THE most lucrative area of the consumer audio industry these days seems to be computer audio (along with headphones and vinyl). And while audiophiles will demand as much real estate as possible for their money, a growing number of music lovers are happy with desktop hi-fi components that require minimum space, stay out of the way and connect to their PC or laptop with minimum fuss.
Put all these factors together, and you can see where a manufacturer like iFi Audio is coming from. According to a press release from the recently-launched company, it is a “manufacturer of products for the computer audio generation using trickle-down technology licensed from Abbingdon Music Research (AMR).” A London-based outfit, it would appear, and a subsidiary of Abbington Global, which owns AMR. The more discerning will know that the British company makes some rather fine hi-fi components.
The iFi brand’s focus, we’re told, is to offer a range of high-end computer audio components in the US$200‐US$400 price range that are expected to draw interest from the growing iPod and current two‐channel audio generation alike.
The first four products to be launched are from iFi’s Micro series, comprising the iDAC, iCAN, iUSBPower, and iPhono. The names are self-explanatory, we would think …
The iDAC is an ESS Sabre HyperStream 24-bit/192kHz DAC with line and headphone outputs. It offers an asynchronous USB input, and Bit‐Perfect and ZeroJitter Lite technologies licensed from AMR. A mere US$299.
The iCAN is a Class A ‘TubeState Tri‐brid’ headphone amplifier with adjustable XBass and 3D HolographicSound system to match all types of headphones and recordings, and retails at US$249.
You can never be too fussy about the power supply and the iUSBPower is aimed at replacing the computer’s noisy USB power. It is sited between the computer and DAC, and iFi claims it is quieter than even a dry‐cell battery. The price? Just US$199.
Finally, vinyl vibes – the iPhono is an MC/MM phono stage with 40/66dB gain. Six different EQ curves are provided, along with Class A ‘TubeState Tri‐brid’ amplification. It is the most expensive component here, at US$399.
The company already has a number of distributors globally, so ask your nearest one for arrival times.