Kiwi Ears Allegro Portable DAC Review

Kiwi Ears has always been a company that made in-ear monitor earphones, but the Allegro marks their first portable DAC/Amp product. This little, super-cute device cost $59 and can be found on Linsoul's web store on Amazon and on their official site.

The Allegro has a retro controller design that is made of an all-aluminum body. It takes cues from Nintendo's NES controller with an engraved D-Pad and A and B buttons. Unfortunately, these buttons are decoration and not useable, so there's a missed opportunity here.

The actual physical buttons are on the side though. There are two buttons that control volume up and down. On one edge is the USB-C input and on the opposite end are two output headphone jacks -- one for 3.5mm stereo and one for 4.4mm balanced cables.

The device features the ESS ES9028Q2M portable DAC and supports up to 32bit/384Khz PCM audio and up to DSD 256. The outputs have 70mW ratings with 3.5mm and 155mW on balanced; rated at 32 ohms.

Since this device is USB-C, it'll work with any USB source such as your laptop, phone, computer, etc. I've spent most of the time having it connected to both my personal and work laptops, and also a little bit of time having it connected to my Fiio M15S Digital Audio Player and my Samsung Z-Flip 5 phone.

I did not have any connectivity issues with this device on any of the sources I used. The volume buttons are independent from the device volume controls as well, so just be careful you don't blow your ears up when you first use it with a new device but make sure the volume is set down.

Sound Impressions

The Allegro has a very neutral tonality, with no real area where I found more accentuated than the rest. It has a punchy sound and doesn't have any harshness in the upper end. I found the overall experience fairly pleasant and it is more than adequate for such a low cost portable DAC.

Pairing it with my Subtonic Storm, one of the most demanding IEMs on the market, was not a problem. I was able to listen to The National's Laugh Track record without any problems. There was plenty of headroom available and while it does not have the depth and intricacies that I find in my much more expensive DX320 Max player, it competes quite well for the price point at a stunning $59.

Flavors are flavors and this one tries to be neutral and does such, whereas my other devices are going after a more warm-bodied and lush sound and they do so instead. But that said, most of these types of devices do lean on the more neutral-side, and hence makes many of them sound quite similar, so paying more almost seems like a dumb idea from a value perspective.

This isn't a truly unique sound like the Cayin RU-6 or RU-7 portable DACs, and I can say that it's very much in line with what is out there, and with a great build, cute design, and being ultra-portable, there is a lot to like in the Kiwi Ears Allegro DAC.