iFi's iPhono 3 MM/MC Phono Preamplifier Takes A Giant Sonic Leap Forward

The recently introduced iPhono 3 is the third iteration of the remarkably compact, full-featured phono preamp iFi first introduced in 2012 that AnalogPlanet most positively reviewed. The original unit sold for $399.

iFi introduced in 2016 the seriously upgraded iPhono2 more positively reviewed on this website. The company made significant upgrades to both parts and features. Despite the many improvements, the price increased a scant $100 to $499.

Among the enhancements were an increase of 12dBs of gain to 72dBs, a dynamic range increase from 90dB to 106dB and a newly designed and improved RIAA circuit spec’d at ±0.2dB accurate from 20Hz-20kHz., new Burr-Brown J-FET amp used in the output buffer and enhanced power supply filtering. An all-new Direct-Drive Servo-less ‘DC Infinity’ circuit replaced the original’s sound degrading coupling caps. The iphono 2 represented a major upgrade.

The new iPhono 3 Black Label, housed in the same chassis as previous versions, is more about enhancements to previously developed circuitry than new ones.

The TubeState solid-state engine developed by Technical Director Thorsten Loesch (also responsible for sister company Abbington Research’s AMR line of hybrid tube-solid state electronics and the $11,995 PH-77 all-tube phono preamp featuring 23 equalization curves and a built-in A/D converter) is here in its third generation.

The iPhono 3 retains the multiplicity of EQ curves (6 in all: RIAA, IEC, Decca and Columbia along with the “enhanced eRIAA” and “enhanced eRIAA+IEC”). “Enhanced” is often referred to as the “Neumann ultrasonic time constant”, which is the iPhono 3’s default out of the box EQ setting.

I suggest immediately setting the EQ to standard RIAA and if you want to know why, and you are technically adept and mathematically savvy, please read Keith Howard’s “Cut and Thrust: RIAA LP Equalization” published online in Stereophile. Even if the math and/or tech proves too difficult to grasp, the reasons to revert to standard RIAA might become clear. More about EQ later.

Despite its small size, thanks to surface mount technology (SMT), the designer manages to stuff a lot of high quality, hand-matched parts onto a single circuit board that have been further improved compared to what was on the iPhono 2 board including: Burr-Brown SoundPlus op-amps, complemented by Panasonic ECPU film capacitors, claimed to deliver “vanishingly low distortion” and ensure excellent dynamic range. Also onboard is a computer-matched pair of planar high-gain bipolar input transistors that lower output noise.

Also new in the iPhono 3 are four Nichicon 470uF/6.3V capacitors that deliver lower ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance, which you will have to research online if you are interested in knowing and understanding what that is) said to improve “speed” and especially bass performance. Eight Panasonic OS-CON capacitors totaling 14,800uF deliver low ESR, excellent noise reduction and exemplary frequency characteristics. Also: Numerous TDK C0G type capacitors – these have lower thermal drift and distortion than Polystyrene capacitors—two Elna Silmic II capacitors for the power supply – these use silk fiber paper for the isolating barrier, resulting in decreased odd-order distortion and reduced microphonics and numerous Vishay MELF thin film resistors, claimed to deliver dramatically reduced distortion compared to standard surface-mounted resistors. Whew! iFi claims for the i phono 3 108dB dynamic range up 5dB from the 2’s already excellent dynamic range spec.

The iPhono 3 Black Label also comes with the 15V version of iFi’s new iPower X ultra-low noise AC/DC power supply that’s sold separately for $100 and can be used to upgrade other iFi products that come with the lesser power supply.

The upgraded power supply includes Active Noise Cancellation2 claimed to cancel all incoming EMI or RFI noise, actuated using technology similar to noise cancelling headphones. Claimed noise floor reduction is >40dB (>100x). Other improvements in the iPower X power supply compared to the standard “wal-wart” include 50% greater input capacitance and 150% greater output capacitance resulting the company says in more filtration and improved dynamics. Solid organic capacitors for better high frequency noise suppression round out the improvements that produce 20% more power. Plus, it’s got to be the coolest looking wal-wart ever. BTW: it can be used with just about any D.C. powered device because it’s available in a variety of voltages (5V, 9V, 12V, or 15V) so your Pro-Ject turntable, among other wal-wart powered products might benefit.

