This is a HiFi Review of the Earmen Tradutto DAC which is described by them as a mini desktop DAC. I’m slightly unclear why you would call it ‘desktop’ as it has neither streaming, headphone nor preamplifier capability so for me I would have it over by the streamer supplying my preamplifier with analogue loveliness. Indeed, this is exactly what I have done, and it is a fine piece of equipment.
The Earmen Tradutto DAC is just that, a DAC, nothing else. It has single USB B, Coax, Optical and Bluetooth digital inputs with analogue RCA Line Out or 4.4mm balanced output. There is no preamplifier functionality in here, so it is purely fixed output. That is it. It is functional and does what it says on the box.
The DAC itself features an ES9038Q2M Sabre DAC and features a Qualcomm HD Bluetooth 5.1 (AAC/SBC/aptX/aptx LL/aptx HD) module that claims to offer 44.1kHz – 192kHz/16bit – 24bit capability. I’m unclear in my mind if that means it can receive 192kHz, 24-bit files over Bluetooth as my understanding of the aptX HD is that it only carries roughly a quarter of the file size needed in these cases. (I’ll find out and place the answer in the comments below).
The Earmen Tradutto DAC has an XMOS 16-Core chip (XU216) to manage file transfer and the like and to facilitate the decoding of MQA. Earmen Tradutto DAC fully supports Tidal Masters and Studio.
The Earmen Tradutto DAC chassis is cut from a single full block of aluminium. It is therefore weighty for its size and the edges are sharp. It has a footprint slightly larger than a CD case with a height of just four CD cases stacked up. The dimensions are 150x30x150mm (LxHxW). It weighs in at 550 grams.
The Earmen Tradutto DAC is priced at £799 and can be purchased from SCV Distribution. It certainly feels as if there should be a matching streamer and indeed there is likely to be an extremely understated Staccato Streamer in the coming months and I’m wildly quoting rumours of a power amplifier and/or a headphone amplifier which would make this a really fun range.
There is a small screen showing you what your source is with a brief indication of the bit rate and sample speed.
Full details are here.
I’m using the 2Go/2Yu combination to stream a digital optical output to the Earmen Tradutto DAC and the combination is terrific. I’m therefore streaming to the 2Go with the Mconnect Android App which I must say is proving to be rather good in its simplicity it is a grower.
Otherwise, the analogue Vertere Redline interconnect out is going to my Moor Amps preamplifier and the power amplifier is the Angel 6, driving the exceptional Kudos Cardea Super 20A loudspeakers in (mainly) passive configuration. There was a period when I was driving the 20As active with the Earmen Tradutto DAC. I’m using the Chord Company PowerHAUS whilst it is still in the listening room.
The Earmen Tradutto DAC sits very easily to the side of the preamplifier, being so small it is easy to position with ins and outs at the rear. Being so simple, RCA output has plenty of room. The feet have plenty of grip.
The DAC is a terrific performer. Initially, I had it rigged up into the active crossover speaker setup and it easily gave a super performance with such a powerful setup. It certainly gave the iFi Pro iDSD on the fixed output a run for its money at a fraction of the price using the same Mconnect App, this is impressive. The sound output is simply crisp, clean, and open. With the passive setup for the Super 20As, the sound is crisp and dynamic, I just can’t really fault it.
There is a lot here and I do not feel this DAC is leaving anything behind, I’m finding guitar strings to be rather quite edgy and accurate but not in a fatiguing way which can happen, but I’m hearing the detail in there, of the stroke, the fingers in a good way.
I’m finding an excellent soundstage presented by the Tradutto to the Moor Amps which in any case has a full presentation, but it is of note the Earmen Tradutto DAC presents such a challenge to the iFi Pro iDSD.
I’m finding this Earmen Tradutto DAC to be very engaging in its range and bounce, hinting at excellent dynamic performance
Another point to note, I’m finding this Earmen Tradutto DAC to be very engaging in its range and bounce, hinting at excellent dynamic performance. The notable lack of features, filters, and adjustments hints at the cleanest of signal processing and this is to be commended. Coming on the back of the thrills with the recent Mojo 2 review, there is a lot to be said for the simplicity of this solution.
The Bluetooth is a breeze with my Pixel 4 and again the days of nasty cramped BT output are gone. Playing Arooj Aftab’s Vulture Price album (Qobuz download, 24-bit, 96kHz) in the opening track Baghon Main is clean and vivid. The resolution is good enough and there is plenty of bass delivered in the haunting section of the best track, Last Night. Although the Bluetooth is good, it is not a patch on the streaming 2Go/2Yu/Tradutto combination.
I’ve not really played around with the USB input or the Coax but I can’t think it will be much different in these different inputs. Coax v optical v USB is a choice you make with a DAC and views seem to differ. I’m finding I prefer optical these days, but that’s me.
I just thought I would put the Earmen Tradutto DAC analogue output into the Cyrus Pre-XR that is up for review with their Stereo 200 power amplifier in place of my own Moor Amps setup. The Cyrus Pre-XR has its own DAC but I’ve used analogue input into it just to have a quick comparative listen and I get a similar dynamic open presentation that is hard not to enjoy.
There is, slightly strangely, a solid small USB C chargeable remote that I have not used once. It can be used to pair Bluetooth and change the inputs on a directional basis, but it seems superfluous to me.
This is such a brilliantly simple solution that it absolutely cries out for a matching streamer and headphone/preamplifier solution. Notwithstanding this, on its own it is wonderful, and I have it permanently tethered to the 2Go/2Yu streaming bridge at the moment to excellent effect.
If you are after a DAC with an open and clean soundstage to do a job, this is a leading contender, especially at this price. I think you would need to be clear about what this can and cannot do for you but if you have an analogue preamplifier or integrated amplifier this could be a perfect external DAC solution. Wait for the matching streamer and you’ll be very happy.
Clean, crisp D-A
Balanced output to an HA/pre (for example)
Can’t wait to hear the streamer
Full details are on the company’s site