iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 Review featured image

iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 Review

In today’s review, Louis assesses the iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2, which is a 2nd-generation BT5.4 aptX Lossless-capable desktop DAC and amplifier. It is priced at $899.00.

Disclaimer: I received this sample in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links or services. I thank iFi Audio for their support.

More information about iFi Audio products that we have previously covered on Headfonics can be found here.

Please keep in mind that this post adheres to our most recent scoring guidelines, which you can find here.

iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 Review featured image
iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 Review

The iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 is what the NEO iDSD should have been all along.

The extra power on tap is a most welcomed implementation. Add to that the Xbass, Presence, and Xspace, plus all the IO and you have a formidable AIO that gives the potential buyer a lot to think about.

Sound Quality
Slide here to add your score on the gear!85 Votes
Great for powering power-hungry cans and sensitive IEMs alike
Feature packed
Accessible via the app, remote control, or the front panel
Nexis app will only work with a 2.4ghz WiFi signal
Award Score

The iFi Audio NEO iDSD and the NEO Stream proved their worth enough to make our 2020 and 2023 top gear awards list. They both excel in audio quality, perform silently, and sport a list of features that make the NEO an excellent choice as an audio center hub.

The iFi NEO iDSD in particular received high scores on its merits, yes, but I always felt as if it was missing an ingredient or two and so did iFi Audio it seems.

It was for the most part the lack of driving power and unlike the iDSD Gryphon for example, the NEO didn’t have any sound sculpturing capabilities either.

The new NEO iDSD 2 stepped it up and pushed the new NEO beyond expectations. The immediate feeling one gets at present is that it now feels like a completed package and could commendably be considered an AIO, more so than the originally released NEO.

iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 tech highlights
Copyright iFi Audio 2024

Tech Highlights

The new NEO iDSD 2’s biggest step up comes in the form of more power on tap. The additional power is an ample increase indeed and is now rated at 5.551mW per side peak max.

The RMS rating is listed as 2530mW per side which is still noticeably more than the original NEO’s peak max of 1040mW.

The NEO iDSD 2 also has additional sound-shaping features as well. For example, it has both the XBass and XSpace features that increase the model’s fun factor threefold.

There’s another unmentioned sonic feature which is called Presence which, um, adds presence or additional forwardness.

There’s also a side menu with four digital filters that are selectable to further tune the overall sound signature. The included digital filters are labeled standard, minimum phase, bit-perfect, and GTO filters.

Add to all that a new updatable Bluetooth 5.4 section and you start to get an idea of how much the NEO iDSD 2 has stepped up its game.

The NEO iDSD 2’s BT implementation now supports the latest aptX lossless codec that claims to be a step above LDAC since it claims to operate at 1200kbps versus LDAC’s 990kbps bitrate, comparatively.

The rest of the unit remains the same and caries over the 16-core XMOS processor, the PureWave fully balanced circuitry, the Burr brown-based true native architecture, and the OV series custom Opamp amplifier stage.


The iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 uses a four-channel Burr Brown DAC setup that is capable of true native decoding PCM and DSD at up to 768kHz and DSD512.

Full decoding of MQA files is also possible at up to 384k and all the unfolding takes place internally at the hardware level. For Tidal, Roon, and Audirvana steam services, iFi posted up a video with setup instructions for that.

The Bluetooth codec list is even longer. LDAC, LHDC, HWA, aptX, SBC, and AAC are all ready to go. There’s also the additional aptX Lossless codec but not many mobile devices support this codec and unfortunately, I couldn’t obtain one, not even a temporary loaner.

I was surprised that although some newer iFi components have the MEMs feature, it was not incorporated into the NEO iDSD 2.

It’s a small detail that I will not knock on since there are not many MEMs IEMs or anything else available yet. We’re working on obtaining a couple of models later on so stay tuned.

The NEO iDSD 2 also has an upgradeable Femto clock with advanced jitter reduction. A smart storage cache was also implemented. There’s also a rear optional 10mHz tap that uses a 1vpp signal at 75Ω and is selectable within the system menu.

iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 standing upright


With over 5 watts of power on tap the NEO iDSD 2 on paper can push any headphones out there. But it seems like there’s not a ton of power available on tap comparatively.

I could mention a few 5-watt amplifiers that can potentially produce more power. But the available power is ample enough to comfortably drive most I would say.

The volume control seems ineffective at the bottom range of the adjustment and it seems to be done purposefully. For the music to get loud, one has to go past a certain level of volume even on high gain. In my case, way past the halfway mark.

This volume adjustment ineffectiveness acts as a buffer for any channel imbalance that could exist, which I never heard on the NEO iDSD 2, especially when the iEMatch gain feature was selected.

The NEO iDSD 2’s amplification stage runs cool all the time and the cabinet never gets hot or not even warm. Not even after a long session of loud music.


The NEO iDSD 2 supports the latest aptX lossless and is claimed by iFi to be the world’s first model to do so. The codec claims to be a step above LDAC since it claims to operate at 1200kbps versus LDAC’s 990kbps bitrate. There’s also support for LDAC, HWA/LHDC, AAC, and SBC.

