By Michael Liang*
Alpha Design Labs (ADL) is a subsidiary of Furutech, Japan. Yes, the same Furutech that supplies high-end audio connectors to premium cable companies. ADL specializes in personal audio products. Their variety of premium Apple MFI certified cables, X1 portable DAC/amp and H118 studio reference headphones caught my attention last year. So naturally I had to visit their exhibit at CES to see what they had in store for us this year.
New for 2015 is the improved H118 dubbed H128 studio reference headphones. Thankfully, the new model has the same over all design as the H118. I found the Alpha Triform Contour Earcups extremely comfy and the headphone isolates outside noise very well. ADL tells me much of the changes were under the hood e.g. entirely new drivers with high flux Alpha-Cryo treated magnets, vibration damping aluminum band under the leather headband, rhodium-plated mini XLR socket and many more.
Another new under the hood product is the GT40a USB ADC/DAC/headphone amplifier. This is a rather unique product featuring an internal low-noise MM/MC phono preamp. Those of you with a collection of vinyl with the intent to digitize for archive or upload to music server would appreciate this high-performance all-in-one box. Digital in and out are 24/192 chips so your vinyl transfers will not be compromised by hardware. I’ve got boxes of old EDM LPs waiting for me to convert to digital. It looks like the ADL GT40a is the tool to do the job.
*Ed note: Just wanted to throw out a special thanks to Woo Audio‘s Michael Liang, who happened to be at loose ends and wandering CES this year (instead of working it, like usual). When one of my regularly-scheduled Travelers was massively delayed, he cheerfully and freely offered to pitch in — and we’re very grateful for his support, thoughts, and photos!