iFi brings MQA support to select products

Products that qualify for the update include the brand's 'Stereo 50' music system and many of its DACs - the micro iDAC2, micro iDSD Black Label, nano iDSD LE and the nano iOne (pictured) that launched last year, as well as the discontinued nano iDSD and micro iDSD.

Before now, the 2017-launched nano iDSD Black Label was the only iFi product to support MQA.

For the unaware, MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) is an efficient method of digitally storing music as a file small and convenient enough to download or stream, without the sonic sacrifices traditionally associated with compressed files. MQA files are available to download from several hi-res download sites and to stream via Tidal.

So this latest firmware allows anyone with MQA files and music player software (such as Audirvana) on their computer or MQA-compatible smartphone to play MQA music through their iFi device. It also allows Tidal desktop app users to stream hi-res Tidal Masters through their iFi device.

MQA file playback will be indicated on iFi devices with a magenta LED light. Legacy products without the magenta LED option (such as the nano iDSD LE) will shine white/yellow instead.

From the 1st June, the nano iOne can be returned to iFi to be upgraded with the magenta LED.

While the nano iDSD Black Label launched with MQA support, there were some initial problems with its LED not changing colour to denote MQA playback. iFi’s initial fix sorted this out, but caused some inconsistencies with the other colour displays. Updating the nano iDSD Black Label to the v5.30 firmware will correct this.

The nano iDSD Black Label will now be sold with the firmware pre-installed, as will any forthcoming iFi device, such as the xDSD.

Other MQA-compatible DACs include AudioQuest's DragonFly Black and DragonFly Red, and Meridian’s Explorer 2 USB DAC.


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10+ years in the hi-fi industry, she has reviewed all manner of audio gear, from budget amplifiers to high-end speakers, and particularly specialises in headphones and head-fi devices. In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.