Earmen - DAC's & Amps

While there is a dedicated Earmen thread for their portable gear, there isn’t one for their desktop stuff, so here we have one.

If you are looking for their portable items, you can find that here:

You can also find a specific thread for the TR-Amp here:

This thread is for the stationary items from the brand.

Review - Earmen Tradutto

TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Earmen Tradutto

The Tradutto has been sent to me directly by Earmen for me to share my findings and opinions in this review. There have been no requests (not even a time limit) from Earmen and, as always, I will do my best to be as sincere and unbiased as humanly possible.

The official page for the Tradutto can be found here: EarMen Tradutto

As with all links that I share, this is a non-affiliate link, meaning that I do not receive anything for clicks or purchases made through this (or any other) link.

To avoid being repetetive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews


Earmen is a company that I have been curious about for quite some time but I didn’t get my ears on any of their products until a few months ago in Munich. At high end, Earmen actually had two stands, one with their products along with their products also being on show at their parent company’s stand, Auris audio.

In show conditions it is very difficult to judge the sound of speakers or headphones (unless there is a very good listening room set up and you are lucky to find it empty), so trying to get a feel for DAC’s or Amps is almost impossible. Therefore, when Earmen said they would send me the Tradutto to incorporate it into my own system and review it, I was very happy to do so.

The Tradutto is a pure DAC, meaning there is no built in amplifier, nor is there a volume control, nor is there much else, but I’ll get to that under functionality in just a moment. Basically it does one job, takes digital signals and transforms them to analog, and it does that job very well.

I have actually been trying out the Tradutto during a time when things have been a little hectic for me and my review set up. I recently picked up some studio space, with the intention of moving all of my test set ups to the studio and being able to test and create my reviews there (as my house seems to have more space occupied by Acho Reviews than my family lately!). Unfortunately the setting up and moving to the studio is taking much longer than expected due to lot’s of other things going on, along with the fact that it’s summer, so who wants to spend time locked in a room setting up stuff rather than spending time in the pool?!

However, due to the hectic nature of me having things everywhere at the moment, it has meant that I have been able to incorporate the Tradutto into various systems that I problably wouldn’t have if I had just focused on my normal procedures. Basically I have had it hooked up to headphone rigs, main speaker rig, small speaker set ups and even a few loose systems that haven’t been used in quite some time. So, if one thing I am sure of, it is that I have tested the Tradutto in a huge amount of scenarios!

As usual with my DAC (and amp) reviews, I end up making them far too long and we haven’t even started talking about the device yet, so let’s get on with it.


After seeing the Tradutto in person and seeing how small it is, I was surprised at both the size and the weight of the box it appeared in. In a rather nice box with a lift up lid, surrounded with a cardboard sleeve showing the device and the specs, we find the device very well protected by multiple layers of foam and cardboard.

Inside we find the DAC, a nice little metal and rechargeable remote control, the bluetooth antenna, a fabric covered USB-A to USC-B cable, the power supply with interchangeable connections (so it will work not matter what country you are in), a micro fiber cloth and the user manual.

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the presentation or the included contents. Of course a couple of interconnects would have been a nice addition, especially a 4.4mm to XLR as they are still not the easiest (or cheapest) or cables to source but we could always think of more things to include.

Build and Aesthetics…

The Tradutto is a small unit, basically a simple square box, with a small and simple screen on the front, along with 4 buttons. The aesthetics are something that seem to be more aimed at blending in than standing out and the small size does mean that you can fit it just about anywhere. Tradutto is engraved very nicely across the top of the device and is also shown in small white letters on the front panel. Personally I think that they could have skipped the model name on the front as I feel it takes away a little from the aesthetics but it is small and is certainly not shouty about it.

As with the box it came in, I was very surprised with just how much the DAC weighs. There is no issues with interconnect cables pulling the device around, as is the case with some other small units, it will sit where you put it. It also has feet that elevate it off of the surface, with the cooling vents underneath, allowing you to put the Tradutto wherever you prefer without having to worry too much about keeping it cool (you can tell the device is on by touching it but by no means does it get hot, or even warm).

The screen is nothing fancy, just a simple OLED screen that shows the selected input, file format, bit rate and frequency rate when fed by USB, in other modes it shows the selected input. There are no flashy colours but the important info is there at a simple glance and I am glad to say that it is not overly bright, even in a dark room it is easy on the eyes.

While the aesthetics are nothing special, I have no issue with them and I think that it looks quite good with the matching CH-Amp (the amplifier from Earmen) sitting on top, resulting in a simple small stack that doesn’t look out of place but will never be the center of attention.

