There is a surprising amount of DAC dongles out there that iPhone users won’t get a chance to use. Some products that I’ve reviewed are either strictly USB type C cables or lightning, with the rare occasion of a detachable cable that features USB-C to lightning included in the box. The Violectric Chronos is one of those rare units that support not only lightning and USB-type C but also micro-USB phones as well. I’ve already been hearing good things about this DAC and for $249 a certain amount of hype can be generated. Is the hype warranted?
What You Get
- Chronos DAC/Amp
- USB-C to lightning
- USB-C to micro USB
- USB-C to USB-C
The outside of the Chronos is a small rectangle not even the length of my thumb. Its housing is made from solid aluminum, with bright LEDs topped with glass. It carries a single 3.5mm headphone jack and a detachable USB type C input. This cable is longer than most dongles around, which is nice for when you want to adjust volume, as you won’t need to take your phone out of your pocket. A simple device, but one that’s immediately friendly to use in any environment.
On the inside of the Chronos, the provided DAC chip is capable of 32 Bit and 384 kHz Sample-Rate for PCM signals. DSD is also accepted up to 256. It also offers a dynamic range of 130 dB with distortions as low as -115 dB.
Using the Chronos with my iPhone went without a single issue to note. I mainly used this DAC as a power system for various IEMs, including the Earsonics Grace Platinum and the Dunu Titan S. The characteristics shared between them were instantly recognizable, from its enhanced soundstage capabilities to its precise technical prowess in the frequency response. You might not hear a significant amount of textural improvements or coloration to the sound signature, but that’s not what the Chronos sets out to do. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how accurate this device was while listening to my IEMs. No matter how expansive it got, the imaging and timbre always felt exactly where they should, placing sound elements in their natural spaces while displaying each range of frequency with balance.
You won’t get a wider soundstage, but it will better showcase the dimension of certain sounds, with more spaciousness in layers. Musically, it feels like the instrumentals and effects are provided with an efficient headspace to operate in, granting a heightened sonic environment to be immersed in. In terms of the specific ranges of frequency, nothing sticks out dominantly in tone. The bass keeps a clean and even response throughout its important regions. Its frequencies resonate with a sense of clarity, restricting some of the more defining characteristics in the sub-bass and mid-bass respectively.
Bass frequencies are kept controlled but effective in their tone, maintaining fidelity while touching up the level of impact the low-end can deliver. This same clean tone is echoed in the midrange frequencies, providing a neutral timbre that just excels over a flat sound signature for more revealing detail. Where the Chronos really starts to show off a bit is in the highs. It feels like there’s an extra spark to the treble when pairing with the Chronos. You not only get a better sense of height, but the accentuation of certain elements is more present. Brightness and sibilance are still avoided completely, but instead of the frequencies attenuating or rolling off the timbre displays itself in a fulfilling clarity that is easily digestible for anyone to hear.
The Violectric Chronos is great in an almost effortless way. It’s a small device that delivers everything you would want out of a DAC dongle, with a neutral sound signature that offers excellent transparency and heightened spatial imaging. I would say that if you’re looking for a DAC dongle that can cover all your bases in terms of connections and you’re willing to spend some extra money that you normally would on a product like this, then the Chronos is the top of the line model for you.
The Violectric Chronos is available at Audio46.