First Listen: iFi Audio Retro Music System

Integrated amplifiers,
Digital-to-analog converters,
Headphone amps and amp/DACs
iFi Audio Retro Music System
First Listen: iFi Audio Retro Music System

We’ve been talking expectantly about iFi Audio’s Retro Audio System in our reports from the last several trade shows we’ve attended, but now the Retro System has finally arrived. We’re quite excited by the system’s capabilities, but before we go much further we should pause to explain just what the system contains.

The heart of the system is an impressively full-featured integrated amplifier called the RETRO Stereo 50. On the outside, the Stereo 50 looks more than a little like one of those classic golden-era Marantz integrated amps from yesteryear, and to reinforce that look the Stereo 50 comes housed within a lovely, laminated bamboo cabinet. But while the Stereo 50 may convey an old school vibe on the outside, it is as modern as tomorrow on the inside.

Specifically, the RETRO Stereo 50 is a 25Wpc, valve-powered integrated amp that incorporates:

  • A PCM 32/768kHz, DXD 768, DSD512-capable DAC;
  • A built in ‘minimum phase’ filter that is applied for PCM files from 44.1 – 192kHz and a so-called ‘Bit-Perfect” digital filter PCM/DXD files 352kHz and above;
  • A vacuum tube headphone amplifier capable of 7,000mW of output;
  • A built-in MM/MC phono stage with six user-selectable EQ curves (with very precise bass and treble EQ function to support RIAA, EMI, CCIR/Teldec, DMM, Columbia, or Decca curves);
  • A defeatable, adjustable XBass low-frequency enhancement control (usable with headphones or with smaller speakers);
  • A defeatable, adjustable 3D HolographicSound enhancement control (usable with headphones or with relatively closely spaced sets of speakers);
  • Four digital inputs (USB, Coaxial and optical S/PDIF, and aptX ‘Bluetooth with NFC pairing);
  • Up to three single-ended analogue inputs (the phono input can, at the user’s option, be configured as a conventional line level input);
  • Analogue tone and volume controls with a remote control; and
  • A (mostly) class A amplifier circuit based on four EL84 and two ECF82 valves.
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