Head of R&D Thorsten Loesch and hat

At the stand for the high-end desktop and portable specialist iFi audio, we enjoyed a briefing from their ebullient Head of R&D Thorsten Loesch (right), who was on hand to show us not only his fine hat, but also the early version of a planned all-in-one player, currently under the codename Project Glastonbury. Our witty suggestion that it might therefore be displayed in a tray of warm mud was brushed aside, in favour of a walkthrough of the specs for this bamboo-encased powerhouse of connected audio, which packs 2 x 150W of power, able to play from Wi-Fi, AirPlay, USB, microSD, optical, RCA and Ethernet connections, up to 32-bit 192kHz (24-bit from some sources) and using a single clock throughout its processing running at a blistering 1.536MHz.

One neat innovation is the inclusion of a set of ultrasonic sensors which automatically measure distances to rear and side walls, and adjust the output of the ‘Glastonbury’ accordingly.

Even in the difficult environs of an IFA show floor, it was delivering quite the output.

We later encountered Mr Loesch again at day’s end during the EISA Awards gala, where (with hat still in place) he collected iFi’s win for the new and ridiculously tiny iFi xDSD, a battery/USB-powered DAC/headphone amplifier (above). Although larger (a bit) than the likes of AudioQuest’s DragonFly or the Cyrus soundkey, it has more functionality than either of those, including both S/PDIF and USB-A inputs, while EISA’s panel of experts (which includes Australian Hi-Fi and Sound+Image) praised the quality of its PCM/DSD-compatible DAC and punchy analogue output stage.

We were also shown the not-yet-released xCAN DAC/amp, which has minijack balanced headphone output and also the increasingly popular 4mm balanced headphone connection, and if we understood this correctly, it can be used to power speakers as well as headphones, though we don’t quite understand how that connection would be made. The xCAN uses a Burr-Brown amplifier and includes X-Bass II and 3D+ settings, the latter said to “recreate live stage atmosphere”, while a Bluetooth connection allows the xCAN to do its stuff wirelessly, remembering up to eight devices at once.

iFi audio is distributed in Australia by BusiSoft AV