iFi audio GO link


100+ Head-Fier
iFi Go Link Review
Pros: Musical and Organic Sound, Solid Metal Build, Great Pricing, Generous Accessoris
Cons: Lack of Resolution, Average Technicalities, Independent Volume Control (Nitpicking)
iFi GO LINK: The Only Link You Need?

Introduction: -

Today at Aural Cafe we are reviewing the iFi Go-Link Dongle DAC and Headphone Amplifier. This is our second interaction for reviewing iFi Audio Products. iFi Audio is a subsidiary of Abbingdon Music Research (AMR) which is one of the UK's largest manufacturers of high-end audio products such as Amplifiers, Active Buffer/Preamplifiers, DACs, and USB filters. Founded in 2000, AMR is based in London, United Kingdom. It is a subsidiary of the Abbingdon Global Group.

iFi Audio is one of the most respected brands in the audiophile world with hi-fi products across different prices and product categories with one aim- to improve music enjoyment. Founded in 2012 iFi oversee the design, development, and manufacture of more than 50 products from their headquarters in Southport, UK. iFi products and their packaging are made from recyclable materials, including Aluminium, Paper and Recycled plastics. They have entered the world of dongles with the iFi GO link, a simpler dongle with a 3.5mm output.

iFi Go-Link is competitively priced at US$ 59 only.


Specifications: -

  • Input: USB-C
  • Formats Supported: DSD256 / PCM32Bit-384kHz / MQA.
  • DAC Used: ESS ES9219MQ/Q
  • Headphone Outputs: 3.5mm S-Bal.
  • Power Output: 1.5V/70mW @ 32Ω; 2V/14mW @ 300Ω
  • SNR: <125dB(A) @ 0dBFS
  • DNR: <122dB(A)
  • THD + N: <0.004% (1.27V @ 32Ω)
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz - 80kHz (±0.5dB)
  • Power Consumption: <0.2W idle, 1W max
  • Dimensions: 135x12.6x7.6 mm, 11g
Disclaimer: -

The iFi audio Go-Link is a review unit that was sent to us directly by iFi Audio for free. This review reflects our unbiased opinion as always.

Packaging & Accessories: -

The iFi Go-Link comes in a small-sized box with the DAC/Amp and all the accessories. The unboxing experience is very simple. Taking out from the outer box, we have the manuals and quick guides. Along with we found the DAC/Amp in a paper assembly. The Type-C cable is non-removable. The package comes with a USB Type-C to Lightning male adopter, and it also contains a USB Type-C to Type-A male adopter. All come under the price tag of just US$ 59.



Build & Design: -

iFi Go-Link features a small-sized and compact build. The DAC features a full Magnesium Alloy enclosure for the reason the DAC/Amp feels very robust and premium in hands. The housing is made up of top-notch machining quality. The cable attached to it is also very sturdy and premium. However, we are getting two different types of adopters inside the package. Those are also very high quality in machining. We are getting a tiny but bright enough notification LED on the front side of the dongle, that changes color to Magenta, Green, Yellow, Cyan, and Blue according to the decoding formats. A permanent Hi-Res logo some might find offensive. But an independent volume control would be nice to have.


Sound Analysis: -

Since this is our second interaction for review and, we have used multiple iFi products before, we understand the house sound of iFi. They have maintained that here as well. As usual, it is another device with great sound quality. They have chosen the ESS ES9219MQ/Q DAC chip instead of Burr-Brown which we usually see in iFi products. But this time they tried to emulate the Burr-Brown sound in this tiny dongle, and they were quite successful in it. We have tried the Go Link with multiple sets of IEMs, which it doesn’t seem to have had any issue driving. However, we are not claiming that it could drive demanding Full-Sized Headphones also. The sound is thick, the mid-bass hits hard. The trebles are smooth yet do not lose much detail. It may not be the cleanest sounding dongle but it’s very musical and organic in tonality. The soundstage is decent and more open when we compare it to the other similar-priced dongles. The sound presentation is unique with a well-balanced warm and organic sound. The cable is made up of silver-plated copper conductors separately insulated with Polymer in a twisted pair configuration resulting in a clean and noise-free background. When it comes to pairing it will pair well with neutral IEMs

However, we would not mind if there were more amount of resolution present. We at Aural Cafe would like to add that the detail retrieval capability of the dongle is just average, and we would love to hear a more refined sound with better technicalities.


Conclusion: -

At Aural Café, we are impressed with the well-thought-out design idea of Go-Link. It is not just a dongle DAC/Amp but a high-quality piece of audio device at such a price. It is a lightweight and sturdy dongle with organic sound. We believe that it will hold its ground strongly in its super competitive product category. If you listen to your music casually and are starting to explore the hobby while at home and in the office through your mobile phones and laptops and want to elevate your audiophile game then Go-Link would be the right choice as it excels in achieving pitch-black background, smooth and enjoyable audio experience without breaking your bank. It also brings on board a decent amount of clean power for mostly IEMs. If anyone is willing to purchase, it is available for purchase globally and locally through the various websites (Non-Affiliated link is given below).
- https://www.headphonezone.in/products/ifi-audio-go-link
- https://www.amazon.com/iFi-link-Amplifier-Gold-plated-Hi-Resolution/dp/B0BN6MM822
iFi audio
iFi audio
Thanks for the thoughts and review here! Appreciated!



Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Smooth as butter, with enough power to drive full-size headphones or IEMs
Never gets more than a hair above room temperature........ever
Smallest Dongle in existence
GMT (Global Master Timing) femto-precision clock
TDK C0G (Class 1 ceramic) capacitors
All music formats played from MP3 to DSD256, PCM384 and DXD384
muRata control-type, low-ESR high-Q multi-layer capacitors
ESS Technology’s Sabre HiFi series – the ES9219MQ/Q

PCM to 32-bit/384kHz
DSD to 11.2MHz (DSD256)

Polymer cable insulation to reduce electromagnetic interference
Signature ifi tonality in a small form factor and for a budget price
Gorgeous sounding with both bright IEMs or warm IEMs
Cons: USB TypeC not removable
Full-size headphones get loud enough but don't have all the dampening power of some other Dongles
DSC_1766.jpegone two three .jpeg


GO link

This was the easiest review to write so far this year. I mean somehow everything just seemed to flow and come together to actualize this whole write up? Seriously I’m not sure why this was so easy…….accept you know when things go too smoothly you get a little paranoid that something is left out, or that there is a blaring mistake somewhere……..You even end-up double checking yourself to almost add to the work load, or subdue your feelings of “did I just do this whole review….that easy?” Yep, it’s kinda like that at times, when stuff just falls together.

Like when there are old friends in town, yet they didn’t tell you they were on their way over to your house. You know those last minute phone calls that make you rush into a panic.
What do we do now, at such a last minute notice? How will we even feed them? Wait, they're old, old friends and they will be happy with anything. Heck, we can even feed them bar-food and they will be ecstatic and all smiles. But wait, do we have any bar-food here? Then you look in the freezer, and low and behold you have a few bags of those nuggets. Beef, Chicken and another bag of Cheese something whatevers. Then you start to get inspired. This is going to be fun, easy going fun. Wait……..what else do we have on offer here? As it turns out we just bought 4 different styles of barbecue sauce? Wait this is totally working-out well, it all must be meant to be……..sure we are meant to have fun here. Then you find a few of those fast-food condiment packages and a case of beer. When they get here the beer will be ice-cold, the trays of this party food are actually going to show well. We will tell them we don’t eat like this every day, of course they know that. So we pop this stuff into the toaster oven (at least the first wave) and away we go to get dressed………..


The ifi GO link
Redcarmoose Labs April 7th, 2024

You see, fun doesn’t have to be too complicated. Fun can even be low cost. This whole gig…..this experience we are living through is about music, and old relationships we have. It’s also about knowing what steps to take, and knowing ourselves. Yet it is also about living in the moment…..this very moment.

Sure there has been an incredible legacy of Dongles. And in contrast to what you might think, the Dongle didn’t start with the Lighting connector in 2016. But in reality Dongles have been around since 1998. Still they didn’t hit the mainstream until the iPhone 7 eliminated the headphone jack. I mean for many this was the start of Dongle Madness only none-of-us knew it yet.

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You can make jokes, you can get mad, you can even not give a schiit. The past is gone and it is now what it is. There are Dongles in every shape and size, every price point and every flavor of features. You have a choice. But ifi thinks this ifi GO link offers a very special way to go.

Ifi have been around the block a few times. I have always seen ifi around, you know if you are browsing Head-Fi you really can’t miss them. Belonging to the group AMR (Abbingdon Music Research Group) one of the largest if not the largest audio manufacturer in the UK, ifi has made a notch here at Head-fi. Endlessly imaginative they have created one-of-a-kind products like the xDSD, the Nano iOne, the Nano iDSD Black Label, the ifi Blue and most recently the ifi iDSD Diablo II. Yet this style of GO link Dongle also has a sprinkle of their ideas as to tone. It is also purposely simplified and miniaturized to try and go face-to-face with the Apple Dongle. Sure there are differences and if you are reading this review there may be a good chance that you are curious if there will be a sound improvement from the Apple Dongle you are currently using.

Let me just say there is a difference, but as far as differences go it starts relatively little and just like rabbits crawling out from behind the trees in the woods, you start to totally realize just how different the two are.

I start off most reviews by not reading any other reviews about a product I am focused on. I simply don’t want any opinions to seep in between my ears and pollute my thinking, I have beers for that maneuver. What I do is simply pull whatever device I’m learning about out, and use it just like a regular Head-fi member would do. Also I won’t go hog wild as far as equipment goes, right off. I will start small with a product like this and work my way up. You see I’m curious to find out how the sound is with YouTube videos and $150.00 IEMs first. For one because that may be the exact usage scenario in use for some. Let’s face it, not everyone wants to be out of the house with $400.00 to $1000.00 rigs in their hands. Plus remember my story about the food for my unexpected guests? At times we are looking at functionality combined with sonic qualities. I mean, I never leave my house with my DAPs, they are just too big and bulky, no matter how good they sound, plus out and about at times I can’t even focus all the way on their sound quality.

Later in my testing trajectory I will start to gravitate towards more expensive headphones and IEMs as a way to find-out where the sonic limits are inside of a new device. Or if it is just the (better) IEMs, I will then walk my way up the ladder ending with a reference desk-top scenario. This is to grasp what the limits are and understand the scalability present………plus it’s fun. Yep, being surprised at what lower cost equipment does in relation to sound quality is something I am always curious about.

The very first thing I did was combine the GO link with my iPod Touch, playing regular YouTube videos. This is actually what I always use as a system, only because I’m lazy, and it is incredibly convenient. Where I get the YouTube videos off music review blogs that I’m reading, and (as many of you know) even 30 seconds of a new band playback material will go to somehow show what the whole album and even the whole band is about. Funny how that is. So I’m using this system because it is hand held, plus I can move around and do other stuff I’m doing…….call it ADD/Multi-tasking. Anyway here I have the GO link attached to the Lighting connector plugged into the Touch and have the Thieaudio 3.5mm cable that came with my Hype 2 product. The IEMs I am using is the TINHIFI “Mars” the T5S. Such an IEM is both warm and forgiving of any source. In use here the $129.99 T5S seems to work well, yet I’m on the ground floor of this skyscraper…….yep. I want to find out how I can improve matters. So I go and play the same song again, only I switched to the Noble Audio Encore K-10 universal…………I told you I’m curious here, but I also didn’t disclose that I’m of an impatient nature. Sure the details became unfolded and, sure there was a better experience from the iPod,YouTube, GO link combination. Yet I wanted to see where this would go………so I switched to the MacBook Air. Yep, same YouTube song, only now I’m using the MacBook Air as a digital source to the GO link to the Thieaudio cable, to the Noble Audio Encore K-10 universal. And you know what, there were way different results……….and I don’t have an answer as to why, but it was more clear, and a bigger stage. There was actual polish to the instruments and even a blacker background to view better pace occurring? I simply don’t know why. But then I got the idea to go ahead and play a different band in HiRez, and start with that band's YouTube video. So I played the video and listened, then using the MacBook Air I kicked into 192kHz playback using the software Colibri 2.0.2 (1362). And guess what? Now I was witnessing the full monty. Yep, now this singer-songwriter stuff opened-up to showcase beautiful guitars, forward nice vocals and overall a fully natural sound.

I have come to know the ifi sound recently and if I could I will try and describe it. My descriptions of the ifi tone may change a little from place to place in time, as truly I only started to get to know what sonics ifi was on-to in late February of 2024. So my first introduction was the $329.00 GO bar. And sure the GO bar is more, more of everything sound wise. Bigger stage, a deeper pond to look down into to visualize bass and pace embellishments. A more real midrange that creates denser more vivid vocals with added detail and reverberations……yep the full monty. But……but the three ifi products I have tried have all shown exactly that they were made by the same company. And that makes sense, doesn’t it. A company dials in a house sound, then figures out a way to parley it into a whole bunch of price-points and new products. The thing is the moment I put the ifi GO link to use, the first thing I noticed was this buttery smoothness……and that it reminded me instantly of the GO bar, and the GO blu.

