Micro iDSD vs ~$300 desktop stack?

Hey Guys,

TL;DR, the title. What are the quality differences going to be between a micro iDSD and a dedicated, well bought stack?

Background: I am new to the game and looking into what equipment to get. There are 2 main considerations for me though.

  1. My time to listen to music is almost exclusively while walking around my house doing chores.
  2. I know that I want to try argons when I can get my hands on some as they seem to be exactly what I want from a headphone

With the dimensions of iDSD (and recognizing that none of them have BT), I don’t think it will be an issue to carry around home at all (my chore pants have absurd pockets) even with the dongle to my phone (I dont need a setup for when I am out, but I do need to be able to walk around the house). My question is, with the black label typically going for $300-350 (and the silver $150-250), would I be missing some pretty significant sonic qualities over a well bought desktop stack of similar pricing? Will the Micro iDSD work fairly well as an entry level desktop amp when I do use it at my desk as well?

Also, side note, if my assumption that the iDSD will run things like argons and 880 600ohms well while something like a BTR5 or even Xduoo XD-05 will not is wrong, please let me know.

EDIT: I forgot to mention. The vast majority of the music I listen to is basically orchestral hip-hop/lo-fi. So think big, grandiose, use of strings, but still a pretty fair smooth (no big impacts typically) base focus. I do also listen to a fair bit of jazz piano, but I am quite satisfied with my pandas for that

Micro iDSD is a powerful all in one that is portable. to get a stack comparable in quality, I think you’d need to spend more than $300 if you want a similar ‘warm’ sound signature the Burr Brown DAC have.

for a wee bit more, you could get the Geshelli Labs JNOG DAC and one of their amps.

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So bottom line is, even if I can technically do better, its going to be by a tiny amount for the trade off of not being portable at all?

well…it comes down more to whether you want something that’s portable or something that’s fixed…a stack.

but yes, I don’t think any stack you can get for $300 is going to be as good as the Micro iDSD.

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Well its great news I read that right, because I was able to buy one in the time it took you to respond

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For 300, the iDSD is a steal. I currently have the ZEN dac and am eying a Micro unit as an eventual upgrade

Currently split between getting a cheaper black label or their signature here: https://ifi-audio.com/products/micro-idsd-signature/

Also, apparently there’s something even bigger coming out in 2021 that’s red. I can’t seem to find much on it outside of it being the named the Diablo.

Let me know what you think when you get it, glad you were able to snag one at that awesome price.

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I feel like it comes down to ur gear tbh. I have heard the sundara on both an xduoo and a liquid platinum. And there isn’t much in terms of performance because the sundara has it’s own limitations. But then if i hook up the LCD 2 into both there is a massive difference and step up that i get from the LP over something like the xduoo xd 05 plus.But yeah if u have something like sundaras or 58x etc i wouldn’t recommend the upgrades but if you are planning on buiying some other capable gear i think it could be worth. Right now something i also have preferred is intead of getting one thing that can do it all like 1 portable amp/dac i instead have 1 more decent portable and 1 capable desktop type of gear. (side note i’m selling both the xduoo and Liquid Platinum if you ever want one of these two lol)

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Yah, that signature does look mighty tasty with the balanced. As for the red, I just hope to fuck it has BT (or at least an add on module for it). Its kinda ridiculous that the sig doesnt have it as is. Either way though, IMO, its probably just down to what you value. I was able to get the BL for 275 shipped. Ignoring that I wasn’t planning on breaking 250-300 in the first place for my first stack, I just dont see the need for balanced for 2x the cost when you are only going to have 2-3’ of cable.

Ill make sure to post my (inexperienced) takes here

FWIW, this is my first dac/amp at all. I dont have a desktop setup at all (nor even headphones for it to run yet, but I wanted to make sure I had the amp/dac nailed down before I bought headphones).

From what I was reading it wasnt going to be possible to get as good of a setup as the iDSD if I got a portable + a desktop stack for a combined total of $300 or so. Its kinda too late now, but do you feel like there would have been a better quality combo if I split the setups?

There’s nothing wrong with that! In fact it’s the same thing i did. But I guess that after buying tons of gear i realized that it’s not just about buying something that’s good and hoping that it runs everything to its potential. Instead it’s (after a certain price range) about buying amps and headphones that are meant for each other, as silly as that sounds lol. It’s just like, certain amps make certain gears strong points stronger and weak points less of an issue. And the harmony it does to gear is beautiful of you find the perfect fit. So alot of people tend to buy amps based on the headphones they want to compliment not vice versa.

Hmmmmm maybe maybe not tbh. All in one’s tend to be better when it comes to fitting into a specific budget. Sometimes it’s better to not over think it and go simple. I think u made the right choice with just going simple with it. Also I’ve heard amazing stuff about that amp i wanted one of those before lol. So I’m sure it was the right choice tbh


That was kinda the rational behind the decision. I initialy set out with a $250 budget or so, but given that I mostly listen moving around, it seemed like it at least wouldnt be a bad move even if the quality parody for a desktop stack was $50 cheaper or so. My only real question with these is how well it will handle IEMs, but we will cross that bridge when we get there (especially since a used BTR5 is really close to that easy to justify impulse buy line for me)