Cozoy Takt C: Mixed Feelings
Today we’re tackling another unit in the growing dongle army, this time from Cozoy, the Takt C.
Cozoy was founded in 2014, making a name for themselves through the offering of distinctively designed products with performance that matched their bold look. The Takt lineup has actually been around for a couple years now and was initially composed of the Apple Lightning equipped Takt, and more universal Takt Pro. The Takt C is the newest member of the family, sharing its DNA/specifications with the Takt Pro, but for the Takt C Cozoy replaced the micro-USB port for a fixed Type-C cable. They also priced the Takt C much more competitively at 115 USD versus the 289 USD of the Takt Pro.
I’ve been testing this device for the past few weeks and have some words to share about it. Let’s stop wasting time and dive right in…
Packaging …to the most important part, the packaging!!!! This is everyone’s favourite section and probably the most important part of any review, so I made sure to put it right at the beginning.
The Takt C comes in a bright white, elongated lift top box. On the front is an image of the device with the brand name and some product info, such as support for DSD and that it is for use with USB Type-C devices. On either side of the lid you find the Takt C model name. Flipping to the back you find a paragraph telling you about the device, some bullet points with products highlights, and a simple specifications table. Lifting off the lid reveals the Takt C set tightly within a foam insert and a user manual in the form of a small card (English on one side, Mandarine on the other).
And that’s it. About as basic and straightforward as it gets.
Build and Ergonomics The Takt C is made from AL6063 aircraft-grade aluminum and features the edgy, modern styling we have come to expect from the Cozoy brand. All writing is laser etched into the body of the device so you won’t have to worry about it rubbing off. Extra attention was given to the model name on the back which is highly reflective, looking pretty snazzy when it catches the light. The machining quality is excellent with smooth edges and a neat, uniform finish. All the buttons fit into their respective slots with impressive precision and depress with a satisfying, tactile “snick”. There is no wiggling or slop to worry about. That said, despite having average sized hands, I found the buttons too small, particularly the volume rocker. It is only about 12mm long and 1.5mm wide meaning it is very easy to press both buttons at the same time.
The cable is refreshingly well-relieved for a product of this type, both at the main body of the Takt C and leading to the Type C plug. The cable itself is quite flexible though with a plush feeling sheath that ends up bending sharply and kinking at the strain relief if you let it dangle. This puts extra strain on the Type C plug at the phone as well as the Takt’s cable, so I really don’t expect it to last very long the way most people treat their gear. Less of an issue when paired to a laptop where the Takt C is laying on the table beside it, but when going portable with a phone or DAP I’m not a fan.
Another area of concern is with how hot the Takt C gets. The XDuoo Link and Radsone HUD100 develop some warmth, but nothing quite like the Cozoy. If I opt to avoid the potential cable longevity issues that come with letting it stick out of my pocket, I instead have to deal with a sweaty leg and overly warm phone since it’s now tucked into a confined, insulated area with a miniature heater. Thank goodness the Takt C is aluminum, I can only imagine how warm it would get if made from a material less effective at dispersing heat.
Overall, good looking with a nicely built shell and questionable cable, along with subpar ergonomics and potential heat issues. As something to accommodate a phone or DAP, I can’t help but be disappointed with the way the Takt C handles. Fine for pairing with a laptop or tablet though.
Note: I ran into the occasional glitch where when reducing the volume, the Takt C would randomly crank the volume in the left channel and reduce it in the right to being barely audible. Fixing this required unplugging it and plugging it back in. Not fun when you are someone that typically listens at very low volumes.
Sound Contained within the Takt C is Sabre’s ES9018Q2C DAC. I’m sure that’ll excite someone, but frankly I don’t care what’s inside as long as it doesn’t sound like dirt. Physical shortcomings aside, the Takt C performs well and sounds great, if not a tad cold and clinical at times.
I found end-to-end extension to be excellent. There was no dearth of sub-bass when pairing the Takt C with something like the Shozy Form 1.4 or Campfire Audio Cascade, nor was the excellent treble extension of the TinHifi P1 or Hifiman RE800 Gold restrained.
