iFi audio GO Bar - The Best Pocketable HiFi System, Bar None!

Discussion in 'Product Announcements' started by iFi audio, May 23, 2022.

  1. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    iFi’s acclaimed DAC/headphone amps have formed a cornerstone of the company’s product range since its formation in 2012, delivering brilliant sound from smartphones, tablets, PCs, Macs and more. Last year, iFi introduced the GO blu, first in a new line of ultraportable, pocketsize DAC/amps called the GO Series; now it’s joined by the GO bar, taking the ‘big sound in a small package’ concept to a whole new level.

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    Like to GO blu, the GO bar is eminently pocketable, with a robust yet lightweight alloy enclosure that measures 65x22x13mm and weighs 28.5g. But, while the GO blu majors on the convenience of Bluetooth connectivity to devices like smartphones when you’re on the go, the GO bar connects to source devices via USB and focuses on pure performance. 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.

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    The GO bar is not the first USB DAC/headphone amp of such diminutive size, but its specification is unrivalled. Its hi-res format compatibility and sonic tuning facilities are second to none, and its amp stage is the most powerful in the world for a headphone amp of this size. Small yet mighty, indeed.

    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.

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    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 a balanced design with asymmetrical 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.

    Rather than resort to space- and cost-saving integrated circuit solutions which compromise sonic quality, the GO bar’s circuitry packs in high-quality discrete components such as TDK C0G ceramic capacitors, Panasonic OS-CON aluminium polymer capacitors, and high-density tantalum capacitors, plus Taiyo Yuden and Murata inductors, all with excellent characteristics for high-quality audio applications. Special attention has also been paid to power supply filtering, dramatically reducing signal noise introduced though the USB input.

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    The amp’s design combines sonic purity with exceptional power. In fact, with an output of 550mW (into 64 ohms) and 7.5V (into 600 ohms), no headphone amp of such diminutive size can match its impressive ability to drive even tricky headphone loads – that’s enough current drive for 16-ohm headphones and sufficient voltage drive for 600-ohm headphones. Combining serious muscle with beguiling finesse, the GO bar sounds wonderful with a wider range of headphone and earphone types than any other ultraportable USB DAC/amplifier.

    Adding to this versatility, the GO bar incorporates two power-tuning technologies, enabling adjustment of its output to suit specific requirements. IEMatch attenuates power to suit high-sensitivity headphones and in-ear monitors, removing potential background noise and increasing the usable volume range. Conversely, Turbo mode ramps up the gain by 6dB to satisfy more power-hungry headphone types.

    Suits you, sir

    Further user-adjustable sonic tuning is provided in both digital and analogue domains. Four bespoke digital filter options – Standard, Bit-Perfect (non-oversampling), Minimum Phase, and GTO (Gibbs Transient Optimised) – can be selected according to preference, while iFi’s familiar analogue processing modes, XBass+ and XSpace, can also be switched in or out of the signal path according to taste.

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    X Bass+ is 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 is 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.

    With such a variety of digital streaming platforms, file types, headphones and earphones to choose from, not to mention music styles and recording qualities, this suite of sonic tuning options is valuable to ensure optimal sound – and unique in a DAC/headphone amp of this type and size.

    External affairs

    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.

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    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.

    Birthday bling

    To celebrate its 10th anniversary, iFi has also created an eye-catching special edition of the GO bar. Limited to 1000 pieces, the GO bar Anniversary Edition – or ‘GOld bar’, if you will – replaces the standard version’s alloy enclosure with a copper chassis, further enhancing build quality and electrical shielding, and smothers it in 18ct gold plate. Power supply filtering is also further enhanced, ensuring the Anniversary Edition – which, at 64g, is more than twice the weight of the standard GO bar – is truly the ‘gold standard’ among ultraportable USB DAC/headphone amps.

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    Ready for anything

    Both the standard GO bar and the Anniversary Edition come with a generous accessories pack to get the tunes flowing right off the bat. 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 – thus reducing bulk and cost. 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 too, ensuring your GO bar is well-protected wherever you choose to take it.

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    The GO bar is available from selected retailers from 20th May, at an RRP of £329, €329 and US$329. The GO bar Anniversary Edition follows in June, at an RRP of £499, €499 and US$499. Both will debut at the HIGH END 2022 show in Munich, 19th-22nd May.

    https://ifi-audio.com/products/go-bar/
     
  2. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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  3. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I would love an ifi dongle but that price, damn. I know a lot of tech is packed into it and it comes with useful accessories, but I guess I’m looking for a product that’s midway between this and the Go Blu.
     
  4. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Not something I need but I love the capacitor tetris with the long bent leads. :cool:
     
  5. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    Loaner tour at some point?
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    If this thing is anything like the GO Blu, I would love it.
    @iFi audio: send us one or two to go on the loaner? Hearing lots of interest in this from the mods/admins.
     
  7. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

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    I definitely am interested.
     
  8. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    should hear word next week about my iFi Go Bar Gold demo unit and provide some early impressions.
     
  9. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

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    Can you test with multi-BA and single DD IEMs? Would love to hear your take.
     
  10. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    have: Solaris 2020, JVC FDX1 whatever and Timeless 7Hz.
     
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  11. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

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    Might need to ask to test it out if that's cool. I'll be gone for a couple of weeks in Hawaii though so timing might not work.
     
  12. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    double bars have arrived to compare with Gryphon.
    sadly, i don't have any sensitive headphones like Focal or Arya Stealth, to try with the Gryphon and it's higher power output.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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  14. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Let me ask around. Since @jexby has these already, maybe we can figure something out.
     
  15. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    thank you !! I’d love to hear it!
     
  16. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Most likely @jexby's GO bar will be a tour sample, but for now I'll leave this between him and his contact at iFi ;)
     
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  17. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    Indeed, it's looking like these to iFi GO Bars will be used for SBAF loaner tour soon.
    Just need a BIT more time with the GOld and the Gryphon side by side with IEMs.

    spoiler alert: the GOld Bar really should / will be the Gold Standard for battery-free dongles.
     
  18. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Thanks a lot. It is quite a little beast, isn't it? I look forward to reading your take on the GOld Bar versus Gryphon with all the latter's bells and whistles cast aside ;)
     
  19. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    Update: my iFi GOld Bar needs to be shipped back to iFi on June 24 to get stabilized.
    this will delay the SBAF tour of both Bars a little bit.

    In the meantime, @rhythmdevils can you start the thread to organize the tour for these 2 iFi dongle devices?
    by the time we get names ordered, the tour can start once I get the GOld bar back in hand.
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Looking forward to this.
     

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