The Fujiya Avic headphone festival doesn’t only showcase headphones, headphone amplifiers and DAPs. There’s a smattering of two-channel too. AMR’s Thorsten Loesch was in attendance to talk us through subsidiary company iFi’s Retro Stereo 50, an all-in-one amplifier with complementary passive speakers. iFi’s modus operandi is to offer high quality, affordable audio products in a small/er form factor. What better place for that than Tokyo?
The Retro Stereo 50 (JPY160,000) is a tube amplifier with 50 wpc output whose loudspeaker outputs have been optimised for iFi’s optional Retro LS3.5 mini monitors (JPY140,000). Inside the Retro Stereo 50’s “non-resonant” bamboo cabinet is a phono stage capable of handling low output MC and MM cartridges, a DSD- and hi-res PCM-capable DAC and a headphone amplifier that can juice beastly over-ears and more sensitive IEMs. Each of the Retro 50’s internal modules’ circuits is based on iFi Micro series of units (displayed here on an adjacent table).
With Loesch himself on hand to talk us through it, he teases out some of the less obvious, finer points of the system’s design. With so many features of the Retro 50 to cover, my conversation with Loesch runs north of five minutes and starts with him explaining that the elevator pitch that I’d requested was all but impossible…
Loesch was also keen to point out that the iFi iPurifier2 USB filter is on the cusp of formal release, joining the ranks of the Schiit Wyrd, AudioQuest JitterBug and Uptone Regen as plug n’ play devices designed to improve USB signal integrity between digital audio transport and D/A converter.
Unlike the first generation version, the iPurifier2 is an active (powered) design: it promises to rebalance the plus and minus paths of the USB data stream, sort out any USB impedance mismatches, re-clock the USB signal and filter out unwanted EMI/RFI. Think of the iFi iPurifier2 (crudely) as a Wyrd and JitterBug combined into a single device but without the need for the Wyrd’s mains power supply. It comes in USB A, B, C and micro versions and sells for US$129.
Interestingly, Loesch is also a fan of Fostex’s T50RP, a pair of which (pictured below) are apparently a mainstay in his personal traveller audio rig.
Further information: iFi Audio