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ALO Audio Studio Six Reviews and Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by shigzeo, Jul 29, 2013.
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  1. shigzeo Contributor
    Hello guys and gals, I think it's high time that the ALO Studio Six got its impression going. I think there are several of us who either have the amp or are borrowing it (me) and have had enough time with it to begin to give it some thread time.
    I've uploaded a couple new photos at Ω image. And the full review is now live, too.
    My take (So far)
    I will get the ball rolling by reiterating the few reviews out there that confirm the Studio Six' wonderful capability of driving multiple headphones at the same time. In fact, it seems like it was designed specifically do multiple headphones. Of course, different Ω/sensitivity headphones will vary output volume so that some headphones cannot be used at comfortable volumes. Beyond that, there is power galore. It's funny. ALO have made a number of amps that I consider benchmark in terms of high current to mid/high Ω headphones. The tiny International was one. Studio Six is another.
    Obviously you don't buy an SS for earphones but the combo works pretty well. I need a few more days to really firm up my impressions with earphones. In terms of single headphone usage, there simply isn't a headphone too scary for the Six. Typical 'hard to drive' high Ω headphones such as the 600Ω DT880, the T1, HD800, etc., are child's play. Since they aren't current hungry, they generally play well from most high voltage outputs. The Six has a very controlled, very smooth volume pot. I'm fully comfortable using the DT880 at a volume position of 7-8 o'clock. (The Six maxes out at about 5.) At no time during no recording of any genre or any vintage does the Six struggle getting enough current to any of the above headphones even when volume is maxed out. Of course, maxing the Six not only turns your headphones into speakers, but makes them loud enough that even when put in another room, you may want to close the door to preserve your hearing (in the long run). 
    Is it too much?
    Well, no. Headphones with notoriously low sensitivities (I've not tried the K1000 with this) such as HiFiMAN's HE6 and HE500 were probably much of the hardware impetus behind the creation of the Studio Six. They drive perfectly under all conditions. ALO probably shot for 'last home amp you'll ever need' for those headphones and for another favourite, the LCD-2. I don't own the LCD-2, but I borrow one ever time I do amp reviews. Paired to the Six, it shows its power and its grace more completely than with many other amps. Stereo control as well as attack times are right on. 
    The Six fails to slow down or trundle. It is speedy even when plugged into low Ω portable headphones that usually stymie full-size amps targeted at low sensitivity headphones. Balance is perfect for its target phones. Even super sensitive earphones such as the Sleek Audio CT7/SA7 attain perfect tracking balance at listenable levels. The volume pot is a long-throw pot, so control is pretty much perfect for anything out there. Earphones are probably too sensitive for the Six though. Internal hum is low but audible from portable headphones and earphones. 
    Proper home headphones of any vintage/variety never ever hum when plugged into the Six. 

    I will get to depth, noise levels, and imaging a bit later.
    Excellent. Studio Six is a proverbial tank in both its materials and quality of build. From the sturdily anchored RCA jacks at the back to the precise alignment of all four 6,3mm headphone jacks and the thick radiating grill on top, SS isn't going anywhere. There is no external hum, no buzz or anything when plugged in, no wobble at any connection, and the valve ports, volume pot, in/out labels are etched into the panels. You can operate this thing in the dark. 
    It looks great in black (I've not seen a silver version) and it really really drives. 
    I will post more complete impressions in this thread as well as at Ω as the week gets long. Currently, I've just got impressions there that mirror this thread. If I spot more on the web, I'll put them here, too.
    Headfi review of Studio Six - Mike Mercer
    SixMoons review of Studio Six
    ohm-image review of Studio Six
    Rotten Apple likes this.
  2. x838nwy
    A comparison between this ans other amps you've tried/owned will also be much appreciated.
  3. shigzeo Contributor
    I will definitely get that going. I'm borrowing another very 'dayum!' amp at the moment. The two are quite different, however, as the one (Six) is valve in and out, while the other is all solid state. 
    Only the Six has passed the wife test. 
  4. Dubstep Girl
    nice review, hope to see more impressions on this amazing amp.
    N15M0 likes this.
