EarMen Eagle is a pendrive-size mobile DAC/AMP combo powered by ESS ES9281 chip and it costs $119.
Sound quality for the price
EarMen has a consistent design among its products, so the box we’re getting with Eagle has a similar format to that from TR-AMP.
They’ve decided again to place an outline drawing of the product on the top of the box. On the sides, we can see the product name. The rear part is filled with technical info.
Inside, you won’t find much stuff. There’s only the Eagle, OTG to USB-C, and the info cards.
Build quality reminds me of the FiiO BTR5. They’re of similar construction, the metal frame and glass at the front and rear. For me, it looks way better than the Dragonfly series. The Eagle’s edges are a little sharp so that they can scratch after time, but if you keep things like that in a separate case (which could be included, I wouldn’t regret that), it shouldn’t happen. It has a very stiff but not really tight USB, and the glass is hard to scratch, which, I think, is even harder than the one used in my Xiaomi Mi9. The one more thing about the glass is that it is the 2,5D type, so it is curved, making an even better impression.
The whole device is very thin and light but with a premium feeling in-touch.
EarMen placed their logo on the front part, which lights up when the Eagle is working, and the color is dependent on the music quality. I like that feature unless I’m watching some video at night using this little DAC. It is just too bright in that kind of scenario.
The attached OTG cable is also very well-made. It’s pretty thick, similar to the OTG made by iFi. The main difference between those two cables is that the shell of EarMens one has rounded edges when the iFi has a rectangular case.
Well, the Eagle is hungry for power. It drains the battery in the blink of an eye. Listening to the music on my Xiaomi Mi9 made the SoT go down from around five hours to only three.
The EarMen Eagle offers a sound signature that balances on a thin line between the technical and bright one, but that’s because of the pretty crispy treble and a more scientific presentation of the bass. It also offers outstanding dynamics and a beamy and deep soundstage.
In terms of power, it’s a small device, so it doesn’t provide a lot of juice. It’s able to drive less power requiring headphones, like the Meze 99 Classics, but the AKG K702 or even X2HR needs more power.
The bass is, well, incredible. It is very tight, clean, and plays straight to the point. For the Eagle, it doesn’t matter if you’re using earphones with 1DD, only BA or some hybrid constructions. On every driver, the bass is powerful, speedy, and slams hard. Usually, it isn’t just one punch. It goes at the front and starts the tap dance, making the Eagle bass a magnificent beat provider.
Subbass isn’t growling yet, more like aggressive pouring. Midbass is vibrant and juicy, which provides pleasant feelings into that part. It is also springy, so with bassy earphones, it jumps on my eardrum like kids on the trampoline.
The midrange is rather technical but doesn’t really affect the earphones’ sound signature. The Eagle doesn’t push the vocals back but slightly slims the lower male vocals. Female vocals sound really wide, like one person choir. They also swing from right to left and backward but stay in the front part. The higher midrange is very clean and punchy, playing exactly but not sharp. It swings between the blades but doesn’t get hit unless you’re using the very bright and sharp earphones.
As mentioned above, the EarMen Eagle remains almost transparent, so it doesn’t change much beyond the things written before. There are no extra feelings nor dryness. For me, it dramatically matches the Craft Ears Four, which is pretty bright in the mids but provides a charming manner by itself.
The treble is clean, with a lot of air, and it’s incredibly exact. The treble has a mix of behaviors of other frequencies. At first, like the higher midrange, the treble keeps dancing with the blades without getting hit. Then, like the female vocals, it swings in the air. More punchy sounds act like kickbass. It is bouncy and jumps all around.
One thing is totally different, in songs like “Dance Monkey” by Tones and I, we can hear the finger snaps, which behaves like sparks – shines and slowly fade out. All things that sound similar are like that one example. That’s not what everyone will love, but for sure, it’s an exciting thing. I think there will be only love or hate relation in this regard.
The soundstage is really big for this type of DAC, it is even bigger compared to the iFi iDSD Nano LE. It is broad, but the depth is way more impressive. It is very precise, but not when it comes to the place in the width. It swings from right to left, but doesn’t move from the starting point further nor closer. Anyway, the soundstage is not the thing that will underperform the possibilities of your earphones. It will keep all the key points of your IEMs, and can boost the ones that are weaker, like the Bqeyz Spring 2, which achieved a little more space.
EarMen Eagle is one of the smallest DAC/AMPs that I’ve ever used. The era of miniaturization is still alive and shows that small doesn’t mean weak. EarMen Eagle provides a pretty technical playstyle that delicately affects headphones’ sound signature and boosts up their soundstage. It is a brilliant value and a very pleasing device for everybody looking for a small and reliable device.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Philips Fidelio X2HR, Audeze LCD-3, Bqeyz Spring 2, Craft Ears Four, Hifiman HE400i 2020, AKG K702, Moondrop SSP
- Sources– FiiO BTR5, Dragonfly Cobalt, iFi iDSD Neo, Topping DX3 Pro, EarMen TR-Amp