About the iFi Audio Pro iDSD
A versatile toolkit for music lovers
A versatile toolkit for music lovers
The overachieving iFi Pro iDSD packs an incredible level of audio performance and versatility into its compact chassis. Whether you listen to music through a 2-channel amp-and-speakers rig, a desktop powered-speaker system, or a pair of audiophile-grade headphones, the Pro iDSD will let you hear greater detail and dimensionality from your favorite digital music sources, from lossy MP3s to high-res downloads.
First and foremost, the Pro iDSD is a state-of-the-art DAC (digital-to-analog converter) that uses four high-resolution Burr-Brown DACs to dig deep into signals to reveal nuances in your music you've probably never noticed before. It can also function as a stereo preamplifier, with an array of inputs for handling your digital music sources, plus both RCA and balanced XLR outputs for connecting directly to an amplifier.
The Pro iDSD's transparent, three-dimensional sound is proving to be a real eye-opener for audiophiles used to paying much more for this degree of musical realism.
Feed your head(phones)
The Pro iDSD also has a terrific built-in headphone amplifier, with standard 1/4" and 3.5mm outputs, along with a 4.4mm balanced output. The latter is the new industry standard balanced connection that cuts down on signal noise and distortion. Sony developed this special connection, and a growing list of headphones from multiple brands use it.
This DAC/amp combo performs well with most headphones and in-ear monitors, but if you own a pair of power-hungry premium cans, check out iFi's more powerful flagship headphone amp, the Pro iCAN.
And last but not least, the Pro iDSD is a network player, ready to stream audio sources like TIDAL, Qobuz, and Spotify®, using either a wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi® connection.
From the Stereophile review
”Bottom line: iFi Audio's Pro iDSD lived up to the hyperbole of its owner's manual. It did actually play music like "a 'state of the art' reference digital to analog converter." It did indeed sound like "an all-out assault" on what is possible in DACs today...and it did both of those good things at a ridiculously low price. Highly recommended.”
— Herb Reichert, Stereophile, January 2019
Class B rating in Stereophile's ”Recommended Components,” October 2019
Customizable sound offers something for everyone
The Pro iDSD sounds impressive straight out of the box, but it also offers unique ways to customize the sound. First, you can choose from three different output stage options:
- Solid-State – a fully-discrete Class A topology based on J-FETs
- Tube – totally separate vacuum tube Class A stage based on two General Electric GE5670 tubes
- Tube+ – reduces negative feedback to a minimum, and allows more of the tubes' natural harmonic distortion to come through
You can use the front-panel switch to toggle between the three modes without shutting off the Pro iDSD, but there's a brief pause as the circuitry changes over.
Powerful upsampling options: PCM or DSD
The Pro iDSD employs a powerful FPGA (field programmable gate array) that runs on iFi's custom firmware and is responsible for digital filtering and upsampling. For PCM-based signals, you can choose from five digital filter settings. Think of them as seasonings that subtly alter the flavor of your music. It's a cool way to tweak and fine-tune the DAC's sound to match your system and room. After experimenting with the various filter options, I ended up preferring the Bit Perfect and Bit Perfect+ settings.
DSD (Direct Stream Digital) is a high-quality digital audio format that some audiophiles prefer to PCM. The higher the DSD rate — DSD64, 128, 256, 512 and 1024 — the greater the amount of music information. You can use the DSD modes not only for DSD content, but also for "remastering" PCM-based files. The pinnacle of this is Studio Grade DSD1024, which is rarely found, even on the most expensive DACs.
All the right connections for your digital audio gear
You can connect the Pro iDSD directly to your amplifier using the RCA or balanced XLR outputs. A four-position screwdriver-slot rotary switch lets you choose fixed or variable output.
The Pro iDSD's flexible set of connections makes it easy to dramatically improve the sound from all your digital audio sources. There's one combo coaxial/mini-optical input for use with disc players, and it's also ideal for a Sonos Port player. Along with these common inputs, there's a balanced digital XLR input that provides an ultra-low-noise connection that's compatible with many high-performance CD transports. These inputs can handle files up to 24-bit/192kHz.
For higher-res files, use the USB Type A input to plug in a thumb drive, or the USB Type B input to connect a laptop or server.
A few nice touches
The illuminated iFi logo at the top left of the front panel indicates power-on in four different states: green for warming up, white for solid-state mode, orange for tube mode, red for protection mode. And the circular OLED display provides useful information about the signal and processing mode.
While the Pro iDSD includes a simple two-button remote for volume control, iFi has a free control app for your favorite Apple® or Android™ device, which integrates all your music choices into a single simple interface. From the music stored on your home network devices, to thousands of internet radio stations, to streaming services like Spotify, this app puts everything at your fingertips.
