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ALO Audio ready ‘The Key’ portable USB DAC/headphone amp

  • The super-budget DAC category seems almost unstoppable at the moment. Joining Audioengine, HRT and Audioquest in the sub-$200 portable DAC/headphone amplifier fray is Portland’s ALO Audio. ‘The Key’ is an anodized aluminium USB-key-sized unit complete with end cap to protect the direct-connecting Type A input plug – no USB cable required.

    It’s USB 2.0 compliant and can therefore handle all sample rates up to 384kHz. Resolutions turn up at 16, 24 and 32 bits.

    As is usual with this size of DAC, output comes via a 3.5mm (1/8″) stereo jack; ideal for headphones but you’ll need a 3.5mm-2xRCA cable to hook it into the back of a standard stereo amplifier. Output voltage is a standard 2 volts (at 10 kOhms).


    Further specs:

    • Frequency response: 5-22kHz (+/-1dB) – @ 44.1kHz, 5-150kHz (+/-1dB) – @ 384kHz
    • THD+N: 0.001% @ 1kHz

    The Key is available now in blue, silver, gold and black and sells for US$189.

    Further information: ALO Audio

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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