iDSD Diablo
iDSD Diablo from iFi audio

The Devil in the detail

Pure Sonic Performance

Devilishly brilliant

The iDSD Diablo, with its sleek new design and fiery red finish, sits proudly at the top of our range of portable/transportable DAC/amps. It is built for purists – the true headphone enthusiasts who crave pure, unadulterated sonic performance.

Just like a racing car designed for uncompromising speed, the iDSD Diablo sets aside sonic tailoring as well as Bluetooth connectivity to focus on pure sonic power. Prepare for a riveting ride as it will drive any headphone on the planet with aplomb.

Put simply, the iDSD Diablo is our best ever transportable amplifier designed to deliver reference level sound.

‘Bit-perfectly’ wicked

We use two Burr-Brown DAC chips and the new 16-core XMOS chip to process the data received via the USB and S/PDIF digital inputs.

This means the iDSD Diablo can handle up to PCM 768, DSD 512, 2xDXD. Both PCM and DSD remain ‘bit-perfect’.

It also provides full MQA decoding! Check out our MQA set-up tutorial (using the highly acclaimed NEO) for Tidal, Roon and Audirvana here.

iDSD Diablo from iFi audio

Positively pure

Balanced, differential analogue circuit design reduces noise and cross-talk within the signal path by fully separating the left and right channels. The iDSD Diablo benefits from further refinements to our balanced, symmetrical dual-mono topologies with short, direct signal paths. We call this PureWave.

Negative feedback is used in amplifier circuits to compare the output signal with the input signal and correct errors. BUT there are drawbacks. iFi turns the negatives into positives with OptimaLoop.

Read more on these technologies below.

Diabolically dynamic

Able to drive all manner of headphones with ease, the iDSD Diablo delivers up to 5000mW of prodigious power, propulsive energy and engaging dynamics, coupled with a remarkable ability to resolve fine texture and detail.

With 3 settings, you can adjust power and gain to suit your daily driver or track day supercar!

  • Turbo – ramps up the level of drive for current-hungry headphones
  • Normal – for most over or on ear headphones
  • Eco – dials down the power to suit high-sensitivity in-ear monitors
iDSD Diablo from iFi audio

Power that does not corrupt.

The iDSD Diablo’s focus on pure, unadulterated performance, means much attention has been applied to the power supply circuity.

Battery power provides ultra-clean and stable DC current avoiding the issues of mains electricity – dips, spikes and noise-inducing RFI/EMI pollution. BUT there are sonic downsides resulting from low output voltage and inconsistent output impedance as batteries discharge.

These issues are fully tackled by the iDSD Diablo’s design.

In order to make less efficient headphones, like planar magnetics, sing, the voltage needs to be stepped up from 3.7V to +/- 15V.  We use a step-up converter running at 1.2MHz – a frequency far beyond audibility that is easier to filter than a typical switch-mode supply, enabling high linearity and ultra-low noise.

iDSD Diablo from iFi audio

Formula 1, iFi style.

High-bandwidth power supply circuity is dedicated to each critical part of the iDSD Diablo’s design, with independent linear regulation delivering excellent PSRR (Power Supply Rejection Ratio) performance.

The headphone amp stage eschews IC regulators in favour of Panasonic OS-CON capacitors, delivering 2320uF between them.

The DAC section benefits from an ultra-low-noise regulator with additional passive filtering, reducing high order harmonic distortion and, in turn, jitter.

Even the USB input stage benefits from dedicated regulation and multi-stage filtering, and the microprocessor control circuitry (often a local source of digital noise) has separate regulation, too.

Crucial components for maxed out performance, more below.

Hooking up with the Devil…

At the front of the unit, alongside a standard 6.3mm single-ended headphone socket, resides a 4.4mm Balanced output for headphones offering balanced connection.

At the back are two digital audio inputs: USB-A and a S/PDIF socket that accepts both electrical and optical signals, the former via a 3.5mm connector and the latter via a supplied adapter.

The USB-A input features a ‘male’ connector, rather than a typical ‘female’ port for greater mechanical integrity.  A separate USB-C charging port is also provided, along with a 4.4mm Balanced output to connect to an external amp.