- four Burr-Brown 32-bit/768kHz DACs operating in an "interleaved array"
- plays PCM digital audio sources up to 32-bit/768kHz; DSD up to 49.152MHz (DSD 1024), and DXD and double-speed DXD
- other formats include MP3, and MQA for TIDAL Master tier
- Crysopeia FPGA (field programmable gate array) Digital Engine handles digital processing
- three types of digital processing:
- Direct — Bit-Perfect: neither PCM nor DSD signals are processed in any way (non-oversampling for PCM, direct-to-analog conversion for DSD files)
- PCM Upsampling: PCM is upconverted to 16X PCM (705.6/768kHz) using one of five filter options: Bit Perfect, Bit Perfect+, Gibbs Transient Optimized, Apodizing, and Transient Aligned
- DSD Remastering: incoming audio (except DSD512) is converted to either DSD512 or DSD1024
- connects to your home network via wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi® for music streaming and file playback
- supports streaming playback from TIDAL (including MQA), Qobuz, Spotify, and others
- stereo preamplifier with digital audio inputs
- three output modes:
- Solid-State: fully-discrete Class A topology based on J-FETs
- Tube: totally separate all-vacuum-tube Class A stage based on two General Electric GE5670 tubes
- Tube+: reduces negative feedback to a minimum, and allows more of the tubes' natural harmonic distortion to come through
- Alps Electric motorized rotary volume dial for precise volume control
- remote control (adjusts volume level only)
- OLED display
- free downloadable apps for iOS® and Android let you use a compatible smartphone or tablet as a remote control
- three-position gain switch to match impedance (0dB, 9dB, or 18dB)
- "S-balanced" headphone amplification provides the benefits of a balanced connection for single-ended headphones
- iFi's dual-mono circuitry helps reduce crosstalk between the left and right audio channel
- full-size 1/4" output
- 3.5mm output
- 4.4mm balanced output
- stereo balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA preamp outputs with selectable fixed/variable level
- galvanically isolated digital audio inputs:
- coaxial/mini-optical supports signals up to 24-bit/192kHz
- multifunction BNC (S/PDIF or external clock sync input) up to 24-bit/192kHz
- balanced AES/EBU digital XLR up to 24-bit/192kHz
- USB Type A for connecting a thumb drive
- 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
- SDHC card input
- Ethernet port for a wired network connection for streaming and downloads
- not compatible with multichannel Dolby® Digital signals
- built-in Wi-Fi
- Apple AirPlay for wireless playback from iPhone®, iPad®, and Mac® computers
- DLNA playback from compatible phones, tablets, NAS drives, or computers
- aircraft-grade aluminum case is specially vented to dissipate heat
- quad-damped isolation base mount provides solid foundation and absorbs vibrations
- outboard "iPower Plus" power supply for clean, substantial power
- 8-7/16"W x 2-1/2"H x 8-1/8"D
- weight: 4.4 lbs.
- warranty: 1 year
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # 301005
What's in the box:
- Digital-to-analog converter/network audio streamer
- AC adapter with attached 5' DC output cord (DC output: 15V 4A)
- 5' AC power cord (3-prong IEC)
- Remote Control
- Network antenna
- 22" USB 3.0 cable (Type A USB 3.0 on one end and Type B USB 3.0 on other end)
- 21" Analog RCA cables (2 Male RCA connectors on each end)
- Optical digital connector adapter (female Toslink-to-male optical mini)
- User Manual
- Warranty registration card
- "3 Easy Steps" card
- MQA Setup on Tidal card
Thanks for submitting your review
More details on the iFi Audio Pro iDSD
Overview: The iFi Audio Pro iDSD is a flagship DAC (digital-to-analog converter), digital music streamer, and headphone amplifier. The Pro iDSD lets you connect a wide variety of digital sources, from computers and routers to CD transports and NAS drives, and from memory cards and USB drives to an external HDD. The unit has a reference-level DAC chip that supports PCM up to 768kHz and DSD1024. You can even choose between tube and analog output stage. With all of the different configurations available, the Pro iDSD gives you the ability to listen to more of your favorite music in the most ways possible. Dimensions: 8.387"W x 2.498"H x 8.1126"L; Weight: 4.37 pounds.
Digital-to-Analog Conversion: The Pro iDSD plays Hi-Res audio in the original format, including MP3, DSD (up to 49.152 MHz [DSD 1024]), DXD and 2xDXD, and PCM (up to 768 kHz). You can also listen to MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio (up to 384/352.8 kHz). It uses a quad-core Burr-Brown Multi-bit/DSD hybrid DAC. The signal remains in its native format, so you get the best of each format.
MQA (Master Quality Authenticated): The Pro iDSD 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.
Inputs: The Pro iDSD features a wide variety of digital inputs to choose from. All inputs, including the USB, feature full galvanic isolation for ultra-quiet operation. The front panel Input Selector lets you select from the following inputs (or groups of inputs):
- Wi-Fi / Ethernet / Hard Disk / Micro SDHC:
- Wi-Fi: Using the MUZO Player app, you can stream Spotify, TIDAL, Napster, QQ Music, and other services (up to 192kHz/32-bit) via Wi-Fi. You can also wirelessly stream music from a DLNA audio source. Your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac computer can also stream music via Airplay.
