EarMen Colibri Review

EarMen Colibri

In this article we review the $333 USD dongle sized EarMen Colobri DAC/AMP.

 

Disclaimer: The EarMen Colibri was sent to us free of charge in exchange for this review.

EarMen

If EarMen doesn’t ring a bell yet, then the Serbian “Auris Audio” just might. In fact, if you’ve been following Headfonia you will know that we’re quite the Auris fans here. Their amps have won multiple of our awards, and models like the EuterpeHA2-SF and Nirvana get praised all over the world.

A while ago Auris Audio decided to enter the portable market and to do so they came up with new brand name: EarMen. EarMen is registered in the US but all of their products are built and assembled in Europe to ensure the highest standards in production quality.

EarMen is all about delivering the best possible value for money and their new product line-up consists out of 6 models at this time, with a few more (CH-AMP, Stacatto) in the pipeline. The EarMen Line-up:

  1. The Donald DAC – A USB-DAC only with an RCA output to hook up to your dedicated amplifier
  2. The TR-Amp – A portable DAC/AMP solution
  3. The Eagle – A single ended USB DAC/AMP dongle and DragonFly Cobalt competitor.
  4. The Sparrow – A single ended and balanced USB DAC/AMP dongle.
  5. The Tradutto – An ultra-high resolution fully balanced compact DAC with advanced BT streaming capability.
  6. The Colibri – A dongle sized transportable DAC/AMP with volume control, lots of power and double outputs

In this article we look at this (for now) last unit of their line-up: The Colibri!

EarMen Colibri

Colibri

After the Eagle and Sparrow, EarMen is back with a new USB DAC/AMP in a dongle size. The Colibri is slightly bigger than the Eagle and Sparrow but there are good reasons for that. We will cover everything you need to know about EarMen’s latest Creation.

The EarMen Colibri is selling for €/$ 333 and you can find out its dedicated web page right here. You can buy the Colibri from your local dealer or from the EarMen shop here.

In addition to many small portable devices on the market, EarMen wants to set the standards. Our team has specially designed balanced, battery powered device – small in size but strong in performance, which will give you a unique experience you have never had before. Wherever you go, take your music with you and feel the real enjoyment with EarMen Colibri!

For those who like watching videos, EarMen has put up a short video on what the Colibri is all about. You can look at it below and keep reading.

 

Let’s start with the most important thing, the brain of the EarMen Colibri. On the inside of the Colibri there’s a gold-plated PCB and like before EarMen has opted to use an ESS Sabre DAC and in this case it is the ESS line ES9281 PRO DAC. The ESS SABRE PRO series is for premium audiophile and sets a new benchmark in high-end audio by offering the highest dynamic range (DNR) with impressively low levels of total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N). Colibri supports Hi-Res PCM files up to 32bit/384kHz PCM, DoP, DSD64, DSD128 and MQA. EarMen’s Eagle uses the ESS ES9280 C PRO, the TR-AMP uses the ES9038Q2M and the Sparrow uses the same DAC as in the Colibri, the ESS SABRE ES9281PRO.

The Colibri is made in Europe and it features a fully balanced 4.4mm output as well as a 3.5mm single-ended output. Input wise you have two USB-C connections, one for the data and one for power. New here is that the Colibri is battery powered: The EarMen Colibri has its own battery and will not consume the sound source battery. On top of that, battery power provides ultra-clean and stable DC current avoiding the issues of noise-inducing RFI/EMI pollution. So a double win together with the ES9281 PRO DAC performance! The battery works for about 5h.

Another feature of the Colibri are that you can set the source volume on the device, but that’s not all. For Colibri, EarMen decided to implement a Bass boost as a lot of consumers love this feature. In general I am not a fan of these kind of things, but I did find myself using the bass boost on some special occasions.

If you’ve been following EarMen, then you know that the company likes MQA and all of their products can render MQA. Colibri, as a result, includes MQA Renderer technology, which can connect to an MQA Core signal and complete the final unfold of an MQA file. You of course don’t have to use MQA files, but if you like them, the Colibri has got your needs covered.

