ALO Audio Pilot vs. __________ discussion
Feb 22, 2021 at 11:41 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

soufiaj

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What’s up fellas!
This is my first posting. Sorry for my english as it is not my first language. *wink*

As a mobile phone user, I am curious in trying out this little headphone/IEM dongle from ALO Audio.
However, it is not yet available for testing in my country where I currently residing.

On paper it looks promising and pretty powerful! Can’t really find a proper/trustworthy review or impressions on the web (or maybe i’m not good in digging?).

Wondering if this little dongle may stand-out in the world of true-wired-hifi-portability and most importantly, how are the sound quality performance compared to current TOTL USB DAC/Amp with quite similar form factor (eg: AudioQuest Dragonfly Red/Cobalt, Earman Sparrow, iBasso DC03 & ++)

Here are some info about it, taken from aloaudio.com website (link down below)

Specifications

ESS Sabre DAC (9281CPRO with MQA support)
SNR: 120db
THD+N @ 0.0006%
< 2 ohm output impedance
PCM sampling frequency up to 384kHz
DSD sampling frequency up to 5.6MHz
MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) Support

https://www.aloaudio.com/shop/alo-audio-pilot/

IMG_0182.jpeg
 
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Feb 22, 2021 at 12:59 PM Post #2 of 13

ClieOS

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On paper, there doesn't seem to be anything that suggests it will be particularly powerful. As far as I can tell - the design is fairly generic, but the real problem is pricing. There are already several Type-C adapter that use the exact same chip (ES9281C, which natively supports MQA on the chip level) and priced almost half as much as ALO ($70 vs. $130). So unless a person has a very very strong preference to the ALO brand, I don't see why anyone who shops around want to pick one up.
 
Feb 22, 2021 at 7:48 PM Post #3 of 13

soufiaj

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On paper, there doesn't seem to be anything that suggests it will be particularly powerful. As far as I can tell - the design is fairly generic, but the real problem is pricing. There are already several Type-C adapter that use the exact same chip (ES9281C, which natively supports MQA on the chip level) and priced almost half as much as ALO ($70 vs. $130). So unless a person has a very very strong preference to the ALO brand, I don't see why anyone who shops around want to pick one up.
Thanks for the reply and yes, the generic design is pretty obvious. Have you tried them though? especially since the DAC uses a slightly different ES9281cPro (with a “pro”) . I guess it’s mainly targeting the IEM users demographic.
 
Feb 22, 2021 at 8:53 PM Post #4 of 13

ClieOS

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Thanks for the reply and yes, the generic design is pretty obvious. Have you tried them though? especially since the DAC uses a slightly different ES9281cPro (with a “pro”) . I guess it’s mainly targeting the IEM users demographic.
ES9281C, ES9281C Pro and ES9281 Pro are all the same thing. There is nothing particular pro or non-pro about it, just pure marketing gibberish. The official name ESS currently used is ES9281A Pro, but they are essentially all the same chip, which is basically ES9280 with added MQA decoding.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 5:30 AM Post #5 of 13

soufiaj

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ES9281C, ES9281C Pro and ES9281 Pro are all the same thing. There is nothing particular pro or non-pro about it, just pure marketing gibberish. The official name ESS currently used is ES9281A Pro, but they are essentially all the same chip, which is basically ES9280 with added MQA decoding.
This is an eye opening! Thanks for the info! Guess l’ll steer clear for a while now.
 
Mar 2, 2021 at 2:30 PM Post #8 of 13

ClieOS

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It's just a rebadge of the Zorloo Ztella. Which retails for $109. So you're paying $20 for the ALO logo and admittedly their great customer service.

Overview with some measurements from everyone's favorite audio measurebator here.
You don't even need to pay $109. As I said before, there are other similar adapters using the same chip that are priced around $70.
 
Mar 2, 2021 at 2:46 PM Post #10 of 13

ClieOS

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Do you think the chip used is all that makes a DAC\Amp?

Depends. For a fuller sized DAC/amp, most likely not. For a tiny sized, all integrated DAC/ amp such as a type-C adapter, most likely yes.
 
Apr 4, 2021 at 2:38 PM Post #11 of 13

boxster233

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On paper, there doesn't seem to be anything that suggests it will be particularly powerful. As far as I can tell - the design is fairly generic, but the real problem is pricing. There are already several Type-C adapter that use the exact same chip (ES9281C, which natively supports MQA on the chip level) and priced almost half as much as ALO ($70 vs. $130). So unless a person has a very very strong preference to the ALO brand, I don't see why anyone who shops around want to pick one up.
What are the others ones? Any that have iPhone adapter too?
 
Apr 4, 2021 at 10:04 PM Post #12 of 13

ClieOS

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What are the others ones? Any that have iPhone adapter too?
Audirect Atom Pro (also Beam 2) and Hiby FC3, just off the top of my head. Pretty sure they come with Lightning version. They might be one or two more but I can't remember their brands.
 

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