While there has been no shortage of phone dongles designed to appeal to the audiophile masses, very few have really taken on the form factor of Apple’s makeshift (or perhaps makeup) short wire-and-a-connector. This week ALO Audio announced their Pilot dongle to those masses, complete with high resolution PCM, DSD and even MQA decoding.
Quite a bit of the Portland-based company’s efforts have been focused on their growing lineup of universal fit IEMs under the Campfire Audio brand – and with great success. ALO Audio was one of the early arrivers on the scene for portables, and really helped move the market forward in terms of specialized playback for mobile audiophiles. But alas, the tidal wave of iPhones as playback devices augmented the demand in hifi once again…which lands us pretty much where this product introduction begins.
High fidelity DAC chips continue to evolve. Sound quality is always paramount for high fidelity executions, but equally important to portable implementations is energy draw. For the Pilot, ALO selected the ESS Sabre DAC 9281c Pro. That may seem like a lot of numbers and letters pushed together that aren’t normally part of the English language, but the capabilities from this model from ESS allow for power from an mobile phone, small size and a high range of decoding opportunities. PCM signals can be decoded up to 384 kHz with DSD sampling unearthed up to 5.6MHz.
There is a simple indicator light on one side of the cable that shows up blue for standard definition audio, red for anything above 48kHz and magenta for MQA. Also included is an adapter to change the termination from the default USB-C to Lighting for iPhone owners.
Interested parties can check out the newest cable from ALO Audio on their direct-to-consumer site. The Pilot is currently available for sale for $129.
More info: ALO Audio