Tiny hi-fi, big hat from iFi au­dio at IFA

Sound+Image - - News -

At the IFA booth for the high-end desk­top/por­ta­ble spe­cial­ist iFi au­dio, we en­joyed a brief­ing from their ebul­lient Head of R&D Thorsten Loesch (pic­tured), who was on hand to show us not only his fine hat, but also the early ver­sion of an all-in-one player, cur­rently un­der the co­de­name Project Glas­ton­bury (the unit he is pat­ting in the photo). The specs for this bam­boo-en­cased pow­er­house of con­nected au­dio are re­mark­able — 2 × 150W of power, able to play from Wi-Fi, Air­Play, USB, mi­croSD, op­ti­cal, RCA and Eth­er­net con­nec­tions, up to 32-bit 192kHz (24-bit from some sources) and us­ing a sin­gle clock through­out its pro­cess­ing run­ning at a blis­ter­ing 1.536MHz.

One neat in­no­va­tion is the in­clu­sion of a set of ul­tra­sonic sensors which au­to­mat­i­cally mea­sure dis­tances to rear and side walls, and ad­just the out­put of the ‘Glas­ton­bury’ ac­cord­ingly.

Even in the dif­fi­cult en­vi­rons of an IFA show floor, it was de­liv­er­ing quite the out­put.

We later en­coun­tered Mr Loesch again at day’s end dur­ing the EISA Awards Gala, where (with hat still in place) he col­lected iFi’s win for the new and ridicu­lously tiny iFi xDSD, a bat­tery/USB-pow­ered DAC/head­phone am­pli­fier. Although larger (a bit) than the likes of Au­dioQuest’s Drag­on­Fly or the Cyrus sound­key, it has more func­tion­al­ity than ei­ther of those, in­clud­ing both S/PDIF and USB-A in­puts, while EISA’s panel of ex­perts (which in­cludes Aus­tralian Hi-Fi and Sound+Image) praised the qual­ity of its PCM/DSD-com­pat­i­ble DAC and punchy ana­logue out­put stage.

We were also shown the not-yet-re­leased xCAN DAC/amp (be­low), which has mini­jack head­phone out­put and also the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar 4mm bal­anced head­phone con­nec­tion, and if we un­der­stood this cor­rectly, it can be used to power speak­ers as well as head­phones, though we don’t quite un­der­stand how that con­nec­tion would be made. The xCAN uses a Burr-Brown am­pli­fier and in­cludes X-Bass II and 3D+ set­tings, the lat­ter said to “recre­ate live stage at­mos­phere”, while a Blue­tooth con­nec­tion al­lows the xCAN to do its stuff wire­lessly, re­mem­ber­ing up to eight de­vices at once.

iFi au­dio is dis­trib­uted in Aus­tralia by BusiSoft AV: www. busisoft. com.au

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