KIWI EARS Allegro

Ichos

Reviewer at hxosplus
Playful
Pros: + Neutral and uncolored tuning
+ Crystal clear and transparent
+ Good technicalities
+ Silent background
+ Open and spacious soundstage
+ Independent volume control
+ Efficient
+ Sturdy and durable build
+ Compact and lightweight
+ Unique retro appearance
+ High quality cable
Cons: - Limited functionality
- No app compatibility
- Not very powerful
- No gain settings
- Gets warm during use
- No accessories except for the cable
- Dry and lean textures
- Not that musical or engaging
Kiwi Ears is a renowned earphones manufacturer with many successful and well regarded models, like the Kiwi Ears Quintet. The Allegro is their first portable USB DAC dongle.

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Non Audio stuff

Digital to analog conversion is assigned to the ES9028Q2M DAC chip by ESS which supports audio decoding up to 32bit/384kHz PCM and DSD256 while the headphone amplifier chip is the ESS9603. The Kiwi Ears Allegro has a USB Type-C interface with a detachable cable and two headphone outputs, 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single ended. A high quality and durable USB type-C cable is included in the package but no Lighting cable or a full size USB adapter.

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Appearance

The Kiwi Ears Allegro has a rectangularly shaped design with rounded edges and corners. The compact chassis is very well made from solid CNC machined aluminum alloy in a sturdy and durable build.

The design resembles a Nintendo retro gaming machine controller with some fake buttons on the upper surface. There are also two real buttons at the side of the chassis that are used for volume control which is independent from the host device controller. A tiny LED will turn blue for PCM and red for DSD decoding.

Functionality

This is a simple, plug and play, USB DAC dongle that is compatible with most operating systems without the need to install drivers. I have used it with my Android phone and a Windows laptop without any issues.

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Power output and efficiency

The rated power output is 70mW/32Ω for the 3.5mm output and 155mW/32Ω for the 4.4mm output. Not the most powerful USB DAC dongle, it is mostly suitable for earphones and some sensitive headphones.

Power consumption is relatively low as it was measured at 0.13A/0.65W. The number remains the same both at idle state and while playing music.

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Audio stuff

The Kiwi Ears Allegro offers crystal clear sound with excellent transparency and fidelity. It is neutrally tuned with stellar linearity and some extra brilliance in the treble. The bass is fast, tight and controlled with good dynamic behavior as long as you use sensitive earphones. Definition and layering are also exceptional for the category, the Allegro can resolve very complicated bass lines and don't loose inner detail.

The mid-range and the treble are crystalline and well defined with good separation and detail retrieval. The mids have a good amount of harmonic variety, the treble is energetic and crisp with extra sparkle and bite but it doesn't sound annoyingly bright or harsh. There is a touch of artificiality to the timbre but not too much digital glare. The textures are rather lean and dry but the Kiwi Ears Allegro doesn't sound too clinical or sterile.

The Kiwi Ears Allegro is not that organic and analog, it has a modern tuning that favors transparency, linearity and objectivity over musicality or any other kind of intentional sound shaping. The soundstage is also open and spacious with good imaging and placing across the horizontal plane.

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Conclusion

The truth is that the Kiwi Ears Allegro doesn't break new ground, it has limited functionality and is not very powerful either. However you can consider buying it for its unique retro appearance, the sturdy build, the compact size, the excellent objective performance and its class leading technicalities.

The review sample was kindly provided free of charge. The price of the Kiwi Ears Allegro is $59.99 and is available from Linsoul.
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Zerstorer_GOhren

500+ Head-Fier
KIWI EARS ALLEGRO: Solid and Capable Enough Device
Pros: ● Sturdy aluminium alloy on its overall structure yet has a reasonable weight on it.
● Probably, one of the most compact size dual audio output DAC/Amp dongles in the market.
● Uniquely design aesthetics as it has a shape of a controller of an old video game console.
● Solid and tactual volume key buttons.
● ESS ES9028Q2M is quite uncommon to be implemented on a DAC/Amp dongle.
● Good thermal management as it doesn't heat up.
● Surprisingly power efficient as it only drags a little power from its host device.
● It supports native DSD up to DSD256 and PCM format up to 32bit/ 384kHz.
● Neutral with almost uncoloured sound profile.
● Competent overall technical performance.
Cons: ● It doesn't have the most powerful output in the entry-level DAC/Amp dongles out there, might be insufficient to drive some power-hungry headphones and earbuds.
● Does not have a Digital Filter mode option.
● No manual gain mode.
● Looking for a warmish, analogue-ish type of sound profile? Definitely, not this one.
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Allegro is a musical term that defines a fast pacing and lively tempo in a composition piece.

If you follow my review articles in both my own blog and Head-Fi, I did a substantial amount of KIWI EARS products and all of them are IEM earphones. But this time, this one is quite a different type of product.

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KIWI EARS decided to enter one of the most lucrative segments of portable audio devices in the current audio market and these are the DAC/Amp dongles. The DAC/Amp dongles became one of the staple devices for audio enthusiasts that its small frame is quite mobile and capable to deliver a high fidelity sound that it is also a very versatile one as you can also use in modern smartphones, laptop, tablets and even PCs to enjoy listening your favourite tracks either on local music library or via music streaming services.

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This is KIWI EARS ALLEGRO, KIWI EARS’ first DAC/Amp dongle on their product line-up. It has a solid aluminium alloy frame on its overall structure and it underwent an anodising process to achieve that brushed look for corrosion-resistant and enhanced durability. The aesthetics of this device reminds me of some controllers from an old video game console like NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) that gives some retro vibe reminiscing the single digit bit video game era. It also has hardware volume keys that we can adjust the amplitude level without relying on software volume keys from the connected devices.

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The ALLEGRO has a dual audio output interface consisting of 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced output which make this device very versatile in both casual and professional use. The 3.5mm has a power output of 70mW at 32 Ohms which will be enough to amplify almost all types of IEMs, earbuds and even headphones. Meanwhile the 4.4mm balanced output can deliver up 155mW of power output at @32 Ohms which can drive some of the power-hungry professional grade cans. On its connectivity, it has a type-C port which is a standard modern connectivity for better compatibility for smartphones like android devices and latest iphones, tablets, laptop and tablets with type-C ports.

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On its internals, the ALLEGRO utilises an ESS DAC, the ES9028Q2M which is quite uncommon as it was usually integrated mostly on desktop DAC amplifiers. This model is a 32-bit high performance DAC and it is also quite power efficient as it has a low power drag that it is able to execute on processing decoding digital audio format while delivering a fairly powerful output due to its built-in proprietary SABRE amplifier. It can encode and support digital audio formats up to 32bit/384kHz on PCM format and up to DSD256 on DSD format to have that audio clarity while preserving the original reproduction of an audio track's recording.

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The product packaging of KIWI EARS ALLEGRO is relatively minimalist with some sparse content enough to cover its basic usage.

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Here are the following contents inside of its packaging box:
  • KIWI EARS ALLEGRO DAC/amp dongle.
  • Short parallel type-C to type-C cable.
  • Specification card.
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In regards to connectivity in both hardware and software, it supports a variety of modern devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop PCs and even DAPs (as long as it supports USB audio decoding). On the software side, this device is quite compatible with almost all known OSes in both mobile and desktop like Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS and Linux. Since I am more of an Android user, the device is highly recommended on some music apps like UAPP( USB Audio Player Pro), Onkyo HF, Neutron and HiBy Music app.

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Tonality-wise, this device delivers a quite neutral sound that all parts of its frequency range were all equally represented across the audio spectrum in a clean sonic background. Depending on the driver quality that the headphones and earphones have , this device will surely convey a proper power output to power-up those transducers to emit sounds as well-balanced with full dynamics as possible.

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LOWS/BASS:

This device is capable of delivering a bass response from tight to a boomy and authoritative sound depending on the tonal profile of an earphone or headphone. It is also capable of producing a good sub-bass presence with just the right amount of mid bass texturing for a proper note weight on some bass clef instruments and low octave male vocals.


MIDRANGE:

Again, depending on the tonal profile of an earphone or a can, the ALLEGRO gives a transparent, clean and mostly neutral midrange presentation albeit there are some instances that it adds only a little bit of warmth on some warmish and analogue-ish sounding sets.

I noticed that if I paired it on my sets with reference-neutral sound profile, it has a tad dry and sterile sound on some types of female vocals and instruments too like strings and percussives.

Unlike those other DAC/Amp dongles with warmish-neutral or balanced-warmish. This device won't give a lusher, succulent and richer vocals and instruments as it try to stay as uncoloured and natural sounding as possible.


HIGHS/TREBLE:

The treble quality that this DAC/Amp dongle delivers remains to sound smooth and even that it is sufficient enough to deliver clarity, detail and air on its overall treble response.

It is capable to convey a well-defined attack of instruments and definition of clarity of vocals without added overboost on the treble section along with sufficient harmonic for sparkle and air on the brilliance part.


OVERALL TECHNICALITIES:

In general, the ALLEGRO is capable enough to deliver a spacious and an atmospheric-like stereo imaging presentation in a well-layered soundscape with decent separation of elements like vocals and instruments.

Its resolution capability is pretty capable on this one of giving a firmer macro-dynamics and quite proficient on micro-detail retrieval in clean sonic canvas.


PEER COMPARISONS:

FOSI AUDIO DS2

  • This device has a slimmer yet longer profile with a LED light for sampling rate indicator compared to the ALLEGRO but like the latter, this device also has an aluminium alloy structure. It also has an USB type-A to type-C adaptor that was included inside of its packaging box.
  • With a Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC, this device is quite a bit more powerful on delivering an amplified sound output as it has 128mW at 32 ohms on SE and 510mW at 32 ohms on balanced output. In comparison with the ALLEGRO, it has a “warmish-neutral” sound profile which makes a bit coloured as it can give a more tactile bass response, a warmer and lusher midrange presentation and smoother and relaxed treble response with a less sparkle and less airy treble extension. On technical capabilities, it appears that it has a more solid macro-dynamics.

HIDIZS XO
  • Compared to ALLEGRO, this device has a smaller form factor, an option to choose digital tuning filters and a customisable LED lighting but it doesn't have a hardware volume key. At least, on its packaging box, it includes a USB type-A and type-C adapter for usage on laptops and PCs.
  • The HIDIZS XO has a balanced-neutral sound with a tad warmth just to sound at least more natural in which it aligns with analogue-ish yet less warm tonality that compared to the ALLEGRO, it sounds less dry and not so sterile sounding. It appears that it shares similar technical performance with the ALLEGRO from perceived sound/speaker size up to the resolution capabilities which is rather sufficient but not up to par with best-in-class dongle that I've tested.

EPZ TP20 PRO
  • Like the ALLEGRO, the TP20 PRO also has metal alloy structure on its frame with a carbon-fibre coating on its surface albeit this device has a LED light for sampling rate indicator and a manual switch for gain mode. Inside its packaging box, it has short braided single crystal copper 8-core type-C to type-C cable for better signal transmission.
  • On its internal, unlike the ALLEGRO, The TP20 PRO has a Cirrus Logic DAC, the CS43131 which is quite a proven audio IC which is quite power efficient yet it delivers a high power output. This device has “warmish-neutral” sound which is a bit coloured compared to ALLEGRO as it has a slamming and punchier bass response, a warmer and a bit lush on midrange presentation and smooth yet less airy treble response. Again, on technical capabilities, this one has a more solid presentation on macro-dynamics.


