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Cozoy Takt-C Review – Genie

Pros – 

Excellent value, High-quality build and connectors, Dynamic and refined sound with great driving power, Black background, Low output impedance

Cons – 

Doesn’t pass through mic or remote, Lightning version is more expensive

Verdict – 

The Takt-C is a winning combination of great sound and unobtrusive form factor, now priced for all to enjoy.


Introduction –

Cozoy is a Hong Kong-based company with a vision for ultimate sonic performance and leading design. Though you’ll see very similar sentiments on just about every other company’s website, here, there is a lot of truth to be found. Cozoy has pursued some of the most unique and stunning designs in the industry. And yet, the Takt Pro defied this, while also representing everything the company stands for. This was a hyper-portable DAC/AMP with a gorgeous CNC aluminium design and excellent sound quality. Furthermore, it made no compromise in usability or price in the process. The Takt-C arrives hot on its heels, possessing identical same specifications but with a hard-wired USB-C cable as opposed to flexible micro-USB input. This comes alongside a substantial price cut with an RRP of $115 USD, less than half the price of its forebearer. You can read all about the Takt-C on Cozoy’s website and purchase one for yourself at HifiGO.

 

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Nappoler from HifiGO very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Takt-C for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the dongle free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Tech Specs –

DAC: SABRE 9018Q2C with time-domain jitter eliminator

TCO crystal oscillators inside

File support: Master file decoding up to 32bit 384KHz, native decoding DSD256-11, 289, 600 (11.2MHz)

Output power: 1.5V RMS@32Ω per channel, 28mW @ 32 ohms per channel

Housing material: 6063 Aluminium Alloy

Input power: depend on device

Input: USB Type-C

Output connector: 3.5mm TRS Stereo earphone

SNR: 120dB

Cable length: 10cm

Power supply design, without built-in battery

 

The Pitch – 

Power supply 

Cozoy have demonstrated themselves to be masters when it comes to power supply circuitry which is an often overlooked aspect of source design as it is hard to quantify on the spec sheet. When it comes to a device that is externally powered, such expertise is more important than ever. The Takt-C features a 4-layer PCB with gold-plated traces. It has a custom PSU with low ripple, asynchronous clock and six discreet voltage regulation circuits. This translates to a clean, low-distortion sound and greater isolation from noise generated by the source, especially in conjunction with its shielded aluminium housing.

 

Design –

The Takt Pro assumes the same design as its predecessor, so all positive comments made in that review translate here too. The Takt-C is just as compact, with a slender and unobtrusive form factor. The CNC milled 6063 aluminium housings feels relentless in the hand while maintaining an impossibly lightweight construction. The satin finish is immaculate, unmarred by screws and complimented by smooth and tapered transitions. The Takt-C logo is now laser engraved as opposed to printed, contributing to greater scratch resistance. There is but one key difference here besides a lighter coloured coat, the micro-USB port has been replaced with a fixed 6cm USB-C cable.

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As it’s fixed, it’s imperative that the cable itself has a solid construction and Cozoy deliver; with a smooth jacket, high-flexibility and just a little springiness. The strain relief on the type-C plug is excellent, identical to Cozoy’s expensive audiophile interconnect cables, while the connector itself assumes a high-quality extruded, gold-plated design. This ensures a more reliable connection than the majority that implement cheap, pressed metal connectors. Obvious consideration has gone into the design of the Takt-C to optimise both aesthetics, practicality and longevity.

 

Usability –

As above, the Takt-C is also functionally very identical to the Takt Pro before it but will be limited to USB-C devices in addition to USB-A with an adapter (not included). Functionality is straight-forward and intuitive, plug and play on both my Google Pixel 4 and Gigabyte Aero 15 running Windows 10. The dongle is powered by the source device and draws a fair amount of power. Though smartphones tend to be pickier in this regard, I had no issues with my Pixel, Samsung and HTC devices on hand. As the Takt-C does not pass through remote commands from the attached earphone, it employs physical controls on the dongle itself. All are metal, suiting its premium aesthetic with tactile action. The use of a volume rocker also aids easy identification of each button when in a pocket. I found that all buttons worked well on both Android and Windows apps such as Spotify and Foobar in my testing.

