Apogee Groove DAC USB thumb drive

Post your own hardware/software reviews.

Moderator: Moderators

Post Reply

Apogee Groove DAC USB thumb drive

Post by tea for two »

I don't have at the moment deep pockets for a £1K DAC or even a £500 DAC.

Apogee Groove DAC USB thumb drive at £210 just the ting for me.


https://apogeedigital.com/products/groo ... ifications
Powers upto 600 Ohm headphones.
Drives my 250 Ohm Beyer Dt880 pro to ear damaging levels lol.
It's supposed to be fairly neutral.
Chunky little chocolate bar lol.
Soft volume buttons with light up indicators.
Just 3.5mm headphone out and single micro USB port with detachable cable powers directly from USB2 USB3 USBC on computer.
Mac is plug and play even on my 10 year older 10.6.8 Snow Leopard.
Windows 10 requires driver download after registering.

Test Headphones


35 Ohm to 470 Ohm (Om Shanti, Om Ma Ni Padme Hum).

470 Ohm Audio Technica R70x open back.
250 Ohm Beyer Dynamic Dt880 pro open back.
062 Ohm Akg K702 open back.
035 Ohm Philips X2hr open back.

Subjective listening observations

Scenario : Mixing my music in home personal studio.

Music styles :
My pseudo Orchestral, pseudo Choral, pseudo Jazz, pseudo World, Rock, Acoustic, Electronic, some heavy Bass tracks.

Compared to :
Akai EiE pro 24bit.
On 2010 Macbook.

Apogee Groove is an improvement over my Akai EiE pro headphone out for:
Clarity, detail, definition, depth, separation, spaciousness, reverb tails, transients, how everything sits together in the mix;
Bass increased definition, depth, tightness, Bass heavy tracks I could feel the rumble nicely;
Mids just the amount of body fullnes for my preferences that is not overly full;
Highs a trifle sparkly (without harshness, shrillness).

Relaxed, cruise control sound.

Groove is staying, EiE pro is departing.

(Recently I had Audient id4 mk1 and Focusrite Saffire pro 24, I preferred Akai EiE pro headphone out to them).

Neutrality, Distortion

Please don't ask for graphs, measurements. I might run and hide if you do lol.

I can say the Apogee Groove is sufficiently neutral for my current requirements.
My mixes translated alright onto Akg k702, Audio Technica R70x, Beyer DT880 pro, Philips X2hr, each with their different signature sound.

As volume is increased my ears couldn't pick out any distortion.
As volume is increased Bass Mids Highs remained consistent as far as I could tell.


No balanced out.
Micro USB port on the Apogee. Would preferred USB C.
No digital volume display, it's a bit hit and miss with the volume pads.

Similar alternatives

Haven't tested these, don't know how they perform.
Going by youtube reviews, comments.

*Audioquest Dragonfly Cobalt
https://www.audioquest.com/dacs/dragonf ... fly-cobalt
*FiiO Q3 https://www.fiio.com/q3
*Ifi Hip DAC https://ifi-audio.com/products/hip-dac/

*Motu M2 and Focusrite Clarett 2Pre
according to Julian Krause's testings https://m.youtube.com/c/JulianKrause/videos
Focusrite Clarett 2Pre headphone out, performs rather well with high impedance headphones.
Motu M2 has better quality headphone out upto 300 Ohms compared to other £100-£200 audio boxes as SSL S2, Uad Volt, Audient id4 mk2 id14mk2, Focusrite Scarlett gen3.

I will follow up when I can.


Apogee Groove is a viable alternative to £100-£400 audio cards headphone out, when just headphone out is required. Particularly for high impedance headphones upto 600 Ohm.
tea for two
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1234 Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2002 12:00 am

Re: Apogee Groove DAC USB thumb drive

Post by tea for two »

Different Sensitivity £3K £2K £1.8K £1.2K headphones


2 hours auditioning £3K, £2K, £1.8K, £1.2K open back headphones through Apogee Groove.
Kind European staff at Premium Sound, Kesington, London.

*Overall : Apogee Groove drives as low as Sensitivity 93dB by power headphones.
In addition to driving High Impedance upto 600 Ohm headphones.

*Main takeaway from these upto £3K open back headphones through Apogee Groove is their Clarity. It's as if a veil been lifted. However have to match styles of music to these £3K £2K £1K headphones. They are not all rounders.