Given the current state on portable audio market that it is given there will be new product releases on a monthly or even on a weekly basis and DAC/Amp dongles are one of those products that KIWI EARS is quite a flexible audio company as it always adapting on the audio market changes. With the release of this product, it adds more option on the already competitive DAC/Amp dongle market.

To conclude this product review, while it doesn't have a class-leading power output performance among the entry-level DAC/Amp dongles in the market. With a solid built, a uniquely looking device with sturdy volume control buttons, the KIWI EARS ALLEGRO is quite enough to satisfy the needs of budget-minded audio enthusiasts who simply wants a device that delivers a good sound quality with capable technical performance at under US$100/£80.

KIWI EARS ALLEGRO is exclusively available only on LINSOUL, here is the unaffiliated product link for those who are interested.

★★ KIWI EARS ALLEGRO - LINSOUL ★★


For more KIWI EARS product reviews, check out the following previous models.

■ KIWI EARS CADENZA

■ KIWI EARS QUARTET

■ KIWI EARS QUINTET

■ KIWI EARS FORTEZA

■ KIWI EARS MELODY

■ KIWI EARS SINGOLO


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SPECIFICATIONS:

ModelKIWI EARS ALLEGRO
Output Power70mW(SE); 155mW(BAL)
Input ModeUSB Type C
Output Mode3.5MM + 4.4MM Headphone
Frequency Range20Hz-40kHz (±0.5dB)
THD0.0015%(32Ω SE)
SNR≥123dB
Sampling Rate32bit/768kHz
DSDDSD64/128/256
DAC Chip SetESS ES9028Q2M
MaterialAluminium Alloy
Compatible DevicesMac\Windos\IOS\Android


TESTING TRACKS: ( * = 16-bit FLAC, ** = 24-bit FLAC, *'* = MQA, '*' = DSD, *'= .WAV)

Alison Krauss -When You Say Nothing At All *
Jade Wiedlin - Blue Kiss**
Led Zeppelin - When The Levee Breaks **
Mountain - Mississippi Queen *
Queen - Killer Queen **
Guns N' Roses - Patience *'*
Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven '*'
Sergio Mendes- Never Gonna Let You Go '*'
Pearl Jam - Daughter **
Roselia - Hidamari Rhodonite *
Assassin - Fight (To Stop The Tyranny)*
Celtic Frost- Visual Aggression *
New Order - Blue Monday *
The Corrs- What Can I do (unplugged version) *
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Voodoo Child *
The Madness- Buggy Trousers *
Metallica - Motorbreath **
Mariah Carey- Always Be My Baby *
Destiny's Child - Say My Name *
Malice Mizer- Au Revoir *
Mozart - Lacrimosa *
New York Philharmonic Orchestra - Dvorak- Symphony 9 " From the New World." *
Eva Cassidy - Fields of Gold (Sting cover)*
Michael Jackson - Give In To Me *
Exciter - Violence and Force *
Diana Krall - Stop This World **
Debbie Gibson - Foolish Beat *'*
The Sisters of Mercy – Lucretia My Reflection**
Suzanne Vega – Luka **
Lauren Christy – Steep *
Ottoman Mehter - Hucum Marsi *
Diana Damrau - Mozart: Die Zauberflöte*


P.S.

I am not affiliated to KIWI EARS nor receive monetary incentives and financial gains as they provide me a review unit for an exchange of factual and sincere feedback from yours truly.

Once again, I would like to send my gratitude to MS. KAREENA TANG of LINSOUL for providing this review unit. I truly appreciate their generosity and trust towards me and other reviewers.



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mars chan

New Head-Fier
Kiwi Ears Allegro dongle DAC review and comparisons.
Pros: .
- a design the evokes good memories
- excellent sound quality
- very afffordable price
- excellent value for money
- great build quality
- volume control
- the included USB cable is the best I've seen
Cons: .
- I have no complaints with the Allegro, this is clearly a winner.
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Kiwi Ears Allegro dongle DAC review and comparisons.
.
When I first heard this, I was astounded at how much better the sound quality was than my more costly dongle DACs. Linsoul Audio, one of the largest online portable audio stores, provided me with the Kiwi Ears Allegro, which retails for $59.99 US dollars, for a review. I was told that I could say whatever I wanted in this review, and I'm grateful for that, because this dongle DAC sounds so good that reviewing it would be a relatively simple task.

Kiwi Ears is a relatively young audio brand that has quickly gained popularity in the international portable audio market. Their main product line consists of in-ear monitor (IEM) earphones. To be honest, I never paid much attention to them; however, after touching and listening to the Kiwi Ears Allegro, I realized why people love the brand; and based on the reviews and user comments I've read or seen, I believe this firm is solid and run by true audiophiles.

The packaging (see photo) is small yet tidy, with an excellent USB type C to C cable. It looks excellent with the Allegro, as if they were meant for each other, and I didn't feel compelled to purchase and replace it with a third-party connection. This is very surprising given the price, and the dongle DAC itself is compact, robust, and visually appealing. It evokes childhood nostalgia.

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The Kiwi Ears Allegro has no problem driving my IEMs, except for the few difficult-to-drive ones. When paired with the Dunu Falcon Ultra Ti and the Xenns Mangird Top, which are my reference IEMs and used for sound evaluation in this review, the Allegro can go very loud at only 50 percent volume and ear-damagingly loud at around 85 percent volume. I used the 4.4mm connection.

It has the resolution and clarity that ESS Sabre chip-equipped DACs are known for. The tonality is very neutral, and the perceived frequency response is very flat. But the most notable of all is the bass control. This is one of the few dongle DACs I've heard that has excellent bass control, resulting in a very textured bass and sub-bass. The midrange sounds neutral and clean, and the treble is very extended.

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Kiwi Ears Allegro vs. Hidizs S9 Pro Plus Martha vs. Rose Technics Roseselsa.

They represent three generations of ESS Sabre chips: the Allegro has the ES9028Q2M, the oldest, the S9 Pro Plus Martha, has the ES9038Q2M, and the newly released Roseselsa has the latest chip, the ES9039Q2M. Let me warn you in advance that any sound differences I point out are, in reality, really small; most people might not notice them.

I did an extensive three-way comparison, and the first thing I noticed was that the Roseselsa was the bassiest, the Allegro was the most neutral in bass, and the Martha was the most bass-light of the bunch. The Roseselsa might be the bassiest, but the bass is less controlled than the bass on the Allegro and could sound boomy at times. The Martha also doesn't have the most controlled bass and could sound boomy at times. It also has the least bass of the three due to its slightly elevated upper mids and treble sound. Again, the differences are tiny, but for me, the Kiwi Ears Allegro wins in this round by a wide margin due to its excellent bass control, making the bass sound very textured and non-boomy.

I heard no discernible differences in the midrange, but at the upper midrange and treble, the Martha was the most forward-sounding, bringing the details closer, the Allegro was neutral, and the Roseselsa has the most polite sounding of the three. I prefer the Allegro and the Martha equally in this round, as they sound more musical for me, but don't get me wrong, they all sound great, and the differences are really small.

In the upper treble region, the Roseselsa was the most polished sounding, the cleanest sounding too, but it sounded a little polite; the Allegro is the least polished sounding; the Martha is in between; it has the best balance of smoothness and liveliness in the upper treble; and I prefer it over the other two, so the Martha is the clear winner for me in this round, but again, the differences are very small.

In terms of sound stage, the Roseselsa has the deepest, followed by the Martha, and lastly, the Allegro. The Roseselsa also has the cleanest and darkest background of the three. Roseselsa clearly wins in this regard.

Of course, the implementation and tuning of the DAC chip also play a role in the final sound quality of the dongle. Therefore, the differences between these three cannot be pinned down to the chip alone.

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Vs Moondrop Dawn Pro

I noticed the Dawn Pro has slightly bigger sound stage size, but the Kiwi Ears Allegro has more audible resolution. The Dawn Pro is warmer or more analog-sounding, which I like about the Dawn Pro. The Allegro easily has the better bass by far; it has more textured bass and seems to have a more powerful bass presentation.

Vs Moondrop Moonriver 2

The Allegro has a bigger sound stage and thicker note weight; it also has a cleaner background. They both have excellent bass control, but to make the story shorter, I prefer the Allegro over the Moonriver 2.

Based on the evaluations I've seen or read, the newly released Moonriver 2 Ti has better sound quality than its predecessor, but I believe the old Moonriver 2 is now outdated, since it may be outperformed by much less priced recently launched dongle DACs.

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Pros:
.
- a design the evokes good memories
- excellent sound quality
- very afffordable price
- excellent value for money
- great build quality
- volume control
- the included USB cable is the best I've seen

Cons:
.
- I have no complaints with the Allegro, this is clearly a winner.

Conclusion:

I wasn't expecting much from the Kiwi Ears Allegro, but when I first handled it and looked closely, I noticed the machining was flawless, and the Allegro felt quite sturdy. When I tapped my finger nail on the Allegro, I heard a lovely high-pitched metallic pinging sound, indicating a thick metal, as opposed to my previous dongle DACs, which sound plasticky or cheap when tapped. The sound quality is practically perfect. And the value for money is phenomenal, which is why I recommend the Kiwi Ears Allegro above all other dongle DACs that I've reviewed for beginners who are starting to invest into dongle DACs in their audio journey. Thank you again, Linsoul Audio, for sending this fantastic dongle DAC for review.

Happy Listening! Cheers!

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zabiri
zabiri
Love the pictures, great work
mars chan
mars chan
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BielakP

New Head-Fier
Pros: - Great cable - thick and solid - chances are it will last a long time
- solid construction (could it be inspired by the construction of a tank?:) )
- analog, soft sound
- nice bass - soft and pleasant
- precise and well-placed volume change buttons
- interesting, retro-gaming look
- does not heat up at all
- compatible with android and apple
- 4.4 and 3.5 outputs
Cons: - lack of any app
- sound sometimes lacks “claw”
- inverted VOL +/- layout compared to the intuitive one (+ not towards the USB connector)
- buttons on the case are just decorative – damn, it would be nice if they did something!
- it could be a little cheaper

MANDATORY INTRODUCTION

Dear reader, please keep in mind that whenever there is an opinion in a review, it is my opinion, which may differ significantly from yours. We are all different from each other and have different tastes, and something that does not give me an accelerated heartbeat, you can have great fun, so I always recommend listening before buying if there is such an opportunity. I would also like to point out that in the evaluation of individual parameters, as well as the entire set, I try to relate to the price level that has been set for them, which simply means that any opinion I give should be followed by the thought “.... for its price”. I believe this is the only fair form of evaluation and best represents the value of the reviewed item.

