iFi’s ultra-portable hi-res DAC aims for a sonic performance that’s a cut above

iFi Go Bar Kensei on a navy background
(Image credit: iFi)

iFi is back with yet another DAC. 2023 saw the release of a glut its portable DACs, including the five-star iFi Go Link, the excellent iFi hip-dac 3 and the high-end iFi iDSD Diablo 2 headphone amp/DAC combo. Despite its latest rather crowded stable of portable units, the British-based company has revealed another in 2024: the iFi Go Bar Kensei.

iFi bills the Kensei as the "world's first ultraportable DAC with K2HD technology". K2HD is essentially a protocol developed to boost sonic performance, and works "to restore music to the same quality as the original master, reviving it with the rich, natural harmonics lost during digitalisation". This ensures, says iFi, that "every note resonates with depth and clarity". 

The new DAC takes the "Kensei" part of its name from the honorary title afforded to the finest, deadliest Japanese warriors who had proved their swordsmanship skills in combat. The Kensei supports files up to 384kHz, DSD256 and even MQA, while built-in "iEMatch" technology matches the output levels for your headphones automatically.

iFi Go Bar Kensei floating on a silver and grey background

(Image credit: iFi)

Speaking of headphones, the Kensei comes fitted with two headphone outputs – one 4.4mm and the other 3.5mm, as well as a USB-C input for charging. Crafted from stainless steel, it "draws inspiration from the craftsmanship of a Kensei's legendary blade", although you're probably better off with an actual katana rather than a pocket-sized DAC if you're planning on taking part in any samurai showdowns.

Thanks to the Kensei's enhanced power and clock circuitry, iFi promises that the compact DAC is capable of producing a wide, open soundstage alongside plenty of detail and a full, robust bass response. If you want to get your music sounding just how you like it, the Go Bar Kensei provides a choice of four digital filter options in addition to two analogue processing modes: bass-boosting "XBass" and the more spacious "XSpace" profile.  

The iFi Go Bar Kensei portable DAC is available now for £449 / €449 / $449 / AU$449. 


Read our iFi Go Link review 

And our iFi hip-dac 3 review

Check out our best DACs: USB, desktop and portable digital-to-analogue converters

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Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied law and history at university before working as a freelance journalist covering TV and gaming for numerous platforms both online and in print. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or forcing himself to go long-distance running.