*£2.5K -£3K Hifiman He1000se 35 Ohm, sensitivity 96dB, Planar open back. Apogee Groove drove this superbly. He1000se Outstanding on Orchestral, Choral, Blues, Folk, Jazz, Soul, Motown, Prog, World, Acoustic, Classic 70s Electronica, Ambient, New Age : the presence, the soundstage, the clarity, the separation, the naturalness.

*£1.2K Focal Clear Mg 55 Ohm, sensitivity 104dB, open back. Apogee Groove drove this the easiest because of its higher sensitivity. Clear Mg Monster on Rock, Hard Rock, Metal, Grunge, Nu Metal. The oomph, the bass, the guitars, the drums.

*£1.8K Audio Technica Adx5000 420 Ohm, sensitivity 100dB, open back. Apogee Groove drove this brilliantly. Clear. Just that Adx5000 sounded a trifle artificial to me through Apogee Groove. Probably requires burning in.

*£300 Audio Technica Ath R70x Reference 470 Ohm, 99dB sensitivity, open back I already purchased was fairly near to He1000se, Clear Mg, Adx5000 through Apogee Groove.
Compared to these, R70x missing some clarity, a little naturalness, a little presence, a little separation, some treble.
If R70x had this somewhat missing treble they would almost match the £2.5K Hifiman He1000se.
R70x is a more laid back relaxed sound, neutral in lows mids.
R70x is a brilliant all rounder able to deliver Mix decisions on Orchestral, Choral, Jazz, World, Acoustic, Hard Rock, Funk, Metal, Electronica, New Age, HipHop, Dance Electronica.
I also use AKG K702 open back to double check treble and soundstage for Mixing.

*Hifiman He1000se, Focal Clear Mg, AudioTechnica ADx5000 are all too weedy for Dance Electronica, Bass heavy styles. They can't hold a candle to my £100 Philips X2hr open back for Reggae, Dub, HipHop, Dance Electronica.
X2hr surprising amount of Bass thump phatness deepness for an open back whilst clear defined tight bass, refined when needed growling when required, alongside handling Sub bass, also nicely picking up transients as on acoustic Double Bass.

*£2K Dan Clark Ether 2 just 16 Ohm, sensitivity 90.6dB, open back. Apogee Groove couldn't drive too well because of its rather low sensitivity.

*£250 Hifiman Sundara 37 Ohm, sensitivity 93dB lower cost Planar, open back. Apogee Groove drove this easily. Sundara shines on treble, muddy wooly on mids and bass. Its soundstage feels a little boxy.

*I couldn't test Stax as they require a 4prong connector headphone amp. Premium Sound store didn't have any Audeze, Akg. They had Sennheiser Hd800s Hd820 but didn't have 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter for Apogee Groove.

*Akg K812 is 110dB Sensitivity. Beyer Dt1990 is 102dB. Sennheiser Hd800s is 100dB, Hd820 is 103dB.
Apogee Groove would drive these easily.

*£35 Superlux Hd681 Evo 32 Ohm, 98dB sensitivity, semi open DJ headphones. My hidden gem. Made to be played directly from mobile phones, laptops.
An all rounder.
Superlux Evo sound is more balanced than Akg K702 and Philips X2hr.
Superlux Evo is able to deliver fairly balanced listening on Orchestral, Choral, Jazz, Soul, World, Acoustic, Reggae, Dub, Rock, Metal, New Age, HipHop, Dance Electronica.
I prefer Superlux Evo to my Beyer Dt880 pro 250 Ohm 95dB sensitivity, so much so that dt880 pro found a new home.
Supelux Evo is not quite accurate in getting Mix balance. However it's not too far off either in getting a Mix right. I've only needed to make minor adjustments to its Mix.
Through Macbook2010 headphone out and 2019 HP AMD Ryzen laptop headphone out, the Evo suffers at the top end introducing artefacts. However paired with Apogee Groove the Superlux Evo sound airy, clearer, deeper, more presence, smoother, wider, without artefacts, without harshness compared to my Macbook2010 and 2019 HP headphone out (as would be expected).
tea for two
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1234 Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2002 12:00 am

Re: Apogee Groove DAC USB thumb drive

Post by Martin Walker »

Wow - you have been busy tft!

Thanks for all the info!
User avatar
Martin Walker
Posts: 19017 Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:44 am Location: Cornwall, UK
Post Reply