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) is a technology devised by iFi for reducing unwanted sound by the addition of a second sound wave specifically designed to cancel out the first.

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.

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.

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'.

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.

DC Offset

DC offset is a naturally occurring phenomenon of the electrical system. It is a potential source of clicks, distortion and loss of audio volume.

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.

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' often talked 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pro iDSD
iFi audio Pro iDSD

Pro iDSD

Our Pro iDSD is for all music lovers, looking for their stairway to heaven.

It’s a DAC and so much more. It will take your music, movies and gaming to new heights.

Mobile Content

A hi-res trinity

Our flagship Pro iDSD is for those who like music in all its flavours, especially high spec.

It’s a standalone unit, a streamer and a DAC/amp.

And with the option to listen in solid-state, tube or tube+, there’s something for everyone.

Desktop Content

A hi-res trinity

Our flagship Pro iDSD is for those who like music in all its flavours, especially high spec.

It’s a standalone unit, a streamer and a DAC/amp.

And with the option to listen in solid-state, tube or tube+, there’s something for everyone.

iFi audio Pro iDSD

DSD1024. Dizzy heights.

The Pro iDSD plays all high quality files from MP3 up to DSD.

It plays MQA and, for the first time, it brings Studio Grade DSD1024 to a wider audience – a rare feat. You are well and truly future-proofed.

All controlled from the palm of your hand via an app.

Mobile Content

With added muscle

As with most iFi gear, we added filters to add flavour to your listening.

Check out the GTO filter. Just like the American muscle car, it adds weight and a new dimension to your driving…sorry, listening.

We’ve also given you Bit Perfect, Bit Perfect+, Apodising, and Transient Aligned.

Curious mind? User Manual, page 16.

Desktop Content

With added muscle

As with most iFi gear, we added filters to add flavour to your listening.

Check out the GTO filter. Just like the American muscle car, it adds weight and a new dimension to your driving…sorry, listening.

We’ve also given you Bit Perfect, Bit Perfect+, Apodising, and Transient Aligned.

Curious mind? User Manual, page 16.

iFi audio Pro iDSD

Playtime

Choose a wireless connection to stream your favourite tunes from Tidal, Spotify, Napster – the list is endless.

Take it up a notch by using a wired Ethernet connection to play from a router or NAS (Network Attached Storage).

Or relax with AirPlay to enjoy playback from your iPhone, iPad or Mac.

Mobile Content

To USB or not to USB

Use USB Type A to connect a hard disk drive or a memory stick or Type B to connect a laptop or server.

Or slot in a micro SDHC card with music files for instant playback.

Enjoy soulful tunes from your CD transport and enhance your gaming or movie experience as you connect via the coaxial/digital input.

Sound has never sounded so good.

Desktop Content

To USB or not to USB

Use USB Type A to connect a hard disk drive or a memory stick or Type B to connect a laptop or server.

Or slot in a micro SDHC card with music files for instant playback.

Enjoy soulful tunes from your CD transport and enhance your gaming or movie experience as you connect via the coaxial/digital input.

Sound has never sounded so good.

iFi audio Pro iDSD

Mood music

Finally, we’ve given you a choice of headphone sockets and outputs to cover all tastes. Big ones, little ones, balanced ones…

So, whatever your mood, however you connect or listen, the Pro iDSD has an option for you.

The Pro iDSD has a 'quad 'stack' of Bit-Perfect DSD and DXD DACs by Burr-Brown. The 'interleaved' configuration means up to 8 pairs of differential signals can be used and mixed, equal to 4 pairs of signals per channel.

Full lowdown? User Manual, page 13.


The Pro iDSD employs the new XMOS XU216 X-Core 200 Series 16-Core processor. All-digital processing is Bit-Perfect unless particular digital filters are explicitly selected.

Explore the XMOS here.


Upsampling to DSD1024 has previously only been available to a select few. The Pro iDSD makes it available to a wider audience. The DSD1024 remastering is handled by the Crysopeia® FPGA and this is where we believe the FPGA excels.

