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  • Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. Virtual 7.1 Portable High-Resolution Gaming USB DAC Review
  • Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. Virtual 7.1 Portable High-Resolution Gaming USB DAC Review



    Many mobile phone manufacturers have begun to remove the 3.5 mm headphone jacks from their top end phones pushing users to USB headphones and onboard Bluetooth sound processing. Mad Catz has joined the growing list of companies releasing USB external DAC solutions to not only address this problem, but to also provide upgraded sound for your traditional headphones.

    Today we will be looking at the Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. DAC. With touch controls and virtual 7.1 surround at an attractive price, the FREQ might be the DAC you need!

    Mad Catz offers their FREQ DAC (Digital to Analog converter) in a single piece FREQ L or the dongle we have today.  I am a big believer in the dongle style as there is less stress on the USB port. The FREQ like of products also includes headsets in a variety of price points.

    The FREQ also ships with a Quick Start Guide, a Warranty Card and some Mad Catz stickers. Let’s take a look at the specifications:

    • High resolution 24bits / 192kHz
    • Incredible 7.1 channel surround sound
    • Touch panel for volume adjustment
    • Built-in 4 EQ modes
    • Compatible with laptops / mobile devices
    • Product Name: F.R.E.Q. DAC
    • Model Number: AF00C3INBL000-0
    • Input: USB Type C
    • Output: 3.5 mm
    • Sound Effect: Virtual 7.1 Surround
    • Sound Mode: Stereo, Gaming, Movie, Music
    • Rating: 5V - 100mA
    • Sampling Rate: 192KHz/ 24 bit
    • Dimension: 161.8 x 23.2 x 14mm
    • Weight: 11.5 g
    • System Requirement: Compatible with Windows (7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10) / Mac OS/ Android; PC/ Mac or Android Mobile Device with USB C Port

    Connectivity is handled by a USB C connector and a 3-inch cable.  The DAC unit is quite small at 161.8 x 23.2 x 14mm (6.37 x .91 x .55 inches) and weighs a slim 11.5 g. I like the angular shape and the minimal branding. Small is definitely better when attached to your USB port!

    Controls are split across the top and the left side. To activate the FREQ and select the sound mode you push the 7.1 button. This button lights up to display the current mode: Off for default stereo, Green for Music Mode, Red for Gaming Mode and Blue for Movie Mode. Each has its own default sound settings. The textured slider is a Mic mute toggle. The texture makes it pretty easy to fins when hands free.

    Volume is handled by a touch panne on the top surface. A standard 3.5 mm is recessed in the bottom and felt snug even when dangling off my desk.


    I tested the Mad Catz FREQ with both my Pixel 6 phone and with my Gigabyte G6 gaming laptop. Most of that time I paired them with my Sennheiser 6xx headphones and my phone. My music selection was across the usual range of test tracks (EDM, Classical and Jazz) and from an array of downloaded phone games. I also compared them to my dependable Creative Super X-Fi DAC.

    The FREQ is marketed as a Virtual 7.1 DAC and I can’t honestly say I found anything to indicate any special game processing was happening.  Let’s face it, most of the content we consume portably is not that great for audio quality! Still each setting had a distinct sound profile. Music mode sounded crisp and both Music and Movie modes used audio trickery to sound fuller that expected. I never found any mobile games I could be sure used positional sound so your milage may very!


    Overall, I found the ability to plug in a good set of headphones outweighed the lack of true surround sound. I understand why there are no good DACs on modern phones but the FREQ shows just how nice the option is. 

    MatCatz offer a great USB adapter with the advantage of simulated surround sound in a very affordable price point.  You can pay hundreds of dollars for a Hi-Fi DAC but for most of us a Mad Catz DAC is all you really need on the go!