About the iFi Audio NEO iDSD
Component-quality DAC/amp for your desktop
Position the iFi NEO iDSD either horizontally and vertically on your desk and get better sound from your computer or phone. (Sennheiser HD 800 S headphones sold separately.)
Component-quality DAC/amp for your desktop
The sleek iFi Audio NEO iDSD fits neatly into my modest work-from-home setup. But this aluminum-framed beauty looks, feels, and performs like a premium component-style DAC/headphone amp combo. I auditioned several pairs of headphones through the NEO iDSD, including some super high-end models, and it was powerful enough to drive them all.
I connected my laptop via USB and was able to bypass its ho-hum audio circuitry. I'll have more hands-on impressions soon, but I found that the Neo iDSD's strength was in its simplicity. Sure, there's a lot of cutting-edge tech and high-grade circuitry under the hood. But it doesn't feature all the extra DSP modes and tweaky controls often found in other iFi gear — this piece is designed to preserve audio purity.
The ins and outs
The NEO iDSD connected to my laptop using the included USB cable. This way I could stream lossless high-res tracks via Qobuz. (It also offers full MQA support if you use TIDAL Masters.) But there are also coaxial and optical digital inputs on the back panel.
iFi offers several back-panel wired connections along with Bluetooth 5.0.
I used this unit primarily for headphones, but it also doubles as a stereo preamplifier. On the back, you'll find unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR outputs for connecting a wide range of power amplifiers.
The latest and greatest in wireless audio
You can also play music wirelessly from your phone via Bluetooth 5.0 — the strongest, most reliable Bluetooth yet. iFi has included an advanced form of audio coding called "aptX-HD®," for improved sound quality with sources that support this technology. You can even take advantage of Sony's LDAC technology if you play music from a compatible device (like a Sony High-res Walkman).
Makes all your digital music sound better
The NEO iDSD features a high-grade four-channel Burr-Brown DAC chip that can squeeze out more musical detail from digital audio sources — including Spotify®, Apple Music®, and YouTube. This DAC will decode high-resolution PCM-based music files up to 32-bit/384Hz resolution, and DSD files up to 11.2 MHz.
iFi has been working with Burr-Brown chips for a long time, so they really have a handle on them. They've complemented the powerful DAC with an ultra-fast 16-core processor and their own "Gibbs Transient Optimized" digital filter. iFi developed this special filter in-house to remove ultrasonic noise and distortion, while keeping the audio signal pure and "unflavored."
Headphone amp with balanced and unbalanced outputs
On the front panel, there is a 1/4" stereo headphone jack along with a balanced 4.4mm headphone output. The latter is the new industry standard balanced connection that helps cuts down on signal noise and distortion. A growing list of headphones from multiple brands use it.
Either way you connect takes advantage of what iFi calls "PureWave" headphone amp technology. Their dual-mono circuitry keeps the left and right audio channels separate for as long as possible to avoid cross-talk and distortion.
- Featured in our article: Best DACs for 2023
- desktop USB DAC with built-in high-performance headphone amp
- improves sound from your PC, laptop, digital music player, iPhone®, and/or Android™ phone
- designed to keep audio signal pure without any digital sound processing (DSP)
- slim design with sturdy aluminum chassis
- can be positioned horizontally or vertically (four rubber feet and aluminum vertical stand included)
- preamp mode with balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs for connection to an outboard power amp or self-amplified speakers
Built-in Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless music and audio:
- aptX® Adaptive automatically adjusts to prioritize audio quality or low latency, depending on the listening situation
- aptX HD, SBC, and AAC decoding provides high-quality music streaming from compatible devices
- LDAC Hi-Fidelity wireless music streaming from compatible sources
- voice prompts for connection and codec status
Built-in digital-to-analog converter:
- 4- channel Burr-Brown "True Native" digital-to-analog converter chip for high-quality sound
- allows for separate signal pathways for PCM and DSD
- plays PCM digital audio sources up to 32-bit/768kHz; DSD 512, and single- and double-speed DXD
- full decoding for MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio files (up to 384 kHz)
Balanced headphone amplifier:
- two front-panel headphone outputs:
- one unbalanced 1/4" output (3.5mm mini to 1/4" adapter included)
- one balanced 4.4mm output
- low noise floor for clear audio reproduction
- iFi's dual-mono "PureWave" circuitry helps reduce noise and crosstalk between the left and right audio channel
- output impedance: 12-600 ohms (balanced); 12-300 ohms (unbalanced)
- output power (balanced):
- >1040mW @ 32 ohms
- >68.6mW @ 600 ohms
- output power (unbalanced):
- > 295mW @ 32 ohms
- > 17.6mW @ 300 ohms
Back-panel DAC/preamp connections and controls:
- stereo balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA preamp outputs
- digital audio inputs:
- coaxial digital supports signals up to 24-bit/192kHz
- optical digital up to 24-bit/192kHz
- asynchronous USB Type B for connecting a Mac® or Windows® computer — PCM files up to 32-bit/384 kHz, DSD up to 5.6 MHz
- not compatible with multichannel Dolby® Digital signals
General features and specs:
- detachable antenna for enhanced wireless Bluetooth range
- includes outboard "iPower" 5V power supply for clean, quiet power
- USB 3.0 cable (Type A to Type B)
- remote control
- THD + N: <0.0015% @ 32 ohms
- 8-1/2"W x 1-5/8"H x 5-3/4"D
- weight: 2.14 lbs.
