Home Audio Gear Reviews ALO Audio The International+ Optical Edition Review - Portable DAC with Amplifier

Testing and Sound Quality

In testing ALO Audio’s The International+ Optical Edition, I have two main sources. One is my desktop PC with a Gigabyte Z97X Gaming G1 WiFi BK Black Edition motherboard and the Hidizs AP100 DAP. I use my desktop for testing the Optical department since it has an optical output, meanwhile the DAP for the 3.5mm input and portable setup. I haven’t tested my iPhone 5 with the International+ Optical Edition since I currently don’t have a camera connection kit at the time I tested the DAC/Amp.

Alo Audio The International Plus Optical Edition Review-08

I used the Audio Technica ATH-IM50x and B&W P7 over ear headphones to listed with the Optical Edition, as well as some of my IEM collection such as the DUNU DN-2000, Ultimate Ears 900s and Alclair Curve. Another limitation of this review is that I don’t have any hard to drive headphone to test with and really push the Optical Edition to its limits. So I am unable to conclude if the Optical Edition can properly drive headphones like the Sennheiser HD 800, Beyerdynamic T1 and the likes.

The International+ Optical Edition is a very easy to use portable DAC/Amplifier, like most of the portable DAC/Amps in the market. Connect the source and connect your headphone or earphone, then power up the device and you are good to go. First thing I noticed is the good click feeling when I turn on (or off) the device. Some DAC/Amps out there, upon turning on, exhibits a loud “bump” sound that may jar your ears a bit. While the Optical Edition does exhibit a noise upon turning on, it’s not loud or irritating and won’t hurt your ears. The volume knob has a certain amount of resistance as I turn it around; making it easier to hit the desired volume that I want. I also didn’t observe any sharp or irritating sound as I switch from one gain setting to another.

I have been using The International+ Optical Edition for more than a month now and it was indeed a pleasant experience. I wouldn’t say that it is something you can put comfortably inside your pockets while on the go. But it is best to put it in a bag or place it on a table while you’re sitting and enjoying your music. I lost count of its actual battery life, but it felt longer and I didn’t have to recharge it every day. Well that really depends on your actual use.

Alo Audio The International Plus Optical Edition Review-10

When it comes to sound quality, ALO Audio’s The International+ Optical Edition offers a rich and lush or euphonious sound with a hint of warm tonality. If I were to compare the sound that it produced to a picture or to the colors that a monitor produced; it’s detailed, never washed out or inadequate, and it’s more or less accurate or true. It is easy to listen with and offers a fun and engaging listening experience. It is smooth on the ears while at the same time delivers that satisfying thickness in the sound.

If I were to disregard the price, I would consider ALO’s The International+ Optical Edition, over DAC/Amps, like the iFi Audio’s Nano iDSD or the JDS Labs O2+ODAC.  However, I would consider it somewhat on par with the iFi Micro iDSD. Depending on the application that I need, I may choose one over the other. Despite producing a very rich sound, I also find that the Optical Edition is not a dead silent device.

While listening to nothing, noise or hiss is not observable at Low gain setting; at least that’s what my ears and current IEM tells me. At Mid Gain setting, hiss may be observed specially at the highest volume. However hissing sound is observable at high gain setting. Nevertheless, the hissing sound I am talking about didn’t interfere with my listening experience, since they are very minimal or unobservable during music playback, specially when I used headphones. It may have an effect if you use a very sensitive IEM, but I doubt that you will need to push that gain switch to High.

Alo Audio The International Plus Optical Edition Review-07

Price and Availability

ALO Audio’s The International+ Optical Edition is now available with a retail price of $599 USD (at the time I published this review) and can be purchased directly from ALO Audio’s online shop here. It comes with 1 year warranty from the company, as well as the accessories you saw from its packaging.

The International+ Optical Edition Review: Conclusion

Alo Audio The International Plus Optical Edition Review-09I cannot say whether ALO Audio’s new International+ Optical Edition is better compared to the non-optical version, or how much better it is compared to its predecessors. But what I can do say is that the time I spent with the Optical Edition was definitely a fun and enjoyable listening experience. And I would definitely continue to use it, probably until it dies on me. Aesthetically speaking, I like the glossy black finish and it has most of the input connectivity you need in a portable device. Probably the only thing missing is a Bluetooth receiver with aptX technology.

