If you've ever wanted to turn your wired in-ear headphones into a wireless pair (with extra features), iFi Audio has this niche covered thanks to the new iFi GO pod.
The GO pod is a pair of what looks like mini dongles that house Bluetooth streaming, a hi-res DAC and headphone amplification inside, and connect to your existing wired in-ear monitors – provided the cables can be detached from the buds – to turn them into wireless earbuds.
Why? iFi says this will allow "high-performance IEMs to make the best-sounding true wireless in-ear headphones in the world". That's quite a bold claim, but iFi says it has designed crucial elements of the GO pod's technology – Bluetooth, DAC, amplification – in separate stages and is optimised to deliver the best sound quality when combined with high-performance wired headphones.
The GO pod may be tiny but as with all iFi products, it packs in quite a lot of tech. It supports Bluetooth 5.2 and incorporates a Qualcomm QCC5144 module with 32-bit quad-core architecture. This allows it to support higher-quality codecs such as 24-bit aptX HD and aptX Adaptive from supported devices, and there's support for LDAC and LHDC codecs as well.
Inside each GO pod is a pair of dedicated Cirrus Logic MasterHIFI 32-bit hi-res DAC chips (one for each channel), with a precision clock that aims to reduce jitter. The DAC also promises "ultra-low distortion and high dynamic range", which iFi claims is key for the GO pod to deliver "better sound quality than true wireless earbuds".
The balanced amplification stage outputs 120mW of power into 32 ohms, and there are four impedance settings (16, 32, 64 and 300 ohms) to suit all types of headphones. The GO pod will automatically detect and switch to the impedance setting that best matches your wired headphones, too.
Other features include a built-in mic for calls and voice commands, and the IPX5-rated water-resistant enclosure also has touch controls. The GO pods hold up to seven hours of battery life on a single charge, while the provided charging case offers 35 hours in total. The case also supports Qi wireless charging and USB-C fast charge.
Will the devices feel bulky? It's hard to tell how comfortable they will be over long-term wear, but each pod weighs a mere 12g and has mouldable loops to wrap around your ears to keep them in place.
What wired headphones can be connected to the iFi Audio GO pod? Any pair with detachable cables. The GO pod's detachable ear loop supports MMCX, 2pin, Pentaconn, T2 and A2DC connectors.
Available now, the iFi GO pod costs £399 / $399 on its own. That's quite a steep price to pay – after all, you can simply buy a pair of the best wireless earbuds for under £300. However, iFi does intend for the GO pod to be paired with "high-performance" headphones, so it's not expecting you to plug them into your budget SoundMagics, for instance.
To that end, the company has partnered with a handful of premium headphone manufacturers for a bundle deal for the first 1000 iFi GO pod units sold, with a choice of the following in-ear headphones:
Craft Ears Aurum: £1,399
64 Audio U4s: £1,299
Meze Audio Ria Penta: £1,199
Meze Audio Advar: £999
Westone MACH 60: £999
Symphonium Meteor: £799
After this run, the MMCX and 2pin connectors will come as standard, while the Pentaconn, T2 and A2DC connectors will be sold as extra options.
iFi's GO range of products, such as the iFi Go Blu and iFi Go Link, have tended to be on the tiny and supremely affordable side, so it's interesting to see the new GO pod take a pricier approach. Is this a niche product that caters to your needs? Let us know if you're tempted to convert your trusty wired IEMs with this device...
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