(November 30, 2020) MQA has found its way into several news stories in recent weeks, and today’s announcement from HELM Audio continues the trend. Originally revealed at CES 2020, HELM has officially launched its MQA capable USB "BOLT DAC/AMP," designed for use with computers and portable devices.
BOLT is a palm-sized DAC/AMP combo device that supports an impressive range of Hi-Res audio formats. It’s capable of receiving PCM files up to 384 kHz and DSD up to 5.6 MHz while also rendering Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) files, with output at 88.2 kHz or 96kHz resolutions. According to HELM, BOLT’s 3.5mm output allows for a low-noise, high-output connection to most any headphones, with onboard auto-output level adjustment to match impedance.
BOLT's USB-C connection is designed to be plug-and-play with Android, iOS, Windows, and Linux devices (iOS requires a Lightning to USB Camera Adapter). A surface LED lets users visually confirm what kind of rendering is taking place. A magenta light indicates MQA Audio, red signifies better than 48 kHz, and Blue is associated with 48 kHz or less.
In addition to MQA certification, BOLT has passed numerous quality tests fetching it THX Certification for performance aspects such as frequency response, distortion, noise, and output.
“Our partnership with two audio industry innovators in MQA and THX means our users can count on an ultra-premium audio experience,” said Eric Johnson, CEO of HELM Audio. “We have combined MQA’s award-winning technology with THX performance quality in a carefully curated, compact, durable, and affordable product design, democratizing audiophile quality through affordability,” he added.
HELM Audio’s BOLT is currently back-ordered until December 8; however, if you order today (Cyber Monday), HELM is offering $15 off plus a free hat. To order, click here and enter CMBOLT15 at checkout.