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ALO Audio RXMKIII Balanced Portable Amplifier Impressions

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by monotune, May 13, 2012.
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  1. ianmedium

    I have an RSA Blackbird SR71-B and on low gain setting with very sensitive IEM's there is zero hiss, just a black background, sounds wonderful as well.
  2. dj nellie
    Just got my MK3 back, I had the gain lowered.  I've only tried my balanced Ed. 8s so far, but there is now at least a little range I can use on the knob before the volume jumps too quickly.  Using very slow, small tweaks on the knob, I seem to be able to get a channel-balanced, comfortable volume with most songs.  The power-on/power-off pop isn't quite as loud either.
    I'll report back on how it goes with the UERM and DT1350, but so far I'm pleased.  Still sounds as damn good as what I remember from the original unit...
  3. SHAHZADA123
    I NEVER get that....probably coz I unplug the headphones before switching off [​IMG]
    Anaxilus likes this.
  4. Pappucho

    It's probably best to NOT unplug or plug your headphones while an amp is powered on to avoid shorting the headphone output.  Best to plug/unplug when the amp is off.  [​IMG]
  5. SHAHZADA123
    Are you sure. I was under the impression that the headphones should not be plugged in prior to switching the amp on.[​IMG]
  6. Anaxilus
    Depends on the design of the amp and headphones in question.
  7. Pappucho

    Pretty sure, when you pull the plug out or push it in your basically wiping the metal plug across the +L, +R and -G and potentially causing a short across any of these.
  8. mirari
    What type of balanced cables are out there for iems with the mk3?  I can only find the silver dragons as an option.
  9. KB Contributor
    At the moment ALO only has a cable for the FitEar 334s but we are working on others.
    ALO Audio Stay updated on ALO Audio at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
  10. kenman345
    Check out the link in my signature. That's a list of all the aftermarket IEM cables I can find (working on adding one or two more that are on a Chinese website).
    I believe Chris_Himself cables will terminate it with that connection, Beat Audio should, Toxic Cables will, Double Helix should, and I am not 100% sure, but Whiplash Audio may as well. In all cases please contact the owners/retailer yo are getting it from about getting the termination you want on your cable. 
    Some of the people I mentioned and how to contact them: 
    Chris_Himself: User Chris_Himself on the forums or headphonelounge.com
    Toxic Cables: User Kabelmeister on the forums or toxiccables.co.uk (site doesnt have his IEM cables listed yet)
    Double Helix Cables: User Scootermafia on the forums, or doublehelixcables.com
    I hope this helps, can't go wrong with any of those choices, TBH. I hope my list can help you pick whichever cable you think is right for you. 
    And obviously, ALO Audio has their Fitear IEM cable that can be bought with a mini-balanced termination
  11. dj nellie
    I've now tried my MK3, which had its gain lowered by ALO, on a few more headphones. With my CLAS as the source, a layer of hiss is still audible with the DT1350 (single-ended), the Edition 8 (balanced), and my UERM customs.  Of these 3 headphones, for me the level of hiss is the most tolerable with the Edition 8.  For all these headphones, I can hear the hiss even when music is playing, although it becomes less noticeable during louder passages of music.
    The MK3 still has great resolution, but the hiss seems to have the effect of reducing the clarity somewhat and giving the impression of a haze or cloud over the music.  I haven't tested to see if the hiss is as significant if the CLAS is removed from the chain, my guess is it would be quieter.
    On the bright side, I don't hear much hiss at all with the LCD-3 (balanced), and this is a stunning-sounding portable setup.  With the LCD-3, the MK3 sounds better than how I remember my SR71B, and I think it would even beat my previous desktop rig (DA10+V200).  That's pretty amazing for a transportable rig, although the cost of the CLAS/MK3/iPod stack is only a few hundred less than my old desktop setup.
  12. bmichels
    Hello. I meed your advice to built the best portable solution for My IPAD / iPhone.  I hope someone can help and I apology in advance for the "too many" questions here.
    I intend to purchase a  CLASS/ALO Rx MK3 combo plus the appropriate Headphones.  But I also look at the SR71b as an alternative to the ALO rxMk3 !   And even at the ALO "Continental" !
    As for headphone, I am looking at the LCD-2 (or 3) as main headphone, but I also will need a closed type headphone for use at the office for exemple
    So... here are my questions :
    - Is there any advantage to use the LCD-2 on the ballanced output of the Mk3 when the Mk3 is driven by the CLASS through it's single ended imput ?  (same question for the SR71b:  
    - Is there a "ballanced Class" coming soon ?   (stupid question, I know, but some rumors may have leaked somewhere...)
    - I heard about a "single ended imput - to - ballanced output" circuit in the Sr71b ?   It true ?   Does the ALO Rx Mk3 has a similar circuit ? 
    - What do I need to order if I want the LCD-2 with a very good "upgraded" cable and being able to use it ballanced (on the Mk3/SR71b) BUT ALSO  single ended (on a regular amp) ?  It is possible to have an ALO cable + an adapter instead of 2 cables (ballanced & Single ended). Which part N° I need to order ?
    - I also need to have a "close type" headphone to use when sould leakeage is not possible (office....).  Which close type do you recommand ? Will it pair well with the Rx Mk3 ? ALO is offering the Edition8 with an upgraded cable,  has someone tested this headphone with a portable set-up ? 
    - Is the LCD-3 really better than the LCD-2 for such a portable set-up ? does it justify the added costs ? isn't it "too analytical" on such a portable set-up ?  Wich one you recommend with the RxMk3 : LCD-2, LCD-3 or GS1000 ? 
    - I am still very tempted to order also a Continental to have access to this "tune sound".  Will it also pair well with the LCD-2/3 and Edition 8 ? Will the sound be very different ? 
    - I already have some Westone ES3x custom IEM.  I read few times that the Rx Mk3 may be too powerfull for those IEM and therefore need to be used at very low volume setting (3 oclock, even with "low gain") and that at this low volume setting, there is some channel un-ballance and some noise.  Is the Mk3 really appropriate with Custom IEM ? Isn't the SR71b offering "blacker background noise" at this low volume setting ? or the "continental" may be ? 
    - I know that with the iPAD I can "extract" the digital signal using the CCK, but... I read somewhere "IT MAKES MORE SENSE to use a digital dock, like CLASS to get the digital signal out of the iPad with less jitter than the CCK".   -->  What do you think about this supposed added Jitter coming from the CCK compared to a SOLO ?  (I know that with a CCK, I will need an external DAC, so this is still an additional box (iBASSO ballanced DAC ? [​IMG] ) or...I forget the SR71b/ALO Rx and find a very good DAC/AMP ?  
    Thanks in advance for any answer and VERY sorry for all those too many questions
    Bertrand MICHELS
  13. longbowbbs
    [​IMG] Whew!
    Given the gear you are considering you will be happy with nearly any combo. They will all have different sonic characteristics but these are great pieces of gear. I can't help with balanced, never done that. 
    CLAS/MK3 is a great combo...You can also go with a Fostex HP-P1 as a one unit vs two from ALO. You win either way. Continental means your adding tubes into the equation. Different sound, not good or bad, just different. YMMV
    LCD-2/3 as a starting point plus upgraded cables....Sure you don't want to just buy a car and go to a concert!  [​IMG]
    Lot's of awesome headphones, only one pair of ears on YOUR head. Go out and listen to some before you drop <$1K on cans. Find a pair you like then consider cables later. (Quick plug for http://toxic-cables.co.uk/  Frank builds fantastic cables for a good price)
    Closed for work....Consensus appears to be the Sennheiser HD25-1 ii's or the Beyer DT1350's. There is some concern about Beyer's QC on these cans. I have the Senns and they are very good for a portable closed ear choice. Light and tough too!
    IEM's, I have a pair of BA Etymotic hf3's with custom ear plugs and they work very well with the HP-P1 or just running from the iPhone. I do hope to audition some more advanced monitors at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest next month. You do need to consider if the volume controls are sensitive enough to give enough steps to go from soft to loud and not loud to louder. Once again, nothing beats trying things personally.
    Good Luck with your search... We're all enjoying ours!

