Impressions: iFi iDSD Micro Black Label

It has a very long name, but it comes with a whole plethora of features, so I think it's more than excusable. I was sent the iFi iDSD Micro Black Label for review, and have had it for the past few days.

 IFI IDSD MICRO BLACK LABEL

I've very much enjoyed the iDSD thus far. I've only put a couple hours through it, so I won't comment too much on sound, but I think there's a little bit that's warranted.

This portable amp/DAC combination features a full size USB-A input, with an included cable, as the connector is a recessed male plug, something I found odd. However, the cable was included, so it wasn't really an inconvenience. There is also a 3.5mm input on the front, with an oncluded double-right angle male 3.5mm cable which is short, in order to attach directly to a phone or other portable player. The coaxial input can also function as a (you-guessed-it) coaxial output. There are RCA outputs that can either serve as direct or as a pre-amplifier. The main headphone output is a 1/4" jack on the front.

I'd first like to mention how impressed I am by their XBass+ feature. I've seen many implementations of bass boosting on amps, and all too frequently the result is a distorted, bloated, muddled mess. This isn't the case here. Upon flipping the very satisfying switch, I was greeted with a warmer, fuller, and heavier sound. The bass maintains the majority of its responsiveness and is magnitudinally increased in volume without adding bloat of distortion. On tracks that I feel are bass-anemic without reason, this served to almost fill back in what I perceived as a gap. I haven't seen specs on the technical change in frequency response with bass boost on versus off, but I'd hazard a guess that its between a 5 and 6 dB jump.

Next I'd like to discuss their 3D+ feature. My impression is that it is a crossover, with possibly some other adjustments of which I can't guess the specifics. I found that it really tends to center vocals, and spread everything else (instruments, etc.) further behind you. Although sheerly out of personal preference, I haven't used it much with music, thus far I've found that it really does wonders for movies and TV shows. Its centering effect helps to bring the dialogue to the forefront of my attention and push the background noise back.

 IFI IDSD MICRO BLACK LABEL

The amplification is very clean, not HP-1 level, but this product doesn't cost $1250. The DAC section introduces no distortion as far as I can tell. Over the next few weeks, I'll be running the DAC output to the HP-1 to better assess it in comparison with other DACs. I'll try to get my hands on an analog input switcher before my review period is up to directly compare the HP-1 as a standard and this, but I can't promise that.

 IFI IDSD MICRO BLACK LABEL

Although I touched fairly heavily on XBass+ and 3D+, I'll comment fully on all of the features that I can assess in my full review.

Disclaimers

This product was provided to me for review by iFi. I am not being paid by anyone to write this review, to endorse the product reviewed, or for the content that I put in the review.

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