Product Overview of iFi: Gather your audio path




Pavel Dmitriev cleg clegger c1egger

World of gadgets for lovers of quality sound in the headphones as a very polar divided into two parts: either more or less than the budget of different solutions with the sound quality or the same incredible toughness and quality of the equipment cost “as a wing of the aircraft.” Intermediate solutions is very small, even smaller solutions targeted primarily at those who listen to music from your computer, and not just the devices modular and upgradable. But the company iFi has changed a lot, presenting its range of devices, of which I shall tell.

iFi – far from being a newcomer to the market of audio solutions, their “parents” is respected in the world of “serious audiophile” British company Abbingdon Music Research (AMR). The seriousness of preparation for release in the segment of “computer music fans” feel the full. Having appeared on the market recently, iFi with its line «Micro» actually produced a sensation by presenting a short period of time a whole series of products, and products of very successful: the headphone amplifier iCAN, DAC iDAC, stabilizer USB power iUSB Power, phono stage iPhono, USB converter in S / PDIF iLink and, finally, the new product – the amplifier using lamps iTube. I tried the first three devices, courtesy of the official distributor – the company sound English .

Все от iFi и сразу

Besides the obvious and expected for the products of the merits of such a type of look and sound good (but more on that later), comes to the fore a very interesting feature: modularity solutions, allowing a gradual upgrade. Looks like a very logical order of purchase: iDAC, giving the first increase as compared to the built-in sound card, then iCAN, if you have a “tight” headphones or you do not like the sound of a simple amplifier, built-in iDAC, and, finally, iUSB, if you want to get the maximum possible supply by filtering USB-ports. In this case, you can choose your system and add to it only the components you need.

Now we go to the order of all three devices.