Texture and clarity were also strengths where notes were very well defined with good space between them. They sounded plenty crisp and retained excellent control. It was so good it actually managed to reign in the mild splashiness heard on something like the KB EAR Diamond, though it won’t fix something as loose as the piezo driver in the NiceHCK NX7. This also lead into great layering and separation qualities which enabled the Takt C to showcase the large sound stages found on products like the TFZ Exclusive 3 and Campfire Audio Andromeda.
Where the Takt C lost me occasionally was in the warmth, or lack thereof, in it’s presentation. It’s general sound is slightly cool and sterile with just a bit of heat being injected into the mids and upper bass. Male vocals are fine but female vocals really benefit and end up sounding like the more natural of the two. Everything else has a somewhat hard, digital edge to it that is great for highlighting detail and other technical aspects.
Overall I find the Takt C a very capable device. It does a great job with detail and clarity, element separation and definition, and with end-to-end extension. It’s just not the most organic and natural sounding device, reproducing music in a somewhat cold, sterile way.
XDuoo Link (49.99 USD): The Takt C is a much nicer sounding Type C dongle than the Link in my opinion. It has a more balanced sound with less warmth thanks to the extra midbass the Link adds. That is exaggerated further by less end-to-end extension than the Takt C that draws focus to mid and upper bass regions. The Takt C also provides more texture to your bass making the Link sound smeared in comparison. The Cozoy’s midrange isn’t as smooth or natural, but clarity and detail are superior when compared to the Link. Treble sound superior out of the Takt C as well thanks to a leaner presentation with greater note separation that also happens to broaden and deepen the sound stage. The Link ends up feeling a little compressed in comparison.
Build and usability are where the Link earns its keep compared to the Takt C. The main body of the device is also made from aluminum and while not as stylish, is just as well constructed. The Link’s button are larger and more prominent, especially the volume rocker which is much longer (~19mm) with better differentiated ends. Mispresses on the Link are very rare. The Link’s cable is are superior in my opinion. It is thicker and less flexible, bending evenly and without the questionable kinks the Cozoy produces at the entrance to the strain relief. Lastly, while the Link does get a little warm, it is nowhere near a hot as the Cozoy and as a result isn’t uncomfortable to have sitting in your pocket.
When it comes to features, the two go tit for tat. They provide the same physical controls. They have very comparable specs and offer the same sample rate support. The Link is ever so slightly more power but at the expense of background noise. They are about the same size and weight. I tried to measure approximate power consumption but that went nowhere thanks to my own shortcomings. I don’t think it’s a negative on either though since I never found myself charging source devices more often; ex. once every two days with my LG Q70.
While the Takt C is unquestionably the better sounding device of the two, it is not enough to overcome the price premium (over double), the delicate cable, the poor physical controls, or the intense heat generation, in my opinion. The Link sounds good enough, and is nicer to use. If all you care about is sound quality, then obviously go for the Takt C, but for everyone else the Link at around or under 50 USD is a great buy.
Radsone Earstudio HUD100 (169.99 USD): The Takt-C has the benefit of being half the size and a DAC/amp with volume and basic media controls. Both are very well-built with durable aluminum shells, but the removable cables that come with the HUD100 feel like they were made to a higher standard than the fixed cable of the Takt-C. The fact that they are removable also enables greater versatility and longevity for the HUD100.
The Takt-C provides nowhere near the driving power of the HUD100, unable to push the same high impedance, low sensitivity products as well. As such it is best suited to earphones and portable headphones. While the Takt-C has an impressively black background that matches the HUD100’s standard output (besting the high-output port in noise), the sound quality is a noticeable step up on the HUD100.
The Takt-C keeps up with the HUD100 in terms of clarity and detail with near equal as impressive end-to-end extension, but it sounds somewhat cold, sterile, and artificial after a/b’ing them. The Takt-C also lacks the high-output mode and sound profiles/filters of the HUD100.
In terms of extras the Takt-C includes nothing while the HUD100 gives you multiple cables and a protective case. In my opinion, the 54 USD premium the HUD100 demands (going off the MSRP for each) goes a long way, giving you a slew of useful features and handy accessories. It feels even better knowing that to get a removable cable option with the Takt lineup you need to step up to the also well-reviewed Takt Pro. It is virtually identical to the Takt-C minus the removable cable and a 174 USD price jump to 289 USD.
LG Q70 (565.00 CAD): Since people rarely compare dongles to their smart phone, I figured I’d toss out some fast and loose thoughts. Obviously I’m not going to discussion features and build, etc. since one is a USB accessory and the other a feature rich smartphone.
