Ah, the conflict of wired versus wi-fi. Bluetooth bandwidth is lossy, is not it?
Even higher-resolution codecs comparable to aptX are not any match for the readability, neutrality, and element you may get from a wired headphone connection. Simply ask Apple Music, whose 2021 Hi-Res Lossless rollout can solely be loved at its fullest with the most effective moveable DACs in addition to a set of wired earphones (I would go for the Audeze Euclid or Campfire Audio Trifecta for those who’re in the marketplace there, though if Apple ever makes a set of wired AirPods, I would be open to that).
However iFi has lengthy championed better-quality moveable audio for little outlay – simply take a look at the UK audio specialist’s iFi hip-dac, Zen DAC, Uno and GO Hyperlink, for starters.
Now, becoming a member of iFi’s GO collection of ultraportable headphone enhancers is the GO pod, a pair of wearable Bluetooth DAC/headphone amps designed to make any pair of corded in-ear displays (aka IEMs) wi-fi.
Utilizing a pair of GO pods is straightforward, says iFi. First, detach the cable out of your favourite IEMs and join the earpieces to the left and proper pods. Then, pair the pods along with your supply system (a smartphone, for instance) and hook the ergonomically designed ear loops behind your ears to make sure a snug match. The outcome? Unrivalled TWS (True Wi-fi Stereo) headphone sound, based on iFi.
So, hi-fi separates to your ears, then? Precisely. iFi claims that evaluating even the most effective true wi-fi earbuds to its GO pod answer is like evaluating a wise speaker to a hi-fi separates system with a pair of well-chosen audio system. Positive, a wise speaker is compact and handy, however a separates system delivers sound high quality in a completely completely different league.
Why? That will be as a result of true wi-fi earbuds – even the dearer ones – depend on SoC (system on a chip) options to combine the requisite tech right into a tiny area. From an audio high quality perspective, this isn’t supreme; amalgamating essential levels comparable to Bluetooth decoding, digital-to-analogue conversion, and amplification saves area and reduces value, however compromises sound high quality.
The GO pod is completely different. Every of those essential levels is, says iFi, designed individually and optimised individually. For Bluetooth, iFi’s GO pod helps Bluetooth 5.2, with processing dealt with by Qualcomm’s top-tier 32-bit, quad-core structure QCC5144 module. And Sony’s proprietary LDAC hi-res wi-fi answer plus LHDC (HWA) are each supported to their most 32-bit/96kHz specs, with LDAC’s highest 990kbps bitrate accessible to customers of Android units that help Snapdragon Sound (660kbps with different LDAC-enabled units).
Qualcomm’s 24-bit aptX HD and aptX Adaptive codecs are additionally coated, providing pattern charges of as much as 48kHz and 96kHz respectively, with the extra advantage of QHS (Qualcomm Excessive Pace) offering an additional 300kbps of bandwidth. Different supported codecs embody aptX Low Latency, common aptX, AAC, and common outdated vanilla SBC.
And the GO pod even presents 5 DAC filter settings, user-selectable to swimsuit private style, musical type, and format kind – no true wi-fi earbuds provide fairly such a perk.
Opinion: I do not purchase audiophile in-ear displays to undergo Bluetooth high quality audio, however iFi could have modified that
Whichever connection kind your favorite IEM has, iFi’s obtained you coated. Every pair comes with two ear loops catering for MMCX and 2pin IEM connections, however extra ear loops for Pentaconn, T2, and A2DC connections will probably be accessible at £29 every (so, round $36 or AU$54).
At simply 12g, every pod is designed to be light-weight and comfy, too. The ear loops are moldable to suit round your ears and the pods are water- and sweat-resistant (IPX5 rated), so there will be no downside sporting them down the fitness center.
A built-in mic makes use of Qualcomm’s cVc noise suppression tech for voice readability, and the aluminium panel on the entrance of every pod works as a contact management. Merely faucet to play or pause audio, skip ahead or again, reply or reject a telephone name, or interact the linked system’s voice assistant.
As you may anticipate, the GO pod comes with its personal charging case and this one helps each Qi wi-fi charging and USB-C quick charging. A pair of GO pods will play for as much as seven hours on a single cost, however the case supplies a number of recharges to allow as much as 35 hours of taking part in time.
And this is the kicker: fairly than simply launch the GO pod and depart customers to decide on the IEMs they assume would work greatest, iFi has partnered with six of the world’s best IEM producers to make curated ‘GO Pod + IEM’ packages. The very best bit is that this: the primary 1,000 GO pods produced will come packaged with a pair of IEMs from a rigorously curated choice.
The six GO pod and IEM packages and their UK RRPs – which signify a saving on the person costs of the GO pod and IEMs when bought individually – are listed under:
GO pod and 64 Audio U4s £1299
GO pod and Craft Ears Aurum £1399
GO pod and Meze Audio Advar £999
GO pod and Meze Audio Ria Penta £1199
GO pod and Symphonium Meteor £799
GO pod and Westone MACH 60 £999
So, that pricing begins at round $995 or AU$1,479 for the Symphonium Meteor and iFi GO pods, which is the bundle proven in our essential picture.
The GO pod launched formally on 14th April 2023 at AXPONA (Audio Expo North America) and the 1000 ‘GO pod + IEM’ packages grew to become accessible to order from this date, direct from iFi or the chosen IEM producer.
iFi tells us that 60 days later – or every time these packages have all offered out, whichever is sooner – the GO pod will probably be accessible from iFi’s regular shops as a standalone product to mix with any pair of IEMs. On the time of writing, all packages are still available from iFi (opens in new tab)! As a standalone product, the GO pod could have an RRP of £399 (which is about $498 or AU$739).
Often, I’d flip my nostril up right here. One does not drop a three- or four-figure sum on high quality wired in-ear displays solely to limit them to lossy Bluetooth audio. However given iFi’s appreciable expertise on this space (and that spec-sheet) I would like to see what iFi’s GO Pods make of my beloved Audeze Euclid…