Коробка iDAC

Specifications DAC

Chip: ESS Sabre ES9023
Supported resolution: up to 192 kB / s, 24-bit
USB audio class 2, asynchronous, chip from XMOS
S / N Ratio:> 111 dB
The dynamic range (-60 dBFs):> 111 dB
Crosstalk: <-102 dB @ 1 kHz Total harmonic distortion: <0.005% Jitter: below the detection limit Frequency range: 3 Hz - 33 kHz Conclusions: line-out, RCA Specifications headphone amplifier DU: MAX9722 Output power:> 150 mW @ 15 Ω
Output Voltage:> 3.3V @> 100Ω
S / N Ratio:> 97 dB
Total harmonic distortion: <0.003% Output impedance: <1 Ω Power consumption: <2.5 W Dimensions: 158 mm x 68 mm x 28 mm Weight: 193 gr Output: 3.5 mm Packaging and delivery All devices are available in iFi same package and are made in the same style (which is generally expected): elongated white cardboard box with silver embossed on top of it is worn cardboard envelope with a print device and a list of the main features on the reverse side. комплект поставки iDAC The box is lying on top of the DAC under it in two parts: USB-cable (very good), 4 silicone cups that will not scratch the underside of the unit, a standard interconnect cable with RCA-4 connectors and manual / warranty card. Design and Management As I wrote above, the design of the iFi the same series - very small width and height, while quite remarkable length. Slightly beveled edges and an all-aluminum body complete the look. Trite cliche, but it is next to the "poppies» iFi looks particularly good. Передняя панель iDAC On the upper surface are the logo and indication LEDs on the underside of all the devices carefully plotted the main features devaysa, all controls are located on the front and rear ends. In this case iDAC: USB connector on the back panel line out and headphone jacks on the front panel, there is a volume control. It seemed a bit counter-intuitive layout line-out on the front, especially given the fact that the entrance at iCAN - behind. Just a little criticism is easy to pull a volume control, but also hard to call it a critical shortcoming given the price. Задняя панель iDAC LEDs indicate the power supply, connect to a PC and play music. Sound To listen to the following equipment. MacBook Pro Early 2011 Amplifiers iCAN, Fiio E12 , Violectric V200 and Yulong Sabre A18 Fidelia as a player Entries for lossless-formats Ambient Acoustics AM6 HiRez , Sennheiser HD650, AKG K702, Fischer Audio FA-003Ti , Philips Fidelio X1 In iDAC used a very good chip from ESS Technologies: Sabre 9023, he was found in a huge array of devices ranging from very low ending quite expensive models. Therefore, the iFi tried to squeeze the most out of it, using the technology of Direct Drive (minimum of additional components in the audio path) and providing good nutrition with three internal power supplies. Incredibly nice bonus is the work iDAC asynchronously, is a rare opportunity for low-cost DAC. Normal, DAC receives synchronous data from the source, when the latter sends them. In the case of out of sync frequency data sending and receiving (a sufficient accuracy difficult to align two separate devices), - the data is lost and there are failures. Of course, in most cases lost not a very high percentage of the data, and it will not lead to a clearly audible sound dips, but usually such interference can lead to a blurring HF and a muddy sound. In asynchronous mode, the source and DAC reversed, and the DAC itself, "says" when sending data. Because of this, iDAC shows maximum resistance to jitter and other noise digital signal transmission. Of course, all these cool technologies and innovations are worth nothing in itself, is important sound that gives the device as a result. IDAC+iCAN+Fischer For a start, about the sound of iDAC using only the DAC. For that, I connected the iDAC to amplifiers Fiio E12, Violectric V200 and Yulong Sabre A18. When you consider the price, the sound of the DAC can be considered close to the reference. It is smooth, with no imperfections, very detailed - in short, everything you would expect from a very, very well cooked Sabre 9023. Especially good iDAC tracks with vocals, live recordings not electronic instruments, orchestral jazz records. In some rare compositions supersaturated fine detail, DAC slightly compresses the edge of the "scene", but no complaints cope with such tracks only solutions of $ 1,000, so it's hardly a disadvantage. Headphone amplifier section in iDAC slightly loses a good dedicated solutions, MAX9722 op amp is hardly sverhtopovym but iFi engineers tried to do everything in their power to get the most: low output impedance allows iDAC even work with capricious mnogodrayvernymi fittings and power enough to most loosely headphones. Amp as DAC differs incredibly low noise, high transparency and attention to detail, but it was a lack of rigidity in the control bass and breadth of the stage, but as an added bonus to the Tapu - it is quite a good solution that can satisfy undemanding music lovers. If, for any reason, you will cease to miss quality built-in amplifier, the aid will come the second component of the system. iCAN Коробка iCAN Technical characteristics Amplifying part: a fully discrete, Class A Buffer part: TPA6120A2 Equalizer: duplex rugulyatory 3D Holographic Sound and XBass S / N ratio:> 117 dB