Still Full-Featured

In addition to the 6 EQ curve options MC loading options are 22, 33, 75,100, 250, 330, 1K, and 47kOhms. Capacitance for MM can be set for 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500pF. Gain can be adjusted for 36,48, 60 and 72dB. In other words, despite its impossibly small size, the iPhone 3 is fully configurable.

Same Tricky Dip Switch Set-up

Packing all of that adjustability into such a small package required some incredibly deft circuit design so looking at the unit’s bottom shows that correct set-up requires concentration, perhaps a magnifying glass and carefully following the arrows, while not making any assumptions about what’s where! Fortunately iFi supplies a small plastic dip switch flipper.

The input and output RCA jacks are closely spaced so large barreled RCA plugs need not apply, but Eichmann “Bullet Plugs” fit fine. iFi supplies useful accessories including a set of RCA interconnects, a ground extension wire terminated with a banana jack and most interestingly a “dummy” IEC A.C. jack in case you encounter ground hum. If you do, plug an IEC A.C. cable into it and the other end into the wall (in the same circuit as the rest of your system). That way you’ll have a path to ground but of course no voltage will come back the other way.

I Fell Through the Noise Floor And, I Can’t Get Up!

Noise floor goes down, price goes up. The iPhono 3 now costs $999 including the upgraded power supply, so think of it as $899 or up $400 in four years from the iPhono 2’s cost.

However since the iFi folks left me the two previous models I was able to fire them up and compare, though I really didn’t need to do that because the iPhono 3 is so clearly and obviously far superior to the original and even compared to the iPhono 2. Feel free to think of the iPhono 3 and costing twice the price of the previous mode. It’s not an issue because if you own an iPhono 2 and upgrade to the 3, you will not regret doing so! It’s that much better.

At first, I ran the iPhono 3 in MM mode on the Schiit Sol turntable currently under review. Schiit was kind enough to include a pair of ready to “drop and play” arms, one fitted with a Grado Opus3 ($275) and the other with an Audio-Technica AT-VM95EN. The iPhono 3 certainly let the cartridge differences clearly express themselves. The Audio-Technica produced a lean, clean, effervescent timbral picture with sharply but cleanly drawn high frequency transients and plenty of air but it didn’t sound at all bright, hard or strident.

The soundstage was huge on Muddy Waters Folk Singer: exceptionally wide and notably deep. I didn’t have to measure separation to know the cartridge would produce excellent numbers. Instrumental attack was supple, clean and not at all overly sharp or aggressive, which is the usual trademark of less costly phono preamps. It made for an exciting Muddy performance. Willie Dixon’s bass was not as robust on bottom as I’m used to but was it the cartridge? The turntable? The iPhono 3? No point in speculating. The overall presentation was extremely engaging, with Clifton James’ sparkling drum kit lighting up the stage free of transient artifacts. It was clean.

When I switched to the Grado it was as if the iPhono 3 left no identifiable “residue” of its own. Now the sonic picture was “Grado-like”, which means richer, warmer and fuller, with added body and weight behind the transient attack, which was somewhat appropriately somewhat more subdued but still lively and super clean. In other words, the iPhono 3 steps aside and lets through the transducer’s flavors.

However, I think most I phono 3 buyers will be using it with a low output moving coil cartridge. Why spent extra for the MC capabilities if you are using an MM when you can get an one optimized for MM like the Lejonklou Gaio 2 or one from Graham Slee?

I have in for Stereophile review a $4995 Aidas Audio Gala Gold LE moving coil cartridge. It’s a super low output (.26mV) cartridge with gold coils and a low internal impedance of 2.7 ohms. It was set up on the Kuzma 4PT so after having broken it in for at least 50 hours as recommended by the manufacturer (sometimes manufacturers [not this one] recommend long break-ins and after a short time wonder where the review is!) I chose to use it with the iPhono 3 rather than the twice as costly cartridge installed on the SAT arm.