Each device (all three) move forward to proclaim a detail that comes from resolution, not brightness, like some manufactures are into. So in practical use you can join the ifi products with wickedly dark signatures and still pull out details and immersion. This has happened when someone was asking me for advice to try the GO bar with an overly smooth and dark IEM. Normally we try to equalize that IEM by at least finding a mid-forward product to kind-of find synergy. But the ifi products seem to be designed to walk this very particular line, to where they are still smooth, yet hold this fantastic detail, even with darker IEMs somehow? The end results you ask? Musicality and relative neutral (whatever that means) with a warmer deep-end and a smooth non-glaring top-end. As such, this results in a passionate information dense midrange that hold imaging well into the stage up and down, right to left and front to back. Also it was noted that each and every product did share a slightly different sound stage. If I was to rate them……..it would be.


My list of sound quality best to worse, from left to right GO bar, GO blu and GO link.

GO bar $329.00
GO blu Type C USB $199.00
GO link $59.00
GO blu Bluetooth $199.00

So the GO link won out over the $199.00 GO blu in Bluetooth mode, but was bettered by the GO blu in wired mode.


IEM tests:
In this section I simply pull out IEMs I like and go to town. Here I’m using the MacBook Air, the GO link and Thieaudio cable in 3.5mm, plus Hires music.


The TINHIFI Mars T5S Universal IEM:
Here the song is full-on sounding groovy. He he, I sound like this was my very first review to be written. Can’t you come-up with a more sophisticated terminology for us………..OK. Deep, the sound is deep like? What? You need to go back to school and use better words here, you sound like a 5th grader. Ok, sorry……the sound is full. You see these expressions of the experience are singularly what a review is about, we are looking into a pond of imaginative sound………….and that water can be shallow, or it can take on dimension. The dimension is the essence of the experience because we are not affording full-size speakers…….no. This is all an illusion, and in fact the speakers are also an illusion, only often they are a more convincing illusion. Many try to figure out the ingredients for the illusion to start to take place………it is not always instantaneous. No, at times it takes your brain extra time to buy in……to buy in that this is supposed to be a reenactment of a live event, even though any trace of that live event was gone the moment the electro-magnetic energy hit the tape. That there is nothing left but to try and piece together a proximity of what used to be real.


Robert Miles

44.1 kHz - 16bit
So here’s the thing, this song Children totally works with the Mars T5S and GO link. There is a moody and even holistic tone to the combo, to where it has these faint reverberations, that if you know and understand this Robert Miles song, the reverberations are key. Try to imagine it for a second without the decay, without the effects. Different from acoustic instruments, electronic instruments need a body and a soul to give them life. Otherwise we are listening to a video game OST…….no not a new video game OST, one from 1983. The fact is that the T5S is not the most expensive IEM on the block, in fact it is only $129.99. But they named it “Mars” probably because it is supposed to be warm like the planet Mars? Yet also naming an IEM after a planet name connotes size. And sure enough it is the stage size with the ifi GO link that is providing my ears with (added to Mars) that kind-a fills out the imaging with this song. That it is in-fact more spacious than the Apple Dongle, and more real than the $199.00 Go blu in Bluetooth mode. Now the results of this imaging is that we can follow a synthesizer backing lead and it does its own thing. The listening imaginations find an area into the stage positioning, and place that track in the song……….and it never moves as long as the song progresses......itemized into the stage! The simple results of this are a spectacle, an imaginary space, that is not real, but is perceived to be real, therefore exists as real as anything. And this one element is my favorite part of the ifi sound, that there is a warmth that I can add to warm IEMs, and the results are not too warm or boring. In fact they are quite the opposite. For all the cost added up to gain this simple set-up, and for all the results obtained, I think we are not doing too shabby. The fact that I’m even writing this much (nonsense) shows that we have gone somewhere, away from the sterile Apple Dongle choice, away from the factory sound card implemented inside the Apple MacBook Air, too a slightly more cozy venue, a place to call home for long jaunts of time, and a place to call our very own.

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The Penon 10th Anniversary Universal IEM:
Oh, man……my favorite Penon to date. Really unless there was something upstream that was drastically wrong, like an out of phase amplifier or cable hook-ups……I would almost never aim to change a thing here with playback. This is one of the super powers that the 10th Anniversary brings to the table, it goes with every style of music and plays that style from any source. And when I wrote my 10th review the 10th was highly regarded as a $499.00 value, yet there were still more people to hop-on the party boat.

Yep……as time went on after my review the followers came and started to get a grip on just what style of tone was going down. Then it happened, actually it snow balled into the limelight with more folks spouting-off just like me, that the 10th ruled. And the rest is (as they say) HISTORY. 2BAs x 2DDs x 2ESTs……..and those ESTs aren’t just for looks. This is an IEM phenomenon, and still hasn’t been topped by the new Penon IEMs in my humble opinion. So because the 10th is such a lay down as far as easy going, do you think it is still good as a test subject today?

:) Well it is, because a good thing is always a good thing……….

Finding the bass a little more dramatic compared to the $300 more expensive Volt to follow on this page. But it is the mids and the treble that are so rewarding here. That I can listen to this all day long, and while it is not a audio microscope like the Noble K-10 Encore to follow in a few……….that is not what is attempted here…..no this is a musical instrument.

One that parlays the soul of the song, one that opens the door to imagination and intrigue. Are those words too big to use here? I don’t know, I wish you could hear what I’m hearing right now, and see the small tear flow out of my left eye socket.

OK, OK I know I’m too much, but even if you tone down this crazy emotion going on, the playback is dead-on gorgeous………just perfect. And the word perfect is almost never used, you can believe me or not, I don’t care. In audiophile circles they simply call this playback synergy…..for no better word known. And truly if you have a laptop and $499.00 + $59.00 you are in, you can tell me about your experiences later. Sure maybe it is not something magical, that is is something that can be explained, you know, like a dish of food where everything came together, not my bar food, but a real meal, where the ingredients were chosen and came together to create synergy, but I’m guessing, if you will allow me to guess, that is is in fact the bass that is full-scale and romantically creating a swagger to follow…………a bounce and groove……that’s all.


The Penon Volt Universal IEM:
Super easy to drive, where I find myself below 1/4 volume here.I mean sure if you want to blow-out your eardrums the reserves are there, where I took the Volts out of my ears just to kind-a hear just how loud they would get at full-volume. Now of course with the MDR-Z1R I could approach full-volume status…….and lucky such power reserves were there. Anyway………


Robert Miles

44.1 kHz - 16bit
What a beautiful way to spend the afternoon. I mean here we are rewarded with so many of the hallmark features of this number. Showcasing balance and careful tuning of both the Volt and GO link. I could see myself anywhere fascinated by this song. At 00:00 the faux thunder takes the intro…….yet right away the multi tracked synth bass and ambient introductions like the sound of rain, birds chirping, and all are washed in a moving Doppler effect. This was made in 1996 and can almost be guaranteed to be MIDI trigger controlled.

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“Four studies illustrate a new auditory illusion associated with the Doppler effect and demonstrate a new influence of dynamic intensity change on perceived pitch. Experiment 1 confirmed the existence of a popular belief that the pitch of a moving sound source rises as the source approaches. Because there is no corresponding rise in frequency, the authors refer to the perceived pitch rise as the Doppler illusion. Experiment 2 confirmed that the effect occurs perceptually, so the belief in a "naive principle" of physics has a perceptual basis. Experiment 3 confirmed the effect does not occur under matched static conditions. Experiment 4 showed that the influence of dynamic intensity change on perceived pitch occurs outside the realm of Doppler stimuli. The findings support a dynamic dimensional interaction of pitch and loudness, with marked differences in the perception of pitch and loudness under static and dynamic conditions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved)”

Doppler effect in physics is defined as the increase (or decrease) in the frequency of sound, light, or other waves as the source and observer move towards (or away from) each other. Waves emitted by a source traveling towards an observer get compressed.

They understand about 95% of what the Doppler is. But we can create in the studio and process most anything with this effect. Supposedly the Doppler effect even substantiates the Universe is expanding.

Back to the GO link and Dreamland:

Anyways……the song itself “Children” was the very first mainstream introduction of the EDM sub-genre of “Dream” as such this sub-genre was prevalent in the mid 1990s and was popular holding very specific traits which separated it from the other EDM at the time. Mainly these songs were dreamy or at least held that style of atmosphere. As heard the actual beat doesn’t arrive till 00:21 quite the intro for a total song length of 07:06………but that wasn’t enough intro at the time, having DJs often extend the intro for even up to 30 minutes…….making the music even more dreamy. What concerns us is the tone. At the very start of the keyboards we hear layers, this is because the MIDI channel was replicated and supplied the exact same note trigger to a few different instruments. As such the tracks were made by each synthesizer being given its very own mixing board channel and panned accordingly. In fact hearing this song in 1996 this technique was just as endearing as today. At 00:15 we are able to still become charmed by this, and reason being we are up-close and personal via the Volt replay. It can not be underestimated how the GO link goes along to provide correct and better than correct tone here. This is warm, there are reverberations and beyond that this bass note never really goes away…….meaning it’s not a note and a decay, but like an organ key press, it is on-going and sways in and out of oscillation. This effect of lingering bass notes may be part of the charm. Of course these details are secondary to the main piano theme which starts up at 00:43……..and will carry us almost all the way home. Yet just before that this simple previously mentioned bass sequence is only 3 notes, but that’s the magic of simplicity in music. And while these 3 notes will eventually leave us to be forgotten, or better yet distracted from……..we can’t help but find amusement here. That at the very end of 00:36 there is a faint but forward slight sample that holds a wonderful right-to-left reverberation.

And that’s the magic of Robert Miles that this stuff is a lot like using a faint brush-stroke in art to finalize a reflection. That it is the small stuff that is where the magic happens. And the GO link in all of its diminished form factor..............actually produces an adequate stage filled with images and fall-offs. Yet most importantly the GO link is focused on the ifi tone, just another example of finding a window to look through into your music.

While there is no such thing as the perfect IEM, the Penon Volt goes ahead to narrow any ideas of imperfection. Being very mid-range centric, the Volt goes forward with an easy to access tone, fully accessorized from the 4 Sonion EST drivers, 2 Sonion midrange BAs. As such the 10mm bass kicker supplies a careful and provocative rhythm to a song like this, and for the $799.00 price of admission, it should. In fact this Dreamland is a place I never want to leave………..this whole album is a treat and the very reason we are involved with this hobby.


The Noble Audio K10 Encore Universal IEM:
I should mention this now as somewhere someone wrote that the GO link gets warm, and it does nothing of the sort. I don’t care how many hours it is in service, it only rises just above room temperature. Either people writing such nonsense were powering it (wrong or) different, or simply making stuff up as they go along? Here the Encore in notorious for exploiting information inside the 6kHz to 8kHz region. And sure the Encore is old, but it is also unique to me and my most listened to IEM racking-up over 3000 hours of ear-time. Using the same song “Children” we are viewing excessive yet wonderful (almost hidden) examples of the music production art. The head-stage here is giant, almost like a halo of images. There are the same ambient effects from before, only now we are inside the fishbowl of them. And of hyper focus they swim into and out of view, holding extra levels of detail because we tweaked the treble and made the bass neutral, adding an almost flat midrange to kind-of open the drapes to this new musical experience.

I mean of the birds chirping here, we can now almost identify the name of the bird. Oh and the 00:36 sample, I’m about 80% sure it is also a bird sound, like a crow sound. Scary details here.

Yep, when that intro melody is played after the bass……..you know the piano theme which starts at 00:43, well that single sound pushed into focus, not to mention it is the loudest and most prominent musical factor now………but it is smooth and not strident or too hot, just on the border, but totally acceptable. And that my friends is the ifi tone in action, because I have heard this song played back in a few way since 2018 when I got these Encore IEMs………..and some are slightly too bright, or glaring or something…..but no, not here no, not ever. It simply sounds correct, and the most crazy part of todays testing is I often come to the Encore thinking that I’m going to have to deal with some off timbre, just because when you throw 10 BAs a side into activation, there should be at least a little…………but no, not here, not ever? Great timbre, and I have to wonder if that is from the ifi signature house sound tone?



Simple phone use:
So this photo shows again what the back of the GO link looks like, we will go over build in a few. But here with the size, I can almost figure a person placing the GO link sideways at the bottom of the back of the phone, to not have the band block the front screen. Yep, that is how creative you can be when the form factor is at this size. Though here is a demonstration of phone use and a comparative quality of the GO bar and GO link. Just remember from this description that the GO blu finds itself somewhere in-between the GO Bar and Go link two in wired mode, and the GO blu is the least of the sound quality when in Bluetooth.

Yet compared to a regular Apple Dongle, the results with this GO link are truly incredible. I mean sure, maybe this is going to be the main usage scenario for most? Where they will find themselves maybe outside or in a coffee shop and pull the GO link out and plug it into their phone with headphones or IEMs. What happens here is we review so much stuff, and we judge sonics on looks or price-point. This particular set-up, with the GO link, the phone and the TINHIFI Mars T5S IEM is nothing short of a miracle. Why? Well at times we forget that this set-up is in many ways just like a DAP. And in-use if this combo was all someone had, both for home or mobile……..they would be fine.


Hans Zimmer
Inception OST
Old Souls

44.1 - 16bit
I mean, really this was a surprise, and remember I’m combining a semi-neutral warm IEM, with a semi-neutral Dongle……….but none of that tone talk even matters at this stage in the review. I’m zoning-in on bigness and stage. I’m zoning-in on completeness and simply the top-to-bottom, the left-to-right and forward-and-back…….yep it is all here.

