When Apple decided to take the world down the unwanted rabbit hole of a life without inbuilt headphone jacks people with wired headphones were resigned to a life of dongle hell. These tiny, poorly made and often sound quality degrading pieces of "technology" grew the ire of many headphone fans around the world. Thankfully a few companies saw this as an opportunity to create something new — the external DAC and AMP in dongle form. Nowadays there are more than a few options on the market, and today we have the latest, the Cozoy TAKT C in for review.
What is the COZOY TAKT C?
The TAKT C is an external DAC and amplifier unit. It has an inbuilt USB-C cable and can be used with numerous devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers with compatible ports. What it allows you to do is bypass your devices internal audio components. All the audio decoding and amplification gets handled by the TAKT C. Commonly the reason you would want to do this is that many electronics have inferior audio components to reduce costs.
Cozoy TAKT C Specifications
DAC Chip - SABRE9018Q2C
32Bit 384kHz master file decoding
Native decoding playback, DSD 256-11,289,600(11.2MHz)
Output power: 1.5V RMS@32Ω per channel
Housing material: 6063 Aluminum Alloy
Input: USB Type-C
Output connector: 3.5mm TRS Stereo earphone
Cable length: 10cm
The Cozy utilizes the very well regarded Sabre DAC 9018Q2C chip. This is a high-quality chip that is used in many audiophile focussed devices. Most recently we covered this chip in the Spectra X DAC from Nextdrive review and were mightily impressed. Of course in these types of products the specs don't make a device sound good. It's up to the manufacturer to be able to implement it correctly and get the best performance possible from it.
Packaging and Accessories
This is going to be a short section because the TAKT C, being the type of product that it is doesn't need any accessories. Other than the instruction manual, you don't find anything else in the box. The Spectra X comes with a small pouch in which to store it when not in use; however, I won't hold the lack of case against the TAKT as it's not a necessity.
The box is clean and simple with good graphics on the outside a text describing the product which sits in foam for protection on the inside. Very nice presentation with a kind of Apple-esq feel to it.
Build Quality and Styling
The build quality is sufficient. The body very solid and constructed from aluminum. The switches for the power and volume functions are also metal and have a nice tactile feel to them.
The whole unit is far smaller than the Specta DAC, which is a bonus but where it lacks behind is on build. The Cozoy comparatively feels cheaper and that is mostly down to the quality around the cable and connector. It's okay, but it's not much above any stock USB-C cable which is designed to be used at a wall socket. This device is going to be shoved in pockets and bent and twisted far more than those cables so I would have like to have seen some more substantial sheathing. Of course, it's still early days with the unit, but I will update this review over the coming months to see how it performs.
I will focus on what I suspect will be the primary use for the Cozoy. That, of course, will be with a smartphone. It is as simple as plug and play. You pop the device into your Android phone, and it should instantly be detected. Some phone will request the use of the TAKT as the audio component. Once accepted your music will now play from the external device. It isn't any more complicated than plugging in a set of headphones.
One of the "advantages" the Cozoy model has over the Spectra is the ability to control playback and volume via the buttons on the device itself. This is an excellent addition but given its proximity to your phone and when setup inline I don't find it that useful. Everything it does I can do anyway through the mapped buttons on my device. Similarly, if you were using it with a laptop, the function keys would handle the same task. Given this, I don't think it would be a reason outfight to purchase the DAC.
A great thing about this DAC is that it powers directly from your smartphone so you don’t have to worry about battery life or charging.
Sabre DAC's are well-loved for their transparency and neutral sound. It came as a bit of a shock to find some warmth in the TAKT. This wasn't unwelcome as it made for a fun and smooth listening session. Just be aware that what you are getting is not entirely true to life, but neither is it overly done.
During the review, I kept going back and forth with the stock dongle on my Pixel 3 and Galaxy S10. There is no doubt you get a substantial boost in sound quality. Everything sounds fuller, there was less hissing, and there were a lot more micro details to be observed. The low end is ever so slightly enhanced when compared side to side with the Dragonfly DAC and Spectra with the sound more balanced throughout the range.
The comparison to make here is, of course not against the standard dongles but the other DAC's. First off, we can do away with the Audiolab of Hidzis models in terms of performance. The Cozoy has a higher level of functionality with more significant files support. The sound is also better with the TAKT and can better power hard to drive headphones. However, at 1/4 the price the Hidzis is still an excellent option if the higher bitrates aren't required.
In this category, we are looking at the Spectra and the Dragonfly as direct competitors. Neither of them has physical controls like the TAKT has so if that's important to you your choice is already made.
The Spectra is the slightly stunted version of the Spectra X. However, it sounds incredible, and I prefer it's more neutral sound, simple design and build quality. Bear in mind this model which can be had at a similar price to the TAKT-C. It uses the same DAC chip as in the TAKT C, so that goes to show what a difference implementation makes. Either one of them sounds fantastic though, and it comes down to you tuning preference.
The Dragonfly is another option. It is in the style of a USB thumb drive and lacks the integrated cable. Some people think that might be an advantage long term as the most likely place the TAKT would break is the cable. With the Dragonfly, a broken cable means replacing it for a few dollars. Sound is a little bit more refined on the Dragonfly but it is close. Take in mind that the Dragonfly costs a whole lot more.
Can I recommend the Cozoy TAKT C? Absolutely. Is it your only option out there? Definitely not. This is one of these cases where performance and benefits of individual models are very close, and it should come down to you deciding on the one with the features that fit with the way you intend to use it.
The TAKT C is right in the mix with the best of these products in terms of sound quality. The build of the housing is also very good, but I do have concerns over the cable durability given time. If you are looking to upgrade your sound quality and don't want to carry a separate DAP or bulky DAC then this is an excellent choice that is well priced in the market.
The Cozoy Takt C is available to buy through Linsoul, Amazon and other vendors online.