Accessories galore

As befits a reference-level product, we’ve included a whole host of accessories in a luxurious travel case, the iTraveller.

As the iDSD Diablo may be powered from the mains, as well as by its built-in battery, we’ve included our super silent, noise-cancelling iPower 5V AC/DC adapter to ensure optimal sound quality.

Also included is a 4.4mm Balanced to XLR balanced interconnect cable to connect the iDSD Diablo to an amp and speakers (or a pair of active speakers) with balanced XLR inputs.

Other supplied connectors include a high-quality USB-A audio cable, a USB-A to USB-C charging cable and an adapter to connect headphones with a 3.5mm jack to the 6.3mm single-ended output.

iDSD Diablo from iFi audio

Majestic measurements

iDSD Diablo: 0.002% THD + N
Typical DACamp: 0.05% THD+N

25x

lower

File Formats

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

PCM – Pulse Code Modulation is the most common format for CDs and DVDs.

DSD – Direct 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.

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

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’

Gain

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

MQA (Master Quality Authenticated)

MQA is a very high-quality streaming technology. It’s a compressed digital-audio format that doesn’t lose the audio quality of the original performance recording. More here.

RFI / EMI Pollution

Radio-frequency interference (RFI) is very similar to electromagnetic interference (EMI) but is found in the radio frequency spectrum. It is another source of irritating, unwanted noise often talked about as an ‘audio gremlin’. Top tip: just don’t add water.

EMI is a type of interference caused by errant and unwanted electromagnetic waves that are received and amplified by an audio system.

These are sources of the irritating, unwanted noise we often talked about as a ‘audio gremlin’. Top tip: just don’t add water.

The Burr-Brown True Native® chipset means file formats remain unchanged or ‘bit-perfect’. This means you are listening to music as the artist intended in the format in which it was recorded.

At iFi we use Burr Brown extensively in our products having selected it for its natural-sounding ‘musicality’ and True Native architecture. Our experience with this IC means we know how to make the most of it.

The XMOS 16-Core chip processes the audio data received via the USB* digital input.

This new low-latency XMOS microcontroller has greatly enhanced processing power. Compared to the current generation of eight-core chips, this new 16-core IC delivers double the clock speed (2000MIPS) and four times the memory (512KB), as well as the latest SuperSpeed USB standard.

iFi’s in-house digital development team has programmed the XMOS firmware to optimise sound quality and ensure a perfect partnership with the Burr-Brown DAC.

(* Also on S/PDIF on the NEO iDSD/Diablo)

MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) is supported through the USB with full decoding of MQA files up to 384kHz thanks to the processing power of the new 16-core XMOS chip.

Check out how to set up your MQA decoder via Tidal, Roon and Audirvana here.

This means that the full ‘three unfold’ decoding process is performed internally, as opposed to only the final unfold in the manner of an MQA ‘renderer’.

Globally, MQA has become an important consideration for any comprehensively equipped DAC. It is available through for Tidal Masters, Audirvana and Roon.

An important aspect of the circuit design is its direct-coupled nature (no coupling capacitor is present), achieved without a conventionally applied DC servo.

DirectDrive® equals a direct signal path which means less signal degradation. This direct signal path is unequalled in audio and is the reason why the sound is so ‘true’.

Extensive jitter-eradication technologies are applied to the digital stage, including our GMT (Global Master Timing) femto-precision clock and intelligent memory buffer. This represents a total ‘out-of-the-box’ systematic digital solution that solves jitter once and for all.

‘Negative feedback’ is used in amplifier circuits to compare the output signal with the input signal and correct errors, in order to control gain and reduce distortion.

For sound quality, this is positive; BUT commonly applied, one-size-fits-all ‘global negative feedback’ can also highlight different problems at the same time as solving others – corruption of the error signal, phase shifts, group delay and so on can all have a negative impact on sound quality.

We recognised that different parts of a circuit benefit from specifically optimised feedback loops and have developed a negative feedback system that is much more accurate than the usual approach. This incorporates multiple feedback paths instead of a global loop, each path optimised for a particular function and working synergistically with the others to deliver optimal overall performance.