A Mars T5S morning listen:
I mean the crazy thing is this is also the first listen (of anything) for the day. But this sounds like my ears were just cleaned? The deepness, the naturalness, the fall-off to the way outside of the stage. And to be honest, my choice of IEM, the Mars, was somewhat random as I was simply trying to fill a price point here, and had no idea of the synergy I was about to walk into. This one instance is a crazy mile and a half from the Apple Dongle. And I have to stop myself…….because this style of replay gets my narrative fingers going to work, and I could ramble on and on for at least another paragraph, but you get the point, beautifully correct mixing a warm IEM with the ifi house sound……I am smitten here? So what about the GO bar?

The GO bar:
Really changing Dongles is that easy, as 123. I only pushed play after switching the set-up. Yet before I leave this section I want to say this style of playback has me question the TINHIFI naming of Mars for the T5S…….that they named it due to the warmth, or even named it due to the actual 3D imaging size of the playback constituents……the size of the notes and fact that they live in this total realm of front-to-back and side-to-side, right-to left? That combined with the deepness and physicality (and size) of the warm bass tones here, it is just so very good. Though (speaking of warmth) take note the GO bar gets warm and the GO link does not….almost not at all.


GO bar:
Here the notes have more air around them. Yes, the stage is larger, but in no way the results you would think by looking at the price differences here. Yes, stuff is slightly more forward and back. But due to both GOs having a field day parlaying the exact same sound signature, we are in the same location of town, yep much is the same. And the best part is that both are completely correct with these IEMs. The way you feel the physicality of the bass, the stage reach, the size of the avenue we are in…..10/10 in both usage scenarios here.

Though there is this funny thing about “Old Souls” where the instruments somehow breathe and can offer this phenomena when no sound (near) is playing and that zero sound is slightly holding more air with the GO bar.


Here we are placing this section and the end of the GO bar section for a reason. Yes, the bar has more oomph for full-size. Though if this review has inspired you to give the GO link a try (and I don’t see why not?) and you only use full-size 1/2 the time I can still recommend the GO link. What happens here is it is not about loudness. Maximizing the output on the GO link will get you (I'm guessing) plenty of volume, but there is dampening factor that more powerful amps do. As such this dampening will affect both the imaging and (especially) pace found due to low-end tightness. Where in my tests. With the TINHIFI Mars T5S there was none of that dampening needed so in that regard both devices performed the same. But with full-size........it really depends on how much this factor bugs you, and of course your budget. But NOOB’s actually tend to mentally not even notice this, they believe that since the Dongle powered a full-size headphone, well that it is simply the quality of the amp. In fact if you have never heard tight pace from your full-size headphones........you are not even looking for it and accept what you are given. This is (the NOOB) has never being exposed to correct pace and dampening with full-size transducers.

Because control over the diaphragm, and more power engulfing more finite diaphragm movements…………..the start and stop physical character will also allow for better transients to be accomplished. Due to transients being fully dependent on the reaction timing of the driver. As such transients are responsible for imaging. Yep, get faster control over the driver stop and start and find yourself engulfed in clearer imaging with tighter edges. So understanding this, helps a person become informed as to how the two products (GO bar and GO link) vary as to results, and the importance of power. The GO bar Maximum Output Level: 4.4 mm Balanced Headphone: 7.2 V (600-Ohm Load) 3.5 mm Headphone: 3.8 V (600-Ohm Load)The Go link delivers an output power of 70mW into 32 ohms and a maximum output voltage of 2.05V into 600 ohms.

Note the different File decoding from the GO link, GO bar and GO blu:
Go link below with MacBook Air with Colibri 2.0.2 Native Lossless Audio
Screen Shot 2024-04-05 at 9.18.30 AM.png

GO bar below MacBook Air with Colibri 2.0.2 Native Lossless Audio

Screen Shot 2024-04-01 at 2.51.11 PM.png

GO blu below MacBook Air with Colibri 2.0.2 Native Lossless Audio

Screen Shot 2024-04-01 at 2.43.45 PM.png

Go link build:
Normally it would be cause for concern having a non-replaceable cable like the GO link sports. And sure that would be convenient to be able to switch cables if something happened. It is just that the Go link is way smaller than you can imagine, and this size is one of our greatest features. A TypeC receiver built into the GO link would make the GO link an entirely larger size in width, maybe by a third?

So ifi decided (maybe) that this particular device had both audio quality and form factor as its main features.

In fact I normally just leave it connected to the IEMs I use it with, and the size allows the GO link to almost become part of the cable. While weighing only 10 grams, just the IEM cable often weighs more, plus like a section of cable, the GO bar has no buttons to push or sliders to slide, the very embodiment of simplicity. Being formed from 1 single piece of 100% aluminum, really the GO link is a piece of art. Simpler and smarter in design than the GO bar or GO blu, only because they didn’t have to pack so much stuff inside. This results in a more moisture proof and dust proof design…….simpler in the end.


What’s not so simple is how ifi figured out to use silver-plated copper conductors with individual polymer cable insulation to reduce electromagnetic interference picked up from nearby electrical sources.

The single LED changes color to indicate file formats.
  • PCM to 32-bit/384kHz
  • DSD to 11.2MHz (DSD256)
  • MQA
An LED changes color to indicate the incoming audio format – PCM, DSD or MQA – and the PCM/DSD sample rate.

1) Hi-Res True Native® playback of all music formats from MP3 to DSD256, PCM384 and DXD384.

2) GMT (Global Master Timing) femto-precision clock and intelligent memory buffer.

3) Discrete ESS Sabre Hyperstream DAC chipset with time domain jitter eliminator, discrete oscillator and 112dB dynamic range for discerning listeners.

4) iFi’s proprietary technology extends the Dynamic Range by 6 dB or more, for an improved listening experience.

5) iFi’s exclusive S-Balanced® circuit delivers maximum performance from single-ended and balanced headphones alike.

6) TDK C0G (Class 1 ceramic) capacitors offer high stability and low losses for resonant circuit applications.

7) muRata control-type, low-ESR high-Q multi-layer capacitors. The ‘ESR control’ aspect of the Murata is something special.

8) The very center of this sonic pixy dust happens at the core of the unit. Yep, the chip-set. ESS Technology’s Sabre HiFi series – the ES9219MQ/Q – benefiting from 32-bit HyperStream III architecture. As such added is the Quad DAC+ and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator technology with crystal oscillators in the clocking circuitry and DRE (Dynamic Range Enhancement). What comes out the Chip-set's other end is simply better THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) and the ES9219MQ/Q’s control of crosstalk.

Screen Shot 2024-04-07 at 8.16.43 AM.jpeg
Screen Shot 2024-04-07 at 8.16.46 AM.jpeg


DSC_1764.jpegone two.jpegthree.jpeg

DSC_1765.jpegone two.jpegthree.jpeg

The Head-Fi meet:
As such it is both the choice of chip-set and the chip-sets implementation along with the surrounding set-up, which brings about such advanced sonics described in this review. If you were at a Head-Fi meet-up and wanted to have some fun, blind-folding a friend then having him hear your new full-size DAP would end in smiles all around. Yep, just the look on his face after you removed the blind-fold to reveal this miniature device hooked up to your phone, yet using technology to leapfrog previously held attitudes of what a Dongle can do. I mean probably just due to the buttery smoothness and tone, but the ifi GO link jumps ahead of pretty much all my dongles. Maybe I’m a sucker for the ifi sound, maybe the ifi products are simply more my sound? After experiencing this review my only cause-for-concern would be if I saw someone judging the GO link purely on seeing the price, size and simplicity. You really need to hear this to believe it!!


DSC_1773.jpeg124 copy.jpeg

Well, there you have it, your own Solid-state Amplifier and Digital to Analogue Converter. On my humble kitchen scale it weighs all of 10 grams. I kinda at this point have to do a reality check. That we are in the year 2024, and devices like this are proliferating. Sure there are a lot to choose from, and I will be the very first to say, I’m no expert in the Dongle field. Yet I own a few devices and I know what I like, meaning I know what sound I like, and so far I’m coming to realize every Dongle does sound different. Yet all the ifi products have a total basic familiarity. In fact when I first opened the ifi GO link box and put it into service, right then a faint smile started to surface on my face. It was there because I knew (right at that first moment) that this little Dongle was related and had enough of that sonic pixie dust in it to sound like its brothers, the GO bar and GO blu. When doing these reviews I may sound like I’m exaggerating a lot, but that is just me, I love this style of micro-audio gear. But most importantly I realize during the whole review process that this single $59.00 purchase may be someone's most expensive audio purchase for six months. So with that honor bestowed upon me, I don’t take it lightly to simply bluff my way through a review, I am not joking here. This product is worth every cent as far as my viewpoint goes, it is well built, well designed and well accessorized for what it is. And truly I don’t see how anyone could end-up disappointed in any way from this purchase. You have my word.



I want to thank Lawrence at ifi for the GO link review sample.

These are one person's ideas and concepts, your results may vary.

Equipment Used:
Sony WM1A Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 3.5mm
Sony WM1Z Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 3.5mm
HiBy R3 II DAP in 4.4mm balanced and 3.1 TypeC USB digital output and 3.5mm analogue output
Samsung Phone 3.5mm analogue output, USB TypeC USB digital output
Apple MacBook Air USB TypeA digital output and 3.5mm analogue output
Apple iPod Touch Lighting digital output, and 3.5mm analogue output
Apple Dongle

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Yep, same YouTube song, only now I’m using the MacBook Air as a digital source to the GO link to the Thieaudio cable, to the Noble Audio Encore K-10 universal. And you know what, there were way different results……….and I don’t have an answer as to why, but it was more clear, and a bigger stage.

The USB C of laptop tends to output more current than the lightning port of ipod touch and iPhone. Some of my dongles refuse to work with iPhone, sound quieter, or simply sound a bit worse than from USB C. This might be the cause of your observation.
I realize that, and what’s wild is switching to the regular 44.1 kHz - 16 bit files from an old Samsung phone was miles better, as good to me as only a small percentage difference from even DAPs. So maybe it was the YouTube quality, probably the YouTube quality and Apple Touch power? But yes, USB power MacBook vs USB power from IPod. :)

Moris Renar

The smallest dac-amp from iFi
Pros: iFi house sound in a tiny dongle form.
Very small and Lightweight.
Big slamming bass is just fun to listen.
Wide Soundstage.
inclusion of an ios adapter.
Cons: Non-removable cable.
Unrefined Treble. Can be harsh and peaky sometimes.
Very weak technicals. Not very resolving.
Gets very hot.

Disclaimer: I purchased this with my own money. I have no affiliation with any vendor websites or iFi themselves.​

The iFi go link is the tiniest little dongle I've had in a while. It can be a great travel partner. If you don't like carrying heavier stuff or your bigger dongles with you. It is made with on-the "Go" use in mind mostly.

Packaging: iFi go link comes with everything to get you started. The Dongle, USB A to C adapter, and even a Lightning adapter surprisingly.

Build: Quite nice. The dongle body itself is constructed well. I like the deep green finish. The 3.5mm was tight out of the box but it got easier to plug in and out over time. The non-removable cable is a con.

Setting up: Plug n play with Android phones. With iPhones, the lightning adapter worked well albeit the adapter gets concerningly hot.
On Windows, no drivers are required by default but you can install them from iFi's website which allows a finer volume control (Also required for firmware updates).

Sound: The iFi Go Link has a very meaty/hefty sound without being too mushy or low res. The lows and the mids are pretty flavorful. So don't expect a neutral sound. It is a slight V shape in nature.

The bass is very slammy. It reaches deep. Bassheads will be satisfied. But the texture isn't great. There isn't much bass definition. It's kinda wooly and slow. With Iems and headphones that are already warm, it can make them borderline boomy. So you have to be mindful of the pairing.

The midrange is slightly pushed back. Still has good body and warmth. Both male and female vocals sound thick with enough weight to them.

Treble is a mixed bag. While it does have good extension, it isn't very well polished. The peaky nature comes through with busier tracks when listening through more resolving iems. It can get harsh oftentimes. Especially with brighter sounding iems.

Technicals: This is where it falls short big time. It gets a 5/10 in resolution and 4/10 in resolving capability. It just isn't any more revolving than an apple dongle. While being 5 times the price. Speed, LoD, dynamics, separation, and detail retrieval aren't that great. It is just average. One exception is the Soundstage. It is admirably wide for a dongle this size.

Conclusion: At 60$ it is decent for what it does. Small lightweight portable dongle that you can take anywhere with you. While i do like the tonality, This isn't a dongle i would use for a long period of time or for serious listening. If you're traveling and want convenience go for it. But if you are strictly looking for better sound, there are other options.

Firmware changes: I've seen a few people talking about how different firmwares sounded different. I can confirm there are in fact sound changes between different firmware versions. At the time of writing this, i tested it with 3 different versions: 1.66, 1.69 and 1.80.

1.66 Most airy, slightly less bass. More treble
1.69 Most bassy of all. Mids pushed further behind. darker treble.
1.80 Controlled bass, Mids aren't pushed back. Slightly less soundstage.

