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BoomStick is an affordable alternative to portable DACs, promises better audio for $99

Portable digital audio converters (DACs) allow you to hear high-resolution music through your normal headphones – at a cost. The BoomStick aims to be an affordable, lightweight alternative that improves the sound that emanates from your headphones.

BoomCloud 360 unveiled the BoomStick as an “ultra-portable” $99 dongle that enhances audio that comes from any pair of headphones. The proposition is simple: plug your headphones into the BoomStick, plug the BoomStick into whatever music device you’re listening to, and enjoy better sounding music.

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The secret sauce comes in the form of algorithms written to the processor in the BoomStick, according to George Appling, co-founder and president of BoomCloud 360.

“While TV has made huge strides in terms of quality, from black and white to 4K, audio has been going backward,” Appling said in his company’s press release. “In fact, our research shows that only 4 percent of consumers believe they are achieving great audio experience with their headphones.”

Early reactions are positive, with reports hailing superior dialogue audio and instrument differentiation, along with increased volume, which helps in noisy settings. The noted drawbacks include an incessant buzz in the background and a less-than-ideal headphone jack, which may require adapters for some.

The BoomStick is available for pre-order now with shipments set to begin by March. The device will be on display at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.