Ifi Neo Streamer + Denafrips Terminator 12+

So, a bit of an update and problem:


I have connected the ifi neo streamer using aes/ebu to the terminator12+, and it seems to have changed the sound pretty dramatically, but not in a good way. 


Somehow, compared to straight USB from my computer, it dulls and smoothes the sound. 


The Terminator now shows changes in sample rate when run through the ifi streamer whereas when run directly via usb, it almost exclusively stayed at 44.1.  Using Tidal.


I thought using a digital out on the ifi would bypass the ifi's DAC, but, best I can tell, the DAC seems to be doing something in the streamer before sending the signal to the Terminator.


I am not the best critical listener, but the difference was immediately noticeable and somewhat dramatic. Again, when running aes through the ifi to the terminator, the sound was dulled and smoother. It just lost something. 


On its own, the terminator has been playing music nonstop for over 100 hours. It's still a bit harsh, but better than before. I think this could be because it's a near field set up with Wilson speakers. 


Anyway, any idea what's going on with the ifi aes to the terminator?


Any idea whats going on?


doesn’t the ifi streamer have usb out? you should use that into the terminator, otherwise try rca spdif and also i2s if that is offered... dena dacs like i2s if available, but make sure the pin format is correct

that said, listening to wilson nearfield may well lead to a sense of treble harshness...

What AES/EBU cable are you using?  I’d highly recommend using the i2S out on the streamer to your DAC if at all possible (get the i2S pin out configuration of the iFi and check with Denafrips to see if it’s compatible first if you can).  I have a Musician Pegasus DAC, which is very similar to the Pontus ll, and when I switched from the USB to the i2S input (through a Denafrips Iris DDC) the improvement was dramatic.  And this was with using a cheap 6” HDMI cable I bought from Monoprice I got just to make sure the i2S input would work.  I’d say just get the shortest version of this cable you can (i2S doesn’t like distance, which is why I got a 6” cable) and see if it works and provides a significant improvement.  Definitely worth a try in your situation.  Hope this helps, and best of luck.


Thanks for the replies. I am using the Blue Truth models of BetterCables AES cables

 I've had good luck with their cables in XLR and RCA and USB in the past. 

I2S - how do to check/change the PIN configuration between the ifi and denafrips. They both have I2S out, and I can get an hdmi cable, but, beyond just hooking it up, I'm not sure how to proceed.

I did notice that, when using the ifi as a streamer, I'm not able to change the tidal settings on Master to allow fixed volume, mqa pass through, or dedicated source. 

I have changed this with the USB directly to the denafrips from my computer - turning / leaving pass-through off as the denfrips doesn't do mqa.


I2S - how do to check/change the PIN configuration between the ifi and denafrips. They both have I2S out, and I can get an hdmi cable, but, beyond just hooking it up, I'm not sure how to proceed.

I’d ask Denafrips first as iFi customer support is near non existent (so lame) and they may know if the i2S configuration of your streamer is compatible or maybe at least be better able to find out for you.  Also, my DAC has several different i2S input configuration options by pressing and holding the NOS button and cycling thru them, and I suspect your DAC may have something similar so worth checking into as well.  If you have an HDMI cable you can use you can just try hooking the i2S out from the streamer to the DAC’s input and see if it works.  Who knows, you might just get lucky. 

Hopefully a standard i2S pin architecture will emerge because this hit or miss crap is a total PITA and completely unnecessary. 

Yep, I am in touched with @nlynchard.

It seems like I need to include the iFi Neo Streamer in our Streamer X DENAFRIPS DAC project!



Alvin Chee 


Oooo! Alvin! That would be awesome!!  Maybe consider some talk on AES and I2S with that streamer?

I always look forward to your vids. 

For all who haven't dealt with Alvin, this guy has knowledge and customer service skills for miles. Makes buying an overseas product (for those of us the States) feel much, much closer - personal attention, and overall great experience.

At the moment, I'm leaning toward sending the iFi Streamer back unless I can get one heck of a dramatic improvement.  Honestly, my experience with iFi has been mixed.  I've had their idsd and now the neo streamer, and, while hideous (to me) in appearance, they are definitely well made, and pack a lot of good things for their price point. To me, they have that sortof classic Burr-Brown warmth, but, having been spoiled by well implemented Sabres and now, really well done R2Rs with Denafrips, they just seem noticeably dull.  Great if not side by side with a world class DAC, but just about lifeless next to the Terminator - which, given they are 1/4th the price, makes sense.  Overall, if anyone's curious, the iFi sound to me is warm, forward, but neither the idsd or the neo seem to be great on detail.  At anything under $1200, I've found that Topping can't be beat.  It doesn't blow you away, but is still pretty wonderful for what it is - I bought the D90MQA upon release and totally blind, and still love it's signature.  It's not earth-shattering, but, to my ear, there's nothing unacceptable about it, either.  It sounds 'accurate' without an overly digital edge. 

