iFi Micro iDSD VS xDSD

We all love good quality sound, moreover when listening to your favorite musicians or music. There are lots of methods to improve sound quality and one of them is by using a DAC or amp for the listening device that you have, like headphones. iFi Micro iDSD Vs xDSD are very ideal for your simple setup as they are straightforward and easy to use. They significantly improve the sound quality but are slightly different so let’s see which you may like better here. 

In this comparison, we are going to talk about:

  • Do You Need a Headphone Amp
  • What are iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD
  • How are the Design of iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD
  • How are the Specs of iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD
  • How are the Interface of iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD
  • What else iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD can offer
  • How are the Experience with iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD
  • iFi Micro iDSD Vs xDSD

Headphone Amps

For enthusiasts, the audio quality that comes from their setup is extremely important and many of us can invest a lot on a good system to get the best experience. However, for the majority of people a good headphone is enough for daily use. The headphone is most convenient as we can transport and wear them without bothering other people. Unfortunately, an expensive headphone paired with a poor audio component is not going to deliver the best it can offer.

If you have expensive headphones and are listening to a high quality audio file, there is one thing that we can do to improve the experience and this is by adding a DAC/amp into the setup. Actually your computer or laptop and pocket music players all have the equipment built-in yet they are often not the best or not as capable as a standalone equipment. DAC and amp are separate functions but since they are often built in the same unit we can just buy one with both features.

They are usually connected directly to your media player on one edge and another port is used for your headphone or output. They are very straightforward too so even though you don’t want to do much tweaking, chances are they will still improve the sound quality. However, it is necessary to choose the ideal equipment for your headphone and the simplest way is matching the impedance. You can check the impedance of your headphone and look for a DAC/amp that is at least 10 times the ohm value.

You may want to look into headphone’s spec first or find the package they come in. Sensitivity is a very common spec listed on the box and it is a way to determine whether your headphone will benefit from the amp. In most cases those that are over 100DB at 1mW will be driven sufficiently to ample volume so we don’t need the amp but, if it is lower, we may need an additional amp to drive the headphone.

Another reason why you may want to get external equipment is because they tend to have additional features built-in to the unit. This is one of our reasons to buy one because it makes the adjustment more convenient since we don’t have the settings on the laptop or media player to access this type of function. Depending on the model, some of them offer features to alter the sound such as bass boost which is very useful if you like the type of song that is strong on the lower end.

 iFi Micro iDSD xDSD
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Product Dimensions17.2 x 6.7 x 2.8 inches4 x 3 x 1 inches
Shipping Weight1.54 pounds 0.28 pounds

About iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD

If you have a high-end headphone and feel the media player or component is not reliable or up to the headphone’s capability, it is good to get one. Most amps today are both DAC and amp so we can get two equipment and functions in one device. They are also available in a wide range of price too depending on which seems to fit you the most. Chances are the difference will be both on the sound quality and the available features.

If you can spend the budget, it is great to invest on the best your money can buy but if you just want something to improve the sound quality, iFi is one of the most popular on the affordable range. This brand may not be as popular as Chord for example, that you can check in our Micro iDSD Vs Chord Mojo but this company carries so many interesting offerings and sound wise we also like how they improve it.

Some of the most popular options lately from this brand are iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD which are quite similar but also different. The two are about the same in terms of price range but as you can expect, the xDSD is a different option. The Micro we have here is Silver model because you can find the Black Label and Signature variant. Silver is the most affordable too, with inferior components so in comparison the Black Label will most likely sound better.

The xDSD is actually a replacement over the Nano Silver version so you can already guess that it is a compact option of the DAC/amp and it is a great upgrade as well for anyone who doesn’t wish to carry the bar of Micro iDSD. In performance, this new DAC/amp is actually more similar to the Micro BL for the sound character. It doesn’t get as dark but we do think the level of details is better compared to the Micro Silver.

iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD Design

Before getting into the equipment, let’s see the unit first and the most noticeable difference is probably the design and form factor itself. Micro is not a huge amp, it is probably about the size of some entry-level smartphone. The material is good, it is made of aluminum and is very sturdy without any concerning parts. The inputs and outputs are all clearly labeled so you can notice what each of them are used for. It is also packing a lot of features on the flip side of the unit.

