Published on September 2nd, 2015 | by Greg0
Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm Trio: Tubes On The Tube
A portable, battery-powered amplifier is a fairly niche item- after all, many folks want their devices to be as small as possible, compact and all-in-one preferably. Your smartphone or tablet might not offer ideal audio pathways, or separate them properly, or power them adequately… but with all of the outside noise and the wind and people, who would notice? The easy answer: we do, like other audiophiles who have spent hundreds of dollars on headphones or IEMs that can seal out those conditions and provide a superior experience even on the go.
And if you’re with us, it’s time to demand portable audio that can live up to your headphones and capably handle your high-definition files. Cypher Labs has just released the AlgoRhythm Trio, and it’s even more of a specialist piece of gear than your typical portable amp, since it’s a small, packable piece of gear that also happens to be an analog vacuum-tube amplifier. Believe it or not, we’ve seen similar products before like the Fostex HP-V1, but this model is definitely a major step forward. If you need a stationary, desktop tube amplifier, there are plenty out there, and if you need a digital portable amp, we’d probably suggest another Cypher Labs product (their excellent Duet is one of our favorites).
But there’s no denying that old-school tubes can add some character to your sound, and if you’re looking to move from a more clinical, flat, electronically modern tone then the warmer 6111s are ideal. The 6111 tube included is French made but it isn’t user replaceable- on the other hand, it should last tens of thousands of hours. We let the Trio burn in for about 40 of those hours before testing it, letting the tube warm up this machined solid block of aluminum. It’s stylish and attractive, with a large volume knob protruding, matching the look and feel of other CL products. And at 8.6 ounces, it won’t weigh you down nor take up much space in your bag. Eight hours of battery life is perfectly fine, recharging is via micro USB, and the zippered case is handy. Straps to attach your other devices are included too.
The Trio isn’t the most accurate or precise little guy- it’s got a flavor which comes across great in soul, funk, jazz but feels a little odd with EDM or even hip-hop beats. The sound is spacious, broad, with plenty of detail and especially so on vocals, with smoother harmonics than most portable amps manage. Those with the most sensitive IEMs might hear a little hiss during silence, though there is a low/high gain switch to cover most everything, and we were deinitely impressed at performance with high-impedance larger over-ears. Single 3.5mm minijack input and output connections are the only options, but you shouldn’t need anything else. If you’re tried of overly bright sounds, the Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm Trio is darker, richer- like a great cup of coffee, it will awaken your senses a bit. We wish the power control would have been a button instead of a switch, but that’s largely personal preference (the tactile feel is nice, it can just snag). Overall, if you have the desire for a great amp- and the $600 to spend- there isn’t a better portable tube model on the market. The Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm Trio is available now, online and in stores.