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INTRODUCTION

Courtesy of Linsoul, today I have the opportunity to introduce you to a portable DAC dongle from Kiwi Ears model: ALLEGRO

PRESENTATION

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We get the DAC in a small, sturdy cardboard package, that properly protects the product during transport. In the package we find a USB-C to USB-C cable and some minimal paperwork. The look of the DAC itself is a retro reference to an old-school console pad from the days of Nintendo or Sega NES. You'll find a distinctive plus button and two other buttons, named here A and B. Unfortunately, in no way does the presence of these elements affect the presentation of sound - they are merely decorative ☹ ... bummer.

CONSTRUCTION

First, the cable. The included USB-C to USB-C cable is simply great. It consists of two laminated bundles with a total cross-section of 3x6 mm. Kiwi Ears knows what the biggest pain point of the DAC dongles is: cable durability. In a direct comparison with the cable from Moondrop Dawn Pro, you can see that it will provide way longer life span than Dawn one, which is worth appreciating. In my opinion, Kiwi Ears should also sell this cable separately and I think it will find people willing to buy it (I would gladly buy it and knock off the one from Monndrop because it's some kind of unfunny joke).

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As for the construction of the device itself, it is very solid, clearly inspired by the building of tanks. A first look at the device suggests that there is not much to break down here, which in the case of the Portable DAC is a very big plus.

FUNCTIONALITY

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DAC Chip
ES9028Q2M (ESS TECHNOLOGY)
Total Harmonic Distortion Plus Noise:
0.0015% (32 Ohms)
Output Power:
70mW@32 Ohms (port 3.5mm),
155mW@32 Ohms (port 4.4mm)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio
123dB
Frequency Response
20Hz~40kHz
Noise Floor
<1μV

The device is equipped with two outputs: 3.5mm and the other, balanced 4.4mm. To the delight of many, including myself, a very good option is the ability to fine-tune the volume level via two buttons located on one side of the Allegro. They are small but using them is very convenient and quite intuitive. What sometimes annoyed me about them was the inverted order, i.e. the button further from the USB port is responsible for increasing the volume, and the one closer to the USB port is responsible for decreasing it. This is a nitpick that I was not even going to include in the list of “cons” because with time you can simply get used to it, so please do not consider it a serious drawback.

SOUND

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I would call the sound characteristics neutral, perhaps also a little warm. The sound is fully characterized by an analog sound, not energetic. Musical instruments are presented in a very natural way (especially noticeable in the balanced output). Admittedly, the extraction of detail from recordings is not the strongest point of this device, but I believe it's also not what the creators intended. Allegro is supposed to deliver a sound, as close to natural as possible, without attacking the listener with details or over-coloring the sound - it is supposed to be neutral and natural. Personally, I think the manufacturer has succeeded. It is also worth noticing that this presentation also applies to vocals. They are pleasant and natural. Another element that characterizes the Allegro is the smoothness of the treble - you won't experience any sharpness here that could “cripple” your ears. Everything is polished, smooth, and pleasant to listen to. This may be the reason why this DAC suited me the least for metal music, but ... about the pairing, below.

PAIRING

Due to its analog sound presentation, I think the Allegro is very well suited to music with a lot of natural instruments, such as classical guitars, acoustic guitars, and drums. Genres such as folk, classic rock, and acoustic rock, thanks to the Allegro allow you to enjoy a natural and pleasant sound, so if your repertoire includes Tom Waits, Amigo the Devil, Agnes Obel, etc. this DAC will work very well for you. Pop, soft rock, and trip-hop will also be presented properly. The worst pairing for me was with metal music fast rock or hard rock music. It's not that it's bad, but I just sometimes felt that the sound lacked “claw”, a certain rawness in the sound that for me is essential in this genre of music.

SUMMARY

The Kiwi Ears Allegro is a portable DAC with a solid build and interesting style, featuring a high-quality chip from ESS, two outputs (3.5 and 4.4), a very good USB-C cable. As for the price, currently Allegro costs about $79, which is about $30 more than, for example, the Moondrop Dawn Pro, which I also own. Personally, I tend to lean towards the MDP more often, as I think it handles detail better and I generally like the sound presentation better. I understand that Allegro features a different signature, but I also don't see that the increased amount of $ translates into additional value (excluding the cable, as its better quality I value on about +$10, max). Nevertheless, at the price at which it is sold, you get a solid product that I think will meet the expectations of listeners for most genres of music, especially those who crave analog sound.

That's all.
Thank you for reading.
Best regards

If you are interested in purchasing this DAC I invite you to:

https://www.linsoul.com/products/kiwiears-allegro

Below, please find some more photos of the device.

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M
marib
Which portable DAC do you suggest for metal music?
BielakP
BielakP
The best results are always achieved by the effect of pairing headphones and a DAC. Unfortunately I don't own many DACs, but of the ones I had the pleasure of listening to the Moondrop Dawn Pro did a good job. It's a bit bright, so it adds some clarity to darker iems, and with a balanced 4.4 output you should get enough power. If you need something more budget, I was pleasantly surprised by the VE Odo. For me, the KiwiEars Allegro make the sound a little too rounded, analogue for metal - with guitars on overdrive I need an edge, a roughness in the sound.

zabiri

Head-Fier
Kiwi Ears Allegro
Summary
To summarize the review, this is Allegro, a budget dac dongle from Kiwi Ears, coming in at 60$. This is their first attempt at making a dac dongle, and I must say they did it well. Build and design is really good, with a full metal build and unique old school game controller design. There are two buttons for volume control on the top, unfortunately the buttons on the front are just for show. Price wise specs are standard, with ESS9028Q2M DAC chip and up to 155mW power output on balanced. So how does it sound? This sounds quite decent, a bit more on the analytical side. I found this to be quite enjoyable with warmer sounding iems. If you are looking for an all rounder dac dongle with cool looks, this is a great option in my opinion.

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Intro
Hey guys, whats up
This is the Kiwi Ears Allegro, a budget dongle dac coming in at 60$. Allegro is the first ever dongle dac released by Kiwi Ears, so it was exciting to check out.
Talking about Kiwi Ears, they are a pretty popular chifi iem brand. I have previously checked out some of their products, among which Quintet and Orchestra Lite was notably good. Getting back to the Allegro, they have gained attention specially because of its nostalgic analog game controller look. Anyways lets get into the review starting off with specs.

Disclaimer: this unit was purchased with my own money and this review is my honest and unbiased opinion, thanks.

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Specs
> DAC Chip: ES9028Q2M
> THD+N: 0.0015% (32 Ohms)
> Output Power: 70mW@32 Ohms (3.5mm), 155mW@32 Ohms (4.4mm)
> SNR: 123dB
> Frequency Response: 20Hz~40kHz
> Noise Floor: <1μV
> Supported Formats: PCM (up to 32bit/384kHz), DSD (DSD256, DSD128, DSD64)
> Indicator Lights: PCM (blue), DSD (red)
> PRICE: $59.99 USD

Packaging
Starting off with the packaging of the Allegro, its very simple, maybe a bit too simple in my opinion. The box contains papers, the dac itself and a usb type C to C cable. The included cable is quite nice but they should included a type C to usb A adaptor. I will talk more about the cable in the build and design section.

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Build and Design
Moving on to the build and design of the Allegro, this is amazing. The design, as you can see in the pictures is inspired by old school game controller which I find really unique and attractive. The build is also quite solid, full metal construction, aluminum to be exact. It has nice weight, feels more premium for the price. Thanks to the matte finish finger prints are not an issue. The silver color is nice but a beige version of this would give it a more old school vibe. In my use case, I did notice some minor scratches though.
On the fromt of the dongle the buttons are just for show, i wish they had some function. The top side is curved and has two circular buttons for volume up and down. The bottom side is flat and plain. On the back is the kiwi ears logo and a LED indicator. On the right is the 4.4mm and 3.5mm outputs and type C input on the left.
The included cable is really good. Construction of the cable is high quality regardless of the price. The connectors are metal and the pvc covering is done well.

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User Experience
Moving on to the user experience of the Allegro, it is as you would expect from a dongle at this price, simple and to the point. Talking about controls, you only get volume up and down. This was not that power hungry, this drained around 10% percent battery every hour of listening from my samsung galaxy S20 and pixel 2xl. Power output is nothing crazy, but can power most iems perfectly except the really power hungry ones. I did find the LED indicator placement to be a bit odd though, because you would not usually look at the back side of the dac. Honestly I can not think of any major cons here.

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Sound
Now most importantly how does it sound? This sounds great, talking about sound signature, this is more towards analytical than neutral. Bass performance is very clean and tight but a bit more depth would have been nice. Mids is also clean and transparent type but with brighter sounding iems upper mids might sound a bit thin. Treble is energetic and quite detailed, I find this dongle to pair well with warmer iems. Staging and imaging is accurate. I tried it with a couple Kiwi Ears iems, it was lovely specially with Orchestra Lite.

Tested with:
IEMS: Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite, Kiwi Ears Quintet, Simgot EA1000, Moondrop Aria 2, Thie Audio Hype 2
Headphones: Koss KPH30i, Koss Porta Pro, Aune AR5000

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Conclusion
To conclude the review, I can say if you are looking for a unique looking, well built and decent sounding dac dongle, this is a solid option. Personally I like this more from my previous favor ate at sub 50$ budget, Moondrop Dawn Pro. Props to Kiwi Ears, they have done a beautiful job specially with the design. Thanks to you guys for checking out my review, see you in the next one.

Headphones and Coffee

Previously known as Wretched Stare
Cool looking dongle
Pros: Very Neutral sounding DAC, detailed and transparent. low noise and good with sensitive IEM.
Cons: It can sound cold and lacks the lushness I crave. Not for demanding IEM.
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The KiwiEars Allegro is a simple and budget friendly Dongle-dac with a cool gamepad design. It is made well out of aluminum and has built in volume controls. I would have liked if the game controls worked some features, but they are just for show. The accessories are bare minimal. The included cable is however made well.
The Allegro utilizes the ES9028Q2M DAC chip, and it offers both 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced outputs, with High-resolution audio support: to handle PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD up to DSD256.


Sound opinion:
The Allegro is neutral dongle with good soundstage and details overall. Bass, Midrange, and Treble are all presented well and without elevation. It has low noise and drives sensitive IEM without hissing.
The Dongle is not the most powerful for sure but was able to drive my full-sized headphones to a comfortable level but defiantly not to their potential.



The KiwiEars Allegro is a good dongle for under $70, it may not have a lush signature, but it is true to the original recording and has respectable details.






SenyorC

100+ Head-Fier
Cheap and cheerful with a fun design...
Pros: Aesthetics, build quality, price...
Cons: Not very powerful, more towards cold than warm or neutral...
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TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Kiwi Ears Allegro

The Kiwi Ears Allegro has been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. Linsoul have not made any requests and I will do my best, as always, to be as unbiased as possible.

You can find a link to the Allegro via Linsoul by visiting the version of this review published on my blog (www.achoreviews.com).

As with all links I publish, it is a non-affiliate link.

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Intro…

The Kiwi Ears Allegro is the first dongle from the brand, in fact, I believe it is the first product from the brand outside of IEMs, unless there has been a product I have missed. Priced at just over 50€ (at the time of writing this review), it is quite a cheap and cheerful device that is aimed at those looking for something to power their IEMs. I say this because the specified power output of the Allegro (70mW @ 32Ohms unbalanced and 155mW @ 32 Ohms balanced) is not something that is really aimed at driving more demanding over ear headphones or even some of the hungrier IEMs out there. However, as a source for IEMs, especially those that are similar to Kiwi’s own sets, it is more than enough. In fact, it actually performs better than some other alternatives due to the amplification being totally controlled by the device itself and not the source feeding it.

