When you buy a car, what are the parts that you will be looking into seriously? One of them is the engine, right?
I don’t get ALO’s latest offering, The Island. Actually, I don’t get ALO’s lineup. They have never really showed anything inside their products. They have never really explained the engineering marvels. They only throw a couple of chips here and there and that’s it. It’s like they are selling audio jewelries.
To be honest, I am never a fan of ALO. Looking back at their history… cables… Let’s just leave it at that. But I don’t hate them. I was ecstatic when they opened their first brick-mortar store in Portland, Oregon. But I guess old habits die hard. They were still at that point selling audio jewelries. Nothing to see in the store. I’d rather visit and support a local hi-fi dealer that I have known well that they only sell high-performance audio equipments.
Recently, they venture into desktop amp/dac and portable amp/dac. The products look pretty decent to me. And I have heard several, they sound pretty decent too but again, nothing that I would consider buying. The Island is just released today, I’m confused. I really like the design. Huge volume knob on top, someone should have done this a long time ago with portable amp/dac. Making a portable amp knob to look like a miniaturized desktop amp knob is just silly. They put USB input and audio output on each opposite end, those moves make sense. The box shape of the enclosure is a big plus too. But there is little else to see before I even consider buying one.
Maybe it’s just me or a few others, but I would want to see what’s inside and why it cost the same as DACport. CEntrance went a great length to make the DACport the way it is. There are the USB handshake thing that requests 9V, driverless proprietary 24/96 USB input, Class A amp, AKM4396 DAC, and capacitor-free headphone out. The Island has no sign of having any of engineering breakthrough. Yes, it offers balanced in/out and hi-res 24/192 USB DAC, but I don’t need balanced in/out as I don’t want to have a balanced headphone and hi-res 24/192 USB DAC is hardly an engineering marvel as there are now several easy-to-get solutions in the market.
This makes me wonder whether I should buy it or not. Maybe I should. I can always tear it down after purchase. But they could have saved all the troubles by explaining a bit more about the thing. What is it that ALO trying to avoid? …