EarMen has long introduced a compact DAC, combined with a pre-amp and a headphone amplifier – the EarMen TR-Amp. The advanced DAC, which supports digital audio in PCM format up to 32-bit/384 kHz resolution and in DSD format up to DSD256 via DoP and native DSD128, is encased in a very compact aluminum case, which allows it to be successfully used with a laptop or even with mobile gadgets. All modern formats are supported, including MQA.
The filling is quite decent, everything revolves around the bundle: ES9038Q2M + TPA6120 – this is a fairly popular solution in entry-level stationary devices, but in such a compact body and built-in battery it looks quite attractive even today. We decided to take a closer look at an already well-known device on the market and understand how relevant TR-Amp is in 2021.
The EarMen TR-Amp is delivered in a small box made of hard cardboard. The packaging is very reliable and high-quality.
The package contains:
- EarMen TR-Amp.
- USB to Type-C cable.
- A small instruction.
- Warranty card.
- Rubber ring (you can make a so-called sandwich by attaching the dac to some source).
- Mesh cover.
The TR-Amp design is quite standard – a small red metal case made of aluminum. The design is not entirely solid, two strips are visible on the back and front, they are fastened with screws. But already the central part is a single piece, thanks to which the assembly feels very high quality. Everything fits just perfectly, there is not the slightest backlash, not the slightest gap.
The device weighs not so much, 250 grams. You can carry it with you in your backpack or bag. It is, of course, too big for your jeans pocket (129x66x30mm). The coating does not leave prints and traces, it is matte and pleasant to the touch.
There are four silicone feet on the bottom, they do not allow the body to slide on a flat surface.
Above the logo and the name of the manufacturer.
The front panel: 6.35 mm jack, 3.5 mm jack, LED indicator and volume control.
The indicator changes its color depending on a particular situation:
White: device is on
Green: PCM signal
Red (flashing): battery power is less than 20%
Blue (flashing): battery is charging
Rear panel: Type-C port for charging, separate Type-C (DATA) port for connecting to a sound source, Pre Out/Direct switch, analog RCA outputs.
Connection to PC and smartphone
To connect to a PC, you need to download a special driver from the official website. Without a driver, the DAC is only detected on the most recent version of Windows (Windows 10). The XMOS app can’t boast of advanced settings, everything is very modest. The connection is stable, you can listen to music and charge the battery at the same time. There is almost no noticeable noise. Well, with the phone, everything is much easier, just install Hiby Music, changed a couple of settings and you can start listening.
It is worth noting that you can simultaneously connect 2 models of headphones (parallel power supply of exactly two pairs of separate headphones is realized). The Pre Out/Direct switch allows you to choose between DAC and Preamp functions, and other components can be added to the sound chain if desired.
The built-in 3700 mAh battery charges from 0% to 100% in 4 hours 45 minutes. It is charged with a current of 1A, this value gradually drops to 0.2A. As we already wrote above, you can listen to music while charging the battery (and here a special thanks to EarMen, since not all manufacturers of such devices pay attention to this feature). The battery holds the 10 hours of playtime declared by the manufacturer, and this is indeed the case.
We would like to note right away a really good gain level. We tried to connect high-impedance earphone and tight isodynamic headphones like a HifiMan Sundara. TR-Amp did its job perfectly well. In some cases, it was necessary to turn the volume up by 70%, and there was a certain margin.
Very balanced sound, with little emphasis on high and low frequencies. The high frequencies are detailed, airy, the elaboration of the HF range is really impressive. For example, Audiosense DT100 in-ear IEM plugs are famous for their musical presentation with pressed HFs. Paired with TRMAP, these pressed HFs became more airy, distinct. The middle is fairly linear, neutral, uncolored. The virtual stage is built correctly, all musical instruments are at a glance. There is no feeling of a pit in the middle frequencies, there is no feeling that the sound is clamped or the scene is not quite right – this is often inherent in devices of this level, but everything is fine here.
Low frequencies neat and collected. Deep bass is noticeable, and fans of this range will be able to connect the appropriate headphones to enjoy a rich and deep bass. LF in EarMen TR-Amp is really fast and correct, it does not creep into the middle frequencies, does not distract all the attention. We really like the TR-Amp balance of sound across the entire spectrum. Erman managed to find some kind of middle ground without compromising solutions in the sound ranges, and we really appreciate that.
The EarMen TR-Amp is excellent solution both in terms of build quality and overall sound presentation. Today the EarMen TR-Amp costs 250 euros on the market and it is a really balanced all-in-one solution with few competitors even in 2021. We can recommend the device for both novice audiophiles and already advanced portable audio lovers.
Official site: earmen.com
Amplifier: Texas Instruments High Fidelity TPA6120
Frequency range: 10 Hz – 50 kHz
Output power: 400 mW into 16 ohms
Max Resolution: PCM: 384 kHz / 32 bit, DSD: DSD 128 (Native), DSD 256 (DoP)
DSD support: yes
MQA support: yes
Volume control: yes, device independent
Dimensions: 129x66x30 mm
Output: 3.5mm, 6.3mm, RCA
Inputs: USB Type C
USB Chip: XMOS XU208-256
Built-in battery: 3700 mAh