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.

AKG K-1000

The AKG K-1000 headphone has been around since about 1990. It is extremely high performance. AKG described it as an "ear speaker".

Some say that it feels like you can reach out and touch the sound they produce, such is their visceral quality.

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.

ASP v DSP

Most modern systems use DSP - 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.

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

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. Less Interefence - clearer sound.

You normally find this set-up in products at the higher end of the spectrum such as the Pro iCAN but iFi is now using it across its product ranges to produce interference free audio.

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.

Dolby Digital

Dolby digital is one of the most popular formats for surround sound. It's used by DVD's and Netflix.

It is a compressed format, so the newer uncompressed formats sound better.

DoP

The DoP protocol is a method for transferring DSD Audio over PCM. DoP simply uses PCM frames as a carrier for the native DSD data. A DSD stream can be carried over a lower data stream and will be completely unchanged at the end of the process.

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.

DTS

DTS is a company which licences codecs. They dominate the physical disc market with DTS5.1 and DTS Master Audio.

Electrostatic headphones

Electrostatic headphones work completely differently than conventional "dynamic" or "moving coil" headphones.

Dynamic headphones have a coil of wire inside a magnet. This wire coil is glued to a stiff cone that's held in place with springy suspension. Current passes through this coil and electromagnetism creates force on the coil while in the field of the magnet. The resulting force vibrates the coil which, as it is glued to to a heavy cone, moves the entire set-up in and out and creates sound.

Electrostatics place a non-moving static electric charge on an ultra thin film that floats between two metal plates. When audio voltages are applied across the plates, static cling and repulsion cause the film to move by itself. There is no contact.

This process requires very high voltages and special amplifiers to drive them which is where the Pro iESL comes in.

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.

JAS Hi-Res logo

When you see the Japan Audio Society (JAS) Hi-Res logo on a product it means that has this certification and conforms to the high standards for high resolution music put in place by the JAS consortium – to which the largest global electronics manufacturers and the biggest music labels have all subscribed.

Koss

Founded way back in 1958, Koss now produce a wide range of headphones to cater for varying tastes. One of their most acclaimed creations is the ESP950, over electrostatic ear headphones which retailed at about $999.

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.

Linear Power Supply

A linear power supply design applies the AC line voltage to a power transformer to raise or lower the voltage before being applied to the regulator circuitry. They have very little output noise.

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.

Orpheus

The Sennheiser Orpheus HE90 are legendary headphones created in 1991 and limited to 300 pairs. They came with their very own valve amp and cost $16,000. Phew!

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.

Switch Mode Power Supplies (SMPS)

A switched-mode power supply is an electronic power supply that incorporates a switching regulator to convert electrical power efficiently. It transfers power from a DC or AC source to DC loads, such as a personal computer, while converting voltage and current characteristics.

Switch-mode power supplies are widely used because of the advantages they offer in terms of size, weight, cost, efficiency and overall performance. They are in themselves noisy and were not designed with audio in mind.

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.

Square wave

The square wave pattern is what is desired in audio. It contain more harmonic content than a sine wave or a wave full of distortion and jitter.

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 iEMatch2.5

iEMatch 2.5

Love your flagship DAP but want to raise the sound quality to the max?

The iEMatch2.5 will max out music quality on any DAP with a 2.5mm balnced output.

Mobile Content

The perfect match 2.5

After we made the original iEMatch for smartphones, computers, DAPs and in-flights systems, we realised that we’d missed a section of you guys out!

And that will not do. So, the iEMatch2.5 is just like the original BUT it’s made for use with hi-res digital audio players, DAPs, sporting a 2.5mm balanced output.

Desktop Content

The perfect match 2.5

After we made the original iEMatch for smartphones, computers, DAPs and in-flights systems, we realised that we’d missed a section of you guys out!

And that will not do. So, the iEMatch2.5 is just like the original BUT it’s made for use with hi-res digital audio players, DAPs, sporting a 2.5mm balanced output.

iFi audio iEMatch2.5

Sensitive soul

Connect the iEMatch2.5 between them and your DAP for reduced background noise and hiss.

Some headphones are more sensitive than others so the iEMatch2.5 has both High and Ultra sensitivity settings to boost your sound. Choose which best suits your headphone.

Mobile Content

Bringing your Bits back

It also provides a more open and transparent dynamic range and increases the usable volume range.

This means you can increase the digital volume and get back the resolution you lose by listening at less than full volume.

Rediscover the lost high-pitched note of the E-string or the low rumble of the bass drum.

Desktop Content

Bringing your Bits back

It also provides a more open and transparent dynamic range and increases the usable volume range.

This means you can increase the digital volume and get back the resolution you lose by listening at less than full volume.

Rediscover the lost high-pitched note of the E-string or the low rumble of the bass drum.

iFi audio iEMatch2.5

Travelling companion

Take the iEMatch2.5 with you.

Pop the iEMatch2.5 into its handy velvet pouch with the included memory foam earplugs and aeroplane adapter and take it with you, wherever you go.

The perfect travelling companion.

The perfect gold-plated match!

For those with dedicated hi-res digital audio players (DAPs) that offer a 2.5mm balanced output.


Did you know you normally lose at least 2 Bits of resolution when listening to your favourite tracks? This is because you can't listen at full volume.

