Looking for a last-minute stocking stuffer for the audiophile on your list? Look no further than the ifi GO blu portable headphone amplifier. This tiny amp weighs less than an ounce and measures around 2” X 1” yet packs the biggest, most transformative sound stage of any portable DAC that we have ever tested.
ifi, the British hi-fi company that specializes in DAC technology for both home and on-the-go listening has created the GO blu powered amp to pair to a Smartphone, computer, tablet or amp via aptx Adaptive and aptX HD Bluetooth and allows the listener to plug wired headphones into the portable DAC via either a balanced 3.5mm or 4.5mm plug for a mind-boggling, better listening experience. The unit uses Qualcomm’s new QCC5100 Bluetooth combined with Cirrus Logic CS43131 advanced minature DAC processing.
So why not just stream a pair of Bluetooth headphones to your music source and bi-pass the need for an intermediary device? Well, for the very same reason that playing a vinyl record puts your auditory senses into overdrive, the GO blu holds a similar magic to process your digital files and expand the soundstage meaningfully. We all know that when it comes to music listening, the more steps and inconvenience involved, rewards the listener exponentially!
The gorgeous little unit has easy to navigate buttons reminiscent to an old analog amp. The big brass and stainless-steel button, reminiscent to a chronograph on an expensive Swiss watch that also feels weighted, turns volume up and down and when pushed will either rewind the song or move to the next one. A brushed aluminium button on the opposite side scrolls through iFi’s propriety settings called xBass, xSpace and the magic button that provides both an enhanced bass and spatial sound stage. Where the GO blu blows your socks off is in the volume it provides. Lately, I have been sensing that headphone manufacturers might be throttling us on volume for some kind of enhanced battery life – that sounds like a conspiracy theory but too often, I just can’t get the desired volume out of battery-operated Bluetooth headphones. The GO blu solves all volume challenges and just cranks!
I know, I know, I am gushing but this little ifi GO blu portable DAC makes me feel like I have woken up from a deep slumber. Great bass, no muddy mid-tones, a beautifully well-constructed object to look at and hold, and a chance to pull out from the cupboard some of my all-time favourite wired headphones including Sennheiser HD-series open-back and the Denon AH-D5000 that are just too big to be properly powered from a mobile phone.
Battery life (charged via usb-c) is about 8-hours, and a coloured LED lets you know where you are in the battery cycle. The unit has a built-in microphone for hand’s-free calls and for use with Siri or Hey Google and features a Bluetooth range just didn’t end while wandering through my home. And like all iFi products, the GO blu streams all codecs from all streaming services including Tidal.
How something this tiny can be so life-changing is a technology mystery. The GO blu needs to be demo’d to be believed. Or just take my word for it and put this in the stocking of any music lover on your list that is a lifetime journey of seeking out better sound.
Readily available for around $270.00 and comes with a 14-day trial with Roon. iFi is distributed exclusively in Canada through Motet Distribution.