Neo iDSD is iFi audio's USB-powered desktop DAC/headamp second only to their several times dearer Pro iDSD flagship. Neo measures 214x146x41mm WxHxD and weighs 970g so is quite compact and light. It can natively process DSD/PCM up to 512 and 32/768 respectively and Bluetooth 5.0 is compliant with the AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX HD/Adaptive/LL and LHDC/HWA codecs plus LDAC. Almost all iFi DACs released prior to late 2020 either are MQA renderers at a cost of DSD/PCM being limited to DSD256/384kHz and S/PDIF out disabled; or vice versa. Two core firmware versions unlock either one or the other feature set. Until recently only Pro iDSD's XMOS chip had enough computing power to cover all bases and full MQA decoding. Now Neo iDSD follows suit, quite an accomplishment considering it sells for €749 not €2'999.

At first Neo iDSD struck me as baby Pro iDSD due to similar desktop footprint, fully balanced topology and wireless connectivity. But now I think that the origin lay elsewhere and portable models from the X-range had the real say. On utility xDSD and xCAN overlap quite a bit, one being mainly a DAC with headfi output, the other the exact opposite. More importantly, both are balanced designs with Bluetooth inputs and volume based on digitally actuated analog IC not found in any other iFi product except now Neo iDSD. So it's not unreasonable to see today's model as a stationary desktop take on the X-series. But that's just my guess.

Neo iDSD's sandblasted aluminium fascia isn't too crowded but features everything a DAC/amp specimen should have. A small square Oled display behind black acrylic shows volume in 99 x 1dB steps, input, sample rate and data type. Upon setting the product upright, this screen flips 90° to match, a nice touch. A pleasantly clicking knurled rotary in a concave shallow adjusts volume, mutes all outputs when shortly pressed and controls display brightness with a longer press. A wide slot houses a white LED plus two buttons to cycle through the inputs and turn the product on/off. A neighboring rounded insert with balanced/single-ended 4.4/6.3mm outputs seals the deal.

The cheeks, underbelly and hood make for a uniform sleeve that connects to the optional base whose foam strips glued to its walls create a tight scratch-free fit. Although now narrow and tall, the structure is reasonably stable. An analog XLR (6.3/4.4V for variable/fixed) and RCA (3.2/2.2V for variable/fixed) are variable by default but can be set to fixed in a sub menu engaged upon holding the main knob whilst powering up. Digital inputs include coax and Toslink plus USB3.0 for its superior shielding and firmer mechanical grip over standard USB2.0. Lastly, an optional DC power inlet next to the Bluetooth antenna socket demands no more than 5V so a USB data cable can also power Neo iDSD. iFi simply consider this noisier than and inferior to their included iPower supply.