iFi has released a string of successful DAC/headphone amps in recent years, but the new 'Go Link' is said to be the British company's first "super-affordable" model.
Priced at £59 / $59 (around AU$87), the pocket-sized dongle promises to deliver "supercharged sound when connected to smartphones, tablets, PCs and Macs via a USB port."
It also doubles as an adaptor, enabling wired headphones and earbuds to connect to digital devices that don’t have a 3.5mm output.
Despite the eye-catching price, iFi has packed in some impressive tech including a power-efficient, high-performance DAC chip from ESS Technology’s Sabre HiFi series. This combines with Quad DAC+ and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator technologies, plus iFi’s dedicated clock circuitry, to kill off distortion and enhance dynamic range.
The Go Link supports hi-res audio including digital music files up to 32-bit/384kHz, as well as plus DSD to 11.2MHz (DSD256) and MQA – the high-end streaming format used by Tidal’s HiFi Plus tier. An LED on the device's lightweight magnesium alloy case changes colour to denote the decoded audio format and the sample rate.
iFi says that, unlike other headphone dongles, the Go Link doesn’t rely on the software-based volume controls in connected digital devices, which can adversely affect audio resolution. Instead, adjusting the volume on the connected device controls the volume level in the Go Link’s DAC, not in the phone, tablet or computer. Nice.
The flexible 6cm cable between the Go Link's USB-C connector and DAC reduces stress on whatever USB port the Go Link is connected to. Adapters are included in the box, so you can convert the Go Link's USB-C connector to fit USB-A and Apple Lightning ports.
Given that most smartphones rely on a DAC that is built into the main SoC (System on a Chip), adding a dedicated DAC – even one as affordable as the Go Link – should provide a decent bump in sound quality.
Fancy upgrading your listening experience without upending your finances? The iFi Go Link is available now from selected retailers.
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