- warranty: 1 year
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # 313001
What's in the box:
- Digital-to-analog converter
- iPower AC adapter with attached 79" DC output cord (DC output: 5V 2.5V)
- US 2-pronged AC plug adapter
- Wireless remote control
- CR2025 Lithium battery (installed in remote)
- 3.5" Bluetooth antenna
- 3.5mm-to-6.3mm Adapter
- 20" RCA patch cord (male stereo RCA plug on each end)
- 20" USB 3.0 cable (Type A USB 3.0 on one end and Type B USB 3.0 on other end)
- 4 Adhesive-backed rubber feet
- Vertical base
- User Manual
- Warranty card
iFi Audio NEO iDSD reviews
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More details on the iFi Audio NEO iDSD
Features & specs
|Built-in Rechargable Battery||No|
|Built-in Headphone Amplifier|
|Output Power||2V bal / 1V unb|
|Output Impedance (Unbalanced)||12-300 ohms|
|Output Impedance (Balanced)||12-600 ohms|
|Bit Depth (USB)||---|
|Max Sampling Rate (USB)||---|
|Bit Depth (S/PDIF)||---|
|Max Sampling Rate S/PDIF||---|
|S/N Ratio (Unbalanced, in dB)||0|
|S/N Ratio (Balanced, in dB)||---|
|THD (Unbalanced)||Not given|
|Supported File Types|
|PCM||Up to 768kHz|
|USB||Type B 3.0|
|Stereo RCA Analog||None|
|Stereo 3.5mm Analog||None|
|Stereo XLR Analog||None|
|Other Headphone Outs||None|
|Line Level & Digital Outs|
|RCA Line Out||1|
|3.5mm Line Out||None|
|XLR Line Out||1|
|Optical Digital Out||None|
|Coaxial Digital Out||None|
|Parts Warranty||1 Year|
|Labor Warranty||1 Year|
Overview: The iFi Audio NEO iDSD is a compact, tabletop DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and headphone amplifier that will add smoothness and warmth to your digital music collection, and provide a boosted signal to your headphones or your home amplifier. It is designed for use with your smartphone or tablet, your home or office computer, or a home disc player with a digital output. The unit features three inputs (USB 3.0, Optical, and Coaxial digital), Bluetooth pairing, two headphone outputs (4.4mm balanced and 6.5mm single-ended), and two analog line outs (XLR balanced and RCA single-ended). NEO iDSD is designed to be placed horizontally on a tabletop, or vertically in the included custom base made of aviation-grade aluminum. The OLED display rotates based on its orientation. It comes with a wireless remote, and a variety of USB and audio cables and adapters. The NEO iDSD measures 8-7/16" x 1-5/8" x 5-3/4", and weighs just over 2 pounds.
Digital-to-Analog Conversion: The NEO iDSD plays Hi-Res audio in the native format, including DSD (up to 512 MHz), DXD (up to 768 kHz), and PCM (up to 768 kHz). You can also listen to MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio from Tidal Masters, Roon, or Audirvana. It uses dual Burr-Brown "True Native" DAC chips to lower noise (by 3dB) and provide better channel separation. The signal remains in its native format, so you get the best of each format. With iFi's GMT (Global Master Timing) femto-precision clock and intelligent memory buffer, digital jitter is virtually eliminated. The NEO iDSD portable DAC is compatible with the following audio formats:
- DSD: 512, 256, 128, 64 MHz (Octa-/ Quad-/ Double-/ Single-Speed DSD)
- DXD: 768, 705.6, 384, 352.8 kHz (Double / Single-Speed DXD)
- PCM: 768, 705.6, 384, 352.8, 192, 176.4, 96, 88.2, 48, 44.1 kHz
- MQA: full decoding up to 384 kHz
MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) Decoding: The NEO iDSD is equipped with the new 16-core XMOS chip, which supports the MQA full "three unfold" decoding process up to 384kHz. The device supports MQA decoding through both the USB and S/PDIF inputs, which enables you to play back MQA files and stream MQA audio from sites such as Tidal Masters, Roon, or Audirvana, or from any MQA CDs you may have. MQA delivers the sound of the original master recording, so you'll hear the music exactly the way the artist intended.
Headphone Amplifier: The iFi NEO iDSD has a strong headphone amplifier that can drive most headphones and in-ear monitors. There are two headphone outputs: a 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced output, and a 6.3mm (1/4") single-ended output. It has a continuous power output of over 1000mW into 32 ohms that can drive virtually any headphones, even hard-to-drive planar headphones.
