New Gear Review: Apogee Electronics Groove Headphone AMP/DAC

Apogee_GrooveFor use with Mac and PCs, Groove is a portable headphone amplifier module with a built-in ESS Sabre digital-to-analog converter (DAC). It replaces the lower quality headphone amps and DACs typically built into laptop or desktop computers. With Groove you can hear at a master quality level the full fidelity of digital music files.

Easily carried in your pocket, Groove is a little larger than a USB thumb drive and comes with a short USB cable to connect “in-line” between your phones and your computer’s USB socket. It has a 1/8-inch mini stereo TRS output jack that will accept ear buds, full-size studio headphones or direct connection to your powered monitors.

I connected Groove and plugged in my Shure SRH840 headphones. Groove uses a Constant Current DriveTM headphone amp circuit to provide a smooth frequency response with no problem driving the Shure’s 40-mm drivers. I found useful the three green and blue LEDs to indicate audio present, and when you change audio volume with the up or down buttons.

The sound is marvelous—the best I’ve heard yet from portable headphone/DACs I’ve used in the past. It sounds like the mix I know well—clear high frequencies with accurate and distinct bass. Groove works at 24-bit and up to 192kHz sample rates so I can quickly listen to master audio files without conversion. Groove sells for $295 MSRP.


Barry Rudolph is a recording engineer/mixer who has worked on over 30 gold and platinum records. He has recorded and/or mixed Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs and more. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and loves teaching audio engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. He is a lifetime Grammy-voting member of NARAS and a contributing editor for Mix Magazine. barryrudolph.com