Balanced, differential analogue circuit design has long been championed for its ability to reduce noise and cross-talk within the signal path by fully separating the left and right channels.

PureWave is a new, balanced, symmetrical dual-mono topology with short, direct signal paths. The name refers to the sonic purity it achieves thanks to exceptional linearity and infinitesimally low levels of noise and distortion.

As with many other iFi audio products, we’ve incorporated a custom OV Series operational-amplifier. This top-notch component contributes to the extremely low noise, low distortion (0.0001%) and wide bandwidth.

Switching between settings has been engineered to ensure sonic transparency with advanced trench technology MOSFET is used as a muting switch.

This FET-based switching is handled by a micro-controller, which only ‘wakes up’ when the user changes a setting, thus eradicating any sonically deleterious interference.

Vishay MELF resistors – complex, costly but superior.

These metal electrode leadless face resistors have excellent accuracy, stability, reliability, and pulse load capability. They provide optimal power rating and pulse load capability. They show some of the lowest noise and distortion of any resistor available in the market, period.

TDK C0G (Class 1 ceramic) capacitors offer high stability and low losses for resonant circuit applications.

Getting ever closer to the theoretical ideal of pure, frequency-constant capacitance, these capacitors reduce capacitor-induced distortion to vanishingly low levels.

They are pricey but are a perfect addition to our products.

Panasonic OS-CON caps totaling 5,410uF give very-low Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR), excellent noise reduction capability and frequency response characteristics. In addition, OS-CONs have a long-life span and its ESR changes little even at low temperatures since the electrolyte is solid.

They are not often found in products costing <US$1000.

muRata control-type, low-ESR high-Q multi-layer capacitors. The ‘ESR control’ aspect of the Murata is something special. Their noise suppression abilities are impressive.

Texas Instruments low-noise ICs offer great unity-gain bandwidth, very low noise and distortion, high output drive capability, Common-mode and Power Supply Rejection Ratios of over 100 dB, wide maximum-output-swing bandwidths and high slew rates.

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Digital InputsUSB 3.0 type 'A' (USB2.0 compatible)
S-PDIF (3.5mm coaxial/optical)
Formats supportedDSD512/256/128/64
Octa/Quad/Double/Single-Speed DSD
DXD (768/705.6/384/352.8kHz)
Double/Single-Speed DXD
PCM (768/705.6/384/352.8/192/176.4/
96/88.2/48/44.1 kHz)
MQA (Decoder)
Frequency Response10Hz-80kHz(-3dB)
SNRBalanced
S-E
-120dB
-114dB
Dynamic rangeBalanced
S-E
120dB
114dB
THD + NBalanced
S-E
0.002%
0.001%
Headphone Max OutputBalanced

S-E
>19.2V/611 mW (@ 600 Ohnn)
>12.6V/4,980 mW (@ 32 Ohm)
>9.6V/153 mW (@ 600 Ohm)
>8.8V/2,417 mW (@ 32 Ohm)
Fixed Audio OutputBalanced 4.4mm
Power consumptionTurbo
Normal
Eco
12W
5W
2W
BatteryLithium-polymer 4800mAh
Power SystemCharging via USB-C (iFi iPower included)
BC V1.2 compliant up to 1900mA charging current
Dimensions166 x 72 x 25 mm
6.5" x 2.8"x 1.0"
Weight330g (0.73 lbs)
Warranty period12 months
*Specifications are subject to change without notice.

Koji Ghafoor talks about iDSD Diablo

“The performance you get, it’s fantastic”

Koji Ghafoor

(Click name to read original review)

The most enjoyable listening session!

“The Diablo in sound quality, is a high point not only above other iFi devices, but many other brands. One of its attractions is the MQA full decoder. Just imagine the most enjoyable listening session you could ever experience but take it to a higher level!”

Israel Enrique Flores

(Click name to read original review)

It sounds stinking good

moon

The Diablo is a powerhouse portable amplifier and DAC for on the go. It’s a no-frills user experience for those who need the power and just want good sound. And I think that’s where some might draw the line. We all want good sound in our devices, and the Diablo more than delivers on that part of the deal. The other is power. I’ll go ahead and say that MOST people probably don’t need this level of output unless you have a high-end headphone with a weird sensitivity rating or you just NEED the power to run it efficiently. However, the other side of that coin is that any headphone will benefit from the output that the Diablo provides, offering some amazing resolution and dynamics across the board. It sounds stinking good.

