Hello and welcome to a new episode of Dusty TV.
Today we are looking at the newest combo of dac and amp
from iFi named xDSD.
This unit is offered for review by AVStore and can be bought
for 1999 RON.
iFi seems to want to dominate the market of portable dac amps combos.
After the launch of the ever so powerful
Micro iDSD Black Label and then the Nano Black Label
(for those with smaller budgets) iFi launches and places
xDSD right in the middle splitting the differences
of price and performance
but adds Bluetooth and a new design.
So whats inside? We have the same dac
as on the Micro iDSD Black Label, which is a good thing.
Which means it decodes PCM up to
768 KHz and DSD
up to 512. The output power is
500 mW at 16 ohms,
270 mW at 50 ohms and
48 mW at 300 ohms.
We also have a battery of 2200 mA
that should last between 5 and 6 hours.
It is of relative small size, half the size of a regular phone
and weighs only 127 grams.
The first thing that struck me is the small dimensions.
From the marketing materials it looks like its the same size
as FiiO Q5, but its smaller
and lighter. Considering how large the other
dac amp combos from iFi and their design
the x series seems to change everything we know about
the iFi products. Having this wavy case
I'm asking myself how am I supposed to attach it
to a phone.
The same as the other iFi products, Nano
and the Micro series, xDSD has a USB input of type
A, allowing the use of the Camera Connection Kit cable
for the iPhone and iPad.
To use it connected to a computer iFi offers a
USB 3.0 cable. To charge it
you have to use a micro USB cable in another port.
This allows listening and charging at the same time. When I use the
Camera Connection Kit cable I dont receive
alerts, as it happens with other dacs,
that xDSD is draining my phones battery. What do you do
if you have an Android device? Taking into consideration
that the Android ecosystem is so chaotic with the
iFi decided to let the user
chose and buy a compatible cable. The users of iOS
devices suffer the same fate.
Camera Connection Kit must be bought separately and its expensive.
Its very well constructed, mainly made out of metal with little rubberized plastic
at one end for the wireless antenna
and regular plastic for the buttons. The metal is chromed,
its a fingerprint magnet and it scratches easily.
My unit already came with a little scratch
and the chrome color is already gone in that spot.
Being of a small size its difficult to create a stack
with a phone that allows the use of the buttons in
a useful manner.
The front has a jack 3.5 mm named S-Balanced
that can be used for single ended cables
and balanced cables. It also has a multi-functional button
that doubles as a volume indicator,
and another button that switches between
XBass and 3D.
We also have 4 LEDs that indicate the type of input,
the file type and
if XBass and 3D are activated.
The back of the unit hosts the USB A Port
for the data, a micro USB port for charging,
a line in port that accepts optical and coax,
and a switch for filters, a filter for listening
and a filter for measuring. I personally didn't hear
any difference between the filters in my tests.
xDSD is equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 and AptX.
iFi decided to not go for AptX HD
They tried to do what FiiO did
with their Q5 and every modification
of this type requires recertifications and
in some cases very little improvements and
increased costs to justify the effort. For those who dont have
phones that support AptX, the AAC codec is used.
Having very little buttons iFi created
a bunch of combinations to be able to change the functioning
mode of the xDSD. If you don't read the manual
you will not be able to
activate some functions, but once learned
the combinations are easy to execute. The volume button
is illuminated indicating the volume using different colors
from blue to red. OK, lets get to the
interesting part. How does it sound? xDSD has the same
Burr Brown MultiBit DSD dac as its bigger brother
Micro iDSD Black Label which
I like because the bigger brother is what I use daily
at my desk because of the dac quality.
It sounds identical with its big brother having the same
neutral tonality with a slight bass emphasis.
Whats not the same is the implementation of the
XBass and 3D functions. I was disappointing after
the first listen because their effect is
reduced compared to the Micro iDSD Black Label.
The effects are done in the analog domain as
on the bigger brother offering an emphasized bass
that doesn't preclude in the other frequencies and doesn't sound artificial,
in the case of XBass, and an emphasis of the highs and a wider sound stage in the case of 3D+, but 3D+
disappoints because there are tracks on which
it works great and on others at all.
I don't use this function at all, not even on the iDSD.
The main reason why I would buy this amp is
XBass+ and because its not the same as the one on iDSD
Black Label, I cant justify the purchase.
I don't know what constraint iFi had when they made the xDSD
but they shouldn't promote it as having these functions
because they are going to disappoint many exiting iFi customers.
The preinstalled firmware allows the decoding of
MQA files but its limited
to DSD 256.
You can change the firmware
to remove the MQA decoding and
allow decoding of DSD 512.
OK, what kind of headphones we can use with it? xDSD
has and amplifier named Cyberdrive which
detects the headphones impedence no matter if they are iems or over ear
so that a switch to change
the type of headphones found on any other iFi model no longer exists.
Cyberdrive is actually a complex system
that handles the amplification, volume, the battery management
and the XBass+ and 3D+ functions.
So, how does it handle different headphones?
Using iems it handles excellent. There is so much power
that you should be careful not to reach the red
color of the volume indicator.
For iems from 16 ohms, like the FiiO F9 Pro,
to 60 ohms, like the HiFiMan
RE2000, I didn't notice any background noise
and there is no channel imbalance at lower volumes.
When we are talking about more powerful headphones xDSD
can't handle everything. Although iFi claims that it can
properly power the Sennheiser HD800, I found its not true.
Yes, there is a decent volume with high impedance headphones,
but that doesn't mean there's enough power to make the most
out of that driver. Listening to the Sennheiser HD800 with the xDSD
I felt they are under-powered. But the Audeze LCD2C
were powered very well
and I didn't notice any issues. If you think that the xDSD is
a replacement for the Micro iDSD Black Label,
think again, because it is not.
So, what do I think about it?
In this segment of the market of portable and wireless amp dac combos
iFi decided to be represented by xDSD.
And its represented very well with a product that
has a futuristic design, a series of advanced functions,
an excellent dac and envy worthy specs,
considering its size.
It takes a while to learn the button combination so
you will look in the manual for a time.
Its a very cable combo that you can use as a desktop amp dac
or a portable one. Its missing a few things, though.
First thing thats missing is the cables for iOS and Android devices.
FiiO offers cables, at least for iOS devices.
The second thing thats missing is the USB C ports. The only two other
products that battle this one are
FiiO Q5 and Chrod Mojo.
A direct comparison will be made in a future video.
Ok, that was it. I will see you in the next video. Ciao!