EarMen TR-Amp - Official Thread

I didn’t find a dedicated thread for the TR-Amp from EarMen (here is a thread for all EarMen products: Earmen - Portable Gear), so I decided to create one

EarMen is the child company of Auris Audio - a Serbian manufacturer that specializes in creating luxury sources (amplifiers, DACs, Pre-Amps, headphone amps)

This is the place to share your thought and experience with it

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I would like to start the thread off by posting my full review:

Whether it’s their genius and sneaky model names, or the devices themselves, EarMen is doing it right, and I love it!. There is a great challenge in succeeding when you are a fairly new company to the market - it’s hard to reinvent the wheel. Auris Audio is only 7 years old, it’s a fairly young company, yet they did it their own way and succeeded in doing that. If you are not familiar with Auris Audio, you may be asking “What is Auris Audio and why is it relevant to EarMen?”. First, let’s make this clear: Auris Audio is the parent company which mainly specializes in manufacturing high-fidelity and luxury amplifiers, and EarMen is their sub-brand that focuses on more budget friendly (without compromising quality!) portable devices.

Auris Audio is globally recognized for their authentic luxury amplifiers. The combination of leather & wood has become Auris Audio’s trademark - once you see it, you know it’s Auris. Founded in 2013. by Mr. Milomir Trosic, Auris Audio has achieved major recognition and success, well deserved success and recognition. Both Auris Audio and EarMen focus on producing quality products - they prefer quality over quantity. You will notice that they haven’t just released a large quantity of models, but rather focused on putting out fewer quality product ranges (both EarMen and Auris Audio), and this is something that I respect on a high level. How many times did you come across a company with dozens of different models and product ranges of a relatively similar product? I can tell you that the answer is probably more than necessary. Both Auris Audio and EarMen have focused on using the highest quality components from the best companies - Electro Harmonix, Tung-Sol, JJ Electronic, Sabre, XMOS, Texas Instruments, Cirrus Logic, they have it all. Last but not least, Auris is known for manufacturing, assembling, and designing their products in Europe - not only that, but all products from Auris Audio are handcrafted.

What an introduction, impressive isn’t it? Let’s take a closer look at what the TR-Amp has to offer.

Those who read my articles will know that I do not speak upon something if I do not hear it. How can I write about something that I cannot hear? Sound is something you hear, so using nice descriptive words without backing them up is pretty pointless - it is not a physical thing, you cannot touch it or see it, therefore you cannot use descriptive words… it’s not quite objective. TR-Amp has become my favorite portable amplifier, and it’s for a reason. This little guy has a lot to offer, he may be small, but many agree that it’s sound performance is outside of it’s physical size - some went as far to say that it is bigger than bigger amps. It’s small, yet robust. Easy to carry around, yet delivering a very mature sound performance.

ʀᴇꜰᴇʀᴇɴᴄᴇ¹
           sᴇɴɴʜᴇɪsᴇʀ HD 598 ᴘᴀɪʀᴇᴅ ᴜᴘ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ TR-Amp

Built like a tank

When you pick the TR-Amp up, you know you are holding a well machined and well-built product. You can clearly see that EarMen built it to last. With an all CNC machined aluminum housing, you can be sure that it can withstand some serious abuse (although you should be responsible and take care of your devices!). I was very pleased to see that there wasn’t a single plastic part used for the construction, it greatly contributes as to why it is so robust and solid. All the ports are secured in place; no rattle, no issues. This is a segment that EarMen nailed, and I hope to see more products like the TR-Amp.

What is worthy of mentioning is that it’s designed, made, and produced in Europe. I can say that this is something you will notice straight away, the precision is there. For such a low priced product, it’s pretty nice to see it being entirely produced in Europe.