The first two Verve audiophile titles arrived, produced in association with Chad Kassem (Getz/Gilberto and Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson. The bossa nova classic is sourced from metal parts derived from the late George Marino’s cut at Sterling Sound. And why not? It was a good cut when the tape was years fresher. The Louis was cut recently by Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound Nashville.

Even with a .26mV cartridge the iPhono 3’s black background was notable. I’d been auditioning the Gala Gold LE using the CH Precision P1/X1 ($50,000+) so was expecting a big letdown but I didn’t get one! The iPhono 3’s portrayal of Milton Banana’s delicate cymbal work, purposely pushed to the background by engineer Phil Ramone on Getz/Gilberto possessed a surprisingly precise transient delicacy coupled with full extension not often heard at the $1000 price point. It took me by surprise.

The iPhono 3’s bottom octave performance was equally surprising (I mean I was really surprised!). Again the delicacy, transient naturalness and extension produced by Tommy Williams’ (uncredited) double bass also pushed subtly back in the mix far surpassed that of the iPhono 2 and as well as my expectations.

Ryan K. Smith cut at Sterling Sound, Nashville the Louis and Oscar album recorded in stereo in 1957 and released in stereo in 1959. Despite a couple of spots were Louis overloads the microphone producing some nasty distortion that’s on the tape, the sound is honest, direct and enjoyable with with Oscar joined by Ray Brown, Louis Bellson and Herb Ellis all in fine form on program of standards.

Louis is directly on an unforgiving microphone with no reverb or anything to soften his voice or the horn. He’s “right there” with no added edginess. Bellson’s drum kit in the right channel is mixed down but low level detail in part thanks to the low noise produced plenty of cymbal sizzle and remarkable transient detail. The iPhono’s rendering of Bellson’s brushwork was smooth, well-detailed, artifact-free and sophisticated sounding. “Remarkable” at any price. I’m not overstating it. Ray Brown’s bass is also down in level center channel, but it too has impressive extension and nimble transient expression. I’m listening now and looking over at this little black box in complete wonderment.

Among the other records I paid careful attention to was a Hungaroton double LP set Kodaly Piano Music Complete (Hungaroton SLPX 11913-14) performed by the late Kornel Zempleni, Hollywood Screen Classics (Chesky CR71) a compilation drawn from the great RCA film score series produced by Charles Gerhardt and engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson at Walthamstow Town Hall and another Chasing the Dragon Direct-to-Disc record, A Day in the Life (VALDC013) featuring trumpeter Quentin Collins All Star Quintet, which does not perform The Beatles’ classic.

Looking for macrodynamics from the Direct-to-disc, I got them. Timbral and spatial performance from the Walthamstow Town Hall venue was as you’d expect from a far more costly and sophisticated phono preamp and the rendering of the solo piano recording exceeded every expectation in terms of instrumental attack, sustain and decay as notes trailed off into the black not often heard from any similarly priced phono preamp that I’m aware of.

Rather than fully repeat what I’ve previously written about the equalization options available here and why I believe the instructions offered by iFi are misguided, I urge you to read the previous reviews.

I’ll just write this: I spoke with George Bettyes one of Decca’s remaining living mastering engineers who assured me that Decca adopted the RIAA equalization curve at the dawn of the stereo era, period. I also spoke with a Columbia veteran engineer who assured me likewise and wondered whether those who suggest otherwise were “on crack”—especially since Columbia farmed out a great deal of work as the LP’s popularity accelerated in the mid ‘60s.

I can’t speak about DGG and Eastern European labels so I won’t. In any case, when playing stereo records 99% of the time the RIAA curve will be correct. Others can be used as “tone controls” but not as technical correctives. That’s my assertion and I’m sticking with it!


IFi’s iPhono 3 is a major achievement in phono preamplification in terms of its adjustability, high gain and low distortion and low noise. If you own an iPhono 2 and love it, sell it and buy an iPhono 3. It’s that much better. The improvement isn’t incremental. It’s a major step forward.

