iFi Micro iDSD VS Nano

For some of us with high-end headphones, the computer or music player may not be providing the adequate equipment to drive and deliver the best sound quality. If this is also an issue for you, we can just add a DAC like iFi Micro iDSD Vs Nano in the setup. These devices will help improve the sound experience and still be very easy to use or transported. For those who are also considering the two, let’s see below about which should fit you better. 

In this comparison, we are going to talk about:

  • How to Improve Your Sound Quality
  • What are iFi Micro iDSD and Nano
  • How are the Design of iFi Micro iDSD and Nano
  • How are the Component in iFi Micro iDSD and Nano
  • What else iFi Micro iDSD and Nano can offer
  • How are the Sound Quality of iFi Micro iDSD and Nano
  • iFi Micro iDSD Vs Nano

Improving Sound Quality

We all love music and we are sure most of us are listening to them almost on a daily basis while working, studying, doing house chores, or just relaxing. There are plenty of speakers around the house, not just that one in our smartphone and TV but from smart speakers and your dedicated music player as well. Oftentimes we wonder how good the sound quality is or whether there is a way and method to actually improve them for better experience. 

Expensive equipment is always better if you can spend the budget but even with just a laptop and decent headphones we should be able to get a good experience. Of course the taste and opinion is different among people based on which seems to fit their taste the most. For those who wonder how to improve the sound quality of their system, mostly from compact setup like portable music player and laptop paired with headphone, here are some factors to notice:

The most important is probably improving the music quality and no, this doesn’t mean that you need to listen to non-mainstream songs. This only means to bump up the quality of your music file and if you are using paid streaming service, there is usually the audio setting on the app or software. In Spotify there is Very High, High, and Medium and other services have similar settings but in different names. Choosing the highest file will result in more data used but it also means better audio quality.  

 iFi Micro iDSD Nano
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Product Dimensions17.2 x 6.7 x 2.8 inches4.33 x 2.68 x 1.1 inches
Shipping Weight1.54 pounds 3.52 ounces

The next step is also very important, especially if your media player is quite old or entry level paired with high-end headphones. What you may want to add is a DAC or digital to analog converter because before the sound enters our ears they need to be converted into an analog signal for the headphone to deliver. There is a converter already in our device which is why we can use them as it is but, this may not be adequate to drive the best out of your headphones.

In addition, there is a headphone amp as well and as the name suggests, this is a small scale amp to drive the headphone. It is often the more important point or similarly important to DAC yet, most DAC that you can buy will also act as amplifier and thus, we can just rely on one device to do both. In general the function of a headphone amp is to boost the overall volume of the audio for clarity even at lower volume as well as coloring the sound, depending on how it is designed.

About iFi Micro iDSD and Nano

Not everyone will need a DAC/headphone amp because not everyone will also want the same thing and this is only beneficial if you already invest on high-end headphones that should sound much better than how you currently listen to them from the computer. This bridging device is not cheap either so it is best to consider how you will want them to be. There are lots to choose from and if possible, we do recommend getting the best your money can buy.

The difference between one DAC/amp to another is based on the component they use so each pair may result in different experience. For those who want to have a reliable DAC/amp without spending too much, the iFi carries some of the best alternatives for a wide range of users. This brand may not sound as sophisticated compared to Chord for example but they do have plenty of interesting options to go for. Their choices are not identical as well so we still have to consider them.



For those who want a better sound quality from their headphones or expensive earbuds, iFi Micro iDSD and Nano are two impressive choices to buy. These are the same DAC/amp so you can use them in the same way yet, as the name suggests, the latter is a nano player so expect to get less from the device since it is meant to be extremely compact. In comparison, they will improve sound quality but also a bit differently since the results are not the same.

