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Multitest – the best dac for 1000 euros!

Prijs: € 1000

IFI Micro iDSD Signature

NMS sends us a rather goofy little dac…. The IFI Micro iDSD Signature… a mobile product! That’s a risk to take in a test like this!

Of course we know IFI at Alpha Audio. The brand makes dacs, head-fi products and power supplies, among other things. The latter category in particular has impressed us, because they are affordable and very good. A nice IFI power supply on your switch works wonders, for example.

This IFI Micro iDSD Signature (Burr Brown dac, but type unknown) from 749 euros can convert virtually all digital signals to analog. However, given the fact that it is made for ‘on the road’, it contains a battery and the connection options are somewhat different than usual. For example, we see a 3.5mm port for both coax and optical. Rest assured: all adapter plugs are included.

The sound

The IFI sounds remarkably mature. The image that the IFI paints is large and perfectly in proportion. The sound is also complete, relaxed and quite rhythmic. The IFI shows more detail than the Amethyst, to our ears. And presents a bit more warmth in the mid/low end than the Audiolab. This gives a pleasant overall picture that will make many an enthusiast happy.

What we do hear is that the Audiolab and RME are a bit more open and loose. We have of course tried the various filters and can state that standard and minimum phase sound fine (minimum phase is slightly more natural to our feeling), but that bit perfect just sounds bad. And measures also very bad… It is more closed and restless than the other two options that perform fine.

Measurements

The IFI Micro iDSD Signature measures up remarkably well, we think. The linearity plot doesn’t show any strange things at all (except that it sends out a bit softer) and the dynamic range is also just right at 110 dB. The frequency response is also nicely straight. The only mode that by ear and measurements simply not recommend is bit perfect. It measures lousy (20 dB higher noise!) and it sounds very closed and restless. That mode they may remove from us.

Closing

This small, portable box pleasantly surprised us. Partly because of its usability. IFI shows on the test bench that it knows what it is doing: the measurements are just right for a product in this class. However, at the end of the day Alpha Audio is all about the sound. And that is just fine. Forget bit-perfect and play either en normal-mode or in minimum-phase…

Samples

Download the lossless samples

Specifications

Brand / Model IFI Micro iDSD Signature
Input USB, Spdif coax / optisch (3,5mm jack)
Output Cinch / Hoofdtelefoon
Remote Nee
Max bit- / samplerate 32 bit /  768 kHz (USB) – DSD512 – 24 bit / 192 kHz spdif.
Dimensions 27 x 67 x 172 mm
Weight 295 gram
Price 749 Euro

2 Comments

  1. Hi folks. Thanks for this. I know you compared 5 DACs already but can I ask you to add the Merason Frerot (sans the external power supply I guess) to the mix?

    Since you reviewed it positively in the past I’d like to know where it stands, especially versus the RME. I have the latter and I’m looking for a warmer DAC to diversify my stack.

    Thank you and keep up the good work. I follow the YouTube channel a lot.

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