Home Amp/DAC Comparisons iFi Go Bar Review + 7 DAC Shootout

iFi Go Bar Review + 7 DAC Shootout

Is the iFi Go Bar A Noticeable Improvement Over Other Cheaper Products?

by Stuart Charles Black
Published: Updated:
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Note: I’ve since added the Go Link to this comparison, but not retaking all these pictures because I don’t have the Go Bar anymore.

Big thank you to iFi for sending the Go Bar to review!

I am not being compensated for this particular review. I’m just giving my thoughts and impressions of the unit in question!

Greetings mate and Welcome aboard! Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear) all over again, so…

iFi Go Bar

Price: Check Amazon! | Check iFi!

In The Box

1x Go Bar Portable DAC/Amp/Preamp

1x Spec Sheet Card

1x Warranty Card

1x Carrying Case

1x USB-C to Lightning Cable (Apple)

1x USB-C to USB-C (Android/PC/Laptop)

1x USB-C (female) to Type-A Adapter (PC/Laptop

1x StickeriFi Go Bar Review


Instead of listing them all out, here are some images:

iFi Go Bar ReviewiFi Go Bar ReviewiFi Go Bar ReviewiFi Go Bar ReviewiFi Go Bar Review


Well, it’s that time again.

Time to review another DAC.


Hm, let’s see. I have… 7 here that I’ve been meaning to compare and thought I would give a rundown for those trying to decide which out of the sea of endless products is most worth a purchase.

The DACS we’re comparing today are all small, portable, and share similar weights, sizes, and dimensions.

They all fit comfortably in your pocket and/or the palm of your hand.

We’ll discuss some raw specs and get into the sound differences (if there are any) as well as the overall build, aesthetics, and functionality.

We’ll also look at the headphones I used and even look at some balanced comparisons as well.

By the end of this article, you should have a great idea about which is best for YOU.

So without further ado, let’s roll.

iFi Go Bar Review

To start with, let’s take a look at exactly which models we’re reviewing/comparing here.

The Go Bar will serve as the main review, comparing it to the rest.

DACS Compared: iFi Go Bar, iFi Go Link, iFi Go Blu, FiiO BTR3K, FiiO BTR5, DragonFly Red, Hidizs S9 Pro.


iFi Go Bar Review

  • Go Link: 11g
  • S9 Pro: 12g
  • DragonFly Red: 23g
  • BTR3K: 24g
  • Go Blu: 27g
  • Go Bar: 29g
  • BTR5: 44g

Firstly, all of these DACS are Amp/DAC combos, meaning they share a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) AND an amplifier.

All but one utilize a USB Type-C Connection, with the odd man out being the somewhat older AudioQuest DragonFly Red; a DAC that sports the Type-A connection traditionally seen in the standard flash drives of the past.

The BTR3K, BTR5, and Hidizs S9 Pro contain both 3.5mm (single-ended) and 2.5mm (balanced) jacks, while both of iFi’s offerings sport 3.5 and 4.4mm.

Both the Go Link and DragonFly Red are the odd men out here: each containing the standard 3.5mm.

Speaking of the 3.5mm jack,

all are DACS, Amps, and preamps, meaning you can connect any of them to some active speakers like the Presonus Eris e3.5 via RCA to 3.5mm.

The BTR3K, BTR5, and Go Blu can all handle Bluetooth duties, while the Go Link, S9 Pro, DragonFly Red, and Go Bar cannot.

Both the BTR3K and BTR5 have mic buttons but the Go Blue does not.

Onboard features

iFi Go Bar Review

2 of iFi’s offerings, the Go Blu and Go Bar, contain their XBass and XSpace features (basically bass boost and Soundstage enhancer) while the Go Link, S9 Pro, DragonFly Red, BTR3K, and BTR5 do not have any extras.

While the Go Link, DragonFly Red, and S9 Pro’s volume controls must be used from your laptop, the Go Blu has a volume dial whereas the Go Bar, BTR3K, and BTR5 opt for click buttons.

Power Output

As far as power output, I will list each out in the interest of being concise, ordered from least powerful to most:

  • BTR3K: Unbalanced – 25mW into 32 Ohm, 50mW into 16 Ohm. Balanced – 78mW into 32 Ohm, 40mW into 16 Ohm.
  • Go Link: ≥1.5V/70mW @ 32Ω; ≥2V/14mW @300Ω
  • BTR5: Unbalanced – 80mW into 32 Ohm, 90mW into 16 Ohm. Balanced – 240mW into 16 and 32 Ohm.
  • Hidizs S9 Pro: Roughly 100mW Unbalanced, 200mW Balanced.
  • DragonFly Red – 2.1V (roughly 135mW) Overall.
  • Go Blu: Unbalanced – 165mW @ 32 Ohm; 2.8V @600 Ohm. Balanced – 245mW @ 32 Ohm; 5.6V @ 600 Ohm.
  • Go Bar: Unbalanced – 300mW @32 Ohm; 3.8V @600 Ohm. Balanced – 475mW @32 Ohm; 7.2V @600 Ohm.

