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. fhuang

    about 9 to 10 o'clock on the studio six
  2. fhuang
    any other grado user here?
  3. TomSix
    I like Grado Headphones. I have a trusty pair of Grado SR225i phones I've had for years. I did install the larger Grado "bagel" type over-the-ear foams on my SR225i, and this makes for a very comfortable and lightweight set of phones. There's something about the midrange forwardness and also the sense of exuberance/ "drive" to the sound I really like. Sure, I feel they are somewhat colored and less revealing than my HD800 and HE-6 phones, but nonetheless the SR225i Grados have their own unique signature and virtues. They can simply be fun and engaging to listen to. I particularly like them with rock music.

    BTW: I did hear some of the higher end Grados during my time at ALO a couple years back, and remember liking them too. It's been quite awhile, and so I hesitate to comment too much from memory given my limited listening time with those other various Grado cans.

    On a practical note: they are quite sensitive, and so I also use them in a quiet room to listen for hum and noise when testing amplifier circuits.

    I think the key is to appreciate them for what they uniquely are themselves and for what they do well. No need to demand HD800-like resolution or Audeze-like sub-bass extension.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017
  4. Currawong Contributor
    If you can, check out the Symphones Magnums drivers. They are now primarily pairing them with a 3D printed set of cups that you can get from Shapeways, but they deliver deeper bass with quite a bit of detail.
  5. TomSix
    Interesting upgrade concept. Given the modest price bracket of my SR225i phones I'd personally be a little hesitant to spend much on upgrades, but I can imagine those owning Grados of a higher price point may well be interested in such driver transplants.

    Fortunately, I have the HE-6 for when I need my bass "fix". I think I'm going to let my SR225i's just remain as they are: care-free handy-dandy fun little "grab and go" cans.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
  6. TomSix
    Oops! Double post...
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
  7. MN8372
    Tom - is the Mullard CV181/ECC32 compatible?

    I've been using a Red base 5692 and noted Currawong's experience that it can be a bit harsh so keen to experiment. I did order a Tung Sol VT231 round base black glass on eBay but only one channel was working (arrgghh!). It was used (not NOS) but won't buy from eBay again.

    The other option I was considering is the Sylvania VT231. NOS tubes are available from - - so no need to resort to eBay for this particular tube.

    Just looking to take a very slight edge off - I'm using HEK v2's which sound amazing with this amp especially when I switched in a pair of RCA VT-107-A/6V6GT/G grey glass.

    But I don't want to go too far the other way and dull the sound.
  8. Currawong Contributor
    Basically, the shorter Sylvanias are smoother-sounding (eg: chrome tops) and the taller ones, like in that link, are clearer. Someone with more tube experience might correct me if I'm wrong.
  9. TomSix
    I would advise caution if attempting to substitute a CV181/ECC32 tube in place of the Studio-Six's 6SN7. The pin-out is the same, but the CV181 is a very different tube electrically than the 6SN7.

    Personally, I have not tried using the CV181/ECC32 in the ST-6, and have not made bias/operating point calculations, and so can only offer a few thoughts:

    * The CV181/ECC32 consumes .35 amps more filament power than a 6SN7, which is not a problem unless one is also using the optional phono stage attached, then the additional current draw could be excessive and cause filament voltages to sag.

    *The CV181/ECC32 has a higher amplification factor than the 6SN7, and a lower plate resistance. These two factors will possibly increase high-frequency roll-off somewhat.

    * I have not sat down and calculated the operating points for the CV181/ECC32, and so can't presently say if either insufficient or excessive current would be drawn if such a tube were substituted for the 6SN7, and/or whether distortion would be increased.

    If one desires to use the CV181/ECC32 in the Studio-Six, be advised you are doing so at your own risk. Personally, I'd advise against it, and advise staying with tubes which are actually in the 6SN7 family electrically.

