The THX Onyx could well be the ultimate portable DAC/headphone amp
April 8, 2021

When it’s THX, expect little but the best. The THX Onyx is not just one of the most advanced DAC/headphone amplifiers to come on the market, it’s also the first product that THX has developed to sell directly to consumers. Portable DAC’s help greatly enhance the quality of sound from a phone or laptop source and a pair of headphones, and this is a field with multiple players, from Audioquest to most recently Astell&Kern.

The THX Onyx dongle has been designed to drive all manner of headphones – those with impedances from 22ohms to 600 – via its 3.5mm jack, through which desktop speakers can also be connected.

It’s the first DAC of its kind to utilise THX’s AAA-78 amplifier technology, which is the highest-powered configuration within the company’s Achromatic Audio Amplifier design and promises the same power output as a desktop THX AAA DAC amp, while in a far more compact form factor. According to THX, this technology reduces harmonic, intermodulation, and crossover distortion by up to 40dB, and promises a performance with infinitesimally low levels of noise and distortion. It also claims this makes the Onyx up to five times more powerful than other similar USB DACs. That AAA technology is bolstered by an ESS ES9281PRO DAC chip, as well as a Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) renderer for playing back MQA hard files and (MQA-encoded) Tidal Masters in their native quality.

The THX Onyx is able to render MQA files at 768kHz resolution, and can also handle regular PCM files at a maximum resolution of 32-bit/384kHz. It also handles DSD 128. The type of file being decoded by the Onyx is indicated by three colored LEDs on the body of the device. The cross-platform THX Onyx device can be plugged into a computer running macOS or Windows 10, Android and iOS devices.

The THX Onyx DAC/headphone amplifier is now available for $200 on thx.com/onyx and razer.com

by Anil George
Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2018, CES 2017, 2016 and 2015. Anil is also the Middle East's first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering. Reach him at: editor@t3me.com.
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