Under the previous reviews readers asked how the iPhono 2 compared to other products at a similar price point. This gets too difficult for a reviewer to cover. There are many choices at around $1000 including some reviewed on this site, but comparing all of them is nearly impossible so I’m not going to compare this one to any of those.

I’ll just conclude by writing that if you’ve got $1000 to spend on a fully adjustable, compact, MM/MC phono preamplifier I don’t see how you can possibly buy an iPhono 3 and regret your decision. The low noise floor alone makes it an exceptional product. Add the low distortion, the exacting transient response and the unit’s superb ability to delineate subtle microdynamic gradations, plus its impressive transparency and you can complete the sentence.


F. Response: 10Hz-100KHz (±.3dB)
Dyn. Range: MM: (36dB):>108dB (A-weighted)
MC: (60dB:>106dB (A-Weighted)
S/N ratio: MM(36db):>85dB (A-weighted re: 5mV)
MC:(60dB):>85dB (A-weighted re. 0.5mV)
Overload Margin:MM (36dB):>26dB (re. 5mV,@ 1%THD)
MC:(60db):>22dB (re.05mV@1%THD)
Crosstalk: <-71dB(1KHz)
Max undistorted output: 7V (Load>=600 Ohm, THD<=1%)
THD: <0.005% (MM36dB 1V out 600R Load)
Output Impedance: <100ohms
Dimensions: 6.2”x2.3”x1.1”/158mm x 58 x 28 mm
Weight: 0.58lbs/265g

Abbington N.A./iFi audio USA
105 Professional Pkwy, Suite 1506, Yorktown VA 23693
1085 Blair Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

vinylfun's picture

Hi Michael.

I reviewed the iPhono 3 BL on Agon after putting ~1,370 hours on the unit. My other stages are the AMR PH 77 and Luxman EQ 500. My thoughts read almost identical to yours. In fact just before I’d found out you posted this review, which I have been awaiting, I wrote “ Sometimes I still have a hard time believing this unit is producing the results I’m hearing.”. It is that good!

Far as gain goes, I think you intended to type 48db, not 45 :)

Very nice review sir!

Michael Fremer's picture
Think alike. As do we. What's 3dB among friends? But I fickst it. Thanks.
vinylfun's picture

LOL, it’s all good!

Ortofan's picture
vinylfun's picture

I think he helped them with the soon to come iFi Zen phono stage (~$150.00). I don’t think he had anything to do with the iP3 but I’m not 100 on that :)

2_channel_ears's picture

Reading through the list of components, if you're familiar with them or those specs, you know the designer took great care in selection.

ahem, Mr. Fremer, how does one "Feel Through the Noise Floor"?

Michael Fremer's picture
It was supposed to be "I Fell Through the Noise Floor And Can't Get Up". Thanks for catching that. Typos are a problem when you don't have a copy editor. Thanks for being one. I assume you know the joke.
Glotz's picture

working as Dip-Switch Flipper in the 60's!

Life Alert ain't gonna help her one bit if she's fallen through the noise floor!

I hear it's like super-massive black hole with trillions of flat-earthers and measurement freaks being crushed into nothingness! (Which is still more fun than 'measuring sound'!)

mraudioguru's picture
vinylfun's picture

Dude, I got the joke the first time. I think most folks brains corrected the error autonomously:)

ravenacustic's picture

I’m not writing this to rain on anyone’s parade. That said, I owned the iFi 2 for about a year. In that time I replaced it 3 times because it appeared to overheat and burned itself out. I gave up on it after number 3. Also worth noting, I believe the parts used for loading were inaccurate making finding a correct load very difficult. I replaced the iFi 2 with the Arcam R-Phono also reviewed very well by Mike. It has been a stellar performer for well over a year, problem free, and easily adjustable, unfortunately Arcam discontinued it not long after they introduced it. Anyway, while there may be many happy iFi 2 users out there, unhappily ultimately I couldn’t be included.

Anton D's picture

I have the previous model and was resisting the upgrade...you...YOU...leave me no choice.

I don't whether I should murmur your name in gratitude or curse your name for the expense.