Speaking of the CH-Amp, the remote included with the Tradutto has two sets of buttons, the top set to control the CH-Amp and the lower set to control the Tradutto. This is nice if you have the stack but is obviously redundant if you don’t. The remote itself is nicely built, small and compact, and features a USB-C port on the bottom to recharge the remote control and not have to worry about batteries, which is another nice touch.

In general, everything is well built and the aesthetics are something that I haven’t received any complaints about no matter where I have placed the Tradutto, even dead center under the TV in the living room :wink:


The Tradutto is a very simple, no frills, DAC. There is no volume control, no filter selection, no menus, no anything except for input selection and power. If you are looking for something to spend hours tweaking settings, then you can look elsewhere. The Tradutto focuses on taking your choice of digital input and giving you a choice of balanced or single ended analog output.

On the back of the device we have, from left to right, the following:

  • Power supply (12VDC)

  • Bluetooth Antenna

  • USB input

  • Optical input

  • Coaxial input

  • RCA unbalanced outputs

  • 4.4mm balanced output.

Moving around to the front, again from left to right, we get:

  • IR receiver (top left)

  • Power button

  • Bluetooth pairing button

  • Screen

  • Input selection left

  • Input selection right

That is it, a simple selection of 4 buttons that have one single function each, which are also replicated on the remote control (although left and right are labelled + and - on the remote).

I don’t think that there is much need to explain how this works, you plug in cables, turn it on, select your input and enjoy. The left and right buttons (or +/- on the remote) cycle through the inputs (USB/TOS/COAX/BT), yet when you reach the end, you will need to use the other button to cycle back the other way (there is no loop).

When I first hooked up the Tradutto to my PC (windows 10), it worked straight away with the usual windows audio mixer, however, in order to use WASAPI from Foobar, I did need to upgrade the firmware. The firmware is available on the Earmen site and comes with instructions, which are very straight forwards, and takes around 30 seconds.


As I said in the intro, I am currently moving a lot of stuff about, setting up the studio and redesigning my main listening setups at home, which means I also have a lot of equipment that is usually in storage. This allowed me to try the Tradutto in a lot of scenarios and I have to say that there wasn’t a one where I disliked the outcome.

In general, I would say that the Tradutto has a very detailed yet smooth signature. I know that this is my brain telling me that this is what I am hearing, maybe because I want to hear it, but the feeling that the Tradutto just works well with everything is the impression I have been left with.

Paired with things like the Schiit Asgard 3, I didn’t find the result to be overly warm, just nicely detailed and smooth. It is sort of a dialed back “iFi sound”, with a hint of warmth and smoothness but never overly done. The same can be said with the Feliks Audio Echo MK2, where too much warmth can be detrimental, especially if using overly warm headphones, yet I didn’t get that sensation. I used the HD6XX and the Echo fed from 3 different DACs (the three way input selection on the Echo is great by the way!) and I didn’t find that anything was glossed over when selecting the Tradutto. In fact, it is very reminiscent of the R2R Dac in the EF400 as far as presentation with the Echo, yet I get the impression that the details are easier to identify but still not “in your face” as with some other more clinical offerings.

I hooked it up to the THX789, which is an amplifier that I don’t really use for listening to music very often but find it is still very good to evaluate sources (not just DACs but also the tracks themselves) as it’s cold and abrupt presentation quickly highlights any digital and/or harsh factors. With the Tradutto I didn’t find any of these, the presentation was obviously cooler and less smooth than on the other options I just listed, but it was still nice and smooth. In fact, it is possibly the most I have enjoyed listening to the 789 for quite some time.

Something that I did find positive was that there seems to be no difference in the output of the balanced and unbalanced connectors, apart from voltage that is. I have come to realize that, while most of my speaker setups are balanced, for headphones I have gravitated more towards unbalanced, so it is nice to not get the feeling that one output underperforms the other.

I also got a chance to hook the Earmen up to a set of Meyer Sound UPM-1P, a set of speakers that I am very fond of and are very revealing. The only issue was that I needed to control the volume before the DAC due to the Tradutto not having preamp capabilities (no volume control) and the speakers being active. Therefore I fed the Tradutto via coax digital from my DSP and controlled the volume level there. I have to say that the result was nothing short of great. It may be in my mind but I feel that the UPM-1’s performed much better than directly from my DSP and the sound was not only detailed but also more musical. I would happily listen to the set up for… well, permanently :grinning:

With other less revealing speaker set ups, the pairing still performed well, without things getting bloated or overly smoothed (not more than the usual with said speakers of course) and with studio monitors, I found that detail was excellent while still sounding a little less clinical than with other DACs that I use in those situations normally.


