If 2023 has seen the release of a slew of portable headphone amp and DAC combos, iFi has certainly been leading the charge. The FiiO KA13 and the Earfun UA100 have both been unveiled this year, but the five-star iFi Go Link, recently-released iFi hip-dac 3 and now the new iDSD Diablo 2 have demonstrated just how busy iFi has been over the past year.
Following on from the release of the first iDSD DAC/headphone amp in 2021, the new iDSD Diablo 2 promises to be one of iFi's most high-performing models, built for purists who crave "pure, unadulterated sonic performance". If that describes you, it may be time to make a deal with The Devil...
The Diablo 2 has been redesigned from the inside out, incorporating two Burr-Brown DAC chips combined with the brand's custom architecture. As such, the chips are installed with an "interleaved" configuration, doubling the available DAC channels for left and right audio and producing less unwanted noise.
How about supported formats? The iDSD Diablo 2 offers support for all levels of DSD up to DSD512 and PCM files up to 32-bit/768kHz, as well as decoding and upsampling of MQA files up to 384kHz. The Diablo 2 adds aptX Lossless Bluetooth which means it should be capable of streaming CD quality losslessly (16-bit/44.1kHz).
It's certainly a clever unit with plenty packed into it. You're treated to a choice of three gain settings and IEMatch which tailors the amp's power and performance to match the sensitivity of the headphones being used, as well as iFi's unique circuit design which has been conceived to achieve greater sonic purity and reduced noise.
For hooking up physically, you can connect your source devices via the DAC's USB-C port, while the unit also features coaxial/optical and 4.4mm balanced inputs. In terms of outputs, the devilish DAC sports a 4.4mm balanced headphone port, a 6.3mm headphone port and a 4.4mm balanced line-level output.
The new model's battery lasts between 6-12 hours of playtime, although this depends on factors such as the volume at which you play your music and the power/sensitivity of the headphones being used.
As well as the unit itself, the iDSD Diablo 2 comes equipped with a host of accessories, including a low-noise AC/DC adapter, a USB-C charging cable, a USB-C OTG cable, an extended USB-C cable and a Lightning to USB-C cable, not to mention a host of adapters, a desktop stand and even a travel case to protect the Diablo 2 on the go.
Wrapped in its distinctive red finish, the new iFi iDSD Diablo 2 is available to buy now for a price of £1299 / $1299 (further prices pending). Considering how much clever tech the Diablo 2 packs in, though, you certainly seem to be getting your money's worth, and it will be interesting to see how a more premium model fares in a market well-stocked with many budget alternatives.