I used the dongle for some time in the office and then took it with me on a business trip to the US this week, where my only devices were the Kiwi Ears Quintet and a set of Sony Linkbuds S (for when needing ANC) and I can’t say that I have found myself regretting it.

But anyway, let’s take a look at this retro-gaming inspired device and talk about how it does in the budget dongle field.

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Presentation…

The packaging and presentation of the Allegro is minimalistic. A simple black box with a lift off lid, showing an outline of the device, the brand logo and the slogan “Live the music”, reveals the dongle sitting inside along with the included cable and a very simple booklet with some specs.

It’s funny that the booklet says “Please read the user manual carefully before use the product. Thanks”, yet there are no instructions in the booklet, just an overview of the specs in multiple languages. It is quite possible that there is a manual to be downloaded somewhere but, if that is the case, there is no mention of it in or on the box (and I haven’t looked online).

Not really anything else to say about the packaging, its very simple, it works and it’s all we need.

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Build and aesthetics…

I have been on a bit of a retro-gaming journey lately, picking up a couple of retro handheld devices and emulating some of the “golden oldies”. When I received the Allegro, I was amused to find that it looks like a retro console controller.

Made from metal, the front features a D-Pad and a couple of buttons labelled A and B, with the Kiwi Logo in the top right. The top of the device (controller?) is rounded and has a small recess where two round buttons are located. It is a shame that the front panel buttons are not functional as it would have been a nice touch, but I still find the aesthetics to be cheerful and something different. As always, I praise companies for doing something away from what every other company is doing.

As far as the build quality, it seems to be of very good quality. It certainly got thrown around quite a bit on my transatlantic flights and in the hotel & office, showing no signs of being mistreated.

The included cable is also a nicely built USB-C to USB-C which is made to look like it has two separate cores (which I guess it does). Not sure there is any benefit to this but it does look good.


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Functionality…

I already said that the front buttons are not functional, so that just leaves the top buttons, which are used to increase and decrease volume. The volume control is done completely onboard, so there is no change to the source, nor can it be changed by the source when using exclusive modes in things like UAPP. I much prefer this set up.

On one end of the device we get a USB-C connector for data and power, which has proved to not have any issue with Android or Windows, although I can’t comment on iOS.

At the other end we get a 4.4mm balanced output and a 3.5mm unbalanced output, which are pretty self explanatory.

The only other remaining thing is a very small status LED that is located on the back. It is a very strange place to place this LED as I didn’t even realize it was there until I was pulling it out of the IEM case and dropped it (still no sign of abuse :wink: ), seeing what looked like a tiny reset hole on the back, the type that you would stick a pin in to reset. As I couldn't think why a reset hole would be needed, I looked a little closer and finally realized it was an LED (plugging it in to confirm). Again, a strange place to put it but it is there.

That is it as far as functionality, there are no presets, gain levels or filters, so it really is a simple device.


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Sound…

The Alegro uses a ES9028Q2M DAC chip which is something that I haven’t come across in a device before, at least as far as I am aware. I know that Audiophonics uses this in one of their DACs for the Raspberry Pi but I haven’t tried it and, as I just said, I don’t know of any other devices that use it. Maybe some telephones?

Anyway, that is what Kiwi have chosen and, as always, I feel that the implementation is always more important than the actual chip itself. In this case, Kiwi seem to have done a decent job of making a good sounding device for a very reasonable price.

If I were to label the overall sound signature, I would say it is aiming more toward the analytical side of things. More towards cool than warm. Although it is not too analytical, not enough to not be enjoyable, at least to my ears.

I can’t say it is my favourite dongle ever but I also can’t bring myself to complain about it. As I mentioned above, this, paired with the Quintet, was the only device I took with me for my trip and I used it exclusively (except when opting to use ANC to try and disconnect for a while on the flight back). During this time I did not find myself irritated or feeling like I was missing anything at all. It does a great job of bringing out the details in the Quintet without making them seem tiring, which I have found with some other “analytical” sources in the past, due to the already almost “analytical” nature of the IEMs.

I also found it to pair very nicely with the Kiwi Ears Cadenza. The Cadenza, as I have said many times in the past, are a set of ultra budget IEMs that I really enjoy and the pairing with the Allegro gives you a very enjoyable portable system for less than 80€.

If I had to choose, I would say that it pairs slightly better with sets that have a little warmth to them, such as the Cadenza or the Zero 2, but without the being overly warm This seems to give a little more focus to the details of said sets but without ever losing the focus of their signature. Although, as said with the Quintet, even more analytical sets don’t sound bad on the Allegro, I would just refrain from sets that are bright in their tuning as things may get a little thin at times.

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Conclusion…

I really like the Kiwi Ears Allegro for just over 50€. It is not my favourite dongle, nor is it a ground breaking experience, but it is cheap and cheerful and will power most IEMs no problem, while doing a decent job.

I would probably recommend this to those who want a no frills budget dongle to power their IEMs and are not sure which way to turn. Yes, there are dongles that bring out more details, others that bring a warmer presentation, others that have more features, but in general, at the 50€ price point, I don’t think the Allegro is inferior to any of the competition around it.

I think I will end up using it paired with a retro handheld, not because I need it but because it looks so cool doing so 🙂

__
As always, this review is also available in Spanish, both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/achoreviews)

littlenezt

100+ Head-Fier
Retro Looks, Good Technicalities
Pros: +LOOKS
+Build
+Independent Volume Control
+No Heat
Cons: -None at $60
Kiwi Ears Allegro
ES9038Q2M
$60

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Before I start this review, let me thank Linsoul for sending the Kiwi Ears Allegro in for review,
rest assured, my review is 100% my own personal opinion.

You can get this dongle here :
https://www.linsoul.com/products/kiwiears-allegro

Unboxing
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Build Quality
The build quality of Kiwi Ears Allegro is actually excellent, its made from aluminum, and the design is inspired by retro controller, which is a nice touch because it looks unique compared to other dongle on the market.
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Power
Rated at 70mw SE, 155mw Balanced @32ohm.
It has enough power to push Sennheiser HD600 to a reasonably loud listening level, though the bass control is not the best I've heard but its decent.
So if you're planning to use this with your IEM, I don't think there will be any problem at all regarding output power.

Battery Consumption
Plugged in to my Redmi Note 13Pro Plus 5G, it drains 1% around every 7 minutes.

Balanced VS Single Ended
Obviously with balanced you get more power, though I do notice somehow the separation and stage size is a bit better with balanced connection. Tonality of both are the same.

Sound
Neutral

Bass : the Allegro has a tight bass presentation, its not highlighting any bass frequency, it is completely neutral.
Though if i must nitpick, Allegro bass presentation is not the deepest that I've heard (compared to more premium dongle / DAP which is kinda expected)

Midrange : Clarity ! When I compared the Allegro to other sources such as the Hidizs S9 Pro Plus Martha, I can feel the Allegro has some highlights on the upper midrange area, making the overall sound much more lively.
Its not much but its noticeable when you do an A-B comparison.

Treble : Sparkly highs, and extended.
Presented in analytical manners probably due to the ESS chip used on the Allegro.

Technicalities
“Good” for $60

Stage : Good
It is decently wide, obviously much more wider than your smartphone or lets say basic budget dongle.
The Allegro also can render stage layering pretty well

Imaging : Good
Lets say if your IEM can do holographic presentation, the Allegro won't limit its potential, but if your IEM can't do holographical, don't expect any miracles from the Allegro to make your IEM suddenly sounds holographical.

Detail Retrieval : Very Good
It has that ESS Sabre analytical sound presentation, for the price actually the Allegro has a “Very Good“ detail retrieval on all frequency (low – highs) though for sure its not the most detailed dongle ever, but even challenging higher price bracket, I can still say the Allegro detail retrieval is “Good”.

Separation & Positioning : Good
It can dissect sounds pretty well actually.
You can easily separate and pinpoint which sound is coming from and I've tested this using the single ended connector with my trusty cheap Moondrop Chu 2, so that says a lot, no problem and complaint at all for the separation & positioning from me.

Comparison

Hidizs S9 Pro Plus Martha ($79 - $90)

It has same ES9038Q2M chip, but does it have any differences?

Actually YES.
The Allegro tonality is somewhat has more clarity and more lively presentation compared to the Martha, I'm not sure if its because of the filters used or different amp / component they used. Because on the Martha, overall tonality is much more neutral, rather than having slight clarity boost on the upper midrange like Allegro.

Technicality wise, Martha beats Allegro on its detail retrieval, Martha simply shows more micro details compared to the Allegro, but that doesn't mean Allegro is bad in any way, the Allegro is simply just cheaper compared to the Martha and thats why on the detail retrieval section of my review, I said even compared to higher price bracket dongle, the Allegro can stand its ground, and I can say the detail retrieval is still “Good”.

One thing the Martha missing is independent volume control, the Allegro has it.

Conclusion

So, is the $60 Kiwi Ears Allegro worth your money?
Yeah of course, the Allegro is one of the better value dongle available on the market right now.

It offers very good build quality, retro controller inspired design, independent volume control and good technicalities for its price.

Thanks for reaching this far,

Just in case you're Indonesian or understand Bahasa Indonesia, you can watch video version of this review here


-littlenezt.
Last edited:

ywheng89

100+ Head-Fier
Kiwi Ears Allegro's Review - Retro Looking and sounding?
Pros: Solid build quality
Close to neutral/uncoloured sound (based on my perception/definition of neutral)
Fine volume adjustment steps (no sudden jump in between volume)
Cons: Tuning/Sound signature might not be for everyone
Rival has better power output on paper
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General/Packaging/Build
Kiwi Ears is known for its IEMs line up. The Allegro is the brand’s first venture into the dongle dac/amp market. The build quality is very solid, featuring a retro-ish design which should be familiar to gamers. The buttons on the dongle are purely for aesthetics and the buttons are dummy rather than an actual functioning button. There’s a LED light on the back of the dongle. The packaging is very minimal, and inside the box, you have the dongle itself, a type c to c cable.
Let’s take a look at the specifications below:

Specifications
  • DAC Chip ES9028Q2M​

  • THD+N 0.0015% (32 Ohms)​

  • Output Power 70mW@32 Ohms (3.5mm), 155mW@32 Ohms (4.4mm)​

  • SNR 123dB​

  • Frequency Response 20Hz~40kHz​

  • Noise Floor <1μV​

  • Supported Formats PCM (up to 32bit/384kHz), DSD (DSD256, DSD128, DSD64)​

  • Indicator Lights PCM (blue), DSD (red)​


Gears used for this review
  • Tidal MQA/FLAC -> Macbook Air M2 -> Kiwi Ears Allegro
  • foobar 2k -> Macbook Air M2 -> Kiwi Ears Allegro
  • Spiriti Torino Twin Pulse IEM
  • 7Hz Legato
  • Sony MV1
  • iPhone 15 -> Kiwi Ears Allegro
Foreword
My review is solely based on what I hear via my equipment and I never consider my reviews to be objective in any way rather a subjective approach. Do take into consideration that everyone’s ear anatomy is not the same, so the psychoacoustics perception might be different as well, but i believe it will not stray too far