Output Impedance

  • Go Blu: Less than 1 Ohm.
  • Go Bar: Less than 1 Ohm.
  • Go Link: <0.4Ω
  • BTR3K: Less than 0.3 (Unbalanced) Less than 0.5 (Balanced)
  • BTR5: Less than 1 Ohm (Unbalanced). Less than 2 Ohm (Balanced).
  • AudioQuest DragonFly Red: Roughly 0.5 Ohm.
  • S9 Pro: Not specified.


  • BTR3K: 16-bit/48kHz
  • DragonFly Red: 24-bit/96kHz
  • Go Blu: 24-bit/96kHz
  • Go Bar: 32-Bit/384kHz
  • FiiO BTR5: 32-bit/384 kHz (DSD256)
  • S9 Pro: 32-bit/768kHz (DSD512)
  • Go Link: DSD256/11.3MHz, PCM 384kHz, MQA

Bluetooth Section (Supported Codecs)

All support Bluetooth 5.0

  • Go Blu: AAC, LDAC, LHDC, SBC, aptX, aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, aptX LL
  • BTR5: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX LL, aptX HD, and LDAC
  • BTR3K: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX LL, aptX HD, LDAC

Those are the specs I generally look at first, but if you want to take a look at all of them, I will place links here for you.

This is to say that I’m not too overly concerned with specs outside of Signal-To-Noise Ratio, Power Output, and Output Impedance, though Bit-Depth and Sample Rate certainly come in handy when determining which kinds of files can be played.


iFi Go Bar ReviewiFi Go Bar Review

Still, you’ll mostly notice that all 7 of these DACS sound roughly the same.

I’m not even sure I heard any of those “Subtle differences” that I harp on so much concerning the ESS chip (DragonFly Red, BTR5, Go Link, S9 Pro in this case), vs. the Burr Brown (Go Bar, Go Blu), and AKM (BTR3K).

In other words,

the more DACS I demo (74+ at this point), the more I’m starting to believe that there are almost no differences between them (at least not any that you can actually hear).

I also threw in the Gryphon, hip-dac 1, and hip-dac 2 for good measure, and again, not much in the way of differences.

I will say the hip-dac sounds a bit warmer than all of the others, but it’s still very subtle.

The way music sounds has everything to do with the source file, then the headphones.

The DAC is a very distant 3rd and may not even represent any real difference at all.

This is pretty easy to figure out when you consider that some tracks sound bad on any headphones you pair them with, and some tracks sound great on almost anything (save for those really bad headphones).

It all comes down to the engineer/producer and how they mixed and mastered the song.

For instance,

well-recorded, contemporary pop music often sounds excellent because it’s generally mixed and mastered extremely well.

Older Rock and some Jazz recordings can vary from sounding excellent to downright horrific.

Again, it just depends on the recording.


iFi Go Bar Review

Balanced is a weird conundrum because on one hand, it does provide more power out of each jack, but does it sound all that different?

I’m leaning towards yes, slightly, but a lot of it could have to do with the fact that it’s just louder.

In other words,

the majority of my impressions could be a placebo, or maybe not.

There is sound science behind the concept of balanced wiring and such, meaning it does reduce noise via reverse polarity which could account for why I perceive balanced to be ever so slightly more clean and crisp.

Your mileage may vary here.

In any event,

what I would go with here depends mainly on price and value.

Let’s take a look at each DAC’s price point and then compare it to the feature set using the good ‘ole traditional Pros and Cons metric.

iFi Go Bar Review

Left to right: BTR3K, BTR5, DF Red, S9 Pro, Go Blu, Go Bar.

Go Link

Roughly $60

iFi Go Link Review


  • Dirt cheap.
  • Super convenient and comes with a USB-C to lightning adapter.
  • Can be used as a preamp to active speakers.


  • Only has an unbalanced jack.
  • No onboard features.


It’s hard not to get excited about a product that costs a measly $60. I haven’t been recommending new DACS for quite some time, but this one is a great value and it’s priced correctly.


FiiO BTR3K Review

Roughly $70


  • Cheap and built well.
  • Can be used wirelessly (Bluetooth).
  • Has 3.5mm and 2.5mm jacks.
  • Can connect to active speakers.


