Review - Myer Audio CKLVX D41

Review - iFi Audio Go Pod

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TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - iFi Go Pod

The iFi Go Pod have been loaned me to by iFi Audio for me to check them out and to share my opinion of them in this review. As usual with iFi, they have made no requests or comments and I will do my best to be as unbiased and sincere as humanly possible.

You can find the official page for the Go Pod here: https://ifi-audio.com/products/go-pod/

As always, this is a non affiliate link. I do not benefit in any way from clicks or purchases made via the link (or any other link that I share).


Intro…

The Go Pod are a set of bluetooth ear hooks that attach to IEMs of your choice, effectively turning them into a set of TWS IEMs. This idea is nothing new, there are quite a few options on the market and there have been for a while, however, I do think that this is the first time that a company has specifically aimed for the higher end of the market with this kind of product.

I say higher end as the Go Pod sell for just under 400€, which is by no means a price point that is going to attract those of you who are more interested in my sub 50€ reviews! They make this even more apparent by offering the Go Pod as part of a bundle, selling them in combination with IEMs and giving a choice of 6 different models to choose from, ranging from just under 800€, up to 1400€. 

The IEMs that you can choose as part of a bundle are two models from Meze Audio (the Rai Penta and the Advar), one from Symphonium Audio (the Meteor), the Craft Ears Aurum, the 64 Audio U4s and the Westone Mach 60. As you can see from the list, iFi know that the Go Pod is not something people are going to pick up for a set of budget IEMs (although, if you have the available funds, you will have a great source for them!).

Apart from the Go Pod, iFi was also kind enough to send along the Meze Audio Rai Penta for me to check out, which is very much appreciated as it is a set of IEMs that I had never had a chance to listen to until now.

One final note before I continue is just to recap on my usual use of Bluetooth, which is not exactly a main part of my set up. I do own a few TWS IEMs but I hardly use them and I have a few more that I have tested lately but haven’t really found them interesting enough to spend time with them and create a review. My main use case for Bluetooth (except in the car or with BT speakers around the pool etc.) is when I am moving around and want to be hands free. For this I have two devices that I use almost exclusively, the Shanling MW200 (a bluetooth neckband) and the iFi Go Blu. 

The Go Blu is the “throw in my pocket” device, while the MW200 is something I choose when I want to be totally hands free, such as when travelling through airports etc. While I feel there is margin for improvement with the MW200, so far I haven’t come accross a TWS set that has made me want to ditch the neckband set up. One reason is that I can use any IEM that I choose but another is because I love being able to just remove and dangle the IEMs around my neck without having to worry about putting them in a case and then in my pocket etc.

So, what does the Go Pod have at 400€ that makes it better than the alternatives? 


Presentation…

Keeping up with the traditional packaging of iFi, the Go Pod arrives in a simple white box with images of the product on the sleeve that covers it.  On the back we find information an spec about the product.

Inside the box, well packed as is usual with the brand, we receive a fairly large storage/charging case, inside of which sit the pods themselves. Underneath the case, we get 3 sets of cables (MMCX, 2 Pin and Pentaconn Ear), the charging cable and the usual documentation, start guide and iFi sticker.

Straight off we already have something that sets the Go Pod apart from the competition, being the inclusion of three sets of cables. Usually we would need to choose the connectors of choice when purchasing the device but iFi includes all three options, meaning we can use it with the IEMs of our choice without worrying about connector types. 

This is something that I find is a huge plus as, although I don’t have any Pentaconn Ear style, I do have a combination of MMCX and 2 Pin IEMs in my collection and this has allowed me to try whatever I felt like at the time. Well, that would be true if two of my most used IEMs didn’t have connectors that are such a pain to find cables for. The Svanar has a 2 pin socket that is slightly smaller than usual, meaning I have had to sand down cables in the past to fit. However, although a little tight, the Go Pod cables do actually fit (more on that in a second). The Sennheiser IE600 is a different story, the MMCX sockets have a ring around them that stops normal MMCX connectors from entering enough, as is the case with the Go Pod, but all is not lost, I will talk about these a bit more in just a moment..

So, as usual, I have no complaints with the presentation of products from iFi, they are packaged in a simple but effective way and include the items necessary to just enjoy the product.


Build and Aesthetics…

The pods themselves are a long rectangular shape (sort of), with corners that taper in at the bottom. At the top of the pods there is a recessed 2 pin connector that is where the cables connect, forming ear hooks that rest over your ears. The body of the pods is made from plastic which has a textured black finish to it. On the outer side of the pods there is a large metallic surface which is divided by a small line (it is easier to look at the photos than me explain it), which is where the controls reside. On the inside of the pods there are two small round contacts that are for them to charge when placed in the case.

