Connect headphones to ‘GO link’ for superior sound
With sophisticated sonic technology that outperforms other USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapters, the latest addition to iFi’s GO series offers superior sound at a very affordable price.
iFi audio expands its GO series of ultra-portable DAC/headphone amplifiers with the GO link, a headphone dongle that delivers super-powerful sound when connected to smartphones, tablets, PCs and Macs via a USB port.
Its purpose is twofold. Firstly, to allow wired headphones to be connected to digital devices that do not have a 3.5mm headphone output. Second, even if a device has a headphone jack, the GO Link offers a great sound upgrade. That’s because its sophisticated DAC (digital-to-analog converter) circuitry and headphone amplifier is superior to the audio technology found in mobile devices and computers.
Even for a company renowned for producing class-leading audio devices at affordable prices, the Link GO’s price is extraordinary: at just $59 RRP, it’s the most affordable DAC/headphone amp iFi has ever made. And yet, even at this price, iFi has delivered a highly sophisticated device.
At one end of the GO Link is a USB-C connector, at the other is the DAC and headphone amp circuitry, both housed in strong yet lightweight magnesium alloy casings. In the middle is a 6cm long flexible cable – this aids in convenience by allowing the DAC/amp section to lean towards the listener and reduces strain on the USB port the GO Link is connected to.
iFi hasn’t skimped on the quality of the cable, which uses individually polymer-insulated silver-plated copper conductors in a “twisted pair” configuration. This twist helps optimize inductance and capacitance and also helps reject noise, ensuring that the sound of the GO link is unaffected by electromagnetic interference picked up from nearby electrical sources.
DAC is the ticket
The GO Link builds on the experience iFi has gained in developing a range of multi-award winning DACs at a wide range of price points. At its core is a high-performance, low-power DAC chip from ESS Technology’s Saber HiFi series, the ES9219MQ/Q, which benefits from the 32-bit HyperStream III architecture. This combines with Quad DAC+ and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator technologies, plus iFi’s dedicated clock circuitry using a specialized crystal oscillator, to deliver ultra-low distortion, excellent clarity, and impressive dynamic range.
iFi has taken full advantage of the advanced DAC chip specification, unlocking high-end features like DRE (Dynamic Range Enhancement), plus technologies to minimize THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) and crosstalk. Users can even select between different digital filters via downloadable firmware if desired, providing a degree of personal sonic customization to suit taste.
Unlike other headset dongles, the GO Link does not rely on software-based volume controls on connected digital devices, which can negatively affect audio resolution. Instead, adjusting the volume on the connected device controls the volume level on the GO link’s DAC, not on the phone, tablet, or computer; this hardware-based analog volume control is another feature that helps deliver the superior sonic performance of the link GO.
The Hi-Res Audio credentials of the GO Link are very impressive given its diminutive price tag. PCM audio data is supported at 32-bit/384kHz, along with DSD 11.2MHz (DSD256) and MQA (the transmission technology used by Tidal’s ‘HiFi Plus’ level). An LED changes color to indicate the incoming audio format (PCM, DSD, or MQA) and the PCM/DSD sample rate.
The GO Link’s headphone amp powers a gold-plated 3.5mm plug that incorporates iFi’s S-Balanced noise reduction configuration, easily outperforming the built-in headphone outputs on phones, tablets, and computers. This offers a power output of 70mW/1.5V into 32 ohms, which increases to 2V with higher impedance headphones, enough to drive the type of headphones the GO Link is likely to be associated with while playing. minimizes battery consumption of the connected device. In addition to powering headphones, the 3.5mm analog output can be used to connect a preamplifier or integrated amplifier, or powered speakers.
Those familiar with iFi audio devices will know that the company uses high-quality discrete components in its circuit designs, and the same is true of the GO link despite its small size and low price. Devices like Taiyo Yuden and Murata’s TDK C0G multilayer ceramic inductors and capacitors offer qualities like low ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance) and high linearity, which pay big dividends in terms of sound quality.
Available at select retailers the link GO is the ultra-portable, ultra-convenient sonic supercharger every headphone user can afford. Adapters are included to convert the GO link’s USB-C connector to fit USB-A and Apple Lightning ports; Whether you’re using the GO link with an Android or iOS device, a Windows PC, or an Apple Mac, everything you need is in the box. All of which makes the GO link’s RRP of €59 even more remarkable: simply plug in your favorite wired headphones and immerse yourself in powerful, dynamic and detailed sound.