iFi GO blu

camcroft

Well-known Member
I have acquired one recently and I am delighted at the way it sounds its unbelievable how small the unit is but boy does it pack a punch its a bit like having your home system in your pocket its sounds that good. I have used it with both balanced and unbalanced headphones and the sound is equally pleasing through both. I know its not really the done thing but I took it straight out of the box and managed to play it for hours before I had to recharge it. I have tried it with a iPhone and with my Sony music player ( DAP ) and it sounds really good I own 3 pairs of wireless headphones / earphones and have recently bought both balanced and unbalanced cables in a shorter length so that they just hang down with the GO blu attached and they are lets say my own take on of wireless headphones with the source coming from either my phone or music player which can be kept anywhere as the signal is being picked up by the GO blu. Below are photos with the unit connected to one of my headphones using the shorter cable. I would wholeheartedly recommend this unit for on the go and I also connected the unit to a set of Audioengine 5+ speakers and used it as a Bluetooth receiver for the speakers only downside being that it needs to be recharged to perform this task.
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camcroft

Well-known Member
Yes I am very impressed with it . When I go travelling it will definitely be GOing with me as I have said it will be like having my home system in my pocket. Well done iFi on another quality product.I would also go as far as saying people shouldn't be put off by the price of this small unit when you use it you will understand how good it really is and I think the price is what it is because of the parts inside the unit.
 
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camcroft

Well-known Member
Maybe this product needs to be reviewed here or on another forum for it to be introduced to the readers.
 

McCol

Well-known Member
Here's a link to my wee review of the Go Blu


Ita far from the depth and quality in some reviews but I try!!

Excellent little audio device from Ifi audio who are on quite a roll at the moment
 
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CaptainEd

Active Member
I'm considering purchasing the Go Blu to use with an iPhone/MBP. Portability is not really the main driver, I have Sony WF-1000xm3 earbuds, but I do like the idea of wandering around the house without to many cables etc. Do you think a stack/desktop DAC/AMP (lots of options for similar cost), would be a better idea, for both better sound quality (wired source etc) and more flexibly for future headphones upgrades. I'm looking to demo HD600/HD650, possibly some planar magnetics depending on budget.
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
Whether you wish to have your system portable or not will determine what your audio system should look like. The GO Blu offers the best audio quality over Bluetooth, but a desktop DAC/AMP combo may offer you a higher resolution.
 

camcroft

Well-known Member

TheHighFlyingBirds

Well-known Member
Here is my iFi Go Blu Review.

Disclaimer: iFi lent me the Go Blu for review and it has now been returned.

Physical Appearance

On getting the Go Blu and opening the packaging, the first thing you notice is how small and light the device is; think the size of a small box of matches. As per iFi’s usual standard, the construction of the Blu appears to be top notch, using what appears to be a combination of a brushed metal plate and plastic (the website states it uses polymer). This polymer is a matte finish giving it a more expensive appearance than cheap shiny plastic, whilst it probably makes it far more robust, as it feels like the Blu could withstand some abuse without breaking. The buttons are metallic and are recessed, improving the streamlined look of the device, whilst also reducing the potential for inadvertently pushing them whilst the Blu is on your pocket. The volume wheel has two functions, firstly to change volume obviously, but secondly it cleverly also incorporates a push button in the centre face, allowing for some control of the playback device, e.g. push once to stop / play the music. Whilst I like the idea of the volume knob with its incorporated button, it doesn’t quite feel like it’s up to iFi’s usual robust construction standard, as the wheel does have some play in it, unlike the volume knob on the Zen DAC which is rock solid and has no play in it all. How robust this volume wheel is remains to be seen, but I trust iFis build quality, and have to assume it is far more secure than it feels.

Additionally, due to the volume knob protruding from the edge of the casing it does introduce a snagging point which could potentially lead to damage, although I would assume it would need a fairly significant force to actually damage it, although I was not going to test that theory. Another downside to the protruding volume knob is sudden volume changes; this is possible as I have nearly deafened myself more than once when removing the Blu from my pocket. This could easily be rectified by having the volume knob so it does not protrude from the outside of the case or a volume lock.

The Blu has a microphone built in so the device can be used with your headphones to make calls on your phone, which is pretty smart, and when I have used the feature, I got no complaints from the other person over the quality of the call. However, I feel the position of the mic could perhaps be improved. It is currently located on the opposite end of the Blu to where the headphone jacks are. Whilst this might not seem like an issue, if the Blu is in your pocket or on your desk, it is likely the headphone jacks will be pointing towards your head, which means that the mic is pointing away from your head and subsequently away from your mouth. Additionally, the Blu has no means of allowing it to be attached to you, such that it has to go in your pocket, again, reducing the effectiveness of the mic, and makes for adjusting the volume slightly more difficult. However, iFi have said that they are working on a clip case which will address this issue. A lanyard would probably be the best method, allowing you to use short wires to the headphones, whilst allowing easy access and being in close proximity to the mic.

Connectivity

Firstly the Blu is designed to allow your wired headphones to be used with wireless audio transmitters or devices without a standard headphone jack, which it does. It even allows for the use of balanced headphones as it incorporates a balanced 4.4mm jack as well as a standard 3.5mm jack. The Blu uses Bluetooth v5.1, and allows for multiple codecs to be used, from your standard SBC and AAC through to Aptx HD, LDAC and LHDC. Pairing to a device is quick and simple, and pretty solid, and remembers previously connected devices, such that I can leave it off over the weekend, and as soon as I turn on the Blu on the Monday morning, it immediately pairs with my phone.

