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Does the iFi NEO iDSD 2 Dominate the Desktop?

October 25, 2023

The  iFi NEO iDSD 2, priced at $899, is the first lossless Bluetooth DAC/Amp with a host of features designed to elevate listening experiences, especially in workspaces. Despite its workplace orientation, it's equally adept in various listening environments. This device delivers features and performance that punch well above its price point, rivaling components costing 2-3 times more. 

Functioning as an ultra clean DAC, only outputting to a dedicated preamp, this compact device allows for 4 different source inputs—asynchronous USB-B, optical and coaxial digital inputs, plus a 3.5mm analogue input. 

After that input signal is processed, the iFi NEO iDSD 2 offers balanced analog output in either a fixed or variable level for connecting to either a pre-amp or powered monitors. Of course, if you want a more personal experience there is also a highly capable headphone amp that now delivers 5 times the power at 5,550mW into 32 ohms from its 4.4mm balanced output.

The  NEO iDSD 2 combines a Burr-Brown DAC chip with a 32-bit, 16-core XMOS Cortex microcontroller for exceptional sound quality.  In addition, advanced jitter-reduction technologies, like GMT clock and external clock input, reduce digital signal jitter. 

The digital stage is only half the story on a device like this, however. How the analog circuitry is handled is the other half. The analog circuitry features iFi’s own PureWave design, delivering high fidelity and increased power output.

One of its standout features is the aptX Lossless codec, offering pristine CD-quality audio over Bluetooth, setting it apart from other codecs. And it can handle a variety of formats, including aptX Lossless, aptX Adaptive, aptX, LDAC, LHDC/HWA, AAC, and SBC.

In terms of headphone power, the device delivers a 5x increase in power, making it suitable for even the most demanding headphones. Beyond power, you can customize the sound with analog processing modes and digital filters, allowing you to fine-tune your experience.

The NEO iDSD 2 impressively challenges the performance of more expensive brands, making it a strong contender and a potential replacement for top-tier products in the HiFi world.