In an interesting twist on portable audio connectivity without wires, iFi’s new GO blu Bluetooth DAC / Headphone Amplifier severs the ties between your phone and DAC.
But wait, isn’t Blueooth lossy? And doesn’t that mean our precious music signal will get crunched, punched, and crapified before getting to our ears?
iFi begs to differ:
Uniquely for a device of this type and size, the GO blu’s clever design packs in separate Bluetooth, DAC and amp stages, each engineered in distinct blocks to deliver the ideal combination of cutting-edge specification and superb sound.
The Bluetooth stage makes full use of Qualcomm’s latest four-core QCC5100 Bluetooth chip and supports every current high definition format.
This then feeds the DAC stage with a Cirrus Logic 32-bit DAC chip at its heart. This is coupled with a customised digital filter to minimise pre-echoes and ringing artefacts, and a precision clock system to ensure ultra-low jitter, thus reducing errors and distortion in the digital audio signal.
The amp circuitry benefits from symmetrical twin-mono signal paths and utilises iFi’s Direct Drive design concept – direct-coupled to ensure a clean signal path without distortion-inducing output coupling capacitors. The amp stage delivers up to 5.6V – considerably more power than other similarly sized devices – handling even relatively tough headphone loads with ease. To ensure signal strength suits the sensitivity of the connected headphones or earphones, auto-gain adjusts output up or down by 6dB.
In a nutshell, iFi is making the point that most portable dongle-type DACs use off-the-shelf, all-in-one chips that skimp on sound quality. whereas iFi’s implementation trades one-chip convenience and compromised sound quality for Bluetooth with a better DAC and headphone amp. Interesting.
Go blu covers all of the current Bluetooth bases supporting Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive and aptX HD, Sony’s LDAC and HWA’s LHDC, regular aptX and aptX Low Latency, AAC (Apple iOS devices) and SBC (the ‘plain vanilla’ Bluetooth codec). What’s more, Go blu’s Bluetooth engine can be updated over the air to support future Bluetooth developments.
The diminutive Go blu boasts 10-hour battery life, includes the iFi ChronoDial analog volume control, balanced headphone output, and a number of proprietary iFi tech for improved performance. The USB-C charging port also doubles a 24-bit/96kHz capable USB DAC for those so inclined.
The iFi GO blu is available for pre-order for $199.
Company Website: iFi Audio
|Chipset||Qualcomm QCC 5100 Series|
|Bluetooth 5.1 ( AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX HD,
aptX Adaptive, aptX LL, LDAC, LHDC/HWA Codec)USB-C up to 24/96kHz
|245mW @ 32Ω; 5.6V @ 600Ω
165mW @ 32Ω; 2.8V @ 600Ω
|THD + N||Balanced
|<0.009% (6.5mW/2.0V @ 600Ω)/
<0.03% (100mW/1.27V @ 16Ω)
|Frequency Response||20Hz – 45kHz (-3dB)|
|Battery||Lithium-polymer 450mAh approx. ~10 hours|
|Power System||Charging via USB-C, BC V1.2 compliant up to
1000mA charging current and 6.3 volts
|Dimensions||55 x 34 x 13 mm
2.2″ x 1.3″ x 0.5”
|Weight||26g (0.92 oz)|
|Warranty period||12 months|