We have been talking about the three newly released amplifiers, but I have never really done a direct comparison between them. All three amplifiers no longer use conventional potentiometers, but rather a digital volume control or a stepped attenuator. This results in a clean and well controlled sound that gives an impression of speed, and also good separation between the instruments. In this regard, these new amplifiers are superior to most older designed amplifiers which use conventional potentiometers.
The Shadow is very impressive for its size. It is much smaller compared to the TTVJ Slim or the Rx. The sound is the most neutral and flat of the three. However, the small size does have its limitations in terms of sound quality. It simply cannot compete to the TTVJ Slim or the ALO Rx when in terms of power, dynamics, and sound stage. Still, given the size of the amplifier, the sound quality it achieves is very impressive. The Shadow is best to be paired with an IEM.
TTVJ Slim & ALO Rx
Moving up to the bigger sized amplifier, both the TTVJ and the ALO Rx immediately offer a bigger soundstage, better dynamics, and bigger power compared to the Shadow. Again, as we have seen in the case of older generation amplifiers, the bigger is usually better (i.e Lisa 3 and RSA SR-71a). These amplifiers have an advantage over the Shadow, when you plan to use it with headphones. Even for small and easy to drive headphones, the TTVJ and the ALO Rx would yield an improvement over the RSA Shadow. Since both come with a great volume control and a gain selector, they would also be well suited for IEMs.
The TTVJ is great with midrange and vocals. Its sound presentation is tuned more for vocals, having a slight emphasis on the midrange. The presentation is warm and intimate, similar to a tube amplifier. The ALO Rx is quite the opposite. It has a bigger soundstage than the TTVJ, but it is also slightly recessed on the midrange, giving more emphasis on the bass and the treble. The ALO Rx would be better suited for instruments and classical symphonies where it has a nice spacious soundstage with good sparkly treble and a clean bass impact. Though the TTVJ may sound warmer, the ALO Rx is far from sounding cold and dry.
Both are very musical amplifiers, although with a different sound presentation. It’s like comparing a good solid state amplifier to a good tube amplifier. The TTVJ leans more to a tube sound, where the ALO is more solid state. Both amplifiers are superb, and the choice is more toward sound preferences.
If you want more information on each amplifiers, you can find them on these articles:
- RSA Shadow After 7×24 Hours
- RSA Shadow: Out of the Box
- TTVJ Slim: First Impression
- TTVJ & TTVJ
- ALO Rx Headphone Amplifier