Earmen TR-Amp review

Earmen TR-Amp Review

Introducing the Earmen TR-Amp, like many other products already reviewed positively by other respectable reviewers who have long ago earned their chops i feel like i am just adding to the general consensus at this stage.

`Yeah, but most of your reviews are positive ya shill!` - this is true as i rarely review garbage these days. Keeping to the excellent and the curious mainly. I could review more of the entry level stuff with names made up of random letters and numbers and reestablish my street cred with withering write ups pointing out flaws that are blindingly obvious even to the uninitiated audiophile neophyte - but i would rather soldier on with treating my ears to the brilliant and sophisticated than labor in the hollows and valleys - even though admittedly that is where the web hits are. And thankfully there are enough reviewers covering that end of things as it is a needed area without a doubt for the newly audio bug afflicted.
One can now days for a fair price sample quite a few devices and hone their sonic tastes and mature their ears.

...and with that enter the Earmen TR-Amp. A fearsome entry into a market place flooded with all sorts of devices and a multitude of choices that even the most hardened traveler becomes some what weary.

Earmen (who?) have solid roots in the plentiful fields of Auris Audio:

Earmen TR-Amp, ipod touch 6G via CCK (Apple camera connection kit) to Final Audio A8000

Earmen  have several initial offerings on their website    https://earmen-shop.com/

The TR-Amp $249
The Donald Dac $99
The Sparrow $199

Check them out!

Price $249.00

Usual unboxing

Why? Well unboxings are not just about audio porn but with those with eyes to see all sorts of information and details can be gleaned that may or may not be within the confines and specs, stats and information cards.

Ooh... ESS Sabre 9038Q2M Dac. L, L, Level up! and XMOS. Nice.

6.3mm and 3.5mm outputs.

Pretty self explanatory. Charge, Data in (using a dac or phone etc), pre amp/direct(dac), and line out to a home system etc.

Anyway see their handy detailed explanation just below:

Nice little dainty feet`sies for support and protection.

USB DAC - Preamp - Headphone Amp – Battery powered

“All audio formats PCM 32bit/384kHz, MQA and native DSD128: Beautiful and neutral sound always with you.
NEW portable product FROM new Brand cooked in HIGH END Kitchen of Auris Audio.
In cooperation with Auris Audio well known European High End Audio company EarMen presents a TR-Amp, Battery powered High quality DAC/Headphone amp/Preamp with impressive characteristics.
TR-Amp with power up to 400mW will enable you to listern almost all known headphones.
ES9038Q2M SABRE Reference DAC turn your portable music in *High End Dimension*
The versatile audio input accepts PCM up to 384kHz, DSD256 via DoP, native DSD128 and MQA.
EarMen TR-Amp is a licensed and standard-compliant MQA native hardware renderer.
Using the critically acclaimed ESS patented HyperStream© II QUAD DACTM architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, EarMen TR-Amp delivers a performance level that will satisfy the most demanding audio enthusiast.
TR-Amps great characteristics are available by using the best components and materials.
  • NEW ES9038Q2M SABRE 32 Reference DAC Industry’s highest performance 32-bit mobile audio DAC with unprecedented dynamic range and ultra-low distortion
  • Super Low ESR tantal capacitors in power supply
  • Includes a high level EarMen shielded female USB-A to USB-C Adaptor
  • 3700mA battery with up to 10h of music enjoyment
  • Separate DATA and Charging USB type C ports allows you to use it all day long in your system
  • Analog volume control for Preamp and Headphone amp
  • Double Enjoyment with 2 pairs of headphones simultaneously
  • Analog switch for Direct DAC or PreAmp function
  • ALL METAL aluminum housing eliminate external noise sources”
  •  -  via the Earmen website.
<<< More information on their product page: https://earmen-shop.com/products/tr-amp

Smexy beast!

Included accessories are sufficient, but some what lacking for the sophisticated and mature audiophile who quite possibly has all the needed cables any way. such as USB-C to USB-C and a USB-C to Lightning etc etc

Seen here with the the Hidizs AP80 Pro dap which i saw as a decent source to feed the TR-Amp (it automatically connects to many devices without a fuss). All in all making it a light weight rig that one could carry easily along with ones phone. (I like to keep the devices separate myself, others like to stream using their phone which would be a great combo).

The cable came with the Audirect BEAM.

Nice and quiet with sensitive IEMs such as the Campfire Audio Andromeda.

TR-Amp Headphone Outputs impedance is less than 1 Ohm.
Output power at 16 Ohm is 400 mW
                               32 Ohm is 350 mW

Sound and general impressions

Well reviewing in the age of Covid-19 has changed things somewhat. For some the way of life as been upended and reviewing has all but stopped, others who mainly called home their main base keep pumping out reviews like a baker and his breads - i who have self downgraded from reviewer back to general enthusiast fall somewhere in the middle.

Family, children out of school, back to school, myself off work and back to work, increasing time towards other hobbies such as reading and my sons new found interest of Fortnite which he insists i join him for (and also 'train' for) means less listening time (but more so writing) of late. Fortunately i have some time opening up for a few weeks to catch up on some photography, write ups and...memes.

Ah the world is a mess, but life does continue on unceasingly and i must fulfill commitments and promises i have made.

Luckily the Earmen TR-Amp is one of those reviews that generally write themselves.

Build is excellent - solid as a rock. Simplicity itself and also good looking to boot.

I generally used it as a mobile device for on the go. Although quick testing with my aging Macbook Pro yielded positive results. I don`t use my Macbook for music - just a quick test here and there to see if products work as advertised and/or to note any sonic improvements...or not.
A Windows driver is available from their product page.

The Earmen TR-Amp passed my general first test of not disconnecting it straight away (or in the case of earphones taking them out of my ears), I happily listened to it on the first day during my commute and a lengthy stop off at Starbucks before heading into work. As usual I had a back up dap (probably the iBasso DX220) in case of emergency - such as non enjoyment of the TR-Amp.
Fortunately this was not the case and i was able to enjoy the TR-Amp with various IEMs that day - entry level and TOTL.

At $249 when paired with your already purchased phone it elevates the experience pleasurably and immeasurably.

So sound...a ESS Sabre 9038Q2M Dac. Whhaaatt!?!! yep - of course it all comes down the implementation and Earmen does it very well. 

Smooth, fairly linear and natural.

Quite unforgiving with badly recorded or mastered albums. and rightly so.

One of the cons is only USB-C input, which limits which devices can pair with it.

Lots of power and very clean with it also.

Soundstage is the domain of earphones but a device can complement the earphones or constrict them. I found the TR-Amp allowed for a medium to large soundstage. To my ears as it extends equally in each direction - which is unusual as usually for players etc it is wide, or wide deep etc.

Being able to plug n play as well as charge - thanks to the dual ports is a plus.

Use the Tr-Amp as Direct utilizing the ESS Dac or as a pre amp and bypassing the Dac.

The TR-Amp when using the dac portion is accurate, detailed, pleasant and naturally effortless - it has a fast balanced response and is neutral with an underlying dynamic which gives it life.

The TR-Amp gets the pie seal of approval. 

Plug and play 

Finding a compatible device is listed in the earlier specification sheet.

I tested with a few set ups with easy success.

Such as for example Earmen TR-Amp, ipod touch 6G via CCK to Final Audio A8000 using Flacplayer app. Which also displays the whether it is playing 24/96 (and not 24/96 downsampled to 16/41 etc) plus bitrate etc.

The Earmen TR-Amp. Quality sound in a small package for a decent price

More information and products here:

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