Barricaded in the MajorHifi Review Office with copious amounts of eggnog and the Killers’ “Red Christmas” on repeat, it’s as good a time as any to take a look at IFI’s iDefender 3.0 – another $49 USB doohickey that breaks ground loop and offers the optional USB power from a separate source. But as the eggnog quickly robs me of my language-skills, the big question is this: Doesh it shound good? Or ish thish jusht shome well-advertished shnake oil?
IFI iDefender 3.0 Review
The iDefender comes in a smallish box that has been optimized to stuff stockings. Inside that box, there’s a warranty card and the unit itself.
Connections are gold plated, and there’s a micro USB port on one side of the dongle for use of the iPower 5V power supply (sold separately, folks). For DACs that require USB power, the iPower accessory is recommended, as the iDefender improves sound by essentially removing the power supply in your computer’s USB port.
|Super-Speed USB3.0 (and USB2.0 backwards compatible)|
|Connectors: USB3.0 gold-plated connectors|
Not much to expand on here, this section largely explains itself: the 3.0 technology is backward with 2.0 ports, and the connection is gold-plated.
Gone is the noise. While I’ve never been driven to distraction by the background noise emanating from my laptop, I’ve always known it was there. Even with decent-quality USB DACs from the likes of FiiO, or even IFI’s own Nano iDSD, the noise floor was apparent. However, thanks to the wonders worked by the iDefender, the sound is noticeably cleaner. Add a decent DAC to this USB accessory, and you’ve got one impressive sound.
The iDefender 3.0 works with both 3.0 and 2.0 ports, so it’ll jive with newer and older machines alike. You’ll notice results no matter what you’re pumping through it – sub-par YouTube rips or costly Sony DSD files are equally improved without the usual noise that oozes out of a given USB port.
Paired with a low- or mid-range DAC, the sound is fantastic. I can only imagine the level of quality you’d get when you pair the iDefender with the Micro iDSD Black Label. (Drools on keyboard.)
At $49, it’s a dope little accessory for the Audiophile Who Has Everything. While I hate the whole advertising thing, I have to recommend this accessory; even the most die-hard audiophile can benefit from its powers.
There are other solutions out there for cleaning up USB noise. But none accomplish that task with this level of competency – by breaking the ground loop and removing power to the USB port.
Packing some real chops, the IFI iDefender 3.0 delivers a wallop to noise floor, removing it entirely. At $49, it’s affordable to all but the cheapest of audiophiles, and paired with a decent DAC, the results are downright heavenly.
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