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Battery Drain
  • The Allegro, given the power that it outputting, i find it to be alright, connected to my iPhone 15 at 90%, streaming Tidal Flac and MQA on my mobile network from 10am onwards, dongle’s volume 15 clicks from 0, at 10.52am, i’m left with 80% of battery, which i personally think it’s alright, given i’ve been streaming on mobile network, on WiFi, the drain will probably be lower
Sound Impression
The Allegro’s tonality is leaning towards slightly warm and neutral, rather clean sounding to my ears, a little similar/close to Earmen’s tuning, keyword here is close, not 100% mirror tuning of Earmen. The overall note weight is alright not overly thick or thin. Instrument’s timbre sounds quite natural to my ears. Good enough dynamics for the price, not the most resolving DAC in this price range

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Listening Impression with the following gears
Sony MV1

  • Bass is punchy and tight, mid bass especially
  • Mids are slightly being pushed forward instead of sounding slightly recessed prior to pairing with the KA17
  • Slightly better separation and imaging
  • Male vocal has slightly thicker texture and sounds fuller
  • Female vocal is full sounding as well
  • Not so much changes in terms of detail retrieval
  • Doesn’t push the MV1 to its full potential, but good enough when you’re out and about and do not want to carry any stacks
7Hz Legato
  • Legato is a bassy and warm IEM, aimed at delivering analog-ish speaker sound
  • The mids are slightly recessed, but when paired with the Allego, the mids doesn’t sound that recessed anymore and it sounded a little bit more forward, both male and female vocal also have better texture and body to it
  • Bass on the other hand has better control and slightly tighter
  • Not much changes on the detail retrieval as well as soundstage, slightly better imaging i would say
  • Legato is not hard to drive, but the Allegro does have sufficient power to push it hard as Legato scales really well with more power and source
  • I personally find the Legato has good synergy with the Allegro, i use this combo when i just want to chill and enjoy the music
Spirit Torino Twin Pulse IEM
  • For those who are not aware, Spirit Torino is a brand from Italy and they make mostly high end headphones and the Twin Pulse IEM is a trickled down version of the Twin Pulse Headphone, sporting a dual beryllium plated DD in isobaric configuration, they’re not hard to drive but they certainly scale very well with better source
  • The sound signature of the Twin Pulse IEM is very natural, neither overly warm or cool, just very natural in terms of timbre, vocal, as well as the overall note weight
  • The Twin Pulse IEM seems pair well with the Allegro, natural sounding overall coupled with Allegro’s clean nature, the output offers a very pleasing listening experience
Comparison (Tempotec Sonata BHD)
  • The Sonata BHD features a different DAC, dual CS43131 compared to Allegro’s 9028Q2M
  • Sonata BHD does slightly colours the output, with a slight lift on the lows
  • Treble has slightly more energy compared to Allegro
  • Perceived soundstage is slightly larger in terms of width, height and depth
  • Higher output power compared to Allegro and features 3 gain level
  • Build quality is acceptable, compared to Allegro, Sonata BHD feels like a toy as it is very light and the build feels very “plasticky”
Final Thoughts
There are many dongles out there in the market, I have tested quite a few but not all, Kiwi Ears first dongle is certainly unable to disrupt the market in my opinion, but it is a very good start. The sound is very clean overall and I would say not much coloration, so it’ll definitely please the purist out there. If you are currently in search of a dongle that has solid build quality as well as a clean and uncolored sound signature, and you are mainly using efficient IEMs and Headphones, Allegro is the one to get.

*A big thanks to Linsoul for sending this over for the purpose of this review. I thank them for their support as always

Head over to their store if you are interested in getting one:

Kiwi Ears Allegro - Non Affiliated

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hokagoteatimereviews

New Head-Fier
The gamepad looking dongle dac
Pros: 1. Looks awesome, love the retro gamepad design personally

2. Has a nice analogish sound

3. The supplied cable is very good

4. Love the minimal packaging

5. Built like a tank!
Cons: 1. USB A adapter not included

2. Sadly the buttons on the face don't work
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Introduction:-

Hey, guys this is the kiwi ears allegro. Its a dongle dac from kiwi ears which looks like gamepad. Its a really nice design and the price too is quite good at $59. So how is it? Lets find out.

I have also shared a video version of the review at YouTube any support there in form of a view, A like or A subscribe is greatly appreciated. But if you so wish to read the written version you can read this.




Before I start I want to say that this is a review unit from linsoul, but all the thoughts and opinions you are about to hear are my own.


Buy it here (Unaffiliated Link) :-

https://www.linsoul.com/products/kiwiears-allegro?


I will be as usual following my bullet style format for better readability for those who are dyslexic and in general find it hard to read long paragraphs. I follow this guide in general from the British Dyslexia Association.


So lets get started!






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Review:-



1. The packaging is very simple it has the dac and the usb c cable. Thats it! A small usb c to usb a adapter would have been nice for PC use.

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2. I absolutely love the design of the dongle dac. The gamepad design is really nice and not boring unlike most dongle dac



3. The metal body of the allegro is really well built



4. Sadly the buttons on the face of the allegro don’t work, would have been nice if they could do something like tuning filters or shifting to high or low gain mode.



5. It has the ES9028Q2M DAC



6. It can support upto 32bit/384khz and DSD258



7. Its output power is 70mw from 3.5 and 155mw from 4.4



8. It does not have low or high gain mode



9. There are no filters here



10. As for power they are surprisingly good and drove even my hard to drive tanchjim kara really well.


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11. Before I talk about the sound I want to say that it is very hard to determine the sound of the dac and its heavily dependent on the iem I am using and also by comparing to different source.



12. Well the overall sound of the allegro is very neutral but which sounds analog-ish



13. The bass and the mids are very neutral with no colouration whatsoever.



14. But the mids of the allegro are quite analogish and male vocals specifically sounds really good here.



15. The treble is really good, but it isn't the sharpest here.



16. The overall treble note is not that sharp and it is apparent when listening to 1985 live album from cassiopea.



17. The treble extension lacks a little bit and for some warm iems could be a bit of an issue



18. I think so the allegro pairs really well with brighter sounding source where the treble notes are blunted a bit and the vocals come forward a lot.



19. When using it warmer sounding iems for some songs it sounds a bit too dark and I do feel quite a bit of treble is lost. Again this is a bit of a nitpick. But it does pair well with most iems



20. The soundstage of the allegro is as depicted with the iem

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21. Overall technicalities of the allegro is really good, the analog nature of allegro doesn’t muddy up the details and they come across quite well



22. The tonality and timbre of the dongle is very good.



23. Now for the battery test, I used a moondrop chu 2 at around 30% volume via the 3.5mm jack and got around 15.5 hours from my 5000mah smartphone.



24. The battery test is really good



25. It has 100 volume steps



26. The first few steps almost seems useless as the rise in volume is quite minimal and there is this huge jump in volume where the stepping is even more sudden.



27. Although not an issue I still thought of mentioning it



28. The allegro makes for a great budget buy, specially if you want a 4.4mm output and also want something which sounds a bit analog-ish and smooth



29. v/s the ka11 – ka11 is still my pick for a fantastic warm sounding budget dongle dac. Also ka11 has an app which the allegro lacks. Ka11 has only 3.5 but it costs less at $29



30. v/s the akliam pd4 plus – pd4 plus is very analytical and has play pause buttons and more power along with low/high gain mode. The allegro is a very analog-ish. So it depends on what type of sound you want and like



31. Well thats my review of the Kiwi Ears Allegro, I hope you liked it. If you have any questions please do comment and I will try to help you out. Thanks for stopping by!







If you have any questions please feel free to ask me and also if you have any issues regarding this format of review please do comment I will try to mend it. Also sorry to those who are used to reading long paragraphs of review in headfi. I hope my review was upto the mark, I appreciate any feedback.

Again a big thanks to Linsoul for making this review happen.

Have a great day ahead :) Bye!

Pawsu1

New Head-Fier
KiwiEars Allegro : Smooth and Natural
Pros: +Neutral sounding
+Analogue and organic
+High power output
+3.5mm SE and 4.4mm Balanced terminations
+Independent volume adjustments
+Unique retro look
+Excellent cable quality
+Excellent build quality
Cons: -Lack of features such as gain modes and filters
-It gets warmer on 4.4 Balanced
-Average note weight and density for the asking price
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Intro


KiwiEars Allegro is a classic retro look DAC/AMP equipped with ES9028Q2M known for its high signal to noise ratio and low distortion. This is KiwiEars new portable DAC dongle a highly musical one.


Specifications


DAC Chip : ES9028Q2M

THD+N : 0.0015% (32 Ohms)

Output Power : 70mW@32 Ohms (3.5mm), 155mW@32 Ohms (4.4mm)

SNR : 123dB

Frequency Response : 20Hz~40kHz

Noise Floor : <1μV

Supported Formats : PCM (up to 32bit/384kHz), DSD (DSD256, DSD128, DSD64)

Indicator Lights : PCM (blue), DSD (red)

PRICE at $59.99 USD


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Packaging


The box containing the ff :

KiwiEar Allegro

USB DAC/Amplifier Dongle

USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable


Build Quality and Features


The KiwiEars Allegro is a small and well-built USB DAC/Amplifier. It is made of metal but it is lightweight and easy to carry wherever you go.


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This features a LED status indicator that gives information about the Standby, PCM(blue) & DSD(red) mode.

The independent volume adjustments placed on the side of the dongle.


Sound Aspects


KiwiEars Allegro sounds neutral and nearly transparent. It is natural and organic. Bass is impactful and well- controlled. Technicalities is above average for the asking price. It also highly musical how it present the sound.


Source used :


Letshuoer D13
QKZ x HBB Hades
EPZ Q1 Pro
Letshuoer DZ4

DDHIFI TC05 Cable
Stock Cable


This DAC spend 30-40 hours of burn in before taking details of this review


Pairing


With Letshuoer D13

The bass where it excels it is clean and impactful. The midrange instruments sounds natural. Surprisingly the treble is sparkly. It create wide soundstage, imaging and layering improved a bit. The musicality of D13 improved a lot.


With QKZ x HBB Hades

The overall sound quality is more correct to my ears. The bass is impactful and controlled it shows less midbass bleed but still there. Midrange is more forward to my liking. It balances the frequency from end to end of the presentation.
I found the treble produces more air in my experience. This combo is really good. The musicality of the allegro gives the hades enjoyable and engaging presentation.


With EPZ Q1 Pro

The bass is tight and punchy. Midrange instruments is quite recessed. The vocals is thicker and have more air. Male vocals perform better than female vocals. Treble become lively and engaging. Sound stage is wide and open. Layering and resolution improved a lot.


With Letshuoer DZ4

It has clean and more coherent bass. Giving ample power this DZ4 the subbass rumbles deep. Mids is more forward in the mix. Vocals is thick and organic when I listened to some acoustic tracks there is noticeable sweet and lushness of vocals. Technicalities such as soundstage improved a bit.



