Strauss & Wagner Basel Review

Strauss & Wagner Basel with its three connector types

Strauss & Wagner is a popular brand around these parts. The maker of affordable headphones and audio accessories is constantly innovating. Their goal of creating audio gear that is built to last, sounds good, and provides extra functionality is one we admire.  Well now we’re back with another highly functional device from Strauss & Wagner: the Basel. Long story short, it’s a nifty little DAC/Amp and cable adapter that uses a similar switchable connector system to make it play well with all sorts of headphones. So let’s dive in and see what S&W’s Basel has to offer. 

What’s in the box:

  • Basel DAC/Amp
  • 2.5 mm connector
  • 3.5 mm connector
  • 4.4 mm connector

All of the Strauss & Wagner Basel components


The Strauss & Wagner Basel is simple yet complex. It’s a sturdy little dongle that comes in at 10 cm (3.9 inches). On one end is the USB Type-C connector and on the other is a 4-pin connector that will be home to each switchable jack connector. The black casing to these components feels sturdy and well built. The cable itself has plenty of give without feeling weak in the hand, and its copper cable shines through the see-through coating, which is a nice touch. 

Likewise, each connector piece is black as well, matching the finishing of the 4-pin and Type-C pieces. Each piece feels equally well-built to the main dongle part, and overall this should make for a durable on-the-go audio accessory for IEMs and some headphones. 


The three in one design of the Basel is dependent on a couple of factors. First and foremost, the Basel features a high quality DAC and amp stage that can run both balanced and single ended. This makes the device adaptable for use with sensitive IEMs as well as some full-sized headphones, but we’ll get into that more in the sound impressions portion of the review. S&W have employed high quality DAC chips in many of their products, and that’s true here too. 

The cable itself is made from premium 7N OCC copper material, which, on paper, should enhance the transmission of audio signals and improve the listening experience. Like I said earlier, the copper also adds a flash of color to the design as it can be seen through the protective coating of the cable. 

Strauss & Wagner Basel Connectors

Sound Impressions

With Final Audio E5000

The Basel is more than just an adapter. It’s a fully fledged DAC/Amp dongle. So I wanted to test it both from my phone as well as my laptop. Starting with my phone, I was able to get a great connection and listen to just about any headphone or IEM. I started my listening with the Final Audio E5000. These IEMs lean warm with a bloomy midbass. But with the Basel, things just felt a little more refined than I’m used to with the E5000. Everything felt a little bit more balanced and nuanced. Lows were impactful but that midbass bloom was under control. Mids came in nice and warm without sounding too forward, and treble was well-defined without being too sharp.

With Campfire Audio Cascara

Then I moved onto the Campfire Audio Cascara with my laptop. I wanted to use it with my MacBook Air to see what the difference between the in-built headphone jack and the Basel sounded like. For starters, you definitely get more power with Basel. Obviously this is a sensitive IEM, but I had to turn the volume down significantly to make the Cascara listenable. But you also get a more refined sound than the in-built headphone output of the MacBook Air. There’s better detail retrieval and a wider soundstage to boot. To me, the Cascara is a neutral-warm IEM and the Basel allowed for that character to come through without much interference. 

With Meze Liric II

Finally, after noticing its power capabilities with the IEMs, I wanted to try a full-sized headphone with the Basel. For this, I employed one of my favorite new headphones, the Meze Liric II. Straight out of the computer, these are not easy headphones to drive. So I swapped out the 3.5mm jack to the 4.4mm balanced jack on the Basel and gave them a try. With this setup, I was able to successfully drive the Liric II to solid levels. That said there isn’t a ton of headroom. But if you wanted to make your closed-back reference headphones more portable, a dongle of this nature is incredibly helpful. The sound I got from this setup was detailed and smooth, highlighting the Liric II’s strong suits – its neutral-warm tuning and crisp high end. 

All this said, the Basel isn’t the most powerful device. For harder to drive headphones, you will definitely want to opt for the balanced jack, and even still, some headphones will require more power than the Basel offers. Likewise, I was impressed with detail retrieval for the price, but if you need something that can do top-of-the-line level micro-detail, this may not be the best option for you. Really, this is an option for the portable-minded audiophile who needs a flexible dongle/adapter for their IEMs or easy to drive headphones. You’ll be surprised how good it sounds too (although with Strauss & Wagner’s track record, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise).

Strauss & Wagner Basel from bird's eye view

Final Thoughts

Strauss & Wagner is back with a highly functional and great sounding device. It’s a solid choice for listeners who want to up their portable sound quality without breaking the bank. Best for IEM and easier to drive headphones, this dongle is actually capable of some solid power too. 

You can get the Strauss & Wagner Basel at Audio46


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