Home Amps/DACS iFi Go Link Review – Good Value Or Hard Pass?

iFi Go Link Review – Good Value Or Hard Pass?

by Stuart Charles Black
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Shoutout to Lawrance and iFi for their continued support since 2018! They offered to send me a loaner unit in exchange for an honest review.

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 Link

Price: Check Amazon! | Check B&H!

In The Box

iFi Go Link

Quick Start Card

Warranty Pamphlet

Type-C to lightning adapter

Specifications

  • Input: USB-C
  • Formats: DSD256/11.3MHz, PCM 384kHz, MQA
  • DAC: Bit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by ESS
  • Headphone: 3.5mm
  • Output Power: ≥1.5V/70mW @ 32Ω; ≥2V/14mW @300Ω
  • Output Impedance: <0.4Ω
  • SNR: ≥125dBA (2.05V)
  • DNR: ≥122dB(A) @ 0dBFS
  • THD+N: ≤0.004% (1.27V @ 32Ω)
  • Frequency Response: 10-80kHz (-0.5dB)
  • Power Consumption: No Signal ~0.2W/Max Signal ~1W
  • Dimensions: 135 x 12.6 x 7.6 mm (5.3″ x 0.5″ x 0.3″)
  • Cable Length: 60mm (2.8″)
  • Net Weight: 11g (0.4 Oz.)
  • Limited Warranty: 12 Months

Introduction

By now iFi needs no introduction but we’ll oblige anyway.

The Go Link is their latest addition to a long list of neverending DACS, but is this one actually worth a purchase?

Let’s dive in and find out.

Build

First off, the Go Link is small. Tiny even.

“Is it in yet?”

Yeah, it’s THAT small.

In any event, in the case of small portable dacs, this is actually a great thing. If we’re talking about the other thi… never mind.

The reason it’s great is because you can listen at your desktop or carry it on the go very easily.

In fact,

I was up and running in 2 seconds with the supplied USB-C to Lightning adapter + my iPhone 11.

People have been annoying me for months to review some dongles.

WELL, HERE YOU GO.

This is a Mcdongle and I’m loving it.

You can listen to music with it. Pretty neat, huh?

Just plug that bad boy into a USB slot on your PC and WHAM! You’re off to the races.

Like the DragonFly Red, there are no volume controls so be aware that you’ll be adjusting via your PC or phone.

If you want to play files above 48kHz in Tidal, you can. You’ll just have to enable exclusive mode.

Exclusive Mode

  1. Click on the 3 bars in the upper left corner inside Tidal.
  2. File > Settings > Streaming.
  3. Scroll down to where it says “Sound” and “Sound Output”.
  4. Click (More settings) to the right.
  5. Now just tick the button to exclusive mode and the formats will change according to the file.

Now the Halo light will turn accordingly for any master files inside the program.

Sound

It’s a DAC that provides clean juicy juice to your headphones via its ESS chip. Yay.

I’m on 44/100 with the HIFIMAN Edition XS and there’s more than plenty of headroom.

The XS does have a low impedance, but it also has a low Sensitivity rating and is not efficient at all.

Still,

the Go link is more than enough and I’m perfectly satisfied with it like a Snickers.

Remember: YOU’RE NOT YOU WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY.

Can the Go Link drive an HD600?

I also tried my Sennheiser HD600 and it’s excellent. I don’t have to go over 50/100 with either of these headphones, and you shouldn’t either.

In fact, right now I’m only at 34/100 with the HD600 and it’s comfortably loud but not outlandish. So get hyped.

And while we’re at it, the next time someone says a DAC is underpowered, I would take it with a gigantic grain of salt.

Because let me tell you something: after demoing over 60 Of them I can say to you vehemently, without a doubt, that it’s a bunch of nonsense.

This has been the case now for a few years and it always puzzles me.

Anyway, before we get off track and I go on a rant you’re not going to read, let’s continue talking about the Go Link.

Can the Go Link drive an AKG K701/K702?

That’s a bit of a “nod and shake my head at the same time” type of question.

In my opinion, yes. You will be just fine.

You may have less headroom than an HD600, but it still makes for an excellent pairing and as I’m listening with my K702 now, I’m completely satisfied and content.

Due to the 702’s lower Sensitivity rating (less efficient than an HD600), it will require more juice to get pumping.

So instead of 30-40/100, you may be on say 70-80 to get a comfortably loud sound.

That said, the 702 in my opinion still isn’t that hard to drive.

If you really think it’s going to be an issue, it won’t but check out my The Best Portable Headphone Amps & DACs anyway. xD

 

Overall Value

What’s not to love here?

It’s portable and cheap, it has a low output impedance, it uses an ESS chip, and did I mention it’s tiny and cute?

