SPDIF iPurifier Review

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groovybassist

SPDIF iPurifier Review
« on: 3 Mar 2017, 06:57 pm »
iFi seems to be on a roll these days, with new products being developed at a fast pace, followed by positive user and professional reviews.

Due to some recent changes in my front end (switched from Auralic Aries streamer to Bluesound Node 2, in order to get Spotify streaming for my significant other), I decided to try the iFi SPDIF iPurifier as the digital output from the Bluesound Node 2 is SPDIF coax only.

Before I dive in, a bit about me and my system - I wouldn’t call my system “warm” per se, but it definitely falls on the musical side of the spectrum vs. analytical.  I like detail just as much as the next person, but I’m definitely not a fan of detail just for the sake of it or “in your face” levels of detail.  My goal is to enjoy my system for hours, without fatigue creeping in.  Having said that, psychoacoustic trickery or not, I am a fan of soundstaging, being able to hear into the recording, separating performers and instruments from each other, and the illusion of being able to “see” the performers.  The trick is to wrap those wants into a musical, coherent whole, which is more important to me than the squeak of an individual chair.  In terms of music, I listen mostly to classic rock, jazz and folk, with a smattering of other stuff thrown in.  Content was either streamed from Tidal or played back from my NAS – all streamed over a dedicated wireless network. For the purposes of this review, my system consisted of the following:

Bluesound Node 2>Black Cat Silverstar 75 or Blue Jeans Cable Coax>iFi SPDIF iPurifier>Mojo Audio Mystique v2+ NOS DAC>Mojo Audio Lucent Ribbon Interconnect>Karan KA-I180 Mk2 Integrated Amp>Zu Event Speaker Cable>Fritzspeakers Morel 6 or Harbeth P3ESR

Power cables are a mix of VH Audio and Mojo Audio.  I haven’t found power conditioning to make a huge difference in my enjoyment, so all components are plugged into a Wiremold 9-outlet strip – the one originally recommended by Naim (I used to have some Naim gear way back when).  I have a Cablepro NANA as well, but didn’t use it during this review.

So how did the SPDIF iPurifier perform?  In my system the differences are individually subtle, but collectively very meaningful, and once you’ve heard them, you don’t want to go back to being without it.

Interestingly enough, the first and most obvious thing to me was in the lower registers.  Often when you have a kick drum playing in time with a bass, it can be challenging on some recordings to separate the thwack of the kick drum from the note being played on the bass – these sounds can sometimes homogenize into one note.  With the SPDIF iPurifier in place, it was much easier to separate these two instruments, not just in terms of sound, but in terms of location in the soundstage.  The skin and volume of the drum was easier to hear as a discrete sound, separate from the bass.  In addition, the texture of bass notes was improved – more of the unique sound of a specific instrument came through (a Fender Precision bass has a different kind of growl than a Fender Jazz bass, etc.).  It’s not that these things weren’t coming through before – they were simply more present and easier to discern with the iPurifier in place.

The next thing that hit me was a difference in the overall sound of the system.  I wouldn’t have said this before, but without the iPurifier, there was a bit of stuffiness to the overall sound – just a bit of a wooly character.  I can’t believe I just used those words as I sometimes scoff at writers who use them, but I get it now.  With the iPurifier in place, the window into the sound was cleaner – that stuffy, wooly feeling I never realized was there had been removed and overall clarity improved.  This was especially evident in hearing the sound of the recording space (or reverb added by the engineer) – it was easier to hear the acoustic space and to hear reverb tails that I never noticed before.  Part and parcel with this was better intelligibility of vocals.  On a couple of recordings where the vocal is deep in the mix, I realized I had the wrong word in certain spots (think “thing” vs. “fling”).  Additionally, a bit of hash had been removed from vocalists who have a raspy quality to their voice – it was much clearer that I was now hearing that rasp more cleanly vs. a tiny bit of added hash.

There was no spotlighting of instruments, forced detail, thinning of timbre or anything else negative related to this greater clarity.  In fact, the improved clarity and definition enhanced the timbre and texture of instruments, as well as the illusion of performers vs. hearing a hi-fi.  A win-win.

Are any of these individual things “hit you over the head” moments?  Taken in isolation, I would say no, but collectively these small nuances add up to better fidelity, a more enjoyable listening experience and more time spent listening to music – exactly what this insane hobby is all about.  It’s entirely possible these differences would be more pronounced on a more detail oriented system.  In any event, there are many tweaks that do virtually nothing and then there are some that do something worthwhile for a very modest price – the SPDIF iPurifier falls into the latter category.  If you use a SPDIF connection in your digital chain, I’d recommend trying out the iPurifier – I think you’ll be happy you did – I know I am.

