Khadas Tea – A MagSafe Hi-Fi headphone amplifier to play lossless audio on smartphones (Crowdfunding)

From this side of the Internet, Khadas is better known for their single board computer, but the company has also made Hi-Fi audio products starting with the Khadas Tone in 2018 as an add-on board for Khadas VIM/VIM2 SBC, followed by Khadas Tone 2 Pro mini desktop Hi-Fi system in 2020.

The latest audio product from Khadas is a smartphone accessory with Khadas Tea being a thin MagSafe-compatible magnetic Hi-Fi headphone amplifier based on aptX HD and LDAC capable Qualcomm QCC5125 Bluetooth SoC and ESS ES9281AC Pro DAC that sticks to the back of your phone.

Khadas Tea magnetic headphone amplifier

Khadas Tea specifications:

  • Bluetooth Audio SoC – Qualcomm QCC5125 Bluetooth 5.0 audio chipset
  • USB DAC – ESS ES9281AC Pro
  • Amplifier – RT6863D (Buffer Stage)
  • Audio I/O
    • 3.5mm headphone jack
    • Built-in stereo microphone for making and receiving calls over Bluetooth
  • Sampling Rate
    • USB: up to 32bit 384KHz @ PCM, or DSD 256 (Native)
    • Bluetooth: up to 24bit 96KHz
  • Audio Formats
    • USB: MQA (Renderer), AAC, FLAC, APE, WMA, WAV, OGG, MP3 …
    • Bluetooth: SBC, AAC, LDAC, aptX, aptX Low Latency, aptX HD
  • Audio performance
    • Output Impedance < 0.3Ω
    • THD+N, 1KHz: -103dB to -109dB depending on headphone impedance
    • Noise  < 3.2uVrms
    • SNR (Signal-to-Noise ratio) – High-gain Mode: 116 dB, low-gain mode: 112 dB
    • DNR (Dynamic range) – High-gain Mode: 115 dB, low-gain mode: 111 dB
    • Max Output – 300Ω: 20.8mW (2.5Vrms); 150Ω: 42.7mW (2.5Vrms); 32Ω: 165mW (2.3Vrms); 16Ω: 130mW (1.44Vrms)
    • Crosstalk-  600Ω > 113dB; 32Ω  > 70dB
    • Frequency Response, 20Hz~20KHz ±0.05dB
  • USB – 1x USB Type-C port
  • Misc
    • Power, volume up/down buttons
    • RGB LED
    • Compatible with Apple Magsafe (iPhone 12 and later)
  • Battery – 1,160 mAh Li-Po battery good for about 8 hours of continuous music playback
  • Dimensions – 95.5 x 63.8 x 6.25mm (t-min) / 7.95mm (t-max)
  • Weight – 73.5 grams
  • Enclosure materials – CNC machined aluminum + AG glass panel (Teal Blue or Granite Grey)
  • Certifications
    • CE, FCC, KC, TELEC, SRRC, RoHS
    • Sony LDAC, Qualcomm aptX, MQA and Apple MFi

Khadas Tea Landscape gaming

The Khadas Tea headphone amplifier works with iOS, Android (USB OTG needed), iPadOS, mac OD, Windows 7 to 11 (Khadas USB ASIO driver required), and Linux distributions as long as a UAC2 compliant kernel is used. The device will attach to iPhone 12 and later or Android phone with a MagSafe compatible cover, and it works either in portrait or landscape mode while playing gaming for example.

Khadas Tea will ship with a USB-C to C cable, a USB-C to Lightning converter, a user manual, and a 12-month warranty card. The main reason to use this amplifier is to play lossless audio files since most smartphones’ DAC can’t handle lossless audio formats according to Khadas. Contrary to most other Khadas products, It’s a consumer device, and there’s no open-source firmware or the likes.

Khadas Tea is now available through an Indiegogo campaign with a 40,000 HKD (around $5,100 US) flexible funding goal that has already been surpassed. Rewards start at $159 US (Early Bird) that 20% off the expected retail price ($199 US). Shipping appears to be free to most countries including the US and the UK, but there’s a $250 HK (about $31) fee to European countries, which might be for VAT, but it’s not explicitly stated in Indiegogo. Rewards are expected to start shipping in March 2022, although some perks are shown to ship in May 2022. Additional information may also be found on the product page.

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11 Comments
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willy
willy
5 months ago

So if I understand well, phone vendors remove jacks on their devices to piss-off their customers and force them to buy more expensive hardware that they’re not necessarily satisfied with, and that opens a new market for devices that reintroduce a jack that allows them to use their preferred headphones but via a ratio transfer at 2 cm distance… The world is sick, marketing doesn’t listen to customers anymore and force-feeds them :-/ That’s great for Khadas but this situatiion shouldn’t happen in the first place.

tkaiser
tkaiser
5 months ago

> So if I understand well, phone vendors remove jacks on their devices to piss-off their customers

Sure, that’s the only possible reason!

Well, obviously there exist other reasons though you won’t like them 😉 https://www.quora.com/How-does-Apple-explain-how-Samsung-phones-are-waterproof-with-a-headphone-jack-and-yet-they-somehow-cant-do-it

BTW: The Khadas thing is a headphone amplifier. Did you get juice through the wires of the audio jack on those gadgets equipped with this connector?

willy
willy
5 months ago

There are about as many suppositions as commenters there! BTW, the device is not just an amplifier, it’s a DAC + BT receiver followed by a battery-powered amplifier. I understand that in a world where a pocket computer used almost exclusively with eyes and fingers is called “a phone” we can call this “an amplifier”, but still 🙂

Dev
Dev
5 months ago

Stop buying phones without headphones on it.

jay
jay
5 months ago

It seems we nitpick tech but when it comes to dilapidated condemned houses for $1 million, they sell right away.

David Willmore
David Willmore
5 months ago

What a completely useless device.

Nik
Nik
5 months ago

It’s not that most phones dacs can’t handle lossless. (Fact #1 of a phone doesn’t have auxially audio jack then it doesn’t have a dac. The dac is built into the Bluetooth devices end. Such as headphones.)

Iv been dreaming of this device for a while. If they can ship it out with a flat 90° USB c end so that it doesn’t provide out of the base of the phone then they have a winner in my books. I want one then.

Gouwa
5 months ago

Can you specify more details on your idea of the flat 90 USB-C end?

Willy
Willy
5 months ago

Hi Gouwa!

For me he means something a bit like this: https://www.amazon.com/Ribbon-Degree-Standard-Female-Charging/dp/B07KFBTKGS

or something like “T2B” here: http://www.adt.link/product/UTT.html . Check for “90 degrees flat USB cable” or “USB ribbon cable”, some of them appear there.

Gouwa
5 months ago

Thanks for the information!

Stefan M
Stefan M
5 months ago

Lack of TRRS does not imply lack of DAC: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB-C#Audio_Adapter_Accessory_Mode

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