UI & Usage
Computer connection (PC/MAC)
Like most modern USB-DAC, the EarMen Eagle doesn’t need any driver on most computers. If you’re using a MAC, this ain’t a surprise as Apple made a mission to ensure that every device you’ll connect will work directly…ish.
On a Windows computer, no problem too, my Desktop computer automatically recognized the Eagle, running Windows 10, same for my laptop. But, for previous generation users, (Windows 7, Vista) you may have to install the EarMen Sparrow drivers.
Smartphone connection (iPhone/Android)
EarMen advertised the DAC as “an easily adapting smartphone to professional audio equipment. Just plug and play.” And, honestly, the brand didn’t lie: whether if it’s an Android device, or an iOS one, I never encountered any issue while connecting the Eagle.
On iOS, the annoying message “This accessory requires too much power” never appeared, and the same was true on Android. I was able to pair the DAC on almost any smartphone I own.
I say almost because some Android Player refused to recognize the DAC, but I’m pretty sure that’s more an issue with the phone than the DAC (still a shame in 2020)
Last but not least, I tried to figure out if the Eagle could work with a DAP. Why would you say? Simply because I can, but not only. Maybe you still have an old player who doesn’t sound as good as you’d remember, connecting a USB-DAC can be a quick/cheap option.
I tried a few options and all of Shanling/FiiO/iBasso players that I received, worked like a charm. Sure, it doesn’t sound as good as the classic output if you use an M15, but it’s a nice option to have.
Unfortunately, contrary to the Hi-mDAC, the EarMen Eagle doesn’t offer a Toslink/Coaxial connection. So you can only use the device as a pure DAC/AMP on the go, or at home.
Battery Life and Charging
No battery, no worry.
Even compared to other USB DAC, the EarMen Eagle remains a pleasure to carry on. It’s definitively one of those devices that you can leave in your bag, pocket, trouser for days and forget.
If connected to a smartphone, it’ll only add a few grams so there is no reason to carry one. Plus, this is one of the rare USB-Sized DAC which offers a USB-C to USB-A adapter, right off the back. It’s not much, but that’s still a few euro/dollar you can save for a better IEM/headphone.
Sabre ESS Chip + Gold Plate PCB
The EarMen uses an ES9281 chip from SABRE.
This is not a chip I encountered prior to that device, as the only other DAC with an ES9281 chip I saw was… from EarMen too. The Sparrow enjoys an ES9281PRO, which gives you more dynamic, lower distortion and full MQA supports.
Still, with a full 16/24/32bits support, the Eagle can easily cope up with its direct competitors. As Sabre says:
“ The family is built around a low-power USB controller that supports USB 1.1 & 2.0, and can handle audio data rates up to 32-bit 384kHz PCM. At its heart is the legendary SABRE®DAC audio converter with HyperStream®II modulation that provides the ultimate in sound quality and stable sound field. The integrated headphone amp delivers that performance all the way to the headsets with up to 2.0Vrms output voltage, ensuring plenty of headroom for demanding headsets ”
And, if that wasn’t enough, EarMen designed his own board to ensure the utmost quality, whatever the source. If I didn’t put the emphasis on this aspect before: everything is made in Europe. For a €139 DAC, that’s nothing short of amazing, in my opinion.
Moreover, the Eagle’s PCB is 4 layer gold-plated, to guarantee the minimal loss of quality. Add Super Low ESR tantalum capacitors and high-grade components in the power-supply design, and, on paper, you get super fine details… on paper.
- Type : USB Powered DAC/AMP
- DAC : SABRE ES9281
- USB : customized chipset
- Sample rate : PCM : 8Hz – 384kHz (16/24/32bits) native – DSD64/128/256
- Outputs : 3.5mm headphone out
- Input : USB-A ( USB-C adapter)
- Size : 50mm x 22mm x 8mm
- Weight : 15g
- Frequency Response : 20Hz – 20kHz (+/- 0.5dB)
- THD : > 0.002%
- Output power : 2V/27mW @ 150ohms / 1V/62mW @ 16ohms
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