Chris Adams

Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #1 on: 4 Mar 2017, 12:32 am »
Nice post, excellent review!  I just got one and listened a bit today.  As I read your review I was shaking my head in agreement to most of what you wrote.  For the money, I think this is a no brainer.  Thanks for taking the time to write. :thumb:

rollo

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Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #2 on: 15 Mar 2017, 11:28 pm »
Excellent review spot on. My customers are buying them like crazy. I am NOT a iFi dealer just suggested they try iFi products. The other rave is the USB 3.0 if your a computer front end person. BTW agree about conditioners. Most like it straight from the wall. The only exceptions were PIAudio Digibuss or Uberbuss  owners. But not all so try all options.


charles

matevana

Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #3 on: 27 Jun 2017, 05:14 pm »
Can anyone speculate what affect placing the iPurifier on the source end (rather than the DAC end) might have. You would need gender adapters if using COAX to preserve the input/output orientation. I'm thinking this might help preserve some characteristics (coloration) of the coax cable, if that's what you are hoping to do:

Standard install: Source -> Coax cable -> SPDIF iPurifier -> DAC

Proposed install: Source -> gender changer -> SPDIF iPurifier -> gender changer -> Coax cable -> DAC



Ric Schultz

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Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #4 on: 28 Jun 2017, 09:33 pm »
Where you want the super low jitter fast waveform is right at the DAC.  Otherwise the digital cable will mess up the great signal the IFI purifier gives.  Even with the IFI purifier all digital cables will still sound different.  Same with the transport....etc. etc.  It does not cure all.  Everything makes a difference.  What you want is a super low jitter fast rise time 75 ohm output and a super cable then the IFI Purifier (with mods and listened to for direction of AC orientation).  Even the 75 ohm resistor inside your DAC will still color the sound.  This game is complicated.  The digital signals are easily messed up.

matevana

Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #5 on: 28 Jun 2017, 09:48 pm »
Makes sense. Thanks. I've been using the SPDIF iPurifier for 4 days now. It makes a fairly significant contribution to the system.

jrebman

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Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #6 on: 2 Jul 2017, 10:55 pm »
GB,

Really nice review! Got the point across with very little audiophile-ese -- a truly personal experience put into tangible language, and very well at that!

-- Jim

rodge827

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Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #7 on: 10 Sep 2017, 03:33 am »
Due to this review and other positive reviews I purchased a SPDIF iPurifier a couple of months ago and agree with all the good that is written about it. There is a definite improvement to the overall sound and character to the music played. For kicks I purchased an UpTone Audio Ultra Cap LPS-1 to replace the iPower and YES there was a significant improvement! Everything good the SPDIF iPurifier does is taken to a higher level of refinement.

IE;  Lyle Lovett's "Since The Last Time" from Joshua Judges Ruth. He is backed up by a gospel choir. W/O the LPS-1 the back up voices are there and can be heard clearly, With the LPS-1 the voices are more natural, come from a blacker back round, and float into the sound stage.

The LPS-1 was $404.00 shipped so it isn't a "cheap" upgrade, but IMHO a very worth while one to get to the next level.

Chris   

 

iFi audio

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Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #8 on: 15 Sep 2017, 09:03 am »
I am glad that you enjoyed your purchase and thank you for your positive comments.

Best wishes

iFi audio Team

happyrabbit

Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #9 on: 18 Sep 2017, 09:44 pm »
I agree.   The iPurifier works its magic on my MHDT Pagoda.  Definitely worth its frugal asking price.   

Dwight




richidoo

Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #10 on: 22 Sep 2017, 07:31 pm »
My iPurifier just arrived DOA from Amazon. Unfortunately, it will not lock to the source signal. Red light stays on all the time.

I verified signal is on, and music plays from the DAC when I take the iPurifier out and connect the spdif cable direct to the source.
I tried 2 sources, Sonos ZP-80 and an old Oppo CDP.

Any suggestions to make it work? I have a G2G tomorrow, wanted to share it with the guys.
Thanks
Rich



EDIT:   Right after I posted, I saw the picture on the above post, saw iPurifier was connected to the DAC input. I was using it connected to the source output. When I moved it to the input of my DAC the blue light came on and music is playing, for both the Sonos and Oppo.   

