Periodic Audio just launched a new portable dongle DAC called The Rhodium. Product nomenclature is based around the big periodic table for the audio company, so to the best of my knowledge, the new mobile digital source doesn’t contain any actual rhodium ironically.
What it does contain is the capability to decode your precious ones and zeros from a mobile source (or computer) via USB-C connection to a 3.5mm jack. File sizes can reach up to 32-bit/384kHz and the unit even comes with an adaptor to integrate to a full size, old school USB port. This also becomes helpful when considering the application to a non-USB-C phone, like an iPhone perhaps. Connecting to an iPhone does include some additional wiring, requiring a the Camera Connection Kit (CCK) to get things to properly ported through the lighting jack. According to Periodic, The Rhodium can be used to pull a full “separates” rig in a portable setup by running the analog output from the DAC into the company’s Nickel portable headphone “amplifier” before connecting to headphones.
Perhaps the most standout feature is the cost, coming to market at a mere $49. From the quick spec list rundown, it appears to few less bells and whistles than the Astell and Kern USB-C Dual DAC Cable announced a few weeks ago, but for 1/3 the price.
Apparently more and more manufacturers are responding to the outdating of the 3.5mm jack, Periodic Audio also sells this T-Shirt on their website, which we think is spot on for conserving the fidelity that you can only get from a wired connection (currently). Hopefully we can see an equal playing field on this front in the very near future.
More from the press release:
“Although the Rhodium is extremely desktop-friendly, in keeping with our ‘Mobile-First’ design ethos,” Wiggins continued, “of course it also fits in your pocket, and can easily be used to enhance music from your mobile devices. While we suggest that the ultimate portable system would be a Rhodium paired with our Nickel amp and award-winning in-ear monitors, the Rhodium delivers proper hi-fi performance no matter how or where you listen.”
Periodic co-founder Ben Webster continued the story: “Creating an audio-signal path comprising a Rhodium DAC, Nickel analog power amp, and a pair of our IEMs was no accident. We saw an opportunity to emulate the highly successful and logical signal-path architectures represented in the high-end audio component space. The Nickel’s high-input impedance effectively turns the Rhodium into a precision DAC-preamplifier, and the pristine signal feeding the Nickel’s analog input stage does wonders for the sound quality of the high-efficiency IEMs we build. The combination sounds like a system of perfectly matched high-end components—the difference is that you can stick it in your pocket!”
Ideal for devices lacking a 3.5mm output, the Rhodium provides signal conversion up to 32-bit/384kHz, to directly feed a high-power amplifier output stage for wired headphones.
This tiny yet complex package incorporates precision audio-grade passive components in all audio pathways. High-stability power supply bypasses guarantee low noise and minimize distortion.
To ensure years of trouble-free use, the Rhodium incorporates proprietary, high-strand, oxygen-free copper (OFC) wire inside a robust woven textile jacket and molded aluminum shells.
In addition to handling hi-res files of up to 32-bit/384kHz, the Rhodium delivers an astonishing frequency response of 2Hz-192kHz at +0/–3dB, a dynamic range of 113dB, and a signal/noise ratio of 108dB. All of that comes with less than 0.007% total harmonic distortion in a device that, out of the box, is compatible with Android, iOS,* MacOS, and Windows operating systems, and weighs less than a nickel (the coin, not our spectacular Nickel amp).
The Periodic Audio Rhodium DAC is now available via the company’s direct site and dealer network. Retail price is $49.
More info: Periodic Audio Rhodium DAC