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Nano iDSD Black Label Portable DAC and Heaphone Amplifier
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- Compatible with most high fidelity audio formats up to DSD 256, DXD 384, PCM 3384kHz and MQA
- Powerful dual mono 285 milliwatt headphone amplifier works with balanced headphones
- Digital USB A input allows direct connection to your iPhone or Android device using an OTG cable or Camera Connection Kit lightning adapter (sold separately)
- Small and lightweight with a rechargeable lithium polymer battery that provides up to 10 hours of non stop music enjoyment on the go
- Built in iPurifier technology rebalances the USB signal to reduce jitter and packet erros
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|Item Dimensions||—||3 x 5 x 2 in||0.79 x 2.36 x 1.18 in||2.2 x 3.58 x 0.51 in||3.15 x 1.57 x 5.91 in||0.98 x 2.99 x 7.01 in|
The nano iDSD Black Label is an MQA compatible DAC and headphone amp that can be both portable or home-based. With 10 times more power than an iPhone, it can drive any set of headphones (up to 600 Ohms) with aplomb, and, with a battery life of over 10 hours, you can take it with you wherever you go.It will work with an amp or active speakers via the 3.5mm line out. The new Black Label is one of the most high resolution DACs on the market plus we’ve added MQA rendering to give you even more file choices. Just connect your smartphone (OTG cable not included) and experience a level of Spotify, Tidal or Apple Music like never before.
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(-) Cons: If you decide to upgrade the firmware to decode MQA (5.3C or 5.3C RC2), PCM files will be upsampled 8x (personally, I do not like). Using Tidal/MQA, sometimes I must go back to the beginning of the song to activate the decoding process. Once these easy-to-solve firmware issues are resolved, I give five stars.
Tests performed with Sennheiser HD-25-1 II, Sony MDR-1A and Grado SR225i/V-Can II.
For my portable music set up, I use portable high-resolution audio devices (Fiio, Cayin, Shanling, Pioneer, Hidizs, Sony, etc), to take advantage of their enormous storage capabilities via Micro SD Cards. My music library consists of roughly 120GB of AAC quality music from Itunes, and roughly 10GB of High Resolution audio files, accounting for nearly 15,000 songs.
Thus far, as I am reviewing the ifi Nano IDSD Black Label, I am listening through a pair of BANG and OLUFSEN H6 headphones. For those who are not familiar with these headphones, I would like to mention that these headphones require substantial power in order to enjoy them at lower volumes. They are very clean sounding, with little to no emphasis on the bass (the bass is tight, not booming), and most of the focus of its sound can be observed in the higher frequencies, though this emphasis is not harsh on the ears. Presently, I am listening on my SHANLING M1 high resolution audio device. Now, that you know my setup, I should probably detail you my impressions.
The way that the device was put together by the production team is unique to other headphone amplifiers that I have. For instance, I was NOT able to connect the ifi Nano IDSD Black Label to my SHANLING M1 (or to Hidizs ap60, or Fiio X1) with a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable. However, other headphone amplifiers options such as the Fiio Q1 and the Fiio E12 allow for such compatibility. So, if you plan to use the ifi Nano IDSD Black Label the way that I do (Headphones> ifi nano > Shanling M1), then you WILL NEED TO BUY another cable. The cable you will need is a FEMALE USB to either USB C (which is what I am using right now for the Shanling M1) or USB Micro (I am assuming, for devices like Hidizs ap60, or Fiio X1, as they are Micro USB oriented). This cable (FEMALE USB to USB C, or whatever) does NOT come with the device. The device does come with a charging cable that also can connect to your computer to be used as a DAC. I suppose that this device was designed mainly for those looking to listen to music on their computer—from online streaming sources—as it does not come with any cables that would enable the user to listen to music on portable high-resolution audio devices. Bearing in mind my personal use, I CANNOT comment on this device’s function as a computer DAC.
So, how loud is it? Like I mentioned before, I am not an audiophile fanatic (redundant?), so I cannot give an accurate statement as to the merit of this device compared to others, but please consider my thoughts. This device is LOUD! This was one of the main features that attracted to me to the device in the first place. Online reviews have been referencing the Sennheiser HD600 as headphones that require substantial power to drive, and though I do not own these headphones, I have no doubt that this device is loud enough to drive ANY pair of headphones available to casual listeners (<$1000). The ifi Nano IDSD Black Label has NO issue driving my B&O H6’s, in fact, I cannot imagine anyone needing to listen to more than 30% of the maximum volume, as maximum volume is painfully loud.
So, how does it sound? While listening to Lady Antebellum’s “Heart Break,” I have been able to determine that the ifi Nano IDSD Black Label DOES ADD BASS to the sound. Like I mentioned before, the B&O H6 headphones are not bass heavy headphones, but the Nano does add bass the sound. The bass that it adds, however, is NOT muddy in any way. The bass sounds punchy and VERY controlled, and it does not interfere with the other voices of the sound. Also, I am able to discern MORE DETAIL in the sound. While listening to Clay Aiken’s performance of “Unchained Melody,” I am noticing that his voice sounds crystal clear. The string arrangement in the introduction of the song is FULL, and I can hear all the instruments cleanly and separately. I can hear details in the song that I did not even know were there. Please keep in mind, I am listening to AAC files. In theory, one might assume that a good headphone amplifier would enhance the listening experience of High Resolution files, right? To me, this device enables me to enjoy my AAC files even more, so I suspect that higher quality audio files would sound even better (if not louder) with an amplifier like this one.