On the plus die, I have the scratch after abandoning my hopes for the fern and Roby...a price increase from 5,500 to 'starting at' ~15K did that in.

The inflation in my hobby has been outpacing real income growth at my house for a long time now!

Thanks again, for the review...

Next up: this phono pre mated with a Gold Note Donatello on a Yamaha PX-2 on the MC side and an Empire 698 with Empire 2000Z (with JICO stylus) on the MM side.

yuckysamson's picture

Mikey- thanks for another great review. It seems that many 'sectors' of the hifi market now make consumers spoiled for choice. Entry level loudspeakers (i.e. sub $1,000), headphones & headphones amps (all price levels), Turntables, and phono sections. Also seems like "giant killers" are emerging, your PS Audio Stellar review coming to mind.

Is it wrong to say that the availability of quality p.stages today at lower price points just whizzes all over what was around even 10 years ago? Thanks again.

Cardani's picture

i,m wondering if this would be a good candidate for mono only setup because of the deferent eq curves. Other contender would bethe Graham Slee Revelation which also has those curves. My mono cart is ortofon 2Mse which you reviewed, and my my phone pre is an old ARC ph3 which you gave class A long time ago. Thinking of keeping the ARC for stereo and either the IFI 3or Graham slee revelation
. Does this makes sense, which one would you choose?

Michael Fremer's picture
Those curves are great for mono records from those labels. Those were pre-RIAA.
Ortofan's picture
Hergest's picture

So what? I could get online and find a multitude of phono pre amps for less cost that the one reviewed but that would have nothing to do with anything. You could do the same with almost every component ever reviewed. In fact, you could do the same with pretty much anything ever reviewed over all time and find something cheaper but what's it got to do with the article? I don't understand why you posted it. There's someone on Stereophile that clogs up the comments section on nearly every review posted regarding items of differing prices. Doesn't half get tedious....:>).......

vinylfun's picture

Not trying to pick a fight, believe me, I would rather spend my time elsewhere but I’m also unclear of the point you are attempting to make. Nearly every type of item can be found cheaper or at the same price. The point is, will it perform as well as the item under test?

vinylfun's picture

Sorry, I was attempting to reply to ortofan.

Michael Fremer's picture
It would be nice to have every phono preamp known to man and even just every one I've ever reviewed so I could trot them all out every time I review a new one and compare it to those, but that's IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!
Ortofan's picture

... every phono preamp known to man, let alone every one you've ever reviewed.
However, perhaps you should keep on hand a reference unit at each of several different price points.

For example, at the entry level of about $100 it could be the Schiit Mani.

Moving up to about $300, it could be the Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 Ultra or the Cambridge Audio Duo.
About the Phono Box S2 Ultra, Hi-Fi World said "It’s difficult to find fault in a phono stage that sells for [$300] and sounds
wonderful. It's sonic success is down to careful design and its ability to accommodate both MM and MC cartridges, as well as the use of discrete transistors rather than silicon chips. Fantastic sound and fantastic value!"
The Cambridge Audio Duo measured exceptionally well in the audiosciencereview test.

At the same price point as the iFi, there's the Lehmann Black Cube SEII. HFN gave it an Editor's Choice award. Their review concluded that "This is a true audiophile phono stage and, partnered with equipment of equal quality, the results are remarkable. Indeed, the SE II is difficult to fault even compared to competition in a much higher price bracket. The exceptionally low background noise allied to a fabulous rhythmic and tonal rendition make it worthy of consideration for those seeking the most detail from their vinyl without having to make a hyperspace price jump."

At about $3K, it could be a unit such as the PS Audio Stellar Phono, the Parasound JC 3+ or maybe the EAT E-Glo S. About the E-Glo-S, the HFN reviewer stated that "this is not a budget phono stage by any means, but it is a great one, blessed with styling and ergonomics showing cognizance of needs beyond absolute sound quality – such as usability. I fell in love with it within 15 seconds, but it was still the sound that grabbed me above all else."

And so on, at higher prices.

