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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. shigzeo Contributor
    I will post both alongside each other for my review. You got it. 
    As for Studio VS RXIII, there is NO comparison, even early batches. The Studio is one of the hissiest players ever made, only beaten by HiSound stuff. Bar none, HiSound stuff is the loudest, noisiest player brand on the market. Even old Sony Walkman audio players that I have decried since 2004 are in no way comparable. The RXIII has some hiss, yes, but it is more akin to the hiss of an iPod nano 1G, maybe just a few dB louder. 
  2. GrumbleFish
    What are the sonic differences between the Rx MkIII and The National? I realize these are very different in price, but I'm planning on getting one of the two to be my main amp for home and portable use.

    I've read that The National is very good for many different headphones and IEMs, but I have never see any impressions with cans that I have. I use HiFiMAN HE-400s at home (and love them), and I recently got some V-Sonic GR-07s for my on the go needs. I have been extremely impressed with the GR-07s, but I am worried that both The National and the Rx MkIII are too powerful for both of my phones? They are both low impedance so I'm worried about not having enough range in the volume pot.

    Any suggestions between these two amps for me? Also, I have a dragonfly at home that I use mainly as a DAC with my MacBook Pro and I use a Fiio E11 currently with my GR-07s as my mobile setup with my iPhone 4. I don't have any experience with balanced inputs/outputs, but am happy to dive in with the MkIII if you guys think it is that much better than The National.

    Please let me know if there is any other info you would need to give me the best advise.

  3. GrumbleFish
  4. Nabil
    I just got the RX MK3 with the Solo -dB. If the gain on the MK3 is set to L I have to turn the volume all the way up to get "normal to a little less than normal" listening volumes even using an IEM (Audeo PFE 232). I have to go to gain M to get good range of volume.
    Is this notmal? On all amps I had previouly owned, including the RX Mk2, I never had to go above gain L for any IEM.
    I am using single ended input and output (which I always used on IEMs with other amps)
  5. dj nellie
    I'll be able to comment once my -dB arrives, but having to use Medium gain doesn't sound like such a bad thing (even with IEMs)--assuming that there is little to no hiss.  Is the level of hiss still as audible with the -dB as it was with the Solo and MK3?
    If there is minimal hiss, then the extra volume range is a very welcome development.
  6. Nabil
    I am not hearing any hiss. The sound is really great in my opinion. I only asked because I have the older versions and used L gain with IEMs and never turned the volume up all the way. So I thought maybe something was wrong. On the other hand I just noticed that the ALO MK2 only had L and H gains while the MK3 has L, M and H so this may be part of it.
    In addition I read somewhere (I think in the Solo thread) that the line out from the solo -dB  is a lower level that it was on the original Solo. So I am thinking my units are normal.
    I am enjoying them very much with the HD700 and when I save enough I may get the LCD3 with all the great things I hear about them (and how they can be well driven by the RX MK3/Solo -dB combo)
  7. dan_can
    Who designed this amp and where is it made in?
  8. KB Contributor
    The bulk of Mk3 was originally designed by one EE who lives in the USA, the final amp was not fully functional when I hired one other EE to finish it. I worked to make adjustments, directed the features and selected the opamps. I also had a lot of help from Vinni Rossi at Red Wine Audio  who de bugged and helped to eliminate many of the problems we had early on. I do not think there would have been a Mk3 amp if it were not for Vinnies help. Many people do not know this but many of the critical problems we had with the Mk3 were fixed by Vinnie, these problems were not corrected by the other 2 EEs and I doubt they ever would have been if not for Vinnies help. Vinnie asked for no payment and always helped me when the chips were down, he is a amazing EE and a very trusted friend to me. let it be known :wink: Thank you bro!
    The Mk3 was made entirely and designed in the USA with the exception of the enclosure. 
    People who bought a Mk3, thank you so much. 
    ALO Audio Stay updated on ALO Audio at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
  9. bmichels
    Gentlemen, i intended to purchase the Alo Rx Mk3 amp to pair With the Solo -dB, but since I use very sensible custom IEM ( westone ES3x), I am very concerned by the bad reputation of the Rx3 about "hiss and unbalanced channels at very low volume".

    -> Would'nt a raySamuel Sr71b or his new intruder be more appropriante, paired With the solo, because of his well reconised total lack of Hiss and unballance between channel ? 

