About the iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label
A super-versatile — and portable — audio device
The iFi Audio micro iDSD connects to your phone and delivers powerful sound to your headphones (Lightning® adapter sold separately).
A super-versatile — and portable — audio device
iFi Audio is known for loading up their well-built gear with lots of audio features. They often seem to consider every possible listening scenario and gear combination. And the micro iDSD Black Label takes this "kitchen sink" mentality one step further. This compact device can be used in a desktop setting or on-the-go as an external DAC, headphone amp, or even a preamp.
When connected to your phone or laptop via USB, this battery-powered DAC overrides the audio circuitry within your device. iFi's top-notch audio technology takes over. The built-in headphone amp ensures your headphones have enough power to perform their best. The micro iDSD also doubles as a stereo preamplifier, with inputs for handling your digital music sources, plus RCA outputs for connecting directly to an amplifier.
Customize your sound
You get several controls for tweaking the sound and functionality — the most options I've seen in a device this small. When iFi visited us here at Crutchfield for training, they brought two of their extremely knowledgeable service technicians. They told us that they have a direct line to the product research and development team, so suggestions often come from customer feedback.
The back panel features digital inputs and RCA outputs for using the micro iDSD as a preamp.
In the case of the micro iDSD Black Label, iFi went straight to the source. They "crowd-designed" the R&D, and asked the most hardcore music and headphone aficionados what they wanted from a DAC/headphone amp. The result is a collection of buttons and switches that give you control over gain, polarity, bass, sound dimensionality and more.
Dual high-performance DAC chips
The micro iDSD uses two Burr-Brown DAC chips, each dedicated to a single channel to avoid noise or crosstalk. These high-grade DACs can squeeze out more musical detail from Spotify®, Apple Music®, YouTube®, and other digital audio sources. They will decode high-res PCM music files up to 32-bit/768Hz resolution,as well as single-bit DSD files up to 24.576 MHz (DSD 512). The micro iDSD also offers full MQA support.
iFi also includes their "iPurifier" technology to keep your sound as clean as possible. This helps reduce noise that's generated by all the other stuff going on inside your connected phone or computer — all that extra activity unrelated to audio. It also "reclocks" your source's digital audio stream, providing a clean, jitter-free path for your music.
The front panel features a 1/4" headphone output, 3.5mm mini input, and controls for iFi's special sound processing.
Amplification for all types of headphones
The front panel features a 1/4" output for connecting headphones. This amp has enough power to drive headphones of all shapes and sizes with impedance from 16 ohms up to 600 ohms. Select from three different power modes to deliver the proper amount of power for your headphones. In "Turbo" mode, this amp can deliver up to 4,000mW to drive power-hungry, high-impedance headphones.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can use the iEMatch control to optimize the amp for highly sensitive headphones, like in-ear monitors (IEMs). iFi's proprietary iEMatch technology lets you adjust the power output while still preserving the sound signature of your 'phones.
- battery-powered desktop/portable USB DAC with built-in high-performance headphone amp
- improves sound from your PC, digital music player, iPhone®, and/or Android™ phone
- USB-A and USB-B cables included
- compact design with metal chassis
Built-in digital-to-analog converter:
- dual Burr-Brown "True Native" digital-to-analog converter chips for precise stereo playback
- allows for separate signal pathways for PCM and DSD
- plays PCM digital audio sources up to 32-bit/768kHz; DSD up to 24.576 MHz (DSD 512)
- up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM via S/PDIF optical digital connection
- offers rendering for MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio files
- built-in "iPurifier" technology for reduced line noise and jitter
- selectable digital filter settings for fine-tuning performance with different digital sources
- one unbalanced 1/4" headphone output (3.5mm mini to 1/4" adapter included)
- power output up to 4,000mW
- output impedance: 15-600 ohms
- output power (max):
- >10.0V / 4,000mW @ 16 ohms (Turbo mode)
- > 5.5V / 1,900mW @ 16 ohms (Normal mode)
- > 2.0V / 500mW @ 8 ohms (Eco mode)
- high-precision volume control dial with power on/off switching
- Power mode switch for three levels of output power: "Turbo," "Normal," or "Eco"
- 3-postion switch for XBass® (bass boost)
- on/off switch 3D Holographic® (expands soundfield)
- polarity switch
- bottom panel controls:
- iFi's proprietary iEMatch technology optimizes ouput for sensitive headphones (like in-ear monitors)
- line direct/preamp selection (fixed or variable)
- Type A USB input for connecting PC, smartphone, and other mobile devices
- coaxial/mini optical digital combination input/output
- standard Toslink to mini optical adapter included
- functions as a coaxial digital output when USB audio signals are applied
- without USB audio signals, functions as an optical or coaxial digital input
- not compatible multichannel Dolby® Digital signals
- stereo unbalanced RCA preamp output with selectable fixed/variable level (RCA cables included)
- 3.5mm stereo aux input for connecting a phone or portable music player (3.5mm mini-to-mini cable included)
General info and specs:
- rechargeable battery provides up to 12 hours of playback on a full charge
- color-coded LED indicator for incoming sample rate
- rubber feet included
- cloth storage pouch
- headphone output impedance: < 1 ohm (direct); < 4ohms (iEMatch)
- 2-1/16"W x 1-1/8"H x 7"D
- weight: 10.9 oz.
