The new year is off to an interesting start, as the renowned audiophile brand announces its latest IDSD product. The Diablo is a devilishly red battery-powered DAC/Amp that iFi claims to be “the best they’ve ever produced.” Engineered to sit proudly at the top of iFi’s illustrious range of mobile and transportable devices, the Diablo is built for the purists – the true headphone enthusiasts who crave pure, unadulterated sonic performance.
The Diablo takes after iFi’s line of micro IDSD devices with dimensions of 166x72x25mm. The quick-charge-compatible battery makes it easy to move from the desk to the living room to the travel bag.
Like a high-performance sports car designed for uncompromising speed, the iDSD Diablo sets aside facilities offered by other iFi DAC/headphone amps – sonic tailoring options and Bluetooth connectivity, for example – to focus on pure sonic power, featuring ultra-high-quality circuit components and the ability to drive any headphones on the planet with aplomb. Simply connect your digital source via USB or S/PDIF, plug in your headphones and prepare for a riveting musical ride from this elite-class digital audio engine, expertly tuned to achieve captivating speed, scale, and dynamic range.
The iDSD Diablo’s digital stage incorporates a Burr-Brown DAC chip that iFi uses extensively, selected for its natural-sounding ‘musicality’ and True Native architecture. Here, two of these chips are installed in a custom ‘interleaved’ configuration – this enables four pairs of differential signals (two pairs per channel) which lowers the noise floor, improves channel separation and enhances the DAC’s ability to resolve fine musical detail and micro-dynamics.
iFi’s experience with this Burr-Brown chipset means it knows how to make the most of it, but the creation of an exemplary digital stage involves more than the selection of a particular DAC chip. One such critical component is the XMOS chip that processes the audio data received via the USB and S/PDIF digital inputs. The iDSD Diablo uses a new low-latency XMOS microcontroller with greatly enhanced processing power – compared to the current generation of eight-core chips, this new 16-core IC delivers double the clock speed (2000MIPS) and four times the memory.
Hi-res audio support is state-of-the-art, handling PCM data to 32-bit/768kHz, all levels of DSD up to DSD512, and single- and double-speed DXD.
MQA – the hi-res streaming codec, as used by Tidal’s ‘Masters’ tier – is also supported through the USB and S/PDIF inputs, with full decoding of MQA files up to 384kHz thanks to the processing power of the new 16-core XMOS chip. This means that the full ‘three unfold’ decoding process is performed internally, as opposed to only the final unfold in the manner of an MQA ‘renderer’. Globally, MQA has become an important consideration for any comprehensively equipped DAC; for Tidal Masters subscribers, the iDSD Diablo is a great way to make the most of the superior sound of which this streaming service is capable.
Able to drive all manner of headphones with ease, the iDSD Diablo delivers up to 5000mW of prodigious power, propulsive energy, and engaging dynamics, coupled with a remarkable ability to resolve fine texture and detail.
With 3 settings, you can adjust power and gain to suit your daily driver or track day supercar!
- Turbo – ramps up the level of drive for current-hungry headphones
- Normal – for most over or on-ear headphones
- Eco – dials down the power to suit high-sensitivity in-ear monitors
|USB 3.0 type ‘A’ (USB2.0 compatible)
S-PDIF (3.5mm coaxial/optical)
|THD + N
|Headphone Max Output
|>19.2V/611 nnW (@ 600 Ohnn)
>12.6V/4,980 mW (@ 32 Ohm)
>9.6V/153 nnW (@ 600 Ohm)
>8.8V/2,417 nnW (@ 32 Ohm)
|Fixed Audio Output
|Charging via USB-C (iFi iPower included)
BC V1.2 compliant up to 1900nnA charging current
|166 x 72 x 25 mm
6.5″ x 2.8″x 1.0″
|330g (0.73 lbs)
|*Specifications are subject to change without notice.
The iFi IDSD Diablo is available for $899 at Audio 46.
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