In comparison the xDSD is probably around half the size of Micro but it is not lacking at all in terms or build quality. Somehow it looks like a flask in a glance probably because of the shape and the gunmetal finish that makes it stand out on your desk. The rear part is made of plastic however and where most of the ports are located. As expected, the two are powered using a battery inside and charged using the USB port.

iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD Specs

Moving further, let’s see what the iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD can offer and as it has been mentioned above, it is wise to match your DAC/amp with the existing headphone because it is the main listening device and why we need additional equipment in the first place. The Micro is offering 3 different power modes to use between Turbo at 8.0V max/4,000mW @ 16 Ohm, Normal at 4.0V/1,000mW @ 16 Ohm, and Eco at 2.0V/250Mw @ 16 Ohm.

The xDSD is different as it is more similar to the Nano and as expected it is lower as well at 2.82V/500mW @ 16 Ohm, 3.7V/20mW @ 50 Ohm, 3.8V/48mW @ 300 Ohm, and 3.8/24mW @ 600 Ohm. Depending on your headphone or the requirement, we may or may not need to add another equipment in the setup.

iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD Interface

On the interface, both iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD are also very similar but let’s talk about them one by one starting with Micro. At the front you can find a USB port, an SPDIF coaxial/optical input and output, and a line for output. On the other side we can see a headphone jack, an input at 3.5mm, two switches, as well as the main volume control. On the xDSD we get a balanced line output at the front while on the other side we can find the USB port, SPDIF input, and micro USB for charging the equipment.

iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD Features

Next let’s see the features because they do offer some here and starting with iDSD our favorite part is the bass booster and 3D sound that is located at the front. We have heard that the BL variant of this feature sounds much better but the Silver variant is still great too. There are various adjustments or filters as well to help shaping the sound but most of these features are in small switches at the bottom panel of the equipment.

On the xDSD, the most interesting is probably its Bluetooth ability which makes it even more convenient and true to the portable reputation. There is a digital filter here too that we can choose between measure and listen. 


iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD Experience 

Now for the experience, sound quality wise the iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD are kind of similar. We do think the level of detail is actually better on the xDSD as the sound is more prominent but it is probably subjective too. There is no bass booster however so in terms of features it is not as versatile as the iDSD but, we do like the Bluetooth connectivity and the separate port for charging in which the Micro only uses one port for both input and charging.

iFi Micro iDSD Vs xDSD

There are so many good DAC/amps that you can rely on including iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD. The prominent differences between the two is that xDSD is smaller and also comes with Bluetooth connectivity. On the internal part it may not be as powerful as the Micro but it sounds really good too. On the features side the iDSD is coming with more sound tweaking that may give you better results. They are battery powered but we like the separate port for charging and input like in xDSD.

- 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
- WIRELESS OR WIRED - Improve the sound from any smartphone, laptop, tablet, or DAP to your wired headphones with a built in CD quality Bluetooth streaming receiver, or connect directly to your USB device with an Android OTG cable or Apple Camera Connection Kit. S/PDIF, optical, toslink, and coax are options as well. Our S Balanced 3.5mm headphone output brings the benefits of the balanced connection to single ended headphones and cuts crosstalk
- POWERFUL AMPLIFIER - Experience the full dynamic range and unleash the full potential of your headphones, 32ohm to 600ohm, with an impressive Dual-mono headphone amplifier consisting of 500mW of power per channel. Make sensitive IEMs super quiet thanks to our Cyberdrive circuit design that puts the analog volume under digital control for the best of both worlds, while retaining full bit resolution at all volume levels.
- HIGH RESOLUTION AUDIO - Playback any hi-res audio format natively with our signature Burr Brown digital to analog signal processing chip, which means file formats or information remain unchanged for the truest sound. Supports native PCM 384 quad, DSD 256, and MQA straight out of the box, or choose high resolution audio up to PCM 768kHz and DSD 512 with a quick firmware update
- PORTABLE DESIGN - With an internal Lithium Polymer Battery, playback time is up to 6 to10 hours, depending on the headphones you are driving and what settings you enable


Both iFi Micro iDSD and xDSD are good options based on which seems to fit you the most but we will recommend xDSD if you want a compact yet reliable device but if you want more features the Micro is an ideal option. 

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