Strauss & Wagner Bern Review

Strauss & Wagner Bern top view

I’ve come to know Strauss & Wagner as a great go-to manufacturer for affordable audio gear. With an expansive array of cables, interconnects, as well as wireless earbuds and headphones, it seems the brand is always trying to cook something up to make listening more convenient. But what good is convenience if it doesn’t also sound good? Enter their new Bern 32 Bit DAC/adapter. With a USB-C termination and a 3.5mm output, the Bern looks to solve that question. So let’s dive in to see if the Bern can make for a more convenient and better sounding listening experience. 

What’s in the Box:

  • Strauss & Wagner Bern cable


At the heart of the Bern adapter lies the advanced CS43131 chipset. This DAC that is more than capable of reproducing accurate sound. Capable of processing 32 bit audio, the Bern should be able to serve just about any listener. This includes audiophiles or casual listeners alike. 

The Bern boasts a premium silver build that not only enhances conductivity but also adds a touch of elegance to your audio setup. From its sleek contours to its durable construction, every aspect of the Bern exudes quality craftsmanship. It’s a stylish and reliable companion for your audio adventures.

But the Bern isn’t just about looks; it’s about performance. Its 3.5mm female socket and USB-C plug provide seamless connectivity to a wide range of devices. This ensures compatibility and convenience wherever you go. Whether you’re plugging in your favorite headphones, connecting to a speaker system, or hooking up to a smartphone or laptop, the Bern adapter effortlessly bridges the gap between old and new audio technologies.

Strauss & Wagner Bern 3.5 mm port


The Bern is a simple but powerful dongle. Simply plug it into any device with a USB-C port and plug a set of IEMs or headphones in through the 3.5mm socket. Do note that this dongle does not offer balanced capabilities so we’re not talking about the most powerful output in the world. However, for IEMs or easy to drive headphones, this shouldn’t be a problem. 

In my listening, the Bern was able to decipher different file formats with ease, switching between higher resolution FLAC files all the way down to CD quality and mp3s. As advertised, the Bern is able to decode up to 32 bit recordings and in testing, it was absolutely capable of doing that

Being an affordable dongle at $59, the Bern offers a lot of flexibility. 


The Bern is built to hold steady. With solid housings on the USB-C plug as well as the 3.5mm jack, this cable should be able to go with you on the go with great durability. Its silver braided cable isn’t too wiggly or too stiff and doesn’t have too much memory. 

At just 3.9 total inches, the Bern is unobtrusive and pleasant to use. With both IEMs and headphones plugged into both my iPhone 15 and MacBook Air, I never felt burdened by the length or feel of the cable. Convenience was the goal here, and Strauss & Wagner definitely succeeded. 

But does it succeed on sound quality?

Strauss & Wagner Bern USB Type C


The sound of the Strauss & Wagner Bern is quite good. First and foremost, it’s a transparent little dongle. This means that the CS43131 is well implemented. By processing sound as cleanly as possible, the Bern offers a listening experience that is uncolored by the device itself. It reaches that goal of transporting you to your music, as if there were no devices connecting you in the first place. 

I did the bulk of my listening on the Final Audio E5000 and Campfire Audio Cascara IEMs as well as the Focal Celestee to see how it would fare with over-ear headphones. 

The E5000 made for a very clean listen. I’ve said before that I find the E5000 to have a bit of midbass bloom that with the wrong type of amplification can sound a bit over-warm. But not with the Bern. While the E5000 still comes across as warm, it is by no means bloated or overdone. I found the sound to be overall pretty balanced and the Bern’s presence to be neutral. 

Switching to the Cascara, and the same remained true. I did notice in plugging in the Cascara that the Bern provides plenty of power for these IEMs. I was able to turn up the volume with plenty of headroom left. That said, the background was still pitch black – no noise whatsoever when powering these IEMs. Like with the E5000, I found the sound to be clear and transparent. The Bern allows the IEM to define the sound signature. 

Finally, I wanted to see how the Bern would do with over-ear headphones, so I opted for the Focal Celestee. Now, the Celestee isn’t the most demanding headphone, but I found that it could use a little more amplification when used with the Bern. Don’t get me wrong, you still get a nice vibrant soundstage, clean mids, and airy highs, but dynamics felt like they needed a little more power to really get agile. 

Overall, the sound of the Bern is quite impressive. It doesn’t pack the most power in the world. But for IEMs and easy-to-drive headphones I found performance to be excellent. 


With a 32 bit DAC built in, it’s hard not to recommend the Bern USB-C DAC/adapter. Whether you simply need it to use your wired audio device with your phone or laptop or you want an upgrade in sound quality from your phone or laptop’s built-in DAC, the Bern is worth checking out. 

The Strauss & Wagner Bern is available at Audio46

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