iFi Audio xDSD



Now that you have had the xDSD for almost a month how are you feeling about it? I’ve been meaning to have one sent to our Vancouver office for a while but have not gotten around to it yet. iFi also recently released the iFi Audio xCAN so I figured I would go back to back with them. I do like the sleek design of both the xDSD and xCAN though!


I like it very much. I’m still waiting for a custom cable which should come next week so that I can test the “dual mono” balanced path for headphones. As I’m not a big fan of IEMs I have not tested it with them yet. I mention this because many IEMs have a microphone, and while we all expect that the mic will not work when you use a DAC in wired mode, I wonder if the TRRS jack for dual mono will also affect the stereo output.

I find the bluetooth reliable and high quality with an iOS source. I have to check to see if my old XOOM tablet, which I have not used in years supports aptX and test that.

The size is very convenient, and the battery is strong. I like that it does not drain my phone battery like the Dragonfly. When connected to the Mac Mini, it works like a champ, ROON/TIDAL MQA is flawless, once I figured out how to set it, and the crossfeed and gentle bass boost, being analog may still be used with MQA.

A very good design that was clearly made by young people with excellent vision, but the human factor design is good enough that an oldster like me can put the PDF manual up on the computer screen, enlarge the type, and learn how to use it by feel in a few minutes. It’s not intuitive, but it’s easily learned, including the LED readouts. Build quality is very good. I think that you’ll find similar when you get it.

There are a few niggles, if you are someone who uses DSD at high bitrates rather than an MQA source, it can handle that, but you need to flash the OS to work in the highest mode.

"It is pre-installed with firmware v5.30 which has been optimised
for MQA. This version also handles up to PCM384/DSD256.
For firmware optimised to run PCM768/DSD5 12(non-MQA)
please install firmware v5.20."

That’s all you get for now, I’ll formalize this with tests and listening impressions for a “review” after I get my much delayed cable. I love the Amplifier Surgery product, but they custom make everything and occasionally get bombed. They also had to double-check with iFi on the pinout as they only want to make it once. :wink:


Of course the Motorola XOOM doesn’t have aptX, it’s too old. aptX is also a Qualcomm codec but gets licensed sometimes to other manufacturers. I fired up the XOOM - it’s came with Android Red Slurpee, but has been upgraded to Android Melted Taffy on Hot Car Seat. That’s still back in 2012-13 I think, before aptX.

I used to “do” (manage) some development on both Palm and Droid and iOS so I ordered me a cheap Droid that runs on the much more modern Android Sugar-Free Twizzler system. It has an Intel processor, so I still don’t know if there’s an aptX codec in there bangin around to get out, but I figure I can probably at least test better and maybe find a way to install a high quality codec. It’s supposed to come Monday.


LOL, reminds me of this pic I took awhile back … Good luck! Will be fun to hear …


Finally! My cable for the “dual mono” to Sennheiser has shipped. I will include the mystery pinout information when I write my review.

I know this has taken a while, but finally most of the ducks are in a row. I may be able to work on a review during the Thanksgiving holiday. Assuming that tryptophan does not get the better of me.


A note: the cable was defective. It’s being fixed.


FINALLY!! I have the cable. I tested it on the meter, and it’s A-OK. First listen with the HD-580s and the iFi xDSD. Source, Android phablet by CHUWI. Tidal Hi-Fi streaming. Listened to several tracks. A most definite improvement. I’m frankly surprised. I will have to move this to the Mac Mini, and check on an MQA and higher res path.

This marks the first time that I’ve been REALLY tempted to order the Massdrop HD-6xx Sennheisers. Previously, I thought that there might not be that much difference from the HD-580s.

I might consider getting the HD-6xx and putting the 580s up for quick sale on eBay unreserved.

Anyway, what I’m saying here is the the “balanced” (actually dual-mono) output of the iFi xDSD is no joke.
Very quiet, excellent separation. This is clearly the way these phones were designed to be used. And it only took me 18 or so years to find out.

(note to patch cord weenies - the cord cost $79, was made by Amplifier Surgery, and is silver plated copper with a cloth jacket. Don’t know the connectors, but they look like Amphinol)

Addendum: In all honesty, I can credit quiet and separation to the cable and dual mono mode. If the new headphone cable is otherwise superior to the cable that came with the HD-580 in the 1990s, that may account for the additional sense of liveness that I hear. I’m not sure that differences in resistance will be measurable with my 10 year old digital multimeter.