In terms of signature the two pretty much mirror each other. The Q70 has the same, slightly cold presentation style with some warmth injected via a fairly mild midbass bump. The big difference comes in refinement. Everything sounds a tad rough and almost grainy straight out of the Q70 when compared to the Takt C. Treble isn’t quite a well controlled either, bring with it a bit more splash from the Q70. Bass is pretty even though, with both reproducing deep notes with aplomb.
Driving power is another area the Takt C makes sense. While I don’t find it great with really hard to drive gear, you need less notches on the volume dial to get the Takt C up to volume compared to the Q70. That does bring to mind a minor issue I have with the Cozoy, which is low volume listening. With a lot of my earphones the lowest volume is still a bit too loud when I’m listening in quiet areas. Not a problem for most people.
Is the Takt C worth buying if you’re just going to pair it with a smartphone like the Q70? For most people, probably not. But then again, products like this aren’t for just anybody. If you want to improve the sound out of your smartphone, it’s very likely the Takt C will offer exactly what you need, even if the improvements aren’t stratospheric.
Final Thoughts If you’ve read the review and made it this far, you’ll know why I have mixed feelings about the Takt C. If you just skipped to this section for a basic rundown, well here it is.
On the upside the Takt C is a small, well built device with a great sound signature and a black background that makes pairing it with sensitive earphones a reality. I love how it looks and I enjoy how it sounds. On the downside, the volume rocker is far too small, the device gets uncomfortably hot, and I suspect the somewhat flimsy cable will give out fairly quickly if you’re not careful. While these may sound like minor qualms, I’ve been using the thing nearly everyday for a month and those minor qualms haven’t gotten any less qualmy over time.
From a value proposition it doesn’t make a strong case for me either. The XDuoo Link is less than half the price and sure, it doesn’t sound as good, but it sounds good enough and is much more pleasant to use. The Radsone HUD100 is ~55 USD more than the Cozoy but it sounds better and is a more flexible product due to the twin 3.5mm outputs with differing power outputs. The implementation of a removable cable is also nice, something you have to pay a massive premium for in the Takt lineup. The absence of physical controls on the HUD100 isn’t much of a loss either since most DAPs and phones have external controls located in basically the same spot as you’ll find the Takt when using it; your pocket or that general vicinity. Plus you’ll need to take your source out of your pocket to change tracks with either of these DAC/amps anyway since you don’t get anything more advanced than play/pause (on the Takt and Link, nothing on the HUD100).
Unlike others I don’t put sound on a pedestal so high that it overrides all other flaws. Sound is just one of many aspects that I find important. So while overall I like the Takt C and think it’s a good device, I simply find it a hard sell. Its cons aren’t fully outweighed by its pros. If all you care about is getting the best sound for your dollar and everything else is incidental, then absolutely check it out. You’ll have a great time. If you want more out of your device than that, save a few bucks for a slightly worse sound but a much better user experience with the Link, or spend a bit more for the (imo) far superior HUD100 and its improved sound and plethora of useful features.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer A big thanks to Nappoler with Hifigo for asking if I would be interested in covering the Takt C, and for sending a copy for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are my subjective opinions based on almost a month of use, and do not represent Cozoy, Hifigo, or any other entity. At the time of writing the Takt C was retailing for 115 USD but could be picked up on sale for 109.25 USD: https://hifigo.com/products/cozoy-takt-c-portable-headphone-amp-32bit-384khz-dsd-hifi-decoder
Devices Used For Testing Asus FX53V, LG Q70, Shanling M0, Shozy Form 1.4, Tinhfi P1, Hifiman RE800, Hifiman Sundara, Campfire Audio Cascade, KB EAR Diamond, NiceHCK NX7
– Advanced Sabre DAC ES9018Q2C
– PCM Decoding up to 32-Bit/384kHz
– Native DSD support up to DSD256-11.2MHz
– 4-Layers reinforced gold-plated PCB
– TCXO Crystal Oscillator
– Output Power: 28mW @ 32 ohms per channel
– USB Type-C Input
– Output Port: 3.5mm TRS Headphone jack
– Cable Length: 10cm
– CNC 6063 Aluminum Alloy Body
– Low Power Consumption Design