This time around iFi Audio used an internal antenna instead of using the more common SMA-type screw-on external antenna. Instead, they encased the antenna behind a vinyl section incorporated into the rear portion of the cabinet.

IFi has made some of my favorite Bluetooth devices like the ZEN Blue, and the ZEN AIR Blue. Even the ONE Signature has an excellent-sounding Bluetooth section and the NEO iDSD 2 is no exception.

All of iFi Audio’s Bluetooth devices have excellent reception and range capability except for the GO Blu which doesn’t need long-range capability for its intended use. The Gryphon does much better as far as litigating longer distances.

Sonically speaking, I could only touch on aptX Lossless performance because I tried talking to a friend of a friend trying to obtain a mobile device capable of BT 5.4 and aptX Lossless to no avail.

These devices are scarce at best at the moment. Hopefully, I can get one before the year is over.

iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 screen


The iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 has an improved look due to it including a multicolor TFT display that was designed to operate silently and not induce any noise of its own into the circuitry. That, and a gold-plated output jack trim with a five-button array seem to be the major changes up front.

But the overall cabinet design remained. Including vertical or horizontal mounting options.

The TFT screen orients itself automatically according to how you place it on the desktop and there’s no more need to go into the menu to select the correct screen orientation. You can also adjust the screen brightness with a 4-level setting.

The all-silver color scheme also remained. However, I have mixed feelings about the white portion on the rear of the cabinet that I assume houses the Bluetooth antenna and circuitry.

iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 rear panel


The iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 connectivity is minimalistic upfront and ample at the rear panel. Upfront there’s a 6.35mm and a 4.4mm balanced tap. Both are controlled by the volume control and a four-position gain settings.

The rear panel includes two outputs. There’s a set of RCA connections along with a 3-pin XLR balanced output set. There is an additional and single 3.5mm analog input port, selectable at the system menu that allows you to access the amp stage separately.

The volume control can be set to be either fixed or variable. That feature is again, selectable on the front panel menu screen. So, the NEO iDSD 2 has preamp functionality with a selectable input stage.

The input section consists of a B-type USB port, an optical port, a coax SPDIF, and a sync connector which is used to connect to a 10mHz external clock source.

The remaining rear connection is a 5.5mm DC jack. The NEO iDSD 2 is capable of running on 9 volts and at up to a 15-volt power source. iFi audio throws in the box a wall wart rated at 12 volts at 1.8 amps.


The new iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 employs a color TFT display that allows the user to flip through all the new features.  You can gain access to the menu by using the included remote control, their Nexis app, or by pressing and holding the volume button for three seconds.

The first option is the digital filter selector which as mentioned includes four options. Next, there’s a 4-way gain selector, That’s a total of three, and the additional iFi Audio’s iEMatch feature. There’s also a volume synch feature and a Bluetooth voice prompt on or off selector.

The other options consist of the external clock sync switch, the line-out variable selector, a fixed volume control feature, and a factory reset executer.

Separately, there’s a menu which is an input selector that scrolls through the various digital inputs, and the analog input and it also has an auto setting.

iFi Audio NEO iDSD 2 Nexis app

iFi Audio Nexis App

In this case, iFi Audio demonstrated that they could create a useful app and it beats the previous Gaia app hands down.

The app is called iFi Nexis and the app is compatible with the NEO iDSD2 and is also compatible with iFi Audio’s top-tier iCAN Phantom.

The app doesn’t include a media player but it has all the front-panel controls and gives access to the system menu plus it can perform firmware updates as a bonus.

One aspect of the app that initially tripped me was the feature set availability being linked to two versions of the app.

There is a WiFi-only version with standard functions and a WiFi and BT version with enhanced features. For the WiFi and BT enhanced functionality you will need to keep a Bluetooth and WiFi connection turned on to use them.

Also, the app seems to only be compatible with a 2.4 GHz WiFi signal. So, I had to disable my router’s 5ghz signal for it to function which is a setback in this day and age.

Other than that, the app works great and gives the user added armchair control. It simply clones all the features of the included remote control. But that’s fine because you then can store away the original remote and keep it in pristine condition.

Packaging & Accessories

If you’ve seen how the original NEO was packed or any of the iDSD Diablo variants then the packaging will look familiar to you. It’s a slide-top box within a sleeve and all the accessories are in smaller boxes and the main unit sits inside a foam bed.

The included accessories consist of the remote control, an iFi Audio iPower 12v clean power wall wart, a vertical stand, an RCA set of cables, and a short USB-type C cable.

By the way, iFi Audio also includes a CR2025 battery for the remote control but it is also compatible with the more popular CR2032 alternative.

The rest of the items you’ll find inside the box will be four rubber feet and some iFi Audio stickers, a 3.5mm to 6.35mm headphone plug adapter, and some literature.

Click on page 2 below for my sound impressions and selected comparisons.

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