These are all that i could find. If there are more changes i'll make sure to post them.
Have any advice for better sounding DAC/AMPs in a similar category to this? Apple dongle doesn't have enough volume for my headphones.
Moris Renar
Moris Renar
@Robgo There's the Xduuo Link2Bal which i like a lot. It comes in a slightly higher price but has a removable cable.
My Go Link stopped working after 3 months. The cable was damaged internally even with careful use. So i no longer recommend fixed cable dongles.
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500+ Head-Fier
Simplistic Audio At A Decent Price
Pros: Plug-n-play
No fiddling with settings
Solid audio decoding
MQA Rendering
Strain relief to preserve cable
Half the price of USB Bluetooth dongles like the Qudelix5 or BTR5
Cons: Basic, so may not be for everyone
Power comes from your device, so battery time may suffer
"Apple People" who only want "Simple" may be willing to settle for a $10 Apple Dongle
iFi Audio iFi-Go Link Portable Earphone Dongle​

I’ve seen a million reviews about the specs and what the dongle can power, so I thought I’d record my EXPERIENCE with the iFi-Go Link both at home and prolonged travel.

But first, for those of you who just want to know if I consider it a worthy buy without caring about the “why”, then, “Yes”. I consider the iFi-Go Link to be a very worthwhile travel companion for people both commuting/traveling and those who just need a solid, semi-mid-Fi portable audio solution with an extremely reasonable footprint for the performance and features offered.

That said; I will now go into the “why”.

Almost a decade ago, I reviewed the iFi micro iDSD. And that portable DAC/Amp completely surpassed what I considered possible for a portable DAC and amplifier to be capable of near-desktop-class power output! The features offered (“3D”, “XBass”, “IEMatch”, “Polarity Match”, etc..) were completely beyond anything that I had ever auditioned. So needless to say, I ran right out and immediately bought one that day.

This spring, iFi approached me to review the iFi-Go Link, which I wasn’t expecting to be surprised by after using their new xDSD Gryphon. So a new headphone “DONGLE” initially left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. However, once I started to put iFi’s Go Link through its paces, I realized that I had once again sold one of their new offerings woefully-short.

First – Let me say that I was WRONG about not liking the attached cable. It’s a TRAVEL COMPONENT. I don’t know where ANY of the “original” cables that came with my other dongles are anymore. They get lost in bags, behind monitors, in jacket pockets, etc… Having the cable attached means that it’s ALWAYS THERE, and no last-minute scurrying around to find that darn missing cable!

Simply put, the iFi-Go not only enables you to listen to your music easily, but augments the convenience by providing you with the ability to listen to your music with better than “standard” fidelity as well. Yes, I have other audio sources and even a tiny portable BTR-5 from Fiio that I use regularly. But none of them drive my standard wired earphones on the road/in the air as simply as the iFi-Go Link is able to. Just plug it in, and it works – No menus, buttons, switches… Just plug and listen.

The iFi-Go Link provides mobile audio “transparently”, (It draws power from your phone/mobile device, so no battery weight.) But the best feature to me personally, is the Go Link’s single-ended (3.5mm TRS) output quality.

Traveling with your phone is great and relatively “transparent” since most people now carry their phones with them 24/7. But if you want to step-up your audio experience beyond “low bit-rate” music streaming services and MP3, then getting better audio into your hi-res capable headphones than the typical smartphone can muster is a great way to do so. Enter the iFi Go-Link.

Now, while I still LOVE my micro iDSD, calling it “portable” is a bit of a stretch. (It's better described as "travel sized".) It DOES operate on battery power, but its long, metal chassis stays in my laptop bag on the plane as there usually isn’t room for it anywhere else, and it certainly doesn’t fit in a pocket unless I’m bundled up in a coat. Even the xCAN is about half the length of my micro iDSD, and noticeably thinner as well. The iFi-Go Link blows them both out of the water for portability though!


Old "Micro" unit pulled direct from the audio rack in my office... Not THAT "Micro", is it?

Size Comparisons: “Invisible” to “Phone sized”, to “SMALL Desktop Class”

MANY thanks to Lawrance and all the amazing people over at iFi for making this review unit available to me! I had the opportunity to evaluate "real life" usage of the iFi-Go Link on both short and long flights, (5 hours in the air as well as airport time.) cab rides, and shuttle commutes. In EVERY way, the iFi Go Link performed like a champ. Plenty of power for iems and Bose Quiet Comfort 25 headphones (Wired connection), and great ease of use!


The Go Link sports a matte, anodized finish with gold finish at the audio jack. The controls are also fairly straight-forward – NONE! The Go Link, initially lights the MQA LED up in the color of the selected mode. The modes being: (GREEN light) “PCM” mode, [44.1/48/88.2/96kHz], (CYAN light) “DSD 64/128” mode, (YELLOW light) “PCM” mode [176.4/192/352.8/384kHz], (MAGENTA light) “MQA Renderer” mode, and (BLUE light) “DSD256” mode.

The iFi-GO Link ships with Go Link dongle unit itself with an attached Type-C connector, USB Type-C to Lightning adapter, & USB Type-C to Type-A adapter.

The iFi-GO Link powers vast majority of low to medium power headphones I own via my available Android devices (One Plus 8, Lenovo A12, & Samsung Galaxy S22), Macbook Pro M1 16”, Windows 11 Dell i5 Laptop, & Intel I9 PC. iFi cites power output of 70mW into 32 ohms, and a maximum voltage output of 2.05V into 600 ohms.

Neutral - So far as I can tell, the Go Link brings nothing to the sound. It just decodes it and then makes it louder. Odd as it sounds, I like this. When I’m comparing headphones, the last thing I want to have to do is to try and “compensate” for my source. Near as I can tell, the source is what you hear. No “Presence”, “3D+”, or “XBass II+” to play with in order to sculpt-in your preferences concerning soundstage, airiness, and “thump”. You just kick back and listen to your songs the way that they were recorded.

Sound Comparisons
I tested the Go Link’s single-ended input, and I heard nothing but extremely clean sound.

1) ZEN Desktop Stack: Samsung Galaxy S22 - TIDAL streaming service (“MASTER” quality)

2) xDSD Gryphon: Samsung Galaxy S22 - TIDAL streaming service (“MASTER” quality)

3) iFi Go Link: Samsung Galaxy S22 - TIDAL streaming service (“MASTER” quality)

1: Zen Stack is the least portable but offers the best sound experience overall. Not TOO much difference between Zen & Gryphon to be honest, but fuller and punchier bass (Without XBASS CUSTOMIZATIONS!), Slightly tamer highs, and lusher mids. Relative to the Go Link, this is music wrapped in velvet

2: xDSD Gryphon is the middle-ground for portability. You can place against the back of your phone, and just let the two sit on your airline tray, between your knees, or sit in a pocket if you’re wearing a jacket. Again, without XBASS or XSPACE, just the flat audio out of the Gryphon is slightly warmer, fuller, and certainly gets LOUDER. But at same listening volumes, while not a “night and day” difference, there IS just a bit more “warmth” to the sound of any genre, and spoken audio is slightly less crisp. Not an issue unless your speaker has a distinctly sibilant quality to their voice.

3: Go Link is my image of just south of dead-neutral. There is a little rawness that can be mistaken for extra resolution, but I’m not sold on that. I just get the impression of an unrefined/raw signal getting tamed, but nothing ADDED short of a slight warming to tone down what some might find to sterile a sound. It’s just “there”. Not thin, not full, not overly-processed, just audio with no bells or whistles.

Sennheiser CX300 II, Koss Porta Pros, UE Super.Fi 3s, Tin Audio T3
Mid Range: Kanas Pro, BGVP DMGs, One More Quad drivers
Higher end: Mangird Tea, 7Hz Timeless, and Etymotic ER4XRs/ER4SRs

Samsung Galaxy -> USB-C to iFi Go Link -> 3.5 unbalanced cable to Mangird Tea (for mobile/on the go) and 7Hz Timeless in a relatively quiet hotel room/office.


Reward: Hotel Room Relaxation Time!!
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Mr BubbaHyde
Mr BubbaHyde
Thank you. very much for taking the time to make this review! A very enjoyable read, and as an owner of the GO Link I wholeheartedly agree with what you have posted!


P.S. Link for those who want to get hands-on!



New Head-Fier
Pros: - Quality construction
- Very lightweight
- Extremely portable
- Price/performance
- No background hiss
- Great sound quality
- Good for IEMs easy to drive
- Supports all type of files
- MQA renderer
- S-Balanced technology
- Adapters included
- Alternative for the lack of 3.5mm output
- Good for casual listeners
Cons: - Not very powerful (for demanding earphones)
- "Hi-Res" sticker on the front
- Strange strain relief (rigid)
- No Gain or volume buttons
- Some competitors in this price range





>>I am brazilian and I speak portuguese, so forgive my english, I’ll use translator tools to help<<


iFi Audio entering in the world of more accessible dongles with the iFi GO link. The company has always been famous for its DACs and desktop amplifiers, and now it’s going strong to the portability area. First, iFi launched the iFi GO bar, the brand’s top-of-the-line dongle with 3.5mm and 4.4mm outputs, and then came the GO link, a simpler dongle with a 3.5mm output.

Remembering that now iFi has an official store on AliExpress, so it was much easier for us to purchase the company’s products.

Previous reviews: ZEN Air DAC

Official price: $59 USD
Colors: Black

iFi Audio store:





– DAC Chip: ESS ES9219MQ/Q
– Inputs: USB-C
– Outputs: 3.5mm S-Bal
– Frequency response: 10-80kHz(-0.5dB)
– Output power ≥1.5V/70mW @ 32Ω; 2V/14mW @ 300Ω
– THD+N: ≤0.004% (1.27V @ 32Ω)
– DNR: ≥122dB(A) @ 0dBFS
– SNR: ≥125dBA (2.05V)
– Output Impedance: <0.4Ω
– Suports: PCM up to 32-Bit/384kHz; Full Native DSD256; MQA
– OS compatible: Android, iOS, Windows, Apple Mac
– LED: Magenta, Green, Yellow, Cyan, Blue
– Adapters included: USB-C>USB-A, USB-C>Lightning
– Power consumption: No Signal ~0.2W, Max Signal ~1W
– Size: 135 x 12.6 x 7.6 mm (5.3″ x 0.5″ x 0.3”)
– Cable length: 60mm (2.8″)
– Body material: Magnesium alloy
– Net weight: 11g (0.4oz)


– AUNE Jasper
– Shozy Form 1.1
– Questyle M15
– MotoZ3Play
– Dell Inspiron (W10)











Let’s start by talking about my impressions with the GO link in hands. First, to point out that the product only has a 3.5mm output, so this is a simpler dongle, which aims at greater portability (the smaller it is, the more portable it is). The product is extremely light and compact, ideal for solving the lack of headphone output on these latest smartphones. The GO link is the company’s entry level dongle, so they adopted a design that is common to see in this type of product, one part is the USB type C input and the other the 3.5mm output, the two parts are connected by a cable – in the case of the GO link, the cable is fixed (not removable). The dongle is made of metal (magnesium alloy), the surface is very smooth and has no sharp edges.

The dongle is very well built and offers good durability of the materials, the aesthetics are also interesting, but here I open two observations, the first is that – as you can see in the photos – the dongle came with a “Hi-Res” sticker pasted right on the top… could be at least on the bottom of the dongle. And the other is that the strain relief are very different from the usual ones, because they are rigid, normally this part has to be more flexible. In fact, these details haven’t changed anything in the usability of the product, but this may be modified for a next version of the dongle.

The GO link has a RGB LED on the top surface of the product that indicates which sampling rate is being reproduced. The color scheme is: Green (PCM 44.1/48/88.2/96kHz), Yellow (PCM 176.4/192/352.8/384kHz), Cyan (DSD 64/128), Blue (DSD 256), Magenta (MQA renderer V1). If the product is connected but not playing any files, the LED will turn green. The product is very complete in terms of file reproduction, I think it’s always good when the company offers as many features as possible. As you know, I only use 16bit/44.1kHz FLAC files (with VLC Player) and some common streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, YouTube, etc.

S-Balanced connection. iFi has a proprietary technology called S-Balanced that makes the 3.5mm single ended output have the features of a balanced output, which implies less distortion and less crosstalk (channel invasion) in the sound. It’s a normal output, you can connect your 3.5mm (P2) earphones that will work (TRS or TRRS). A more technical explanation of iFi’s S-Balanced system can be found at this link.

Battery consumption. Using the AUNE Jasper, the battery consumption was 9%. The smartphone I used has a 3.000mAh battery. The test was performed during 1 hour of playback with the screen off and WiFi off (airplane mode). The volume was set to level 12 out of the 15 available by Android. Remember that this is a simple test just to get a basis, they aren’t extremely accurate numbers. In my view, the battery consumption was Ok, within normal range.

Heating. During the time that I evaluated the battery consumption, I also evaluated the temperature on the surface of the product to know if it was heating up excessively. So, after 1 hour of use, I found that the body of the dongle was slightly warmed up, but nothing unusual, I think it doesn’t make any significant difference to the point that someone would be bothered.

Firmware Update. After the product launch, iFi released some firmware updates for the GO link. At the time of writing this review, there are already 3 files available for download – version 1.66, 1.69, and 1.80. The firmware update program indicated that my unit’s current version was 1.69, so I updated to version 1.80. Here everything went smoothly, making this update was something very simple and has a tutorial available along with the update files. Even if you aren’t a tech-savvy person, you can do this upgrade. You can find the files to do the firmware update here at this link: https://ifi-audio.com/support/download-hub/

The GO link was immediately recognized as soon as I connected the dongle to my notebook (Plug&Play), that is, I didn’t need to install any drivers for it to be recognized (Windows10). Maybe for you to update the firmware of some iFi product, then you probably need to install the company’s drivers. I installed the driver when I evaluated the iFi ZEN Air DAC, and now with GO link I updated the driver again.

Accessories. Of included accessories, the GO link comes with two adapters, one USB-C to USB-A, and another USB-C to Lightning (Apple). I think it was a positive point that iFi put both types of adapters, so it can contemplate the most common connections. The only thing is that iPhone users will have to use this Lightning adapter, and in my opinion, isn’t much interesting this adapter in the smartphone port, keeps a very extensive part in the Lightning port. In addition to the adapters, the product comes a sticker with the iFi logo.

Of those dongles with only one 3.5mm output – the ones I’ve tested – the iFi GO link has a strong competitor which is the Whizzer DA1. Unfortunately I don’t have the DA1 here anymore to make a side-by-side comparison, my comment is only because of the price and the type of dongle (fixed cable), I remember that the DA1 cost less than $59 dollars and had a volume control directly on the device, so the dispute is very fierce. But of course it’s not up to me to establish values for each product, obviously I live in Brazil and this observation is based on what I experience in the consumer market in my country, here the vast majority of people looking for entry dongles will want to pay always the smallest value. And this paragraph is just about the physical aspects, because as far as I remember, in terms of sound, the iFi GO link manages to be superior to the DA1 (in my opinion).




It must be remembered that this analysis is subjective, based on my experience with the product and also on the synergy with the other equipment I used here. I also already inform you that the more objectivist part of the hobby is not really my beach, so it may be that some information can be limited, I don’t have much knowledge about the technical side of this type of product.

What to say about the audio quality of the iFi GO link? Well, the same as the usual, this is another equipment with great sound quality, it has the iFi Audio quality standard. It’s interesting how such a small product manages to give so much transparency, definition, detail, and sound clarity level, which if not equal, very close to that of other larger and more expensive equipments. During the time I was testing the iFi GO link, I didn’t notice any noise, distortion, strange sound, background hiss, or coloration in the audio. For me, the GO link was faithful to the sound proposed by the recordings. The level of audio equipments today is at a very high level, it’s difficult to find something of inferior quality, because there has been a search for improvement in audio reproduction over the years.

iFi made a modification in the implementation of the DAC (chip) in the GO link, this time they chose not to use the usual Burr-Brown DAC, and put the ESS DAC, model ES9219MQ/Q. In practice, I didn’t notice significant change to say that one DAC is better than the other, both are good, I tested the Burr-Brown on the iFi ZEN Air DAC, and so, we know that the DAC chip is just a part of a whole inside the circuit, the other internal components certainly count much more for the difference in sound than simply the DAC chip (in my opinion). The amplification part, for example, I think it counts a lot more for the differences in the sound between the equipments.

Amplification. This is perhaps the only point of the product that could be criticized, although it wouldn’t be a “criticism” to detract from the product, it’s just an observation that this dongle isn’t an equipment that has huge amplification power, and also it doesn’t have any gain boost feature to be activated. But it’s that thing, the product was intended for a target audience that isn’t necessarily the audiophile community, but for people who are more connected to music in a casual way, iFi itself brings what I said publicly here in this file, so we will hardly find a normal person using a planar magnetic or another earphone that is more difficult to push.

I chose the Shozy Form 1.1 – which is an easy to play IEM – and the AUNE Jasper – which is also easy to play but scales well with more amplification – to do these amplification and volume tests. With the Shozy it went smoothly, the IEM played well, as it doesn’t require a lot of amplification to play properly, so the GO link is a more than ideal dongle for this type of IEM that is easy to play. Now with Jasper, the GO link was able to play, but with a little more difficulty, so much so that I had to increase the volume more for it to reach a satisfactory sound. Regarding the volume levels on each earphone, Shozy ran at 60% on the computer and 9 out of 15 levels on the Android volume scale. Aune Jasper ran with 70-73% volume on the computer and 11 of the 15 levels available on Android. I was able to set the Jasper at maximum volume and the sound didn’t show clipping (distortion), but I did this just to test, I would never listen to music at maximum volume with this dongle, becuase is too loud. Remembering that I don’t have the habit of listening to music at a high volume, I’m more at a medium to low level in terms of “volume”.

As you all know, this is a website exclusively for IEMs, that is, I didn’t do any tests with GO link and headphones, I apologize if anyone would like me to have tested them with this type of earphones. In addition to the IEMs used in the evaluation, I also tested the GO link with other IEMs that I have here at the moment and I can say that the dongle can cover most of the in-ears available on the market. I believe that with headphones that aren’t very demanding, the GO link can also do the job (but that’s my guess, I didn’t do any tests to confirm that statement).

Comparison with the Questyle M15. I imagine that you must be thinking: “it’s not fair to compare a much more expensive product with a more audiophile purpose”, and yes, you are right. The question here is because I don’t have any other dongles of the GO link class to make a side-by-side comparison, I’ve only been using the M15 as my daily equipment, so this is the reference I have here to be able to make a comparative with other equipment.

So, comparing the GO link and the Questyle M15 – both at 3.5mm output – in terms of amplification, the GO link takes a good beating… with the Jasper and the M15 at 45% the sound was already pretty good for me, and already the same IEM and the GO link at 45% the sound is very low, without intensity, shy and discreet sound, without strength. Note that I ran the M15 in “low gain”, that is, with the gain turned off. To reach an equivalent sound I had to turn the GO link to 70% of volume, then the sound really came to life, the sound of the GO link was even warmer than that of the M15. Now, the M15 featured more airy and detailing than the GO link. Yeah, it’s really not very interesting to compare the GO link with the Questyle M15 because the M15 is on a higher level, they are different categories… maybe the right thing would be to compare the M15 with the iFi GO bar (perhaps in the future).

I finish my experiences here with the iFi GO link leaving a message for those people who are looking for an entry level dongle: When I got into the hobby there were no dongles with the quality that this iFi GO link has, I went up in quality in the products according to the advancement of technology… Today it’s already possible to find products like the iFi GO link, so, in my humble opinion, I think it’s better to make a little more investment and go straight to a dongle like this than to spend money every day with these Avani, Abigail, and CX31993 of life (in my understanding).


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100+ Head-Fier
The iFi flavour for less than 60€
Pros: Price & sound
Cons: USB-C connector is large and may cause issues with tablet & phone covers

TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - iFi Audio Go Link

The iFi Go Link has been sent to me by iFi directly for me to try it out and share my opinions in this review. iFi have not made any requests or comments and I will, as always, do my best to be as impartial and honest as possible.

The official page for the Go Link can be found here: https://ifi-audio.com/products/go-link/

(As with all links that I share, this is a non-affiliate link).

To avoid being repetetive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews



A while back I had the chance to review the iFi Go Bar, a (not so) little dongle by the brand that is a great device but comes at a premium price point. I had nothing but praise for the Go Bar but I concluded by saying that the price was just too high for my personal budget for a dongle device (especially as I already have the iFi Gryphon as my main “trans”portable listening device).

But recently iFi have been releasing some very interesting things at the other end of the budget scale, such as the iFi UNO, providing some very good musical performance at very reasonable price points. Now it is the turn of their latest dongle, the Go Link, which is priced at 59€ and is obviously an option that will be much easier on the pockets for many more people.

I am not going to compare the Go Link with the Go Bar, on one hand because they are at completely different price points and on the other, because I don’t have the Go Bar on hand to do a direct comparison.

One final thing before getting into the review. I am using firmware v1.80, so some things may differ on other versions of firmware.

Now, let’s get on with the review of the Go Link…



In a small and simple box, following the usual “no frills but well packed” style of iFi, we receive the Go Link along with a USB-C to USB-A adaptor, a Lightning to USB-C adaptor, a simple user start guide, some more documentation (warranty related) and an iFi sticker.

This is actually far more than is usually included with the purchase of a simple dongle dac, so congrats to iFi for including this at a price point that is not the cheapest on the market but is still lower than much of the competition that include nothing.


Build and aesthetics…

The Go Link is not going to win any prizes for its build quality and aesthetics, however, it is far from being poor. The dongle itself is an elongated rectangle with just a slight curve to the top part, stopping it from being a simple little box but only just.

On the top of the dongle there is a single LED which changes colour to show the format of the track being played. At one end of the device we have a single 3.5mm unbalanced headphone output, and at the other end we have a fixed cable that runs to the USB-C connector. While it would have been great to see a detachable cable, I understand that costs need to be kept down so I am not going to complain about it.

However, I will say that my two gripes are that the USB-C connector is overly large and square (making it a difficult fit with some phone/tablet covers) and that the plastic (or hard rubber) glands that serve as stress relief for the cable are not the most elegant of solutions. The second of these is a comment, not really a complaint, but the oversized USB-C connector may prove to be an issue for some people. The connector also does not match the style of either of the included adaptors, which doesn’t hinder functionality but does look a little strange. In my opinion, I would have preferred a USB connector that matches the format of the Lightning adapter, but again, not really a major complaint.



There really isn’t much to explain here, you plug the USB into your device (with or without an included adapter) and your headphones into the 3.5mm, e voilá.

The only issue I have experienced with the Go Link is something that I also experienced with the Questyle M15. When using the dongle connected to a PC and using Tidal in exclusive mode, a track change will sometimes change the volume level to full. This is on a Windows 10 PC and happens sporadically on multiple laptops I use (I can’t say if this happens on other machines/OS).

As the Go Link is a very simple device, without any of the typical iFi boosts or any controls, I don’t think there is really anything else to say under functionality other than it works.



When I first started listening to iFi products, I discovered that iFi “house sound” that is spoken about so much, where things just have that smooth and slightly warm touch to them, without becoming boring or seeming to lose any details. The main consensus was that the “house sound” was due to the fact that iFi uses Burr Brown chips in their design. There was nothing, at the time, to lead me to think any different.

However, over the past year or so, we have seen multiple other choices as far as DAC chips used in iFi products and they have somehow managed to keep that “house sound” that I have come to expect from them. The last product I tried from them was the UNO, which uses an ESS Sabre DAC chip and, once again, they managed to retain that iFi flavour. The Go Link again opts for an ESS Sabre chip and guess what… they managed to once again give it that iFi flavour. This proves more and more that, while the DACchip is important, the integration and design of the device is what gives us that final sound.

I am not saying that the Go Link sounds identical to other iFi devices, moving from the Go Link to the Gryphon or the Go Blu does certainly show differences, but it is certainly identifiable as an iFi sound.

I have been trying the Go Link with multiple sets of headphones and IEMs, which it doesn’t seem to have had any issue driving, and while I feel it does leave something to be desired when trying to power some of my Hifiman planars, I have to say that I have really enjoyed it with almost anything I have tried.

It is not the most powerful of dongles but I did find that it drives things like the HD6XX to levels above what I would need in terms of decibels. I wouldn’t pick the Go Link personally to power the HD6XX as I have grown to like these headphones via a tube amp, but it is certainly not a combination that I tried and thought “wow, these sound bad”. I actually enjoyed them for a few hours while doing other things.

With planars, as I just mentioned, I did find that the dongle struggled with the fast moving bass lines and could overall sound a little muffled with some harsh peaks appearing on occasions. With the more easy to drive planars like the Ananda (OG), the dongle did much better and was decent for the majority of music I listen to, yet, with tracks that were overly busy and fast in the lower ranges, I again found them to be seeming to struggle to keep up. Though, let’s be fair here, I don’t think the Go Link is aimed at driving things like Hifiman planar headphones.

Going with something a little more realistic but sticking with headphones, I found the dongle had no issues driving things like the DT1990 Pro, the Custom Studio, the Thieaudio Ghost, just to name a few. With things like the Koss KPH40, it does an excellent job and I was happy to spend hours listening to that combination.

Moving over to IEMs, which are more what I think about when choosing a dongle, I didn’t find it to have any problem at all with anything I threw at it. From budget DD offerings like the Cadenza, planar options like the S12 or even things higher up on the price list such as the IE600, I found it did a great job. I also enjoyed the pairing with the Dunu Talos and the Vulkan, two sets that I find benefit from a little of that iFi “warmth and smoothness”.

So, as a recap, the iFi Go Link performs well in the sound category with a lot things, in fact, most of what I have on hand (or at least what I have tested from what I have on hand), except for more demanding planar options. But this really doesn’t explain much about how it really is sound wise, so I will do a few quick comparisons to see if it helps place the Go Link amongst what I have on hand.



For the comparisons I decided to focus on using one set of IEMs, the Hifiman Svanar. Yes, it is a bit crazy to pick a set of 2000€ IEMs to test a 60€ dongle but I find that the Svanar is actually the set of IEMs that is most revealing of source changes, at least from the IEM collection that I have on hand.

Also, please remember that reviewers (including myself) tend to explain differences in a way that is more exaggerated than reality. When we say that something is much warmer, or far more detailed, or much more clinical, you may find that the difference is hardly noticeable (or not noticeable at all) in your own experience. This is not in an attempt to be misleading, it is more of an attempt to try to explain the differences that I hear, or at least think I hear (sometimes it is just my brain filling in blanks and making me expect to hear it, therefore I do 😉 )

Apple Dongle

Let’s start off with a classic, the Apple Dongle. Coming in at less that 10€, I think anyone who has read anything about IEMs will have come across it and, honestly, if you don’t own one, buy one, I own at least 4 or 5. There are two versions of the Apple dongle, the US (or non-EU) version and the EU version. The difference is that the EU version is limited on power and yes, it is noticeable (especially when using it with things other than IEMs).

I find that the Apple Dongle is a very neutral, no frills, dac/amp that drives most things well. I don’t find it to really add any of its own flavour to anything and while it is not really exciting, it is not boring either, it is just… well, the Apple Dongle.

In comparison I find the Go Link to have a sound that is slightly smoother, without giving the sensation of any loss of detail or that anything has really changed much. It is a more relaxed and pleasant listen in my opinion. With the Svanar, I find that the Go Link vs the Apple Dongle is sort of like the Atom vs the Asgard 3, one is clean and no frills whereas the other is still clean yet has a bit of a roundness to the sound.

There is no doubt that the Apple Dongle works well but for pure music enjoyment, I prefer the Go Link.

Questyle M15

This is the other extreme. Where the iFi is 5 times the price of the Apple, the Questyle is 5 times the price of the iFi. This is not a fair comparison but the M15 is the dongle DAC that I use most and the Go Link actually stands up to the fight remarkably well. I have only compared the SE out of the M15 as the Go Link is SE only.

The M15 does a better job of driving more demanding headphones but we are focusing on the Svanar here, so I will limit myself to that. In the case of the M15, the Svanar gives me more sensation of detail and performance than with the Go Link. I find that smaller background details are more present and that they seem to have more life to them.

However, I would say that the Go Link seems to create a slightly bigger sensation of space, even if the background details in that space are not quite as focused. The Go Link again gives a smoother presentation and while the M15 would be my choice for focusing on the details of the music, I find that the Go Link can be more of an enjoyable BGM listen, taking away some of the focus and just giving you a well presented overall picture.

Go Blu

Moving on to something iFi, the Go Blu is my usual choice for portable listening on the move. I actually find that I use the SE output of the Go Blu more than the balanced as it is a bit warmer and more “rounded” to my ears, making for a more relaxed general listen than an actual dedicated listening session.

I would actually say that the listening experience of the Go Link is most similar to the SE output of the Go Blu. I find that the overall presentation is very similar and that my enjoyment is also on a par. Yes, the Go Blu obviously has more functions and is a completely different device (at a higher price point) but for general listening, when I don’t need any of those additional functions, I find that the Go Link is on a par for my personal enjoyment.


As my last comparison, my most used “trans”portable device, also from iFi. The Gryphon is in a completely different league as far as functionality, build, price and, well, everything. However, comparing the SE output of the Gryphon (without making use of any of those other things) to the Go Link, there are noticeable differences but not necessarily in completely different leagues.

The Gryphon is obviously more powerful and it handles planars (and other difficult to drive options) better, yet in pure sound quality when powering the Svanar, it is not night and day. Yes, I prefer the Gryphon, it gives a much better representation of detail, space and overall music presentation but just sitting back and listening without dissecting what is going on, the Go Link is surprisingly close in terms of enjoyability.

No, I am not saying that the Go Link is rivaling the Gryphon is SE performance, what I am saying is that, when I sit an listen to the Go Link, I find myself enjoying the music and not really thinking “I need that extra xx% of detail that the Gryphon gives me”. There is a very similar flavour to the music, a relaxed and calm presentation that, on an enjoyment level, places it far too close to a device that is 10 times the price.



Well this has turned into a longer review than I expected. I don’t know why that is always the case with sources, I seem to ramble on and still miss things 😊

As far as the iFi Go Link, I have to say that it is an impressive little dongle for the price. It is not balanced and it is not the most powerful dongle on the market but it is plenty for a normal use case. It is not the cheapest dongle on the market but it is certainly a long way from the expensive options and the performance may not be the most detailed you will find (when comparing to other higher end alternatives) but it more than makes up for it with the pleasurable listening experience that it provides.

I remember reviewing one of the budget desktop options from iFi and saying that it was now possible to get a taste of the iFi sound at a reasonable price. Then, along came the Air which made it even more affordable. Then the UNO, which dropped the price of the iFi flavour to an even more attainable price. Now we can get a taste of the iFi house sound with just our phones and a 59€ dongle.

As with all of my reviews, this is also available in Spanish on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/achoreviews)


100+ Head-Fier
What more ?
Pros: Stellar value
Broad host compatibility
Supports both single and balanced ended drivers
MQA rendering
High res support (DSD 256 / PCM 384)
Cons: Third party adapter required for balanced-wired drivers
UAPP or similar required for smooth volume control on Android
As some may recall, I previously assessed iFi’s high end €329 dongle – the GO Bar. I guess there’s little doubt that when I took this € 59 (!) GO Link into consideration my first curiosity regarded such wide price positioning difference – quite evidently hinting towards a very different target audience intention…

Features and description


GO Link is seriously small and lightweight, really barely more conspicous than a mere passive USB cable, and much more flexible thanks to the braided structure given to its external wires.

It comes with a single LED on the chassis, which is supposed to indicate its power ON state while idle, and the resolution of the digital content being played while working, according to the following scheme:

GreenPCM 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 KHz
YellowPCM 176.4 / 192 / 352.8 / 384 KHz
CyanDSD 64 / 128
BlueDSD 256

On the main chassis a single 3.5mm phone output port is available. On the opposite end of the white braided cabling, a single USB-C male connector is present.

Lastly yet very importantly GO Link comes bundled with 2 USB accessories: a USB-C to USB-A adapter, and a USB-C to Lightning adapter.

The Lightning adapter in particular is a quite expensive item when purchased separately, and it’s a crucial resource for Apple ecosystem users as it perfectly matches iPhone and iPad requirements, thus avoiding them the need for the bulky Apple Camera Adapter.


Not diverting from their habits, iFi releases just macro-information about GO Link internals, but hardly any finer details.

GO Link is built around an ESS SOC-class chip, namely the ES9219MQ/Q (data sheet) which, within the inherent limitations of a SOC chip, is a quite interesting model. It features for example “QUAD DAC+” internal structure, which iFi exploits big time within their smart “S-Balanced” scheme (see more below).

Another ESS9219 feature which GO Link puts to good use is Dynamic Range Enhancement (“DRE”). In GO Link case this results into a 6dB DR enhancement, which is quite significant for a product in this price class.

The rest of the components are coming from the usual manufacturers normally enlisted by iFi, first and foremost Murata and TDK (capacitors).


GO Link is a “pure DAC/AMP dongle”, so its sole accepted input is digital, via the USB connection.

As previously mentioned, the package includes a native USB-C male plug, a USB-A adapter and a Lightning adapter, which considering the very modest total asking price are a huge added value.


GO Link’s sole output is its analog 3.5mm connector, which of course accepts any 3.5mm single-ended terminated load… and something else, thanks to iFi’s S-Balanced technology implemented behind it.

I already covered this iFi proprietary technology multiple times on my articles regarding other iFi sources (here, here and here). You can alternatively refer to iFi’s own white paper, here.

Simply put S-Balanced is a smart way to route the analog signal inside the device such to realise a sort of (give me some rope here) “fake” balanced scheme even with a single amp stage (vs two independent, parallel ones as they are used within “real” balanced schemes).

S-Balanced offers the same benefits of a true Balanced scheme in terms of lower noise and distortion, and none of its drawbacks (to know why… RTFWP!) when it is connected to a balanced-wired (TRRS) load.

In addition to that, unlike a true Balanced scheme, S-Balanced is fully backwards compatible with single-ended (TRS) terminated loads.

And more: single-ended (TRS) terminated drivers plugged onto an S-Balanced port will get “some” improved sound quality (50% reduced crosstalk) compared to the same dac-amp circuitry organised following the “ordinary” single-ended flow.

So you understood well: GO Link’s 3.5 output port (same as Nano iDSD Black Label’s, for that matter) does accept both single ended and balanced ended terminated IEMs/Headphones.

But… how do I connect a balanced-terminated cable (typically ending in a 2.5mm or 4.4mm male plug) to GO Link’s 3.5mm phone out? With an adapter of course !

Now for the really odd part: iFi does not provide such adapter – neither within GO Link’s standard bundle, nor even as a separately-purchaseable part.

Be as it may, the 3.5 mm TRRS wiring you want is what is also called “Hifiman standard”. See here for reference.

I do have such an adapter (3.5mm TRRS male, 4.4mm TRRS female) from back in the days when I was using the Nano iDSD BL, and I can relate the “trick” does work: pairing the same balanced-wired IEM to GO Link once via a 4.4 to 3.5 TRS single ended adapter, and then via the 4.4 to 3.5 TRRS adapter, results in an obviously improved sound in the latter case.

Host power requirements

GO Link absorbs 1W = 450mA (max) while playing and 0.7W = 375mA while idle.

These are not the lowest figures in the industry – the champs always being the Dragonflys here, followed by E1DA 9038SG3 and 9038D – yet these are still to be considered quite modest values, which won’t make too quick shame of your phone’s battery. Yes, iPhones included (via the Lightning adapter supplied as a freebie).

Volume and gain control

GO Link does not offer a physical on-device volume control. Its volume control is interfaced with the one on the host platform (I positively experienced Windows and Android).

The situation is potentially problematic on Android which – by default – divides the USB device volume range in only 40 steps (or even 25 for the latest Android releases…), resulting in the last ticks converting into way too big SPL variations.

Luckily, those better featured player apps (e.g. UAPP) which you would normally anyway use for a number of other reasons one above all bypassing standard Android audio drivers do also allow for re-defining the number of steps Volume control is divided into (up to 250, on UAPP) – which solves the issue.

Other features

MQA Rendering

I won’t spend a word on what MQA itself is, of course. Google around if you wish and you’ll be overflooded with info.

What matters here is: GO Link is a “MQA Renderer”, so it can fully unfold MQA tracks on its own hardware, which is an upgrade vs the default represented by having the music player host do the unfolding, and only limited to the first 2 folds.

Singers/players/bands/publishers record their tracks, and eventually release their albums. Prior to the digital music distribution era, there could be very little doubt about whether the music we were listening to was the “original” version of that album as its creator/publisher intended or not; if we had a legit copy of that LP or of that CD, that was it.

In the digital music distribution system, instead, the end user has no “solid” way to make absolutely sure that he’s receiving an unaltered version of those tracks. For what he knows, he might be getting a subsequently remastered, equalised, anyhow manipulated version of that album.

The MQA offers a way to “certify” this. An “MQA Studio” track is a file which containes some sort of “certification codes” that guarantee that track is indeed “the original” as released by the authors. A sort of digital signature, if you wish. Anyone might process, EQ, remaster, etc, that track, and re-encode it under MQA but the new file wouldn’t carry the original author signature anymore.

“MQA Original Sample Rate” (a.k.a. “MQB”) tracks are MQA Studio Tracks for which a further certification is given that not even the mere sample rate has been altered (in particular: oversampled) compared to the “original version” as released by the authors.

Any MQA-capable device can play back all MQA encoded tracks, but only MQA Full Decoders are able to identify such additional “digital signatures” and tell the user “hey, this is an original track” or not.

Ifi GO Bar, Gryphon, HipDac-2 are all Full Decoder devices. Ifi GO Link, HipDac, Micro iDSD Signature, Nano iDSD Black Label are Renderers.

Between parentheses: HipDac and HipDac-2 being virtually identical in terms of sound capabilities, power, etc, with the sole major difference represented by their different MQA capabilities, offered me the interesting opportunity to check the differences on a quite similar if not virtually identical situation and I could tell a quite obvious SQ improvement when listening to a few particular tracks just Rendered (HipDac) or Full Decoded (HipDac-2).

That said, I don’t personally care about MQA, nor about any of the existing digital distribution catalogues for that matter, due to the fundamental lack of good editions of the music I prefer on there.


Like all other iFi devices (well at least all those I know of, but the list seems quite comprehensive…), GO Link allows for the user to easily change/upgrade the device firmware.

At present time, on GO Link this option can only be actionated with the purpose of installing incremental firmware updates aimed at feature optimisations or bug fixing.


I already covered this en passant above, but for the sake of completeness: GO Link comes in a small box but with the right bundle accessories, and premium quality ones at that too.

  • USBC-Lightning passthrough adapter
  • USBC-USBA passthrough adapter

Sound and power

GO Link sound quality is basically in line with what one would expect from a latest generation ESS SOC chip – such as what you get off of a Shanling M0 Pro, which I recently reviewed – with some little bit of further enhancement.

Who wants to go the extra mile is cordially encouraged to get a TRRS 3.5mm adapter and plug balanced-terminated drivers onto the GO Link. The improvement in terms of noise reduction, clarity, stage drawing and imaging will be quite obvious.

GO Link’s output power is not huge yet not weak either: it delivers 2V on high impedance loads (300+ ohms) and 1.5V (70mW) onto 32 ohm loads, making it an absolutely viable option for 95+% of the IEMs out there and much of the cans, too. Just avoid planars, and particularly current-hungry IEMs (E5000, B1…), and you’re a happy camper.

Considerations & conclusions

With the GO Link, positioned at just € 59 EU retail, iFi clearly aims at marketing a ultra-portable, not-necessarily-audiophile-tier “smartphone audio upgrade” device, offering all users of no-wired-analog-out phones an option to plug their wired drivers, and a sound quality and/or output power upgrade to all others.

After assessing it I can relate that iFi indeed went much, much beyond such intention.

While surely south of the top dongle market levels reached by the likes of Questyle M15, Apogee Groove, Dragonfly Cobalt and iFi’s own GO Bar, iFi GO Link offers very interesting output quality and power, full MQA rendering, instant matching with Windows, Android and/or Apple hosts, and even an extra option to pair with balanced-terminated drivers (via a third party adapter) for even wider compatibility, and even better sound.