Using the iEMatch2.5 enables you to turn up the digital volume and get those 2 Bits back.

Choose from ultra or high sensistivity to fine tune your tunes!

Read our tech note to discover more.


To hear everything from the high-pitched jingle of a tambourine to the deepest rumble of a kettledrum, you need a wide dynamic range.

With great DACs, DAPs and headphones, the sound of EVERYTHING will be boosted, including the self-noise of the source AND the sound level.

Plus some higher-end headphones and IEMs add to this by being sensitive themselves.


To build a system around an expensive high-resolution headphone amplifier and then use it at a comfortable (not to mention safe) listening level means you have to turn the volume down to about 60% of its capacity. This will decrease both its dynamic range and audio quality.

It’s like watching HD TV with some of the pixels from the screen missing.

You lose around 2 Bits of resolution.


This device ‘attenuates’ the volume and safely enables you to crank up the digital volume on your DAP without painful consequences! This translates into more music information being conveyed, the best dynamic range and your missing bits regained for the full high-resolution music experience!

At the same time, it cuts out background noise, enhancing your listening enjoyment.


It uses premium components from 6063-TS aluminium – magnesium alloy through to the signal transfer cable which is a 6N silver copper matrix.

Add in the gold plated TRRS-Balanced connectors and there you have it - game, set and iEMatch.

Support

Specifications
Ultra (-24dB) & High-Gain (-12dB) sensitivity adjustment
6N silver/copper matrix wiring with FINAL6063-T5 aluminium-magnesium alloy shell
Gold-plated printed circuit board with audiophile components (eg MELF resistors)
Gold-plated 2.5mm male/female connectors
Input Impedance: 16 Ohm
Output Impedance: < 2.5 Ohms (High-Sensitivity)
< 1.0 Ohms (Ultra-Sensitivity)
Weight: 12.2g
Total Length : 116mm
Warranty period: 12months
Tutorials

We’re working on it — check back soon!

Reviews

This for iem headphone- very good product

Not for overeaters – only iem

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

iEMatch(Es): The Refinement Of Sound

The iematch sound quality wise, provided a nice refinement with the added benefit of being a very good angle adaptor. The Iematch is very beautiful constructed with great materials and very beautiful. The meze cables have not any angle so they are really cumbersome when you connected them in the phone or my ipad so an adapter like this makes things so much easier. Actually, as my ipad can provide a lot of power to my Meze 99 I noticed a noticeable improvement in this scenario. Providing also a very useful angled version for this situation. So yes, iematch provides a very nice refinement to the sound in a simple scenario like this one.

(Click name to read original review)

Hiss-busting miracle worker in a magnesium suit

I’ve been wanting to get an iEMatch ever since the first one was released. I was surprised that iFi didn’t send me one to review, given how much we’ve worked together. I’ve got a few hiss monster DAPs in house, including my favourite DAP, the QP2R. Beyond the QP2R, the HiFiMAN SuperMini and the HiFiMAN MegaMini are hiss cannons. When iFi sent me the press release for the 2.5mm version of iEMatch, I had to get it. So, when I saw them at Sound & Vision 2018 in Bristol, I bought one on the spot.

(Click name to read original review)

It works well and keeps the depth of sound where intended

A great product. Nothing in the market rivals what this will do for your listening experience. If you are usin a balanced Headphone and a dac/amp or amp, this will take all of the hiss and crackle out of your sound. Amps have been known to add a hiss and crackle to your music. At the same time you are also gaining some volume and depth to the sound source. This is a problem that can be alleviated with the iematch 2.5. I’ve also use non-balanced version of this product, it too works well for what it is. They do not take anything out of your audio except for the hissing and cracking an amplifier will produce when amplifying your audio. I’d buy it again if I needed to but it seems this does the job very well. Using with CEntrance BlueDAC and a set of closed back Sennheiser 598 cs.

(Click name to read original review)

Compare

iEMatch EarBuddy iEMatch2.5
Primary use Sensitive headphones ($150>) Sensitive headphones (<$150) Digital Audio Players
3.5mm Balanced Yes - -
3.5mm Single-Ended Yes Yes
2.5mm Balanced - - Yes
Ultra (-24dB) / High (-12dB) Sensitivity Yes - Yes
High(-16dB) Sensitivity - Yes -
6N silver / copper matrix wiring Yes - Yes
6N copper matrix wiring - Yes -
FINAL 6063-T5 aluminium-magnesium alloy
shell
Yes - Yes
Input impedance >16 Ohm >16 Ohm >16 Ohm
Output impedance < 2.5 Ohms (High-Sensitivity)

< 1 Ohms (Ultra-Sensitivity)

< 2.7 Ohms (High-Sensitivity) < 2.5 Ohms (High-Sensitivity)

< 1 Ohms (Ultra-Sensitivity)

Compatibity 16 Ohm to 600 Ohm rated impedance
12.5 Ohm minimum impedance
16 Ohm to 600 Ohm rated impedance
12.5 Ohm minimum impedance
16 Ohm to 600 Ohm rated impedance
12.5 Ohm minimum impedance
Weight 12.2g 6.0g 12.2g
Total length 116mm 116mm 116mm
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