iFi Micro soak entry-level system in Retro vibe at RMAF ’14


rmaf_2014Light metal. You’ll likely know AMR subsidiary iFi Micro as the guys who’ve made entry-level ripples with their range of techy-looking DACs, phono stages, USB power filters, USB converters and headphone amplifiers, each of which are housed in a similarly styled aluminium extrusion. I’ve had hands on experience with their iUSB Power Supply (reviewed here) and iPhono (reviewed here).

This year iFi Micro are building a bridge to desktop spaces with a fully-fledged two channel system called ‘Retro’ that’s been drenched in a vintage vibe. The wood wrapped amplifier and matching loudspeakers strike a real pose at iFi’s table in the CanJam, RMAF’s headphone-centric hall.

Breaking it down, the amplifier is called the Stereo 50 whilst confusingly outputting 30 wpc into 8 Ohms. Note the large Leben-esque (defeatable) bass and treble tone controls and a pair of 3.5mm headphone sockets. A feature that might cause hardcore audiophile to bristle a little is the trio of ‘XBass’ settings; sounds like something Sony used to push in the 1980s.

Inside, the coaxial, USB and 24bit/96kHz aptX Bluetooth inputs hand of to the same DAC design that can be found in the iDSD Micro (a Burr Brown). Also skinned for inclusion here are the iPhono, the iTube buffer with NOS tubes and a souped-up version of the iCan.


In a cheeky wink to the fondly remembered LS3/5a golden years, the monitors have been named the LS3. A doped paper driver and a silk-domed tweeter sit behind the flush grey grill. The latter kicks in above 8kHz when called on by the high-pass capacitor filter.

Both amplifier and loudspeakers have been designed by Thorsten Loesch and are manufactured in China. The system will sell for a flat $2000 and begins shipping on November 1st.

I can see this not only working on desktops but playing nice in style-conscious studio apartments and dorm rooms. The world needs more quality, entry-level hi-fi gear like this. Actually, scratch that – audio shows need more quality, entry-level hi-fi gear like this.

Further information: iFi Micro

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. Hi John – try to line up review samples of the iFi DSD nano (and any of their other DACS). I’m surprised they haven’t made an entry on your DAC index yet!


    • Jeremy – the limiting factor here is time. Can’t review everything that comes to market, much as I’d like to.

  2. Understood – I guess I was just so pleasantly pleased by its performance (having bought one based solely on other reviews) that I was interested to see how you would grade it in the index. No rush 🙂


  3. Interestingly, PS Audio just introduced the Sprout, a 25 wpc integrated with some similar features, at $799. It would be very informative to your readers to see a side by side comparison review.

    • Yes, the Sprout has been mentioned several times in these pages already but time constraints will means a full review probably won’t be forthcoming.