As some of you will already be aware, Cypher Labs and ALO Audio have frequently collaborated on products and projects, with the result that many knowledgeable listeners have chosen ALO portable amps paired with Cypher Lab’s groundbreaking AlgoRhythm Solo portable DAC as their ultimate portable audio rigs. For RMAF 2012, however, Cypher Labs plainly felt it was time to revamp the original AlgoRhythm Solo to give it even greater versatility and performance. Accordingly, Cypher presented not one but two new variants on the AlgoRhythm Solo theme: the AlgoRhythm Solo -R ($499) and the AlgoRhythm Solo –dB ($699). Here are the changes the models bring into play.
The AlgoRhythm Solo –R is the direct replacement for the original AlgoRhythm Solo, meaning that it is a portable, iDevice-compatible DAC with built-in S/PDIF conversion features. What’s changed is that the new –R model features a better-sounding DAC, longer play time per charge (14 hours), and is now capable of charging an attached iDevice—all this with no increase (and in fact a modest decrease) in price to $499.
The AlgoRhythm Solo –dB, in turn, can be viewed as a Solo –R (because it gets all of the updates the –R model receives), but with dramatically expanded functionality. Thus, the Solo –dB is iDevice compatible, but also provides a high-resolution USB port for playing digital audio directly from computers, plus it provides both single-ended and balanced analog outputs. Having lived with the original AlgoRhythm Solo for some time, I would say that both models offer welcome changes, but that the Solo –dB offers a combination of features many enthusiasts have yearned for; namely, a high performance portable DAC that works both with iDevices and other USB audio sources, and that offers balanced outputs that take full advantage of the latest fully balanced portable headphone amps now appearing on the market.