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iFi Audio announces NEO iDSD DAC/headphone amplifier

  • iFi Audio has announced a new entry-level-ish DAC and headphone amplifier called the NEO iDSD. Four digital inputs – Bluetooth (AAC, aptX HD, LDAC, LHDC), asynchronous USB, coaxial and TOSLINK – talk to four possible analogue outputs: balanced XLR or RCA for connecting to a hi-fi system (pre-amp possibilities included) and 3.5mm or 4.4mm balanced Pentaconn sockets for headphone hookups, the latter promising up to 1 Watt into 32 Ohms.

    Volume attenuation comes from a microprocessor-controlled resistor ladder and the neighbouring OLED display keeps users abreast of the volume level, the active input, the incoming audio’s format and its sample rate plus the digital filter in use — a Gibbs Transient Optimised filter (hello ladies 😎 ) is installed by default with alternative filters available via firmware updates.

    In between input and output sit:

    1) a DAC circuit: in the NEO, an MQA-capable Burr-Brown-based implementation with heavily customised XMOS receiver chip that lays out separate decoder pathways to DSD (up to 512) and PCM (up to 32bit/768kkHz). Jitter reduction comes via a Femto clock and data buffer that iFi dub ‘Global Master Timing’.

    2) balanced, symmetrical, dual-mono ‘PureWave’ analogue circuitry co-developed by John Curl (of Parasound fame) where “high-quality components are used throughout, including custom ultra-low-distortion op-amps, multilayer ceramic TDK C0G capacitors, MELF thin-film resistors and inductors from Murata and Taiyo Yuden.”

    3) a linearly-regulated low-noise, high-bandwidth power supply that couples with iFi’s low noise wall-wart for lower noise. Noise is further tackled by microprocessor-controlled settings switching “which only ‘wakes up’ when the user changes a setting, thus eradicating any sonically deleterious interference.”

    Measured results? According to iFi Audio, THD of less than 0.0015% and SNR of over 120dB for “more clarity and texture, and a more dynamic and engaging performance”. As the artist intended? Yes, the press release writes that too.

    Shipping begins 6th November when the NEO iDSD will sell for £699.

    Further information: iFi Audio

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

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

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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