- warranty: 1 year
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # 303014
What's in the box:
- Portable DAC/headphone amp
- 39" USB 3.0 extension cable (Type A male-to-Type A female)
- 7" USB adapter cable (Type A female-to-Type B female)
- USB adapter (Type A female-to-Type B female)
- 4.5" Audio cable with right-angled 3.5mm plugs on both ends)
- Optical adapter (Toslink female-to-mini optical male)
- Headphone plug adapter (3.5mm female-to-1/4" male)
- 20" RCA cable (2 male RCA plugs on both ends)
- 4 Self-adhesive rubber feet
- Non-slip pad
- 2 Silicone bracelets
- 2 Rubber caps (for RCA sockets)
- Cloth storage pouch
- Warranty card
iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label reviews
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More details on the iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label
Overview: The iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label is a portable 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. In addition to the analog 3.5mm input, the unit has a combo S/PIDF digital input/output port that will accept coaxial or optical signals, and a USB Type A input. To use the micro iDSD BL with your smartphone or tablet, you'll need an Apple CCK (Camera Connection Kit) cable or Android OTG cable (both sold separately). A second Type A USB port is offered for charging your device when you're not listening to music. The DAC is equipped with a 1/4" (6.3mm) headphone output and a stereo RCA line output. Dimensions: 2.637"W x 1.128"H x 6.986"L; Weight: 11.1 ounces.
Digital-to-Analog Conversion: The micro iDSD Black Label plays Hi-Res audio in the original format, including MP3, DSD (up to DSD 512), DXD (up to 768 kHz), and PCM (up to 768 kHz). You can also listen to MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio. It uses a 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. The micro iDSD Black Label portable DAC is compatible with the following audio formats:
- DSD: 512, 256, 128, 64, 24.6, 22.6, 12.4, 11.2, 6.2, 5.6, 3.1, 2.8 MHz
- DXD (2x/1x): 768, 705.6, 384, 352.8 kHz
- PCM: 768, 705.6, 384, 352.8, 192, 176.4, 96, 88.2, 48, 44.1 kHz
- MQA: 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz filters
MQA (Master Quality Authenticated): The micro iDSD Black Label includes MQA rendering technology, which enables you to play back MQA files and stream MQA audio from sites such as Tidal Masters. MQA delivers the sound of the original master recording, so you'll hear the music exactly the way the artist intended.
LED Indicator: The micro iDSD BL has an LED that indicates the sampling frequency received from the source. It also shows the charging and battery status. The LED color scheme is as follows:
- Power On:
- Blue: DSD 256 (11.2/12.2 MHz)
- Cyan: DSD 128 / DSD 64 (2.8/3.1/5.6/6.2 MHz)
- White: DXD 705/768 kHz
- Yellow: PCM 176 / 192 kHz; DXD 352/384 kHz
- Green: PCM 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 kHz
- Purple: MQA
- Green (flashing): Waiting for USB connection
- Red: Battery low
- No LED: Battery empty
- Power Off:
- Blue: Charging
Headphone Amplifier: The iFi micro iDSD Black Label has a strong headphone amplifier that can drive most headphones and in-ear monitors. The 4000mW headphone amp has three power output settings: Turbo, Normal, and Eco, so you can choose the right amount of output for your headphones or IEM. The output of each mode is as follows:
- Maximum: 10.0V / 4000mW @ 16 Ohms
- Continuous: >1560 mW @ 16 Ohms; >166mW @ 600 Ohms
- Maximum: 5.5V / 1900mW @ 16 Ohms
- Continuous: >950mW @ 32 Ohms; >100mW @ 300 Ohms
- Maximum: 2.0V / 500mW @ 8 Ohms
- Continuous: >250mW @ at 16 Ohms
iEMatch: The headphone output is equipped with iFi's iEMatch technology. iEMatch uses MELF resistors to give you perfect and transparent matching of very sensitive headphones or in-ear monitors (IEMs) to eliminate hiss. On the bottom of the micro iDSD BL is a 3-way switch that lets you set the unit for High Sensitivity headphones or Ultra Sensitivity headphones. You can also switch iEMatch off, if desired.