The $599 price tag may be a lot to swallow, specially for those who haven’t jumped into the world of Audiophiles yet, or for those who are just starting their journey. But once you have tried this “eargasmic” device, it’s really hard to avoid it after that, or use your portable source as it is. If you are using a smartphone or an entry level to mid-tier DAP as your source, it will definitely elevate your audio listening experience to the next level, based on my experience.

Finally, I think The International+ Optical Edition is a great all around DAC with headphone amplifier that should please most of us music lovers. It hasn’t disappointed me and I think it won’t disappoint you as well. Not unless you’re looking for a very specific sound signature or if you think you have a much better source with better amplification.

If you are looking for a great portable DAC with Amplifier that won’t disappoint, ALO Audio’s The International+ Optical Edition is definitely worth looking at and will make your options shorter, specially if you are looking for an optical input connectivity. This is going to be one of my favorite portable devices that will stay on my desk most of the time.

thepcenthusiast editor's choice award

"Amazon links in this site are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we may earn from qualifying purchases."

Peter Paul
I love computers since I was a kid. I’m always fascinated with new technology, especially in the PC world. Many years ago, I was curious if the reviews I read were true and real. So, why not test them myself and share my first-hand experience? And thus, here we are. Thanks for reading!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

two × 2 =

What's New

Five Z490 Mini-ITX Motherboards Available Now

If you are planning to build a small gaming machine powered by the latest 10th Gen Intel Core processor; here are five Z490 mini...

What’s the Best RX 5600 XT Graphics Card? Which One Should You Buy?

It's been a few months now since AMD first released the Radeon RX 5600 XT, their "best graphics for 1080p gaming". It was a...

Patriot P300 M.2 NVMe 1TB SSD Review (US Version) – Is it Good Enough?

Today we are going to check out and review the Patriot P300 M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 1TB SSD (US version). It uses a Phison...

ViewSonic Elite XG270QC 1440p 165Hz Curved Gaming Monitor Now Available

ViewSonic recently announced that their new ELITE XG270QC curved gaming monitor is now available. The ViewSonic ELITE XG270QC features a 1500R curvature, with a...

G.Skill DDR4 Memory Reached 5000MHz with Intel Core i9-10900K

G.Skill recently showed how their DDR4 memory performs with the latest 10th Gen Intel Core processor and Intel Z490 chipset-based motherboards. They used a...
- Advertisment -

Hardware Reviews

Patriot P300 M.2 NVMe 1TB SSD Review (US Version) – Is it Good Enough?

Today we are going to check out and review the Patriot P300 M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 1TB SSD (US version). It uses a Phison...

Aorus NVME Gen4 SSD 1TB Review – Best Looking NVMe SSD?

We are checking out several M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs; and today we have the Aorus NVME Gen4 SSD 1TB capacity to play with....

Corsair A500 CPU Air Cooler Review – Is It Really That Bad?

Corsair is known for their all-in-one liquid CPU coolers. They have a very good lineup and quite popular in the market as well. The...

AORUS RX 5700 XT 8G Review – Gigabyte’s Fastest RX 5700 XT Graphics Card!

Today we are going to check out another Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card. We have here the AORUS Radeon RX 5700 XT 8G...

ASRock Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB Challenger D OC Review

Today we are going to look at AMD’s entry level NAVI GPU in the form of the Radeon RX 5500 XT. AMD released two...
- Advertisment -

Audio Gear and Reviews

Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM Bluetooth Loud Speaker Now Available

It’s been a while since Ultimate Ears released a portable Bluetooth speaker. Their Megaboom 3 was quite popular, although lacks a bit on the...

Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE Gaming Headset Review

Corsair’s current top of the line gaming headset, the Corsair VIRTUOSO RGB Wireless, was released around a couple of months ago. It’s said to...

Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 PCIe Sound Card Review – A Better Hi-Res DAC with AMP?

Sound cards are still a thing nowadays and there are not a lot of them, especially the hi-end or hi-res ones that can really...

Corsair VOID RGB ELITE Wireless Gaming Headset Review

Today we are going to review one of Corsair’s latest (gaming) peripheral – the Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless gaming headset. That’s quite a...

Audeze LCD-1 Compact Reference Planar Headphone Released – See Features, Specs and Price

Audeze recently released a new reference planar magnetic headphone – the Audeze LCD-1. Not to be confused with the first Audeze LCD-1 head-phone released...