Line Outputs: In addition to the front-panel headphone outputs, the DAC/headphone amp features both balanced and single-ended analog outputs on the rear panel. An audio signal is sent to both outputs, so you can use the outputs simultaneously. The analog outputs can be configured as fixed for connecting it to an integrated amp or preamp, or set to variable for connecting to a power amp or active speakers. When set to fixed, you can no longer adjust the volume using the multi-function knob. You can switch between fixed and variable output using the multi-function knob and power button.
Bluetooth: The NEO iDSD is equipped with Bluetooth version 5.0, and supports all of the current high-definition Bluetooth audio formats. In addition to AAC (Apple's iOS codec) and SBC, the device supports Qualcomm's aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, and "regular" aptX, plus Sony's LDAC and HWA's LHDC. aptX Adaptive and aptX HD support 24-bit/48kHz decoding, while LDAC and LHDC support 24-bit/96kHz. The NEO iDSD uses Qualcomm's new QCC5100 Bluetooth processing chip, which can be updated over-the-air to make it futureproof. The unit comes with a screw-on Bluetooth antenna, and can store up to 8 paired devices.
Digital Inputs: The NEO iDSD features three digital inputs: USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible), Optical (Toslink), and Coaxial (RCA). The digital audio data is processed by the built-in XMOS 16-Core microcontroller chip, which is optimized for sound quality. It has double the clock speed and four times the memory as 8-core chips. The front panel input selector cycles through the Coaxial, Optical, USB, and Bluetooth inputs.
USB 3.0 Input: The NEO iDSD has a Type B USB 3.0 input that can be used with your home/office computer. A USB 3.0 (Type A to Type B) cable is included in the box. The input is backward-compatible with USB 2.0.
OLED Display: The easy-to-read OLED display shows the current audio format, sampling rate, volume, and input mode. It is located on the left side when the device is placed horizontally, and at the top when vertical. The display rotated to match the unit's orientation. You can set the brightness of the display by selecting one of the following: High, Low, or Off. If Off is selected, the display goes to sleep 3 seconds after an operation is performed. You can adjust the brightness using the multi-function knob or the included wireless remote.
Wireless Remote: The NEO iDSD comes with a small wireless remote control that lets you control the OLED display brightness, select the input, mute/unmute, and adjust the volume. The remote is 1.6" x 3.4" x 0.27", and is powered by a CR2025 coin-cell battery.
Power: The NEO iDSD can be powered by a DC 5V power supply. The super-quiet iPower power supply (5V / 2.5A) is the recommended power supply, and is included in the box. Although any 5V power source can be used, regular USB ports emit lots of noise and may impact the audio performance of the NEO iDSD.
- Digital Inputs:
- USB 3.0: Type B (USB 2.0 compatible)
- S-PIDF: Coaxial (RCA) / Optical (Toslink)
- Bluetooth 5.0: AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, aptX LL, LDAC, LHDC/HWA Codec
- DSD: 512 / 256 / 128 / 64 (Octa/Quad/Double/Single-speed DSD)
- DXD: 768 / 705.6 / 384 / 352.8 kHz (Double/Single-speed DXD)
- PCM: 768 / 705.6 / 384 / 352.8 / 192 / 176.4 / 96 / 88.2 / 48 / 44.1 kHz
- Bluetooth: 96 kHz
- Line Output:
- Balanced XLR: 6.3V / 7.7V max. (variable); 4.4V (fixed)
- UnBalanced RCA: 3.2V / 3.9V max. (variable); 2.2V (fixed)
- Z Out:
- Balanced: <= 100Ω
- Unbalanced: <= 50Ω
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR): -112dB (A) @ 0dBFS (UnBal/Bal)
- DNR: > 116dB (A) @ -60dBFS (UnBal/Bal)
- THD+N: < 0.0015% @ 0dBFS (UnBal/Bal)
Headphone Amp Section:
- Balanced (4.4mm): 2V / 6.2V max. (12Ω - 600Ω headphone)
- Unbalanced (6.3mm): 1V / 3.3V max. (12Ω - 300Ω headphone)
- Output Power:
- >6.4V / 68.6mW @ 600Ω
- >5.77V / 1040mW @ 32Ω
- >3.25V / 17.6mW @ 600Ω
- >3V / 295 mW @ 32Ω
- Output Impedance: < 1Ω (UnBal/Bal)
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR): -112dBA (3.3V UnBal/6.2V Bal)
- DNR: -120dB (A)
- THD+N: < 0.0015% (125mW@32Ω)
- Power Consumption:
- No Signal: ~0.5W
- Max Signal: ~2.5W
- Input Voltage: DC 5V / 2.5A, AC 100-240V, 50/60Hz (with iPower)
- Horizontal: Width 8.429", Height 1.616", Depth 5.786"
- Vertical: Width 1.616" (3.072" w/base) Height 8.638" (w/base), Depth 5.786"
- Weight: 2.014 pounds (2.296" w/base)
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