    One would have to ask ALO directly, I can't speak for them, but I would caution that any malfunction or damage resulting from use of tubes outside of the recommended/specified types would likely not be covered by warranty.

    I hope that helps
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  10. MN8372
    Thanks Tom - I will give the CV181's a miss. There are a good number of options out there in the 6SN7 family. I ordered the Sylvania VT231 and will see how that compares with the RCA red base.
  11. MN8372
    I have yet to do any serious comparison but initial impressions are that the Sylvania VT231 sounds quite different to the RCA red base. Sounds quite a bit clearer (more transparency, detail and presence). I think that will do me for now on the tube rolling front as I have spent too much already.

    I am still getting some sybillance on poorer recordings - which I can dial out upsampling to DSD512 in HQ Player but I then miss the air, transparency and bite that I get with PCM 352k. Getting the perfect balance is not easy and is dependent on so many different factors.

    Next stop is a Danacables Lazulil Reference cable for my HEK v2's which I am hoping will tame some of the brightness on poorer recordings but still retain the transparency that I am increasingly attracted to (having started my journey with the relatively dark Audeze LD2's).
  12. TomSix
    Thanks for sharing your impressions of the VT231 in the Studio Six. It sound like you've hit upon a very nice input tube.

    On sibilance with some recordings: Yes, there's no escaping the fact that a high-resolution amplifier/headphone system will be quite candidly revealing of whatever shortcomings/flaws may exist with playback devices and recordings --no way around that!

    On the LCD-2: yes, subjectively they sound slightly rolled-off in the treble, and somewhat warm and "sepia-toned" in their presentation --but what fantastic bass, and a lush midrange. They can be very enjoyable.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
  13. Currawong Contributor
    A weird combo, but I have the chrome-top Sylvania 6V6GTs in, but in the 6SN7 slot I have a Western Electric 396A via an adaptor. It tends to be more lively, spacious and detailed in some ways. In a sense (since we're talking about ALO Audio which was originally a cable company) if the chrome-top is like a Moon Audio cable -- smooth and detailed -- then the 396A is like an ALO cable -- extended at both ends slightly. This works with the Utopias incredibly well.
  14. meomap
    Wow. Glad to hear try to upgrading the sound again.
  15. MN8372
    I've been running the Sylvania VT231 for a while now and I really like it. However it is always difficult to isolate individual components and I don't have the patience to be swapping components in and out to formally test the differences they make.

    I upgraded my headphone cable recently from a Moon Audio Black Dragon to a Danacables Lazuli Reference and it made a far bigger difference to the sound signature than swapping out the RCA redbase for the Sylvania. The sound became much warmer/richer/tangible to the point where I was maybe missing a bit of air that I was getting with the Moon Audio. Really surprised how great the difference was.

    Which is why the ability to tube roll in an amp like this is such a great thing as along with swapping out cables it gives you the flexibility to tune the sound to your liking without using equalisation. I've learned to really appreciate the more organic sound that I'm getting from the Lazuli Reference (which has also had quite a big impact on reducing sybillance). Even though the sound is warmer than the Moon Audio I am starting to hear details on recordings that I've never heard before. I had a similar experience replacing my Curious USB cable with a Phasure Lush USB cable - with the Lush cable I am getting a much more solid soundstage and for want of a better word even more tangibility. Without saying one cable was better than the other (as I could see why some might prefer the Curious cable) the sound signature changed again - a yet more organic/analogue sound but with bags of detail.

    I'm going to keep the cables as I really like what they do for the sound of my system. However, I'm now on the look out for a 6SN7 tube that can provide that last degree of air and transparency (what I really want is everything - perfect tone, organic natural sound, detail, strong fast bass, detail, treble extension, large soundstage, air and transparency). It's really hard to get all of those features in balance at the same time.

    From what I have read the Sylvania 6SN7W metal base might be the perfect tube for my system - only problem is that they are quite difficult to find and very expensive..
    Currawong likes this.
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