iFi Audio GO Bar Kensei Review

Today we review the $449 USD iFi Audio GO Bar Kensei, a portable USB DAC/Amp from the UK.

 

Disclaimer: The iFi Go Bar Kensei unit was provided directly by iFi Audio. The review reflects my sincere opinions as always.

About iFi Audio

iFi Audio, a subsidiary of the AMR group, specializes in crafting high-quality audio equipment, spanning DACs, amplifiers, and various audio accessories. Known for its customer-centric approach, iFi Audio consistently delivers products that blend innovation with user satisfaction.

I’ve reviewed several iFi Audio products over the years, but I can highlight the xDSD Gryphon below, which is still a recommended DAC/Amp:

You can more of our iFi Audio product reviews here.

GO Bar Kensei

The GO Bar Kensei is iFi Audio’s latest iteration of their original GO Bar, positioning itself as the “ultimate GO Bar.” Drawing inspiration from Japanese swordsmanship, the Kensei title denotes an elite sword master, reflecting the precision and craftsmanship embodied in this device.

iFi markets the Kensei as an excellent USB DAC/Amp, particularly suited for MacBook Pro users, but it is compatible with any device featuring a USB output. True to form, iFi integrates high-quality components from renowned manufacturers such as Murata, Panasonic, TDK, and Tantalum.

Key technical features of the GO Bar Kensei mirror those of the standard GO Bar, including:

  • Ultra-res PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz via USB, native playback up to DSD256, 2x DXD
  • xBass+ & xSpace
  • Turbo Mode & IEMatch
  • Digital Filters: Bit Perfect, GTO, Min Phase, and Standard

The device supports both a 4.4mm balanced connection and a 3.5mm standard connection.

Upgrades in the Kensei version include:

  • K2HD Processing: Enhanced digital audio processing for superior sound quality.
  • Engraved Wooden Box: Aesthetic upgrade providing a premium presentation.
  • Ultra Low Jitter: Improved precision and stability in audio playback.
  • Enhanced Power Supply: Better power management for more consistent performance.

To me, the GO Bar Kensei is a mass-produced counterpart of the limited-edition Gold Bar. While many hoped iFi would simply increase the production of the Gold Bar, the Kensei serves as an upgraded alternative to the original GO Bar.

For those curious about the “K2HD” technology, it represents a high-definition audio processing method known for its superior audio quality. It can be further explored in specialized audio literature or articles like iFi’s article here.

Packaging

The GO Bar Kensei arrives in a compact box, characteristic of iFi’s eco-friendly packaging approach. The unboxing experience is straightforward and user-friendly, maintaining iFi’s commitment to recyclable materials. However, the Kensei version includes a special touch: a wooden box that houses the device, adding a premium feel to the unboxing experience.

Inside, you’ll find a leather carrying case, a USB adapter (Type-C to full-size USB), and two high-quality USB cables: one Type-C and one Apple Lightning. This ensures compatibility with a wide range of devices, including Apple products. The included cables are the same “audiophile OTG” cables that iFi sells separately, known for their high quality, which adds value to the overall package.

Page 2: Design & Build, Overall Experience, Sound General
Page 3: Sound Details, Comparisons, Conclusion
4.4/5 - (127 votes)
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A keen audiophile and hobby photographer, Berkhan is after absolute perfection. Whether it is a full-frame camera or a custom in-ear, his standpoint persists. He tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level as audio. Sometimes photography wins, sometimes his love for music takes over and he puts that camera aside. Simplistic expressions of sound in his reviews are the way to go for him. He enjoys a fine single malt along with his favourite Jazz recordings.

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