Design and features

Minimal. Sharp. Clean. Seriously though, there isn’t much to speak upon - a very well designed product that has a great shape. I am also a big fan of the EarMen logo on the top, I am assuming it was laser etched since I couldn’t damage it even when I purposely scratched it with my fingernails. The volume knob has a gorgeous texture, turns very smoothly, and also locks in place nicely (when you turn it on/off). The 4 legs at the bottom are also something that is a neat touch - I am assuming they are made of some type of rubber, and they help the TR-Amp to stay in place. One thing that I did notice is that the LED lights bleeds through the 3.5mm port (Aibo from Head-Fi also noticed this)

TR-Amp is a little guy, but it uses the highest quality components that contribute to it’s big sound. Utilizing the ES9038Q2M SABRE Reference DAC (known to be the highest performance 32-bit mobile audio DAC) and the Texas Instruments TPA6120 amplifier, it supports 32bit/384kHz PCM, DoP DSD256, Native DSD128 and MQA audio formats -

Formal format:

DSD DSD 128 Native / DSD 256 (DoP)
DXD 384/352.8 kHz
PCM Up to 384 kHz
MQA Rendering Up to 384 kHz

On the front you will find two outputs: one 3.5 mm and one 6.3 mm. I am very happy to see this combination, although it would be interesting to see a 2.5 mm (balanced) and 6.3 mm together. Luckily my HD 598 has a 6.3 mm jack, and I always pair them up with the TR-Amp. Now what’s special is that you can use both the 3.5 mm & 6.3 mm simultaneously. This can be quite convenient if you have somebody who wants to join your listening session, but also if you are testing two different headphones.

Battery

TR-Amp has a built-in battery which allows it to be used as a portable AMP/DAC. EarMen claims it hold up 10 hours. I myself am not the type of person who measures minutes or the time I spend on listening to music… I just listen and enjoy music, but you can definitely find that other people did find the TR-Amp lived up to its claims. The 3700 mAh battery allows you to use the TR-Amp on the go - without wasting your devices battery (your laptop’s/phone’s battery). You will notice that on the back there are two USB C ports: one says “DATA”, and the other “CHRG”. As you can guess, you connect it to DATA when you want to use it, and when you want to charge it, hook it up to the CHRG port. EarMen gave me the official statement that you can use the TR-Amp and charge it simultaneously, but you will need an extra cable to do that. I don’t know how safe it is, but I did notice that the TR-Amp would heat up once it is used like this. I don’t know about you, but 10 hours seems to be more than enough time to enjoy music on the go.

Performance

After trying several headphones, earphones, and IEM’s, I can easily say that TR-Amp is a killer performer. While I would avoid pairing it with any planar-magnetic headphones due to their power hungry nature, TR-Amp is a no brainer for dynamic drivers.

Lows

One of the most fascinating things about the TR-Amp is the ability to extend the dynamic range, especially in the lower range. The “no turning point” was when I first paired the Sennheiser HD 598 with the TR-Amp. Without a quality source, the HD 598 sounded very dull… and it’s nothing new that it has pretty light bass. TR-Amp was able to bring out the life out of it. It sounded like a completely new headphone. All of a sudden I was able to hear the sub-bass notes, and the mid-bass had more weight and definition.

To get a true understanding of what this little guy is capable, I suggest you carefully read my Sennheiser HD 598 review.

Here is a very self explanatory quote from the review - “Not only is there more space for the lower frequencies to breathe and overall have more space for full-body sound, but there is just so much more definition and presence in the lower notes”

This will particularly change the listening experience for those who primarily listen to music where the bass is present (e.g. electronic music). Though I don’t primarily listen to techno or electronic, “Smoking Mirrors” by Lee Curtiss was where I first heard the impact TR-Amp makes. It was day and night - the absence of the lower notes without it would make the track feel lifeless.

ʀᴇꜰᴇʀᴇɴᴄᴇ²
            Bᴀssᴏ SR2 ᴘᴀɪʀᴇᴅ ᴜᴘ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ TR-Amp

Mids

Perhaps the most significant region that the TR-Amp has effect on is the mid-range. It’s also one of the more interesting fields - the tonality remains untouched, it’s rather the dynamic range that gets expanded. By this I mean that that both the lower and higher mid-range gets expanded, more frequencies are reproduced. It’s very subtle the way it does this, yet it’s something that you will crave for without it.

The biggest difference is in instruments and vocals. You can imagine how important is to hear the full frequency spectrum of a vocal or an instrument. Something as “subtle” as the absence of the highest/lowest notes can significantly alter the way they sound. Using the Sennheiser cans as my reference again, the way that vocals had sparkle and bottom end extension is something that wasn’t there beforehand. In the same way, instruments like the piano sound better, especially lower and higher notes. Overall, the mid-range is fuller and has the full-body presence.

