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ALO Pan Am desktop/portable headphone amp/DAC: Impressions and Reviews

post #1 of 1102
Thread Starter 






Full review is up at TouchMyApps now. Full benchmarks for performance will be posted tomorrow. 


I assume that Pan Am users will start to blossom out of this forum soon enough. I've been using one ahead of schedule (thank you ALO) for about two weeks now and wrote my preliminary impressions at TouchMyApps. They haven't changed. This is a great all-in-one desktop AND portable system for users who are not satisfied using portable-only systems near their desks or in their HiFi systems. 


Reviews are few and far between so far. My official one will be up and out I hope within the next week. For now, make do with TouchMyApps' short impressions. 






Low noise




Coaxial input either 3,5 or RCA

Slightly lower gain (for earphone usage)


That said, earphones are almost no problem at all because gain isn't aggressive at all. It mimics ALO's portable amplifiers such as the National, making usage with say, FitEar To Go! 334 a breeze. But, it gets my favourite headphones up to where they don't need to go in terms of volume whilst being distortion free. 


People who know me, know that I listen at reasonable volumes, but when I test amps, I stress them, make sure they push a headphone until clipping/phase errors strain the signal and measure how far the volume pot and gain mode sets against the amp. The Pan Am has far more than enough for my DT880 600Ω (admittedly an easy to drive headphone), sliding nearly into the position occupied by the larger Graham Slee Ultra Linear Diamond. Power is no problem. 


I'm still not done testing all my headphones (takes too long for me to do this, I admit) but I'm impressed. The sound is more The National than it is The Continental, which fits my tastes. The valves aren't bottom heavy nor are they dulling. I think this system is very very well thought out. 


Currently, ALOAudio have the Pan Am up on their home page: http://www.aloaudio.com


Specs are: 


Optional Accessory: The PassPort
Dimensions:124mm (L) x 98mm (W) x (36)mm (H)
Battery Play Time:10 hours
Battery Recharge Time:5-6 hours
Frequency Response :+/- 1 dB:40 Hz - 30kHz
Input Impedance:10KOhms
Channel Tracking:< +/- 0.2dB


So far, I've found these reviews:



Edited by shigzeo - 10/4/12 at 9:55am
post #2 of 1102

Thanks for linking! I really want it, but it's a little out of my price range right now :( Any added details are appreciated :) 

post #3 of 1102
Thread Starter 

Well, my review will be up early next week. It is a fine amp - particularly that it travels so well is interesting. I've now used it in the same day at home, at my office, and whilst doing dishes (I don't recommend this at all). 


Again, noise level is low, and if you use USB, you can lower the volume of the computer so that you get 100% balanced volume (despite a pretty spot on volume pot) at low volume levels. 


A few things I've noticed: If you plug a headphone into the 3,5mm jack, the larger 6,3mm jack will not work. Similarly if you plug into the 6,3mm, the 3,5mm will not work. In other words, they don't run concurrently and obviously sport some sort of sensor that preempts the other jack.

post #4 of 1102

Cool stuff!



post #5 of 1102

How much power does it output? Would be great if it can power my HE-5LE and being a portable, that is the attractiveness to me. Thanks for the heads-up review :)

post #6 of 1102
Thread Starter 

It can power the HE-5LE, however, I don't know your listening or 'comfort' requirements. I consider anything over 90dB off limits and hardly ever listen above 80dB. I tested the HE5-LE and the LCD-3 last week. The HE5-LE had less volume at high gain and high volume, but I think that as long as you listen to safe volume levels, you may enjoy the Pan Am with it. That said, there are probably better amps for low-sensitivity electroplanar headphones. The LCD-3, however, is bulldozed by this amp. No problems with power here. 

post #7 of 1102

I don't listen loudly but prefered genres are metal and metal. So, wondering if the amps will have sufficient grip for the dynamics and bass reproduction of metal. Thanks.

post #8 of 1102
Thread Starter 

I was in a store, so I couldn't test how many decibels the HE5LE went to and if I had to hazard a guess, it would be somewhere about 80-85 that I had them up to to hear over the store. I could be wrong. But I was in a store so I heard things in not the best way to determine what's good and what is bad.

post #9 of 1102

Looking forward to more reviews. This is one amp I am eyeing on. 

post #10 of 1102

Looking forward to more detailed reviews. Something worth considering..And thanks for the feedback, Shigzeo

post #11 of 1102
Thread Starter 

I may NOT be able to finish the review this week. Reviews take soooooo much time to complete and this week I have some court action to import stuff from Canada. I may have to push back a week. If you read TMA, you know that my reviews are constantly sort of delayed. I make mistakes, but try to be as thorough as possible without getting too windy. So, I apologise that I may have to delay for one more week, but I can only do so much.


Anyway, this is an impressive amp for sure. 

post #12 of 1102

Just arrived.


post #13 of 1102
Originally Posted by palchiu View Post

Just arrived.


Nice! Would like to hear first impression.

post #14 of 1102
Originally Posted by plusSound View Post

Nice! Would like to hear first impression.



No power question with LCD2 biggrin.gif

post #15 of 1102
Thread Starter 

What current pictures don't show is just how small this amp is. Its entire component set probably takes up less space than a DACmini does, and maybe less than Graham Slee's Ultra Linear. Very very small. And discreet.

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