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 that 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.

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 micro iDAC2

micro iDAC2

The micro iDAC2 is our home, desktop DAC and headphone amplifier. It will improve the sound of your music.

Our iDAC2 fits perfectly into any home system. Whether you are a computer audio buff or prefer a big rig, the iDAC2 is the DAC for you.

Mobile Content

Variety is the spice of life

Is your heavy metal feeling a little lightweight? Your Jagger jaded? Or does your ambient lack atmosphere? Then we have the very thing.

The micro iDAC2 is a precise, one box solution for people who like quality music – whatever the genre.

Desktop Content

Variety is the spice of life

Is your heavy metal feeling a little lightweight? Your Jagger jaded? Or does your ambient lack atmosphere? Then we have the very thing.

The micro iDAC2 is a precise, one box solution for people who like quality music – whatever the genre.

iFi audio micro iDAC2

Future perfect

The micro iDAC2 plays high quality music files up to DSD256. File formats remain unchanged to deliver Bit Perfect playback.

Plus it is MQA compatible out of the box via Tidal Masters on your computer.

No need to upgrade for a long time to come.

Mobile Content

Solid as a rock

Whether you choose to use it as a DAC amp or purely as a solid-state DAC, it will not let you down. Connect via USB.

You music will feel more natural, more textured, more alive.

Desktop Content

Solid as a rock

Whether you choose to use it as a DAC amp or purely as a solid-state DAC, it will not let you down. Connect via USB.

You music will feel more natural, more textured, more alive.

ifi Audio Micro iDAC2

She’s alive

The soundstage the micro iDAC2 produces is vast, making your music sound as if it is coming from outside the width of your speakers or the confines of your headphones.

Connect via RCA or 3.5mm respectively, close your eyes and enjoy the orchestra in your living room.

Mobile Content

Super. Sonics.

Couple the above with an ultra powerful dual-mono headphone amplifier – 2.4V/350mW, military grade Active Noise Cancellation, high-grade components and solid casing, well, there’s not much left to say.

The micro iDAC2 puts the super into supersonic.

Desktop Content

Super. Sonics.

Couple the above with an ultra powerful dual-mono headphone amplifier – 2.4V/350mW, military grade Active Noise Cancellation, high-grade components and solid casing, well, there’s not much left to say.

The micro iDAC2 puts the super into supersonic.

The Burr-Brown True Native® chipset means file formats remain unchanged. Listen to music as the artist intended in the format in which it was recorded.

Hi-Res True Native® playback of all music formats from MP3 to DSD256, PCM384 and DXD384.

Listen to Master Quality Authenticated audio straight out of the box. Connect to Tidal Masters and check the option to stream MQA.

Our video tutorials on You Tube show you how.


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’.

Dig deeper here.


The Class A amplifier stage is a Ferrari – it runs fast and at its max potential at all times.

It combines N-Channel J-Fet and a PNP bi-polar transistor for a warm, unsurpassed, natural sound.

You can read more about it all here.


With an SPDIF output the micro iDAC2 is able to receive a USB signal and then convert and output a digital SPDIF signal to another device such as Sonos streamer or an A/V amplifier (with an onboard DAC).

It is a chameleon amongst DACs.


Quality components speak volumes. Reference class parts quality from Japanese Elna Silmics to Silver Mica capacitors.

To quote Tina Turner, “Simply the best…”


Jitter can disrupt the signal and hamper music quality.

Our technology REgenerates®, REclocks® and REbalances® the USB signal. This means the signal is as good as it can be. Noise and jitter are significantly reduced for smoother, cleaner playback.


This precise, analogue volume control is normally found on items at a much higher price point. Its transparent sonic nature delivers a smooth sound with no loss in music retrieval. It delivers the sonic goods.


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.

