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USB DAC/Amp Dongles, Reviewed and Rated

USB DAC/Amp Dongles, Reviewed and Rated

Author:Andy.EF

USB DAC/Amp Dongles, Reviewed and Rated

PROVISIONAL RANK

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (98-100)

 

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ (96-97)

  • CX-Pro Audio CX31993 (Detailed review coming soon)

 

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (85-95)

  • JCally JM08L iOS (Detailed review coming soon)
  • UGREEN MFi iOS (Detailed review coming soon)
  • JSAUX Type-C (Detailed review coming soon)
  • Meizu HiFi Audio Pro (Detailed review coming soon)
  • Hill Audio ALC4050 (Detailed review)

 

⭐⭐⭐ (60-84)

  • Nillkin Type-C (Detailed review coming soon)
  • Hill Audio WSH9415 (Detailed review coming soon)
  • Hill Audio ALC4042 (Detailed review coming soon)
  • ES-PRO Audio (Detailed review coming soon)
  • UGREEN AV161 (Detailed review coming soon)
  • Apple Type-C (Detailed review coming soon)
  • PLEXTONE Type-C (Detailed review coming soon)
  • Monolith Hi-Res DAC (Detailed review coming soon)

 

⭐⭐ (50-59)

  • 3D SigmaTel (Detailed review coming soon)
  • Tempotec Sonata HD II (Detailed review)
  • Vention Type-C (Detailed review)

 

INCOMING (July 2021)

IKKO Zerda ITM03

GGMM WM8533

ZOOAUX Type-C (In Progress)

Stouchi Type-C (In Progress)

TERA Grand MFi (In Progress)

Reiyin Type-C/Optical

Custom PCM2704 DIY Kit

JSAUX iOS MFi (In Progress)

Luxury & Precision W2 (In Progress)

Glotao Type-C

ARKTEK Type-C

AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt

JCally JM08C

Zorloo Ztella MQA

 

About Me: Andy.EF

This rabbit hole of portable audio obsession of mine started back in 2006. Since then, I have been active in the scene, trying out this and that. What remained consistent until today, I am firmly rooted to portability and will use my portable rig almost all the time even at home. After 2010 things slowed down and I wasn’t as active until recently when Covid brought humanity to a standstill. So began the lifestyle of confinement that we all endured and for me it gave me the excuse I needed to delve back again into this addictive rabbit hole. So here I am, not being able to do vacations and stuffs like that. To fill the void, I find myself gradually and steadily piling up interesting portable audio gears in the pursuit of that Endgame sound. I am based in Malaysia, and this is my impressions on some of the gears that I have acquired recently.

 

FOREWORD:

  • These are my own items purchased with my own money. No sponsorship, However I would like to clarify that HifiGo has been kind to ease my burden by offering good discounts on my subsequent purchases (because I can’t stop buying) and I will continue to do this as an independent entity. Free to write my impressions and thoughts from the perspective as a user. I do this because it is fun, and I love trying out gadgets. I have also agreed to keep a copy of this #donglemadness on HifiGo site as a mean to help fellow audio enthusiasts in getting better perspective of the dongles that caught their attention.
  • Dongles usage on my tests are for IEMs and Headphones NOT exceeding 250 Ohm, minimum sensitivity of 96db.
  • The results and rating done are heavily influenced by the nature of the IEMs/Headphones used. A dongle will score high if they exhibit great technical ability while remaining smooth sounding at the same time - the most technically competent ones does not necessarily mean they will be superior in my POV. I will rate a dongle more points if they exhibit great flexibility with different type of IEMs/Headphones – meaning they are easier to establish synergy.
  • My preferred sound and timbre signature classified as Neutral, Natural Flat - Analogue and Organic tonality.
  • I describe what I hear, no more no less. No techie measurements involved. There will be no FR measurements or anything like that as I have no access to such tool, nor do I know how to operate them even if I have one in front of me.
  • Please excuse my haphazard format, I am not a professional reviewer, and I wrote things as I heard them. Also, I will use non-conventional analogies to describe what I hear, sometimes I describe them as if I am savoring some food
  • Agree to disagree, what is beautiful to my senses could be utter shit to you.
  • I NEVER use software EQ. So don’t expect my writings to include FR range because I am not proficient in pinpointing those numbers.
  • My tests do not include anything above 44.1/16bit. I am an Oldschool FLAC Junkie.
  • I don’t use UAPP to bypass Android SRC since I have no need for Bit Perfect beyond Android stock 48Khz limit.
  • I am 46, so my senses are a bit denser than it was 10 years ago. My tolerance level to sibilance is as trained as it is forgiving. Younger folks may be less similar.

 

TEST EQUIPMENT:

DD IEM (LOW Sensitivity): ETYMÒTIC ER2XR, VE Monk GO

DD IEM (HIGH Sensitivity): HZSOUND Heart Mirror, Moondrop Aria, TRN MT1

Balanced Armature IEM: ETYMÒTIC ER4SR (45 Ohm/98db)

Electrostatic IEM: Shure KSE1500 (Energizer Mode Only)

Magnetic Planar IEM: Tin HiFi P1 (95db)

Magnetic Planar HP: Monolith M565c (96db) & FOSTEX T40RP (91db)

DD Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro 250Ω & AKG K52 177Ω

Reference DAP: Cayin N6ii E02 (ES9038Q2M Discrete 2X Balanced)

Reference DAC/AMP: Topping D10s/A50s (ES9038Q2M/XU208)

Impedance Adapter: Custom 47Ω

Source Transport: LG V35, Sony Xperia Z5C, Xiaomi Mi9t, Samsung S20 & iPhone 8

Source Media: Lossless Deezer Offline FLAC 44.1/16Bit

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