Thank You's and Sorries
A big thank David Maudlin for sending me the Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm Trio to me back in late May and I apologise that it's taken me 3 months to put something up about it.
IntroductionCypher Labs as a company needs no introduction. It's been in the portable audio business being one of the first few companies to release an iOS approved DAC back in 2011 which carries the AlgoRhythm name used in most of Cypher Labs portable devices till this day. This AlgoRhythm Trio however is (if I'm not mistaken), Cypher Labs first portable tube amp. All of Cypher Labs past amps had been fully solid state or discrete.
I'm not going into the specs of the Trio which you can read yourself here: http://www.cypherlabs.com/products/algorhythm-trio-portable-vacuum-tube-headphone-tube-amplifier/
DesignAs with all other Cypher Labs portable components, the design of the Trio is simple yet elegant. The top and side plate has small ventilation for the tube amp and also allows the owner to take a peek at the glow (which is natural by the way, not cheating with LED lights). Some slight differences from Cypher Labs other portable devices/amps are that now the Trio has a glossy surface. It gives it the very shiny new look however it's also slippery in the hands and attracts fingerprints. If you're fussy like me, then you'd be continually wiping/cleaning but carefully otherwise over cleaning could result in wiping off the logo. Another difference is the volume knob is now in the middle with line in to the right and headphone out ot the left. Cypher Labs has also opted a separate power switch instead of built-in to the volume knob instead.
The charging is via a miniUSB although personally have a preference for a microUSB like what the Picollo & Duet uses.
SonicsOverall, Cypher Labs has got it right with the tonal balance of the amp but the slight difference is that to my ears they do sound smoother and more analogue-ish compared to the Duet. The sound staging too is larger than the Trio but still falls slightly shy of the Duet. Like the Trio though, this is also a powerful amp. Unfortunately in the case of the Trio, that power comes with a rather noticeable noisefloor especially with sensitive earphones/headphones. I opted to use the Fostex T50RP Mk3 with this review.
Going back and forth between the Picollo and the Trio, the sound stage is the main difference I've noticed. The Trio is able to create a bigger spacious sound. Separation of instruments is also more noticeable to my ears. Imaging is also deeper. In many ways I feel the Trio is closer to the Duet in terms of sonic reproduction. The difference would be where the tube comes in and the Trio provides that smooth analogue texture especially when listening to easy listening vocal jazz with acoustic instruments.
In terms of it's frequency response, the Trio pretty much gives the full range just like the Trio and Duet. If there's any differences, I'd personally feel that the Trio has treble forwardness closer to the Trio whilst the Duet is a hairline behind. Because of this, I think the Trio would work better with headphones that has a slightly toned down treble just to get that added balance.