iFi Audio introduces NEO iDSD 2

ifi audio has launched a second-gen NEO iDSD DAC, which it says sports a host of upgrades to improve upon its predecessor (HFC 482) with the addition of aptX Lossless for CD-quality streaming. Physical connections include USB, optical and coaxial, plus a 3.5mm analogue input.

Balanced analogue outputs incorporate a standard 6.35mm single-ended headphone socket and a 4.4mm out, while around the back single-ended RCA outputs are accompanied by balanced XLRs, to connect the NEO iDSD 2 to an amp and speakers or a pair of active speakers.

Measuring 214 x 41 x 158mm, it can lie vertically or horizontally on a shelf and boasts a new 2in retina-grade TFT colour display, which rotates automatically to suit its orientation while a multi-function rotary control helps to ensure easy use.

The NEO iDSD 2 has three operational modes: it can be used as a pure DAC with a fixed-level analogue output to connect to a separate integrated amp or preamp in an audio system; as a DAC/preamp with a variable output for connecting directly to a power amp or active speakers; and headphone users can use its amp stage.

The DAC stage incorporates a Burr-Brown XMOS chip and 32-bit, 16-core XMOS Cortex microcontroller to provide bit-perfect audio support for PCM files up to 32-bit/768kHz and up to DSD512. MQA is also supported.

The headphone amp delivers a claimed 5,551mW/13.3V into 32ohm and 650mW/19.5V into 600ohm through its 4.4mm balanced output – up to 10 times the power of the original NEO iDSD. There are four gain settings to tailor output to suit the connected headphones. The default mode is Normal (0dB); from there the user can step up to Turbo (+8dB) or Nitro (+16dB). There is also an IEMatch attenuation mode (-12dB) designed to be used with super-sensitive in-ear buds.

XBass II is a proprietary circuit that can be engaged to enhance low frequencies and offers three separate headphone EQ options: ‘Bass’ (which targets low frequencies), ‘Presence’ (which focuses on the upper midrange) and ‘Bass + Presence’ (which implements both together).

XSpace is another analogue processing mode, this time designed to compensate for the ‘in-head localisation’ effect that can occur when using headphones to listen to music mixed for/using speakers. When engaged, XSpace widens the headphone soundstage to deliver a more spacious and speaker-like experience.

The NEO iDSD 2 comes with a new aluminium remote handset and the option of using iFi’s Nexis app, which is available for Android and iOS devices.

Available to buy now for £900, you can find out more about the NEO iDSD 2 here.

iFi Audio