iFi NEO iDSD flaws

I recently bought an iFi Neo iDSD and have experienced similar problems with MQA as others seem to have. I only use volume leveling but I’ve found that at best, the unit puts in little gaps and at worst it sometimes seems to lock up with the display cycling between OFS and DXD, unable to continue with that track/album.

I’ve also found that sometimes it has trouble if going between (PCM) tracks of different sample rates. For example, I was just listening to a 16/44.1 album then when it got to the next album (24/88.2) it was playing at double speed and being garbled.

I’ve looked at iFi’s site but I’m running the latest firmware so I’m afraid this unit will have to go back. £699 is way too much to spend on such a flawed product, especially since I’ve had zero issues with a multitude of other DACs/ playback hardware.

I can easily reproduce the lack of gapless playback when the NEO is decoding or rendering MQA. I experience the same issue with MQA rendering on all of my other MQA DACs (nano and micro iDSD, micro iDAC2, micro iDSD Signature), so it must be an iFi MQA firmware thing.

But, I’ve not managed to get the garbled output when switching between sampling rates. I’ll try some 16/44.1 to 24/8.2 changes and let you know if I can trigger this behavior.

The only issues I’ve noticed with my NEO is that the 4.4mm headphone jack only has output in one channel (tried multiple Pentaconn cables that work fine in other DAC/Amps) and IR code conflicts are fairly common. Volume down on my Topping remote causes the NEO to cycle through its inputs.

Besides these issues, it’s a fantastic sounding DAC…especially from the XLR outputs. Good luck working with iFi on these issues. In the hopefully unlikely case that they can’t sort things out to your satisfaction, the Gustard X16 is worth considering if you do not require a headphone amp or MQA Full Decoding on the S/PDIF inputs (X16 does full unfold on USB input but rendering only on S/PDIF).

I have managed to get some of these same issues on the iFi Zen Dac as well. It drives me crazy when it plays at double speed or half speed.
I have to change the sample rate conversations a few times or turn it off and on a couple of time’s to get things working properly again.

At least that is a £129 device not a £600 device

What computer are you using with it?

That must be pretty annoying. It seems that a new firmware release that addresses these issues is past due from iFi Audio…


An alternative firmware version may help:

Thanks for the link. I’m pretty sure that the NEO has always shipped with 5.3C, but it still does not support gapless MQA playback. Same with all other iFi DACs, as far as I’m aware.

Yes and so is the Zen Dac from memory.
Though it is plugged into VitOS based Pi at the moment so I cannot check

I’m using it with a Squeezebox Touch via USB with the EDO plugin which has worked flawlessly with the following DACs:

  • Arcam irDAC
  • Chord Electronics Qutest
  • SMSL Sanskrit 10th

Admittedly, none of the above do MQA but with none of them have I experienced the choppiness or issues of playback speed when switching sample rates.

Thanks, David.

It is a nice unit and does sound good (when behaving) but I’ve just found it too flakey thus far.

I have the exact same issues with my Neo iDSD except for the garbled sound when switching sample rates you mention. Also this only happens with any kind of DSP (including volume levelling).

I raised a ticket with iFi, did a zoom call with one of their engineers and he was able to reproduce it at his end. He acknowledged the issue and said they will work on a fix but no committed timeframe. Recently I checked again and he asked me to update the firmware to a new version 3.15 released in April. The firmware update instantly bricked my device. iFi said they will send me a replacement. I am waiting for it for 2 weeks now as they wait for new stock to arrive.

That’s a tale of woe indeed.
Hopefully you get your replacement device soon.
Surely in 2021 companies have dual firmware etc covered

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Sorry to hear about that.

I did briefly consider keeping mine in the hope that issues would be addressed by iFi but in all honesty you’ve pretty much validated my decision to send it back immediately.

I hope they get you a replacement quickly and that they can get it operating without these issues.

This is interesting as I’ve had an issue with 2 of these devices as I sent one back and got a replacement.
My issue is that Roon will just stop playing a song from a playlist that I transferred from Spotify (from Soundiz). Sometimes Roon will still recognize the NEO but nothing will play. Other times, Roon won’t even recognize the NEO and it won’t until I restart my computer. Any idea what that might be about?

This happens after like a few hours of playing the playlist and out of nowhere the next song will just not play. I can’t get iFi to offer any suggestions. I’ve tried different USB cables and my IMAC got wiped a few weeks back and had a new drive installed on it so it’s like brand new.

Curious thoughts!?

Hi @zenyatta80 , great job on getting the iFi engineer to reproduce the issue. That is half the battle completed.

Did you get any update since June, about a firmware fix ?

I’m thinking of getting one of these for my old man (dad) as an upgrade to his Pro-Ject Pre Box S2, which has been working fine but maybe the extra headphone amp power of the iFi will be good.

cc @Jake_iFi

Hi @norliss

Are you still experiencing your earlier issues? What did iFi tell you when you reported it?

Hi - no, I didn’t feel this would be resolved particularly quickly so mine was sent back within 4 or 5 days of purchase.

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Hi, thanks for the info.

Disappointed to hear they didn’t get back to you soon enough.

In all honesty, I don’t think I contacted iFi (or certainly don’t remember doing so). When I started experiencing issues, I came to this forum and discovered that others were suffering similarly and had yet to receive any solution from them.

I checked on firmware in case a fix had been issued but my device was already running what was the latest firmware at that time. I liked the Neo but £700 was a bit too much for something that had such significant issues (for my use case, anyhow) and I wasn’t prepared to keep it in the hope that they were resolved so I sent it back swiftly.

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The 3.18 FW fixed the issue partially I believe (the complete muting of tracks was fixed, but intermittent drop-outs were still there). But it also bricked by device on update. So I got a replacement from iFi. In the meantime I moved from TIDAL to Qobuz and don’t care about MQA anymore. So I love the DAC coupled with my Audeze LCD-X.