Allo DigiOne Signature Review Page 2

If you recall from reading my review of the original DigiOne, I found it a tad rough around the edges and slightly lean relative to my Soundaware D100. Nonetheless, I appreciated the DigiOne’s clarity, sharpness, and resolve to the point where it became my new primary source.

The Signature essentially mitigates these nitpicks of the original, adding missing meat to the sound and polishing the rough edges, and then gives you more. It has better low-end extension, greater authority, is more dynamic, has a cleaner background, improves on subtle nuances and details and sounds faster, sharper and clearer. It sounds more spacious through its greater accuracy and resolve. It takes what I loved about the original, improved on that and wiped out its weaknesses in the process. And, yes, these improvements are evident just using the barebones PSU that Allo does not recommend.

That the Signature improves the engagement factor, while smoothing out any fatiguing areas of the original, leaves me wondering if there’s much at all I can critique. Taking all that into consideration the Signature Player is simply a well-balanced, high-performing music transport. But, of course, I had power supply options to play with yet.

The original DigiOne Player seemed to benefit with even a basic linear power supply, gaining some weight in the bass and midrange and relaxing a bit in the top end. Even when running the original DigiOne off the LPSU and the Signature from two of those basic PSUs, I still found the Signature an overall improvement. It simply sounded more natural and technically capable at the same time. I found you can’t just throw a better power supply at the original and expect it to supersede its successor.

However, running the Signature’s clean side with the LPSU brought about some interesting results. Much like how I described the DigiOne Player’s changes with the LPSU, it did the same for the Signature. In my opinion, it was too much of a good thing. The Signature is balanced to the point of not needing additional thickness or fatiguing elements ironed out. When the Signature was powered off the basic PSU, it sound more linear, cleaner and clearer than with the LPSU. That wasn’t to my tastes, but it goes to show how one could dial-in the Signature’s sound by “rolling” power supplies.

It could also mean my inexpensive LPSU isn’t up to snuff. Linear doesn’t necessarily mean clean. If you spend some time researching other users’ findings across various forums, you’ll find some hits and misses regarding which PSUs really bring the DigiOne Signature to life. As I mentioned, Allo recommends running off battery power, and what general sentiment I’ve seen online suggests others agree for lowest cost, simpler options.

Running the Signature Player off an 18650 battery pack was one of the more interesting experiments in my litany of tests. Like the LPSU, the sound became a little more relaxed in the top end, and the low end gained a bit more mass. Thankfully, the changes were tasteful and much less dramatic than that delivered from my LPSU. My assumption is the 18650 batteries deliver a very clean power source, much more so than my cheap LPSU.

Any sense of glare or etch that could be commonly attributed to a switching power supply went away with the batteries. The clean, focused, engaging nature of the Signature Player remained. It was bit off putting at first, having become accustomed to the Signature’s sound with the basic PSU, but I eventually grew used to the additional ease of the sound with batteries. That last bit of treble sheen I hadn’t noticed at first on the Signature disappeared, dialling its sound in to a nearly ideal state.

Powering the Signature’s clean side with batteries was quite a unique experience for me and one I could easily recommend given the low cost of entry. Playing around with LPSUs seems a riskier and pricier endeavour, especially if you want to ensure you’re getting a truly clean power supply.

The Schiit Eitr Joins the Fray

Adding the Schiit Eitr into the comparisons shook things up. Whereas the two Allo products were easier to compare, the Eitr had some notably different traits. Relative to either the DigiOne or Signature, the Eitr had a thicker mid-bass area and sounded a little less linear in the treble, meaning some soft and hot spots. This meant that differing tracks could vary in how lively they sounded. The Eitr sounded more full, mainly through its mid-bass presentation and relaxed overall, but not quite as sharp and clear throughout the entire spectrum as the DigiOne or Signature.

With tracks that extended into the lowest octaves, I found the Signature to have the best bass extension of the lot, with the Eitr and DigiOne at roughly equal footing. I thought the rankings to be true when listening for dynamic representation as well. In terms of being able to pick out the smallest details, they all did rather well, with the Eitr and DigiOne performing similarly and the Signature just a hair better. The Signature simply excelled with its clarity, speed and resolution.

The Eitr’s best trait was how it portrayed staging, layering, and room acoustics. It offered more involvement here than the original DigiOne, no doubt. When paired against the Signature, the Eitr’s performance seemed less consistent. At times, it sound more spacious and three-dimensional than the Signature, but other times less so. Perhaps this was the Eitr’s mildly uneven treble performance getting in the way. In the end, the Signature pulled ahead by staying consistent and stable in this particular area.

At the end of the day, I found myself thoroughly enjoying all three sources. I found the DigiOne Signature Player to almost always come out on top in all performance areas and it simply sounded the most balanced and consistent transport of the three. It had few weaknesses.

I will note that regardless of which PSU I used on the two Allo devices, these relative differences still stood. I should also point out I was unable to try the Eitr with any USB backend tweaks, though I felt that outside the scope of this review anyway, especially since Schiit markets such tweaks as not necessary.

Conclusion

The DigiOne Signature Player’s hardware improvements handily paid off. While a relatively steep price increase over the original, it is still an exemplary sounding digital transport. Better yet, those on a modest budget should be able to afford it. That it resolves what few nitpicks I had of the original and improves the formula from there makes me recommend it as strongly as I’m able and without hesitation.

If you’re looking for a good source that works off almost any USB source, check out the Schiit Eitr. To save you from reading too much between the lines, it and the original DigiOne Player are of similar quality. Picking between the two really is a matter of taste, with the Eitr having a little more of a unique flavor, and the DigiOne sounding a little more straightforward. If you have the budget to step up to the Signature and only need a dedicated music transport/streamer, by all means, take that route.

The original DigiOne Player really opened my eyes coming from my Soundaware D100. The Signature elevated my excitement further by realizing the full potential of what Allo was shooting for. If you haven’t considered a new source, transport, or streamer in a while, now is a great time to jump in. Even for those of you running modest headphone or two-channel setups, you’ll really enjoy how much a device like the DigiOne Signature Player can change your listening experience for the better.

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Allo
300-1275 West 6th Ave. Vancouver, BC V6H 1A6
sales@allo.com
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