As I always say, the mind is a very powerful thing (for most people at least) and is capable of filling in blanks and adding twists to things that may be dependent on us wanting to like something. While that may be the case here also, I am happy with the result!

I am sure there are reasons that I could come up with to not purchase the Tradutto, as with anything, but I honestly feel that the sound performance is not one of them. I have been enjoying this DAC in all the situations I have put it in and my biggest issue is that, if I hook it up to my speakers, I then want to hook it up to my headphone rigs and vice versa.

There are other alternatives out there at lower price points which perform very well, maybe even better, and there are others at much higher price points that perform better (or maybe worse in some cases), but if we disregard price and aesthetics (which are of course very personal and very important to some), as far as performance, I really can’t find a thing to complain about with the Earmen Tradutto.

As with all my reviews, this review is also available in Spanish both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/achoreviews)


Review - Earmen CH-Amp

TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Earmen CH-Amp

The Earmen CH-Amp has been sent to me directly by Earmen for me post my opinions in this review. Earmen have not requested anything specific and, as always, I will do my very best to be as unbiased as humanly possible.

You can find the official page for the CH-Amp here: EarMen CH-Amp

As with all links that I share, this is a non-affiliate link, meaning I do not receive anything in exchange for clicks or purchases.


Not long ago I reviewed the Earmen Tradutto, a DAC that I found (and find) to be very good, fitting my tastes and working well with all of the systems and set ups that I have at home. I said that my biggest issue with it was that I couldn’t decide where I wanted it as I liked it with all of my set ups.

Well Earmen very kindly decided to send along the CH-Amp, the headphone amplifier that is from the same desktop line and is designed to form a stack with the Tradutto DAC and, although it is a spoiler, Earmen have managed to decide for me where the Tradutto should live.

The CH-Amp is not the most economical of desktop amplifiers, with a retail price of just under $1500, although it is currently on sale direct from Earmen for $999, but it definitely has a lot going for it. Not only is it an amp that performs very well, it also has plenty of connectivity and even comes with an external low noise linear power supply, which is something that is usually a separate purchase when wanting to include one in your system, so the price starts looking quite favourable when taking it all of into account.

So, after almost a month of using the Earmen stack almost daily, and a lot of patience from Earmen as they have never asked when I am going to get around to reviewing it, here are my impressions.


As with the Tradutto, the unboxing of the CH-Amp proves that they put a lot of care into their packaging and presentation. There is nothing really specially about it, just that the whole procedure makes you feel like you are opening something that has been packaged with care.

Upon removing the (very heavy) box from the cardboard sleeve that shows images of the two units, along with more details, the lid flips up to show the first layer of thin cardboard underneath which, we find the user manual.

Beneath this first layer, we lift up the first layer of foam protection to reveal the amplifier in a cutout on the left side of the box and the included remote to the right, both extremely well protected.

After taking the amplifier out of the box (and the remote), underneath these we get even more protective foam which covers the linear power supply (again surrounded by foam) in the bottom with a box containing the cables to the right. The included cables are for power only but they include the necessary cables to power up to 4 components from the linear power supply. I will discuss more about this in a moment.

In general, as I said, it is not that there is anything special about the unboxing, it’s the amount of care and protection that has been put into the boxing of the devices which makes you feel like you have received something special.

Build and aesthetics…

The build and the aesthetics are an exact match for the Tradutto DAC, as these are designed to become a stack. I said when I reviewed the Tradutto that the aesthetics were more aimed at blending in than standing out, and that is still the case, except that now they are all stacked together, they do attract the eye.

With them stacked they very much remind me of the HiFi systems that I used to drool over when I was growing up (and later owned a few) just in a more compact set up. I have to say that I have had them on my desk at the side of me for the past month and I still enjoy looking at them. Again, they are not fancy designs, just 3 square black boxes with screens (two of them at least), but this mini HiFi stack just appeals to me. Simple yet cool.

Looking at the independent components, the amplifier is of the exact same dimensions as the DAC, with a matching screen that shows levels instead of bit rates. The screens are monochromatic but, again, there is something about there simplicity that I really like. No flashy coloured screens, just two bars that move to the rhythm of the music. These were the VU meters of my youth and while I do like (some) fancy aesthetics, these just attract me.