All-in-all it’s a small and complete device which doesn’t need any special drivers. You can of course update the Colibri in the future and for that you will need the updater and update file. You can find those here:

Firmware updater: https://earmen.com/manuals/SparrowEagleColibriUpdater.exe

ROM File: https://earmen.com/manuals/Colibri_CPRO_v0.1.8936.rom

You can find the EarMen Colibri’s user manual over here: https://earmen.com/manuals/Colibri%20User%20Manual.pdf

Colibri Specifications

Input USB C Female / DATA
USB C Female / Charging
Output Balanced 4.4mm
SE 3.5 mm
Power 4.4 mm Balanced 3.5 mm SE
up to [email protected]Ω up to [email protected]Ω
up to [email protected]Ω up to [email protected] 16Ω
THD+N 0.002% 0.001%
Freq.Resp. 0.09dB 0.09dB

EarMen Colibri

Audio formats
DSD 64 / 128 DoP
DXD 384/352.5 kHz
PCM Up to 384 kHz
MQA Rendering Up to 384 kHz
Battery Up to 5 hrs
Dimensions L x W x H 77 x 35 x 14mm
3.03″ x 1.38″ x 0.55″
Weight  51 gr / 0.11 lbs

EarMen Colibri

Box & Accessories

The Colibri comes in a very simple box, but it’s nice and it does its job. Check out the pictures.

On the inside of the box, you will find the Colibri itself as well as an artificial leather carrying case with nice white stitching. The Colibri perfectly fits inside, leaving the buttons easily accessible. The EarMen logo and LED are also nicely displayed. The only downside here is that you can’t see the port designations/naming when the Colibri is in its case. At the same time, it’s very straightforward and once you know “what is what”, you won’t have any issues using the unit.

You also get a fairly stiff USB-cable with a double USB-C termination, a warranty card and quick manual. A basic but all-you-need package.

EarMen Colibri

Design, Build Quality & Lay-out

The EarMen Colibri looks like any other dongle with the inputs on one side and the outputs on the other. The Colibri looks bigger in the pictures than it really is. It measures only 77 x 35 x 14mm (L x W x H) and weighs only 51g (or 0.11lbs). That being said, it is larger in size compared to most USB-dongles in my collection. It however still is small enough to take it with you on the go.

Despite its size, the Colibri is designed to provide a powerful audio experience while featuring an attractive and streamlined physical appearance. Its high-resolution specifications will not only make your tunes sound phenomenal, but their modern style will also make them look pretty amazing.

Colibri’s build quality is excellent and comparable to that of the Eagle and Sparrow units. The body of the device is made of a full aluminum block, milled on a CnC machine, providing supreme durability. The aluminum body is beautified with a glass surface on both sides and it gives the Colibri a classy and premium look. The connectors and buttons all look and feel sturdy, the unit looks like it can take a beating. It’s been traveling with me in my bag for multiple months already and it still looks brand new (use the case!) and it works flawlessly.

The lay-out of the unit is the following:

Top: Left = Balanced 4.4mm output & Right = 3.5mm Single-Ended output

Bottom: Left = USB-C Data & Right = USB-C Charging

Front: LED indicator (see later) & Battery LED indicator

Left side: Volume up and down

Right side: Power On/Off = Play/pause & B+ Bass Boost

The review continues on the second page. Click here or use the jumps below

Page 1: EarMen, Colibri Features, Specifications, Box & Accessories, Design & Build quality & Lay-out

Page 2: Usability, Sound Intro, General, Classics, SE vs Balanced, Bass Boost, Driveability, Comparisons, Conclusion

4.3/5 - (155 votes)

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

4 Comments

  • Reply April 28, 2022

    Sound Lover

    It feel like a DAP without screen but still for the same price.

  • Reply April 29, 2022

    Rasmus Horn

    Dear Lieven

    Thanks for the nice review.
    The Colibri is 333 Euro – the TR-Amp is 249 Euro. I wonder if there is also an improvement in sound up to the Colibri or if the TR-Amp is the better sounding and most powerful device?

    If the small size and portability is not important, would it make most sense to stay with the TR-Amp or does the Colibri offer as good or better sound than the TR-Amp? How would you compare the two?

    Thanks for any comments on those two.

    /Rasmus Horn

    • Reply May 5, 2022

      Lieven

      Hi Rasmus, the usage is also a bit different. The Colibri is much smaller and easier for on the go. If you would only use it on your desk and with full sized headphones, the TR-AMP is the better suited unit. If it’s really for on the go and more with IEMs and smaller headphones, then the Colibri “works” better. Sound wise I personally prefer the Colibri, also because of the balanced output and the audible advantages it brings. TR-AMP is using the ESS ES9038Q2M SABRE 32 vs the ESS SABRE ES9281PRO in the Colibri. For me the latter one is the “best” sounding, looking at the way EarMen has integrated them.

  • Reply May 5, 2022

    Rasmus Horn

    Thanks for the reply. I will stay with the TR-Amp then.

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