iFi Battery-Powered Amp/DAC (from Sound&Vision)

Discussion in 'All Things Digital' started by TubeHiFiNut, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. TubeHiFiNut

    TubeHiFiNut Administrator Staff Member

  2. MikeyFresh

    MikeyFresh Moderator Staff Member

    Yes or for that matter their own iDSD Black Label, which feature wise is very similar, lacking only the aptX Bluetooth on first glance.
  3. S0und Dragon

    S0und Dragon Junior Member

    Im still kinda bummed that they didnt go MQA with the Micro IDSD Black Label.
  4. Prime Minister

    Prime Minister Site Owner Staff Member

    That would have been awesome.
  5. MikeyFresh

    MikeyFresh Moderator Staff Member

    MQA is now available for all iFi DACs (including both micro and nano iDSD Black Label) except the original iDAC, by installing firmware v5.30 (the original iDAC is incompatible with the new firmware).

    Not an entirely free lunch however, while use of the v5.30 firmware adds MQA support, it also sacrifices the v5.20 firmware's capability of DSD512 and PCM 768kHz.

    So if you fancy MQA playback you can have it, but at the expense of limiting DSD and PCM to DSD256 and PCM 384 kHz respectively.

    iFi does let you freely switch the firmware however, so it's not a one-time decision where you can never go back, you can always revert to v5.20 if a future use case scenario favors ditching MQA in order to add back the higher DSD and PCM sample rates.

    See here for the details.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
    marantzfan likes this.
  6. marantzfan

    marantzfan Administrator Staff Member

    I’m a big fan of iFi. I feel they are overlooked too often because of the budget price point and small footprint.

    That’s a mistake.

    Every piece of iFi gear I have owned has punched well above its weight class. I would imagine this one to be more of the same.
    S0und Dragon and MikeyFresh like this.
  7. Prime Minister

    Prime Minister Site Owner Staff Member

    That sounds like a fair trade to me. I'd give up a little bit of what would be the unusable side of DSD, for the very practical and usable benefits of MQA. Can you imagine having a hard drive(s) full of DSD512 music???
  8. MikeyFresh

    MikeyFresh Moderator Staff Member

    That would be pretty impractical, even at today's greatly reduced pricing on mass storage.

    Right now none of that really even exists in terms of source material you can buy. The current use case would be one of up-sampling via HQ Player (or JRiver among others), so the required HDD storage space would still be that of DSD64, or PCM at say 24/192 etc... only the software up-sampled file sent to the DAC by HQ Player for conversion to analog is of the higher sample rate.

    End users already deep down that HQ player/up-sampling path would not likely want to sacrifice those upper limit sample rates of DSD and PCM for MQA, but that would probably be a case-by-case investigation as some DACs sound better than others at those upper limit resolutions, just as some might sound better than others at the effective 17-bit/96kHz resolution of MQA.

    But yes, seems a decent trade-off offered by iFi in capping at DSD256 and PCM 384kHz in order to offer customers a choice in this matter, and one they can easily undo if needed. Most audio companies don't allow that sort of thing, often it's a one-way street with firmware "upgrades" where you can never revert back to older versions as that inevitably causes more complexity and cost on the support side in developing and maintaining several different firmware versions.

    Another side note to iFi's firmware update process involves ease of use on the Mac platform. All too often audio companies don't offer firmware updater tools via anything but Windows, which drives the Mac and Linux crowds batty. iFi has had a Mac-based firmware updater available for years now, since 2015 or so if memory serves, yet another nice touch on their part given the quite reasonable pricing of their products.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018

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