RCA Line Output: The DAC/headphone amp has an RCA stereo line output to provide a connection for devices with their own volume control. This includes Active Speakers, Aux Inputs, and Hi-Fi Systems.
Line Direct / Preamplifier Modes: You can switch between a fixed 2-volt RCA output (at full volume, bypassing the headphone amp) and the preamplifier/DAC. In preamplifier mode, the volume control is enabled for the RCA line output (2 to 5V variable), and provides a gain of up to 9dB in Normal or Turbo power mode. There is no gain (0dB) when the power mode is set to Eco.
XBass+/3D+ Matrix: The device has two special circuits that can be applied to enhance your music. XBass+ adds back the bass frequencies that are often lost with some headphones. 3D+ Matrix Holographic Sound delivers a more immersive soundstage that simulates listening to a pair of loudspeakers. When no headphones are connected, the 3D soundfield is applied to the audio outputs for listening with speakers. Both features can be enabled or disabled via two-way switches on the front panel.
Polarity Switch: A +/- polarity switch is provided for digital sources. The switch cannot be used for analog signals via the 3.5mm input.
Digital Filters: The micro iDSD BL offers user-selectable digital filters. For PCM, you can choose between Bit-Perfect processing, Minimum Phase, or Standard processing. For DSD, extreme, extended, or standard bandwidth can be selected to help you find the one that sounds best for listening. For DXD, the default filter is a bit-perfect processing (fixed) analog filter.
Combo S/PDIF Port: The micro iDSD Black Label has a combination S/PDIF input/output port that offers connection to coaxial or optical digital devices. The coaxial connection (RCA) is an input and an output, while the optical connection (3.5mm) is an input only. A Toslink mini plug adapter is provided for connecting an standard Toslink cable. If a USB audio signal is present, you can output the signal through the coaxial connection. With no USB audio signal, you can input a coaxial or optical digital signal through the port. The S/PDIF port is auto-switching.
Note: The S/PDIF port supports PCM signals up to 192kHz.
USB Input: The micro iDSD Black Label has a high-speed asynchronous male Type A USB 2.0 input that can be used with your smartphone, tablet, or home/office computer. For iPhone and iPad, you will need an Apple CCK cable, such as the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter or the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter (sold separately). For Android, an OTG (On-the-Go) cable (with Type C or Micro USB, depending upon the device) is required. When connecting to your home or office computer, you should use the included USB 3.0 cable.
USB Power Port: On the side of the unit is a USB "SmartPower" port for fast-charging your smart device. SmartPower automatically detects an iPhone or Android device and begin charging. You must first turn off the iDSD before charging your device, as it will not play music and charge at the same time. The USB SmartPower port has an output of 5V / 1.5A. Charging a larger device, such as a tablet, is not recommended.
Rotary Volume Control: The micro iDSD BL has a precision analog volume control with an integrated power on/off switch. The volume control has a less than 2dB tracking error. When using USB power, you should connect to the computer first, before turning on the power. However, if you're operating on battery power, you should turn on the power before connecting to the computer.
Power: The micro iDSD Black Label is powered by a built-in 4800mAh Lithium-polymer battery. When fully charged, the battery life is dependent upon the selected power mode. In the Eco Mode, you can expect approximately 12 hours of battery life. In Normal Mode, approximately 9 hours is expected. In Turbo Mode, battery life is expected to be approximately 6 hours. You should always switch on the power first, before plugging in your device.