The power supply is of the same width and depth but with double the height, making the stack look like it is ready for business. While I am not overly keen on the blue LED of the power switch on the front (by the way, they all have their power on the front, hurray!), at least it is not so bright as to be annoying. Personally I would have preferred a white LED to match the indicator LEDs on the left (and the general vibe of the screens) but that is a minor complaint.

One thing that I will say is that these devices are heavy, all three of them! There is no risk of anyone ever knocking this stack off of the desk!


Let’s talk about the power supply first as it is quite simple. On the back of the unit there is an IEC input on the right of the device that is for the main incoming power (220V in my case). In the center we get 3x 12V outputs that can provide a total of 1.5A between them. Finally, on the left, we get a proprietary connector, well, it’s not really proprietary, just not a common cable you will find in your drawer, that outputs 2x 12V at 1.5A. This last connector is for powering the amplifier, whereas the normal 12V outputs can be used for powering the Tradutto or the Staccato (matching streamer) etc.

On the front of the power supply we have a main on/off switch (with a blue LED to indicate when powered on) with 2x small, white, LEDs to the left. One LED indicates that the normal 12V outputs are powered up and functioning, the other does the same for the 2x12V output (both labelled).

So, all you need to do is use the included cables and connect the 2x12V output to the CH-Amp and the other 12V outputs to any other Earmen devices you have in your stack (in my case the Tradutto). Flick on the power switch and away you go. Just as a warning, when you turn on the power supply before turning on the DAC (if relevant), Windows will give you an error message saying it doesn’t recognize the DAC. This error is resolved as soon as you turn on the DAC.

Ok, so now let’s look at the actual amplifier…

Starting from the front left, we get a 6.35mm unbalanced headphone output, then a 4.4mm balanced headphone output, the screen in the center, a button labelled “SEL”, a button labelled “GAIN” and finally, to the right, a voulme know that also works as a push button to mute (with a single press) or put the device in stand by (with a long press). When the unit has been muted and you unmute, the volume ramps up (stopping at any time if you touch the knob), which avoids sudden blasts of unexpected sound.

Moving around to the back, again from left to right, we have the power input, a 4.4mm balanced preamp output, an unbalanced preamp output on RCA’s, unbalanced input 1 (RCA’s), unbalanced input 2 (RCA’s) and then a balanced input (4.4mm).

As far as functionality, well first you hook up the relevant cables, turn on the power supply, press the volume knob and you are greeted with the Earmen logo on the screen as it boots. Once it has booted, the logo on the screen is replaced with two bars at the top that show the output level (digital VU meters in bar form), to the bottom left it indicates the current input, the center gives us the current level in digits (i.e: volume level, not dB level like the bars at the top), which go from 0 to 30, then in the bottom right corner it shows the current gain mode.

Turning the volume knob will obviously raise or lower the volume level, with a single press muting the device, the gain button switches between High and Low gain, while the SEL button cycles through the 3 available inputs (showing “BAL”, “L1” or “L2” on the screen).

All of this can also be done from the remote except for changing the gain. The only difference with the remote is that it has separate buttons for power and mute and has a + and - button for the input selection (it doesn’t cycle from the remote, you can go up or down).

One thing to note is that, when the unit has been off (or in stand by), when it comes back on, the volume level is automatically set to 0 (the same happens when plugging or unplugging headphones). There is a bit of a noise in headphones (and IEMs) when the unit is turned off or on from stand by mode. There is a relay that clicks as it it enters some kind of protection mode before turning off and also after it turns on, to protect headphones from power surges. This is great, but I did find that planar headphones weren’t overly happy when the relay clicked. It is not that it has done any damage to them but the noise you hear through planar headphones when it happens is not very enjoyable. With dynamic headphones (and IEMs), the noise is present but it doesn’t sound as scary as it does with planar headphones :wink: While I am not saying that the protection circuit will not work to protect planar headphones, I am sure Earmen have designed it to be more than capable, I do find that I prefer unplugging planars before entering stand by (and plugging them back in after it has booted).

So, as far as functionality it is all simple and straightforward. I have praised the Echo amplifier in the past for having three inputs and the same praise goes for the CH-Amp, in this case, one of them is balanced, so even better. We also get balanced and unbalanced outputs with preamp functionality which solves the comment I had about the Tradutto being great for powered speakers but not having volume control, well now we do.


While I have used various DACs to feed the CH-Amp, with the amplifier working well with all of them, the combination with the Tradutto DAC is certainly my preferred combination. We talk about synergy, which is very difficult to put into words but when something just clicks together, it just is. Could this be psychological? Of course. But as I have said before, I am more interested in what I feel I am experiencing than what % of it is just perception. This is to say that I have been using the CH-Amp paired with the matching Tradutto.

