Since the elimination of the 3.5mm headphone jack from most flagship smartphones, your high-end headphone is probably relegated to be used with your laptop or home Hi-Fi. Thankfully, there’s USB-C to 3.5mm port adapter that will let you continue to use your favorite wired headphones.
That said, if you are going to do that, why not improve on the sound too? Well that, my friend, is exactly what the iFi GO Link can do. iFi GO Link is the latest DAC from British audio specialist, iFi Audio. It is a portable DAC that not only lends your device with a 3.5mm port but also improved the audio quality output to your wired headphones.
Now, the market is definitely not lacking USB-C to 3.5mm USB DAC/Amplifier but iFi GO Link might just be the smallest and most affordable yet. iFi employs a dongle-style design with one end being the USB-C connector and the other being the DAC and headphone amp circuitry.
In between is a 6 cm (2.4”) flexible cable featuring silver-plated copper conductors with individual polymer insulation in a ’twisted pair’ configuration for directional flexibility without inducing stress on the USB port.
This new dongle-style headphone amp/DAC may be barely the size of a grown man’s pinky and yet, it packs a punch (and a bunch!).
Packed inside the robust and lightweight (and very sleek) magnesium alloy enclosure is the Sabre HiFi series ES9219MQ/Q DAC chip from ESS Technology, featuring 32-bit HyperStream III architecture.
It further boasts Quad DAC+ and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator technologies, dedicated clock circuitry, adjustable analog gain with Dynamic Range Enhancement (DRE), and more. The USB-C end is also of magnesium alloy, btw.
Interestingly, GO Link does not rely on software-based volume controls in connected digital devices like most headphone dongles. Instead, adjusting the volume on the connected device controls the volume level in the GO link’s DAC, not in the phone, tablet, or computer. iFi Audio said this further gives the sonic performance a boost.
Other features include an exclusive S-Balanced circuit for max performance from single-ended and balanced headphones, DSD, High-Res True Native playback of all music formats, a gold-plated 3.5mm socket, and MQA (Master Quality Authenticated).
As far as Hi-Res Audio goes, there is an LED that changes color to indicate the incoming audio format – PCM, DSD, or MQA, and the PCM/DSD sample rate.
Images: iFi audio.