Back to iFi, their UX/UI department must be non-existent as all the products just seem to lack any intuitive interface; I've never heard a good thing about their customer service dept.  The quality, particularly at the price, is really, really good despite, again, the looks being strange (at best) and interface being counterintuitive.  Products perform over their price point, are built over their price point (the best at the price I've seen), but have a really polarizing look . . . kindof like Chord but with less long-term cred to just be downright ugly.

To my ears, the Denafrips is a detail hound for something warm-leaning.  In some recordings, the vocals are pushed a bit back, but not with most, and this can change (I'm learning) dramatically, DRAMATICALLY on sample rate and quality.

I have to say, having been diving down the audiophile rabbit hole for a number of years, now, I never thought I would find so much fault in mixing/mastering - it just didn't occur to me.  So many of my favorite artists I would love to have a sit down with just to humbly discuss certain mixing/mastering decisions.  Here's a big one - since Elton John teamed up with TBone Burnett, his vocals are pushed way back - so much so, in Wonderful Crazy Night (which is among my very least favorite of his albums), there are whole verses I cannot fully understand - and it plays this way on every sort of system and format I've explored - leading me to believe it's intentional. Why would a person do that to any vocal track - let a lone an icon with an iconic voice - like WTAF?

Maybe it's just me, but including traditional vocals only to push them back to the point of blur just seems strange on this style of music.  Same could be said for much of The Union with Leon Russell - that down-a-hall-under-a-pillow sound on the vocals just seems strange.  And if there's some SUPER resolving system that can better reveal them - should only those few be privy to it given that some tracks can play on literally anything and sound pretty damned clear? I mean, I get there is intentionality in some distortion, but this whole making it sound (seemingly) old at the expense of clarity is just weird.  But then, hearing is vocals on Love Song in SACD some 20 years ago be so crisp and clear is pretty much my preference for everything - even if learning, years later, too much detail can give a glare and harshness.  Full circle - Denafrips house sound seems to balance this really well.  I've heard detail in Billie Eilish's When We All Asleep I never, ever knew was there.

Anyway, now I'm rambling. Forgive me for going on - sometimes I just need a place to put these thoughts, and, that people take the time to read is nice. Thank you for that.

Thanks for chiming in, Alvin!  I enjoyed the Ares II vs Enyo explanation vid!  Looking forward to that possible Neo X Denafrips vid!

Totally agree with your assessment of iFi.  I’ve got a Zen Stream that looks like something out of a Jetsons or Star Trek episode that I can no longer get to work over Wi-Fi with MconnectHD and Qobuz, and iFi help is basically non existent.  Argh.  It sounded really good when it worked though and is built like a tank.  I’ll get it working again once I can hardwire it via an Ethernet cable, but it shouldn’t have had to come to that.  Hopefully Alvin will get you up n running on i2S, and if so I look forward to hearing your impressions.  Great DAC BTW.

The I2S output on the Neo Stream follows the PS Audio pinout convention so if the Denafrips units do not it will not work without a DDC.  Worth finding a $5 HDMI cable and trying it out yourself.  And yes check in on the Head-Fi thread.

Ciao! ci sono in italia community dove i piccoli streamer possono entrare in contatto? insomma se uno inizia a streammare e vorrebbe fare qualche collaborazione/hostare e venire hostati da qualcuno,come deve fare? purtroppo ho cercato ma oltre i network poco ci sta,però non credo un network accetti un neo streamer che ovviamente a pochissimi spettatori.... grazie in anticipo HPInstantInk

For what it's worth. 

I have a Neo feeding my Denafrips Pontus II over i2s. 

I can get it to work but it switches left and right channels. So all I did was reverse left and right RCAs to my pre-amp. 


I was using the 011 or 111 setting on the DAC.


Hopefully there is a software update at some point. 

DENAFLIPS not mqa decoder, dont play tidal with pass-through. 

let Neo stream do the mqa folds. if you want full fold on mqa then have to use zen stream internal dac with analog output to the amp.