When I mentioned in the Tradutto review that I was struggling to decide where I wanted to place the Tradutto, as I liked it with all my systems, well, Earmen made that decision easy by sending the CH-Amp. The stack has been on my desk in the office and has been used daily, with all kinds of headphones and IEMs (both for pleasure and for review purposes), except when I have been testing other sources (in which case it has been a reference mark). In other words, I have spent many hours with this stack.

So, how would I describe the sound of the CH-Amp, especially when paired with the Tradutto?

I would say that it is just slightly on the warmer side of neutral. There is not a baked in warmth to the sound like we get with some other brands, nor is it cold or clinical like some other set ups I have on hand to reference. It is clean, detailed and very musical.

Again, it may be all in my head but when plugging into the CH-Amp, things just sound “right”. Of course, there is no “right” or “wrong” when talking about audio preferences, so this is highly personal, but I really feel that the Earmen stack has just the right balance between being very detailed and very enjoyable. Sometimes devices tend to exaggerate the presentation of details, making them become the center of attention, this is not like that. With very detailed tracks, using things like the Arya or the HE1000se, those details are very apparent, yet they don’t jump out at you and shout “listen to me!”.

Yet, connecting the Ananda (which I have always found to be a headphone that does put emphasis on detail and shout “listen to me!”), there is no rounding or smoothing of the Ananda’s performance, making it sound like the Ananda should.

With the HD6XX, there is no lack of that luxurious mid range that the headphones can produce (on the right day, when the stars align and I have had a good breakfast :grin: ), yet it is not smooth and fat (for lack of a better word) like it can be on a tube amp. Yes, I would still pick a tube amp for the HD6XX but only because I have heard the combo, not because there is anything wrong with the CH-Amp at all.

The CH-Amp puts out a maximum of 3.5W which is plenty for anything that I have currently available and I have found absolutely no issue with lack of current for planars either. In fact, I haven’t found I needed to put it in high gain at all, although, admittedly, my listening levels are quite low.

With IEMs, which I have used a lot of since the stack has been on my desk, the result is also great. There is no background hiss, even with more sensitive sets, and at no point did I find that anything strange was happening with anything that I tried.

There is great extension down into the subbass, bass is fast and punchy even on planars, while mids are musical and highs are extended and smooth. If anything, I would say that the high end is actually a little smoother than on many other setups but it is not rolled off or dulled down, if a set of IEMs is harsh or brittle in the higher ranges, the CH-Amp does not fix it, but there is no way that it exaggerates the problem either.

In general, I think that the CH-Amp performs wonderfully in the sound department and I really can’t bring myself to find fault with it.

As far as the preamp output, which is only active when headphones are unplugged, I can’t say that I can spot the difference between using the preamp output of the CH-Amp versus going direct from the Tradutto. This is great news as I really like the output of the Tradutto and the CH-Amp seems to just add volume control to it.


The CH-Amp is a great little amplifier that, paired with the Tradutto, really fits my taste and gives me anything I could need for my desk set up. I spend a minimum of 8 hours a day at my desk, using all kinds of headphones and IEMs, with speaker systems also available, and the stack gives me whatever I need when I need it.

The aesthetics are going to be a personal thing but I am a fan. Maybe it is a nostalgic thing for me as it really is like having a stack from my youth but in a smaller format on my desk. Sure, I would have preferred to skip the white text on the front of the devices but that is a very small complaint in comparison to all the praise that I can give this set up.

The normal retail price of this stack is $799 for the Tradutto plus $1,480 for the CH-Amp (including the power supply), so we are not talking about a cheap combo here. For almost $2,300 you have a lot of choice available, yet I feel that the Earmen line up is well deserving of being in the battle at that price. If we look at the current sale price (from Earmen direct at the time of this review), you can get the Tradutto for $499 and the CH-Amp for $999, which is almost $1,000 less and I think that takes from “good value” to just outright amazing!

As always, this review is available in Spanish both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/achoreviews)


It’s a cute stack:


Yeah, I like it. Very nostalgic.

Do you have a link to your review of it?

Haven’t written it up yet, it’s low priority since it was a loaner that was provided mostly to try out with the Meze Elite (Meze ELITE Open-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones Review | TechPowerUp) and they are no longer here.

Ah ok, I just automatically thought you had reviewed it previously :slightly_smiling_face: