iFi has released the Go Link portable DAC, a very affordable little device that can quickly improve mobile sound quality.
Audio coming from a laptop or smartphone (insofar as it has a headphone jack at all) generally does not sound particularly great. Therefore, nowadays we are either stuck with Bluetooth headphones, which always involve some form of compression and recompression, or a DAC dongle. With the latter, you actually get the best possible sound quality, especially if the dongle itself is built properly. iFi has quite a bit of experience (understatement) with external USB DACs, so as far as that build of their new Go Link goes, I’m sure it will be fine.
The iFi Go Link is built around the ESS Sabre DAC, which the manufacturer uses almost as standard in all of its DACs. Quad DAC+, Time Doimain Jitter Eliminator technology and iFi’s own clock circuitry should meld it all together into a solid DAC. PCM up to 32 bit / 384 kHz and DSD up to DSD256 are supported, plus – particularly in this price range – MQA. Thanks to the latter option, you get highest possible sound quality from streaming service Tidal. Volume control takes place in the DAC itself; no device volume control is used. Remains that very nice price: $59.