Discover more on page 15 of the User Manual.

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.


Data is sent to the Memory Buffer from all inputs. Here it is de-jittered to eliminate any transmission of source jitter to the DAC output. The data from the Memory Buffer is further re-clocked by the low-jitter Global Master Timing® clock, which also drives the X-Core 200 and FPGA. 


With LINKPLAY™ WiFi/network playback, built-in Spotify and Tidal, and wide protocol support for 32-Bit/192kHz and DSD64, the Pro iDSD can be also used without a computer to stream audio directly.


Galvanic isolation is the ‘holy grail’ of computer audio.

All inputs are galvanically-isolated (including USB). The USB input section has its own separate power management system with multiple regulators and filtering operating from the galvanically-isolated voltage generated to power this section.


Unlike other amplifiers that have the same circuit and just switch in/out the tube section, the Pro iDSD is the very first of its kind to have two individual input circuits - one tube (General Electric 5670 tubes!) and one solid-state. This results in the 'best sonics of both worlds'.

Read more. Page 7.


We've given the Pro iDSD an extra Tube+ setting. This reduces overall loop-gain and negative feedback to the minimum and presents a different sonic perspective between the tube’s natural harmonics and transient performance.

Sound it out in the User Manual, page 7.


The amplifier audio circuit is fully discrete, fully-balanced with either tube or J-FET input switchable, bipolar second stage and MOSFET-buffered bipolar Class A Power stage.


The Pro iDSD is packed full of premium components - a Japan Alps rotary volume potentiometer, audio-grade ELNA Silmic capacitors and a bank of Elna Dynacaps ‘super capacitors’.

Discover how these benefit the Pro's unique design here.

Specifications

Sample rates: PCM up to 768kHz
DSD up to 49.152MHz (DSD 1024)
DXD and double-speed DXD (2xDXD)
Inputs: USB (required for DSD, DXD and sample rates above 192KHz)
AES3 (XLR – single link)
S/PDIF (coaxial/optical combo)
BNC multifunction (S/PDIF in or sync input)
Outputs: Balanced XLR at 4.6V (+15.5dBu – HiFi) or 10V (+22dBu – Pro)
Single-Ended RCA at 2.3V (HiFi) or 5V (Pro)
Headphones 6.3mm & SE 3.5mm Jack at 0.55V/2.1V/5V
Headphones BAL 2.5mm Jack at 1.13V/4.6V/10V
Headphones out 1,500mW RMS X 2 @ 64 ohm, 4,000mW max. 2 X @ 16 Ohm
Headphone Output Impedance: Single-Ended (S-BAL): < 1 Ω
Balanced: < 2 Ω
Volume control: Balanced (6-gang) Alps potentiometer, motorised with IR remote control
XLR/RCA outputs can be selected as fixed level or adjusted
6.3mm headphone jack is always adjusted
Other Functions: Various digital and analogue filters can be selected for DSD and PCM up to 384KHz
PCM Filters: Bitperfect 44.1 – 192kHz, always used for 352.8 – 768kHz
Bitperfect + 44.1 – 96kHz
Gibbs Transient Optimised 44.1 – 384kHz
Apodising 44.1 – 384kHz
Transient Aligned 44.1 – 384kHz
DSD filters: fixed 3rd order analogue filter @ 80kHz with correction for DSD’s -6dB gain
Gain (headphone section): user-selectable: 0dB, 9dB and 18dB
Dynamic range: 119dBA (solid-state, PCM, -60dBFS)
Output power (16 Ω, balanced/single-ended): >4000mW /1>1,500mW
Output voltage (600Ω, balanced/single-ended): >11.2V / >5.6V
Input voltage (Pro iDSD): DC 9V/6.7A – 18V/3.35A
Input voltage (iPower+): AC 85 – 265V, 50/60Hz
Power consumption: < 22W idle, 50W max.
Dimensions: 213 (l) x 220 (w) x 63 (h) mm
Weight: 1980g (4.37 Ibs)

Reviews

iFi Audio’s Pro iDSD: Streamer, DAC, Headphone Amp, Preamp — All in One!