Both are very easy to use and versatile for you can plug them into anything that has a USB port or with an adapter. We do think the Micro iDSD is more convenient since it has more features but typically you will be able to use them with almost any player as long as we can plug the input. They are also housing some built-in features but Micro have more and in addition, the two are also battery powered. Read also: iFi Micro iDSD Vs Chord Mojo here.

iFi Micro iDSD and Nano Design

For this comparison, we are talking about their original version or the silver variants since you can find few other variants from these lines such as the Black Label which are easily noticed by being black instead of silver and they are also well-known to provide overall better audio quality with better components. Side by side the Nano is indeed smaller but construction quality is pretty much the same; durable and still compact. The control scheme is already quite different from the two.

As expected, you can find more on the Micro compared to Nano but the layout is kind of the same with both input and output grouped together. For Micro, the size of this device is about the same as some mid-range older smartphones so if you pair it with a similar player then we can just put them together with a rubber band or something. We recommend removing it when you charge them however since the two will get warmer.

iFi Micro iDSD and Nano Component

Now for the most important part, let’s see what the iFi Micro iDSD and Nano can offer and starting from the specs only it already feels like the Nano is a smaller version of the Micro so you get the impression that it is meant for beginner or entry-level users who want to save the budget further. The Nano contains the single Burr Brown DAC chipset which is half the size of what you can find in Micro. It is also producing less power compared to Micro.

iFi Micro iDSD and Nano Features

As it has been mentioned above, the Micro is also coming with more features but for the output we equally have two with one ¼ inch headphone output that will probably be the most useful in daily application and on the opposite side there is RCA analog output too. There is a 3.5mm input on both iFi Micro iDSD and Nano as well as USB digital input but it is USB type B on the Nano which is why they give you the USB A to B cable in the box.

In addition, only the Micro has the SPDIF port which can be either input or output. It is automatically detecting your input so when the USB is plugged to a computer or media player, the SPDIF will act as output. The two are using the same USB to charge the battery as well and we are not a fan of this function because while it means the port looks more organized, it also means we can’t charge while using them.

iFi Micro iDSD and Nano Sound Quality

Lastly for the sound quality, we do think iFi Micro iDSD and Nano are impressive and actually make a difference to the headphone and how they deliver the sound. However, they are also not the same and if we have to choose one, the Micro does sound better. This DAC/amp is producing a more satisfying but also transparent sound and overall is very airy too. It is already multi-dimensional without activating the 3D effect and you will also get more dynamic from the headphone with a sound color that is blacker in comparison. 

In addition we also want to mention that Micro lets you have more freedom over how the sound should be because instead of just one switch for digital filter, the Micro offers you both Xtra Bass and 3D effect switch which does work wonderfully when activated. On the bottom of the device you will find some additional adjustments too such as power modes and filters.

iFi Micro iDSD Vs Nano

Both iFi Micro iDSD and Nano are going to deliver a good experience if your goal is just to improve the sound quality. The Micro is a higher model of Nano and also more expensive but this DAC/amp is featured with better components and features as well. You are not only getting a better sound impression for the headphone or earbuds but also a freedom to tweak them on board. However, we also have the same complaint for the two which is about charging ports that act as input.

- Dual Core Burr Brown True Native chipset supports all hi-res audio formats up to PCM 32 bit / 768kHz, DSD512, and MQA
- 4000mW headphone amplifier with balanced topology and 4.4mm pentacon output
- XBass+, 3D+, and iEMatch create an immersive and personalized headphone or speaker listening experience
- USB A, S/PDIF digital and optical audio inputs; 6.3mm and 4.4mm headphone outputs, RCA line outputs
- True Native DSD/DXD/PCM Playback
- Seriously Great Headphone Amplifier
- Has a lithium-polymer battery that lasts for 10 hours,
- No matter the file size or format, Nano iDSD has you covered


There are lots of amazing DAC/amp yet iFi Micro iDSD and Nano are among the most interesting in the price point. We will recommend getting the Micro if you don’t have an issue with the price point because overall it is the better choice. 


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