With the Nano iDSD BL, ifi continues its run of quality devices aimed at both the novice and serious audio enthusiast who demands more quality than what most phone makers deem sufficient for today’s fast-paced, disposable-music lifestyle. Given a quality source, the Nano BL will render your music with finesse, and do justice to all but the most stubbornly insensitive headphones.
As a portable device, it will easily give you a full day’s use on a single charge, though features like phone charging are reserved for the bigger and more expensive Micro. It supports almost any music format known to man, including – importantly for some – full MQA rendering, so if you’re a Tidal streamer, it unlocks the full potential of your Master Quality files.
Does it offer a better alternative to your smartphone as a standalone music player? I’d say yes, especially with harder-to-drive headphones that phones simply don’t have enough juice to power. Neck-to-neck with my LG V30+, I preferred the tonality of the Nano BL for most of the music I listen to, but in the same breath, tweaking the EQ on my phone got me very close to the same level of performance. Then again, the LG is known for its dedicated music hardware, so compared to most mainstream smartphones, I expect the Nano BL pulls much further ahead.
Does it offer a better alternative to a dedicated DAP? Compared to a premium player like the HiBy R6 Pro, no it does not. But then comparing the $199 Nano BL to a $699 DAP is a little unfair, and I expect the differences will be much closer with less expensive players.
Depending on what you need, and how you consume your music on the go or at home, the ifi Nano iDSD BL is a worthy additional to your audio arsenal.
The Headonist Verdict
Considering everything you get in one compact package – from MQA to a quasi-balanced architecture, IE Match, iPurifier, and plenty of clean power, good battery life and the pedigree of many years of R&D – the Nano BL is another winner for ifi, and a product I recommend as long as you can live with some of its quirks and make use of its strengths.