Hand in glove. When I first clapped eyes on Michael Goodman’s Glove A1 exoskeleton DAC/amplifier for the first generation Astell&Kern players in Tokyo this year I half jested that he should make something similar for iPhones and iPods. Goodman winked but kept tight lipped.
Six months down the line in Denver and Goodman has a new message for us: audiophile your iPhone. The CEntrance i5 neatly encloses the iPhone 5/5s or 5th Gen iPod Touch as any other battery-charging phone case might.
However, the audiophile twist here is that the bulk at the bottom of the unit houses a high end DAC and headphone amplifier facilitated by minituarised components on two stacked boards. The i5 promises 12 hours’ playback time between charges.
A quick listen to the prototype i5 with a pair of Beyerdynamic T1 at CEntrance’s CanJam table revealed a sound that wipes the ass of a stock iPhone. The i5 sounded big, bold, and clean whilst keeping the pocketability factor high. Another key benefit is the absence of interconnecting cabling. The i5’s XMOS USB input connects directly to the iPhone’s Lightning socket and extracts the audio digitally before handing it off to the AKM DAC chip and headphone output stage.
Goodman describes the i5 circuit as being closer to the MiniM8 than the Glove A1.
Whilst the unit will sell through overseas dealer networks and/or direct from CEntrance in the USA for US$599 from March of next year, an Indiegogo campaign has been established to get production of the first one hundred units up and running before the end of 2014. Early birds prepared to commit to the crowdfunding model will net the i5 for US$299 (and up).
Goodman says that a (larger) iPhone 6 version will arrive sometime in 2015 with which there’ll be more internal space to work with.
Further information: CEntrance