Moon Audio

(Click name to read original review)

iDSD Diablo I Trusted Reviews – 5 stars

“Thrillingly direct, informative and musical sound”
“Remarkable speed and control of its transient response”
“Utterly convincing, natural tonality that sounds immediately and intrinsically correct”
“From the (gratifyingly deep) bottom of the frequency range to the (startlingly extended) top, the iFi sounds natural, believable and, well, flat-out musical”
“Remarkable powers of analysis, impeccable tonality, dynamism to spare”
“The iFi iDSD Diablo can turn even the most humble laptop into a accomplished source of music”
“The iFi iDSD Diablo is a mighty achievement”

 

Trusted Reviews

(Click name to read original review)

Review of the iDSD Diablo

Thanks for the review. Good luck with the channel!

“…the noise floor on the Diablo is pretty much non-existent… to me it was completely black, there was no noise…”

 

Audio-In Reviews

(Click name to read original review)

iFi audio iDSD Diablo Review by Louis Gonzalez of Headfonics

“Portable wise you would have to spend way over a grand to obtain better sound and to be honest I almost feel the urge to ditch my full-sized combo for the Diablo because it’s that good and besides it will only take up a fraction of the space on my desktop that my current rig does.”

Headfonics

(Click name to read original review)

iFi iDSD Diablo, Signature, Black Label review and comparison

Watch the full review here…

GoldenSound

(Click name to read original review)

iFi iDSD Diablo Headphone DAC/Amplifier

“Doing more listening throughout the week, I began to understand the Diablo’s audible strengths as a DAC/amp—it is incredibly detailed, incredibly fast, and has a get-up-and-go energy that makes instruments come alive”

Read the full review here…

Audiophilia

(Click name to read original review)

RAW HELLISH POWER – iFi Diablo and iPurifier3 Review

“The Diablo sounds beautiful and crystal clear… no crackles, no jitter, no skipping of any kind, and no USB incompatibility issues either!”

Watch the full review here…

YouTube

(Click name to read original review)

iFi audio micro iDSD Diablo in the test – Devilishly good with diabolical performance

“The Diablo is pure performance!… How does the iDSD Diablo sound? In short, absolutely flawless… the Diablo clearly raises the bar in terms of performance in the mobile sector”

Read the full review here…

Miniklangwunder

(Click name to read original review)

The Little Devil – The ifi iDSD Diablo DAC/Amplifier

“I started my journey with my trusty Audeze EL 8 to see if they could be properly driven with the Diablo. Firing up Jacky Terrasson’s “Rat Race” I was struck with the accuracy of the drum beat and the pace and rhythm throughout the piece. The close mic set was faithfully rendered, and when the tempo picked up the Diablo did not disappoint, keeping instruments separated and coherent. There was a bit less resonance coming from the bass, but the bass snap of the strings more than made up for it. The piano sounded great with life and emotion, and made me yearn for live music.”

“What you get is a pretty awesome package. What I mean by this is that for a component of this size and price you receive a stylish device that can be easily transportable, and can be used by a variety of headphones. This ability to move about freely is one of the advantages of headphone listening, and I can see this unit being used as a perfect mobile office solution, dorm room listening station, or travel companion when you just need to be away from the crowd… and I would recommend you give this little devil a shot.”

Read the full review here…

Positive Feedback

(Click name to read original review)

iFi iDSD Diablo review: devilishly good

“The iDSD Diablo has a lot of things I really like, from the incredibly powerful output to the balanced port, from the vast amount of accessories to the optical input. It also misses a few things I would have liked to see, such as an IEMatch feature to better drive sensitive earphones. All in all, though, the Diablo is incredibly competent and a great option if you want to experience the sound of very-hard-to-drive headphones with a small DAC/amp instead of large desktop devices. It’s just fiendishly good at that.”