The case is also made of black plastic, without any texturing this time but with a modern use of shapes on the top, along with the iFi logo, to break up the monotony of a simple black box. On the left of the box there are 4 square LEDs that illuminate to show the battery remaining in the case. Due to the way these are pleced, they are visible both from the outside and from the inside when opening the lid.

The lid is on hinges and opens to reveal two large spaces at either side of the interior, with two small white LEDs built into the inside of the lid. These LEDs illuminate when opening the case and do give it a bit of a premium look as they reflect onto the velvety inside of the cover. They also illuminate it enough in a dark place for you to see what you are doing when placing the IEMs/pods back in the case.

The interior of the two large spaces, towards the center, has a shaped divider, creating two smaller compartments that where the pods fit (and charge), with the top of the spaces shaped to the angle of the cable and leading to two very large open spaces where your IEMs will sit. The design and space means that there should be no issue fitting any IEMs you choose inside the case without having to detach them from the pods.

As far as comfort… The pods are noticeable when you are first wearing them, as the bend of the hooks is quite sharp (sharp as in angle, not sharp as in will cut you) and you are effectively placing two big black boxes behind your ears. After a short while, the sensation disappears and you no longer notice the boxes (at least I don’t). Comfort will also depend on the IEMs of choice though, as the hooks/cables do dictate to some extent where the IEMs will sit. In other words, how deep you can insert them. I have found that I have had to opt for larger tips on a few of the models I have tried due to them sitting a little further out of my ear than they do with a normal, more supple, cable. With other models that already sit further out of the ear, there should be no difference in comfort to using a normal cable (except for that short while of getting used to the feel of the boxes).

To be honest, I can’t say I am hugely in love with the aesthetics of the Go Pod but I do understand that what you can do with a box containing a battery and electronics is rather limited, especially if you don’t want to sacrifice size or comfort. I suppose that the only negative here would be the size of the case, as it is on the large side, too large to comfortably carry around in a pocket (at least my pockets).


Functionality…

It is nice to find that the Go Pod includes all of the functionality that I would personally like from a TWS device. A single tap works to play/pause/answer calls, a double tap skips forwards, a triple tap skips back and then volume is increased or decreased by holding the corresponding side (left for down, right for up). To those manufacturers out there who insist on not putting volume control on their TWS IEMs, please take note, it's not that difficult 🙂

Other functions are calling the assistant by tapping then holding, entering pairing mode by holding both sides for over two seconds and a full power reset by holding for over 12 seconds.

In my opinion, that is all the functionality I need and nothing I don’t. If iFi decides to release an APP for the Go Pod, then things like EQ would be more than welcome but as far as control, I am very happy without needing to do anything on my phone.


Sound…

As I mentioned already, my go to for wireless is either the Go Blu (which is not exactly wireless, at least not to the IEMs) or the Shanling MW200. Both offer me enough as far as sound quality while on the move and whenever I am doing any detailed listening, or specifically listening to music (i.e: not doing other things at the same time), then I opt for a cable.

With the Go Pods, I would say that the step up in quality in comparison to both of those devices is very noticeable. Where with other portable BT setups I have always been under the impression that it’s “good enough”, with the Go Pod I get the impression that it’s just “darn good”, and I don’t mean just “darn good for Bluetooth”

Obviously the IEMs selected are going to play the biggest part in the sound quality, which is to be expected, but using the same IEMs across multiple sources, the Go Pod is high on the enjoyment list. In fact, for general listening, I would have no issue with just using these instead of the Gryphon (which is my portable DAC/Amp of choice). 

The Go Pod have some kind of tech in them that senses the impedance of the IEMs you connect and adapts the amplifier output to best match said IEMs. This results in something that has a lot less background noise than on the majority of other iFi portable solutions with IEMs (even the Gryphon can be a bit noisy with super sensitive IEMs).

I obviously can’t say how this will work with all IEMs out there, whether there will be sets that don’t work well with this technology or that still experience noise, but with the IEMs that I have tried, I have had no noise issues at all.

My first session was with the Meze Rai Penta that iFi kindly supplied with the Go Pod. This pairing sounds very good but as I have not heard the Rai Penta on my other systems, I couldn’t really say what the Go Pod is adding or taking away from the mix. If I get a chance, I will at least give the Rain Penta a quick listen on my other systems and maybe offer a quick report later.