- Ethernet: Connect your router or NAS (network attached storage) Drive via Ethernet. Stream Spotify, TIDAL, Napster, QQ Music, and other services using the MUZO Player app.
- HDD: Using the USB (Type A) Host input, you can connect an external (self-powered) Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or USB drive for playing music through the MUZO Player app.
- microSDHC: The device has a slot for a microSDHC memory card with MP3, FLAC, or DSD files for direct playback. Cards between 32GB and 128GB and formatted in FAT32 are supported.
- Device USB: This Type B USB port is USB 3.0 compatible (and backwards-compatible with USB 2.0 standard), and can be used to connect your PC, laptop, or music server. A USB 3.0 cable is included.
- Coaxial / Optical Digital Input: This combo RCA coaxial and 3.5mm mini optical input is for connecting a S/PIDF source, such as a high-end CD transport, or a CD/DVD disc player with a digital output. A Toslink-to-mini optical adapter is included.
- XLR Digital Input: This single AES/EBU XLR-3 input allows you to connect an XLR single link source unit, such as a high-end CD transport or a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
- BNC Digital Input: You can connect a device, such as a high-end CD transport, in this BNC multifunction input (S/PIDF / AES3id). You can also use the BNC connector to sync to an external clock device, and output the sync signal to another device via the second BNC connection. A rotary selector lets you choose the correct clock device: Atomic Clock, DARS (Digital Audio Reference Signal), or 10MHz. You should select "Standalone" if no external clock source is used.
Digital Filters: The Pro iDSD offers the following choices of digital processing, selectable on the front panel:
- Direct - Bit-Perfect: Both PCM and DSD signals are not processed in any way. This is sometimes called "non-oversampling" or "zero-oversampling" for PCM. DSD is retained in its original format, and directly converted to analog without any digital processing. You can select "Bit-Perfect" or "Bit-Perfect+".
- PCM - Upsampling: PCM is up-converted to 16x PCM (706.5 / 768kHz) using a choice of digital filters: Gibbs Transient Optimised, Apodising, or Transient Aligned. DSD remains completely unprocessed.
- DSD - Remastering: You can choose all incoming DSD audio to DSD512 or DSD1024.
Output Modes: Like the Pro iCAN, the Pro iDSD has both solid-state and tube output stages. Using the front panel 3-way switch, you can select from the following output modes:
- Solid-State Mode: The device employs a pure solid-state circuit using J-FET transistors, with fully-discrete Class A performance.
- Tube Mode: The two NOS GE5670 tubes are engaged, and the J-FET circuits are bypassed, to give you an all-valve Class A operation.
- Tube+ Mode: The Tube+ position reduces overall loop-gain and minimizes negative feedback. This mode produces more of the tubes' natural harmonics, resulting in an even more luxurious sound.
Note: After a period of time in solid-state mode, the tube heater element will automatically power down and turn off the tubes. If you then switch to a tube mode, the tubes will need to warm up again. During the warm-up, music will continue to play in the solid-state mode until the tubes are ready.
Headphone Amplifier: The iFi Pro iDSD has a strong headphone amplifier that can drive most headphones and in-ear monitors. The headphone outputs are up to 1575mW RMS x 2 at 64 ohms, and up to 4200mW Max x 2 at 16 ohms. The front panel has three headphone outputs: 1/4" (6.3mm), 4.4mm (TRRS balanced), and 3.5mm (single-ended, TRRS iFi S-Balanced). S-Balanced is a special iFi technology that lets you enjoy the benefits of a balanced connection in single-ended headphones. Near the three headphone outputs is a 3-way headphone gain switch with the following options:
|Gain Setting||Output Voltage|
|1/4" (6.3mm) /
3.5mm SE |
Output Impedance < 1 ohm
|4.4mm Balanced |
Output Impedance < 2 ohm
Analog Outputs: In addition to the headphone outs, the Pro iDSD has two other analog outputs, a Balanced XLR and Single-ended RCA. You can set the signal output to different levels, depending upon the connected equipment and usage. You can choose between Hi-Fi (fixed), Hi-Fi (variable), Pro (fixed), and Pro (variable). The front panel volume control can make adjustments for the variable settings. The analog outputs on the rear panel include:
- Balanced XLR: Two XLR-3 connectors present a balanced signal output. The max output is 4.6V (+15.5dBu) at the Hi-Fi setting, or 10V (+22dBu) at the Pro setting.
- Single-ended RCA: Left and right RCA outputs. The max output is 2.3V (Hi-Fi) or 5V (Pro).
Volume Control: The front panel aluminum rotary volume control can be operated by hand, or with the included wireless remote control. The volume control is a balanced (6-gang) Japanese Alps potentiometer. The volume control is motorized when used with the remote control.
The iFi Audio Pro iDSD replaces these items
- four Burr-Brown 32-bit/768kHz DAC chips deliver exceptional musical detail and depth
- stereo preamp with both solid-state and tube output modes
- high-quality headphone amplifier with full-size, 3.5mm, and balanced 2.5mm outputs