What more an occasional user might ask for € 59 retail I frankly wouldn’t know.

This article originally appeared on www.audioreviews.org, here.
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I don't how this so small dongle can do what it does...! Crazy value for money, paired it mostly with TH Hexa, great combo.


Reviewer at hxosplus
The missing link
Pros: + Great audio performance
+ Very musical and organic sound signature
+ Natural and well balanced timbre
+ Open and spacious soundstage
+ Low noise floor and immune to EMI
+ Can drive relatively sensitive headphones
+ Supports 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256 and MQA
+ Power efficient
+ Comes with a USB A to C and lighting adapters
+ Compact and lightweight
Cons: - Not as powerful as some of the competition
- Not the last word in resolution and refinement or technicalities
- The USB type C connector is too bulky
- The cable looks a bit fragile
- Plenty of competition with better functionality for roughly the same price
The review sample was kindly loaned to me in exchange for an honest review.
I didn't receive monetary or any other kind of compensation and I don't use affiliate links.
The price of the iFi Go link is about €60 depending on the country VAT and you can order it from all authorized dealers around the world.

iFi Go link

iFi are not newcomers into the USB DAC dongles, they have made a pretty loud statement with the iFi Go bar and Go bar anniversary edition and now they are back with something budget friendly.


Meet the iFi Go link, a compact sized and lightweight DAC dongle with an embedded USB type-C cable and a 3.5mm headphone output.
Both the main body of the Go link and the USB plug are made from a lightweight magnesium alloy while the 6cm length flexible cable uses silver-plated copper conductors with individual polymer insulation in a ‘twisted pair’ configuration.

At the heart of the GO link lies a power-efficient, high-performance DAC chip from ESS Technology’s Sabre HiFi series – the ES9219MQ/Q – benefiting from 32-bit HyperStream III architecture.
This combines with the Quad DAC+ and time domain jitter eliminator technologies, plus a dedicated clock circuitry utilizing a specialized crystal oscillator, to deliver ultra-low distortion, excellent clarity and impressive dynamic range.
The Go link can decode PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256 and MQA while a LED at the front face changes color to indicate the incoming audio format.
Green for PCM 44.1/48/88.2/96kHz, yellow for PCM 64/128176.4/192/352.8/384kHz, cyan for DSD64/128, blue for DSD256, and magenta for MQA.


The GO link's headphone amp feeds a gold-plated 3.5mm socket, incorporating iFi' S-Balanced configuration to reduce noise and crosstalk.
It delivers a power output of 70mW into 32 ohms and a maximum voltage output of 2.05V into 600 ohms.

Rarely implemented high-end features such as adjustable analogue gain with DRE (Dynamic Range Enhancement) plus technologies to minimize THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) and crosstalk are possible due to the DAC chip’s advanced specification.


Unlike most other entry level headphone dongles, the GO link doesn’t rely on the software-based volume controls in connected digital devices.
Instead, adjusting the volume on the connected device controls the volume level in the GO link’s DAC, not in the phone, tablet or computer.
With the phone that I tested the Go link gave 15 steps of volume control.


Build quality

The build quality is very good, the chassis and the USB plug are made from magnesium alloy and they feel pretty solid and well made.
The cable has strain reliefs at both ends but the truth is that it looks a bit fragile.
The Go link is quite compact and lightweight, the only issue is that the USB plug is bulky and will not fit the opening of all protective cases.



The Go link comes together with USB type C to A and type C to lightning adapters so you can connect it to all platforms without the need to buy something extra.


Power output and associated gear

The iFi Go link was burned for about 50 hours and updated to the latest V1.80 firmware.
After updating to the latest firmware I haven't experienced any issues with Tidal MQA or PC playback.
I have used various earphones, from the entry level TINHiFi C3, to the Penon Vortex and the FiiO FH15 while the Go link provided plenty of power for driving easy to handle headphones like the Sennheiser HD660S.
Not to their full potential though but still sufficient enough for such a compact sized DAC while at the same time the Go link has a very low noise floor and is immune to EMI from the cellphone.


Listening impressions

If there is one manufacturer in the world that can make an ESS DAC chip not to sound as typical ESS this is definitely iFi.
The ES9219 is a DAC chip found in numerous audio devices and its sound can range from ruthlessly bright to neutral at the best.
Well, I don't know what kind of magic DSP or passive components these guys are using inside the Go link but it is the first time that this particular chip is so musical and engaging sounding.


The overall sound signature is balanced with a touch of warmness and a welcomed treble smoothness that makes for a forgiving and easy listen.
The bass is not exactly linear, there is a touch of mid-bass prominence that adds a cozy character to the sound and the treble is somewhat subdued but without lacking in extension, airiness and detailed retrieval.
The Go link is not dark sounding or slow, there is plenty of energy to keep things moving, it is resolving and detailed enough while the mid-range is characterized by a beautiful lushness and liquidity that makes for an engaging and enjoyable listening experience.
Technicalities are good enough but not top tier, the bass is quite tight and controlled but it could use some more firmness and depth layering.
Dynamics are quite impressive for the size of the Go link but sometimes you will find yourself craving for some more impact and power
Anyway, really nitpicking here, the Go link is good enough and what exactly sets it apart from the competition is the naturalness of the timbre, the overall realism and the harmonic variety of the sound.
Another welcomed sonic attribute is the openness of the soundstage, the Go link sounds spacious and extended with plenty of air around the instruments and it never succumbs to congestion.
The Go link is plug and forget about it, you don't have to worry about earphone matching and it sounds good with everything you throw at it from some pop to rock and classical.
I have been listening to the Chopin polonaises with the FiiO FD7 and I almost forgot the entry level status of the Go link.


How does it fare against the competition?

This is the most difficult part of the equation, there is plenty of high quality competition, like the $50 FiiO KA1, the $70 iBasso DC03 Pro or the Truthear SHIO which for $10 more adds a balanced output or even the $76 Fosi Audio DS1 which is heavier but it is considerably more powerful.


I will not go into detailed sound comparisons, every one of them has its pluses and minuses, the KA1 is somewhat cleaner and sharper sounding, the iBasso DC03 Pro has volume control buttons and a configuration application while it greatly balances between sounding musical and technical.
As for the SHIO, it has a balanced output with very good audio quality while the DS1 is the most powerful sub $100 dongle with equally great sound performance.
So for whom is the iFi Go link? Well for fans of the iFi house sound or everyone looking for a very inviting and musical sound signature or something compact sized and lightweight without too much of configuration, something plug and play.
And this is a really honest opinion from a reviewer's perspective because all these DAC dongles are good and it would be rather unfair to suggest that one is better than the other.
But as all of us have different preferences when it comes to coffee drinking the same applies to dongles, there are so many reasons to prefer the one over the other and in the end it comes down to your favorite flavor.


In the end

The iFi Go link is a budget friendly USB DAC dongle that carries the company's warm, musical and inviting sound signature.
Additionally it is compact and lightweight with decent power output, low noise floor, power efficiency and great ease of use.
The iFi Go link is literally the missing link between a phone and your favorite earphones that bonds the chain of your everyday musical enjoyment.

Test playlist

Copyright - Petros Laskis 2023.
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Headphoneus Supremus
Reviewer at Headfonics
iFi GO Link ($59): Does iFi make a bad product? Me thinks not.
Pros: Price
iFi build
iFi sound
iFi ingenuity
Can handle 3.5mm se (TRS) or 3.5mm bal (TRRS)
MQA cool magenta color
Cons: Competition?
snobs will scoff
Very basic
Known Android/Tidal issues
Volume issues w/ PC/MBP use (I experienced it as well)
iFi GO Link ($59): Does iFi make a bad product? Me thinks not.

GO Link


Intro: I am a fan of iFi. That is well documented in my reviews. I own several of their products, and consider the iCAN/iDSD Pro duo to be my totl DAC/Amp. Yes, it is a few years old, but it satiates my tastes completely. Dongle/DAC’s are quite common now. Will and I carried a small truck-full to T.H.E. Show last year and at T.H.E. Headphonium, we had more questions on that then anything else. So much so, that a run was had on a specific Dongle/DAC from another manufacturer (a direct competitor) and it sold out. iFi is no newbie to this segment, and their legendary Black Label headphone amp is still considered the Holy Grail by many involved. I sold mine so some others could enjoy it, and it get the use it deserves.

This is iFi’s latest entry into the Dongle/DAC market and comes at an extraordinarily affordable price. That said, unlike some reviews, I still consider DAP’s a viable alternative and own several. That said, Dongle/DAC’s are a HUGE market and alternative for those looking for a quick fix to raise the audio game on their Smartphone. It is worth it.


InputUSB-C (Lightning)
FormatsDSD 256 / 11.3MHz
DXD 384kHz
PCM 384kHz
DACBit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by ESS
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 response10-80kHz(-0.5dB)
Power consumptionNo Signal ~0.2W
Max Signal ~1W
Dimensions135 x 12.6 x 7.6 mm (5.3" x 0.5" x 0.3”)
Cable length60mm (2.8")
Net weight11g (0.4oz)
Limited Warranty12 months*
*12 months typical or as permitted/required by local reseller laws.
**Specifications are subject to change without notice.

In The Box:

GO Link
Lightning adapter
USB-A adapter
iFi sticker
MQA instructions
Owner’s Manual


Gear Used:

iPhone 13 Pro Max

DDHiFi Janus 2 (Air Ocean, 3.5mm cable)


Tidal Daily
Tidal Tracks
Everything from Jazz to Blues to Pop



Coming in a typically iFi small package, the GO Link is well protected, and pretty much like a fine jigsaw puzzle. I always have a hard time putting the items back into the box for photos, so with iFi I usually show the “after” photos. A 6cm long braided cable connects the connecting end and business end where you hook up your 3.5mm headphones. The ability to hook into both Android & iOS is a nice inclusion, although some have had issues with Android & MQA connectivity (I did not).

The point of the GO Link is to allow those who’s smartphones do not have headphone jacks to be able to use their wired headphones, since most still agree that while wireless has caught up a good deal; wired headphones still produce the better overall sound quality in most cases. I do worry about the cable associated with devices such as this, but since the manufacturer’s continue this way, I put more faith in their engineering.



Running a “discrete ESS Sabre Hyperstream DAC chipset with time domain jitter eliminator, discrete oscillator and 112dB dynamic range for discerning listeners,” the ESS chip can stream digital music files up to 32-bit/384kHz, plus DSD to 11.2MHz (DSD256) and MQA. The ES9219MQ/Q benefits from 32-bit HyperStream III architecture, for the latest in tech.

iFi has taken full advantage of the DAC chip’s advanced specs, to unlock some high-end features such as DRE (Dynamic Range Enhancement), along with technologies that minimize and crosstalk. Users can even select different digital filters via downloadable firmware to tailor the sound to suit their taste. Unlike other headphone dongles, the GO link does not use a software-based volume control which the company states can adversely affect audio resolution. The volume on the connected device controls the volume level in the GO link’s DAC via a hardware-based analog volume control. I will state that when hooked to my MBP & Tidal, the volume was extremely loud, to the point that I could use it with only the minimum volume setting on Tidal. System volume control was locked out. I had no such problem on my iPhone.

The typical colored LED represents the streaming quality, as on iFi’s other products. Again, some have mentioned issues with MQA on Tidal & their Android device. My iOS devices had no such problem. The GO link’s headphone amp has a gold-plated 3.5mm socket that incorporates iFi’s noise-reducing S-Balanced configuration. iFi says uses this to better those from other manufactuer’s, providing a better connection to the music according to iFi. It also delivers a power output of 70mW/1.5V into 32 ohms, rising to 2V with higher impedance headphones. Not spectacular, but it works well.



This is a hard one to judge, since it is a small device meant to hide away in your pocket. That said, as per other iFi products, the build is exceptional. I have yet to encounter a poor build on any iFi product.

Use was straightforward for both my MBP & iPhone. I found out the wrong way that volume was limited on my MBP, and I jumped like Freddy Kruger was coming at me. Both devices immediately recognized the device, and I only had to switch control on the MBP & Tidal, to allow for the GO Link to run the show. Needless to say, when hooking to my iPhone, I turned the volume completely down. Connectivity can include use as a pre-amp for devices as well, giving you full benefit of that Sabre chip when used elsewhere.




To me, these critters are the hardest to judge. Either they color sound or they do not. Either they provide adequate power or they do not. Either they improve the sound quality, or I cannot tell. To me, a good Dongle/DAC provides the sound necessary to interpret the original mastered recording as the artist meant. Tailoring that sound should be up to the individual user in other ways, not the device. That said, my current favorite Dongle/DAC provides a rich, warm signature, which I prefer. The GO Link does not. And that is good. The iFi presents the music with a refreshing crispness and detail, that allows the music to flower through in full color.


The beneficial aspects of the GO Link are that it fails to color the sound emanating from within. It presents what is sent through it, without judging or changing the sound. I respect this, for if I want to change anything, I will do it myself. Clear, crisp details emerge from my iPhone, usually only derived from using expensive headphones/IEM’s or my current favorite, the Klipsch/Earmicro T10 Bespoke. That of course costs a heckuva lot more.

