iFi GO bar Portable USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier
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GO bar by iFi Audio
The best, bar none: a premium USB DAC with the most powerful headphone amp of its size.
On the GO…
The GO bar is iFi’s top-of-the-line ultraportable USB DAC/headphone amp.
It’s eminently pocketable, with a robust yet lightweight alloy enclosure that measures 65x22x13mm and weighs 28.5g. While it’s not the first USB DAC/headphone amp of such diminutive size, its specification is unrivalled. The hi-res format compatibility and sonic tuning facilities are second to none, and its amp stage features surprising power for a headphone amp of this size. Small yet mighty, indeed!
Whether you’re commuting, working remotely or at your desk, or simply travelling for pleasure, the GO bar is the perfectly portable way to make headphones sound heavenly when connected to desktop PCs, laptops, phones, tablets or any other digital source device with a USB port. No need to manage another battery — GO bar draws its power from your source player.
What’s up, DAC?
The GO bar’s digital audio circuitry is based around a 32-bit Cirrus Logic DAC chipset with advanced multi-bit modulation. This is coupled with a customised digital filter to minimise pre-echoes and ringing artefacts, and iFi’s GMT (Global Master Timing) precision clock system to ensure ultra-low jitter, thus reducing errors and distortion in the digital audio signal.
The DAC is fed by a powerful 16-core XMOS microcontroller, which processes the audio data received at the USB input. iFi’s in-house digital development team has programmed the XMOS firmware to optimise sound quality and ensure a perfect partnership with the Cirrus Logic DAC. Hi-res PCM is supported to 32-bit/384kHz, alongside DSD64, 128 and 256, and single- and double-speed DXD. The DAC’s architecture maintains DSD data in true native form, unlike other DACs that convert DSD to PCM.
The GO bar also delivers full decoding of MQA, the hi-res streaming technology. This means that the complete ‘three unfold’ decoding process is performed internally, as opposed to just the final unfold in the manner of an MQA ‘renderer’, which makes the GO bar an excellent choice for subscribers to Tidal’s ‘HiFi Plus’ tier where Tidal Masters (MQA) content can be found.
Balance of power.
Remarkably given its diminutive size, the GO bar’s analogue circuitry features balanced design with a symmetrical twin-channel output stage. This topology, usually reserved for larger and more expensive amplifiers owing to its cost and complexity, reduces noise and crosstalk in the signal path by fully separating the left and right channels.
The circuitry is packed full of high quality discrete components and special attention has been paid to power supply filtering too, dramatically reducing signal noise introduced through the USB input.
No headphone amp of such a diminutive size can match the GO bar’s ability to drive tricky headphone loads or work with a wider variety of headphones — 475mW into 32 ohms, 7.5V into 600 ohms via the 4.4mm balanced output.
The GO bar also incorporates two power tuning technologies:
- iEMatch – attenuates power to suit high-sensitivity headphones and IEMs, it removes background noise and increases usable volume range
- Turbo – ramps up the gain by 6dB to satisfy more power-hungry headphones
* Please note that the GO bar may not work with older iPhones up to and including 6S when the phone battery is low (<30%).
Further user-adjustable sonic tuning is provided in both digital and analogue domains.
Choose from four bespoke digital filter options:
- Bit Perfect – no digital filtering, no pre or post ringing
- Standard – modest filtering, modest pre and posting ringing
- Minimum Phase – slow roll-off, minimum pre and post ringing
- Gibbs Transient Optimised – minimum filtering, no pre-ringing and minimum post ringing
iFi’s trademark analogue processing modes, XBass+ and XSpace, can also be switched in or out of the signal path according to taste.
- XBass+ – a sophisticated form of bass boost that enhances low frequencies without muddying the midrange, useful with earphones and open-back headphones that may lack deep bass
- XSpace – a sophisticated form of crossfeed, designed to compensate for the ‘in-head localisation’ effect that can occur when using headphones to listen to music that was mixed using a pair of speakers, effectively widening the headphone soundstage to deliver a more spacious and speaker-like experience
Most ultraportable USB DAC/headphone amps offer little or no control via the device itself, with volume adjustable only via software running on the connected source device. The GO bar is different, its smart alloy case sporting physical buttons for precise volume adjustment – which can be synchronised with the volume controls on the source device – together with controls to select between the various sonic tuning options.
A column of coloured LEDs provides a handy guide to the format and sample rate of the digital audio currently playing, and whether XBass+ and/or XSpace are engaged.
At one end of the GO bar is an asynchronous USB-C input, at the other resides a pair of headphone outputs. One of these is a fully balanced 4.4mm output, enabling headphones equipped with a balanced cable/connector to make the most of the GO bar’s balanced audio circuitry. The other is a 3.5mm output utilising iFi’s ‘S-Balanced’ technology – this cuts noise and crosstalk by 50 per cent with regular single-ended headphone connectors. Both outputs are gold plated to maintain contact quality over time.
It’s all here.
As iFi’s top ultraportable device in the GO series, its included accessories are designed to give you everything you need.
Apple users will love the bespoke Lightning to USB-C cable, engineered by iFi so you don’t need to add Apple’s Camera Adapter dongle to use the GO bar with iOS devices, as you do with other USB DACs.
Android users, meanwhile, will appreciate the USB-C OTG cable, which can also be used with USB-C-equipped PCs and Macs; a USB-C to USB-A adapter is also included, thus covering most bases straight out of the box.
And there’s a leather travel case included too, with space for a cable, ensuring your GO bar is well protected wherever you choose to take it.
- Pocketsize hi-res USB DAC, preamp and headphone amp
- Most powerful headphone amp of its size
- True balanced circuit design with symmetrical twin-channel output stage
- Advanced hi-res digital audio support: 32-bit/384kHz PCM, native DSD and full MQA decoding
- Four digital filter options; XBass+ and XSpace analogue processing modes – tailor sound to suit your music and headphone type
- IEMatch and Turbo power tuning – perfect output matching for sensitive earphones or power-hungry headphones
- Two ultra-low-noise headphone outputs – 4.4mm fully balanced and 3.5mm S-Balanced
- Robust, lightweight alloy enclosure with precision volume control and format/sample rate LED indicators
- Leather travel case included, with pockets for GO bar and connecting cable
- Sensational sound at home, in the office, on the move – wherever you go, the GO bar goes too!
Features & Specifications
65 x 22 x 13.2 mm (2.6″ x 0.9″ x 0.5”)
28.5g (1.0 oz)
Balanced 475mW@32Ω; 7.2V@600Ω
UnBAL 300mW@32Ω; 3.8V@600Ω
THD + N
Balanced <0.002% (6.5mW/2.0V @ 600Ω)
UnBAL <0.09% (100mW/1.27V @ 16Ω)
20Hz – 45kHz (-3dB)