THX Onyx is the first headphone DAC that promises Master Quality Authenticated stream through a USB port

THX Onyx DAC Amp Combo
An entire desktop-grade DAC and Amplifier inside a tiny package. Pic credit: THX

THX, the company, that helps production houses and cinema creators to offer truly immersive sound, has come up with a tiny DAC called Onyx. The device promises to offer high-quality audio on any smartphone, be it an Android or iOS running iPhone, and even a laptop or PC running Windows 10.

The THX Onyx is a tiny amplifier and Digital-to-Analog-Converter (DAC) combo. It is one of the first portable and consumer-friendly devices from THX that promises immersive audio through a USB port.

What is the THX Onyx DAC-amp combo?

The THX Onyx is a USB dongle with a cord on one end and a headphone jack on the other. The USB side has a USB Type-C port as well as a legacy USB Type-A adapter.

The USB Type-C side on the THX Onyx can connect to any device with a USB Type-C port. With the USB Type-A adapter, the device can connect to any laptop or desktop.

Internally, the THX Onyx has a THX AAA-78 amplifier chip. THX has indicated the Onyx is the first portable DAC/amp to use the component.

Incidentally, the THX AAA-78 amplifier chip is the highest-powered mobile THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier configuration. The chip makes the THX Onyx just as powerful as a desktop DAC or amplifier setup in a much smaller package.

The AAA-78 chip promises to reduce three types of distortion by up to 40dB and maximizes output power for a more dynamic range and Sound Pressure Level (SPL). THX assures pristine sound quality, or as the company puts it, “extreme highest fidelity audio”.

The THX Onyx has an ESS ES9281PRO DAC. This component is important as it promises to offer studio-like sound quality.

The tiny DAC-amp combo draws all the power it needs from a computer or mobile device. Moreover, it does all the processing on board to deliver better sound to a pair of headphones automatically. There are no buttons to press, no dials to turn, and nothing to configure.

What does the THX Onyx offer in terms of audio quality?

The sound emanating from any mobile device, be it Android or iPhone, leaves a lot to be desired. The same is true for any laptop and desktop as well.

This is because content creators and streaming services often compress audio to boost reliability. The audio quality is often compromised assuming subscribers won’t notice.

However, for those who value every tiny nuance of sound, the Onyx promises to offer four options of sound quality. These include Standard, High Resolution, Direct Stream Digital (DSD), and Master Quality Authenticated (MQA).

The MQA includes all of the original details of a recording, or how the music was tracked in the studio or during a live performance. MQA tech reportedly captures and authenticates the audio before “folding” it into a streaming-friendly file size.

To listen to MQA, the THX Onyx has an MQA renderer onboard. However, the device will need a service like Tidal. The streaming service offers MQA tracks for a premium.

An Android smartphone, a laptop, and a desktop PC should work easily with the Onyx. An Apple iPhone will need Apple’s Lightning to USB Camera Adapter. The device only supports Windows 10 for now.

The THX Onyx USB Type-C DAC-amp combo costs $199.99 and is available from the company’s website as well as from Razer. Needless to mention, the company promises to boost sound quality for gaming and movies as well.

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