Total harmonic distortion: <0.003% Frequency range: 0.5 Hz - 500 kHz Output power:> 400 mW @ 32Ω
Output voltage:> 5 V @> 600 Ω
Power consumption: <4W when idle, 10 watts maximum Power supply: 100 - 240V, 50/60 Hz Dimensions: 158 mm x 68 mm x 28 mm Weight: 216 gr Login: RCA and 3.5 mm Output: 6.3 mm Design and delivery Packaging and iCAN appearance substantially the same as in iDAC (and iUSB), only a set of different connectors and indicators. In the case of iCAN The front panel volume control, two three-position switch Equalizer effects and a headphone output. The rear panel has two input jack and connector for the power supply, which in this external amplifier. The top indicators show the power connection, the music and the work of proprietary Direct Drive. Комплект поставки iCAN In addition to the amp, you will get a complete power supply, simple interconnect cable with RCA-plugs, short white lace with two 3.5mm jacks, 4 silicone feet, an adapter from 6.3 to 3.5 mm and manual / warranty card . Передняя панель iCAN Sound MacBook Pro Early 2011 DACs: IDAC, Audinst HUD-MX2 , Yulong Sabre DA8 Fidelia as a player Entries for lossless-formats Ambient Acoustics AM6 HiRez , Sennheiser HD650, AKG K702, Fischer Audio FA-003Ti , Philips Fidelio X1 Of course, the main thing that distinguishes iCAN the competition - is the presence of two "improvers" sound. Severe audiophiles usually scorn for such additions, but if you do not give audiophiles virus infection in the brain, it can be noted that sometimes these features are quite useful. With XBass more or less clear, this bass enhancement of two levels. The one weaker area increases to 200 Hz, reaching a maximum of 7 dB at 20 Hz, heavy work in the area of ​​up to 800 Hz, 20 Hz adding to +9 dB. АЧХ Bass Boost 3D HolographicSound - beast, rarely found in amplifiers. Its first level is similar to a regular krossfid: channels "admixed" into each other, creating the effect of listening to a great speaker (I wrote about this in detail in the description of the player Fidelia ). The second level is more interesting and gives the effect is really like a three-dimensional sound, as it does, such as SRS. The most amazing thing is that this effect is achieved without involving iCAN digital signal processing, purely analog methods. Задняя панель iCAN These settings are interesting, different combinations give funny effects and sometimes allow for a fresh hear familiar headphones. After playing with them, we had to turn them off to write objectively about the sound iCAN. In tests, I listened to it with iDAC and Yulong DA8. Amplification section consists of an amplifier, built on discrete components, as well as on-chip buffer amplifier TPA6120, very popular in audio. The disadvantages of this chip is the need for a resistor of at least 10 Ω in the output circuit, which is not good for the amplifier with low impedance headphones (especially mnogodrayvernymi fittings), but the engineers were able to iFi work around this limitation. As I understand it, they used the inductance and resistance of low resistance, and providing low output impedance, and the stability of the chip. iCAN в коробке ICAN neutral sounding, optimized for maximum transparency and invisibility. Very low noise level provides the same "black background", which is so necessary for immersion in a detailed and complex music. Headroom is sufficient for realizing the potential of most headphones (maybe except for the tight). Of course, iCAN perfectly complements iDAC in that case, if you are using headphones complex is added all the things that do not have enough built-in amplifier iDAC: volume, a division of instruments, clear and detailed bass. I iCAN brilliantly coped with the AKG K702 and Sennheiser HD600. On moddingovyh Fostex T50RP I had not enough permissions to MF, but Fostex generally quite capricious, and is best revealed with amplifiers, resulting in a very large scale current output. Due to the overall neutrality of the amplifier, it is good with almost any headphones: with the Monitor, he will give all the details, and taste it will not interfere with your own style of open source. iCAN с Fischer FA-003Ti The only drawback, or rather characteristic iCAN you can call it a big improvement: with sensitive headphones even when you have the 8-9 hours the volume is very high, well at least the smooth progress of the controller eliminates the problem of setting a comfortable level. If you want to maximize the quality of your desktop-computer audio system - you'll need a power supply filter. iUSB Power Коробка iUSB Power Technical characteristics Two USB-connector, one power only, the second - the power and data (recommended for use with cable iFi Gemini) Output voltage: 5 V ± 0,5% Output Current: 1 A Output Noise: 0.0000001 In High-speed USB 2.0: 480 Mb / s Input voltage: 100 V - 240 V, 50/60 Hz (power supply unit with ultra noise included) Power Consumption: <9W (including USB-powered device) Dimensions: 158 mm x 68 mm x 28 mm