DSC08077

Though most smartphone’s limit their output to 44.1KHz over USB, it is possible to take advantage of the Takt-C’s expanded decoding ability via third-party apps such as Poweramp. I experienced no dropouts and a stable connection with the dongle connected to my phone, even when placed in my pocket during commute. As such, the Takt-C is slightly less finicky than the Takt Pro as there are fewer variables to interrupt the connection. I experienced no pops when plugging in and unplugging the dongle with earphones connected. Background noise also wasn’t affected by CPU utilisation or radio activity when connected to my smartphone or laptop suggesting that it’s a well shielded and isolated design. Much like the Pro, the Takt-C’s higher power draw and small metal housings do permeate quite a bit of heat, though this never becomes uncomfortable to the hand or pocket.

 

Sound –

Small or large, there are fundamentals we expect from a good quality audiophile source, that being a linear frequency response, low output-impedance and an absence of hiss and interference. I’ll be analysing the performance of this dongle in isolation, then by comparison to competitors in its price and form factor to better establish price/performance and its best use cases.

 

Frequency Response –

Testing Methodology: RMAA via Startech External Sound Card

Takt-C FR

The Cozoy Takt-C has a perfectly linear frequency response with no bass roll-off or other oddities. This suggests that it represents audio with great fidelity. Due to the quality of my sound card, I am unable to reliably test other measures such as distortion and crosstalk so they will be used as a personal reference only. Qualities here can also impact the sound as I will detail via subjective listening.

 

Output Impedance & Hiss –

Testing Methodology: SPL volume matched comparison through an inline splitter to JDS Labs Atom + Khadas tone board to Campfire Audio Andromeda

The Cozoy Takt-C, like the Pro before it, has a sub-1.5-ohm output impedance given that I was not able to detect or measure any deviation in sound signature between the Atom and Takt-C with the highly source sensitive Campfire Audio Andromeda. This is an excellent result which ensures that the DAC/AMP will drive low-impedance multi-driver IEMs faithfully and without colouration. With regards to noise, Cozoy’s efforts with power supply have paid off in spades. There is zero hiss, even on the Andromeda which is especially prone in this regard too. I also didn’t note hiss scaling with volume or noise from the source such as EMI interference. Low volume listeners sensitive to background noise will love the Takt-C for its black background and this design is perfect for even the most sensitive IEMs.

 

Subjective –

While you can achieve excellent fidelity from even a modestly priced desktop setup, I don’t get such a generally positive impression from portable sources that tend to be less transparent about their specifications for good reason. That was not my impression with the Takt Pro and, luckily, the Takt-C follows suite. It’s simply a nice, clean sounding source. As always, this being a source with low output impedance and a linear frequency response, my sound analysis comments will be referring to the minutiae that cannot be compared to the differences between different earphones per say.

Testing Methodology: SPL volume matched comparison through an inline splitter to JDS Labs Atom + Khadas tone board to Custom Art Fibae 7 (flat impedance). Powered by Pixel 4 with Poweramp Pro via high-resolution output.

The Takt-C is a clean, transparent and delightfully musical portable source. ABing from reference sources such as the Atom setup and iBasso DX200 with AMP5 reveals very minimal colouration. Bass has excellent depth and drive for a dongle but does lack a hint of sub-bass weight compared to the aforementioned sources. Meanwhile, there’s a hint of warmth and fullness in the mid-bass, just a touch, that imbues a full, punchy and musical character. Despite a slightly warm leaning tone, both control and separation remain excellent and notes are highly defined. I attribute this to the Takt-C’s concise note attack alongside natural decay that contributes to excellent pace and timing and grants bass convincing dynamics and solidity.

DSC08076

Such character continues through the midrange which extends linearly from the bass. Timbre is very accurate with realistic vocal size and positioning. There’s an uptick of both body and density to be observed counterbalanced by a clean tone that retains a high level of clarity and definition. The result is a gorgeous smooth and refined midrange presentation with great coherence and wholly resolved notes. I am especially enamoured by this presentation as dongles and small DAC/AMP combo devices rarely provide such a natural and resolving sound here. Even without scrutinising the minutiae, the Takt-C is simply an enjoyable listen.

