iFi iDAC, iCAN, and iUSBPower

The Little Boxes That Could

Equipment report
Digital-to-analog converters,
Headphone amps and amp/DACs
iFi Audio iCAN,
iFi Audio iDAC,
iFi Audio iUSBPower
iFi iDAC, iCAN, and iUSBPower

The iUSBPower

Aftermarket power solutions are nothing new, but iFi’s approach to the problem of cleaner USB power is unique. Instead of resorting to a battery and some sort of battery-charging scheme, iFi has opted for regulating, isolating, and cleaning up the USB power supply itself. The $199 iUSBPower has a single USB 2.0 (it will also take 1.0) input with an AC power input on one end and a pair of USB outputs on the other. One USB output is designated “power only” while the other passes both power and audio signals. For most applications the power and audio combination USB output will be the one used, but if you have a USB device in need of 5.0V power the iUSBPower can supply it via its “power-only” output.

In my nearfield desktop system replacing the stock AC power supply with the iUSBPower lowered the iDAC’s already low noise floor to the point where it sounded very much like what I’m used to hearing from a live microphone feed. Micro-dynamics seemed more pronounced when the iUSBPower was attached and the smallest details buried in the mix were easier to hear.

The only glitch I experienced with the iUSBPower device was when connected to my Mac it “took over” as an über USB connection—the other two USB DACs connected to my Mac disappeared from my sound devices selection box, leaving the “AMR USB audio 2.0” as the only selectable sound device. To add additional sound devices I had to disconnect the iUSBPower from my computer and perform a reboot. If you don’t use a Mac or only have one sound device connected to your system (most setups) you won’t experience this problem.

Is There an iFi in Your Future?

I suspect that many audiophiles will purchase iFi products with the intention of using them in a portable, traveling, or desktop system. But after trying any one of these little wonders, you might be tempted to move them into your main system. That could be a mistake. Why? Because once you hear the iFi iDAC, iCAN, and iUSBPower in your main system, you may be forced to buy a second set, because they won’t be coming back out. That’s how well the iFi gear performs.


iFi iDAC
Device type: USB DAC/headphone amp
Input: USB Audio Class 2.0
Output: RCA (single-ended), minijack for headphone
Output power: 150mW (headphone amp)
Signal-to-noise ratio: 97dB(A)
Dimensions: 68 x 28 x 158mm
Weight: 0.43 lbs.
Price: $299

iFi iUSBPower
Device type: USB power supply
Input: USB (Type B)
Output: USB (Type A) power only, USB (Type A) power + music
Dimensions: 68 x 28 x 158mm
Weight: 0.43 lbs.
Price: $199

iFi iCAN
SNR: >117dB (A-weighted)
Frequency response: 0.5Hz to 500kHz (-3dB)
Dimensions: 68 x 28 x 158mm
Weight: 0.48 lbs.
Price: $249

US Distributor
Avatar Acoustics
545 Wentworth Court
Fayetteville, Georgia 30215
(678) 817-0573

Featured Articles