DACs

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.

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.

MQA

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.

'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’.

Bluetooth5.0

This is the latest version of the Bluetooth wireless communication 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.

Digital Signal Processing (DSP)

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.

NEO iDSD
NEO iDSD
NEO iDSD from iFi audio
NEO. The new wave of digital sound.

Bleeding-edge Bluetooth. MQA decoding. Balanced.

The DAC/amp. Reloaded

The NEO iDSD is our new 3-in-one DAC/amp.

With balanced ‘PureWave’ circuitry, unbeatable hi-res Bluetooth5.0 and MQA, it is the ultimate in hi-res playback.

Place it horizontally or vertically to suit its surroundings. The OLED display flips to match orientation. One rotary knob controls functionality.

Sleek, sophisticated and versatile.

iFi audio NEO iDSD DACamp

All. Bases. Covered.

Enjoy the NEO iDSD as a pure DAC. Connect it to a separate integrated amp or preamp using the fixed-level analogue output.

Or treat it as a DAC/preamp with a variable output. The ideal companion to a power amp or active speakers.

And headphone users will love using the excellent amp stage to create a fabulous ‘head-fi’ system.

All. Games. Played.

Love your music but also love gaming?

The NEO iDSD will enhance your current or next-gen gameplay.  Feel more immersed than ever before as sound finally matches picture in spectacular fashion.

Pair it with new the PS5 or Xbox Series X for the ultimate gaming experience.

iFi audio NEO iDSD DACamp

Enhanced engine

The Burr-Brown DAC chipset still fuels the NEO‘s ‘digital engine’.

But we’ve souped it up with a new 16-core, XMOS microcontroller that processes the data via USB and S/PDIF digital inputs. Double the clock-speed. Four times the memory.

Add in jitter eradication including our GMT femto-precision clock, intelligent memory buffer and our GTO filter as standard, and you’ve got one heck of a super DAC.

Hi-res heaven

The NEO iDSD supports PCM up to 32-bit/768kHz, DSD up to 512 and DXDx2. All remain ‘bit-perfect’.

The NEO provides full MQA decoding to ensure the best possible sound quality. Check out our MQA set-up tutorial for Tidal, Roon and Audirvana here.

Plus with MQA over S/PDIF, take advantage of any MQA CDs in your collection.

iFi audio NEO iDSD DACamp

Bleeding-edge Bluetooth

iFi uses Qualcomm’s new QCC5100 Bluetooth processing IC.

All current high-definition Bluetooth audio formats are supported – aptx, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, aptX LL, LDAC, HWA/LHDC, AAC and SBC.

The NEO iDSD ‘remembers’ up to 7 devices and has impressive range on Bluetooth5.0.

Ride the ‘PureWave’

Not only is the NEO iDSD a purist design – no DSP, no digital filter selection and no change in analogue playback – it is also all designed around a balanced circuit design named ‘PureWave‘. Read more below.

It uses audiophile-grade components and delivers sonic ‘purity’ thanks to the extraordinarily low levels of noise and distortion.

iFi audio NEO iDSD DACamp

Power and poise

The headphone amp stage maintains an engaging balance between sonic power and poise – no matter what it is tasked to drive. From high-sensitivity in-ear monitors to current-hungry planar headphones, it drives them with aplomb.

It has a continuous power output of over 1000mW into 32ohms available through the balanced headphone socket. Plenty of oomph for headphone user.

Just more music

The NEO iDSD contains top-notch audio components to back-up the outstanding balanced circuit design. Scroll down for more.

Even the OLED SilentLine display is engineered to ensure there is no electrical noise to interfere with the audio signal as it switches itself off when not in use.

Quality components mean more clarity and texture, a more engaging performance. You just hear more of the music.

Majestic measurements

NEO iDSD: 0.0015% THD
Typical DACamp: 0.05% THD

32x

quieter

We use Qualcomm’s new QCC5100 Bluetooth processing IC in combination with proprietary circuits to create an audibly superior ‘Bluetooth engine’.