Is this device pocketable? The device is pocketable if you are wearing athletic shorts, but I imagine it would be challenging to fit the device (connected to another DAP) while wearing jeans. Rubber bands are included, and I have made use of them with my Shanling M1. The volume knob does protrude the body of the device, so if you were to put this device in your pocket, then it would be easy for the volume level to change accidently. I would not recommend pocketing this device, just because of the superior volume capabilities—if the volume rises accidentally, one might damage their hearing. Also, I am now noticing that the device has a tendency to run warm (slightly).
Again (again, again, again), I am NOT an audiophile or trained music engineer, so I can not elaborate on details such as sound stage, separation, or black back ground. I CANNOT comment on this device’s battery capacity, as I listening to it while composing this review (At this point, it has held well at 3 hours, 7 hours to go hopefully). I can say that I am very pleased with this product, as it suits my portable music listening requirements. I will reiterate, you WILL need to purchase another cable to use this in collaboration with a portable DAP.
At this point, I would like to offer a proposition. For those who use portable DAPS, and are looking for a powerful alternative to the Chord Mojo, I would suggest trying out this device. Now, I do not own a Chord Mojo, nor have I tried one. So then when would I be presumptuous enough to suggest this device over the Chord Mojo, especially if I have never tried it? Hear me out. The Chord Mojo has been seen in many reviews used in collaboration with other portable DAPs, and it has been praised as the “ultimate” solution to portable audio enthusiasts. So, allow me to offer the ifi Nano IDSD Black Label as an ALTERNATIVE. This device is tremendously loud, and many reviewers have cited the ifi Nano IDSD Black Label as a suitable companion to the Sennheiser HD600s, which are noteworthy for being power hungry (harder to drive). Also, the Sennheiser HD600s, to my understanding, are the most detailed sounding headphones in its price range, and therefore, the best option for an on-the-go high detailed listening experience. So! If the ifi Nano DSD Black Label can power such praiseworthy headphones for LESS THAN HALF of the cost of the Chord Mojo, why not consider it as an acceptable alternative? This is humble food for thought.
Thank you for reading my review of this device. I hope it is helpful, coming from a lay audio enthusiast. Though this product does not come with a cable to listen to portable DAPs, I did not feel compelled to deduct a star or even half a star from this review. I rate this as a five-star product, as it more than fulfills my portable audio needs. Thank you, Amazon, for delivering this item to me a day early. You guys really are the leaders of the world. Happy shopping everyone!
I hear all three sound dimensions with this unit, height, width and depth. thats rare. The line out is clean, HUGE sound through my Adam A7 powered speakers. Soundstage is enormous. powered speakers like this unit. Mid range shines on this unit, non fatiguing top end, punchy bass (more extended than Micro WITHOUT Xbass switch on).
I have owned the ifi micro BL and Mojo and I recomend this over the Micro BL for portability and over the mojo for listening enjoyment. The Mojo recesses the bass too much (which is kinda suppose to to expose other elements and what they are doing). I found the Mojo too analytical to enjoy what i was listening to and a snob with headphone pairings. I would get hung up on musical "parts" not in the whole picture. This is about MUSIC, not picking it to pieces. Mojo is perfect for OCD mixers? I also found the Mojo soundstage to tight. But If you like picking ish to pieces, and mid size soundstage with a more intimate feel, and hearing tonality separately to the point of losing a resolving sound signature, sell a child and buy the Mojo.
ifi micro BL is perfect for someone who wants to connect their dishwasher to their car, charge their phone, listen to speakers and watch a movie via optical at the same time. The filter/IEM switches on the bottom and side of the ifi Micro BL are flimsy, I returned mine because they broke, step those switches up ifi!!!
WOW WOW WOW. James blake on this nano with HE-4XX Planar Magnetic's.... Shiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Another planet. Textural definition on this unit is so yum yum, so honey and resolving. I don't know what other reviewers are talking about saying this unit has "recessed" mid range. The midrange is PERFECT. Low end is slightly pushed here, but does not in anyways cloud the midrange. Top end is not what i would call "sparkly". Top end here is smooth, almost weighty (if thats possible, weird i know) Instrument separation is enough to know whats up without distracting you. The guys at ifi clearly LOVE music. Thats all this should be about. Making a DAC amp that increases your listening pleasure. And nano BL does this effortlessly without telling you its in the way or even there in between you and the music. Killer work here ifi. I have had connection issues, so hey ifi, now that you've got the sound dialed, can you please assign some company funds to making your great gear actually connect better, especially with the program this unit is meant to work with, TIDAL? I have had to pull the usb connection in and out of my macbook so much i think its pregnant. Battery power is good! Took it to work and it played straight for 6 hours on HIFI TIDAL setting on tidal. Good stuff here.
$199? Really? Are you flipping kidding me? Just buy it and fall in love with your collection again. In my opinion this destroys the Mojo for listening pleasure, and I can't really hear a significant game changer sonic downgrade here from the micro apart from connectivity. Also because of the wonderful mid range on this unit Movies are killer, dialogue becomes very natural and dynamic. Rogue One blew my face off. Review done, time to find my face.