Whether you use Nvidia Shield, Google Chromecast or a 4K television, hook your system up to a gaming console such as the XBox One, Playstation 4 or simple enjoy music through your smartphone, tablet or computer, the iOne is the one for you. Add it to your audiophile rig to push the boundaries of high-quality sound to a whole new level.
Diving right in.
- Nvidia Shield
- Chromecast Audio
- LG 65″ C8 OLED HDTV
- MSI GS40 Gaming Laptop
- Oppo UDP-203
- PS Audio Sprout100
- Audience Au24 SX RCA cables
- Mapleshade optical cable
What is the iFi nano iOne?
- It’s effectively a small DAC with Bluetooth, USB, and S/PDIF inputs. That’s it.
- It’s meant to serve as an upgrade from the internal DACs in your TV, gaming consoles, PC, and streamers.
- It doesn’t have any amplification stages so not suitable for portable use. Just connect the RCA outputs to your preamplifier/receiver.
What can it do?
- It’s able to accept USB, coaxial, and optical via a 3.5mm cable (or adapter). The iOne comes with a 3.5mm TOSLINK adapter.
- I used the optical for the LG C8 and Google Chromecast Audio.
- I used USB for the Nvidia Shield and laptops.
- When connected to a Google Chromecast Audio via optical, you’re able to stream Spotify via WiFi. This sounds much better than the Bluetooth interface.
- You could also add Bluetooth capabilities to a non-wireless DAC via its coaxial output feature. Not sure how many will use this feature but it’s there.
- It shows you a variety of beautiful logo’ed colors on the front, depending on the input and type of stream.
- Bluetooth with aptX codec – bringing you closer to CD quality with wireless convenience.
- It has a digital filter switch for “listen” and “measure.” Just pick the one that sounds better to you.
- For compatible formats (Burr Brown chip), check out the spec page.
How does it sound?
- The tonality of the iOne is neutral and spectrally balanced – with a few scoops of shine.
- It’s clean, detailed, transparent, articulate, and quiet.
- It trades tonal contrast and a warmer/denser sound for more energy and clarity.
- Voices and instruments come in clear and intelligible with plenty of air.
- The timing and speed of aural cues are precise and tight, thanks to the Femto precision clock system.
- The Bluetooth connection won’t sound as good as a USB or S/PDIF connection, but it’s convenient and didn’t have any dropouts during my review.
Who should buy it?
- If you’re looking for a comprehensive set of digital inputs on a DAC.
- If you want your DAC to be unobtrusive yet provide an appreciable improvement in sound quality over your device’s internal DAC.
- If you’re a Bluetooth power user. The inclusion of aptX codec support is a nice feature.
- If you prefer a more revealing and exciting sound signature over a richer one.
I really enjoyed the clever incorporation of the 3.5mm TOSLINK connection on the coaxial port. This came in very handy for many of the devices. Although the provided USB 3.0 Type B cable is short, I didn’t really mind as my RCA interconnects were sufficiently long enough. Overall a very lightweight, versatile, and wonderful little DAC.
If you’re looking to enhance the sound of your existing system without having to fuss with giant power cords and space-hogging DACs, the iFi nano iOne is highly recommended.
Purchase: iFi nano iOne – $199
I just ordered one so I’m glad to hear you liked it – I actually am going to use it as a USB/SPDIF converter and as a Bluetooth DAC.