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Allo USBridge Signature Review

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Allo’s USBridge Signature, introduced about this time last year, supersedes the original USBridge. I was keen to evaluate this new unit as I was so impressed with the original, and up until this new product was announced the original design was my go-to recommendation for those looking for such a solution.

The earlier USBridge was built around a Sparky board, but the newly redesigned USBridge Signature uses a Raspberry Pi, and I will get into that later in this piece.

The USBridge Sig, as it is officially referred, can be many things to many different digital audio enthusiasts: a network player, a streamer, a bridge, an endpoint, etc. It all depends upon the configuration and add-on options selected as well as the software being used. For the purposes of this examination I am going to take a cue from my readers and followers and write in terms solely of Roon.

Roon is the software that I use daily, for all its distributed network features, its seemingly enterprise-level back-end database, and its ability to not crash under the weight of a mammoth, ever-growing digital audio library. Sure, I do test others and have written glowingly about Audirvana, but that was/is in the context of a straightforward, portable, desktop solution.

Looking back on 2019 I can see from my correspondence and trove of messaging logs that Digital Audio was far and away the topic of choice, and heading the list were both software and hardware recommendations. I spent so much of the year trying just about every piece of software that was brought to my attention as well all manner of both Sparky- and Raspberry Pi-based solutions. It has taken sometime to write this piece as every time I would sit down to do so some other solution would come across my desk/workbench.

So, now it has been a few weeks short of year since I wrote about the USBridge and in that time, apart from the Orchard PecanPi integrated streamer/endpoint DAC solution, I come back to the Allo USBridge Sig for those who bring their own DAC to the party.

Fig.1 – The USBridge Sig with the Micro SD Card

For the purpose of this review I obtained pretty much the full suite of options with Roon as the focus.

  • USBridge Signature in a case capable of housing extension boards
  • DigiOne Signature Board providing BNC, SPDIF and USB
  • DietPi/Allo GUI operating system and interface
  • Shanti LPS (Linear Power Supply)

I went with the DietPi option as it is my favorite OS for working flawlessly in concert with Roon. For those who are not command-line jockeys the Allo GUI can be a godsend. I prefer going old-school and it is simply rock-solid. Unnecessary services and functions can be shut down/turned off either way. The less being run the better — minimize points of failure and everything should run smoother.

Fig.2 – Sample DietPi configuration screen


Fig.3 – Allo’s GUI highlighting software options and ease with which services can be made active and/or inactive.

Note: Allo supports a host of operating systems as shown in the screenshot below. I ran the majority of them on various Pi devices at my disposal just to see what they were all about, how they functioned, and how reliably. From this time served I decided to cast my lot with DietPi, as I found it took up no more of a footprint than necessary. It has not failed me in all this time and it is what I use to this day. All of the screenshots published in this piece are taken from my systems. And while I’m primarily devoted to Roon and Audirvana, I will not discount the flexibility of the USBridge in its support of Volumio and Moode. They function quite well on the platform, just not what I need or prefer.

Fig.4 – Index of Allo’s supported operating systems and software.

5 Responses to Allo USBridge Signature Review

  1. Dan Bonhomme says:

    I need specifics on sound quality and comparison to at least some competitor.

    • edward says:

      I have the AlloUSBridge and I compared it to normal Raspberrypi B 3+ and 4, all going USB out. The sound is not pleasing at all, rather thin sounding and non-engaging. Everything from the midrange down is lacking.

  2. Fredrik says:

    This review leaves the key element of an audio device review untouched. How does it perform, comparison against other products, benefits of using the tested power supply, sonic difference between Ethernet and wifi, etc.

  3. Daina Wilburn says:

    Thanks for this review. You are right, there are SO MANY options, that I frankly don’t even take that many looks at reviews anymore until something bad happens or happens enough times, that I decide I should take my head out of the dirt and look around. I’ve been streaming in some form or fashion since 1999, before any of this revolution, originally coming out of my sound card of my now monolithic looking PC with RCA cables. That’s pretty pre-historic. Since then I’ve tried at least one version of every technology that has come out. Pretty much! You should see my graveyard – aka closet. I stumbled onto the Squeezebox SB3 in 2006 and between then and now, it’s been a whirlwind. Loved my SB3, was sad to see Logitech buy it and essentially kill it. By 2015, resolution limitations on my SB3 had long relegated it to the bedroom, and after using many spidf solutions and software coming directly from PC, I stumbled onto the Raspberry Pi. I used the Pi’s with Volumio for a couple of years but with options for Logitech Media Server around, I liked the idea of all my devices running from the same core, so I moved the PC a step back and made it the server – so no NUC or network drive, just some kind of PC/Laptop/Tablet sitting off in a more convenient spot, with 4 TB hard drive connected. All running Logitech Media Server (LMS), throughout the house. In 2017 I found the Allo US Bridge. It’s been a love hate relationship. I use Diet Pi with it. One thing I have never liked about it is that when there is any ripple of an issue, it is the last to be back on line and usually requires a reboot. I’ve read that the Allo/Sparky software was pretty old and really needed to be updated. The other night, it went through ‘one of those things’ again. I’ve developed a real relationship with a tech support guy there, living in India, and he has always bailed me out. So I reached out. After trying everything I can could think of, as a last resort, I pulled the SD card out and re-inserted. But, now the network couldn’t find it at all. I rebooted a half dozen times more and finally, miraculously, it connected. I had a feeling we were back in business, but I didn’t test it. I went to bed and waited for my buddy Sudeep to reply. This time, no reply. So, the next day, I once again crossed my fingers and gave it a try. It’s working flawlessly again. Who knew? LOL. But I decided it was time to familiarize myself with options. My main system where by good gear resides is where all my issues reside. Those 2-3 other Pi’s just work. (My old SB3 finally died – sad day). So, I eventually looked at the Allo site and found your review. I think that going back to a Pi platform from a Sparky is probably a good idea and renews my interest. My current Allo is ethernet wired and I imagine I would continue with LMS. I’ve spent time with Roon, and although it is fabulous in many ways, I’ve spent over 20 years organizing my files in my own order – my own genres/artists/albums songs. And unfortunately Roon is just built in such a way that i cannot view my files the way I organized them, call it “native view”, and from talking to Tech Support, it’s not in the cards to give me that capability, so I’ll probably stay with LMS, but your review really gives me pause. I can see this as a fairly easy transition. When it works, which is really about 90 percent of the time, it is very good. I’ll run my current Allo down to the basement or something. So, thanks. Appreciate your review. As for some of the others needing for more info, I’ll just say the original Allo has sounded very clean, open and organized with all the DAC’s I’ve connected to it. I use both the gui and the command line stuff for the same reason you do. If this one has the same separation of and devices and power as the regular USBridge, I have no doubt the Signature will sound just as good, if not better.

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