Published on December 16th, 2015 | by Greg0
Portable Audio Prescription: ALO’s Rx Pocket Amplifier
Once you have a good set of headphones, you quickly realize the limitations of your music files and the rest of your equipment. If you’re a serious audiophile, then you probably have a set of IEMs that you rely on- in-ear monitors that offer precision and detail. Best enjoyed in a quiet environment, IEMs balance minuscule size with power, and reach their full potential only with crystal clean and clear sources and appropriate amplification. Many devices- your phone, iPod, MP3 player, computer- send digital over crowded pathways that tend to be noisy, and don’t offer enough power at a low enough impedance to drive quality monitors.
The new ALO Rx Portable Amplifier solves some of those problems, and was built and designed specifically for use with the most sensitive IEMs. Thanks to super low impedance, you’ll get minimal extra movement, which helps ensure that nothing extra gets through from the music to your ears. The Rx also extends the available upper frequency limit beyond the normal 20 kHz top end, which prevents cut-off effects from hitting in any audible ranges. Plus, your average decent solid state amp will list its distortion and keep it below .01%, while the ALO Rx sets the bar at a fairly incredible .002%. It recharges fast via USB too, and we were able to use it for days without worrying about battery life.
With a portable amp, you should definitely use a quality portable DAC as well, and we often suggest using a lossless audio source when possible. We tested a wide range from our library, including those from Cypher Labs, and music ranging from recent Ratatat to classic Zeppelin. And the results were pretty clear- the previous critical acclaim hits the mark, and once burned in and charged up, the ALO Rx can play with the best of them. Darks are truly black, there is plenty of space, no distortion or fuzz, and the timbre wasn’t too warm or cool but fairly neutral (perfect for most IEMs, where you’re looking for a natural sound). Bass had the desired oomph, and it’s punchy with detail worthy of many stand-alone, full-sized amps.
The aluminum body feels really solid, fits nicely in a pocket, and it’s available in black (as tested) or a more neutral brown. If phrases like “ESR Aluminum Organic Polymer Capacitors” grab your attention, and the idea of an amp with cryogenic treatment catches your interest, then this guy should definitely be on your holiday wishlist. The subtle stamped logo is classy, and the volume knob nicely grippable (and sticks out but not nearly as much as some other models). There aren’t any gain modification or settings, and if you like to use full-size, over- or on-ear sets then you might want to opt for another amp. But for anyone in need of a portable amp for use with in-ear monitors, our advice is simple: the ALO Rx will impress even the pickiest listener, and is available now online and in stores for around $299 directly.