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$189 ALO Audio The Key USB DAC - 32-Bit / 384KHz with PCM5102A - Page 2

post #16 of 63

meant specifically like one of the USB design ones or something similar to that. It'll probably be clunkier and bigger but id still like to see it happen haha

post #17 of 63
Seems like it would be nice to have to enjoy again some of the amps that have been gathering dust because of the portability of dac+amp combos. Has anyone tried the key with the continental for example?
post #18 of 63

I've been using the Key with the Duet for a few days and my experience has been overwhelmingly positive.  It reminded me of my experience with the Woo Audio 7.

 

Then I looked at the DAC chip on the Woo Audio 7.  No surprise... it's the same magical PCM5102A.  In my humble opinion, this chip is better than the Sabre DAC in the Dragonfly, the messed up Meridian Explorer one, and the AudioEngine D3.  The sound signature is phenomenal for IEM usage because it has incredible texture and detail.  I like it better than the Cypher Labs CLAS db+ as well.

 

My only concern with the Alo Audio Key is that you can likely get the same experience by grabbing the latest Stoner Acoustics USB key UD110 for $52 which has the same chip.  I also don't know if you can use this with the CCK kit for an iPhone.

 

For now, the Alo Audio Key + Cypher Labs Duet + Shure 846 is my new favorite setup.

post #19 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by utdeep View Post
 

I've been using the Key with the Duet for a few days and my experience has been overwhelmingly positive.  It reminded me of my experience with the Woo Audio 7.

 

Then I looked at the DAC chip on the Woo Audio 7.  No surprise... it's the same magical PCM5102A.  In my humble opinion, this chip is better than the Sabre DAC in the Dragonfly, the messed up Meridian Explorer one, and the AudioEngine D3.  The sound signature is phenomenal for IEM usage because it has incredible texture and detail.  I like it better than the Cypher Labs CLAS db+ as well.

 

My only concern with the Alo Audio Key is that you can likely get the same experience by grabbing the latest Stoner Acoustics USB key UD110 for $52 which has the same chip.  I also don't know if you can use this with the CCK kit for an iPhone.

 

For now, the Alo Audio Key + Cypher Labs Duet + Shure 846 is my new favorite setup.

Thanks for the report! Not to be a "smart ass", but I assume you mean "-dB" when you write "dB+"? Asking in case there is some sort of mod of the CLAS that I may be unaware of. Thanks!

post #20 of 63
Nice. +1 to the Smart Ass. Clas -db redface.gif
post #21 of 63
Unfortunately, I've found the first major problem with the Key for my use cases. I have a MacBook Retina, MacBook Air, and a Dell Venue 11 Pro. On the Dell Venue 11 Pro, there are bips and clicks when using the Alo Audio Key.

This did not occur with the AudioEngine D3 or any of the other USB DACs. My assumption is that it is related to the power being delivered to the DAC via USB. The Dell Venue 11 Pro may not have the most stable USB power and this is resulting in bips and clicks. I noticed the same issue with the Surface Pro 2 as well.

While there is a possibility that it is related to the Windows driver, my gut says it is related to the amount of power needed by the DAC and the unstable power from the USB controller. I tried using a powered USB hub and there were no clicks.
post #22 of 63

^Very interesting. Not a good sign. Can you get this verified by ALO? Maybe they would have some sort of suggestion? Would be interesting to hear. Thanks for reporting!

post #23 of 63

So... is it a pure DAC or a DAC/amp ? If a pure DAC, I'll buy with no hesitation. 

post #24 of 63

Pure DAC

post #25 of 63
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....

What about the ODAC which I have (along with the JDS Labs O2)?

 

P.S.

I am very happy with: Toshiba Satellite -> ODAC --> O2 -> DT 880 (250 Ohm)

Nevertheless I'd like to explore some other portable DACs.


Edited by JakeJack_2008 - 3/6/14 at 9:26am
post #26 of 63

I'm interested in this usb dac, but I am wondering how this differs from other cheaper PCM5102A dacs. I am assuming this has a better receiver chip. Do you know what receiver chip is inside this dac?

post #27 of 63

Why would they not include a headphone amp in this like the Dragonfly, D3, etc.?

post #28 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by whereas View Post
 

Why would they not include a headphone amp in this like the Dragonfly, D3, etc.?

I don't know but I would guess because they already have a somewhat similar product (a bit bigger though and needs an interconnect cable) named "The Island".


Edited by Aero Dynamik - 3/14/14 at 2:26am
post #29 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by utdeep View Post

Unfortunately, I've found the first major problem with the Key for my use cases. I have a MacBook Retina, MacBook Air, and a Dell Venue 11 Pro. On the Dell Venue 11 Pro, there are bips and clicks when using the Alo Audio Key.

This did not occur with the AudioEngine D3 or any of the other USB DACs. My assumption is that it is related to the power being delivered to the DAC via USB. The Dell Venue 11 Pro may not have the most stable USB power and this is resulting in bips and clicks. I noticed the same issue with the Surface Pro 2 as well.

While there is a possibility that it is related to the Windows driver, my gut says it is related to the amount of power needed by the DAC and the unstable power from the USB controller. I tried using a powered USB hub and there were no clicks.


I just received The Key in black. It's plugged into my Asus G53SX laptop and my Matrix M-stage. I do not have any issues that you mentioned. I do not get any bips or clicks and my usb cap fits perfectly. The sound is phenomenal and the soundstage is a lot wider than my V-Dac with upgraded power supply. However, I cannot figure out how to get The Key to playback in 32-bit. 

 

 


Edited by gav007 - 4/5/14 at 3:01pm
post #30 of 63

I'd be interested to know how The Key sounds with the Pan Am.  While the Pan Am has the built-in DAC, I often find myself plugging in the AQ Dragonfly.

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