The high-end keeps character with clean transients and an insightful lower-treble. Detail retrieval is strong with a slight crispness paired with smooth note attack which takes any sharpness out of its presentation. The result is slightly less micro-detail retrieval than more aggressive sources in return for a natural and well-textured image that still upholds a good level of energy and engagement. Instruments have ample body and texture with accurate shimmer and decay. Treble extends linearly before rolling off into the upper-treble. A clean transient response alongside a black noise floor permits an immaculate background which aids the directionality and dimension of its presentation. There isn’t quite the resolution, sparkle and background detail retrieval of a larger high-end source, but impressive balance between timbre and technical performance with none of the 9018Q2X fallibilities of earlier models.

And, as suggested, these qualities work much to the benefit of the Takt-C’s staging properties, boasting outstanding dimensions for its size. Again, the Takt-C doesn’t have quite the resolution of higher-end sources, but instruments fall away naturally to its dark, clean background, creating a sense of space that immerses if not enthrals. Meanwhile, a clean transient response and linear sound signature aid impressively stable imaging.

 

Driving Power–

NX Ears Opera (106dB, 18ohm): A sensitive IEM with phase-coherent crossover producing excellent imaging. The Takt-C provided great bass kick with good drive and excellent pace. I hear an uptick of bass body paired with concise attack and excellent control enabling high definition overall. Mids are natural and linear, not too full-bodied despite the Opera already being warm leaning. Highs are well detailed, the slightly more energetic foreground is welcome given the Opera’s more laid-back image. Meanwhile, the background is jet black immaculate. The soundstage isn’t huge but has very immersive imaging, holographic with quick, highly clean transients. Zero hiss.

Final E5000 (93dB, 14ohm): This earphone requires a lot of power as it is a warm, bassy earphone with low-efficiency. My desktop setup provides a slightly quicker, cleaner low end with more information in the sub-bass. Still, the Takt-C provides great depth and solid slam if not the highest definition at the very bottom. Mid-bass remains very well-controlled and well-defined, bass is dynamic and tactile overall. Vocals are a touch warmer, but coherent and well-resolved. Highs are slightly smoother but retain good attack and detail retrieval. The background is black and well-extended fading into an expansive soundstage if lacking a little background detail. Imaging is sharp and precise while separation is slightly reduced due to increased warmth. Zero hiss.

Hifiman Sundara (94dB, 37ohm): The Sundara requires a good amount of volume but mostly a stable current output and low impedance as it’s a planar magnetic headphone. The Takt-C is surprisingly balanced here. As usual, I did miss a bit of sub-bass power and definition compared to my desktop setup, but there is solidity beyond most of my BT receivers and small DAPs. Furthermore, the mid-bass is well-controlled with both good presence and definition. This translates to a clean and linear midrange that is natural and resolving. The high-end also demonstrates good control with clean transients and defined layering. The desktop setup does yield noticeably more resolution here, with a bit more foreground detail retrieval and greater air. That said, the soundstage expansion is very good for a portable source and the dynamic range is very impressive on a whole. Zero hiss.

Suggested Pair-ups

HifiGO quote a power output of 28mW per channel into a 32-ohm load. That may sound paltry compared to a dedicated DAP, but it’s higher than most portable DAC/AMPs and receivers, easily substantial enough to drive basically any IEM in addition to portable headphones. Also note that this is a per-channel specification so it is almost double the power offered by most products in its class. Of course, the Takt-C was never intended to drive full-size headphones, though here too, the results may surprise you. There isn’t the drive of a desktop amp but convincing dynamics and balance remains. The Takt-C likely won’t leave you wanting on either power or volume for any earphone or portable headphone and will do in a pinch for larger gear if not representing the absolute ideal in that regard.

 

Comparisons –

DD TC35B ($40): The TC35B is a fine sounding source in its own right but invariably focusses more on form factor and accessible pricing over outright sound quality. The Takt-C is a more focussed device, boasting a lower noise floor and output impedance and bringing immediately greater dynamic range. Both are surely very balanced yet, even from flat-impedance earphones, I perceive the Takt-C as more linear, transparent and resolving throughout.

There’s better drive to the low-end with more sub-bass extension and definition; these qualities also continue through the midrange where there is better note resolution. Meanwhile, the top-end is more detailed with better extension and resolution, producing a much cleaner background and a larger soundstage. Altogether, a grander and more involving sound yet one that is never artificially enhanced in any way.

Zorloo ZuperDAC-S ($89): Slightly cheaper and sharing the same DAC chip, the ZuperDAC-S also sports a minute form factor but with micro-USB input like the pricier Takt Pro. Both the Takt-C and ZuperDAC-S have very linear, resolving presentations, an essentially black noise floor and a low output impedance so they are fundamentally very good options at this price range. I hear a touch more sub-bass weight from the Zorloo granting it slightly thicker bass notes while the Takt-C is cleaner and more defined. The Takt-C has smoother note attack while the Zorloo is more aggressive and harder hitting.

The Takt-C has a slightly more refined midrange, it is denser and more tonally transparent where the Zorloo has a hint of warmth but also a touch less note resolution. The high-end tells a similar story, the Zorloo being slightly more aggressive and crisp but also thinner, the Takt-C being more smoothly articulated but also more natural in timbre. The Takt-C also has noticeably better extension with more resolution and background detail. This works to the benefit of its similarly larger soundstage.

Cozoy Takt Pro ($289): At a considerable price premium, the Takt Pro has identical specifications with the only difference being the design. I would also suggest that there aren’t any sonic changes as, when volume matched through an in-line splitter, I could not detect even the slightest difference between the two. The Takt-C brings the same refined, musical and resolving sound at less than half the price. To my ear, the Takt-C also punches above its price class so spending more for the Takt-Pro does not necessarily make it a poor value investment.

Still, it only makes sense if you don’t have a USB-C device or want one DAC/AMP that will interface with multiple devices. The Takt-C very much supersedes the Pro with its considerably more aggressive pricing and it’s very good to see that Cozoy haven’t diluted the listening experience in the process.

JDS Labs Atom + Khadas Tone Board (~$200):  The desktop setup provides excellent value, both boasting outstanding measurements that are confirmed by a transparent and dynamic real world listen. The setup provides more sub-bass extension and power but also higher control with more bass note definition and higher separation. The presentation isn’t bassier, instead, there is simply more bass as it is deeper reaching.

The midrange presentation is actually quite similar, there’s a slightly cleaner tone on the desktop setup in addition to a hair more note resolution. Up top, the comparison reflects the bass, with the desktop setup being more detailed, albeit similarly articulated which makes the Takt-C a very convincing listen on its own. That said, the desktop stack has notably more resolution and background detail, boasting greater soundstage expansion and more involving imaging.

Fiio M7 ($129): I think it’s also important to keep in mind that, for just $10 more, Fiio are offering a full DAP package with the same ESS DAC chip and full Android touchscreen interface. There are obviously clear distinctions between the use cases for both devices that will be up to the buyer such as wanting a dedicated device for the car/workout or wanting to save battery life on your smartphone. The M7 also supports USB audio out so it can serve as a UI to a better audio implementation. But from a sonic standpoint, the results do intrigue. Both sport a low output impedance and low noise floor.

Both sound very similar. Sub-bass extends identically and both have a close presentation. The Takt-C has a slightly fuller note structure through the mid-bass and more concise attack making it a bit more defined and detailed. Through the midrange, this character continues, both are quite tonally transparent, the Takt-C is a touch fuller and warmer while the M7 is instead denser. The Takt-C has slightly higher note resolution. Up top, the M7 is crisper and less extended while the Takt-C is smoother and more natural with a darker background and higher resolution. The M7 has a touch more soundstage width while the Takt-C has more depth. The Takt-C comes across as a bit more refined and musical, the imaging is a bit more stable too.

 

Verdict –

DSC08079

I was a big fan of the Takt Pro, even at its substantially higher price tag. However, that was a few years ago and the market has since come far. Though I am not one to live and die by measurements, I do admire how they have empowered buyers/reviewers in such a way that manufacturers can no longer get away with subpar products. As such, the vast majority perform to a good standard. So, instead of reinventing the wheel here, Cozoy has instead reinvented their pricing and to great effect. At just 37% of the Pro’s price, the Takt-C brings an identical sonic performance. That means versatile driving power, a refined, resolving sound with great musicality and a stunning form factor that is easily among the most premium on the market. I’m sure some may have concerns over a fixed cable while others may argue that a full player could be had for little more. Still, the Takt-C is a winning combination of great sound in an unobtrusive form factor perfect to invigorate a pre-existing portable audio setup, and it is now priced for all to enjoy.

The Takt-C is available from on HifiGo (International) for $109 USD at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with HiFiGO or Cozoy and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.

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