The ability of the GO Link to show through the sound with better detail and clarity than the music coming straight from my iPhone (or MBP for that matter), shows the GO Link is doing its job. Many smartphones have very, very good music abilities. Some only think they do. The GO Link allows those who are posing to shine with those who do present good quality music.

Bass reaches deep, like Tidal Masters should. Midrange tonality is pushed ever so slightly forward, but to be honest it could be Tidal or the song doing so. Treble notes have the right amount of sparkle to provide excellent detail and air between the notes, doing so without becoming dry or thin. Good weight of notes carries from the bass to the top, but I do sense a smidge of too much for my tastes in the upper mids. Mind you, I am sitting for hours listening to this currently, and that is the only fault I can find in it. Better weight is had in my favorite competitor, the excellent DDHiFi TC44C. The DDHiFi provides a darker, richer signature, which is my preference, but the iFi holds its own with regard to clarity and detail.

Where the iFi is clean and crisp, the DDHiFi is darker and richer, which again is my preferred signature. If you want a crisp, unbothered addition to your portable system, the iFi would be the better choice. But if you like a darker signature, the DDHiFi is a fabulous choice, with slightly better weight to the notes.

I will also note that the GO Link also drains your smartphone battery more than without. I found that after two hours of listening with the Link attached, my battery drained by about 15%. When using only TWS buds, the drain was about 5% in the same time span. Most Dongle/DAC’s do this and many are much worse than the GO Link.



I like iFi products. I like them a lot. I own a lot. I have reviewed a lot. I have recommended a lot. I do so for two reasons: 1. The products are really, really good; and 2. The products are hard to beat in whatever category they occupy. Trendsetters at the early part of the portable rebirth; iFi continues to innovate and come up with products, which fit the users’ goals: top quality sound, and now include affordability to many of their products as well. The GO Link is no different. It provides a quality build and sound to what we hear at an extremely affordable price, which is hard to beat.

If you are looking for an affordable Dongle/DAC with which to start your journey, or simply need an affordable one, which can take the abuse; you could do much worse than the GO Link. Audio quality, it is not meant to compete with the much more expensive offerings around, but makes no posit to do so. Only presenting the user with a top-quality build sound and price. And it succeeds.

Sphere 57
Sphere 57
I don't know why the ddHiFi TC44C doesn't get more love. There was a buzz about the TC44B, but the TC44C is a more practical device with it's detachable cable and 3.5mm output.


500+ Head-Fier
iFi GO Link - Smooth and Musical Indulgence
Pros: -
- Classic analogue sound, rich and musical, highly organic
- Fairly good with technicalities especially Soundstage
- Dynamic transients handling being smooth and fluid
- Ample power to drive demanding headphones
- Very power efficient to the host
Cons: -
- A little bit less resolving with imaging and details
- Can be overly warm sounding when paired with natively warm partners
- Some issues with MQA on Android Tidal App
- Volume reset issues on Tidal App for PC in USB Exclusive Mode
ANDY0456 Small.jpg

iFi GO Link is the little brother to the magnificent iFi GO Bar. The one thing that I love about this dongle is the analogue and organic sound itself. I must say that I am impressed that iFi managed to tune a relatively (or commonly) bright sounding ESS Sabre DAC into something which is organic and musical. In fact if I am not reading into the specs, I would have not known that the heart of iFi GO Link is an MQA capable ESS decoder.

Fairly good with technicalities, especially when keeping the attached partners to already efficient ones to drive, at under 100 Ohm, the GO Link will sound rich and wholesome. It will not fail to impart proper sense of connection and emotions to the music especially when subjected to listening Jazz, Ballads or even the past paced Rock/Metal genre.

Technically, I would say that GO Link is respectably good. The shortcomings are only evident when compared directly to its own big brother of GO Bar (which is like 10x more expensive). Or when subjected to high driving loads of which the GO Link will then started to lean out on dynamic presentation - but not a deal breaker at all - I am just being anal and critical here for the sake of comparisons.

The fact is, every time I use GO Link, I just can't help feeling satisfied with the smooth velvety sound it impart on my largely (and natively bright sounding partners), GO Link was able to instil good sense of organic balance to the natively analytical IEMs or Headphones - making them more musical while not sacrificing analytical prowess.

iFi GO Link comes highly recommended if you are looking for highly efficient dongle with very smooth and warm sound.

My Full Review here on YouTube:

ANDY0443 Small.jpg
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Headphones and Coffee

Previously known as Wretched Stare
Good dongle for the Price
Pros: Clear detailed sound, low cost, and built well.
Supports S-BALALNCED, ESS chip is efficient.
Cons: Not a switchable cable, the USB-C is square and rather large for a phone case.
The Dongle is not the most powerful in its price range.

The package like the product is simple. Inside is the Golink and two adapters one for Lightning and the other for USB-A.

It's a small dongle and easy to carry around even in an IEM case. the build is solid and my only two cons are it has a non-removable cable, and the USB-C plug is big and blocky. I had to take my main phones case off to use it, fortunately I have several other phones. Using the device one can immediately hear a much-improved sound, brighter and more detailed than most stock devices. The GoLink is not partially powerful but paired well with most of my IEM collection. I did try it with my full-sized planar headphones, and it worked reasonably but I would recommend this more for in ears.

The GoLink is a low-cost solution for better sound on the go and it has a nice clean and detailed signature with good resolution. For this I would recommend it for your travels.


500+ Head-Fier
Money for nothing and DACs for free
Pros: • Amazing sound quality especially for the price
• Price: 59£ Say that again please
• ifi audio proprietary technology for jitter elimination
• ESS dac chip implementation that is not sibilant or aggressive in treble
• Size and weight
• Battery consumption
• S Balanced technology to be used with your favourite Balanced cable and makes a difference
Cons: • Nothing important for the price
• Price. People will snob it because of the price. Especially Audiophiles
• No dedicated app expecially for volume control
• Bright light
• Not the best to drive super power hungry headphones
• How we change filters again?
Usually I am not doing reviews except for the products I am interested to buy for myself.

I find the price of go link exceptionally reasonable and normally I would not ask for a review unit but as I could not find one back in Xmas to buy I asked for a review unit to have it as soon as possible. When eventually I found it to buy in Amazon myself ifi have managed to sent me one and thus I have the obligation to do a review now.

I am fan of ifi products I have a few of them and I like the company a lot. I find usually their products to have good synergy with my favourite headphones which the 6## line of sennheisser.

I am also a fan of dongles as I have a super busy life with work and kids and I am not using proper desktop amps and DACs anymore. I need simple and quick solutions. I was one of the first early adopters that used a dragonfly 1.2 with the first android version that could support usb audio back in 2014 or 2015 I think and nobody in forums back then knew and discussed their inherent limitations.

Then the small DACs and Bluetooth amps became a thing like the xDSD, xcan and the rest. These are great and I have reviewed these products in the past in this forum.

As Apple Music made the leap to lossless I found Bluetooth not enough anymore, never being a fan anyway, so the need for a simple and audiophile usb solution is more prominent than ever.

The fashion now is to use usb dongles and they are coming by dozens a day as it seems. From the new generation of usb dongles I bought the KA3 before even ifi presented a product in this category.

It was recommended to me from a great reviewer and friend and I like it very much although some times I find it a bit bright. Then the go bar was presented and I immediately asked one for a review and it was great but I find it expensive for my budget and my purpose as I have budget and simple headphones among them the following:

Meze 99 Neo and Classics,

HD58X, HD6XX, HD660s

4XX and

Koss 30.

I am listening mostly to music with my 58X and just recently bought the 660s. But when I was buying a dongle was to match and drive my 58X mainly.

Because the go bar was a bit expensive for my taste but because I like its smooth presentation I have decided to buy the KA2 as a cheap alternative (have the same brand chip : CS). I thought that the smoothness maybe was originated by the Cirrus Logic chip that both these devices use.

However I was wrong because although KA2 is smoother than KA3 still has this aggressiveness to treble that bothers me from time to time.

Then ifi unexpectedly presented the go link a very cheap alternative to go bar so I immediately jumped to buy it. The ibasso came later as I read again a glorious review and I find the price reasonable too.

Therefore, I will compare the go link among these rivals.

The go link is the smallest of the bunch a little bit larger than an iPhone or android adapter. It has one ESS dac chip and it is s-balanced. It has all the adapters needed in the box. Nothing extra to purchase.

I do not know the technicalities of the s-balanced but if you use a s-balanced adapter with a balanced cable to an unbalanced 3.5 input you listen only from the left side with my other dongles. I tried by mistake and this is what happened. Only in ifi products I can hear from both sides with this specific adapter. And yes in my case with my 58x makes a difference.

I find my 6XX and 58X quite thick and dull with the original cable (not the 660s though) so I found in the past that with both these headphones a nice but cheap aftermarket balanced cable makes a more than noticeable difference. Is great for me to use my 58x without changing the cable. The s-balanced cover almost half the distance between balanced and unbalanced. The balanced output of KA3 and KA2 keep the full advantage of the balanced configuration while DC03 pro has none.

The KA3 can drive the 58x better from the fully balanced output as the sound is amazing and in some genres like AC/DC I even prefer it to the go bar. I believe this is because of the op amps that the KA3 has. I found that in every device like xcan, xDSD and little bear (even rolling op amps there) that use some kind of op amps to make really a difference to headphones like 6##. A different quality level especially for rock songs. But the KA3 and op amps in general consume a lot of energy so is not like an ideal mobile dongle situation. If I have an hour to listen after the kids go to sleep, you put the dongle and enjoy a bit and that is. Also the aggressiveness of the ess chip implemented there does not allow you to listen for many hours.

The KA2 is using less energy has great bass but still is aggressive and is only for balanced headphones.

The ibasso DC03 is a hit and miss story. There where times that I do not notice that is even there (with my android phones) and sometimes is amazing (with my iPhone) where everything is controlled by the volume buttons of the device. Suits well my 660s which I find sometimes very aggressive and very different than both my 58X and 6XX. It has a more smooth and easy going character that suits some situations well but sometimes gets a bit dull.

On the other hand, the go link is the amazing little device that do almost everything great and sometimes do things that they are not expected. It has an ESS chip which is very energetic but never aggressive. Can be organic at times and then punchy some other times.

The biggest surprise for me was last night when I used them with my 6XX and koss 30. Two headphones that have similar tonality according to me.

It could drive adequately the 6XX and in a fun and interesting way (I am not saying that scales them like a 2000 tube amp here…) having not to envy much even from my xdsd!!!

I remember from my xCan review that ifi implementation of ESS chip has tremendous synergy with the 6XX headphone. At least in my case and with an android phone that does not have the iPhone battery limitations. A playmaker is a playmaker but when occasionally can play the number 5 position and win the game then he is simply…Magic!

And just by accident I decided yesterday to try my koss 30 with the go link….What…What…was that??? Almost surreal 59£+27£…What… what combination is that??? The new generation does not know how lucky and privileged is nowadays in audiophile terms. In my days back in university I was paying a fortune for a crappy sounding SONY minidisc with few crappy discs and nowadays … your phone + subscription + 59£ + 27£ or whatever budget headphone you like and you are in heaven. We might have destroyed the planet for them but they are in good hands in audiophile terms…

The biggest negative for me is the absence of an app to control the volume as this is very difficult to fine tune the volume when using streaming services. Although the FiiO have apps that change filters and gain none of them has volume control. Only ibasso is the king here with both the app and the physical buttons.

Another negative for me is the light which is too bright in a dark room. I turn the device opposite to me where in comparison ibasso has a much smoother light.

All the other negatives of the go link they are no negatives really but limitations of the cost bracket and the size of the device. Yes sure I want volume buttons yes sure I want detachable cable yes I want two DACs and two opams but this is not what this device is for.

I have to say though that all the 4 devices mentioned in this review are great and for the price you cannot go wrong whatever device among them you choose. It depends if you want iems, you want balanced, s-balanced low consumption or whatever else. I am happy that I have all of them.

The go link is the most versatile and the absolute no brainer one of the group. And it sounds amazing with an absolutely reasonable battery consumption.

The go link is not a giant killer and it was not designed to be. Is one of the most affordable DAC dongles out there with an amazing true audiophile sound. All the technology for eliminating jitter in the digital time domain is there. You will feel it bit by bit and now only for 59£.

Even the iPhone adapter is there for you not to spend a minute on the internet and keep looking for one or paying money essentially just for shipping. I paid 17£ the previous time for my KA3. Although I have to say that for IOS products nothing is like to connect your DAC with the original Apple usb 3.0 adapter in sound quality wise terms no matter how much inconvenient they are.

All in all, it seems nowadays that…

Money for nothing and DACs for free…

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Nice to read a review, I've been using mine out and about for the last month and find it a no brainer too, although I'm annoyed by the size of the USB c connector and the lack of being able to switch the cable, it tends to disconnect from my phone and activate the "humidit" prompt quite often

Will give it a go with my 3.5 pro (balanced) dunu adapter today
You may have had a bad mini-disc player or recorded everything in the lower quality format. Their sound remains impressive if the recording on the mini disc player is done on the highest grade format. The lower formatting that allows many more tracks to be recorded did not provide th best sound.
It was a cheap one sony and not of their best implementation. I was a student back then and I had limited budget. Also I used it with the Sony bundled cheap headphones so not a fair comparison against Koss 30 or 58X. And it cost me 200$...

But nowadays the streaming is so much more convenient and you have everything in your disposal even high resolution files. Everyone has a phone anyway so the only additional cost is the headphones and the dac.