iFi GO bar Promises Big Sound From a Small Package
iFi's GO bar is the British brand's latest ultraportable DAC/ headamp and packs plenty into its tiny form factor.
The iFi GO bar DAC/ headphone amplifier was spotted at High End Munich 2022 in both its golden anniversary livery, as well as its regular bodywork. What we found exciting about this DAC-packing dongle is that it not only boasts to take the 'big sound in a small package' concept to a whole new level, it sports a raft of controls and much that we've come to expect from larger iFi devices.
The follow-up to last year's Applause Award-winning GO Blu, the GO bar has been designed to be used with either PC, laptop, tablet or phone and do the necessary number-crunching before feeding your choice of cabled headphones with analogue goodness.
The choice of cans is up to you, as the Go bar is kitted out with a pair of headphone outputs. Firstly, a fully balanced 4.4mm output takes full advantage of the DAC's balanced analogue circuitry. Meanwhile, the other port is for your more traditional 3.5mm connections.
Furthermore, IEMatch is baked in and attenuates the GO bar's power to suit high-sensitivity headphones and in-ear monitors, removing potential background noise and increasing the usable volume range. Got power-hungry headphones? Turbo mode will increase the gain by 6dB to drive them. iFi's GO bar has a claimed output of 550mW (into 64 ohms) and 7.5V (into 600 ohms) and should have the grunt to push most headphones along nicely.
The GO bar's asynchronous USB-C input enables it to connect to native USB-C sources using the supplied USB-C OTG cable. Additionally, sources with other connections can be used via various bundled cables and adapters, including an iFi-engineered Lightning-to-USB-C cable, negating the need for Apple's Camera Adapter dongle.
At its heart, you will find iFi's favoured 32-bit Cirrus Logic DAC chipset with advanced multi-bit modulation and native support for PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256, double-speed DXD files, and full MQA decoding. This is partnered, we're told, with a customised digital filter to reduce unwanted sonic artefacts, while the company's GMT (Global Master Timing) precision clock system minimises jitter and distortion.
Unusual for a dongley-DAC, the GO bar features volume buttons (which can be synchronised with the volume controls on the source device) as well as LEDs displaying the format and sample rate of the audio being played. The lights also show whether XBass+ and/or XSpace modes are engaged - yup, iFi has even managed to squeeze them on board, offering you some sonic seasoning. Additional user-adjustable tuning is available via four bespoke digital filter options – Standard, Bit-Perfect (non-oversampling), Minimum Phase, and GTO (Gibbs Transient Optimised).
Finally, in a fit of birthday exuberance, iFi has also produced a special Anniversary Edition of the GO bar to mark the company's decade milestone. Naturally, it's gold and limited to 1000 pieces. This version swaps the standard alloy enclosure for a copper chassis.
This is not merely for shiny show-offishness; we're informed that it also brings extra electrical shielding and robustness. The limited-edition also benefits from enhanced power supply filtering - all of which also brings along a price premium.
Measuring just 65 x 22 x 13mm and a featherweight 28.5g, the iFi GO bar is available now priced at $329, while the GO bar Anniversary Edition will cost $499.
StereoNET’s resident rock star, bass player, and gadget junkie. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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