ALO Creates a New Reference Class with the Studio Six

A Review On: ALO Audio Studio Six Tube Headphone Amplifier

ALO Audio Studio Six Tube Headphone Amplifier

Rated # 48 in Desktop Amps
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Design
Quality
Value
mikemercer
Posted · Updated · 3505 Views · 21 Comments

Pros: KILLER headphone amp. Grabs you by the...

Cons: no balanced inputs

I just experienced one of the most incredible listening sessions I can remember with the ALO Studio Six!  I'm still in a sort-of sonic shock.

I haven't experienced that sensation since I first heard the Genesis One Loudspeaker System (250k) in Harry Pearson's house (Founder of

The Absolute Sound magazine) for the first time.

 

This is a single-ended triode amplifier that utilizes 6SN7, 6V6, 5AR4 and OB2 (2) tubes with an over spec'd power supply.  The beefy power supply is important here, as this amp delivers such velocity and authority that it's gestalt reminds me of some of the best in-room single-ended triode designs (like the OG Antique Sound Labs Hurricanes for example (but in smaller form).

 

I've driven my Audeze LCD3, an Audeze LCD1 on-loan, Sennheiser HD800, and V-MODA Crossfade M-100's at the same time without any noticeable loss in harmonic structure or overall gain!! I ran different lengths of cable so I could hear each headphone individually and not be interfered by the sound coming from the other cans.

 

My Audeze LCD3's were equipped w/ Moon Audio's latest Silver Dragon LCD3 cable w/ new Furutech connectors for this (formal review coming ASAP). This cable brings out the emotion in music playback like no other on the LCD3's that I've heard- and I've been using Cardas Clear as my reference (and have heard most ALO cables - which are also very good).

 

The ALO Studio Six is in a class all it's own. This from a proud owner of an E.A.R. HP4, which I considered THE reference for me in high end personal audio. The reason? Not the bass response, or clarity, coherence, and transparency (all the audiophile buzzwords it possesses). Nope. I loved (and still love) the E.A.R because it was the only headphone amp that brought me to tears when listening to music, until now... The Studio Six handles everything from Miles Davis to Daft Punk, Ella Fitzgerald, Aphex Twin, James Blake, Burial and Shlohmo with finesse and authority. It's quiet, allowing for the music to shine through. Even the tactile experience of the amplifier is satisfying, like your money really went to something substantial. Also: With this particular selection of tubes - I suspect Ken Ball and his team experimented on perfecting this design for as long as they deemed necessary to convey music transparently.

 

After nearly twenty years listening to high end audio I can say that using the ALO Studio Six headphone amp with these components (UPDATED): My Audeze LCD3 magnetic planar headphones - Studio Six - MYTEK Stereo192-DSD DAC - MacBook Pro SSD running Audirvana - is like experiencing my good friend Dan Meinwald's (importer of E.A.R, Marten Audio Loudspeakers, Townshend, and more) incredible high end, full-range in-room stereo system! The only difference? His system, in its current iteration, cost in upwards of 250k!!

 

I'd say this system has far more dynamic velocity than my room reference system, especially in terms of it's impact on all my senses. If I close my eyes while crankin' this amp and my Audeze LCD3's (or HD800's) I can imagine myself at club Twilo in New York in the mid-nineties (w/ the right underground DJ mix) or in the Hamptons rockin' to Bob Marley in the Summer with some of my best friends since the first grade. The system connects me to the music in ways I've only heard in stereo systems all costing over 100k!

 

Now, I know the headphones, wire, and amp are all contributing their own sonic characteristics, which is why I always describe the experience of the music with the addition of a new component. But here, in personal audio, with an amplifier this robust, I can say with confidence that old school high end stereo rules apply here: The amp is half the system. In that case, if you can afford this (in life some of the better things cost more money - my Beemer costs more than my Kia) I believe the ALO Studio Six provides the greatest musical experience in personal audio today - because it sounded terrific across all my cans!

 

That's something special indeed.

