EarMen TR-Amp is a mobile DAC/AMP with a lot of power, two headphone outputs and MQA decoding. It is priced at 249$.
Sound quality for the price
To be honest, that’s my first contact with the Earmen company and I was surprised in a positive way. The box is really well made, with an outline drawing of the TR-Amp on the top, logo and product name on the sidewalls and the all needed info on the bottom of the package. Looks cool to me
Inside you can find the TR-Amp itself, a soft pouch, one USB-C cable (but I’ll talk about that in the third paragraph), one rubber band and some paper stuff.
EarMen TR-Amp’s handcrafting is exquisite. The whole device is made of metal, painted red, which, depending on the light shimmers from burgundy to bright rose. Honestly, painting an audio device red might be quite risky, but damn, it was well worth the risk this time, it’s such a beautiful looking little champ. The potentiometer is turning on the device and the scale isn’t linear. All connectors are great, stiff and tight enough.
TR-Amp is decoding MQA files so the master quality on tidal isn’t a problem anymore. You can use two pairs of headphones at the same time. A lot of my friends were looking for an option like that with great sound quality, so here they are. Just connect them to the 6,35mm and 3,5mm jack. A wonderful option for watching a movie or listening to music with someone. I love it.
The only thing I don’t understand at all is that you have to use two USB-C cables to use TR-Amp as a stationary DAC. One for data, second for charging. For me, it’s great, because my USBs are problematic but I don’t see any other advantages, especially if there’s just one cable included.
The battery life is great at around 11 hours of playback at 1/3 of the volume.
I felt in love with EarMen TR-Amp after the first few seconds of listening to it. It sounds natural-neutral I would say, depends on the headphone used. When using RCA outputs it is even better than the jack output. In overall it sounds very detailed, with such a wide, deep soundstage and comfy smoothness. One thing I can complain about is a hum in the background on high sensitive IEMs with armature drivers. It worked really great with the Meze Rai Solo, Fyne F500 and DT990 Pro, I didn’t like it though with Fidelio X2HR or Nighthawk, it’s too smooth for my personal taste, but I’m sure a lot of people love this type of sound.
The bass is really deep, slams hard but as mentioned above, it is delicately softened on the headphone output. Subbass is here only on some headphones, like DT770 Pro, cheap Bqeyz KB100 and things like that. Philips Fidelio X2HR lacks subbass here, it is more recessed than Topping DX3 Pro. I’m not a fan of subbass though, so I won’t complain about that, especially when the higher parts of bass are really great. Using the RCA outputs, my Fyne F500’s bass is really thick, with a lovely, charming and warm sound signature that makes me want to listen to it more. And once again, punch is great with really fast decay and roll-off that doesn’t feel dry.
All vocals are again very detailed with awesome separation. The whole midrange on RCA steps at the front, without nasal sounding. The jack output is more recessed in the midrange, but it’s not a huge difference. It is smoothened, but it’s not on the FiiO M15 level, I would say the sound signature is similar to Topping D70 but more neutral. Female vocals are also mainly delicate but voiced consonants can be a lil bit too sharp on higher volume levels (this problem doesn’t occur on RCA output).
Honestly, I’m not sure if there is a song that sounds bad for me, I’ve checked many music genres, from the Dead Can Dance, through Dua Lipa straight to Heilung. Everything was really good.
Treble is really natural. It doesn’t shine so often, and usually it’s playing accurately. It definitely doesn’t hide in the shadows, I would compare its playstyle to the vinyl record- soft and delicate, without any sharp edges. They may occur only on really bright and cruel headphones which are hard to drive, like some HifiMan planars, but I wasn’t able to check that combo, that’s only my guess. Overall, the TR-Amp is closer to the RHA DACAMP L1 than Fiio Q5s in the treble.
The soundstage is really wide and deep for a portable device. It is way better than Zen Dac, and slightly better than FiiO Q5S when it comes to its size. The imaging and holography are on the barely lower level compared to Q5S, although it is really great. It happens to be misleading in games as I am missing front and rear. In music it’s great, no problem with trickiness, every instrument is huge, has its own shape, but the separation is still on a very high level, same for the black background.
EarMan shocked me at the beginning, I thought it’s impossible to a make a portable DAC/AMP with such a good soundstage, neutral sound signature with analogue smoothness. TR-Amp has it all and that makes it a really great device, quite universal and powerful. It is also really well made and decodes MQA. Nothing to complain here, wonderful device. Definitely recommended.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Meze Rai Solo, Audeze LCD-3, Brainwavz Alara, Fyne F500, Rai Penta, Shozy Form1.1, Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro, Bqeyz KB100
- Sources– DX3 Pro, Little Dot MK IV, Topping DX7s, Nuforce HA-200, DACAMP L1, Chord Mojo, FiiO Q5s, iFi iDSD Nano BL, Aune X1s