Korg Pwns The Pono, Turns Your iPhone Into A High-Resolution Audio Player

iAudioGate screen shots

Korg has introduced iAudioGate, a new iOS app that promises to bring high-fidelity digital audio to the iPhone.

The app can handle a high-resolution audio in a variety of formats:

WAV, BWF, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC (Apple Lossless), AAC, MP3 *compatible with 44.1kHz – 192kHz DSD (DSDIFF, DSF, WSD) * compatible with 2.8MHz, 5.6MHz, 11.2MHz

iAudioGate features Korg’s AudioGate player engine, customized to perform as an iPhone app. According to Korg, “The ultimate achievement is the faithful reproduction of sound as it was intended by musicians and engineers—and for the delight of the listeners who savor it.”

Here’s what Korg has to say about iAudioGate:

High-resolution audio sources possess a higher level of sound quality than that of a CD. In addition, they contain greater detail and are far better at preserving the ambience of the original recording environment. The benefit is a listening experience that is incredibly faithful to the original.

Conventional music players do not support high-resolution audio source formats—or they simply down-convert the data to CD quality for playback. iAudioGate supports a wide range of formats in order to play high-resolution audio sources with the greatest degree of accuracy and the highest fidelity possible.

During conversion, the optimal type of processing is performed for each specific file format to achieve the finest quality of sound. A wide range of sampling rates—up to 11.2 MHz DSD—is supported, allowing direct playback, free from conversion processing. Effective up-sampling operations yield enhanced audio performance from all sound sources.


  • Premium-resolution sound player engine Performance is equal to AudioGate, the standard DSD player-converter software
  • Plays nearly all file types—including high-resolution audio, DSD, FLAC, MP3, etc.
  • High-definition graphic equalizer
  • Upsampling feature provides enhanced audio reproduction of your favorite tunes
  • Enables wireless smart-forwarding of tunes from Mac / Win (via AirDrop, iCloud Drive, Dropbox etc.)
  • Flexible remote control via the Apple Watch app

Korg iAudioGate is available for US $9.99 in the App Store.

If you’ve used iAudioGate, leave a comment and share your thoughts on it!

28 thoughts on “Korg Pwns The Pono, Turns Your iPhone Into A High-Resolution Audio Player

  1. …Well, no…

    The sound quality of the D/A and the headphone amp are the same as if you were listening through any other app.

    Maybe it’ll sound better than an 128kbps mp3 – but a pono killer it aint…

      1. Quality DA converters in the mobile segment are not snake oil yet. The iPhone has a decent DA, but its not quite what I would call “good”

    1. “Maybe it’ll sound better than an 128kbps mp3 – but a pono killer it aint…”

      As if the people saying this could tell the difference in blind tests.

    2. Current iPhones have DAC’s that technically performs as well as many audiophile devices. Here’s one comparison:


      And in a listener audio test, the iPhone beat the Pono:


      When it comes to snake oil, high-end audio is full of it.

      For best results, using an iOS device with a high end audio interface will give better results – but most people won’t be able to hear the difference.

  2. I’m not clear, will iAudiogate play back DSD without converting to PCM? Is the DAC in the iPhone capable of that? Or does that require something like the Oppo HA-2 to achieve that sort of playback? The documentation isn’t particularly clear.

    1. I have yet to still try first hand the iAudiogate, but am very familiar with the Audiogate software for Windows and OSX, DSD will only playback as DSD when connected to a DSD-capable DAC. The Oppo HA-2 is designed to playback files from iOS devices without the need to consume much power from the iPhone or iPad. If using the software and plugging your headphones on the 3.5mm port, only 44.1kHz or 48kHz will be outputted. They listed some external USB DACs that can playback the devices, but other DACs that are USB-powered will most likely not playback sound at all.

    1. The Neutron you have mentioned looks like there is no DSD support. The USB Audio Player PRO can, I have tested with a Samsung Galaxy S3 and Sony Xperia Z3V:

      Alternatively there is also the Onkyo HF Player available for both iOS and Android:

      1. either of those support gapless playback? that’s one of the most maddening missing features from 97% of android music player apps ive tried. some of them even charge extra for that! imagine that, paying extra to listen to something the way it was recorded.

  3. So far none of the ways to get my flac files on my iPhone worked. It’s only showing the compressed iTunes stuff. I hope they’ll fix it so I can try with a decent dac+amp.

  4. iPhones have been tested and their DAC’s are excellent. Double blind tests prove people cannot tell the difference between DAC’s, 320k MP3’s, etc, etc. http://www.kenrockwell.com/apple/iphone-5/audio-quality.htm

    Higher sample and bitrate audio makes sense in the production process but whether the final output is CD quality, 320k MP3, AAC, FLAC, etc is moot. Every test says people cannot tell the difference that is statistically relevant. Pono was a scam to get chumps to buy music again at higher bit and sample rates.

