iFi nano iDSD Black Label portable DAC/Amp launched

ifi nano idsd black labeliFi Audio has introduced their new DAC/headphone amplifier. Dubbed the nano iDSD Black Label, I was there at the launch.

How time flies. This last week-or-so has been bonkers at the day-job as well as keeping GadgetyNews ticking over. However, the launch of the iFi iDSD Black Label is something I cannot just skip over.

I and other esteemed members of the press were gathered at Soho’s House of St. Barnabus for iFi’s launch of the nano iDSD Black Label portable headphone amp and DAC.

As well as showcasing the new device, there was a table loaded with iFi’s other goodies.

iFi nano iDSD Black Label

ifi nano idsd black label headphone amp dacThe new DAC supports PCM up to 32-bit/384-kHz and up to DSD 256, as well as MQA.

Additionally you get a pair of headphone outputs, one of which supports iFi’s iEMatch feature. If you’re unaware, this tech lets you choose how much power to apply to your specific headphones.

There is also a USB 2.0 input and a 3.5mm line output.

The nano iDSD Black Label is battery-powered, with a stated 10 hours of battery life.

Highlights

nano idsd BLThe nano iDSD Black Label is able to output 10 times more power than a laptop or phone alone. This means that this pocket-sized amp is can drive any set of headphones or in-ear monitors (IEMs).

The inclusion of MQA technology makes hi-res audio streaming a reality. Furthermore, it delivers studio master quality audio to your headphones.

ifi nano idsd BLFurthermore, it supports PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD up to 256 times the sample rate of a CD. It is also certified as ‘High-Res Audio’ by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA) and Japan Audio Society (JAS). This makes it one of the most high resolution DACs out there.

Adding to its cred, it’s the only portable DAC that lets you choose between the “Listen” (minimum phase Bezier Filter) and “Measure” (linear phase Transient Aligned Filter) options.

Black Label benefits

  • The integrated iPurifier adds noise isolation for USB Input.
  • The new OTG ‘A-Type’ USB input links seamlessly with iPhone/smartphones and tablets.
  • The analogue stage features dual-mono design and a dedicated fixed level line out.
  • S-Balanced wiring system for the headphone outputs. This gives the full benefit of balanced outputs when used with headphones/IEMs fitted with balanced wiring with low noise and distortion.
  • Even cuts crosstalk in half for unbalanced headphones

First impressions

I’ve been using it out and about and, after more than a week, it still impresses.

I will be carving out some time for a proper listening session. So, please stay tuned for a full review soon-ish.

Price and avilability

The retail price of the nano iDSD Black Label is €249 /£199 (incl. VAT)

iFi nano iDSD Black Label specifications

DAC
DAC:DSD, DXD, PCM DAC by Burr Brown Bit-Perfect DSD processing, Bit-Perfect DXD processing
Clock:Low-jitter crystal clock
Audio Formats:DSD 256/128/64/12.4/11.2/6.2/5.6/3.1/2.8
DXD 384/352.8kHz
PCM 384/352.8/192/176.4/96/88.2/48/44.1kHz
MQA 88.2/96/176.4/192kHz filters
Filter–PCM:Listen(transient optimised minimum phase)
Measure(frequency response optmised)
 –DSD:Listen(extended bandwidth transient optimised)
Measure (narrow bandwidth, low output band noise optimised)
 –DXD:Fixed Bit-Perfect Processing
 –MQA:Fixed MQA Filter
Headphone Amplifier
Amplifier:Dual Mono 2 x 285mW Direct Drive, coupling capacitor free circuit for highest fidelity
Volume Control:3.5mm TRRS with Balanced compatible wiring
Dynamic Range(including DAC):> 109dB(A) @ 3v (Direct)
> 107dB(A) @ 0.5V (iEMatch)
THD &N (@ 125mW/30R):< 0.005%
Max. Output (<10% THD):> 3.5V @ 600ohm Load (Direct) (20mW/600ohm)
> 2.9V @ 30ohm Load (Direct) (285mW/30ohm)
> 1.7V @ 15ohm Load (Direct) (200mW/15ohm)
Output Impedance :< = 1ohm (Direct)
< = 4ohm (iEMatchsup>)
Channel Separation:> 79dB @ 600ohm Load (Direct)
> 79dB @ 15ohm Load (Direct) (1kHz, TRRS plug Balanced wiring)
Line Output
Dynamic Range(Line):> 109dB(A)
THD & N(0dBFS Line):< 0.004%
Output Voltage(Line): :2.15V (+/-0.05V)
Output Impedance:< 240ohm
Channel Separation:> 99dB (@ 1kHz)
Jitter(correlated):Below test set limit
Dimensions:96(l) x 64(w) x 25.5(h)mm
Weight:139g (0.31 Ibs)
Warranty period:12months

Update

There has already been a software update so, if you’ve already got one, head over here.