Ear Buddy: iFi's £20 dongle for better sound

Who doesn't love a good dongle? Well, most people, actually - that's why some people were so vehemently opposed to Apple removing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7, to the extent that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak argued against it and people have gone to drastic measures to put it back in.

Nevertheless, they do have some good uses. Getting better audio quality, for one.

That's where iFi's 'Ear Buddy' comes in. The way it works, according to the company, is by compensating for the loss of audio quality that occurs when you lower volume.

The example iFi gives is streaming music via Tidal, which has a 16-bit resolution. iFi claims that if you are listening at 60 percent of your device's volume you lose two bits of resolution - and therefore reduce sound quality.

With Ear Buddy, you can turn your device's digital audio volume right up - so you're not losing as much audio information - while the analogue dongle reduces the volume. Consequently you can listen to your headphones at a comfortable volume safe in the knowledge your sound quality is being preserved.

This isn't the first dongle in iFi's armoury - the company also has iPurifier2 for USB A, B, C and micro sockets.

The iFi Ear Buddy is available later this month, priced at £20. A lot for a dongle, perhaps, but might yet prove invaluable.


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Adam was a staff writer for What Hi-Fi?, reviewing consumer gadgets for online and print publication, as well as researching and producing features and advice pieces on new technology in the hi-fi industry. He has since worked for PC Mag as a contributing editor and is now a science and technology reporter for The Independent.