  10. ianmedium
    There is zero background noise with the Blackbird in my experience even with the most sensitive headphones. I heard the RX three briefly and it is a lovely amp. However in comparison to my well used (read over a thousand hours) blackbird the differences some people say are positives about the RX over the Blackbird diminish to almost nothing. I have found the Blackbird really opens up much more after 500 hours. I have had others use my amp who have listened to less used blackbirds and they have wondered if it is the same amp as its transparency and speed are much greater than a new one.

    In truth having heard the RX and finding it a lovely amp I would go for the blackbird with your concerns as I have heard one of the 'fixed' RX3's and the hiss is too noticeable for me with sensitive IEM's. But that is the only negative I found with the amp, fix that and it is equal to a well used Blackbird I feel.
  11. lee730

    I'm curious ian was the RXIII well used as well lol :). I agree with burn in as it makes a huge difference in certain cases. My Triad is on the 400 hours mark and the thing is still changing.....
  12. ianmedium
    No it was not which is why I reserve judgement on it as it was not a fair comparison just as comparing a little used blackbird is. In all honesty one could not go wrong with either amp I feel but it really is important to remember i feel that a lot of folks here jump on the bandwagon and then get off it as soon as a new model comes and what I have learned having the blackbird for a year is that is not a good way to go about things as one does not really get a true feeling until there are some big number hours on the amp. I was so close to getting the Triad as well but now with the arrival of my beloved Piano Forte IX's I am going the tube route as i think the synergy will be wonderful with them!
  13. Chexxchexx
    Can't seem to decide among the following three portable amps: RX Mk III, 71-B, and Intruder. Will be using JHA 13 Pro and I sometimes listen at low levels. Any hiss will be unacceptable which is my primary concern with RX MK III. 71-B is reportedly exceptional, but I really like what I've heard about the ALO bass knob. Intruder sounds compelling because of the DAC, but the choice of 16-bit is a head-scratcher when talking about a flagship (portable) model. Guessing I'll need to buy one or more of the amps and try them for myself which tips the scales towards the RX Mk III due to the 30-day return policy and 71-B because it can be purchased used and then sold at less of a loss than if I went with the Intruder. Oh, the trials and tribulations of high-end audio. I guess there are worse problems to have.
  14. AnakChan Moderator
    My 2 yen worth...
    Are you going to use balanced all the way through? I did an Rx MkIII vs SR-71B in single ended on page #2 and I personally favoured the Rx MKIII. Ray Samuels later appeared to have implied that the SR-71B would sound better if used in balanced mode which I'd partially agree if it's balanced all the way through (i.e. from the DAC -> SR-71B -> headphones) but if SE between the DAC -> SR-71B -> balanced headphones I feel the Rx MkIII is still my preferred amp.
    If I have balanced all the way through for both ALO Rx MkIII & SR-71B, the choice is somewhat harder as to me it's more to do with personal taste and type of music I'm listening to.
    Finally for hiss, my Rx MkIII although having low gain further lowered, I do still hear hiss on my FitEar TO GO! 334 (really sensitive to hiss, not just this amp but many others). I don't hear hiss on the SR-71B however. The hiss on Rx MkIII hasn't bothered me especially when music is playing.
    Unfortunately I can't comment on the Intruder as I only played 5 mins on it on demo headphones.
  15. Chexxchexx

    Thanks for the color. Good to hear your thoughts about one amp relative to the other when not balanced all the way through, as mine won't be. Are there portable DAPs that can output balanced?

    I forgot to mention in my original post that I intend to purchase a set of balanced TWag cables. My source for the time being, iPhone 4S, is less than ideal due to lack of flac support, so-so DAC,and locked down digital bitstream. If need be, I'll buy an iPod to free up my phone, but I'm hoping to go for a Cowon Z2 if I can verify that the battery life is adequate. The HiFi Man and ColorFly units just don't appear to offer user experiences that I'd be willing to tolerate. Plus, neither unit appears to have entered the new millennium from an aesthetic standpoint. The C4 is the ugliest electronics device I've ever seen.

    I'm definitely concerned about that hiss from the RX Mk III, but at least I'd be able to return it if it proved to be unacceptable. On a related note, I came across the Centrance HiFi M8 last evening. Somehow, I'd missed that entirely. I read the incredibly well documented blog from start to finish. Provided it sounds good, that DAC/amp is firmly in the running; especially now that they plan to have an RSA balanced output. For me, the CLAS won't be considered because it only pairs with the Apple (my understanding is that you can't use it with a laptop...someone please correct me if I'm wrong) and I really don't want to have another unit plus pricey interconnect to buy.
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