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Review- The iFi Audio xDSD

"iFi have managed to pack a lot into a small device, and it works in perfect harmony. "

iFi xDSD

 

The xDSD is tiny but packed full of tech; a must have for the audiophile who listens on the go.

 

Aesthetics and Build Quality:

The xDSD is a lovely little thing, with a shiny gunmetal finish and matte black backplate it is neat and tidy. The finish is a bit of a fingerprint magnet though, so be sure to give it a wipe down from time to time. On the back you have the inputs, on the front you have the volume knob/on-off switch, xBass and 3D+ button, and the 3.5mm headphone output.

 

iFi xDSD

 

Build quality wise it is a solid unit; the mostly metal construction should help it to survive day to day use along with holding up to the occasional knock that is bound to happen. All the sockets are tight and the buttons all feel sturdy. The volume knob is flush with the main body, meaning there won’t be additional stress added to it.

 

 

Features:

The xDSD accepts all sorts of inputs, you have the main USB input for using with a mobile phone (camera connection kit requires for iOS devices). On the back there is also the 3.5mm coaxial/TOSLINK combo S/PDIF input for DAP’s and CD players. Internally you have Bluetooth connection, allowing you to transmit Bluetooth audio from your device to the xDSD, it supports the regular Bluetooth protocols along with AptX, in the future it would be nice to see it support LDAC.

 

On the back you have a micro-USB port that is for charging only, along with a filter switch. This changes the digital filter from Measure to Listen. The differences between the 2 filters modes is subtle, so play around and see which you prefer. To my ears the Measure is a little more neutral, the Listen is a little more forgiving and better for extended listening.

 

iFI xDSD

 

The 3.5mm socket on the back can be set as a line-out so you can use the xDSD as a DAC for your hifi system or to connect to a different amplifier. Overall for the size of the device, iFi have managed to pack a lot in.

 

The volume knob has a clear centre that changes colour depending on the volume, starting at blue (low) and going up to red (high). Next to this are LED indicators, showing what input is being used and the bitrate, along with showing if the 3D+ and xBass+ settings are in use.

 

 

 

Sound:

So how does the xDSD sound, well first off, I will say that it pairs equally well with IEM’s as it does with most full-size headphones. It will power most headphones, but may not be the best match for low sensitivity headphones, with 500mw@16 Ohms it really can pack a punch for its size.

 

The xDSD has superb audio quality though, as with most iFi products it is clean as a whistle but with a hint of smoothness to it, this prevents the xDSD from sounding too sterile. There is excellent definition to the sound, with great separation and everything is in its right place. The noise floor is low, you will only notice a tiny bit of noise with extremely sensitive IEM’s.

 

iFi xDSD

 

The xDSD steers clear of sounding too digital, the bass is controlled with only a slight hint of added body. The midrange is clean and insightful handling everything with ease. The highs are detailed and extended but without a hint of glare, overall it is a well balanced and detailed DAC/Amp.

 

What surprised me here is the Bluetooth quality, the sound quality is very consistent, no matter what input is used. The added convenience of going wireless is handy, and knowing that you don’t lose out on a lot of sound quality makes it ever better.

 

 

Conclusion:

iFi have managed to pack a lot into a small device, and it works in perfect harmony. Unfortunately, there is a tiny bit of background noise with extremely sensitive IEM’s. Overall however the xDSD is clean, detailed and easy to listen to. Nothing stands out, and the feature set is excellent for the price. A must have for the audiophile on the go.

About Shaun Gostelow

Shaun is co-founder of hifiheadphones.co.uk and spends most of his time dealing with the business side of running the store, but still loves listening to music with headphones just the same as ever.
Follow Shaun on Google+
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