Somewhat to my surprise, I found largely similar sonic characteristics when I shifted to digital sources—a MacBook Pro from mid-2012 with 2.3GHz Intel Core i7 processor running OS X 10.9.5 with Audirvana Plus, wireless streaming via Tidal, and even some run-of-the-mill Red Book tracks ripped from CDs way back when via Bluetooth (using the dongle provided). Perhaps the IDA-8’s digital conversion of the analog signal accounts for some of this, but the zeros and ones delivered the great-sounding goods! I still prefer vinyl for most of my critical (and fun) listening, but the IDA-8 brought warmth to its clean and clearly resolved presentation of digital sources too.
In my experience, the downsides to the IDA-8 were few. Upon occasion, the upper treble thinned out a touch, but not much. Can fans might well miss a headphone input option. The only moments I felt something was missing occurred when the sound of the digitally converted analog signal softened ever so slightly due to A-to-D processing; the effect is quite subtle and hard to describe, but once in a while, it seemed some of the raw impact on my LPs was lost. I want to stress that the instances when I noticed this were few and far between and never detracted from my musical enjoyment. Perhaps digital devotees would not register this. The tradeoff here, I would say, is the IDA-8’s consistently lovely and uncannily liquid presentation.
In summary, the IDA-8 is a winner, and a force to be reckoned with in its category (and beyond it). Though a touch dark in character (à la Class D), it delivers substance and warmth with speed, resolution, and plenty of gusto—and does so from an astonishingly quiet background. It has a slightly digital-like sound in its detail resolution but doesn’t cross the line into the overly analytical. A well-conceived Class A/Class D hybrid that doesn’t want for power or clarity, the IDA-8 ought to find itself on the audition short list of a wide range of hi-fi hobbyists, from newbies to more experienced audiophiles. I’m considering purchasing my review sample. Highly recommended.
SPECS & PRICING
Type: Class A/Class D hybrid integrated amplifier
Power output: 100Wpc into 8 ohms, 100Wpc into 4 ohms
Inputs: USB PCM up to 384kHz/DSD up to DSD256; coaxial SPDIF (PCM up to 192k supporting DoP format DSD64); optical SPDIF (PCM up to 192K supporting DoP format DSD64); Bluetooth or WiFi receiver module (optional); analog, stereo RCA (analog input will be digitized)
Outputs: One pair of stereo speaker (binding posts); one pair of stereo RCA (line-level)
Peak output power: 280W
Frequency response: 10Hz–50kHz
THD+N: < 0.005%
SNR ratio: 95dB
Dimensions: 235mm x 55mm (including feet) x 281mm
Loudspeakers: Raidho D-1, Monitor Audio Gold 300
Subwoofer: JL Audio e110 (pair)
Sources: George Merrill GEM Dandy PolyTable with Jelco tonearm and Air Tight PC-7 cartridge; MacBook Pro with 2.3GHz Intel Core i7 processor running OS X 10.9.5 with Audirvana Plus
Phonostage: Walker Audio Procession
Power conditioner: Ansuz
Cables and interconnects: AudioQuest Fire, Shunyata Research Venom series