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. 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.
Product Highlights: - 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 - Dimensions - 8-1/2"W x 1-5/8"H x 5-3/4"D - Weight: 2.14 lbs. - Warranty: 1 year