As you already know, the human voice is a very complex thing - it differs from person to person. It also consists of several different frequencies. Cutting off any of these frequencies will take away from its true tonality. While you can immediately hear the absence of sparkle, you will have a harder time hearing the absence of sub-frequencies from a vocal. It’s definitely easier to notice if a bass guitar doesn’t have enough definition or body, but vocals - not so much. However, once you hear that this subtle frequency is actually there, you will crave for it. What I am trying to say is that once you hear the difference with the TR-Amp (or any other source), you won’t be able to enjoy the music as much without it.

ʀᴇꜰᴇʀᴇɴᴄᴇ³
            sɪᴠɢᴀ ᴘʜᴏᴇɴɪx ᴘᴀɪʀᴇᴅ ᴜᴘ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ TR-Amp

Highs

Those who have read my previous work will know the importance of sparkle to me. I have an emotional connection & response to higher frequency spectrum, particularly the top top-end (aka sparkle). It’s the element that I have a stronger bond than anything else in music. There is something special about the tingly feeling in your ears, especially in the peaks of vocals & instruments.

While some people may enjoy when there is no edge to music, it’s not quite natural to take the edge away where it was meant to be. The mixing & mastering engineers have a particular sound they want to be there, and additionally removing it with coloring just isn’t natural. Whether it’s Freddie Mercury, Gloria Gaynor, Jeff Buckley, or Céline Dion, having the sparkle in vocals is very important.

In particular, acoustic guitars, electronic guitars, and violins are the instruments where sparkle plays a major role in their timbre. “Soldier of Fortune” by Deep Purple, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd, and “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin are all great examples. Mouth harmonicas are also instruments that need to have sparkle for higher notes - “Stop Trying to Be God” by Travis Scott is a perfect example. Stevie Wonder’s harmonica hits the peak several times, and the sparkle of the upper notes should be clean and definitely making your eyes squint when you hear it. It’s safe to say it’s on the edge of being piercing. Removing the upper notes will alternate the authentic sound, especially because it was meant to sound bright.
Any of Jo A Ram’s violin covers will lead you towards the right direction. Her cover of “Still Loving You” is a perfect presentation of both sparkle and talent.

TR-Amp maintains a clean performance. It doesn’t necessarily lean towards the bright side, but it definitely lets the higher notes to be more present - this is something I first heard with the Sennheiser HD 598. It played a major role in listening to vocals.

Soundstage & separation

By now you can see that the TR-Amp makes a big impact by increasing the whole dynamic range. However, I wasn’t expecting the soundstage and separation to improve. Let’s visualize the sound presentation (from headphones) as a box. In a medium sized box you can pack a good amount of information (frequencies and details). If you increase the size of that box, you will have a bigger box. It’s self explanatory, isn’t it? The space for the frequencies is limited to the size of the box. But the question is what you get from the increased size. You can not only pack more frequencies and detail (in other words resolution), but also increase the space between those frequencies in a way that you can distinguish them from each other - essentially, there is more room. The increased space results to higher resolution and better separation. You can conclude that the higher resolution leads to a fuller sound, as though each element has more detail & information.

This is exactly what I experienced when I first paired up my HD 598’s with the TR-Amp. More detail, more room, and fuller sound.

Conclusion

At just $249, the TR-Amp is one of the most essential amps I have come across in this price range. It’s pretty much the perfect amp for those who are looking to make their first purchase in portable sources. Like a Swiss Army knife, it does everything - you have a 3.5 mm input, a 6.3 mm input, can use both of the inputs simultaneously, is built like a tank - no need to worry about damaging the chassis, has a long-lasting battery… and can be charged and used simultaneously (if you have an extra cable). I don’t know about you, but I cannot see what else you could be asking for at this price point. Not to mention that you can also use it as a Pre-Amp.

It’s a high-end device at a correct price. Made in Europe, best chips used - I mean, it has everything. This little guy surprised me quite a lot. It’s a no-brainer for those who will be using dynamic headphones (it works wonders with Sennheiser), but I was proven that it can also drive planar mangetics (Hifiman Deva).

