iFi audio has announced the xDSD, an MQA-optimised DAC/Amplifier that works equally well as an ultra-portable or home-based device. It is packing aptX and AAC Bluetooth on board, whilst also delivering hi-res audio up to PCM768kHz and DSD512 to amplifiers, active speakers and headphones of all types.
Following the recent news that their latest firmware update, v5.30 ‘Cookies & Cream’, adds MQA playback to a range of current and discontinued iFi devices, they chose the hige AXPONA hi-fi show in Chicago to announce their xDSD DAC/amp this week.
I am really loving the design of iFi’s latest. It certainly makes a bold statement of both luxury and style, especially in its dark chrome finish.
The lightweight undulating enclosure is constructed from 6063-T5 magnesium-aluminium alloy. The molded plastic end cap allows unrestricted Bluetooth transmission.
Ease of operation remains the focus of iFi and so all the switches and connections have been optimised to match the new chassis. The central analogue volume rotary dial is a prime example of this. Also, the middle of that also doubles up as the on/off and pairing button.
For hooking up to your phone, tablet or laptop, then the unit’s aptX/AAC Bluetooth radio will prove handy. However, if you are not on the move or have pocket space for a stack, then the USB and S/PDIF ports are your friends. The unit also sports a USB A port that works with Android OTG as well as iOS when used with a Lightning connection camera kit. iFi have bundled a variety of adapters, as well as a USB 3.0 cable.
The xDSD supports high-resolution formats (MQA and DSD) and includes the iFi S-Balanced 3.5mm TRRS headphone circuit. This delivers 500mW of power per channel and should prove plenty to drive all but the most power-hungry headphones. The 3.5mm line out provides fixed 2v line output for connecting to hi-fi system or driving active speakers.
As it is portable it makes perfect sense for it to be battery powered. Charge comes from a 2200mAh Lithium-Polymer battery that should be good for six-to-eight hours of playing time. This will obviously depend on headphone sensitivity, output etc. The microUSB port is there for recharging duties.
Under the hood much of the magic is due to the Burr-Brown multibit DSD1793 DAC Chipset. This is mated to the femto precision GMT Clock and intelligent memory buffer system derived from AMR Audio’s US$5,500 flagship DAC to eliminate jitter.
This all adds up to the xDSD being able to play nice with PCM up to 32/384 kHz and DSD up to 256 times the sample rate of a CD.
MQA is onboard as standard in the xDSD thanks to the new firmware as it does with the iDSD Black Label from now. However, should you prefer 22.57MHz DSD and 768kHz/32Bit PCM, then alternative firmware is available for the xDSD. Please note, using this will prevent being able to listen to MQA.
Price and availabilty
The xDSD will be £399 when it lands in the UK.