Nano Idsd Le By Ifi Audio

Looking for a low cost, high value headphone amplifier/DAC? Paul Rigby looks at the iFi nano iDSD LE (Light Edition)

The iDSD LE comes from the same kiến thiết place as the nano iDSD but without the SPDIF output, digital filter selection and runs any tệp tin up khổng lồ DSD128/PCM384.

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File playbaông xã, meanwhile is what iFi terms as “True Native”. That is, no conversion in PCM or – và this is the important one – DSD takes place within the chassis, maintaining the initial tệp tin unique.

The chassis itself is iFi’s usual, slightly textured bare metal affair that looks slightly cheap và nasty. It looks like that type of metal used khổng lồ make those cheap, bendy Chinese screwdrivers you buy in Poundland. It’s not. But it looks và feels lượt thích it. Is this were the money has been saved to keep the price low?

Based upon a Burr-Brown DAC chip, the clichồng crystals are soured from AMR (ie: military-grade temperature compensated master clochồng modules) plus AMR’s Zero Jitter Lite công nghệ. DirectDrive also means that there are no output coupling capacitors. The company believes that sound is enhanced using this diagnosis method.

Inside is a Lithium Polymer battery for eight hours of music play while the iDSD LE includes an analogue volume control, a pair of RCA output sockets, 3.5mm headphone socket và, around the bachồng, a USB3 input đầu vào for a computer & phone. This is also where you can charge the battery. Cables for the the USB và RCA connections are supplied along with a basic instruction thẻ.

Windows drivers for the USB port can be found HERE.


I initially wanted to lớn kiểm tra a basic MP3 tệp tin played on my iPhone 6S but iFi bởi not supply a Lightning compatible cable. Instead, the company recommends buying yourself a Camera adapter. If you intkết thúc to lớn utilise the iFi in this mode then add £29 to lớn the cost of this DAC & look HERE to lớn buy one.


Playing an MP3 version of Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me, I was impressed by how the nano approached the potential disaster that was this MP3 file. It used discipline. That is, it applied admirable focus & precision as well as a toolbox of low noise applications that gave sầu this track excellent imagery in the structured soundstage. This meant that the reverb from the secondary percussion had genuine ambience while the bass guitar had a both heft và character. Instrumental separation gave the guitar time & space of perform while the lead vocal had a real sense of presence that allowed Gaye to offer emotion on this passionate traông xã. Of course, the initial source traông chồng had very little information to speak of so it was all the more remarkable that the nano could make any sense of it. A good start, therefore.

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I moved from the phone lớn my SSD-powered MacBook phiên bản Pro và played a 24bit/88.2kHz WAV of singer-songwriter, David Elias’ tuy nhiên, Vision of Her via the Audirvana Plus software player. This is a simple presentation of voice and closely mic’d acoustic guitar.

Bass was strong via the nano, both in terms of weight but also there was real momentum. Lower frequencies from similar units at this price point can be rather lazy but the nano had bass string effects jumping & gambling along with energy and a lightness of touch. Similarly, midrange duties from the guitar và the vocal had a richness and insight that gave sầu the overall track a depth that spoke of maturity as well as a light and shade. That is, the music always attracted the ear.

Turning lớn the same traông xã but, this time, at DSD64 resolution, I was impressed by the control over the bottom kết thúc. Music in this resolution ballpark can be too much for some DACs which struggle to receive and process bass properly. The nano offered no such concern here. The bass strings of the guitar were both distinct & responsive. The midrange elements of the guitar were also lively, offering a welcome clarity while the vocal was emotive Through some of the nano’s contemporaries, you sometimes hear a little too much ‘dryness’. That is, a lack of insight và engagement. The nano performed well here.

Turning lớn Eric Bibb’s blues fest at Meeting at the Building, played at DSD128, the nano’s low noise configuration helped khổng lồ give Bibb and his choral background a sense of air và space. Despite a very slight sense of waywardness và a lack of precision at the very edges of the upper midrange (it was too subtle to be a major issue), the low noise approach allowed their voices khổng lồ emerge from a clean silence that gave sầu the trachồng a dynamic breadth that added life và excitement to lớn the soundstage. Bibb’s guitar was both detailed và informative sầu.

Turning to lớn DXD, I played Arnesen’s Magnifimèo 4. Et misericordia with vocals by Kyên ổn Andre Arnesen I was surprised at the upper midrange control at this very high resolution. There was a touch of midrange smearing at the very high kết thúc but to criticise too much here, at this price point, would be rather churlish. Suffice khổng lồ say that the nano performed remarkably well for such a low priced DAC with a DXD file, packed with sonic information. The lead vocal and choral backing was both rich & exhilarating in terms of presentation while the orchestral backing was both engaging & sensitive.


For the price, the nano performed incredibly well. The low noise approach khổng lồ music play is a real and significant bonus that, along with its overall precision, gives you top unique music production from DXD & DSD at the very high over all the way down khổng lồ lowly MP3. Superb for hi-fi, computers & phones, the nano is a little gem of a device.

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iFi nano iDSD LE tai nghe amplifier/DAC

Price: £129 

Tel: 01900 601954

GOOD: midrange focus, clarity, low noise, bass character, organic presentation

BAD: chassis finish




Sennheiser HD800 headphonesKimber Axquả táo tai nghe cableCozoy Aegis DACApple Camera adapter cableAudirvana Plus music softwareApple MacBook phiên bản Pro computeriPhone 6S phoneBenchmark DACHRS isolation accessories

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Paul Rigby

I’ve sầu been a journadanh mục and editor for 35 years and still retain my good humour. Who’d have thought? I have sầu worked within a range of industries, writing for hundreds of national magazines and newspapers in the UK, Europe and the USA covering: aviation, music, computer công nghệ, computer gaming, hi-fi, Smartphone technology, home page automation, lady’s lifestyle, plastic mã sản phẩm making, antiques & more. I currently write for national magazines in the subjects of business, music, hi-fi and general giải pháp công nghệ.