 (l) x 18 (w) x 8 mm (h) 48 (l) x 18 (w) x 8 mm (h)
Weight 6.3g (0.22 lbs) 6.5g (0.23 lbs)
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