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Conclusion


KiwiEars Allegro is a small and well-built DAC/AMP. That sounds neutral and nearly transparent. The soundstage is above average for the price. It is highly musical dongle makes your gears engaging and enjoyable. Highly recommended!


Order here using the non -affiliated links below :
https://www.linsoul.com/products/kiwiears-allegro

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suicideup

New Head-Fier
Kiwi Ears Allegro Review!
Pros: A neutral-sound, fairly powerful dongle!

Neutral, nearly transparent sound.

Very clean, noise-free, black background.

Fairly powerful for its asking price.

Independent volume control!

3.5 SE and 4.4 BAL ports!

Precise, volume buttons!

Up to DSD256 support!

LED indicator.

Unique, retro console look!

Sturdy, well-built overall build quality!

Well-built included cable!

Plug and play, no drivers and apps needed!

Average battery consumption.
Cons: No high gain mode.

The LED indicator is oddly placed at the bottom side of the dongle, making it practically useless if you ask me.

The retro console buttons are not functional, but only a design.

Lacks additional filters such as filters, bit-perfect mode, which may be a necessary for those dongle enthusiasts (subjective)

Power delivery from phone to dongle is mildly lower compared to the dongle plugged into Desktop PC/Laptop (might be an isolated case, subjective)

The dongle will be warmer to touch after quite some time (this is normal for dongles I have tried under 100 USD, still subjective)

A pouch or a case would’ve been a nice treat for everybody.
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Kiwi Ears Allegro USB DAC Review!

(Video Review Here: )

Good day! After a week of casual and critical listening, here’s my written review for the Kiwi Ears Allegro. Analytical eye candy!


Disclaimer:
  • - Linsoul sent this unit to me in an exchange for an honest, unbiased review. Rest assured that this review will do its best to devoid from any bias/es as much as possible.
  • -I have not tested this with MQA files or MQA streaming since I don’t use MQA at all.
  • -The following remarks and observations shall be made and owned only by me.
  • -No monetary compensation is/was involved before, during, and after the period of creation of this review.
  • - I have only tested this with earbuds and IEMs and earbuds.
  • -Your mileage may (and always, will) vary.

Burn-in time: 5-10 hours per day, 10 days.

IEMs/Earbuds/Source used:
  • - Etymotic ER3SE
  • - Simgot EM6L
  • - Letshuoer DZ4
  • - Tanchjim One
  • - Temperament X6
  • - QKZ X HBB Hades
  • - Sony Xperia X Compact
  • - Aiwa XP-V710C CD Player (12 sec. EASS)
  • - Non-HiFi smartphone (Infinix Note 12 G96)
  • - Desktop PC, Laptop.
  • - Local Files via Foobar, YouTube Music, Deezer, and Qobuz with UAPP.
Setup configuration: Kiwi Ears Allegro paired with phones/laptop/pc.

Essential Product Specifications:
  • DAC Chip - ES9028Q2M
  • THD+N - 0.0015% (32 Ohms)
  • Output Power - 70mW@32 Ohms (3.5mm), 155mW@32 Ohms (4.4mm)
  • SNR - 123dB
  • Frequency Response - 20Hz~40kHz
  • Noise Floor - <1μV
  • Supported Formats - PCM (up to 32bit/384kHz), DSD (DSD256, DSD128, DSD64)
  • Indicator Lights - PCM (blue), DSD (red)
============================================================================================
Sound signature:
  • Just like the Tanchjim Space I own, this is a neutral, analytical set, but is not as transparent when compared to the Space. However, their differences aren’t really that big or substantial, making the Allegro a more “practical” dongle for most IEMs. My etymotic ER3SE and Letshouer DZ4 sounded dead flat on this dongle.

Build Quality:
  • I personally like what they did on this dongle in this area - it is very unique and a visual candy since you don’t usually see this type of design in today’s USB DAC scene! The smooth, rounded corners, the chunky design, the tactile buttons - speaks premium. It’s a shame however, that they missed the opportunity to make the retro gamepad buttons functional, like the D-pad as the volume control, and the A/B buttons as gain switches or playback buttons. But who knows, they might implement that on their future DACs or dongles. It gets warm to touch after a long period of time, just like most IEMs I have tried within the 100 USD and under category. The cable is nicely built as well, looks and feels similar to the Tanchjim Space cable.
Device Compatibility:
  • This dongle is plug and play - no apps and requirements needed. The simplicity of this area also means that this doesn’t have any bit-perfect mode, sound filters, EQs, and presets. I personally prefer it to be this minimal while sounding in its optimal state, but you do you.
Battery Consumption:
  • This dongle is quite average in terms of battery consumption. It drains about 10% of battery in an hour when paired with a smartphone at most, depending on the file type and gain that you are using. It drains around 10-15% when used with 4.4 port. I also noticed that the Allegro has more power to deliver when plugged into a desktop/laptop PC when compared to it plugged in a smartphone. This can be an isolated case.
Power and volume:
  • The Kiwi Ears Allegro is enough for most IEMs - even on planar magnetic and other hard to drive IEMs. Here are some IEMs and earbuds I have tried with their respective listenable/ enough volumes (do take note that the volumes indicated are only based on adjusting the hardware volume buttons to 5 steps from its factory hardware volume setting, with the software volume variable. 100% = 100% max software volume):
  • Etymotic ER3SE - 40/100
  • Temperament X6 - 50/100
  • QKZ X HBB Hades - 60/100
  • Simgot EM6L - 20/100
  • Tanchjim One - 30/100
  • Letshuoer DZ4 - 30/100
============================================================================================
Pros:
  • A neutral-sound, fairly powerful dongle!
  • Neutral, nearly transparent sound.
  • Very clean, noise-free, black background.
  • Fairly powerful for its asking price.
  • Independent volume control!
  • 3.5 SE and 4.4 BAL ports!
  • Precise, volume buttons!
  • Up to DSD256 support!
  • LED indicator.
  • Unique, retro console look!
  • Sturdy, well-built overall build quality!
  • Well-built included cable!
  • Plug and play, no drivers and apps needed!
  • Average battery consumption.
Cons:
  • No high gain mode.
  • The LED indicator is oddly placed at the bottom side of the dongle, making it practically useless if you ask me.
  • The retro console buttons are not functional, but only a design.
  • Lacks additional filters such as filters, bit-perfect mode, which may be a necessary for those dongle enthusiasts (subjective)
  • Power delivery from phone to dongle is mildly lower compared to the dongle plugged into Desktop PC/Laptop (might be an isolated case, subjective)
  • The dongle will be warmer to touch after quite some time (this is normal for dongles I have tried under 100 USD, still subjective)
  • A pouch or a case would’ve been a nice treat for everybody.

============================================================================================
Verdict
The Kiwi Ears Allegro is definitely one of my current top recommendations if you’re looking for a neutral sounding USB DAC under 100USD! Its neutral, nearly transparent-sounding DAC will fit most IEMs and setups easily as this does not boost any frequencies. This is shockingly close to the Tanchjim Space to my ears, and is only behind in terms of power delivery, features, and transparency. In a practical perspective, this is worthy to be a daily driver. And yes, this will definitely stand out in a world full of simple bar dongles. Well done Kiwi Ears!

Who is the Kiwi Ears Allegro for?

  • For those people who want an analytical, neutral sound.
  • For those people who want a noise-free listening experience.
  • For those people who wants a dongle with a detachable cable.
  • For those people who want a very lightweight usb dongle on-the-go.
  • For those people who do not want to mess with any app or setting just to achieve optimal sound quality.

Why should you not buy the Kiwi Ears Allegro ?
  • If you don’t want a non-minimalist design.
  • If you don’t want a neutral sounding dongle.
  • If you need extra features such as filters and modes.
Thank you for reading!

Non-affiliated link here!:
https://www.linsoul.com/products/kiwiears-allegro


Additional Photos Here:


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baskingshark

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Lightweight, portable and small
Solidly build, nostalgic gaming console aesthetics
Independent volume controls that are finely-tuned
Transparent, uncoloured and clean soundscape
Above average technicalities for a $50ish dongle
Gets warm during usage, but not hot
No hiss with sensitive IEMs
No "pop" sound on disconnecting transducers
Cons: Meh accessories
Decorative D-pad and A/B buttons are not usable
No DAC filters, no LED screen, no app compatibility, no gain options
Output power is middling against the competition - can't drive very demanding transducers
Folks who want something lusher or thicker in note weight have to look elsewhere
DISCLAIMER

I would like to thank Linsoul for providing this unit.

The Kiwi Ears Allegro can be gotten here: https://www.linsoul.com/products/kiwiears-allegro (no affiliate links).

Allegro 1.jpg



SPECIFICATIONS/COMPATIBILITY

Allegro 1.png


This is a plug-and-play DAC/AMP, with no requirement for additional drivers on Windows 10 and above. I had no issues pairing the Allegro with my various Windows and Android devices, but as I am not an Apple user, I can't vouch for its compatibility with this subset of products.

The Allegro has no app or UAC 1.0 mode for gaming.


ACCESSORIES

Allegro 6.jpg


Other than the dongle, the packaging comes with:
- USB-C to USB-C cable

Allegro 4.jpg


Admittedly, the accessory line-up isn't the best. There are no USB-A adapters or even Lightning adapters, so one will need to source for these items if you intend to use the Allegro with a laptop or Apple device, for example.

The provided USB-C cable is thankfully quite well-built, with a double braided cable that is sheathed with PVC.


DESIGN/FUNCTION

Allegro 3.jpg


The Allegro sports a nostalgic retro gaming controller chassis reminiscent of gaming devices of the past decade. The dongle itself is built like a tank - furnished from metal - but is very light and portable.

While the aesthetics are truly old-school and cool, unfortunately the D-pad and A/B buttons are just for show, and these cannot be pressed.

The only "pressable" buttons are the volume buttons found on the lateral side of the fuselage. I'm glad to report that this dongle has independent volume controls, with finely-tuned steps.

Allegro 5.jpg



Sadly, the Allegro has no LED screen, nor any settings menu to toggle to. Neither has it any gain or DAC filter options.

On one end, with have the 3.5 mm (single-ended) and 4.4 mm (balanced) ports, with the latter rimmed and reinforced by gold-plating.

Allegro 7.jpg



The opposite end has a USB-C port for data/power.

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INTERNALS

This DAC/AMP's engine is an ES9028Q2M DAC chip. It can allow playback of PCM up to 32bit/384kHz and DSD up to DSD256.


SOUND/PERFORMANCE

I tested the Allegro with only Android phones and Windows laptops and PCs. Once again, I'm not an Apple user, so I can't confirm its performance with Apple ecosystem sources.

On phones, I used the HiBy Music Player, with USB bit perfect OTG activated.



Tonally, the Allegro is neutral, with note weight on the thinner side. This furnishes a somewhat sterile soundscape, but the sonics are rather transparent, with minimal colouring. No doubt folks who want something more lush or euphonic might need to consider alternatives, but this dongle lets the connected transducer do the flavouring.

The keyword to describe the Allegro would be "clean".

