E1DA 9038D Review

E1DA 9038D

Today we are taking a look at the $99 USD E1DA 9038D USB DAC & AMP.

 

Disclaimer: HifiGo sent us the E1DA 9038D for this review, free of charge. I only covered the customs fees & taxes. All thoughts and experiences with the product are naturally my own. You can find more about it HERE.

E1DA

E1DA’s official website can be found here. The brand name comes from the engineer behind the brand. E1DA name is a combination of the Russian name Ivan, and the Russian word “Da”, which means yes.

According to his website, Ivan needed a product in the $100-200 range that would drive his new planar driver headphones, but could not find a product that would satisfy him. He decided to develop his own solution. He had the talent and knowledge and he was in the heart of electronics production, China. 

E1DA now offers two products and has a couple in the works. Their first offering is a PowerDAC USB interface with an onboard DSP that can be controlled by any smartphone. Their second product is a dongle, which we are reviewing today. It is a high-performance, small-but-mighty DAC dongle that dishes out a great amount of power and offers a clean sound signature while doing so.

9038S & 9038D

Is it possible to design a USB DAC + HPA in a dongle form factor with compromise-less performance when the newest APx555 is needed to measure its specs?

That was the question behind the first 9038 dongle.

According to my research, Ivan first designed the 9038S, a balanced DAC dongle. Afterward, he made a few changes and upgrades to the 9038S, and the current version, the 9038SG3, came out. Shortly after that, he designed the 9038D, an unbalanced 3.5mm version of the 9038SG3, after many requests from fans around the world. Don’t worry though, it shares the same brilliant specs as the 9038SG3. All 9038 series feature a sandblasted, anodized black aluminum chassis and carefully selected components for maximum performance and efficiency.

The 9038D combines ESS’ mobile flagship DAC ES9038Q2M with OPA1622-1602s, Susumu resistors, Murata C0G capacitors, AVX tantalum capacitors, and Taiwanese connectors. The main reason why I’m reviewing the 9038D is that it offers a great price-performance ratio. If you’ve been following my reviews, you know how much I value that. Let’s get to the review without further ado.

E1DA 9038D

Packaging & Accessories

The 9038D comes in a tiny, cardboard box. It does not come with any accessories. There are different packages provided by distributors and E1DA, you can buy the device bundled with a USB-C to C cable, USB C to C Y-Splitter cable, and USB C to Lightning cable. Of course, these packages are offered with a price difference. The packaging of the product is simple and plain. There are no marketing phrases, exaggerated claims, or similar elements.

Highlights

  • ESS Technology ES9038Q2M Flagship Mobile DAC.
  • Critically Acclaimed OPA1622, OPA1602 Amplifier Chips
  • PCM decoding up to 32-Bit/384kHz, DSD up to DSD256 (native)
  • Premium Components from Susumu, Murata, AVX & more.
  • Comtrue CT7601CR Custom FW USB Bridge + Customization App Support
  • Sandblasted Anodized Aluminum Housing.
  • Output Power: [email protected]Ω | [email protected]Ω | [email protected]Ω
  • SNR: -125dB.
  • THD+N: <0.00018%.

Design & Build Quality

The 9038D features a sandblasted anodized aluminum case. The CNC is perfect, I can’t spot any milling defects and imperfections. The logo and the name are laser marked and offer good durability. The USB-C socket and the 3.5mm headphone plug feels rigid and durable.
Its dimensions are also peak portable. It only weighs 12 grams and it is quite small at 48x22x9mm.

E1DA 9038D

User Experience

The E1DA can be used as a DAC, pre-amp, or as a headphone amp. It has plenty of power and can dish out 180mW into a 32 Ω load. Yes, it can feed your HD660S and let it sing. I would still recommend using a dedicated desktop-sized amplifier for your high-end headphone needs however, the E1DA offers a tremendous amount of power on the go. Don’t forget that this is a device that is small enough to fit into your Levi’s coin/watch pocket. You can take it anywhere with you and you are not going to deal with charging as the device has no batteries installed inside. It directly draws the power from sources such as your laptop or your smartphone.

My phone has a 4500mAh battery and I did not notice a huge battery drain during my time with the 9038D. To be honest, the sound quality is so good that you won’t mind the minor negatives. I carry it with me along with my ultrabook and use it daily. I also use it with UAPP in bit-perfect mode and I am quite satisfied with it. Additionally, the 9038D has good shielding and I had no noise/jitter/rfi while using 4.5G on my phone. It was dead silent.

The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.

Page 2: Practicality, Tweak App, Firmware Options & Customization, Sound Signature, Low, Mid, High, Technical Performance, Comparisons, Last Words

4.5/5 - (213 votes)

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Long time Tech Enthusiast, an ambitious petrol-head, Yagiz likes his gadgets and always finds new ways into the tinkerer's world. He tries to improve anything and everything he gets his hands onto. Loves an occasional shine on the rocks.

11 Comments

  • Reply September 7, 2021

    MhtLion

    Wow, such a tiny package with ES9038Q2M. Impressive! I wonder how it can drive Senn HD6XX.

    • Reply September 8, 2021

      Yang

      I have both, it performs satisfactory for price. If you want something with more warmth check out PowerDac V2.1. Similar design, much more power.

  • Reply September 7, 2021

    adhisan

    How it is compared to lootoo paw s1? Is it ultimately better?

    • Reply September 8, 2021

      Yagiz

      Sorry, I don’t have it.

  • Reply September 7, 2021

    Stu

    How does this thing compare with the EarMen Sparrow or Eagle?

    • Reply September 8, 2021

      Yagiz

      Sorry Stu, I don’t have them.

      • Reply September 9, 2021

        Andrei

        I own 9038D, is crazy good product in terms of sound quality and is powerful as bull, my andromeda 2020 barely usable with its high sensitivity, UAPP saved me with its volume control
        Also after a few weeks of dalily using 9038D I heard Cobalt dongle and don’t like it at all, i just try it for comparison and Cobalt sound was like “WOT? what a shitty sound.. I keep my 9038D.”
        But you should be aware that it will pick up every bit of your 4G – 5G mobile data noise if you use short cable (if you use it with your mobile as transport), mean put your phone as far as you can from the dongle, in my case 40cm distance was enough.
        Cheers

        • Reply October 4, 2021

          Dustin

          hello Andrei, so can you use the 9038d with UAPP? Does it recognize it? And can I control the volume of 9038D using the hardware volume control from UAPP? Thanks in advance!

          • Reply October 18, 2021

            Yagiz

            Yes, UAPP recognizes it and you can control the hardware volume with it.

            Best,
            Y

  • Reply September 8, 2021

    james mccook

    Great review.
    Ivan seems like a nice guy, I could have a few shots of vodka with him.
    Yagiz, you’re good at finding these gems.

  • Reply January 30, 2022

    Adrian

    from where to buy E1DA 9038D?

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