I am seriously disappointed to see this product not being discussed enough - it’s safe to say it’s quite underrated. I used it with 5 different headphones: The relatively easy to drive Sennheiser HD 598, the harder to drive Sennheiser x Drop HD6XX, the planar-magnetic Hifiman Deva, the quite sensitive iBasso SR2, and the Sivga Phoenix with a lower impedance. This shows the versatility of the TR-Amp. Although it’s noticeable cheaper than the mentioned headphones, it still doesn’t fail in its performance in any point. While with the HD6XX and the Deva you will be pushing it to the max volumes, at no point does it distort or anything of that kind - it remains a clean and pure sound performance. I had an experience with a $50 - $100 cheaper AMP/DAC combos, and they struggled to keep up with all these headphones. I won’t drop any names, but I can say this - the cheaper devices gave a horrific performance with the Hifiman Deva. They distorted the sound so much (particularly lower frequencies) that they sounded like the headphone was blown out. I didn’t face anything of that sort with the TR-Amp, which shows both its quality and versatility.

I follow a very simple yet powerful concept - If I don’t hear it, I don’t write it. Surely the case with the TR-Amp was that it completely blew me away, hence the praise. It packs quite a serious performance in a small package (for a reasonable price). I don’t understand why this device isn’t getting any attention, but I did my job to express my experience with it. Considering the versatility, performance, build quality, and features, I can easily call the TR-Amp an easy recommendation in its price range, but also as my personal favorite. However It’s the expansion of the dynamic range as a whole that had me in love with it. There is nothing more enjoyable than being able to hear more detail to music, more frequencies that you didn’t hear before.

Hopefully you learnt something about EarMen and who they are, but also about why I like the TR-Amp so much. I have to give credit where credit is due.

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I noticed that I did not include my usual “What’s in the box”, so I will try to take some photos and post how the actual packaging looks like, but also what exactly you get inside.

Here is a full list of the devices I used with the TR-Amp
Headphones:
Sivga Phoenix
Sennheiser HD 598
Sennheiser HD 6XX
Ollo Audio S4X
Hifiman Deva
iBasso SR2

IEM’s & earbuds:
Jade Audio EA3
KBEAR TRI i3 (picked up some noise, it’s a planar magnetic… so it’s pretty self explanatory)
KBEAR Diamond
Hifiman RE600s V2
Hifiman RE800 Silver
Audiosense AQ3
BQEYZ Spring 1
BQEYZ Spring 2
Venture Electronics ZEN LL (earbuds)
Fiio FD1
& possibly more which I cannot remember

Are you paid by or professionally related in any way to Auris or EarMen?

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I wanted to state this in the follow-up that has the unboxing in it.

I want to clearly and loudly state that I am in no ways paid or affiliated with EarmMen, nor Auris Audio. I am very well aware that my review was quite positive, it really is all up to the fact that the device made me enjoy music more.

I would also like to say that I did not purchase the TR-Amp, I was rather provided with a sample free of charge by EarMen directly. I wasn’t asked to say anything overly positive, nor was I told to say anything. I was just sent the device without any instructions as to how to proceed with my review.

All the things stated in my review are how I experienced the device, I try to stay as objective as I can - which means not blow things out of proportions. I did mention the difference TR-Amp made with my Sennheiser HD 598 in my original review on Head-Fi.

I hope this clears up that the review is solely based on my experience - there was no outside force or persons that were influencing my opinion.

Edit- I have been using the TR-Amp for at least 5 months, this review is based on my 5 months of usage. It wasn’t written in a single breath, I rather let my thoughts form during these 5 months

Edit 2 - replaced “happy” with “enjoy music more”. I think this a better way of expressing what I actually wanted to say

Per the FTC, these statements need to be a clear and unambiguous part of the review itself. I don’t personally care*, its just something I’m pointing out so you don’t run into problems in the future.


It’s a shame you didn’t actually draw any specific comparisons to other DAC/amps. That significantly reduces the value of the review to other readers, as they have no basis for comparison or to consider your positive (or negative) statements against.

In other words, saying it’s “better” in some way or has “more” etc. of something doesn’t convey any actual information without a reference to what it is “better” than or has “more” of. As best I can guess it’s just a comparison to some random DAC/amp (or DAC/amps) that cost $50-$100 less … which could be anything (good or bad).


