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$189 ALO Audio The Key USB DAC - 32-Bit / 384KHz with PCM5102A

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
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http://www.aloaudio.com/the-key

http://www.aloaudio.com/dacs/the-key

Design made the cap easy to lose, pretty much like many USB flash drives.

Output voltage is 2.0Vrms @10kOhms so definitely made for line-out.
post #2 of 55

Seems like a winner!

I am curious to know how it compares to the plethora of other small portable USB DACs. ie: Meridian Explorer, Audio Quest Dragonfly, HRT, etc....

post #3 of 55
I'm eagerly looking for a very portable USB DAC. Hope we have some solid feedback here...
post #4 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by RIVERST View Post
 

Seems like a winner!

I am curious to know how it compares to the plethora of other small portable USB DACs. ie: Meridian Explorer, Audio Quest Dragonfly, HRT, etc....

 

How do we get the Headphonus Supremus to do a side-by-side of all of these.

 

Finding myself listening through my PC for hours daily, I'm decidedly in the market.   How to choose? I could farm the stats of all the products mentioned above, and stick'em in a table.  But, I'm not sure I'd know what to make of it all...

post #5 of 55

Is this all based on the chipset used?  PCM5102A DAC chip

post #6 of 55

It would be nice if we didn't have so many choices to choose from. We all want the best, but every couple of months a new product hits the market with outrages claims.  Sometimes this hobby drives me crazy, but I still find a way to love it. I guess ill wait on the review from the Headphone Gods!!! Standing by for further instructions...sir!

post #7 of 55

I'll have mine on Friday.  I've enjoyed the dacs they used in the International and Pan Am, so I'm sure they'll do a good job with this one.

 

I like the fact that they've aren't using any "source file bit rate" LEDs on this.  That has been a pointless feature in every USB stick I've seen such as the DragonFly, Meridian Explorer, and AudioEngine D3.


Edited by utdeep - 2/19/14 at 6:28pm
post #8 of 55

Couldn't find on their webpage whether any drivers need to be installed on Windows/Linux/Mac computers to use this. Work has such a strict IT policy that I need a USB DAC that doesn't require a Windows driver...

post #9 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by utdeep View Post
 

Is this all based on the chipset used?  PCM5102A DAC chip

I'm certainly no expert, but as far as I understand implementation is absolutely key. For example, go to this page (http://centrance.com/products/dacport/) and then click the "Design philosophy" tab.

 

I have the DACport and consider it my best dac/amp combo, and I have a few TOTL portable amps and dacs (check my profile). If I was in the market for a dedicated USB DAC I'd definitely go for the "DACport LX". Also, the free software ASIO driver works extremely well.

 

BTW, I have no ties with CEntrance whatsoever.

post #10 of 55
It looks like it's using the same chip as the C5D
http://www.jdslabs.com/products/84/c5d-amplifier-dac/

I really like the JDS C5D
It's price point amp dac combo

PCM5102A is a great chip so I bet the key will sound great...
post #11 of 55

I just received the Alo Audio Key.  One thing that I've noticed is that it definitely can't do double duty as a DAC/amp.  The output impedance would suggest this. At max volume, it can barely provide enough loudness for a Shure 846.

 

I will be receiving the Duet tomorrow so I can test it as a pure DAC.  I do love what I'm hearing though.  Detail retrieval is exceptional.  

 

I have mixed feelings about the build quality.  The USB connector cover doesn't securely fit.  Unlike the AudioEngine D3, there is no small cover case which was a really nice touch.  It feels like Alo might have just tossed the chip in a aluminum usb key without any other work.

post #12 of 55

Some pictures!  I'm glad I have a Mac so I don't need the driver CD.  I do have a PC too with no CD drive and I'm disappointed ALO doesn't have the driver on the website.  I've requested the driver via email.

 

 

post #13 of 55

Thanks for the pictures and early impressions! Please keep them coming!

Have you tried it with HD files?

Not having the driver available for download on their site must be considered professional misconduct. ;)

post #14 of 55
Great impressions! Im a happy owner of the duet and looking for a small computer DAC. Do tell how the two synergize smily_headphones1.gif

Im still looking for ALO or someone really to make a portable computer USB balanced dac tho
post #15 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotnijoe View Post

Great impressions! Im a happy owner of the duet and looking for a small computer DAC. Do tell how the two synergize smily_headphones1.gif

Im still looking for ALO or someone really to make a portable computer USB balanced dac tho

How about Cypher Labs Algorhythm Solo -dB? Thread here!

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