ALO Audio (sister company of Campfire Audio) usb dac / earphone amp, the Pilot. Pilot is housed inside a dongle, with usb-c on one side, 3.5mm headphone out on the other. A lightning plug / iphone adaptor is included, making Pilot a plug and play product for android or iphone, with no other adaptors to buy.
Pilot's tiny size makes it easy to bring everywhere you bring your earphones or headphones. Enjoy improved clarity and more dynamic sound quality using Pilot with your wired earphones.
Attention callers - Pilot also has mic support - you go between zoom calls and music without disconnecting/ reconnecting.
Pilot uses the latest ESS dac chip, with MQA decoding built in, perfect for streaming Tidal hifi. Works great with computers as well, with most newer computer having usb-c ports. I use one in the car - music from Tidal sounds great from the Pilot, just add a short 3.5mm - 3.5mm cable for the car's aux in.
ESS Sabre DAC (9281CPRO with MQA support)
THD+N @ 0.0006%
< 2 ohm output impedance
PCM sampling frequency up to 384kHz
DSD sampling frequency up to 5.6MHz
MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) Support
Multicolour LCD indicates bitrate
Includes usb-c - lightning adaptor
1 year warranty
(phone and earphones in photo not included - for illustration only)
I’m using Tidal app on iPad, and iPhone, and wanted a portable DAC that supports MQA to use with headphones. This works great for that.
The “niggles” are that it comes with hardwired USB-C and an Apple lightning adapter. Since I’m not using it with a laptop I would prefer that to be reversed — that is hardwired lightning with USB-C adapter. Anyways we can’t always have everything.
This dongle DAC is definitely a big upgrade over my Samsung's DAC and amp. More clarity, texture, detail and staging to instruments. I am listening to FLAC of jazz and classical on Campfire Satsuma IEMs and Grado SR80 headphones. I would rather a unit without support for the controversial MQA as the manufacturer has to pass along the licensing cost as a higher price.
First off… the DAC performance is amazing. I have been using a Fiio Q1 DAC for several years, and I also have a Astell and Kern AK70 and this little thing, plugged into my iPad or iPhone far outperforms both of those. I have a few headphones and it drives all of them remarkably well - even my Focal Clear! The price is about right , considering the size and performance, and the form factor is great for using with phones because you don’t have a big USB stick hanging like a AudioQuest dragonfly. My only gripe is that the product has a USB C connection rather than a lightning connection. The included adapter works, but creates a much more fragile connection to you phone - as I discovered while i had in my pocket, bend over slightly and the connector to the lightning adapter broke off because of the length of the extra hardware sticking out of the iPhone. You have to be very careful if using an iphone and the adapter that it doesn’t bend at all while using because it will snap easily.
I've been looking for a mobile solution to play hi res audio files - i.e. in the car and using IEMs. Was debating buying a mid-tier standalone DAP, but this seemed like a good solution paired with my iPhone. I've been using it for the past few days, and so far am happy with my purchase. it's tiny, handles a nice variety of files (including DSD up to 5.6), and has a great sound/soundstage. The connection using the lightning adapter is pretty secure and I can use my IEM's play pause button (but not the volume control). It gets a little warm, but not too much, and doesn't perceptibly drain my phone's battery. I would recommend this. Great turnaround time from Headphone Bar, too.