Choose whatever unit most impresses you at each of several different price points and maintain one in house for use in future direct comparisons. Either arrange for a long-term loan or buy the unit. Presumably the manufacturer/importer would offer you an accommodation price, if they insist on a purchase. If you later find a better sounding unit that you want to make your new reference, then return the existing one or resell it.

Would doing so really be IMPOSSIBLE?????

Ortofan's picture

... links I posted?

Hergest's picture

Of course not. I'm not going to spend my days clicking links that that some random poster has decided to put up for no other reason I can see than they are trying to make themselves appear an authority.

Ortofan's picture

... there's no possibility of you ever seeing the reason that they were put up.

mtemur's picture

I can not say that I'm a fan of Surface Mount Technology or SMD. I always feel like it sounds plastic when I listen to an audio equipment with tiny little SMD's inside. I hope this one doesn't.
on the other hand I wonder if it is really necessary to equip a budget phono unit with additional EQ curves.

vinylfun's picture

I assure you this doesn’t sound plasticky. I much preferred the iP3 over the Pass XP25 and quite a few others that use through-hole devices and trade for many many times what this little wonder costs. Also, I love having the extra EQ curves and yes, they do come in handy on some of the records in my collection. What boggles my mind is mega expensive stages that may have multiple curves but require me to break out a soldering iron to replace a resistor, no thank you!

Anton D's picture

So, I was all hyped up to impulse buy this baby and when I went onto the interweb shopping sites, I found a Musical Fidelity M6 phono stage for only 300 more dollars.

3 inputs, adjustments on the front of the unit...


Now what to do?

vinylfun's picture

All I can say is I’ve heard few units that sound like this thing and especially at such a small entry fee. Now having stated the former, I don’t know the M6.

Nathan Zeller's picture

I can't wait to hear what you've got to say about that turntable, from what I hear and the price it's at it sounds intriguing. Could you comment on how it compares to the Rega Planar 3?

hrboucher's picture

I have major reservations about iFi Audio product reliability and customer service. A few months after the warranty expired, my iFi SPDIF purifier developed a broken micro USB jack. iFi Audio told me the purifier could not and would not be repaired by them. Not even an offer of a discount on a new purifier. Nothing. So my $149 iFi Audio product is useless after 1+ years. Excellent products until they need service.

Robnik33's picture

The Gruvies still lists the original iPhono from the 2012 review. Maybe time to update?

Barretter's picture

You can rest assured that Decca changed to RIAA by early 1957 at the latest. If you look at the back of their mono test disc LXT5436 issued in March 1957 you will see that it says "Decca records are manufactured in accord with British Standard 1928:1955". That standard is the British implementation of the RIAA standard for LPs (and 78s. As for Deutsche Grammophon if you look at their early stereo issues they have a logo of ST 33 in two overlapping circles. This is the symbol mandated by the CCIR for stereo LPs cut to the RIAA standard. You will find the same symbol on early Telefunken stereo discs and onSupraphon (Czechoslovakia) and many more European labels. This is because all the major European got together in Zurich in early 1958 and agreed to implement the RIAA standards, including equalisation, for the forthcoming stereo records (LPs and EPs) precisely to avoid the chaos of early mono LPs having so many different equalisation standards. This is documented in an article "Stereophony from discs" in the April 1958 issue of Wireless World. RIAA was also applied to stereophonic discs in the USSR (as was) as is documented on their test discs. Thorsten has a bee in his bonnet about equalisation, even suggesting that Mercury stereo discs should be played with a Decca FFRR EQ (of which there are at least 3 different iterations) when they plainly state on the back: "This Mercury Living Presence Stereo record should be played according to the RIAA standard...".

bpw's picture

I have an iPhono (original) in my toolbox to use in my cartridge setup work occasionally, which suits my purposes well. If I were in the market for a phono preamp in this price range, the iPhono 3 would be a contender even at 2.5 times the price of the original model.

I'll be watching the product introductions from iFi and AMR from the sidelines and wish them well.