I am never giving this amplifier up. I haven't quite figured that out, YET.

 

A Class-Defining product! Nothing less.

 

MY LISTED PRICE MAY NOT BE ACCURATE - CURRENTLY ON-LOAN****

21 Comments:

it wouldn't let me give it FIVE STARS!!!!
Heard this at T.H.E. Show. Amazing what the guys at ALO have done.
Official price should be up this week and right around $4000 from what I was told. Worth it I think, I fell in love it at T.H.E. Show ask any of the guys I talked too after words lol.
Looks like I gotta bring it to the LA Meet! Can't deprive the tribe from getting a listen - will have to set up some playlists!!
Michael great review. The amp looks magnificent and ken appears to have hit a home run!!!! Hopefully I get to hear it when I come out West in August.
Thanks Frank!!
Oh no doubt you'll get to hear it - even if I have to bring it!!
I'm not sure this is a review but a fun read.
Is there a web site with specs, etc? Alo's tumblr 'studiosixamplifier.com' blog isn't very informative :(.
Sounds interesting. Like the simple industrial design. Curious if it will have a balanced out option.
Michael
Hey guys! Good catch. So sorry, I was leaving some of the technical stuff for my official review in Positive Feedback. Unfortunately (the only con I could think to list) it only has unbalanced inputs - and no balanced out.
I will update my review, but this is a single-ended triode amplifier utilizing 6SN7, 6V6, 5AR4 and OB2 (2) tubes!! with an overly spec'd power supply
I believe the price to be around $5000. There is a video of this amp posted here http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/show-newport-2013-alo-audio-studio-six .Would love to try it with my HD800's but here in UK we have a very limited choice.
Hey there! Yeah it looks like $4,900.00 so far. Thanks for the update!
I'm listening to it with my HD800's right now! Listening to Mogwai's "Special N"
just brought me to tears.
That combo (my HD800's - ALO Studio Stix - MYTEK Stereo192-DSD DAC - MacBook Pro/Amarra) is, for me, the personal audio playback equivalent of listening to the Nola Grand Reference System being driven by all ASR gear!!
When do you think your full review will be out. Now that the amp is out...enquiring minds are curious abut this amp :)
Can't wait for the full review, Mike. Always enjoy reading your enthusiasm and fresh take on things. Cheers! :)
Hey guys! SO sorry for the delay with the full review. My wife has been really sick, and so I've been tending to her needs. I will bust my hump to get this review done ASAP! and thanks so much yogi1ab!
Would they be making a Studio Three? 3 Tube instead of six, 2 headphone output instead of 4. I mean seriously 4 output just adds more to the final cost and is impractical in real world usage. Only time I can think of where this is useful is comparing different input like DAC's and at meets where a lot of users can compare different cans.
No worries Mike. I feel for you as my wife has been sick too. Take your time.
I am curious how the amp powers the LCD3. ALO's website says 1w at 30ohms. Doesnt that mean less watts at the 50ohms of the LCD3 (I am not an electrical expert)? I believe the Audeze FAQ said that the LCDs liked at least a watt.
Am I paying attention to the wrong electrical statistics? Probably shouldn't pay attention to statistics at all but its hard not too when you can't go to a dealer and just use your ears :).
Thanks mfaoro and I'm so sorry to hear about your wife! We're both in nurse-modes! Yes the LCD3's do LOVE a clean watt, but I have enjoyed them numerous times being driven by headphone amps with less power (like the HRT microStreamer believe it or not - that's just silly, but it sounds GREAT), so I think all of this is similar to high end two-channel in terms of trial and error. Sometimes a sonic pairing that makes no sense on paper creates a glorious musical experience! It's part of the magic of music playback that I LOVE. The Studio Six drives the LCD3's very well for me. Their midrange is clean and coherent (not too aggressive or laid-back) the highs are extended and airy, while the bass thumps with authority. I dig that combo.
I submitted my review to Positive Feedback today gents! I sincerely hope you dig it. I'll ping the URL here as soon as it's published