iFi Go Pods True Wireless Adapter Review

One of the audio "things" that a lot of people don't know exists are the truly-wireless adapters that have been around for a few years. These adapters go around your ear and attach to in-ear monitors with detachable cables, making any of these IEMs fully wireless -- unlike the previous versions which still had a neckband cable that connected the left and right channels through a middle module.

The first of these I tried was from Chinese brand TRN, and later companies like Fiio, Fostex, iBasso, Shure,  and others made similar products. I personally own the first and second generation TRN adapters as well as the Shure first generation one. They work well for me, but they did compromise sound quality for wireless ability. None of these featured any higher bluetooth codec than Apt-X (Not even HD version). 

iFi, makes of various amplifiers and DACs for portable audio, has now come out with their own true-wireless adapters, named Go Pods. The Go Pods initially are released as bundled partnerships with some of the biggest players in IEMs -- brands like 64 Audio, Meze, Craft Ears, Westone, and Symphonium. They are or will be also available as a stand-alone product, retailing at $399. The bundles sets, basically cut the cost of the Go Pods by half, adding on an additional $200 on top of the bundled IEM price. 

The Go Pods were sent to me directly from iFi for review. Thanks to long time Head-Fier, Cotnjoe for reaching out and allowing me to test these.

The Go Pods come with a large gem-like black plastic case. There is a USB-C charging port on the rear and side indicator lights to show charging status. Upon opening up the case, a pair of white LEDs illuminate the Go Pods and your IEM of choice. It's a pretty fun feature that makes this package unique and semi-luxurious looking.

The internal case has plenty of room for my large Subtonic Storm or my equally large CIEMs, so really, any IEM should fit comfortably within this case. It's a large case, after all, and while it's still pocketable, it may not be comfortable unless you have a large coat pocket. 

The Go Pods themselves have detatchable 0.78mm 2-pin and mmcx adapters included. They also have other options for other IEM connector types available, but these two adapters should work with the majority of products on the market. The modular side of them are also 2-pin connectors, so you could theoretically hack you way into making other adapters for over-ear headphones or other things.

On each Go Pod are two touch buttons. They are quite sensitive and easy to accidentally trigger. They control Play/Pause, Volume Up/Down and can also activate your phone's assistant feature. It's not very easy to tell where and which button I am pressing when these are being worn, so I actually end up not using them at all, because I always end up pressing the wrong button. 

Battery life on the Go Pod seems to be quite good. I have been using the ultra-power-hungry Subtonic Storm for hours now and it's still going on strong. With my iBasso DX240 DAP, I lose nearly 1% a minute of battery on it! 

One feature that I was hoping the iFi Go Pod would have was some sort of ambient sound or pass-through audio mode that is available in most of the new TWS IEMs like the Samsung Galaxy Buds and Apple Airpods. This feature is present in the Shure True Wireless Adapter, and is the only one with that. This seems like a missed opportunity for iFi here. I love the ability to hear my surroundings while using IEMs, and more importantly, hear when people need me for something. That said, some may not care as they want full isolation when enjoying their music.

As for an app, this is where I feel iFi is quite limited, or at least, needs work. There is an app that can update the firmware and change a couple things, but it's not super user friendly, and it's oddly called Gaia instead of something more obvious like, iFi, or something like that. When you open the app, it seems quite primitive and more like a debugger menu than a normal consumer user interface, so I hope there is more work done on this front in the future.

Sound Impressions & Comparisons

The Go Pod has a surprisingly good neutral/warm sound that is actually way better than I thought. If you've read many of my reviews, impressions, or have followed me via the various social networks, I am not a big fan of iFi products - for many reasons, and sound is usually one of them. It seems they are not using their typical iFi house DAC filter in this product, as it only features the Slow Roll-Off or Fast Roll-Off options, and perhaps its just because of the use of the Cirrus Logic DACs. Either way, the sound is much more appealing to me.

The LDAC Bluetooth option also improves clarity and dynamics significantly over all my prior true wireless adapters which limited users to SBC, AAC or AptX codecs, which have much lower bitrates than the higher resolution LDAC. This is quite noticeable in pretty much everything I listened to and its a welcome change to hear most music at near Redbook quality again.

Go Pods with Subtonic Storm

The Subtonic Storm is a power hungry IEM in every sense of the word. It has the same sensitivity rating as the infamous Hifiman Susvara and HE6 headphones, and it has a low resistance rating making both power hungry for volume and power hungry for battery. In many cases, I have to be very selective of what source I use the Storm with because it will tear apart my battery faster than I can charge it! 

With the Go Pod, the Storm was surprisingly well balanced. It has a full sound, with punch dynamics and good resolution. It's a far cry from using the Storm with the Shure adapters or the TRN adapters, which both struggled to keep an enjoyable volume, even at maximum volume. With the Go Pod, I was able to get to my normal listening volumes with a little bit of headroom left, and got it quite loud at maximum volume.

Go Pods with Hidition Viento

When testing the Go Pods with my Hidition Viento, I was able to try two new things from my impressions with the Storm: (1) mmcx connectors and (2) custom fit IEMs. Yes, my CIEM Viento is with the mmcx option, and the Go Pods do include mmcx connectors in the box. I had no issues attaching them to the Viento and they were easily swappable in the Go Pod.

When I use the Viento I do that its comfortable for a little bit but over time, it does tend to hurt to wear with the Go Pod. This is the SAME case with other true wireless adapters I've used in the past. I think this is mostly due to the actual amp/dac part's weight and that its pulling back the CIEM out of its natural position, and therefore not fitting correctly. And, any slight incorrect fit on a CIEM can lead to some pain. 

That aside, the Go Pod sounds very good with the Viento. It's very rich and balanced, with good detail and power. There's much more power here than the other adapters I've used in the past, and a much more black background.

Final Thoughts

The Go Pods are a surprisingly great sounding set of wireless adapters. I have had many mixed feelings about iFi products in the past, but this one seems to hit its mark with sound quality and power that most of the other competition miss out on. If iFi can improve its software app, it can really hit a homerun here, but even so, the app isn't truly necessary to enjoy the experience. 

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