iFi Audio - iDSD Diablo Portable Dac/Amp - Official Thread

This thread is to discuss our newly launched iDSD Diablo, our new flagship portable/dac amp.

iFi ushers in the New Year with the best battery-powered DAC/headphone amp the company has ever produced – the devilishly brilliant iDSD Diablo. Engineered to sit proudly at the top of iFi’s range of mobile and transportable devices, the Diablo is built for the purists – the true headphone enthusiasts who crave pure, unadulterated sonic performance.

With dimensions of 166x72x25mm, its size is similar to DAC/amps in iFi’s long-running, transportable micro iDSD series, with a built-in, quick-charge-compatible battery that makes it easy to move from desk to living room to travel bag. Its sleek new design and fiery red finish, however, mark it out as distinctly different.

A few important aspects to highlight…

PureWave – balanced circuit design for the purest sound

iFi has gradually introduced fully balanced circuit design across its range – first in the flagship Pro Series components, then in the entry-level ZEN Series devices. The company’s two newest DACs, the mains-powered NEO iDSD and transportable iDSD Diablo, benefit from further refinement of their balanced, symmetrical dual-mono topologies with short, direct signal paths. iFi calls this circuit concept ‘PureWave’, referring to the sonic purity it achieves thanks to exceptional linearity and infinitesimally low levels of noise and distortion.

image

Powerful amplification delivers musical gratification

Already renowned for the performance of the amp stages in its DAC/headphone amps, iFi has ensured the iDSD Diablo is its best-ever transportable amplifier, designed to deliver reference-level sound. Able to drive all manner of headphones with ease, from highly sensitive in-ear monitors to current-hungry planar headphones, it delivers prodigious power (up to 5000mW), propulsive energy and engaging dynamics, coupled to a remarkable ability to resolve fine texture and detail.

An important aspect of the iDSD Diablo’s circuit design is its direct-coupled nature (no coupling capacitor is present), achieved without a conventionally applied DC servo; iFi calls this design Servoless Direct Drive. Also important is the use of a high-quality analogue potentiometer to control volume – its sonic transparency compared to chip-based volume controls makes the most of the clarity and resolution of the amp stage.

OptimaLoop – negative feedback that is purely positive

Recognizing that different parts of a circuit benefit from specifically optimized feedback loops, iFi has developed a negative feedback system that is much more accurate than the usual approach. This incorporates multiple feedback paths instead of one global loop, each path optimized for a particular function and working synergistically with the others to deliver optimal overall performance. iFi calls this new configuration OptimaLoop.

This power does not corrupt

In keeping with the iDSD Diablo’s focus on pure, unadulterated performance, much attention has been applied to the power supply circuity. Battery power provides a theoretical performance advantage over mains power, with ultra-clean and stable DC current avoiding the issues that can be introduced by mains electricity with its dips, spikes, and noise-inducing RFI/EMI pollution. There are also potential sonic downsides to battery power, however, resulting from low output voltage and inconsistent output impedance as batteries discharge – these issues are fully tackled by the iDSD Diablo’s design.

A package worthy of reference status

In keeping with a reference-level product, iFi has been generous with the accessories supplied with the iDSD Diablo. It all adds up to a package of accessories worth around £300.

Delivering devilishly good sound for headphone lovers, iFi’s iDSD Diablo is available from selected retailers (headphones.com included, go get it from Taron and team!) from Friday 15th January at an RRP of £899, (€999, $899)

For more info, check out our site here: iDSD Diablo by iFi audio | New DAC/amp. Pure power and performance by iFi audio

P.S. ~ if you’re interested in checking this out on a headphones.com tour for the community here, chime up now so my team can get a good gauge of the interest!

12 Likes

I could possibly give it a whirl re a tour. Got the Black Label to compare it to.

I like the AC adapter, I assume this can be played via AC and is not merely a charging adapter?

@SebastienChiu , given that the Diablo has a USB-A male connector, could I connect this to an iPhone using a regular Lightning cable without having to use the Apple USB adaptor?

I’ve been looking for a DAP, but this might be a better purchase if I want to use my phone as a digital “transport”.

From what I’m aware of, this is only compatible with the Lightning to a USB Camera Adapter, and the standard equivalent of that for Android being OTG cables. I don’t think you can go straight lighting to USB A for this one, but let me check in on that for you in the morning.

I’ve never been a DAP guy myself because of the hassle when it comes to handling an entirely separate library and system versus just doing it all in one on my phone. That’s why I’ve always gone with owning units like the Mojo, or our OG Micro BL.

It doesn’t hurt to try the DAP route and see if you like it, but definitely, the Diablo is the route to go if you want to use your phone as a digital transport. Whether it’s through the camera adaptor or lighting doesn’t matter (unless it’s something in regards to your personal preference or flexibility, in which case I totally understand).

4 Likes

I’ll make a note! Would love to see comparisons with the Black Label to show how far we’ve come.

Re: the AC adapter, no ~ it still only charges by USB C. We decided to include it as a fun bonus because iPower has been so well received in general.

When I saw the first picture, I couldn’t get the scale. Was sort of hoping it might be sort of … well, AudioQuest Dragonfly size. :wink:

Then I saw the other end, and realized that if so, the volume knob would have been really really tiny.

1 Like

Thanks Sebastian. I only asked that question because I noticed the Diablo has a ‘male’ USB connector. My Oppo HA-2SE portable DAC/amp also has that, and I’m able to plug a regular lightning cable into it.

This is a much better design language than the other nano/micro/xDSD products, imo. Hipdac also was a bit of a miss for me, as volume knobs the diameter of the chassis has usability issues in my experience.

I like the clean and sleek looks.

1 Like

My concern is that it’s just not quite red enough

8 Likes

I’ll double-check that for you tomorrow to make extra sure!

1 Like

I’m a sucker for red like this so more red the merrier :sweat_smile:

4 Likes

This winds up being an important question.

I had a situation where I used the apple camera kit to provide a usb port but the ipad thought the dac was too big a load (not actually true) so I had to plug a usb hub into the camera kit to fool the ipad and then plug the dac into the hub.

You wind up with this sci-fi tentacle in your lap instead of a simple cable. Details matter!

1 Like

Just following up ~ you should be able to use a regular lightning cable!

3 Likes

This was meant for Paisley, whoop!

3 Likes

Wow, that statement was important enough to post twice. No need for special adaptors!

Thanks so much for looking into this and getting back so quickly.

2 Likes

I’d be interested in a tour. I’ve owned the Zen DAC and Nano BL. Thanks for organizing!

1 Like

What about the battery life?

Of course, noted. Thanks for your interest.

1 Like

Here you are!

Eco up to a maximum of 12 hours (10)
Normal up to a maximum of 9 hours (8)
Turbo up to a maximum 6 hours (4)

2 Likes

What do the numbers in parentheses mean?