Many might think that there aren’t a huge amount of selections in terms of DAC/Amps for your smartphone. Some can Frankenstein together a USB device with an adapter, but those aren’t a hundred percent reliable. Periodic Audio is here to maybe make your life a little bit easier, with a USB-C portable DAC for $49. This device promises to significantly boost your listening experience while on the go. There have been a few models like the Rhodium that I’ve enjoyed, like the Spectra X and the Helm Audio Bolt, the latter of which featured MQA support. What kind of sound does the Rhodium bring to the table?
What You Get
- Rhodium USB DAC
- USB Type-A Adapter
Periodic Audio supplies a type A adapter for more universal connecting options. You may not find a use for the Rhodium if you’re an iPhone user, but if you want to use it for a non-type C laptop you have that option.
On the outside, the Rhodium appears like your standard type-c adapter. It lacks a certain tell that explains how this is more than a generic headphone adapter. It reminds me of the ALO Pilot in that regard, but other models like the Spectra X seem like their more designed to stick out to you as a device that’s meant to enhance the sound. The Rhodium might not have that unique design, but there are still many aspects of this build to appreciate. In terms of portability, you can’t really get better than the simple design of the Rhodium. It can easily fit in your pocket along with any other items you might be keeping. The biggest upgrade you’ll be getting in the build is the addition of a high-strand oxygen-free copper wire within a robust woven textile sleeve, also featuring molded aluminum shells.
So what exactly is this tiny USB DAC capable of? It’s not known which chipset they’re using, but it has PCM decoding capabilities able to handle high-res files up to 32-bit/384kHz. You can expect 30mW of power at 32 Ohms of impedance. The most impressive spec of the Rhodium is its frequency response, which sports a 2Hz-92kHz range plus or minus 3dB. There are more impressive specs like this, but the only real bummer is the lack of MQA capabilities.
Like most other portable adapters, I mainly tested the sound with IEMs sporting 3.5mm jacks. The Rhodium promises a considerable amount of resolution, especially when looking at that frequency response. I decided on a few different IEMs that I felt would make the best use out of the DAC, and that made sense with its price range. Overall, I think the quality of the DAC brings out some significant detail but doesn’t push out as much power. I mainly used the Rhodium with a Samsung Galaxy phone, and while I was able to get a sufficient amount of volume in my IEMs, it’s not much different than using a standard adapter. You get an average amount of headroom for gain, but not enough to make adjustments that much more integral to the sound signature.
After listening to the AE3 for the first time, and reveling in its deep lows and sub-bass, I was curious how it would be handled by the Rhodium. The DAC here helps smooth out a lot of the more intimidating lows, making them more coherent in the process. They don’t lose any fidelity in the bass frequencies either. Sub-bass is still presented well, but the low-mids have a more focused tonality. With the rest of the frequency response, I felt that the timbre came off a bit more naturally than without it. The details became more articulate and the definition improved considerably.
Final Audio A4000
The A4000 is one of my favorite recent IEMs to be released, so of course, I was curious about using it with the Rhodium. What I got was an even more spacious soundstage with an even wider separation. It almost seemed stretched out at times, as the imaging, and air between sound elements was a lot more exaggerated. This made positioning very defined, and left a lot of room for crisp resonance, especially in the highs. Sometimes they were a little too tight, but I appreciated its level of fidelity on certain tracks.
The Rhodium is a neat little adapter with a DAC that can achieve some great resolution. It’s an inoffensive accessory that will make casual listening a little more enjoyable. With the $49 price point, it’s not too hard to recommend if you’re looking for something with type-c capabilities.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Detail, Separation, Portability
Cons: Power, No MQA
The Periodic Audio Rhodium is available from Amazon.