Is that normal behavior? I didn't see mention of that in the instructions, but I didn't read them too carefully.
Thanks

wushuliu

Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #11 on: 22 Sep 2017, 09:21 pm »
My iPurifier just arrived DOA from Amazon. Unfortunately, it will not lock to the source signal. Red light stays on all the time.

I verified signal is on, and music plays from the DAC when I take the iPurifier out and connect the spdif cable direct to the source.
I tried 2 sources, Sonos ZP-80 and an old Oppo CDP.

Any suggestions to make it work? I have a G2G tomorrow, wanted to share it with the guys.
Thanks
Rich



EDIT:   Right after I posted, I saw the picture on the above post, saw iPurifier was connected to the DAC input. I was using it connected to the source output. When I moved it to the input of my DAC the blue light came on and music is playing, for both the Sonos and Oppo.   

Is that normal behavior? I didn't see mention of that in the instructions, but I didn't read them too carefully.
Thanks

Yeah you probably want it plugged in as close to source input as possible. Unless you mean you had it turned around...

mikey8811

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Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #12 on: 13 Oct 2017, 03:04 pm »
How much of a break in do these need?

I have had one since early September. There is a bit of bass resonance and it makes my gear sound a little boomy and thick on some bass recordings. Occasionally, it gets bad enough that my ears ring after prolonged listening.

Does this go away?

Thanks

rodge827

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Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #13 on: 13 Oct 2017, 03:09 pm »
I never experienced that as an issue. It could be the Spdif IPurifier or how your Dac actually sounds? :dunno:
200 hours seems to be the target break in and try rotating the iPower in the outlet, some have noticed a difference by doing this.

 Chris

mikey8811

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Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #14 on: 13 Oct 2017, 03:23 pm »
I never experienced that as an issue. It could be the Spdif IPurifier or how your Dac actually sounds? :dunno:
200 hours seems to be the target break in and try rotating the iPower in the outlet, some have noticed a difference by doing this.

 Chris

By rotating the iPower do you mean reversing the polarity of the +, - prongs ie. how they are plugged into the AC outlet? Unfortunately, given the size of the iPower, there is only one way I can plug it into my distributor. Reorienting it another way, blocks the other outlets from being used. I did recall asking iFi about the polarity of the prongs but they said it didn't matter.

Also, I don't presume the way I have plugged in the IPurifier to the DAC input matters? Again, on my DAC, it is very close to the USB input which I have a ISO Regen on. So I ended up only being able to fit it with the larger red light on the upside ie. the iFi logo is facing downwards.

Thanks

rpf

Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #15 on: 13 Oct 2017, 03:31 pm »
How much of a break in do these need?

I have had one since early September. There is a bit of bass resonance and it makes my gear sound a little boomy and thick on some bass recordings. Occasionally, it gets bad enough that my ears ring after prolonged listening.

Does this go away?

Thanks

I have the iPurifier in my second system on a Modi Multibit fed from a Sonos Connect. I had the opposite experience: bass (and midrange) that was thick and muddy became clear, focused and tight. And it's not broken in yet. Don't know what the problem could be in your system. I have it oriented the same way as you do.
« Last Edit: 13 Oct 2017, 08:18 pm by rpf »

rollo

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Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #16 on: 13 Oct 2017, 03:56 pm »
  Guys this device requires serious break in time. 200 hours at a minimum. Our customers have reported long break in time. Not a dealer just recommended to them.
Be patient and break it in.


charles

rodge827

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Re: SPDIF iPurifier Review
« Reply #17 on: 13 Oct 2017, 04:51 pm »
By rotating the iPower do you mean reversing the polarity of the +, - prongs ie. how they are plugged into the AC outlet? Unfortunately, given the size of the iPower, there is only one way I can plug it into my distributor. Reorienting it another way, blocks the other outlets from being used. I did recall asking iFi about the polarity of the prongs but they said it didn't matter.

Also, I don't presume the way I have plugged in the IPurifier to the DAC input matters? Again, on my DAC, it is very close to the USB input which I have a ISO Regen on. So I ended up only being able to fit it with the larger red light on the upside ie. the iFi logo is facing downwards.

Thanks

Mikey,

If you have a short extension cord use it and rotate the iPower. The iPower is designed to clean up any abnormality in in the electrical current an extension cord might cause. If posssible run it 24/7 for a week or so, that helped mine to break in just fine. On another note I returned my first spdif iPurifier since it worked intermittently and just had a conversation with a guy who is returning his due to an issue. I’m guessing iFi could be having quality control issues with these and it’s a hit or miss scenario.

Chris