For around $60 you really can’t go wrong, and it looks like I’m going to have to shuffle around some recommendations in the portable dac article again because this is an excellent overall value.

As some of you may or may not know, I haven’t been recommending new dacs for quite some time now, but I did replace a few of my long-time recommendations with newer, cheaper products that are just as good.

An example is the Hidizs S9 pro which uses the same 9038 ESS chip found in the overpriced Cobalt.

I never recommended the Cobalt, but the S9 was replaced by the now also overpriced (but still good) DragonFly Red which I still own.

The Go link is another example of a product that’s ACTUALLY worth the money given everything we’ve discussed today.

Again, if you’re new to my blog and reading this, I recommend DACS based on value because of my extensive experience with them which has led to my utter disdain for them.

That said,

sometimes a product comes along that’s actually worth a purchase, and the Go Link is definitely that.

I’ve read about some people having issues with it, but I haven’t. If I do, I will update you.

There isn’t much more to say.

 

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

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

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.

Is the Go Link worth a purchase? I would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

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!

0.00
4.9

Build

4.6/5

Sound

5.0/5

Ease Of Use/Versatility

5.0/5

Overall Value

5.0/5

Pros

  • Super convenient and easy to use
  • Excellent price to performance/Great value
  • ESS Chip for cheap
  • Lightning Adapter included

Cons

  • None

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4 comments

Jako July 6, 2023 - 4:25 am

Hello,

Can this dongle drive correctly my AKG K701 or HD600 without issues?

If a dongle like that is so good for the price would you recommend to upgrade to Mojo 2 or save my money and take Go Link?

Thanks for all

Reply
Stuart Charles Black July 6, 2023 - 11:35 am

Hey Jako!

I talked about the HD600 in the article. Kindly go back and check it out. As for the K702, great question. I will add that one in as well. It’s a bit harder to drive, but still works great in my opinion. I have less headroom due to the 702’s inefficiency, so around 80 out of 100. You’ll be pushing them a bit more, but it’s still an excellent pairing, especially for the dirt-cheap price.

Some snobs are going to read this and scoff saying you need something with more headroom, and I get it. It’s just….. $60 lol. Let’s also make something clear: by no means is the price jump of the Mojo going to be worth it if you’re looking for some sort of non-existent “sound upgrade.” So please never buy an expensive dac thinking it’s going to magically be the cure to all of life’s problems. It won’t. And you’ll be disappointed.

That said, if you really feel as though you’ll be pushing the 702 a bit too much for your liking, I understand. In that case, go with something a bit more powerful. Here are all of my best current portable options. Even so, I’m listening to the 702 now with the Go link and I’m perfectly content. The 702 is a bit more demanding, yes. But the way people have described it over the years on forums and the like was completely overblown when I finally bought one and found it not very difficult to drive outside of its fairly inefficient profile/Sensitivity rating.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Cheers,

-Stu

Reply
Jako August 10, 2023 - 6:25 am

You are totally right.

That is why I read you first for everything that has to do with audio. You do not add snake oil to your reviews.

That is why I do not know if all those products are really so much different to our ears.

I have three cans all those years AKG K550, K701 and Senn HD600.

I have a long time to check for any new product as my budget is tight. I have an arcam rdac and the HEED CanAmp amplifier which drives my K701 very good.

But as I am out of space and tired of moving around with two devices connected all the time I was looking for something portable to have my listening.

So as I was reading my mind was confused from all these new dongles and dacs that run these days.

After that mojo 2 looks promising but too expensive. And then I was thinking if there is any dongle or something to drive my cans properly. Then I see Go Link and for its price and all that offers was very good.

My last question is if Go Link can be connected to my external amplifier CanAmp so as to be able to drive maybe the k701 if needs. If it could happened would be grateful! As I do not know if connecting Go Link as a dac and have my CanAmp as amplifier would have any issues as double amping, noise or something?

If can be connected with cables like this cable (3.5mm to 2 male rcs):
https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Basics-2-Male-Adapter-Speaker/dp/B01D5H8KO2/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Cable%2B3.5%2Bmm%2BJack%2FRCA&refinements=p_72%3A1248879011&rnid=1248877011&sr=8-1&th=1

Do you know if this can be achieved?

Thank you for all!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black August 15, 2023 - 7:02 pm

Jako,

Thank you so much for the comment!

Yes, the Go Link’s 3.5mm jack can also be used as an output, so as long as the HEED has RCA inputs or a 3.5mm line input, you should be good.

As mentioned in another reply to you, I wouldn’t rely on the Go Link long-term with something like a K701/702 as you’re nearing the max amount of headroom. I still listen and enjoy it, but I prefer ample headroom. With the HD600, it’s more than enough as I’m only on around 44/100. The HD600 is also super easy to drive in general.

So are you looking for a strictly portable option as well?

Cheers,

-Stu

Reply

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