  • Low Power Output; won’t work very well with more demanding headphones should you upgrade.
  • No onboard features.


I think the BTR3K can safely be retired from any best-of lists or DACS that I would recommend anymore.

At one time I was recommending this, but better (read: more powerful) products have since come out.

Speaking of more powerful.


Roughly $130

FiiO BTR3K vs. BTR5

Pictured right to left: BTR3K, BTR5, Go Blue, DragonFly Red.


  • Cheap and built well.
  • Can be used wirelessly (Bluetooth).
  • Has 3.5mm and 2.5mm jacks.
  • Contains an ESS chip (9218)
  • Can connect to active speakers.


  • No onboard features.

Besides no onboard features (which you may or may not care about) this is an excellent DAC at a sensible price point and I haven’t had any issues with it.


The BTR5 is a slam dunk for me – combining a great price point, plenty of power, Bluetooth, a solid body, and a balanced option into an almost perfect overall package.

AudioQuest DragonFly Red

Roughly $200


  • Perhaps the most convenient DAC ever assembled. Just plug it into your PC and away you go.
  • Can connect to active speakers.
  • Contains an ESS chip (9018).


  • No Bluetooth (may not be a con for some).
  • No balanced jack.
  • No onboard features.
  • A bit pricey nowadays.


The DragonFly Red was a long-time recommendation for me from about 2017 – 2022.

I think it can be safely retired mostly due to its lack of value vs. more versatile and sensibly priced products.

In fact,

I wouldn’t be surprised in the least bit if AudioQuest, in an effort to stay relevant, came out with a new DragonFly with Bluetooth capability and/or a balanced jack that provides more power and handles higher PCM/DSD.

The fact that the Cobalt was over $300 and is essentially the same thing as the Red makes all the hype surrounding it from over 2 years ago all the more asinine.

Plus they just dropped the price by around $100 (too little too late imo).

For years since the stupid Cobalt came out I’ve told people “Don’t buy it it’s way overpriced,” and now the proof is finally here. I wouldn’t even buy it at $200 either.

Do I still own my DragonFly Red?


Do I still listen to it?

Sometimes, mostly when comparing new products side by side, using it as just a DAC into a separate amp, or using it as a preamp into speakers.

Hidizs S9 Pro

Roughly $120

Hidizs S9 Pro Review


  • Contains the 9038 chip for a 1/3 of the price that the overrated/overpriced Cobalt goes for.
  • Can connect to active speakers.
  • Has 3.5mm and 2.5mm jacks.


  • Feels cheap, but seems to have held up well so far (fingers crossed).
  • No Bluetooth, but this may or may not matter to you.
  • No onboard features.


Doesn’t have Bluetooth, but this is another great product.


For the sole reason that it dumps on the Cobalt and since I can’t stand the stupid still overpriced Cobalt and all the stupid dumb face mc stupid hype men who hyped it, I’m ecstatic to tell people to buy it while flicking off AudioQuest at checkout.

iFi Go Blu

Roughly $200

iFi Go Blu Review

Pictured left to right: BTR5, Go Blu, DragonFly Red.


  • Portable and built well.
  • Bluetooth DAC.
  • XSpace and XBass features.
  • Can connect to active speakers.
  • Has 3.5mm and 4.4mm.


  • While the XSpace and XBass features are nice in theory, I found that XSpace did essentially nothing. XBass could be a nice feature depending on who you are.


The Go Blu is certainly a much better overall value than the DragonFly Red, but still overpriced when you consider the BTR5 is around $130 and does everything but provide onboard features.

For $70 more? I can do without it.

iFi Go Bar

Roughly $329 (Yikes)

iFi Go Bar Review


  • IEMatch, XBass, XSpace features.
  • 3.5mm and balanced 4.4mm options.
  • Can connect to active speakers.


  • No Bluetooth.
  • Way overpriced. Doesn’t sound any better than the others.
  • Text is hard to read on the interface.


I would never pay over $300 for this DAC and feel as though iFi is starting to inflate their prices a bit too much for my liking.

It started with the Zen skyrocketing to almost $200 (originally a fantastic value @ $130) and has since gotten worse.

There’s literally nothing about this DAC that justifies its price tag – in terms of sound or otherwise.

Closing Thoughts

iFi Go Bar Review

I think the Go Link is now the top dog followed by the BTR5 and then S9 Pro.

If you’re interested in the BTR15, click here.

The BTR5 hits all the marks and is priced very nicely to boot, but the Go Link is ridiculously cheap and just as good sound-wise.

