Massdrop is offering the Grace m9xx. Reviews from 3 yrs ago were pretty good. Absolute Sound gave it a good review last year. Does anyone here have any experience with this item. As always I continue to look for a possible upgrade to my Dragonfly Red. How does this compare with the DFR or the ifi Micro?
The Grace M9XX will usefully better the Dragonfly Red. The most immediately noticeable differences will be in bass delivery, where the M9XX will have a fuller rendition and more drive, albeit with some tendency for a bit more enthusiasm than is strictly neutral and a, for me, unwanted sense of bloom at times. You’ll also likely find, depending on your specific headphones, that treble delivery is a little smoother.
If it was me, and again this depends on what headphones you’re looking to drive, and to a certain extent what source material you’re using (i.e. lossy vs. lossless) I would opt for the iFi Micro iDSD Black Label. It’s a more flexible unit, with more options and features, can be used on the go (though it’s larger and heavier than I’d personally use for that role), has more power and an overall more compelling delivery (for me).
The one caution I’d raise with the iFi unit is that it is prone to channel imbalance at the low-end of the volume dial, so if you’re using very sensitive/low-impedance headphones you may wind up having to run it in it’s lowest power mode and possibly engage it’s “IE Match” function (which may, or may not, be a positive thing depending on your cans and preferences).
While it doesn’t include the Grace M9XX, I wrote up a fairly extensive review of various portable DAC/amp units, which includes both the AudioQuest Dragonfly Red, the iFi Micro iDSD Black Label and Chord’s Mojo, which you can find here.
I should update that, I suppose, and post an updated version here for future reference.
Thanks Torq I value your views. I would be using this with the Shure 1540 which is 50 Ohm. I listen to ALAC lossless files from my MacBook. Mostly Classical and Jazz.
Hard to say if the Shure 1540 will run into the channel balance “issue” - partly because it is not consistent across copies of the iFi Micro iDSD Black Label (some are more affected than others). But also because the only full-sized cans I encountered it on where the Fostex/Massdrop TH-X00 Purpleheat, which half the impedance but higher sensitivity than the Shure.
However, at 50 ohms impedance it’s unlikely that the IE Match feature will shift the tonal response of the headphones IF you need it at all, and would guess you’ll only need low-power (“Eco”) mode anyway.
Thanks again Torq. The Grace and the IFi micro seem to be valid DFR upgrades. Tough choice.