Connectivity for the majority of time works well, however, there were instances of signal loss. If the Blu is in one pocket and your phone in another, then occasionally the signal would momentarily be interrupted. Also, if the Blu is in your pocket and the phone is on a surface a few feet away, then depending on your body position (i.e. if your body is between the Blu and your phone) signal loss would again occur. However, on the whole when not too far away and a good line of sight between the devices, then the signal remains solid.

Listening

For my review I have used the Blu with my Philips X2-HR’s (unbalanced) and my Audio Technica AT-MSR7b’s (both balanced and unbalanced), listening to Spotify and local media (320kbps MP3’s and FLAC). The Go has been used with my laptop (via USB and Bluetooth) using Squeezelite-X and my Oneplus 7 (via Bluetooth) using Foobar and Poweramp.

Firstly, this little thing packs a punch for such a small device, driving both of my headphones easily (granted they are not too difficult, however it does get them loud, too loud for comfortable listening). There seems to be no difference between volume levels from the Blu when using in USB or Bluetooth mode.

Whilst listening to the Blu in the various configurations as noted above, I have been impressed with how it sounds. I have compared it to my Zen DAC, which is used with the same headphones and Squeezelite-x on my laptop; for the music that I play, lets just say I cannot tell the difference which device is driving my headphones (apart from the volume goes even higher on the Zen). This is testament to the device that iFi have developed, in that a small wireless device can keep pace with my desktop DAC amp for my music.

Obviously for higher quality music, the Zen DAC should be the preferred option given its improved capabilities, but it is a desktop DAC. However, the DAC in the Blu is capable of handling 24-bit/96KHz files, which is not to be sniffed at and is the same resolution as the popular Audioquest Dragonfly devices, and to be honest I have tried tests between Hi-Res files, FLAC and lossy files and I struggle to differentiate between them, perhaps it’s my gear, perhaps it’s my hearing, but the main thing is that I can listen to the music and tap my feet or nod my head to the beat.

The Blu has provided me some long sessions whilst working at my desk, and has handled some varied genres (think indie, rock, DnB, acoustic, hip-hop, grime, etc.) and in this time, it hasn’t failed to impress me, I have nodded along to the music, and I’ve not had to remove my headset to take a break from the music. It presents the music well, providing a nice clear, clean output, and lets the headphone sound signature be heard.

The Blu goes one step further than my Zen, in that in addition to having a bass button (XBass on the Blu and Truebass on the Zen) it also has XSpace. The Blu allows you to apply just XBass, just Xspace or both XBass and XSpace at the same time, and has a small LED that changes colour to indicate which mode it is in. As I like my bass when listening to some dance music, I always pop on the truebass on my Zen, so on the Blu I went with the XBass, however, as I was reviewing the Blu, I thought I would try the other modes. Both modes are subtle, but do add to the music, and since trying the combined Xbass & XSpace mode, I haven’t really deviated from that mode, as it just adds that little bit something to the music.

General

The main feature of the Blu is that it allows you to use your favourite wired headphones with devices that have no headphone jack but have Bluetooth (like most mobile phones these days) and you do not need to have a dongle sticking out of the phone or have the headphones connected to the phone itself. This is helpful, when your phone is tucked in a tight pocket with not much space, so you can easily tuck the Blu in a different pocket. The ability of the Blu to be used as a USB DAC is an added bonus, and a welcome one at that when you have a laptop which only has older Bluetooth versions.

When the battery starts to drop low, the LED light does change red, but as the Blu might be in your pocket the LED is useless, so iFi have thought of this and the Blu therefore gives you an audible warning. Be warned, that when it gets low, the battery does seem to die pretty quickly, however, from a fresh charge, it has no issue lasting all day when listening at normal levels. If it does die, then charging does not take too long, and if it’s plugged into a computer to charge, then you can still use it whilst it charges, so you are not without music. The Blu does seem expensive, especially when you can get the Zen DAC V2 for less, but that doesn’t have the wireless ability. You could get some wireless headphones, like the Sony WH-1000XM4, for not much more, which are totally wireless, but if you have a few sets of headphones do you need even more to add to the mix, when the Blu can make all your other headphones (semi) wireless, allowing you the freedom of which pair to wear to match the environment and music you are listening too. In addition, will the DAC in these wireless headphones be better than the Blu? I’m guessing not.

I have enjoyed my time with Blu, yes it has some minor niggles (some are just personal niggles and might not affect others), but it is well built, sounds good and gives you options. I now have the dilemma of do I buy one? I need a second DAC for when I am in the office, as currently I have the Zen DAC for use when working at home. I don’t want to be carrying it with me to the office. I could buy a second Zen (even get the V2) for less than the Blu, but then I will lose the main feature of the Blu, in that I can listen on the go. However, my ‘on the go’ is infrequent, and I do have wireless buds which are better when I’m doing manual jobs in the garden etc. as I have no wires what-so-ever to catch on anything. I think if I used public transport regularly for my commute, then the Blu would be a no brainer, as I could listen whilst on the go and when I am in the office and sat at my desk, but I drive to work, so the main feature is generally wasted on me. However, I know if I go for the dedicated desktop DAC/amp, I will miss the mobile feature for the rare occasions when I could do with it.

Given the above, if you need the portability, then without doubt the Blu is a worthwhile purchase, it allows you to use your favourite wired headphones away from your desk (or at different desks if you hot-desk) using the latest Bluetooth codecs, and provides solid performance. For those that do not need the portability or do not need to lug around their DAC then it perhaps is not as useful. However, it has to be remembered that it isn’t being touted as a desktop DAC/amp, but as a credible solution for allowing your wired headphones to be used with devices that are not compatible (like the majority of mobile phones), the ability to also act as a desktop USB DAC /amp is just an added bonus.

Edit: forgot to add photo of how small the blu is:
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