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RMAF 2015: iFi, you Fi, we all Fi

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iFi-Audio has been slowly but surely consuming all of the air in the affordable high-end audio market — or, at least, making a damn good attempt at it. We’ve covered some of their products over the years, and the products have consistently shown exceptional value. So, we’re happy to see iFi finally “move up” from the pure value-play and into the big leagues: say hello to Pro.

You probably already know that iFi has a few lines. Their first efforts now fall into what they call the “Micro” line. This was followed by their smaller, less expensive, line called “Nano”. This was followed by a new wrapper, which is delightfully retro, that they call … er … ah … “Retro”. Hmm. Anyway, the newest line, their flagship, will carry the name Pro.

The first to hit from this line will be the Pro iCan (photo above). We should see this in November, weighing in at or around $1,699. What it is is a headphone amplifier, and one that can (reportedly) handle extremely sensitive in-ear monitors (with extremely high sensitivities) as well as power-starved beasts. According to the literature, we can expect a fully discrete architecture, fully balanced, with pathways that allow for a tube (dual triode) or not a tube (a switch on the front regulates the internal processing path). Max output is spec’d at 20v max, in balanced mode. The unit shown was a functional prototype — we can expect the final product to have higher visibility labeling. Note the dual-function jacks on the front fascia — you’ll have the choice of a 4-pin XLR, or dual 3-pin XLR, hi/lo impedance 1/4″, or hi/lo impedance mini-jacks. The fullest suite of settings for iFi XBass and 3D offered to date will also be included as features (the two knobs bracketing the outputs — the other two outermost knobs are for source-select and volume). Expect this to hit in November.

Also new: the DC iPurifier ($119). This is an inline RF noise-cancellation filter, designed to slip between the wall wart’s barrel and the connector on the back of your wall-wart powered device. Four different connector versions/sizes will be available in November.

Also new: the micro iUSB3.0 ($399). Available now, the iUSB3.0 upgrades the original iUSB by including … USB3.0 technology/support, and adding noise filtering on both the signal and the power legs. Re-clocking and signal re-generation are also features, as is a DC-offset corrective. Want to cut the power from the computer entirely? You can do that and feed the iUSB (and the USB signal) with an external power supply (that is, remove the computer and it’s power from the chain entirely, even if the upstream receiver chip requires USB-power to operate) … an iFi iPower, for example … or run off the internal battery.

Also new: the iPurifier 2 ($129). Like the iPurifier, but for USB. This unit is an upgrade over the original (not sure exactly how), but it’s a “active asynchronous” filter that re-clocks and re-generates USB signals and corrects DC-offset. Darren Censulo, the importer, told me that you can add one of these every 5m to your USB cable to use as an extender. Not that you’d be doing that, but the point is interesting — mo’ betta signal. USB-A, USB-B, USB-C and USB-micro versions will be available in November.

Also new: the micro iDAC2 ($349). An upgrade over the iDAC, this little bugger can handle DSD256 and PCM384, using Burr-Brown DACs. It allows for digital passthrough with a RCA S/PDIF output, but there’s also RCA outputs and a mini-jack headphone out, with an amplifier good for 350mW.

Sounds like a cornucopia of stocking stuffers, to me. Hey, Santa Darren? You out there?

RMAF 2015 coverage brought to you by Noble Audio! Click for more ….

About Scot Hull (997 Articles)
Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.

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