iFi GO blu Ultra-Portable Wireless DAC/Amp Released
iFi's GO Blu DAC/amp is small in stature but promises high-quality wireless connectivity to a Bluetooth audio source for wired headphones featuring either a 3.5mm or 4.4mm Pentacon balanced termination.
iFi's GO blu maybe the size of a Zippo lighter or box of matches and weigh less than a AA battery, but this new Bluetooth-equipped portable DAC/amp still sports everything that the company has based its business on for almost a decade.
Measuring just 55x34x13mm, the iFi GO blu is Bluetooth 5.1 compliant and will pair wirelessly with any compatible source. We are also told that, despite its size and price point, the GO blu is loaded with quality tech such as TDK C0G multilayer ceramic capacitors and inductors from Taiyo Yuden.
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 case is constructed from a soft-touch polymer (metal would harm Bluetooth reception) and features copper-coloured trim and a ChronoDial watch crown-style control - but, as always, it's what's inside that counts.
The first port of call is Qualcomm's latest four-core QCC5100 Bluetooth processing chip, ensuring that aptX Adaptive and aptX HD, LDAC and HWA/LHDC, as well as regular aptX, aptX Low Latency, AAC and SBC codecs are supported.
Next up is the DAC stage, where you will find a Cirrus Logic 32-bit DAC chip on duty coupled with a customised digital filter to minimise pre-echoes and ringing artefacts, says iFi. Furthermore, we are informed that a precision clock system ensures ultra-low jitter, thus reducing errors and distortion in the digital audio signal.
It is also nice to see that iFi's love of balanced design continues, even in the diminutive Go blu with the amp circuitry benefitting from symmetrical twin-mono signal paths utilising iFi's Direct Drive design concept.
The spec sheet says that the amp stage delivers up to 5.6V and should handle even relatively tricky 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. Further sonic tailoring is provided by two user-selectable features familiar to users of other portable headphone amps from iFi, namely XBass, (a sophisticated form of 'bass boost') and XSpace (creates a wider soundstage to deliver a more speaker-like experience).
There is even a choice of a 3.5mm headphone jack and gold-plated 4.4mm Pentaconn output, the latter said to take full advantage of the GO blu's balanced amp design.
Additionally, the 3.5mm output benefits from iFi's S-Balanced circuitry, cutting crosstalk and related distortion in half when used with regular, single-ended headphone connections.
Further flexibility is provided by the USB-C charging port, which doubles as an audio input enabling USB connection from source devices that don't offer Bluetooth connectivity. This enables playback of PCM audio data up to 24-bit/96kHz.
Finally, iFi has even incorporated a high-quality chip-based (CMOS-MEMS) microphone, enabling hands-free calls, voice chat for gaming and access to voice assistants such as Apple Siri and Google Assistant.
The iFi GO Blu has an RRP of US$199 and is available now. Stay tuned for a review soon.
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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