iFi Audio is a very interesting new manufacturer of affordable transportable audio gear created by Abbingdon Music Research Audio. iFi (and Avatar Acoustics; thank you so much for allowing me to borrow these for an extended period of time, longer than expected) has graciously loaned me their entire Micro product line, which includes the iCan headphone amplifier ($249), the iDAC…DAC ($299), the iPhono phono preamp ($399), and the mysterious iUSB ($199), which I will describe in great lengths. So, for about $750, you can have a complete computer system, not that bad at all.
It is clear that minimalism is one of iFi’s goals, even with packaging. The boxes are compact and elegant; they are made of cardboard with a coverpiece. Inside the boxes is exactly what is needed for the products to work as intended. It is clear that iFi decided to invest more money into their products than extraneous packaging material.
All of the iFi products have the same housing. The enclosures are aluminum, compact, and sturdy; they certainly feel more expensive than they cost. If I may have one complaint, since the top corners of the enclosures aren’t flat, they aren’t very easy to stack, which is a shame because the stacked system would take up very little horizontal space, a useful feature in a place like a college dorm or an apartment.
Initially, I didn’t expect all that much from the iFi stack. Since their footprint was so small, and the expectations so lofty, anything above middle-of-the-road would please me. It turns out I had so much to say that I’ve dedicated a page to each product. This entire review is about 4,500 words. It’s a lengthy read, but iFi deserves it.
One of my favorite things about iFi Audio is that its staff is incredibly transparent regarding their products. They’ve even gone to the trouble of opening up their products and showing what their circuit boards look like.