Technicalities are above average for a $50ish dongle. Soundstage is propagated quite well in all 3 dimensions, with music heard just beyond the ears. There is also decent micro-detailing and layering. Imaging, while not exactly pinpoint, is still acceptable. Bass quality is surprisingly textured and fast.

Unfortunately, the Allegro's output specs are middling and are nothing to write home about. It pumps out 70 mW for the 3.5 mm and 155 mW for the 4.4 mm ports respectively (this is at THD+N of 0.0015% at 32 Ohms). While it would actually have been impressive just a year or two ago, we are now in an age where rival dongles at the same price segment or even cheaper - eg Fiio KA11 - handily beat the Allegro in terms of power specs.

Additionally, the Allegro has no gain options, so users are stuck with just one gain setting, even for harder to drive transducers.

As per all source testing, I put the Allegro through my acid tests of hardest to drive gear:
1) Final Audio E5000 (low sensitivity at 93dB/mW)
2) Sennheiser HD650 (high impedance at 300ohm)
3) Yinman 600 ohm (600 ohm impedance and 87db/mW sensitivity)

The E5000 was decently driven, in terms of soundstage and dynamics, though it could do with better bass texturing and control. The HD650 lacked somewhat in dynamics and sounded a bit anemic, though there was sufficient headroom. The final boss, the Yinman 600 ohm - with an ultra low sensitivity and high impedance - was understandably not properly juiced, with muffled dynamics and a one-noted bass heard.

It is not a matter of volume - but more of control - that the Allegro lacks with these tough behemoths.

While we have no output impedance (OI) specifications provided by Kiwi Ears, the OI should be sufficiently low as low impedance gear paired with it didn't sound skewed in the frequency response.

The Allegro has no hiss even with highly sensitive IEMs. There is no "pop" sound on disconnecting gear, though it gets slightly warm during usage (but not hot).


COMPARISONS


Allegro 1.jpg


Simgot DEW4X

The DEW4X sports dual C43198 cirrus chips, and has a warm-neutral tonality.

Both the DEW4X and Allegro have independent volume controls with finely tuned steps, but the former also has gain functions, with a UAC 1.0 gaming mode for our gaming friends.

On high gain, with the 4.4 mm port, the DEW4X is rated for 150 mW, which is similar to the power output of the Allegro (ie they both can't drive demanding gear that well). In terms of technical chops, the Allegro is slightly superior in soundstage, micro-detailing and imaging.


Fiio KA13

The KA13 is a neutral bright dongle that utilizes dual CS43131 chips.

The KA13 is better accessorized (it even has an Apple adapter included), with a Fiio control app for additional goodies to play with. The KA13 also has well implemented independent volume controls.

The KA13's selling point, is its gargantuan 550 mW output on desktop mode (THD+N balanced<0.0005% (32 Ω)), which as of the time of writing, is one of the most powerful dongles. Indeed, the KA13 is only a hair less powerful than the more expensive Fiio KA17 (650 mW output). Thus, the KA13 easily trumps the Allegro in this aspect, and the former can drive a myriad of tougher customers easily, and with aplomb. Admittedly we can't game physics, and the KA13 gets warmer during usage, and has a greater battery drain.

In technicalities, these 2 are quite close, with the KA13 having better imaging and micro-detailing, but the Allegro boasting of a more expansive soundstage.


Allegro 2.jpg


CONCLUSIONS

While it doesn't reinvent the wheel, the Allegro is a decent entrant to the $50ish dongle market. It brings a neutral and transparent soundscape to the table, with above average technical chops on offer.

In terms of externals and aesthetics, it provides an old-school retro gaming controller doppelganger design, to stir up pangs of childhood nostalgia. Sadly though, the D-pad and A/B buttons are not functional, and it would have been cool if these had actually worked! Thankfully, the Allegro is also small and portable, with robust build, coupled with finely-tuned independent volume controls.

Sound-wise, the Allegro is neutral, and lets the connected transducer do the colouring. It doesn't get hot during usage (just warm), and has no hiss with fussy high sensitivity gear.

It has to be said, that the accessories and power output specs are somewhat disappointing, with competitor dongles besting it in sheer power numbers - this is more apparent when trying to drive low sensitivity/high impedance transducers. The functional aspects of the Allegro are also not the best, with no gain options, DAC filters, LED screen or app compatibility.

Being average (or even above average) nowadays is arguably not enough, with CHIFI competitors releasing new products on a weekly basis. I don't think the Allegro is a bad product by any means - it actually does more right than wrong - but I'm not sure if the attention of audiophiles will be captured by a shinier and newer product next week, that's how cut-throat this industry is! Nevertheless, this dongle is an option to consider for neutral-heads and purists that want something achromatic, clean and transparent.
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thaslaya
thaslaya
Great review! I'm currently pairing the Allegro with the Singolo and there's a decent synergy there for me. Takes the Singolo up on notch in detail and clarity.
PhonoPhi
PhonoPhi
A very good review, as always!
I have never heard about 9028 ESS chip before.
A brief searrch brought that 9028 is largely inferior to 9038: https://untruesounds.com/9028-vs-9038/
Then if 9028 is inferior in power consumpltion to 9038 that are power hogs, oh boy...

I ordered KA17 based on your review and my perception, I hope 9068 is better in power consumption and overall - if not, Cirrus chips will be an objective total winner.
baskingshark
baskingshark
Thanks @PhonoPhi ! Yeah I think the 9028 ESS is an older model chip.

The KA17 is a real gamechanger cause of the power 650 mW on desktop mode, which allows it to drive most tough outlier transducers. It does drain battery though and get hot on desktop mode. I use lots of harder to drive earbuds and cans, so sometimes the weaker dongles don't cut it.

If you are a pure Apple user, the KA17 has no PEQ functionality on the Fiio App, but if you use Android devices, the PEQ option also unlocks unlimited versatility, as you can tune the KA17 to any type of signature.

SherryLion

New Head-Fier
Not A Gamepad Trust Me! The Kiwi Ears Allegro
Pros: 1. Sterile and detailed response
2. Small body makes it very portable and more convenient than others within it's peers
3. Independent volume step up and down regardless of the source's controls with which Allegro is paired with.
Cons: 1. The gamepad is not pushable or clicking
2. Other Dongle Dac's around this price range provides more features like filter options and low& high gain.

Review Of The Kiwi Ears Allegro


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Introduction


Only two brands wowed me the most last year with new product launches, and Kiwi Ears is one of them. Kiwi Ears is now well-known in the industry for its excellent IEM offerings in terms of build, functionality, and sound quality. With the exception of their debut Orchestra, I have tried and heard nearly every thing they have produced, and I have always loved them all. This isn't just me, though; a lot of audio enthusiasts have been fans of theirs since the beginning and adore their offerings. They just made their entrance in the dac/amp category with Allegro, much as SIMGOT, AFUL, etc., now that they have established their place in the IEM category in the inexpensive to budget-mid tier area. And I'm fortunate enough to get the new Kiwi Ears Allegro for evaluation, but first, I want to make a few clarifications.

Disclaimer


*Since this unit tour was organised by the kindly people at Linsoul, I am grateful to them. And as I've said in all of my evaluations, the same is true for this one: all of the concepts I've expressed below are entirely my own, original ideas that haven't been influenced by anyone else. If interested, go to this link.
*I am not associated with the connection, and I receive no financial assistance from anyone.
*For the remainder of the review, I will refer to this device as “Allegro”
*Finally, I will only evaluate the Allegro based on their performance, even though I will explain how it feels and seems physically and aesthetically.


Specification


The ES9028Q2M dac chipset in Allegro supports native DSD256 and 32-bit/384kHz PCM. As a more user-friendly device, the Allegro supports type-C data transmission in addition to 3.5mm single ended and 4.4mm balanced. The device has two volume rocker controls on the side, and it includes an indicator light that changes color according on the format sampling feeding, from blue to green. Regarding the technical details, the balanced 4.4mm jack has an output power of 155mW at 32 Ohms and a THD+N of 0.0015%, while the single ended 3.5mm jack has an output power of 70mW at 32 Ohms. The SNR is 123dB and the noise floor is less than 1uV.

IMG_4210.jpeg


Design And Aesthetics


In terms of overall body design, it resembles a bogie that has been detached from the train, but from the front, it appears more like a controller that a gameboy would use. Because the item is composed of metal, it feels and looks luxurious for the price it is being provided. Overall, the gadget has a clean, modern appearance that makes it seem more like an accessory than a dac/amp. This helps it fit in with the surroundings and makes it stand out, at least that is how I see it.

IMG_4209.jpeg


Usage


With the exception of the type-c connection being somewhat too lengthy in comparison to the tiny dongle dac, Allegro is a pretty little gadget that pairs with either my MacBook or my smartphone. I have never had any problems with the dongle's operation. It was also advantageous since I could adjust the volume using the volume rockers, which were separate from the DAP's volume, even when I couldn't do so with the DAP. Thus, after I learned about the dongle dac's independent volume setting, I was able to turn up the level where I believed that the Sundara and HD600 headphones, were incapable of producing enough sound. Even though the top frequencies of both headphones were spot on, I still thought that the lower frequencies lacked strength. During my commute, I discovered that it was effortless to slide it in and out of my pocket with the associated source anytime I want. All things considered, it passes my usability test with flying colors.

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Sound Impressions


IEMs


Thieaudio Prestige LTD

Prestige LTD is the very reason I am now able to find the truth in my musical dreams; I have never heard another IEM that plows your ears with faith in each note, no matter how those notes should sound, and nurtures your senses with dynamics and presentation as if I were hearing reality. Previously, I owned the Monarch MKII, which established what one would expect, but once the prestige's magic began to flourish, I knew I could explore so much more with it, especially when it came to the air and presence of each nuances the notes were able to grasp over and tingled my senses. To summarise the prestige's response sounds as if the Monarch MKII were given steroid and enhanced the upper frequencies in all directions with better authoritative flow in the lower response. The response is neutral with sub bass boost, similar to the Monarch MKII, with the exception that the notes are airier and more revealing than any other IEM prior to this era. However, the thinner notes and excessive clarity provide obnoxious features that expose bad mixing and recordings, which were highly obvious when heard on my V6 but smoothed out on my WM1A, indicating source dependence.

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The response was closer, sharper, and more forward while listening to LTD with allegro, which contributed to a more immersive response. However, even if there was no discontent, the gap between the notes aggravated. Rather of sounding left or right, the response sounded more forward. Though it had a more strong hit and impact, the bass seemed more central and noticeable.

Thor Mjolnir MKII

Mjolnir is a very bassy set which has a lot of sub bass emphasis. The treble and upper mid range is also very forward in the mix. The upper treble has great extension as well. The bass is very punchy and boomy while acting fast. Mjolnir is a great V-shape sounding IEM with a different approach to explosive bass that has better technicalities, especially in this price range. The stage is great with nice surround stage and depth where the separation of each element sounding distant enough them to procure space to breathe and distinct themselves. The attack and decay of the driver capability is really quick and performs great. The vocals may feel lean and sparkly, the warmth or the fuller experience is something that these lack. Th bass response does vary from sources to sources whether I listen to a warm source or a neutral one, the bass becomes either overwhelming or authoritative or both.

