2021 has been quite the year for the popular manufacturer. Ifi has released a variety of new amps and DACs throughout the year, from the improved ZEN CAN and ZEN DAC Signatures or the latest Hip-DAC V2. Now they’ve released the Go Blu, a new Bluetooth DAC/Amp for $199. Their last portable Bluetooth amp was the XCan, which the Go Blu looks to follow up on. Does it make an improvement?
What You Get
- 1x Go Blu
- 1x USB-A to USB-C Cable
- 1x Microfibre protective bag
I did not expect the Go Blu to be this small, From all the promo images I thought it was going to be as large as a DAP, but instead, it’s not even as long as my pinky. This makes the Go Blu one of iFi’s most easily portable devices, as it fits comfortably in any pocket when you’re on the go. Its look is different from anything from iFi’s library so far, with its smooth front plate construction and simplistic design. Part of that design is its minimal use of buttons. You have one power button and a multifunctional button for pairing and activating XBass and XSpace. On top of the device, you have two headphone inputs, one for 3.5mm headphone jacks, and one for 4.4mm balanced. Lastly, there’s the volume knob, which also acts as control from playback, track skipping, and voice assistant. The dial feels great to use, clicking into place with fluidity.
Considering its size, the Go Blu uses a miniaturized Cirrus Logic DAC. It features a multi-bit modulator with mismatched shaping technology with 32 bit oversampling. Its balanced circuits help avoid unwanted noise and crosstalk, which makes it far more superior to the single-ended circuit approach.
The Go Blu supports Bluetooth 5.1, and uses the latest Qualcomm QCC5100. With its system, the Go Blu is able to use a varity of highoresolution CODECS like aptX, aptX HD, aptX adaptive, aptX LL, LDAC, and LHDC. AAC and SBC are also supported.
For such a small device, the Go Blu sure bolsters a big sound. It even stacks up when compared to recent efforts from iFi like the Hip-DAC V2 in terms of the enhancements the DAC makes to the sound signature. I mainly stuck with a selection of IEMs to test out the GO Blu, as I felt that’s how I’d use the device in most scenarios. With iFi portable devices it’s safe to assume you’ll get some good warmth, and the Go Blu provides that with a solid amount of depth. This is enhanced even further when activating XBass or even using a warm headphone or IEM.
Using my Campfire Audio Andromeda’s I was able to get that rich timbre from the low mids, and the XBass brings those frequencies to an even fuller tonality. Sometimes they come a little too much to the surface, but once I tried a few more tracks it actually established a more pleasant resonance. The upper mids and treble region also had a bit more bite to them too, which helped the Andromeda from sounding too dark with the Go Blu.
Using the XSpace option didn’t do much for me until I tried out the Kinera Nanna with the Go Blu. It used a bit more power, but the amp was able to give the 60 Ohm Imperial Nanna’s a huge response. Both the XBass and XSpace features were on full display here, and the effect they had on the Nanna’s was substantial. For one, the bass was so much deeper here, revealing sub-bass textures that give the sound signature an incredible weight and feel. As for the XSpace, the Nanna is brought out significantly. With the Nanna, it was pretty unbelievable how the GO Blu was able to take the soundstage and envelope more of an exterior headspace. The layering was way more articulate here, and in some tracks, provided a naturally holographic image with extended spatial properties.
I shouldn’t be surprised by the level of quality iFi brings to each of their products, but the Go Blu has impressed me the most out of them all. Not only can this small DAC/Amp power high-resistance headphones, but it can give them more depth and impact as well. Its variety of CODECS ensures you’re losing less and less resolution when going wireless and its ten-hour battery life should last you a few days’ worth of commutes. This is the easiest portable DAC to use, and the most friendly due to its size. Sometimes portable DACs can be cumbersome, but the GO Blu makes high-fidelity audio accessible to everyone. The Go Blu redefines the wireless portable DAC, and I can’t wait to keep enjoying it more.
The iFi Go Blu is available at Audio46.
Compare the ranking of various headphones, earbuds and in-ear monitors using our tools.
Discuss this, and much more, over on our forum.---
MAJORHIFI may receive commissions from retail offers.