The S9 Pro hovers around the same price as the BTR5 but doesn’t have Bluetooth.

I’d recommend the BTR5 for those who need Bluetooth, and the Go Link for those who don’t.

Sound is more or less the same across all of these.

The other DACS can safely be discarded and forgotten about as there will be a bunch more coming soon anyway. xD

Top Choice

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Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this iFi Go Bar Review, and came away with some valuable insight.

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

What do YOU think about the Go Bar and DACS in general? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,





Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

Photo Gallery

iFi Go Bar









  • IEMatch, XBass, XSpace features.
  • 3.5mm and balanced 4.4mm options.
  • Can connect to active speakers.


  • No Bluetooth.
  • Way overpriced. Doesn't sound any better than the others.
  • Text is hard to read on the interface.

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Seiz November 1, 2022 - 4:01 am

Very insightful review. Two thumbs up!

Stuart Charles Black November 1, 2022 - 2:05 pm

Hey Seiz!

Thanks a lot 🙂 Looking for a portable amp? Did I help you decide?

Anthony November 6, 2022 - 11:30 pm

Hi Stu

(Apologies for the somewhat long rant…)

I am currently using the ifi Go Bar and want to share some of my experiences with it . I agree that it is essentially a Go Blue with stronger amplification and using the same Cirrus Logic DAC, minus the Bluetooth features. I choose the GoBar over the Go Blue for a few reasons, first I cannot fathom the Go Blue playing nice with my HD800S with its power output, it will definitely be loud enough but might not sound good.

Second concern was the longevity of the battery that is built in to the GoBlu. I was a huge fan of ifi until I discovered that practically every mobile DAC, with the exception of the Diablo and GoBar, can only accept power from the battery. I was a former owner of a iDSD Micro Black a few years ago, to my dismay, once the battery has worn out, the darn thing would not power on even with the USB cable plugged in. I would have to send it back to ifi, pay labor, parts and shipping charges just to get it working again. There was no way you can tap in to the USB cable as power source.

With the GoBar, I can use my smart phone battery instead. Once my smartphone battery has worn out, I can easily get it replaced within an hour at a cost effective price at phone repair shop that is literally 10 minutes away from me; screw shipping charges and long repair times.

And the major point for me, I have no intentions of using Bluetooth, given it still has audio latency issues with video’s. I fully 100% agree with you that ifi is price gouging on its stuff, I would have passed on the GoBar and bought something else but given how AKM chips was scarce this year, this was the next best thing. At this point, I am practically sick of ESS Sabre being implemented in every gear and ifi seems to have a hard on for their incredibly outdated Burr Brown chips , Cirrus Logic was the closest thing that resembled AKM sound signature.

Stuart Charles Black November 7, 2022 - 6:25 pm

Really glad someone else is recognizing this iFi thing and it’s not just me. Paying $329 for a Go bar is like lighting money on fire IMO.

And yeah, I actually prefer ESS but it’s obvious a lot of companies are jumping on that bandwagon and it can be kind of irritating. Even so, I love what Hidizs has done with their S9 Pro. Basically made it 1/3 of the price of the stupid Cobalt while implementing the exact same 9038 chip. You love to see it. I can’t stand AudioQuest, to be honest. I recommended their DF Red for many years because I truly thought it was great, but it’s now just another overpriced dac in a long line of many.

And yeah, I’ve always wondered why iFi loves the Burr Brown so much when there really isn’t anything special about it. It’s not to say it sounds bad or anything, but you’d think they’d try something else. Hey, perhaps price gouging with outdated chips is working for them? I have no idea. What I do know is that the wank fest is probably just getting started with regard to amps and dacs.

So hold onto your hat, mate!

Konstantinos November 21, 2022 - 11:02 pm

Hi Stu,
Do you have an opinion on Fiio BTR7?
My main goal is to take full advantage of my Tidal subscription.
I was looking for the portable amp/Dacs and the ifi Go Bar as it supports MQA is one of the options but as you say it is expensive.
From the other hand your top rated (most valuable) BTR5 doesn’t have MQA.
Is it the BTR7 the solution I am searching?

Stuart Charles Black November 23, 2022 - 2:53 pm


I had a best friend back in the day named Konstantin! Def a unique uncommon name.

As for the BTR7, haven’t heard it yet. I may or may not demo it. But yeah, definitely don’t overpay for the Go Bar. It’s just not worth all that money. I had another gander at the BTR5 and it says it’s MQA compatible.

To be honest with you, I’m not sure I’d pay $200+ for the BTR7 but again, I haven’t demoed it yet.

Hope that helps. Let me know!



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