Support

Specifications
Input: USB3.0 (USB2.0 compatible)
Output: SPDIF RCA (only PCM up to 192KHz)
Audio RCA
3.5mm Headphone
Formats: 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192/384KHz PCM
2.8/3.1/5.6/6.2/11.2/12.4MHz DSD
353/384KHz DXD
DAC: Bit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown (1-DAC Chip; 2-Channel; 4-Signals)
Filters:
-PCM: Bit-Perfect/Minimum Phase/Standard, Digital filters selectable
-DSD: Extreme/Extended/Standard, Analogue filters selectable
-DXD: Bit-Perfect Processing, Fixed Analogue filter

Line Section

Output: 2.1V (+/-0.05V) fixed
Zout: < 39 Ohm
SNR: > 114dB(A) @ 0dBFS
THD+N: < 0.0025% @ 0dBFS (100k Load)
< 0.025% @ 0dBFS (600R Load)

Headphone Section

Output: > 350mW (2.40V) into 16R (<10% THD+N)
> 34mW (3.20V) into 300R (< 0.1% THD+N)
Output Impedance (Zout): < 2 Ω
THD+N: < 0.0025% (1V into 16 Ohm, 0dBFS)
SNR: > 114dBA (3.2V into 16 Ohm, 0dBFS)
Power consumption: <1.5W
Dimensions: 158(l)x68(w)x28(h)mm
Weight: 265g(0.58 lbs)
Tutorials

We’re working on it — check back soon!

Reviews

It sounds wonderful

We recommend the iDAC2 as being worthy of purchase. It pairs particularly well with other iFi products – we love using it with the iCAN SE…

Good:
* Delivers on audio quality
* Versatile and adaptable
* Comes with accessories that let you get going in minutes

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

An excellent performer

Pros: Transparent neutral/cold signature, good sound, good value, plenty of outputs, nice soundstage, USB bus powered so no power cable or brick to carry around.

 

(Click name to read original review)

Micro iDAC2 is a powerful DAC worth the price

iFi will be back to reclaim its throne as a DAC and iFi really has a product that goes beyond the DACs…I like the iDAC2, which gives a lot of bass to find the amplifier…The highlight of this DAC is the dynamic, dimensional and soundstage…I personally give iFi iDAC2 the best price in this category.

(Click name to read original review)

A review of iFi Micro iDAC2 by dburna on AudioCircle

This iDAC2 is such a versatile device…First, a word on the iFi product line: I am impressed with a firm that makes intelligent engineering/design trade-offs and puts out an entire line fits together from a marketing planning (many complementary building blocks)…As a headphone amplifier, the iDAC2 is very good….iDAC2 up sampling differences: this is an area where the iDAC2’s versatility shines..iDAC2 is versatile as hell…and the synergies with iFi power add-on products are extreme…iDAC2 – and for that matter, all iFi products – performance/price ratio is off-the-charts.

(Click name to read original review)

iFi Micro iDAC2 is reviewed on AudiCircle by BRN

This review focuses on the iDAC2 used in a 2 channel speaker system and not as a headphone solution…The iDAC2 has a nice aluminium case with three LED lights that indicate power, resolution and I believe connection to the computer or USB lock…I like the simplicity of the iDAC2 and the fact that it is basically plug and play…have a very natural sound that is non-fatiguing….do a nice job of finding the sweet spot….the additional detail that the iDAC2 is able to retrieve from records. What stuck out most was the ability of the iDAC2 to retrieve more information on the leading edges of instruments and voices…the clarity, imaging and dynamics are better…

 

(Click name to read original review)

Burr Brown chip is utililized for DSD native playback

If you did not know already, iFi Audio is a co-brand of AMR Audio that is known for its famous audio gears such as DP-777. They produce many different audio components – digital audio converters, amplifications, speakers, cables and active noise cancellation units.

On the iDAC2, there are coax/USB digital inputs and RCA/3.5mm outputs…Overall build quality is quite satisfactory and the volume potentiometer works well; there is no unbalanced problem. In addition, as a DAC/Amp combo, iDAC2 supports all popular formats including DSD 256, PCM 384 and DXD.

(Click name to read original review)
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