We have the latest DAC/Headphone amp from iFi, and it’s kickass!
We first wrote about the new $699 iFi NEO iDSD Desktop DAC/Amp last week, and now we have one to show you! The pics really don’t do it justice because its polished aluminum finish is sublime. It’s really solid too. I couldn’t believe how heavy the box was when I first picked it up, and when I took the NEO iDSD out of the box, I was just as astonished at the heft of the unit on its own. It’s built like a tank.
This thing is loaded and would be equally at home on your desk as part of a high-end headphone setup or on your hi-fi rack connected to a power amp. One thing I noticed immediately was the absence of DSP modes like XBass or 3D+, which I’ve become accustomed to seeing on iFi gear. According to the marketing materials, it was left off purposefully to keep the signal path pure. Speaking of signal paths, the NEO iDSD has dual mono amp circuitry and Balanced outputs, including XLR out.
Another thing I like about NEO iDSD is the LED Screen which provides a ton of info despite its compact dimensions. I also like the smooth turning and precise volume pot. This is a serious piece of equipment.
I started testing by connecting it to my laptop via USB and running Windows’s TIDAL desktop software. Then I plugged in a pair of Focal Elear. So far, the sound is impressive, with low noise and a decent amount of depth to the sound. I really dug the Tidal Masters MQA. I’m really looking forward to checking out some of the other features, including Bluetooth streaming. It uses a similar setup to the iFi Zen Blue, a wireless DAC that I was impressed with when I reviewed it.
Stay tuned for the full review, and if you have any questions about it you want us to answer, feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See below for a list of features and some pics…for those who like to see under the hood, iFi has a great tech spec sheet you can download here.
1. First DAC to support all Hi-Res: DSD512, PCM768, MQA384kHz, and Bluetooth 96kHz.
2. Completely purist design without any DSP.
TM 3. Bluetooth 5.0 (aptx, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, aptX LL, LDAC, HWA/LHDC, AAC and SBC) up to
4. Fully-balanced differential DAC/amplifier with >1,040mW output.
5. Ultra-fast USB interface with 16 logic cores and up to 2000MIPS 512KB SRAM.
6. Audiophile-grade components designed to reproduce music without any distortion or
7. Native DSD/PCM Burr-Brown® 4-channel DAC chipset.
8. Perfectly natural sound pleasing even the most demanding audio connoisseurs with the built-in
MQA file decoding.
9. Extremely low THD: <0.0015 % and ultra-high SNR: >120 dB.
TM 10. Digital inputs: USB3.0 B (USB2.0 compatible)/S-PDIF (coaxial/optical)/Bluetooth 5.0 .
11. The special custom aviation-grade aluminum base matched to the NEO iDSD.
1. Check out the big box!
2. This is premium packaging!
3. MQA, Burr-Brown DAC Chip, Balanced Circuitry, Tons of Bluetooth Codecs!
4. Inner Box
5. Top of the NEO iDSD
6. Accessory Boxes
8. RCA Cable, USB Cable, Bluetooth Antenna, Remote
9. iPower Wall Wart
10. On top of the ol’ Topping Stack…
11. Nice Volume Knob!
12. Rear Panel
13. Digital Inputs…USB, Optical, Coaxial…Bluetooth Antenna to the right…
14. Analog Outputs…XLR Balanced for a nice power amp, RCA Single-Ended
15. Check out the Light and LED Screen!
16. Close up of Light and Volume Knob
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My thirst for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.