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High-quality headphone amplifier for iPhone doubles as a 3600mAh power bank

High-quality headphone amplifier for iPhone doubles as a 3600mAh power bank

If you consider yourself an audiophile, and if you also happen to be an iPhone user, then here's an accessory that might pique your interest – the TechFreeR Head-Fi. It is an audio DAC (digital-to-analog converter) designed with iOS devices in mind, made to take your music listening experience to a whole new level. The gadget also doubles as a power bank with a capacity of 3600mAh, so it can also be used to recharge an iPhone on the go. Neat, huh?

So here's how the audio magic happens. The TechFreeR Head-Fi connects to an iPhone, or any iOS device, over its Lightning interface. Digital data is then fed into an AP918 audio processor, which is connected over I2S to a PCM1798 audio DAC. This chip, made by Texas Instruments, supports 96kHz sampling rate at a resolution of 24 bits for an audiophile-grade sound. At the output, a TI TPA6130 chip pumps out 130mW of clear, amplified audio straight into your headphones. 

How do you get one? Well, you can't. At least not yet. The TechFreeR Head-Fi is a Kickstarter project with a goal of 35 000 Canadian dollars, and only a fraction of that has been raised as of this writing. But with over a month until the campaign's end, this audiophile-centric iPhone accessory has a good chance at materializing later this summer. A pledge of 109 Canadian dollars gets you one in either black or silver, which is a pretty good deal given the gizmo's estimated retail price of over 229 bucks. 



source: Kickstarter

14 Comments
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posted on 28 Apr 2014, 05:44

1. gigaraga (Posts: 1373; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)


Looks really awesome....now all they need to do is build one for Android phones in general! (Mostly the more popular ones of course...)

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 15:19

13. 0xFFFF (Posts: 3649; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)


Android is generally a mess when it comes to audio quality, especially headphone output. The HTC One M8 is the only Android phone that supports good quality headphone output out of the box (I'm specifically not counting external amps, external D/A, etc.).

Apple still sets the bar, having good quality headphone output on the iPod Touch 5G and iPhone 5S. The iPhone 5C is pretty good too, but is a small step down from the 5S.

For a reference of quality measurements, check this review of the iPod Touch 5G. Keep in mind this is a 2012 device. Here we are two years later, and there is only one Android phone that has output quality similar in quality to a $229 iPod.

http://www.kenrockwell.com/apple/ipod-touch-5g/audio-quality.htm

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 07:02

2. Bootutu (Posts: 189; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


I prefer Wolfson DAC.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 07:22

3. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 894; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


Funny that according to GSMArena or even PhoneArena Wolfson powered phones are not on top. Inform yourself a bit and you will find that HTC and Apple phones currently have the best headphone output.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 08:45 3

5. Bootutu (Posts: 189; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


Read experts review not some blog testing, every flagship phone on GSMARENA performs awesome, if you know anything, Wolfson DAC with right implementation blows everything out there, qualcomm and cirrus logic can't touch wolfson, you clearly don't know anything about audio.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 09:28 1

7. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 894; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


Honestly i don't think GSMArena would say the M8 has the best audio quality output of a mobile device so far including tablets if it wasn't. And i'm talking about out of the box configuration, i had a WM8994 powered device with Voodoo sound and it sounded awesome, most DACs nowadays are good enough. The thing i like about HTC's headphone output is the inline amp they use.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 09:42 1

8. McLTE (Posts: 714; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


You must be confused about this article.. this is about an EXTERNAL amp. Arguing that the "out of the box" sound is "good enough" really shows that you aren't an audiophile.

Bootutu was talking about preferring Wolfson for EXTERNAL applications, I'm assuming.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 15:34 1

14. 0xFFFF (Posts: 3649; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)


I believe you are right and Bootutu was referring to an external amp, but CanYouSeeTheLight has a good point. HTC and Apple offer devices that offer really good audio quality with many headphones without requiring an external amp.

It is somewhat ironic that this Kickstarter company is focusing on Apple first, as they have the least need for an external amp that is meant to be carried around with the phone.

There is a far greater need in the Android world, especially all of Samsung's Qualcomm-based phones. The Qualcomm versions of the Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3 could all benefit from a high quality headphone amp. Qualcomm may do many things well, but providing high quality headphone output is not one of them.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 09:13

6. buccob (Posts: 1548; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


Yeah I also noticed that since the release of the Galaxy S II... it was said to have great audio quality, but to my ears, my Motorola Atrix was miles ahead...

Then the Galaxy S3 was said to have also amazing sound with the Wolfson chip, but it did not impressed me much either... my current Sony Xperia Acro S a great experience specially with FLAC files.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 11:35 1

10. ocilfa (Posts: 333; Member since: 03 Aug 2012)


If your Galaxy S3 was from within the US, then you never had the Wolfson chipset in the first place, just Quallcomms own chip. No wonder you were not impressed.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 12:26

12. buccob (Posts: 1548; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


I had the international version.. bought factory unlocked in Germany... still not impressed... though it was a vast improvement over the SGS2... and to my not-so-audiophile-ears on par with the old Atrix and my Xperia Acro S...

I am not saying it was bad... but I have had other portable players in my life that sounded similar or better... and even at cheap prices... The Sansa Clip comes to mind.... and my Archos AV500 was another... (though Creative players were also very good)

I never had a Zune... but they had the reputation, so I wonder if Nokia/Microsoft have the same audio quality in their devices... Anyone knows?

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 08:44

4. Bootutu (Posts: 189; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


Read experts review not some blog testing, every flagship phone on GSMARENA performs awesome, if you know anything, Wolfson DAC with right implementation blows everything out there, qualcomm and cirrus logic can't touch wolfson, you clearly don't anything about audio.

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 10:38

9. adwienc (Posts: 134; Member since: 26 Mar 2014)


Shame that iOS7 music player is just bad, iOS6 was good but nothing beats PowerAMP

posted on 28 Apr 2014, 12:24 1

11. DnB925Art (Posts: 388; Member since: 23 May 2013)


If you have/had a Samsung phone, only the Exynos/Hummnigbird (not the Snapdragon ones) have the Wolfson DAC. My Galaxy S Epic 4G, Nexus S 4G, and Galaxy Note 2 (Sprint) all have the Wolfson DAC.

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