Brian Walsh

liguorid42's picture

As a math savvy long time reader of Stereophile, and of Audio during the last decade or so of its existence, I completely missed this stuff about tweaks to the RIAA curve. Thanks for linking it. I think JA's argument is the best practical reason for eschewing the "Neumann time constant": you don't want ultrasonic energy from pops and clicks emphasized. Also, since my SOTA sucks and my arm/cart resonance is near optimal, I don't have issues at the infrasonic end either.

This thing seems very reasonably priced for what it is, especially compared to other Analog Planet ware. It's making me seriously consider making my life more complicated again with a separate phono stage.

dronepunk's picture

I am interested in your thoughts on the Aidas carts.
I use the Black Sound Red Heart cartridge and it is excellent.
The US rep Victor is as about as nice as they come.
I hope the prices don’t jump thru the roof after the review.
Thank you,

dial's picture

So ifi is like Behringer.

1scotto's picture

Enjoyed the review :) Getting out of the way says a lot. This is something I appreciate when I find it. Silver interconnects, and even usb cabling helps in this way for me. Once a link seems like it has disappeared I can be more at peace with that aspect. That the qualities of a given cart pass right through is telling. Lifelike?
btw, I really enjoyed the listen and vote on various phono pre's you did a while back!
thanks for all you do!

chrisk09's picture

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the iPowerX power supply. I currently run a iPhono2 with a xsBooster LPS with great success . I found the sBooster to be a major improvement over the stock iPower. I wonder if the new iPowerX will give the sBooster a run for its money?

vinylfun's picture

I ran an iPhono2 with a SBooster and yes it is much better than the stock iFi power supplies. I am not a fan of SMPS units but the iFi iPower X is something on a different level. The X is much better than the SBooster. I’m actually purchasing a few more for some of my other devices.

chrisk09's picture

Well I just got my iPhono3 installed and I am gobsmacked. This is a superb sounding device straight out of the box. It totally leaves the iPhono2 for dead. It's all there, superb vocal articulation and realism, huge dynamic range, silence around individual instruments and brilliant portrayal of musical interplay between musicians. I can't wait to hear this when it has 250hours on the clock. Highly recommended.

chrisk09's picture

having been using my new iPhono3 for a week now (with 150 hours burn in I am mightily impressed. For this time I have been using the unit powered by the stock iPower X supplied with the iPhono3 and the unit sounds fantastic and continues to improve by the day.

However yesterday I decided to connect my sBooster LPS to compare with the iPower X. The sBooster was markedly inferior to the sBooster in everyway. With the sBooster in place my system sounded compressed, veiled and flat in terms of soundstage width and depth.

I would fully concur with vinylfuns comments above. Going back to the iPower X aster 10 minutes fully restored all the positives the iPhono3 had brought. This ifi power supply is excellent.

Boomer's picture

Does anyone know anything about any of the Vincent phono pre amps? And if they do, what are your thoughts on them. I've seen them for sale in the $300 to $700 price range.

dalklv's picture

I too have the iPhono 2. When I added the Sbooster lps there was the noted and very real improvement. However, do not stop there. When you add a high quality source component power cable to the sbooster, the jump in performance is simply STARTLING. So, I am waiting for a comparison of all possibilities of iP 2, iP3, Sbooster with power cord, and iPower X.

dalklv's picture

In regard to LPS power cords. I recently went through my system and purged all SMPS's. I purchased four new LPS's and all came with stock 18 AWG power cords. When I upgraded to high quality source component power cords, the increase in sound quality for the attached devices were way beyond subtle. It was like adding thousands of dollars in a new device. Why, when you pay $500 for an Sbooster LPS, they give you a garbage for a power cord is beyond my comprehension. I was laboring under the assumption that they had taken care of details. When YOU take care of this detail, you will be astounded at the improved sound quality.

dalklv's picture

and purchased an iphono 3. It is now completely broken in and it is as advertised. The sound is in a different league, completely open to source with immense soundstage and color and dynamics. A real ear opener. The real interest is how the supplied ipower x makes it come to life, compared to the sbooster lps. From what I have read lately most analogue devices benefit most from a lps, while a lot of network digital devices benefit from speedier smps. But the iphono 3 loves that smps. I am delighted by the upgrade.