    Most DAC’s today for the music listener are great. Producers and engineers have other needs and hence we have more complex converters for headroom, etc.

    Don’t be conned. This player sounds great but DSD is mainly used by mastering guys and is overkill for listening. If you feel bad about compressed audio then convert your CD’s to lossless FLAC or ALAC

  5. Any DSP audio engineer knows that these high sample rates for human audio are absoluteltey absurd. It would be nice to see KORG post a comparison showing any audible benefit from a high sample rate or bit depth that is not due to compression or some other signal processing or artefact. It really disappoints me to see them stoop so low to take cash off a bandwagon of folk who are physics and maths ignorant… Take a look at something like http://www.xiph.org/video/ if you want to know more. Sound at 11.5 MHz???!!!

  6. Actually you can squeeze more fidelity out of an IOS device. Positive Grid have proven this with BIAS AMP and BIAS FX. Of course you can only go so far with the default hardware.

  7. It’s silly to have a up sampling feature. You cannot possibly improve the quality of the source file and most sample rate conversion algorithms actually add all kinds off garbage to the signal.

  8. Of course this my opinion. As a sound engine, iaudiogate sounds better to me than KaiserTone which sounds better than iTunes. And yes current iPhones do have fairly good sounding dacs. I listen to portable music in this manner, apple lossless, iPhone 5, cck, herus dac ( iPhone will power it ), Audeze LCD 2 rev 2. No, I don’t take walks with this rig. There is a notable difference between these 3 players with this setup. I haven’t tried this thru my benchmark pre or rme ufx. My son can also here the difference uncoached. I don’t have many hi res files and have not AB’ed any. This also I know, if you don’t have good enough equipment and ears to discern then you are wasting your money, if you call $10 as waste of money.

  9. Stuff that PONO in the bin, even vlc should be able to playback full quality audio files, simply connect an external audio interface. Just ask Corey Worthington!

  10. I thought I’d give iAudiogate a try since I love my vinyl and often think MP3 is really missing something. I have been intrigued into hi-fidelity audio and thought this would be a reasonably cost effective way of giving it a go. so far, the app is full of bugs and crashes often, it runs slowly with just plain simple 320Kbs MP3’s and upon downloading 2 versions of ‘Vision of her’ by David Elias – one as a 320MP3 and the other as a 2.8Mhz DSF, I listened through both my Sennheiser HD25 headphones and my mackie MR5 MKII’s and quite frankly… I want my money back. I mean the cost of DSD files may end up being not too pricey in the long run, but even price and minute quality improvements aside… no iphone is built to hold music that is over 300mb a track! I’ve tried and tried to believe the hype about higher quality audio, and I’m wondering if it’s time to give up and just spend time actually enjoying music again

  11. So which one is the one to go for? I am already on Onkyo HF-Player, do I need to get iAudioGate then?
    I am listening to hires files with Onkyo HF-Player through micro iDSD attached to iPhone and Audeze LCD-X headphones.
    It’s pure bliss already.

    1. Bottom line…the iPhone, Onkyo HF player app, to iDSD micro to decent phones or earbuds is amazing. Far better than most people will ever realize. I have Audeze LCD-2 for home and HiFiman 600S earbuds for mobile. My iPhone with the iDSD Micro velcroed to it turns it into a brick but it sounds a million times better than the DAC in the iPhone. This setup with Tidal app in HiFi mode instantly gives me millions of songs, fully mobile, in really really good quality for less than $700 invested (475 for iDSD micro + 200 for HiFiman 600S; not counting cost of iPhone 6s plus).

  12. I bought this as I love portable music and am VERY happy. I also use BBE from Sonic Max which also pushes performance but the ability to play his res is really worthwhile and the difference is substantial when you get above the cd 16bit level. I am using iphone 4s 30pin to jack to give me lineout then putting this through a high quality portable headphone amp and WestOne 4R IEMs . Great sound.
    I also have a iPhone 5 and use AQ Dragonfly as a DAC then into the Ray Samuals amp – that also sounds great, but more bulky to connect. For those wanting to carry about lots of files I use a version of i-flashdrive with 32GB card has usb one end and iphone connector the other. There is also a good have where you can get GoodReader to mount external drives…good way to carry lots of music. ps I also have a Pono…it works really well having rewired my cans in balanced config…otherwise its not so great and needs an equalisation module to make it sing.
    In short well done Korg – great bit of software that really works – keep developing this and perhaps allow external plugins…iAudioBus compatibility would be a good next step …how about it?

  13. I have KaiserTone and the Onkyo Player. All my iTunes music displays flawlessly. But the High Res WAV files don’t show as the correct Album or Artist. And the files don’t play in the sequence of the album. Is there some way to set up files for these devices to do so?

Leave a Reply