  5. shigzeo Contributor
    I hope to get a review up in full by next week. The above are just collected impressions. I'm not as detailed as some reviewers here in Headfi, but even I wouldn't pass that off as a full review! I also hope to see more impressions come in. So far, impressions have been quite positive. My only concerns are listed above. If I find more I will list them. 
  6. hmouse
    Why isn't this thread in the High-end Audio Forum, consider the hefty price tag of Studio Six...
  7. shigzeo Contributor
    I had thought of that, but, because I don't consider any audio low end, I can't justifiably put the Six in a place called 'hi end'. If a mod moves it, that is her prerogative. Price aside, any bit of coupled power and 6,3mm outs that we talk about here does one basic thing, and that is amplifying a headphone signal. I think for the same reason that there shouldn't be a low end or a mid end forum. I don't work on a class basis.
    Anyway, the Six is expensive. But then so is a 300$ amplifier to someone who would never spend money on an amp. It is all perspective. I also know this: someone who lives in the developed world and earns any one of the non-poverty level incomes and who doesn't spend money only on audio gear (no cars, no restaurants, movies, etc. and so on) could easily afford this amp.
    Again, if it gets moved, it gets moved.
    For now, I'm glad it's here.
  8. R Giskard
    Hmm, 4800 dollars is quite a price tag. It better be spectacular. I am a bit surprised because it is a transformer-ourput amplifier and the transformers were built to specification by a third party manufacturer. Granted, they are good but not as good as they could have been if someone took the time to do it manually. Audio note for example makes their own transformers and the highest ranked models use silver-baked coils which are simply the highest performance transformers I have seen. I've no doubt it's a good amplifier though but like I said, at that price, it probably should be.
  9. David Chavez
    I have a quick/first impression after using it for 20min with hd800's and lcd2's.  First off SO MUCH POWER. Even thou it just had 2 headphones plugged in I can see it easily running 4 (Remember they will be at different sound levels if you use 4 different headphones).  To me it sounded to musical I imagined a thick liquid of sound pouring from the headphones to my ears (A hyperbole but I hope you get my point).  The over all sound quality shows off why it cost as much as it does, but because of the sound signature I think it would be a 50/50 of people who would want to get it.  I wish I could add more but I don't think I can give it justice for how much time I actually spent with it (or else I would have used big and sexual words to describe its lows, mids, and highs).  
  10. shigzeo Contributor
    I was also surprised about the transformer, but, living in a Japanese apartment, I erased that thought pretty soon after. Space is an issue here and every little bit counts - especially when the amp weighs about as much as I did when I was twelve!
  11. R Giskard
    LOL!! I am looking forward to your future comments!
  12. shigzeo Contributor
    I met a couple Americans recently who complained about how small their houses/flats were. I nodded my head and said, 'wow' or something. Not wow at the size of their living quarters, but that it was more than twice the size of a large flat here. But I'm not Japanese so me living here is cramped but a family down the hall has three people living in the same space (44m2). In Hong Kong, they live more to a flat than here. 
    Anyway, I'm glad that there is only one piece in the Studio Six as it makes it much easier to use- that, and my wife actually digs the look. Again a first. The power section gets warm, too, but the ventilation is very good. I've had the amp going nonstop for about a week now. 
  13. Dubstep Girl
    studio six seems about as high end as it gets. it costs as much as a high end stax amp would.
  14. R Giskard
    That's really funny! But I can see where you're coming from. When people ask me what's the most expensive part of an audio system, I usually tell them it's the room in which the system will be palced. Considering a price of a square meter, that really seems to be the case. 
    A little heat is good as long as the amplifier doesn't get bigger in the process! :)
  15. shigzeo Contributor
    Robot Giskard! I've been waiting to meet you. Well, glad you could make it here despite your obvious lack of organic parts. Whatever the situation, I know that you are watching out for us earthlings.
    Also, I'm ashamed to hear that prices are even sky high in your time... bugger. We need to get humans into the stars as soon as possible. Personally, I'm probably a spacer though who knows. 
    Away from Asimov and back to SS, I will be doing proper tests of the outs come Sunday evening and monday morning to see how many headphones at what impedance settings the amp can handle. I have a feeling that it will have little trouble, though again, best listening is done on the same exact headphone models plugged in parallel. 
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