For those who want to get high-quality sound from a modern smartphone without turning it into a sandwich of two devices, ALO Audio introduced the Pilot compact USB-DAC. It looks like an ordinary adapter from the USB-C to 3.5 mm connector – like those that come with smartphones that lack a separate headphone output (there is an adapter from USB-C to Lightning in the kit).
In fact, the device is equipped with an ESS Saber 9281cPro DAC chip and supports a variety of audio formats: PCM up to 384 kHz, DSD up to 5.6 MHz, and even MQA. The peculiarity of the chip used is its low power consumption – so that the DAC will not quite actively eat the battery of the smartphone to which it is connected.
The developers declared a signal-to-noise ratio of 120 dB and a harmonic distortion of 0.0006%. The connectors themselves have sturdy aluminum housings, the cable is wrapped in a dense textile sheath.
On the side of the USB-C connector, a status LED is built into the case: it glows blue in standby mode and when playing non-highlighted content, red when working with signals with a frequency above 48 kHz, and lilac when working with MQA.
The USB DAC works with iOS and Android smartphones, as well as Windows 10 and macOS devices. In the US, the ALO Audio Pilot will cost $129.