iFi's GO Bar Kensei is a Premium DAC Crafted from Japanese Steel

A tiny but powerful digital-to-analogue converter that will take your wired headphones to new levels.

Tech & Gadgets
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British high-fidelity audio specialist iFi has introduced the GO Bar Kensei, a tiny but powerful digital-to-analogue converter – commonly known as a DAC – that pairs perfectly with smartphones and other modern devices lacking headphone jacks.

Like vinyl records and film cameras before them, wired analog headphones have had something of a come back in recent months with users opting for the simplicity (and reliability) of a cable plugged into a port. For all of its incredible functionality, Bluetooth can be somewhat cumbersome: you’ve got the tedious pairing process (that’s easier with some brands over others), signal interference, and dropped connections to contend with. Listening to music with a wired connection also means users can get the best sound quality possible, as Bluetooth compresses audio to various degrees.

Based out of Southport, England, a seaside town north of Liverpool, iFi has been making hi-fi audio products since 2012. It claims the GO Bar Kensei is “the world’s first ultraportable DAC with K2HD”, a technology created by Japanese electronics brand JVCKENWOOD that “revives” digital music and brings back the “natural harmonics” that are lost. Additionally, according to iFi, K2HD “works to restore music to the same quality as the original master” and those with headphones on the higher end of the scale will be able to take full advantage of what their cans can do.

The GO Bar Kensei is also fashioned from Japanese stainless-steel, a premium material choice emphasized bythe engraved wooden box the item is packaged in. It features dual audio inputs, 4.4mm and 3.5mm, and one power input to charge via USB-C. In the box you’ll find a small, black leather storage pouch, as well as USB-C to USB-C and lightning to USB-C cables. The user interface is pretty stripped back with just three buttons: two for volume (up and down) and a power/mode button. Formats supported by the GO Bar Kensei include DSD256, PCM 384kHz and MQA Decoder. There are four digital filters onboard indluding ‘Bit-Perfect’, ‘GTO’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Minimum Phase’, as well as two analogue processing modes in ‘XBass+’ (for more accurate bass) and ‘XSpace’ (for a larger, more spacious sound field).

iFi’s GO Bar Kensei is available now via iFi’s website and select retailers priced at £449 GBP / €449 EUR / $449 USD.

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