DACs convert digital information, stored or streamed by computers, into the 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.
MP3 – this is the most popular format, every device in the world can use it.
At the opposite end, 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.
PCM – Pulse Code Modulation is the most common format for CDs and DVDs.
DXD – Digital eXtreme Definition is a very high-quality PCM format. It was developed to edit hi-res (high quality) recordings recorded in DSD.
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.
EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) is a type of interference caused by errant and unwanted electromagnetic waves that are received and amplified by an audio system.
RFI (Radio-frequency interference) 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’.
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’.
Out of this world
Sporting a Space Blue finish and powered by a built-in rechargeable battery, the micro iDSD Signature is a transportable DAC/headphone amp that’s ready for anything that the universe throws at it.
Battery power means it’s ultra-clean with ultra-stable DC power and avoids the pitfalls of AC mains – dips, spike and noise-inducing RFI/EMI pollution.
And with up to 12 hours playing time, depending on the headphones and performance mode engaged, it feels like you could take it to the moon and back.
Based around two Burr-Brown DAC chips in a custom ‘interleaved’ configuration, the digital engine has four pairs of differential signals – two pairs per channel. This means
- a lower noise floor
- improved channel separation
- finer musical detail and micro-dynamics
The micro iDSD Signature handles up to PCM 768, DSD 512, 2xDXD and MQA. All this is done natively. Both PCM and DSD remain ‘bit-perfect’.
Extensive jitter-eradication technologies are applied to the digital engine, including iFi’s GMT (Global Master Timing) femto-precision clock and the intelligent memory buffer.
The micro iDSD Signature also comes with iFi’s GTO (Gibbs Transient Optimized) digital filter installed. And exclusive firmware available on our website means you can change digital filters as you wish.
With up to 4100mW of power the micro iDSD Signature can drive all manner of headphones with aplomb, from highly sensitive in-ear monitors to current hungry planar headphones.
The signal path has been refined to maximise sonic texture. High spec components featuring class-leading qualities such as low ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance), high stability and low distortion mean top-notch sound quality and maximum musical enjoyment.
Add in the direct-coupled nature of the circuit – no coupling capacitor is present – and the micro iDSD Signature definitely runs rings around the competition.
Versatile sonic tailoring
One size no longer fits all when it comes to quality listening.
The digital stage of the micro iDSD Signature features a variety of filter settings:
- ‘Standard’, ‘Minimum Phase’ and ‘Bit-Perfect’ for PCM files
- ‘Standard Bandwidth’, ‘Extended Bandwidth’ and ‘Extreme Bandwidth’ for DSD
The amp stage also has three settings to adjust power and gain. As well as ‘Normal’, you get
- ‘Turbo’ to ramp up the level of drive for current-hungry headphones
- ‘Eco’ to dial down the power to suit high-sensitivity in-ear monitors and/or to extend battery life
Complete this with our iEMatch technology that adjusts output level and our XBass+ and 3D+ signature sonic tweaks, and the micro iDSD Signature is flexible to the max.
The micro iDSD Signature features two digital audio inputs – USB Type-A and an S/PDIF socket that accepts both electrical, via a 3.5mm connector, and optical signals – adapter supplied.
It also houses a pair of RCA analogue outputs to connect to a pair of powered speakers or a power amp to act as a DAC.
There is a 6.3mm output for headphones that have a standard single-ended connector (headphones with a 3.5mm jack can be connected using an adapter) and a 4.4mm Balanced output for headphones offering our S-Balanced connection.
Both headphone outputs utilise our ‘S-Balanced’ output circuitry. This delivers the sonic benefits of balanced connections with all headphone/earphone types – even those with single-ended connectors – cutting crosstalk and associated distortion in half.