iFi’s New Mini DAC Boasts Sound Enhancing K2HD Tech

iFi, the UK-based specializing in digital-to-analog converter/amplifiers for use at home and on the go, says its new Go Bar Kensei digital-to-analog converter is the first ultraportable DAC to feature K2HD sound processing developed by JVCKenwood.

The goal of K2HD technology, which sits at the core of the new mini DAC/amp, is to restore music to the same quality as original studio master recordings by “reviving [the sound] with the rich, natural harmonics lost during digitalization.” The technology was developed in response to calls from recording engineers at Japan’s prestigious Victor Studio who were disturbed by the stark differences they heard between the sound of their original master recordings and the “emotionally flat and lifeless” sound of digitally copied sub-masters.

At 2.5 inches long, the Go Bar Kensei ($449) is slightly thicker than a USB thumb drive and encased in finely crafted Japanese stainless steel, chosen for its rigidity. (Kensei means “Sword Saint” in English, a title granted to the elite few who elevate the craft and artistry of swordsmanship.) It incorporates a 32-bit Cirrus Logic chipset and uses a 16-core XMOS micro controller to process audio received at the USB input. A custom digital filter is said to minimize pre-echoes and ringing artifacts, while a GMT (Global Master Timing) precision clock system keeps jitter to a minimum.

The DAC/amp has a symmetrical twin-mono output stage and supports PCM up to 32 bits/384kHz, native DSD playback up to DSD256, 2x DXD, and full MQA decoding in addition to providing four digital filters: Bit-Perfect for “natural tones,” GTO to enhance vocal-focused tracks, Minimum Phase for a warmer sound, and Standard for a “tighter sound with controlled highs.” Two analog processing options are also included: XBass+ for bolder bass and XSpace to create a more spacious sound field.

Maximum power output is rated at 477mW and the DAC has two outputs: 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm S-Balanced, the latter of which is said to reduce noise and crosstalk by 50%. Other features include a Turbo Mode that boosts output by 6 dB to accommodate power-hungry headphones and iEMatch tuning for fine-tuning output levels for sensitive in-ear monitors (IEMs).

JVCKenwood was formed in Japan in 2008 with the merger of JVC (Victor Company of Japan) and Kenwood.

For more information on the Go Bar Kensei, visit ifi-audio.com. Click here for a detailed overview of K2HD sound processing.