iFi UNO Review Small Desktop DAC With RCA and Headphone Jack

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Reduce your audio setup footprint with the iFi Uno - a compact desktop DAC powerhouse designed to simplify your listening experience.

The iFi Uno Desktop DAC is a great addition to compact desk setups, catering to various entertainment needs like music streaming, movie watching, and gaming. Compared to built-in DACs, the iFi Uno boasts enhanced capabilities, delivering cleaner sound thanks to its adjustable analog gain and support for Dynamic Range Enhancement (DRE), powered by the ES9219MQ/Q DAC chip. With low Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) and crosstalk, it offers an immersive audio experience.

You can connect the iFi Uno to both external speakers and headphones, which is convenient but has the limitation of requiring manual speaker power-off or headphone unplugging. It would be more convenient if the iFi Uno could automatically mute the speakers when headphones are plugged in or have a dedicated listening mode for seamless switching between speakers and headphones. Regarding volume output, the USB-C port provides the loudest audio output, and there's no noticeable volume difference across different EQ modes.

The iFi Uno boasts a compact design, characterized by its textured blue polymer (plastic) casing, complemented by brushed matte black plastic front and rear plates. Its front panel features two distinct, clicky plastic buttons for EQ and PowerMatch settings, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack with output power 148.2mW @ 16Ω; ≥211mW @ 32Ω; 39mW @ 300Ω; 21.6mW @ 600Ω

Dominating the front panel is a generously sized plastic volume knob with an integrated LED. This knob is positioned atop a standard potentiometer with defined stops. Rotating the knob fully counterclockwise results in a pronounced click, indicating that the DAC is powered off. To power it on, simply turn the knob clockwise. Although the volume knob lacks a clickable center button, it offers a robust tactile response with smooth, non-notched rotation. When the EQ Mode LED is off, the default setting for the frequency response is flat. Above the casing, you'll notice the iFi logo engraving, accompanied by three LED indicator lights corresponding to each EQ mode. On the rear faceplate, there's a USB-C port for power and data input, as well as RCA ports (RCA Output 2V max). The rear faceplate is secured by three small hex screws.

Adjacent to the PowerMatch button, you'll find an additional status LED that signifies whether PowerMatch is active or not. The bottom base of the unit features two substantial rubber strips designed as isolation pads. While the design is appealing, it's worth noting that the iFi Uno doesn't exude the premium feel of a high-end DAC with a metal build. Nevertheless, this doesn't compromise its overall functionality and performance. The iFi Uno measures 9cm in width, 2cm in height, and 8cm in depth, which includes the protruding volume knob and rear ports. It weighs a mere 85 grams.

Setting up the iFi Uno with a Windows PC or Mac computer is a simple process, thanks to its USB-C input. One notable advantage is that the iFi Uno draws both power and audio data directly from the connected source, eliminating the need for an external power source. Furthermore, the Uno incorporates PowerMatch technology, which is specifically designed to match its power output to the connected headphones. This ensures that the headphones consistently receive an optimal level of power, regardless of their impedance or sensitivity. PowerMatch is particularly advantageous when using high-impedance headphones that demand more power for clear and loud sound reproduction. Volume is boosted by 6dB when PowerMatch is turned on.

When it comes to affordability, the iFi Uno Desktop DAC stands out brilliantly. Its remarkable ability to significantly enhance audio quality caters to both casual listeners and audiophiles, distinguishing it as a top-tier product in its price category. The support for a wide range of file formats, including PCM 32bit/384kHz, fully native DSD256, and MQA, ensures the enjoyment of high-resolution audio without any compromises. Notably, the inclusion of analog volume control maintains audio quality even during volume adjustments. With the iFi Uno, you can savor a premium audio experience without the premium price, making it an enticing choice for those in search of an audio upgrade.

The iFi Uno Desktop DAC effectively closes the divide between audiophile-level sound excellence and budget-friendliness. Its outstanding capabilities, compact form factor, and compatibility with high-resolution audio formats position it as a leading selection for individuals looking to make a substantial audio enhancement. Whether you're a dedicated music lover, a cinephile, or a gaming enthusiast, the iFi Uno fulfills its commitment to providing clearer and more immersive audio. Given its blend of value and performance, it proves to be a valuable inclusion in any audio arrangement.

Selling points
  • Outstanding audio performance with precise and clear sound.
  • Versatile and compact design suitable for desktop use.
  • Easy connectivity via USB-C input, compatible with Windows and Mac.
  • Broad file format support, including high-resolution audio.
  • Analog volume control maintains audio quality during adjustments.
  • Competitive pricing for premium audio quality.
  • PowerMatch technology
  • Plug and Play USB bus powered
  • Budget-friendly
  • Native hi-res audio, including mp3/DSD256/PCM384/DXD384 formats
  • Desktop software for Windows driver and firmware update

Potential deal breakers
  • Build quality may not match higher-end DACs.
  • Limited physical connectivity options.
  • No dedicated listening mode button to switch between speakers and headphones
  • No auto-mute speakers function when connecting headphone
  • Desktop software for Mac not available
  • No mic passthrough for gaming headsets
  • No Lightning cable included
  • Rattling noise from push buttons
  • RCA cable not included
  • No bluetooth functionality
Accessories included are a 1.5 meters unbranded USB-A to USB-C cable and stickers. You can buy the iFi Uno Desktop DAC from amazon.

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