Weight: 195 gr Design and delivery Yes, yes, yes, the box and the appearance of the device is such as we expect. The front panel has two USB-output, one passes and meals, and the data, the second - only the power. The rear panel contains the power connector, USB-in and switch functions IsoEarth. The latter allows you to disconnect from the line of "land" in the USB power and thus significantly reduce the level of interference, although in some cases it may be not compatible with your computer, so the function is made optional. The indicators on the top panel are responsible for the display of power, connect to a PC and work functions IsoEarth. The delivery includes a USB-cable (as good as that of iDAC), power supply unit, the traditional manual-garantiyniki, silicone cups and white with a USB cable on one end and a round connector on the other. According to the company, this cable is designed to power the Logitech Squeeze Box Touch (device, popular western music lovers who just modding it is often subjected to food). Although I have seen in the reviews reviews that this cable is perfect for powering iCAN from iUSB Power, which saves one place in the outlet, I did not check this option, as it is not recommended by the manufacturer. Sound MacBook Pro Early 2011 DACs: IDAC, Audinst HUD-MX2 , Fiio E17 Fidelia as a player Entries for lossless-formats Ambient Acoustics AM6 HiRez , Sennheiser HD650, AKG K702, Fischer Audio FA-003Ti , Philips Fidelio X1 It should say that I was initially treated with skepticism to the idea of ​​devices such iUSB, believing that once USB - digital bus, and then the digital signal is passed through it unambiguously correct. But it is necessary to take into account the fact that in addition to USB data transfer, frequently also serves as a power source for the device, and this is where all the problems begin in the form of interference from the PC power supply, poor "land" and so on. I came across this the first time on a laptop friend: he complained that the DAC Fiio E17 from one USB-ports is playing well, and when connected to a second - noise. The cause of the noise began to hum it for nutrition. Of course, not always bad food so much manifest itself, it is often the "harm" is less noticeable and results in a general degradation of sound, it will be especially noticeable in the DACs feature both developers are not taken care of filtering the input voltage (funny that in iDAC filtering is good enough and the use of iUSB not so noticeable - in iFi did not follow the marketing and did not make an issue specifically to offer a solution.) For iUSB developed a special twin cable Gemini, transmitting power and data on separate wires, I have it on the test was not to judge its usefulness I did not take it, but even without it there is a sense from iUSB. iUSB Power вид сверху What makes this device? It replaces the USB-powered from your computer, obtained from the power supply and further filtered by the iFi iUSB Power. By the way, despite the fact that the devices are used iFi switching power supply (what is bad, I wrote in this review ), the company did our best to filter out high frequency noise, so that their power supply - a separate value, which can be useful for other gadgets. The most difficult question - iUSB Power utility for users. First of all it depends on how well implemented on the PC. If it is USB-powered and without that stable, so you do not notice a big boost (although when I was listening to a purely iDAC, iUSB Power connection through improved control of bass, partially reducing the claims to it) if you are using, such as a budget laptop - iUSB Power effect will be more noticeable. In the second place, depending on your perfectionism. If you're willing to pay for a small step closer to the ideal of you, then iUSB Power will be a good addition to your system, especially when using DACs powered from USB-port. Findings What do we have in the end? Set of several very good device in terms of design and in terms of sound, focused primarily on the "computer audifilov," although, of course, the level of equipment will allow them to take place in a more upscale systems. Separately pleased that the manufacturer actively modifies the line, improving existing and adding new devices, and the modular design allows you to collect exactly the "setup" that you need. By the way, a recent innovation iFi: «improver" sound iTube - another interesting component that can fit into this ecosystem. Back # Fiction | Five industrial materials that can change the future Next # facts | golden path to the devices of a few atoms thick Tags: Music , Headphones .

Tags: ,

In: Technology & Gadgets Asked By: [18476 Red Star Level]

Answer this Question

You must be Logged In to post an Answer.

Not a member yet? Sign Up Now »

Star Points Scale

Earn points for Asking and Answering Questions!

Grey Sta Levelr [1 - 25 Grey Star Level]
Green Star Level [26 - 50 Green Star Level]
Blue Star Level [51 - 500 Blue Star Level]
Orange Star Level [501 - 5000 Orange Star Level]
Red Star Level [5001 - 25000 Red Star Level]
Black Star Level [25001+ Black Star Level]