The diminutive and delicious Helm BOLT DAC recently worked itself onto my short list of Favorite DACs. If we add its $99.99 asking price into the equation, we come up with a verified HiFi Bargain.
The BOLT works equally well on-the-go or feeding a hifi and its balanced presentation makes music of every stripe sound eminently likeable, even lovable. Touched with generous helpings of nuance, tone, body, and dynamics, we’re talking about an abundance of musical riches for a single C-note. A Benjamin.
From the Dongle DAC Survey Review:
To my ears, the tradeoffs made with the BOLT, namely not the biggest boldest bottom end or the brightest crispest upper end, make music of all types sing out with a rich cohesive wholeness that made me just want more — more time to listen to more music and less time comparing and contrasting.
The Helm BOLT DAC is available direct from Helm Audio.
Helm Audio BOLT DAC
Output: 3.5mm Headphone
DAC: ESS Sabre 9281A Pro
Supported Resolutions: PCM data up to 32bit/384kHz via MQA, non-MQA data limited to 96kHz and DSD to DSD128
MQA Support : Yes
Output Voltage: Headphone output level automatically detects headphone impedance and sets level accordingly: 1V for < 150 ohms, 2V for >= 150 ohms
Extras: USB-C (female) to USB-A adapter