  14. ianmedium

    Hello Bertand.

    I can't speak for the RX3 other than I was not as impressed as others here in comparison to my SR71-B but that just goes to show what is good for one may not be for another, different styles of musical delivery and also I have become so used to the Blackbirds inky black background that I could not get passed the hiss of the RX3, some can, some can't, again no right or wrong we just all have different priorities.

    As the the balanced output of the blackbird Yes there is an advantage, all be it a much smaller one than is reported here in using the balanced output.
    I talked to Ray at length some time ago and he told me that the way he has designed the single ended input creates a balanced path to the balanced output. I have to tell you though that now after hundreds of hours listening with a superb aftermarket Toxic cables balanced cable that also included an adaptor to run it single ended that the differences are much smaller than reported here. Also, the reports that the single ended mode output on the Blackbird is not great is simply not true either. I do wonder sometimes with the wall of the internet to hide behind how many people who have listened to the various pieces of equipment have listened to them for a long time. My guess is not that many!

    I love the synergy of the Blackbird/ LCD2, it works very well and the amp has oodles of power to give the best out of the LCD's and I use the low gain setting.

    If you can try them before you buy that is the best option, either one is a great quality amp and I don't think it comes down to one is better than the other more that one presents music differently to the other one, least, that was my experience!
  15. Vicks7

    Ian - good post. I purchased a mint SR71-B recently and looking forward to using this with my iPod classic and Clas Solo and Toxic balanced cable for my UM Miracles. Will report back on differences to the Pico Slim.
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