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As opposed to the response, which often seemed more left to right, which sounded holographic, Mjolnir with Allegro felt more precise and crisp. Similar to the upper mid range, which assisted in achieving the lean character often heard between 4 and 8k, the treble, particularly the lower treble, seemed rather muted. All things considered, the response sounded better than my DAP V6. Although the amount and quality of the notes haven't changed much, the overall reaction has improved the density and weight of the sounds.

DUNU SA6 MK2

The midrange is given priority in the balanced tuning of the SA6 MKII, resulting in a more rich and full-bodied sound that is complemented by the treble's expansive and airy response. The response of the SA6 MKII is incredibly delicate and calming, yet it's by no means gloomy or relaxed; rather, it provokes an energetic response rather than a calm one. When compared to the SA6 MKII with Monarch MKII, the response is more in line with what I would have hoped from my Monarch MKII, but once more, the bass and treble are not as deep and expansive.The SA6 MKII is unique in my opinion since it sounds very smooth and natural even after being forward in the higher frequencies. In comparison to its counterparts, I find that none of them can match what DUNU has achieved with the SA6 MKII; nonetheless, it can compete with IEMs configured with hybrid or tribid drivers. The BA's mastery of clarity and details while maintaining a secure, polished tone is what makes it so great. Let's investigate the sound more thoroughly.

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When listening to SA6 MK2 with Allegro, the sound seemed more personal, which made it easier to understand the notes' sharpness and differentiate them. The response was all pushed forward, from bass to high, yet the coherence and balance in between seemed organic and seamless. However, I did notice that listening to busy or complicated tunes made it difficult to pick up on subtleties because of the forward and near response, but the bass also felt more prominent and forceful. Even yet, I continue to like its meticulous and sterile presentation.

QKZ X HBB Hades

When it comes to exposure to my ears, the Hades is really badass; the bass is so intense that it's difficult for me to focus. especially when I'm listening to tunes with a lot of bass. When the bass hits you, you feel its tonal wrath rather than the quality being heavily emphasized in the mix. Upon initially observing the graph, I thought it would be strange as the bass and mids' tuning would cause the response to sound compressed, Bloated, and muddy throughout, drowning out its presentation. However, I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn't the case. Thus, yes, I do think that this IEM has a lot of bass—the most in this price range—while maintaining decent high frequencies. Please take note that the vocals feel muffled in the mid range due to the increased note weight, yet they still have enough vitality to bring the notes forward.

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The Allegro produced a more closed-off response, resembling my DAP V6 in terms of sound quality. When Hades was coupled with the V6, the bass seemed more thundering, and the midrange seemed just as forward as the bass. However, the bass prevents the upper frequencies from being overwhelmed by the bloating and strong presence of the mid bass. Aside from the whole bass range, the mid range had the greatest energy and the treble seemed a touch more forward.


Tracks


Millet - Anytime Anywhere
Anri - I can’t stop the loneliness
Kohana Lam - A Few Sentimental
Kohana Lam - Loving Me, Loving You
Uru - Kimino Shiawasewo
Uru - Kamihitoe
Kujira Yumemi - Kenka
Majiko - Kokoronashi
Anly - Sukinishinayo
Kohama Lam - A Few Sentimental
Kohana Lam - Loving Me, Loving You
Miliyah - Kono Yumega Samerumade
Rokudenashi - The Flame Of Love
Yu-Peng Chen - A New Day with Hope
Yu-Peng Chen - Another Hopeful Tomorrow
Yu-Peng Chen - For Riddles, for Wonders
Valentino Khan - Satellite
Kai Wachi - Happier By Now
Jawns - Erotica
ISOxo - how2fly
Kai Wachi - Happier By Now
Weeknd - Popular
YUNGBLUD - When We Die(Can We Still Get High)
Bring to Horizon - Kool-Aid
Middle Kids - Bend
FLETCHER - Leads Me On
Loathe - Aggressive Evolution
The Weeknd - Save Your Tears
Sigrid - Burning Bridges
AURORA - Black Water Lilies
AURORA - Runaway
X Ambassadors - Renegades
Lupe Fiasco - Words I Never Said
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Can’t Hold Us
Goyte - Somebody That I Used To Know
Jay-Z - Run This Town
Lady Gaga - Poker Face
Lady Gaga - Just Dance
Ladytron - Ghost
Travis - Love Will Come Through
LINKIN PARK - Somewhere I Belong
DJ Shadow - Six Days (Remix)
Hoobastank - The Reason
Ricky Martin - I Don’t Care
Tool - 7empest
Tool - Vicarious
A Flock Of Seagulls - Space Age Love Song
Zack Hemsey - Vengeance
Elton John - I’m Still Standing
The Moody Blues - Nights In White Satin
Micheal Sembello - Maniac
Guns N’ Roses - Sweet Child O’ Mine
A.R. Rahman - Kun Faya Kun


Conclusion


In closing, I would like to say that Allegro sets the standard for Kiwi Ears, who dazzled me with their product launch outside IEMs and proved that they can succeed wherever their curiosity and genius lead them. It is a solid suggestion since it is a sterile-sounding, clean DAC that enables a comprehensive presentation at a very reasonable cost. I'd at least advise giving them a try since once you get the hang of them, you won't be able to put them down. Something about these makes me want to keep attempting to press the gamepad buttons and keep me involved, but I love the Allegro.
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thaslaya

500+ Head-Fier
Retro look, modern sound
Pros: Fun design - not just another black rectangle
Compact size (seriously small)
Competitive price
Both 4.4 and 3.5 connections
Independent volume control
Crisp, energetic sound
Cons: Not the most refined sound
Face buttons not functional 😞
Might not pair best with bright tuning
Barebones accessories and function
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Thaslaya's star rating system:
☆☆☆☆☆ - Best in class/buy it now
☆☆☆☆ - Highly recommended
☆☆☆ - Sound for thee, not for me
☆☆ - Can't see the appeal
☆ - Product is a failure

Disclaimer:
This product was provided to me by Linsoul in exchange for my impartial and honest review. I recieve no compensation and all thoughts and opinions are my own. A special thanks to Carina at Linsoul for coordinating this unit for review.
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Gear used:
● LG v30+
● Samsung Galaxy s22 Ultra
● Samsung dongle
● Hiby FC4
● Various iems

Source:
Listening was done through Amazon Music HD or Ultra HD.

Introduction:
The release of the Allegro marks Kiwi Ears' first release outside of iems. It is currently priced at $59.99. Kiwi Ears is following in the footsteps of other companies that have released DAC/amps like Moondrop (Dawn Pro), Truthear (Shio), and Aful (Snowy Night). The budget DAC/amp market is quickly growing and there are a ton of choices under $100. Let's see if the Allegro can carve out a space for itself among the competition.
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Build and features:
The Allegro sports a ES9028Q2M DAC chip which, according to Kiwi Ears' description, is "known for its high signal-to-noise ratio and low distortion, guaranteeing an unmatched audio clarity". When i first opened the box I was surprised to see just how small it is. Despite it's size, the construction feels solid and robust. The face design is that of a retro video game controller. Its a fun aestetic that sets the Allegro apart from its competitors. I do wish the face buttons were functional though (maybe as the volume control). On one end of the unit you'll find a USB-C port for connection to a smartphone, DAP, PC or your source of choice. On the other end are the 3.5mm and 4.4mm connections. There are also + and - volume buttons on what I'd consider the top of the unit. The volume control is independent from the source device and it stays at the last level between uses which is super handy. On the back is a small indicator light that shows the sample format. It displays blue for PCM and red for DSD. I do wish they could have incorporated the light to the face design. The overall package, accessories, and function are simplistic. There's only the dual sided USB-C cable included and Kiwi Ears doesn't have any companion app for EQ or filters.
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Power consumption:
Some audiophiles prefer to use a DAC/amp with its own internal battery as to not drain their source device. I do mostly prefer the dongle DAC/amps as its one less thing to worry about charging. The Allegro's output power is 70mW@32 ohms and 155mW@32 ohms for 3.5 and 4.4 respectively. To test how much power the Allegro draws from a device I ran a short trial. With my devices in airplane mode, I left my library to play on a medium high volume. Here is the battery drain results after 1 hour:

●29% on LGV30+ through 4.4 and 23% through 3.5.

●12% on Galaxy S22 Ultra through 4.4 and 8% through 3.5.
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Sample track breakdown:
The following impressions were made using the Softears Volume, Simgot EW200, Kiwi Ears Dolce, Truthear Zero: Red, and Aful Magic One.

● "Animals" - Maroon 5
The guitar and bass strums in the intro have a little more separation. Midbass slam has more punch but also sounds a bit bloated with slight bleed. That could be a limitation of the iem itself though. Snares and cymbals have more energy and are more prominent with a bit more air.

● "Closer" - The Chainsmokers [feat Halsey]
The piano in the intro has a fuller sound with more energy. Claps and hi-hats are quick and precise. Notes are snappier with quicker attack and decay. This leads to better note separation and a slight boost in technicalities. The vocals are maybe the only thing that doesn't pick up any added energy which can make them sound a bit recessed.

●"Think of You" - Chris Young [feat. Cassadee Pope]
The kick drum in the intro is much punchier but the quicker decay helps keep them from sounding bloated. The guitar strumming throughout the first verse has great separation and sounds more technical. The entire song has more energy and a more "in your face" sound almost like you're at the concert.

● "I Alone" - LIVE
Guitars in the intro again have better separation and individual plucks are more apparent. When the chorus comes in, there is an added energy injected in the entire frequency response. The Allegro adds a nice addition to the bass shelf while also giving the treble a definite bite and edge. Cymbals in particular are more refined and less sibilant prone.

● "The Way I Am" - Ingrid Michaelson
The bass line hits deeper but also sounds cleaner. The bongos hit with a quicker attack and are better defined. Ingrid's vocals are as pleasant as ever but theres a tiny bit of sophistication and technical chops that wasn't there before. Guitar plucks and claps have more bite but stay free of sibilance.
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Comparison:
●Hiby FC4 ($79)
Both are very compact and weigh about the same however the FC4's body is longer, slimmer, and overall a little more cumbersome. Both the Allegro and FC4 accentuate the lower frequencies and add more rumble however the Allegro adds more overall energy to the whole spectrum. The FC4 tends to smooth any troublesome treble peaks where the Allegro allows the treble to play to it's natural tuning. To my ear the Allegro sounds a bit more technical with better note separation. For a more full and organic sound, I'd recommend the Hiby FC4. If it's more energy and bite you're after, the Allegro is an excellent choice.
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Summary:
The Allegro is a very fun and interesting new release from Kiwi Ears. It sports a playful aestetic and energetic sound. Throughout my critical listening, the Allegro takes the tuning of the iem and pushes it one step further. It adds a fast attack and quick decay making the entire spectrum sound a bit snappier. Also there's a bit of a crispness to the notes and music sounds more technical but still lively. I'd recommend the Allegro to anyone wanting to add a bit of sharpness and energy to their favorite tuned iem or headphones. It should synergize best with a warm or neutral tuning but it really sounded great with anything I threw at it. Personally I prefer a more organic and warmer sound; however, the Allegro is very nice for what it offers and at $59.99 it's a fantastic buy.
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