The Dragonfly series from Audioquest has been able to rule the roost a bit alone with its pocket DACs in handy format and three different price ranges, with a price tag of one, two and three thousand NOK. This time, another newcomer is signing up. And in addition to the Dragonfly series' features, it has another ace or two up its sleeve.
In Portland, Oregon, on the borderline to the state of Washington at the west coast of the United States, we find ALO audio, a company that produces enthusiast-class audio equipment. The range consists of both a tube-equipped headphone amplifier and an RIAA with tubes, in addition to cables and various headphones and earplugs in the upper segment.
The fresh pocket DAC has an even more compact design than the Dragonfly series and the HELM BOLT DAC / AMP. The form factor can be almost tempting to compare with Apple's 100 NOK Lightning to 3.5mm dongle, but make no mistake! Because while Apple's device is a cheap thing with limited sound quality and features that sabotage any MQA unpacking, ALO audio Pilot has an ESS Sabre DAC 9281CPRO on board.
MQA support is a feature it shares with Audioquest and HELM. This means that it supports two-step extraction of MQA files from e.g. TIDAL's app. Pilot also has a tri-colored LED that indicates resolution and possible MQA.
What distinguishes the ALO audio Pilot from its nearby competitors is that it also supports decoding of DSD files with a resolution of up to 5.6 MHz, in addition to the fact that it handles PCM up to 384 kHz.
Physically, the ALO audio Pilot appears as a USB-C plug and a "female" 3.5mm plug with a small cable stub in between. And then it comes with a compact USB to Lightning adapter for use with the iPhone.
We hope to be able to uncover how the ALO audio Pilot performs in a reviewin in the future.
In addition to direct sales via online store, ALO audio has a number of dealers both in Europe and the rest of the world, but unfortunately not in Norway.
The price is set at 129 USD
Read more about Pilot at ALO audio