Read the full review here…

Soundphile Review

(Click name to read original review)

iFi Headphone Amp/DAC Review

In this video, we review iFi’s lineup of headphone amps and DACs. iFi’s headphone amp/DAC lineup offers plenty of options and has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a small, portable DAC for when you’re on the go or a high-performance desktop DAC for working from home or even gaming, iFi has a great option for you.
Watch the full video here…

YouTube

(Click name to read original review)

Excellent Sound Quality, Great for Tidal MQA

I use the Diablo with Sennheiser HD 660S unbalanced stock cable. I use the lowest Eco volume mode and I don’t turn the volume up very high. The balanced connection, Normal and Turbo volume modes are all too loud for me, though I probably listen at lower volumes than most. I connect to LG V60, windows PC and nVidia Shield. The sound quality is excellent.

MQA tracks via Tidal on the PC or Tidal through USB Audio Player Pro on the LG V60 sound noticeably more detailed compared to Tidal HIFI, depending on the track. Obviously I’m not taking advantage of the power the Diablo offers, but for me the easy connectivity to my devices, portability around the house, sound quality and MQA capabilities justify the price.

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

I love it.

I can’t recommend this DAC/amp highly enough. Compared to the Hugo 2, the sound has more body, more soul and a better sense of timing/spaciousness. It’s like the Hugo 2 sounds like a really top notch CD player (like a Densen) and the Diablo sounds like a really top notch turntable. Don’t worry about the channel imbalance at low levels (like below 9 o’clock on the volume control) – according to iFi, it’s normal and at 12’oclock and above it has great imaging and sound stage.

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

Perfection?

This really is a remarkable and extremely happy gh quality DAC. You will not regret it. The sound quality is outstanding and it’s PORTABLE!! iFi have outdone themselves.

The only reason ‘I HAD’ to return it was because it didn’t quite have enough juice to power my 300ohm Sennheiser HD880S. Though these headphones are notorious for being difficult to drive. So It doesn’t reflect badly on the iFi Micro at all.

I think I will be repurchasing this when I get my Focals ?

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

iFi iDSD Diablo Review: The Best Portable Dac/Amp Combo?

“I was astonished at how clean the power was, as the background sounded extraordinarily black for a portable unit. This made it very easy to hear the character of the recording space when present in the recording.”

“It also did a good job at separating the elements, presenting the percussion instrument dead in the center of my head stage to the rear, then surrounding it with horns to the front left and right. I loved how the iDSD Diablo could blend the various melodies while keeping the instruments in their own little bubbles.”

“If you need a top-notch portable DAC/Amp combo that can drive your power-hungry flagship cans while on the go, the Diablo may be just what you need.”

Hi-Fi Trends

(Click name to read original review)

Amazing sound and power

Being no Audiophile all I wanted was a piece of equipment that got the best from Amazon HD hi-res music streaming service and be up to my journey into the hi-res music world. After doing a bit of research I narrowed it down to a good set of Shure headphones and an good headphone amp.

I kept on going back to IFI who have a good range of headphone/dac amps and get great reviews. I was on my way to order the IFI signature when I saw the Diablo released. I decided to get the Diablo. Loved the red…. Not being a electronic techno head I wondered if I had fallen for good advertising, colour and it being the most expensive so it must be the best.

Read more…

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)

The Devil is in the detail.

This is my fifth iFi product. I own the xCan, Hip-DAC, Zen and Zen Blue, along with many amp/dacs from other companies such as Chord, Schiit, Oppo, AudioQuest and Fostex.

The iFi Diablo is by far the greatest sounding amp/dac I own. The sound just hypnotises you with its energy, balance, detail retrieval and nuance. Every instrument sounds real and vibrant. voices sound human and in the room with you.

The Diablo has been criticised for not including wireless features and XBass etc. I totally get what iFi are doing by omitting these features. It’s ALL about the sound and the power. It’s not a jack of all trades but a master of one, and the one that matters. The iFi Diablo gives you the best sound you can get in this form factor and price.

All the included accessories are a great bonus too. The case is also so much nicer than it looks in the pictures. Make sure you buy one of the first batch as it will include the iFi iPurifier3 than normally retails at £130.

If you care about sound sound quality sell your soul top the devil 😉

Amazon

(Click name to read original review)