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$189 ALO Audio The Key USB DAC - 32-Bit / 384KHz with PCM5102A - Page 3

post #31 of 53

Anyone could confirm if the 'The Key' works on an iPhone 5 with the lightning to USB kit? [ http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD821ZM/A/lightning-to-usb-camera-adapter ]

 

Someone could please test and report on this thread please? Please specify your iOS version.

 

Thanks!

post #32 of 53
I too would love to hear impressions of it with the Pan Am. I'd love to start getting some higher res music (to see if I can tell the difference). Seems like it should be a worthy upgrade but I just haven't seen enough feedback on it to take the plunge.
post #33 of 53
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.

 

I too use the Duet and I am looking for an upgrade for my DACport LX. The ALO Key is one of my options as well as the CLAS -dB. May I ask what about the ALO Audio Key you find to be better than the CLAS -dB? This is devoid of the fact that the -dB functions as an iDevice DAC and as having a balanced output. Perhaps difference in sound signature and in overall technicalities (soundstage, detail retrieval, etc.) My thanks.

post #34 of 53

I find it rather saddening that this isn't getting more attention. It seems very few are aware this exists

post #35 of 53
It is strange. I'm inclined to buy it but would like more impressions of it before doing so, particularly with the Pan Am.
post #36 of 53

So it seems from reading the thread this is a great DAC for it's detail retrieval and soundstage, both of which are what I need for my musical enjoyment.

Hows the construction though? Does it feel flimsy and wouldn't the extra weight of the DAC plus the cable you're going to be plugging it with cause unwanted strain on the USB ports? I wouldn't want that. Any thoughts on that is appreciated.

post #37 of 53
For anyone wondering about Android compatability, I tested this out with an OTG cable today and it works with USB audio player pro and my Note 2
post #38 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by kelske View Post

For anyone wondering about Android compatability, I tested this out with an OTG cable today and it works with USB audio player pro and my Note 2

 Hey there… hehe… how about some impressions?? (sorry, I'm getting desperate) Thanks!!

post #39 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by maricius View Post
 

 Hey there… hehe… how about some impressions?? (sorry, I'm getting desperate) Thanks!!

 

Sorry dude I wish I could give you some accurate impressions. I'm FAR from experienced enough to make a calculated, accurate and objective assessment of The Key's goods and bads. In my experience HeadFi can be somewhat smattered with half-baked impressions, and disseminating the good stuff is quite an arduous task. 

 

I'll simply say that to me, it sounds great - and at $189, I'm very satisfied with what I got.

 

Hope that helps! :p 

post #40 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lespectraal View Post


Hows the construction though? Does it feel flimsy and wouldn't the extra weight of the DAC plus the cable you're going to be plugging it with cause unwanted strain on the USB ports? I wouldn't want that. Any thoughts on that is appreciated.

 

I can however answer this one! 

 

The construction is great except for the cap (but the cap isn't that important tbh...). It's nice and robust. There's no play in the port, body or jack and the metal casing is all cut from a single piece.

 

If you're just connecting via a 3.5mm it's not an issue. I use a right angled 3.5mm connector on mine and it works great - no concerns over putting too much strain on the USB connector. Connecting it via a short USB extension cable is another option :o

post #41 of 53

I purchased another ALO Audio Key after I realized that I really didn't need my other DAC and I could just use a USB DAC to connect to my speakers.  I was incredibly impressed with everything about the ALO Key previously, but I was concerned about pops when using my Dell Venue 11 Pro which is why I had returned it.

 

After getting rid of my other DAC and any Microsoft product from my life, I thought it was time to revisit the Key.  I got the black version and I'm happy to say that I love it!  The build quality has improved because not only does the cap fit perfectly, it also seems to be made from the same material as the rest of the casing.  I wasn't sure if that was the case with my previous purchase.

 

I've been using the Key with my SR-71A to Shure SE846, AKG3003i, and NAD Viso HP50.  I still think the DAC chip used by this USB Key is the best mid-range DAC on the market!

 

For those of you using alternate operating systems, it works terrific in Ubuntu and on the unstable chromeos builds.  I was hoping to use it on a stable chromeos build loaded with crouton and Elementary OS, but no luck.

post #42 of 53
Just bought myself a Key after hours of testing at a local shop, and I am very pleased to say that the Pan Am + Key combo is fantastic! I use a set of Siemens tubes which smooth the highs and tame bloated bass, and widens soundstage, at the expense of causing the bass to be a little less extended and impactful. However, when adding the slightly warm sounding Key I found that to add back the bass and retaining the soundstage, which has me in audio bliss smily_headphones1.gif

For those considering simple plug-and-go DACs the Key is a fantastic option, better than other Sabre based DACs I've tried so far.
post #43 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noobmachine View Post

Just bought myself a Key after hours of testing at a local shop, and I am very pleased to say that the Pan Am + Key combo is fantastic! I use a set of Siemens tubes which smooth the highs and tame bloated bass, and widens soundstage, at the expense of causing the bass to be a little less extended and impactful. However, when adding the slightly warm sounding Key I found that to add back the bass and retaining the soundstage, which has me in audio bliss smily_headphones1.gif

For those considering simple plug-and-go DACs the Key is a fantastic option, better than other Sabre based DACs I've tried so far.

YAAAAY impressions!!!! Hmmm… 

 

How would you compare the Key with the Pan Am DAC and your old Modi DAC?

post #44 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by maricius View Post

YAAAAY impressions!!!! Hmmm… 

How would you compare the Key with the Pan Am DAC and your old Modi DAC?

Hmm, the Modi... Quite a while ago that was... Still, I'll try and recall to the best of my ability!

The Modi from my memory was quite a decent starter amp, a great step up from my standard computer sound card, and the improvements mainly came in the form of a marginally wider soundstage, clearer highs and weightier lows, but still maintaining an overall "neutral" presentation. The Key is quite a bit better in terms of soundstage, and definitely on the warm side of things, the treble is not so much rolled off as it is smoothed out, peaks in treble are tamed rather than chopped off, and treble extension is very present smooth.

If you're looking for a DAC and have to pick between the two, I would recommend the Key over the Modi, but do keep in mind the $90 price difference matters!
post #45 of 53

I just got a Galaxy Note 3 on stock Android 4.4.2 and I tested the Key using an OTG USB connector.  Success!  It doesn't even require a special audio player!

All sounds are being routed to the Key and then to an amp of my choice.  Sounds fantastic!


Edited by utdeep - 6/10/14 at 10:11am
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