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iFi’s battery-powered Nano iDSD DAC/headphone-amp

  • This might look like just another entry in what has become a loooong line of micro DAC + headphone-amp packages…but it isn’t.

    iFi-Audio’s nano iDSD ticks all the 2013 trend boxes: PCM up to 32bit/384kHz, single- and double-rate DSD, user-selectable digital filters.

    However, into the portable bargain comes a PCM-only digital output, analogue volume attenuation, 1400mAh lithium-polymer battery power and smartphone compatibility. iFi are claiming 10+ hours of playback from a single charge.

    Decoding comes from an unspecified Burr Brown chip and the internal clocks have been tapped from parent company AMR. Native Playback on this Burr Brown chipset means the Nano iDSD does not convert any of the formats from one to the other e.g. DSD>PCM>DSD. It keeps it straight, AMR style.

    The headphone output is rated at 80mW (which I’m assuming is into 32 Ohms). The power rating into 16 Ohms is specified on the iFi website at 130mW.

    iPhone users will need either the Lightning adaptor cable or Camera Connection Kit. Android* users will need an ‘On The Go’ (OTG) USB cable.


    Specifications run like this

    File formats:

    • PCM 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8, 384kHz/32bit
    • DSD 2.8, 3.1, 5.6, 6.2MHz/1bit
    • DXD 352.8, 384kHz/24bit
    • Bit‐Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown


    • PCM: Standard/Minimum Phase digital (selectable)
    • DSD: Standard/Extended Range analogue (selectable)
    • DXD: Bit‐Perfect Processing, analogue filter (fixed)


    • USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible)


    • 1 x Digital Output (PCM only, up to 192kHz)
    • 1 x Audio utputs
    • 1 x 3.5mm Headphone Output

    The iFi nano iDSD sells for US$189 and is available now.

    Further information: iFi Micro

    *Android users also note: it’s worth checking in with iFi for confirmation of 100% compatibility with your smartphone as (my experiences tell me) USB audio device recognition on JellyBean and KitKat implementations remains a bit of a lottery.

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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