Nobody uses wired audio solutions anymore right? Right? Those who spend more time fiddling with frequencies than sleeping each day might well disagree. With the removal of headphone jacks on smartphones and other devices, ‘dongle life’ has well and truly hit. But it’s not always a bad thing as the Periodic Audio Rhodium DAC shows.
- Perfectly formed
- Controlled, punchy sound
- High-end might be aggressive for some
Wireless is the new normal, sure, but audiophiles and those precious about specific soundstages will tell you that wired beats wireless in almost all scenarios save perhaps convenience. Thankfully, those wishing to improve their audio experience are also no doubt well and truly part of the dongle-life crowd and as such, tagging along a small USB adapter to their everyday carry isn’t going to be a deal breaker.
Periodic Audio, aside from having a clever marketing scheme/naming convention, has produced a tiny USB DAC which attempts to punch above its weight. The Rhodium DAC has a small foot/palm print and a large dynamic range.
The packaging continues with Periodic Audio’s element-inspired branding, with the periodic symbol for Rhodium (Rh) prominently placed. Inside the small packaging, there isn’t much more in truth. A small package containing a Type C to Type A USB adapter along with the USB Type C to 3.5mm AUX jack for connecting your wired headphones of choice.
- Frequency Response2 Hz to 192 kHz, +0/-3 dB
- Dynamic Range113 dB
- SNR108 dB A wt.
- THDLess than 0.007%
- Output Power31 mW @ 32Ohms
- Current Consumption 23 mA @ 1 mW output
- Cable Length 63mm
- Mass4.4 grams
- Operational Temperature-20 to +50° C
- Operational Humidity 0-95% Relative Humidity
- Retention Force1.8 Newtons
- Overall Length117 mm
- Max Width10.8 mm
- Max Thickness 6.9 mm
In The Box
- TypeC to 3.5mm/Aux DAC
- Type C to type A USB adapter
Audio & Use
The Rhodium DAC is designed to sit between your USB Type-C port on your mobile device and the wired headset you are choosing to listen to audio on. With the included adapter, the Rhodium can be used on a wider variety of devices, such as laptops, etc.
There’s a large frequency range spanning 5Hz up to 160kHz, as well as being able to output digital audio up to 32bit/384kHz. Weighing just 6 grams, it’s perfect for carrying along with you.
All this is great, but how does it affect the audio in use? I tested several wired, over-the-ear headphones with the Rhodium DAC whilst connected to a Dell XPS laptop and it’s fair to say that there is a considerable difference in the audio. For me, that’s a pleasurable experience. Let me explain.
In most genres of music, the Rhodium DAC delivered a more rounded listening experience. The audio was tighter and more punchy but without any clarity loss. For non-audiophiles, like myself, the best analogy I could come up with is that they sound like you’re in the recording studio listening to the artist, as opposed to hearing a mastered output. There’s just more to listen to, especially in the mid-ranges. I like my low-end too, and testing with Hip-Hop-inspired beats gives a warm and robust rumble that just amps up the tune a notch than using without the DAC.
Word of the Moment; Control
There’s just more control with the Rhodium DAC; that’s the word. It’s just come to me. I’ve read other reviewers, since testing, describing the high-end as overpowering and aggressive, but for me, I didn’t find that to be the case. I specifically listened to some older Trance/Dance music to bring out the treble in an attempt to elicit the same opinion, but thankfully I couldn’t reproduce it often. Your mileage may vary.
The Rhodium DAC just seems to take your drivers, and control the output more. It’s like putting a warm fleece on on a cold day; it just adds to the experience.
There is a significant enough difference between naked audio and that heard whilst using the Rhodium DAC for me to recommend them. At around £50, it’s a relatively small amount in addition to the money no doubt spent on the wired headphones, to elevate your listening. It’s small, lightweight therefore portable, and extremely easy to use (the epitome of Plug & Play), and for me, if you’re after that step up, it’s got to be worth a look!