“The Pro iDSD’s Solid State output stage captured everything gorgeously, and Tube+ certainly added a frisson that any fans of single-ended-triode amplifiers should love.”

(Click name to read original review)
More reviews…

iFi Pro iDSD

“Every section in the Pro iDSD has received massive attention to detail. Classic, very low-noise design techniques found in tube equipment have been combined with 21st century tech to deliver extreme performance.”

(Click name to read original review)

High-end Musical DAC/Amp with a LOT of options

BLUF: This is a great DAC/Amp for those who like a more musical sound and a LOT of options to vary their music. If you like to tinker with sound this may be the endgame DAC/DAC-Amp for you.

Build: The build is rock solid and has the quality feel one would expect at this price point. The design follows in line with the other “Pro” series products from iFi with a brushed metal frame. The power knob is motorized and will adjust to zero when powered off and to the last volume state when initially powered on… nice touch.

Sound: It’s hard to completely nail down the sound into a particular category because there are so many options, filters, etc that will modify the sound. Similar to the Pro-iCAN is has the ability to switch to between solid state and tube-hybrid that adds a touch of warmth and has several digital filtering options. These along with the ability to upscale the audio coming in gives a significant number of combinations that I’ve admittedly haven’t gotten to the end of. This is the Pro-iDSD’s biggest plus and what puts it in a high category; I don’t know of many, if any, other products with this many options to tweak sound. As a person who likes to tinker, I love it.

The sound plays well between more transparent and more warm/musical. This is not a measurement lover’s device, however. It’s not going to win a battle for transparency or cleanness with several other DACs in it’s price range but for pure sound enjoyment it nails a range of sound that will match any track, genre or sound goal. There are those that want DAC & amp should be as transparent as possible, this is probably not the product for you.

Features: Haven’t had a chance to use them all but my favorites so far are the upscaling (has an effect of widening the music tracks a bit) and the filter choices (Transient Aligned is my goto). The various outputs and settings for those outputs allow this device to be versatile enough for just about any setup and is only missing an 4 pin XLR headphone output. It also can process MQA though having it decode the MQA will negate the other filtering/upscaling settings you have and defaults to a bit-perfect processing, I believe (Not iFi’s fault…). I tend to let my PC do the decoding so I can still utilize the other features.

Value: So, there’s probably no such thing as “value” in this price range. That being said, compared to it’s peers, the iFi product offers way more features for the money. That was the deciding point for me as some of the other products either didn’t pull me in with their sound characteristics or were lacking features I wanted at the price point.

I’m still playing/experimenting with the Pro-iDSD and will update more, if I find/discover something compelling. This is a fun DAC with many options to find the best sound for the music and other equipment you are using. It competes extremely well in a field of high end DACs by the likes of Chord, Benchmark, SMSL and others. Several of those may measure better but will come nowhere near the feature set.

(Click name to read original review)

iFi Audio Pro iDSD DAC/headphone amp/preamp/streamer

Stated simply, the Pro iDSD is far and away the most sophisticated and technically advanced DAC that iFi Audio has ever offered and its features set is so forward looking that it would not seem at all out of place in a DAC selling for, say, ten or more times the Pro iDSD’s price

(Click name to read original review)

Amplifier / DAC iFi xDSD and network amplifier / DAC iFi Pro iDSD

It moves headphones into the next class – this is the difference in sound it makes from when you just use the normal phone output.

(Translated from Russian)

(Click name to read original review)

iFi Audio iDSD Pro – Musique a la carte

The latest creation of the British AMR / iFI Research team tackles everything that exists on the high-quality converter market. The technologies implemented in the Pro iDSD Pro are among the most sophisticated of the moment and offer a great variety of settings and use. 

(Translated)

(Click name to read original review)
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