All the current high-definition Bluetooth audio formats are supported – Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive and aptX HD, Sony’s LDAC and HWA’s LHDC, regular aptX and aptX Low Latency, AAC (Apple iOS devices) and SBC (the ‘plain vanilla’ Bluetooth codec).

Of the 24-bit-capable codecs, aptX Adaptive and aptX HD support up to 48kHz, while LDAC and LHDC reach 96kHz.

iFi’s ‘Bluetooth engine’ can also be updated over-the-air, so future codecs may be added.

Balanced, differential analogue circuit design reduces 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.

High-quality components are used throughout, including custom ultra-low-distortion op-amps, multilayer ceramic TDK C0G capacitors, MELF thin-film resistors and inductors from Murata and Taiyo Yuden. Their class-leading qualities such as low ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance), high linearity and low noise pay great dividends in terms of sound quality.

The headphone amp stage has a continuous power output of more than 1000mW into 32ohms available through the balanced headphone socket. To retain maximum resolution, the volume is adjusted in the analogue domain via a resistor ladder, under precise microprocessor control.

MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) is supported through the USB and S/PDIF inputs, 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.

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 and S/PDIF digital inputs.

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.

Hi-res audio support is state-of-the-art with True Native® playback. It handles PCM data to 32-bit/768kHz, DSD up to DSD512 and single and double speed DXD.

Thanks to the Burr-Brown DAC chip’s four-channel True Native design, PCM and DSD take separate pathways – this enables DSD, as well as PCM, to remain ‘bit-perfect’ in its native form right through to analogue conversion. This is not the case with all DAC devices from other brands – even if DSD compatibility is stated, many such DACs convert DSD signals to PCM.

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.

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.

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.

TDK C0G (Class 1 ceramic) capacitors offer high stability and low losses for resonant circuit applications. They are pricey but are a perfect addition to our products.

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.

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.

Support

Inputs

DigitalUSB3.0 B (USB2.0 compatible)/S-PDIF (coaxial/optical)
Bluetooth 5.0™ ( AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, aptX LL, LDAC, LHDC/HWA Codec)
FormatsDSD512/256/128/64, Octa/Quad/Double/Single-Speed DSD
DXD (768/705.6/384/352.8kHz), Double/Single-Speed DXD
PCM (768/705.6/384/352.8/192/176.4/96/88.2/48/44.1kHz)
MQA
Bluetooth 96kHz

Outputs

Balanced XLR6.3V / 7.7V max. (variable)4.4V fixed
UnBAL RCA3.2V / 3.9V max. (variable)2.2V fixed

Zout

Balanced<= 100Ω
UnBAL<= 50Ω
SNR-112dB(A) @ 0dBFS (UnBAL/BAL)
DNR>116dB(A) @ -60dBFS (UnBAL/BAL)
THD + N<0.0015% @ 0dBFS (UnBAL/BAL)

Headphone Section

OutputBalanced>6.4V/68.6 mW (@ 600Ω)
>5.77V/1040 mW (@ 32Ω)
UnBAL>3.25V/17.6 mW (@ 600Ω)
>3V/295 mW (@ 32Ω)
Output Impedance<1Ω (UnBAL/BAL)
SNR-112dBA (3.3V UnBAL/6.2V BAL)
THD + N<0.0015% (125mW @ 32Ω)
Power consumptionNo Signal ~0.5W
Max Signal ~2.5W
Dynamic range-120dB(A)
Input voltageDC 5V/2.5A, AC 100 -240V, 50/60Hz (with iPower)
Dimensions214 x146 x 41 mm
8.4" x 5.7" x 1.6"
Weight970 g (2.14 Ibs)
Warranty period12 months

Reviews

iFi iDSD Neo

Okay, I have to say that, I fell in love with iDSD Neo. It has a very light and delicate sound signature, but I’m not missing the body here. It provides a lot of fun, but in the meantime, it’s not underwhelming thanks to its lightness. Dynamics are also fantastic, provides a tempo to the music.

Read more…

(Click name to read original review)
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