Old-School Looks, Modern Features, Timeless Sound: iFi Retro Stereo 50 System Driven By EL84 Tube-Based Integrated Amp and Speakers Based on Rogers LS3/5A Monitors
Irresistible Match of Classic Design and Cutting-Edge Technology: Burr-Brown DAC, Bluetooth aptX, High-Resolution Digital, Vinyl All Sound Breathtaking on iFi Retro Stereo 50 System
Leave it to the design geeks at iFi to make golden-era hi-fi look so irresistible on Retro Stereo 50, an all-in-one system that boasts modern functions and sounds cutting-edge good. Wrapped in bamboo paneling and adorned with old-school knobs, Retro Stereo 50 is driven by an EL84 tube-based integrated amplifier complete with Micro iDSD, Micro iPhono, Micro iCan circuitry plus tone controls and aptX Bluetooth connectivity. It handles smartphones, tablets, and computer audio with the same expertise and ease that it accommodates LPs and discs. Indeed, this breakthrough device plays PCM/768kHz, up to 2x DSD, and Octa-DSD512 with lifelike realism and, with the flick of a switch, transforms into an extraordinary analog mechanism via a tremendous built-in phonostage and six EQ curves. Taking cues from the iconic Rogers LS3/5A monitors, a pair of LS3.5 speakers equipped with proprietary silk-dome tweeters and paper-cone wideband drivers makes Retro Stereo 50 come alive. Yep, this system, which even comes with black and cream grilles, sounds as good as it looks.
“Retro 50 screams high performance and high value – more than worthy of one of our Exceptional Value Awards for 2015…[It] is one of the greatest combinations in the audiophile world today.”
– Jeff Dorgay, TONEAudio, Issue 71, Exceptional Value Award
iFi Retro Stereo 50 Vacuum-Tube Integrated Amplifier an Audiophile Dream
Classic design and cutting-edge technology form an irresistible match on par with a lavish Hollywood romance both inside and outside the seductive Retro Stereo 50 vacuum-tube integrated amplifier. Loaded with four EL84X and two ECF82 tubes as well as advanced digital circuitry and a Burr-Brown DAC, the all-in-one Retro Stereo 50 looks like it comes out of hi-fi’s golden age but sounds both timeless and modern thanks to cutting-edge features that make it thoroughly contemporary. Compatible with Bluetooth aptX streaming, high-resolution digital, vinyl, and basically every source in between, Stereo 50 primarily runs in Class A mode – meaning savory tonality and natural realism are always at hand no matter what music you play. And you can pick practically anything as your source. Stereo 50 is also equipped with iFi’s 3D Holographic and XBass technologies, turning its built-in headphone amplifier into the equivalent of a private retreat.
“In terms of versatility, the Retro Stereo 50 is without equal and offers headphonistas a sound that is refined, highly expressive, and very muscular (but never ‘muscle-bound’).”
USB and SPDIF for Streaming and Computer Audio
Irrespective of your preferred listening method, connect to Stereo 50 and enjoy your favorite tunes at a whole new level. High-resolution audio (DSD512, PCM768kHz, 2xDXD) via USB, coaxial, and optical are all possible. Smart devices capable of Bluetooth, aptX, and NFC can be wirelessly paired toStereo 50. The aptX option offers CD-like-quality wireless audio beyond normal Bluetooth.
Burr-Brown Chipset, High-Resolution PCM768/DSD512/2xDXD, Premium Controls
The Burr-Brown DAC chip used was developed by BB Japan though the product introduction was after the merger. Being Burr-Brown’s swan song chipset, it features ultimate converter technology and is held in the highest esteem. Stereo 50 also contains filters to ensure the most analog and life-like reproduction. The Minimum Phase filter for PCM and Bit-Perfect filter for DXD/DSD ensure maximum enjoyment. Digital volume controls truncate the delicate audio signal, so iFi avoids this at all costs. The critical analog volume control is by Alps (Japan) motorized potentiometer (< 3dB tracking error).
Tailor-Made for Headphone Fanatics and Analog Lovers
Got headphones? Stereo 50 with separate 3.5mm and 6.3mm inputs is just for you. Each headphone input has its own dedicated gain and sensitivity to perfectly match high-sensitivity in-ear monitors and low-sensitivity over-the-ear headphones. The 6.3mm output pumps out a “turbo-charged” 7,000mW. Stereo 50 also features iFi’s widely regarded 3DHolographic for Headphones and XBass technologies. iFi’s iPhono has already become a modern classic. Stereo 50’s phonostage is set to emulate this feat. It has adjustable ultra-wide gain MM/MC from 38-62dB and its tone control system harks back to classic equalization technology. With six different EQ curves (via the precision tone control), every stereophonic record is addressed.
LS3.5 Bookshelf Speakers Modeled on Legendary LS3/5A Monitors
Inspired by the legendary Rogers LS3/5A monitors, and accompanied by both cream and black grilles, the iFi Retro LS3.5 loudspeaker simultaneously honors and improves upon the timeless hi-fi speaker. Featuring in-house-designed 115mm paper-cone wideband drivers, a proprietary 28mm silk-dome tweeter, open-cell acoustic foam, maximum surface-contact gold-plated binding posts, and perfect tweeter-driver time alignment, Retro LS3.5 produces music with phenomenal accuracy, coherency, detail, dynamics, and naturalism. A solid bamboo cabinet and multi-chamber Voigt design chamber with tuned enclosure complement the proprietary tweeter and driver in reproducing music with breathtaking midrange, silky smooth treble, and taut bass all the while contributing no coloration of their own.
Bamboo Cabinet, Soft-Dome Tweeter, and Paper-Cone Driver Put Speakers Over the Top
LS3.5’s non-resonant bamboo cabinet is both environmentally friendly and sonically uncompromising. The cabinet is three times stronger than wood (yet only half its weight), perfectly time-aligned, has internal acoustic technology. The internal structure is finely tuned (sound bar/braces) via musical instrument manufacturing methods. All this, coupled with the Stereo 50’s XBass and 3DHolographic for Speakers technologies, creates sonic synergy that is simply out of this world. The 28mm tweeter is horn-loaded and uses a neodymium magnet. The silk dome combines a lack of resonances at the top of the operating range (as found on metal domes) with excellent dynamics in band. The small neodymium magnet structure shifts cavity resonances outside the audible range. iFi’s paper-cone 115mm wideband driver performs more akin to a full-range driver. Stamped steel baskets can dissipate energy much faster than cast types. LS3.5 has a coherency that is based upon the simple fact from the outset, the tweeter and driver are perfectly time-aligned. This means sound waves from both units arrive at ear of the listener at the same time.
iFi ships the Retro 50 amplifier without the vacuum tubes installed, which keeps the tubes from being damaged during transit. Installing the tubes is very simple. Follow the directions below and it shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes to get up and running.
- Unscrew feet with 2.5mm allen wrench
- Slide chassis out of bamboo case by gently pushing the faceplate, support the rear so it doesn’t fall
- Insert four output tubes (taller ones) into the sockets towards rear of unit
- Insert two input tubes (shorter ones) into the two front sockets
- Slide chassis back in
- Reattach feet
Note: Sometimes tubes can’t be pushed straight in. Rather than forcing the tube, gently rock it back and forth with mild downward pressure and it should slot right in. If it still doesn’t fit, check the socket, you may be trying to put the wrong tube into the wrong socket. As always, call us with any questions.