Then I moved on to IEMs that I know much better, starting off with the Hifiman Svanar. The Go Pod cables do fit these IEMs but they are very tight. In fact, I regretted putting them on the Svanar when I tried to remove them. WIth patience, they will come out but I have to be honest, I got a little worried because the Go Pod are on loan! However, I am glad I tried them as they are not only my preferred IEMs, they are also IEMs that I find very revealing of sources.

With the Go Pod, I feel that the Svanar is a bit warmer and smoother than with my other portable set ups. These are not harsh IEMs anyway, they have a nice bit of warmth to them, and the combination seems to highlight that warmth and smoothness, becoming even more relaxing and musical. I could (and did) sit for hours listening to these. In fact, it is the only time I actually ran out of battery with the Go Pod (although I didn’t actually time it, so that’s not much use to you all 🙂 )

With the Kiwi Ears Quintet, which is a set that I spent a fair bit of time with lately and enjoy, I also enjoyed the pairing, although that lack of excitement that I mentioned with some female vocals in the review is a little more apparent with the Go Pod.

I also threw on the Dunu Talos and found that the midbass that I liked so much on them is very well presented, along with no lack of that detail in the mids that I enjoy on this set. The slight sibilance in the upper ranges is tamed a little, although not eliminated, and I would say that this set is improved by using the iFi as a source. As this was the case, I grabbed the Vulkan, another Dunu set which is a little harsher and unbalanced in the upper ranges, and again, things got just that little bit smoother with the Go Pod.

The last (but certainly not least) set I want to talk about is the Sennheiser IE600. As I said under presentation, the included MMCX cables do not fit the IE600, however, speaking with another member of the headphones.com forum, he mentioned that iFi has actually released some MMCX cables that do fit the Sennheiser IE series (he has the IE900) and that the newer packages include these cables, although he was sent a set separately when he contacted iFi to enquire. This was something that interested me even more and being the pain I am, I reached out to iFi to see if I could get hold of a set. 

Ricardo (from iFi), who puts up with me being a pain, went out of his way to track down a set and send them out to me also. I am so glad he did.

I mentioned in a recent update that I have been using custom tips on my IE600 and how they have not only improved sound slightly but also improved isolation by a lot. Well, the IE600 paired with the Go Pod is nothing short of a great portable set up. I do find it a little difficult (even more than I mentioned in my custom tip update) to get them in and out, but when they are in, wow. I can’t see me needing anything else when travelling or just generally moving around hands free. The sound combination is a match that just works well for me, with that extra bit of punchiness from the improved tips along with that extra bit of smoothness from the Go Pod. 

Usually, when I get to my desk, I will either swap to headphones or IEMs connected to my desktop set up or the Gryphon, with the Go Pod and IE600, I found that I didn’t even bother, I just continued to enjoy. The only problem was getting them out when I needed to talk to someone 🙂

While I would have loved to go through a ton more sets, from cheap to expensive, I think that we can already see a bit of a trend as far as sound with the iFi Go Pod. Things are slightly more relaxed and there is a bit more musicality and warmth without forfeiting detail. For me to be saying this about a bluetooth device is quite an achievement.


Conclusion…

I have gone through quite a few Bluetooth combinations over the past couple of year, from dongles to neckbands and TWS IEMs to BT headphones, none of which have really drawn me in. Out of all of them, I have just stuck with the Go Blu and the MW200, which are not the most amazing as far as sound (although both are pretty good) but trump the rest when it comes to function.

The Go Pod are the first device that I would actually say that I would happily replace both of them with, as it maintains the functionality but increases sound quality. I would miss the neckband style of the MW200 as I love the fact that I can just remove them from my ears and let them dangle, but there are solutions that can be implemented with the Go Pod.

That is not to say that there aren’t any negatives with the Go Pod. The most notable for most is going to be the price. 400€ for a set of Bluetooth ear hooks is by no means cheap. Then again, nor is 600€ for the iFi Gryphon, so it’s all a case of perspective. I know plenty of people who want to be wireless and seeing the options that are out there, I think that the Go Pod plus a set of IEMs that you really enjoy could be very much an end game for many people. 

Myself, I enjoy sitting down and plugging in, yet, for the first time in my BT experience, it may come down to just that, the feeling of sitting down and plugging in rather than any necessary sonic improvement. 

The Go Pod really is the best portable Bluetooth source that I have heard to date and I have them clearly on my wish list. In fact, if it wasn’t due to me reviewing IEMs and headphones, I would seriously consider replacing all of my portable devices with just these. As it is, I am seriously struggling to not purchase them!


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