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ALO Audio update International+ with ‘Optical Edition’

  • First generation Astell&Kern DAP owners who considered the original International+ a case of close-but-no-cigar might want to take a look at the updated ‘Optical Edition’ from Portland manufacturer ALO Audio.

    The International+ ‘Optical Edition’ maintains the diminutive size of its forerunner which means an original AK100 or AK120 can still be rubber-strapped to its back without either protruding. However, whilst the original International+ could parse only analogue signals from the South Korean DAP, the new model comes loaded with an optical input for off-board D/A conversion – at which point the attached AK100/AK120 serves as transport only. Straight and right-angled optical cables ship inside the box.

    The new 3.5mm optical input sits adjacent to the two mini USB ports: one’s for connecting a compatible smartphone, PC or Mac whilst the other is used for charging the International+’s internal battery, from which you’ll get anything between 7 and 15 hours (depending on type of usage).


    The other big change is internal. Gone is the Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC chip found in the original International+. It’s been replaced by the increasingly popular, mobile-friendly ES90182KM chip from ESS Labs. The upshot is an ability to handle up to 24bit/192kHz PCM. DSD decoding is possible too but limited to the USB input.

    The circuit design remains balanced throughout with ALO’s own mini-balanced connector complementing the 3.5mm single-ended headphone output.

    Lastly, the new ‘Optical Edition’ ships with a zip-locking, padded carry-case and is available only in black. The price remains the same as the original: US$599.

    You can read my review of the original International+ here.

    Further information: ALO Audio

    Written by John Darko

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

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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