I’d be very curious about the output impedance on this. I’ve seen so many units using the TPA6120 wind up with a 10 ohm OI, which means FR shifts (and significant loss of effective power) with low-impedance cans and issues in general with IEMs. That this measurement is not quoted in the review, nor provided in the specs by the manufacturer just increases my concern that it’s higher than is desirable.

*Excepting that I instantly discount any review where the reviewer was gifted the equipment from the manufacturer.

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Yes, the review reads like cheery marketing copy. The look/feel/price brought to mind various iFi products.

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Thanks for the in-depth reply. I really appreciate it!

So - TR-Amp was my first portable source, I just tried to express how I felt, because beforehand I just used the Sennheiser cans straight from my Macbook Pro… which you can guess cannot compare against dedicated sources (amps and dacs). This is why I didn’t make any comparisons. The 50-100 bucks cheaper sources were from Tempotec - specifically the Sonata iDSD Plus.

I will take note, and I completely understand why you might disregard the reviews where the reviewer received the product from the manufacturer… let’s just say there are some guys on youtube specifically that just milk the manufacturers and every product is “good”. I personally dislike and disregard this type of work, I could care less about receiving a free product, that’s not what it’s about to me. I will make sure not to miss out stating that I have no affiliation and that a sample is in question. Definitely thanks for letting me know!

Yup, you guessed it right. iBasso SR2 was an example where it picked up some subtle but pretty audible noise, KBEAR TRI i3 is another example of this. It will definitely have issues with lower impedance cans. Regarding measurements, I don’t do them, I’m more of a guy who tries to express his opinion through music, but I am sure there are people who will gladly provide some measurements. Hifiman Deva is a planar magnetic headphone, but I do not remember it picking up any significant noise, I just know that I had to push the TR-Amp pretty hard to satisfy the power hungry nature of planar magnetics.

It’s definitely harder to stay objective with writing a review for a source (for me at least). With headphones, earphones, or earbuds, I can easily express myself through real music (reference tracks with minute stamps - just like I did for my previous reviews), but for sources, it’s definitely not as simple as that. I don’t like comparing sources unless they match specs, it doesn’t feel fair to me - and I don’t understand the technical side of things to be able to validly make a comparison between two sources that have different “goals”

It’s similar with earphones or headphones, comparing a single dynamic driver to a multiple driver or hybrid setup just doesn’t seem logical - but then, I also understand that it could be useful - somebody may just wonder how the two (or more) devices compare to eachother. I’m still haven’t decided for myself if it’s okay to compare products that are technical-wise similar (single DD to single DD, hybrid to hybrid with equal number of drivers), or if I should just compare same priced products

It definitely hurts to see my work being considered as “cheery marketing copy”. I have never had any financial benefit from any of the companies I have worked with - not a penny. Nor was I told what to say in my work. I am not being defensive, I definitely expected this tbh - I expressed my honest thoughts - and they were misunderstood. Which is again quite expected and understandable.

What I do want to say is that everything written in my review is really how I feel, no marketing, no BS from the manufacturer. It def stings a little bit to see a negative response, it’s not something I am used to. I really do this with passion, and my aim is to improve, it’s not to get as many free stuff as I can =) Unfortunately there are a bunch of popular “reviewers” whose aim is exactly that - to get as much free and expensive gear as they can.

This feedback is crucial to me, and please give more. I aim to improve, and this means that I did something in my review that failed to express my honesty - it was rather misunderstood (probably for a reason) for “corruption” or that I was trying to do a marketing campaign. I don’t profit from any of my work, I use my free time to express my thoughts about these devices. I actually started writing reviews because I was sick and tired of the BS in the reviewer and media industry… so you can imagine that hearing that my work is considered in the same category as the very reason why I started writing… I’m just a little bit stung by it

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@Torq I want to thank you for bringing up some potential issues, and also giving me the feedback regarding the approach

@generic I want to thank you for letting me know what the review generally reflected. It seems that I can better express & form my thoughts when directly saying how the source affects the sound signature on headphones/earphones, so I might stick to that. I have yet to decide

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If EarMen are not requiring that you return the amp after the review (which does not appear to be the case), then you have received a $250 amp for free. While not “cash”, it’s still a financial benefit. And that’s one of the reasons the FTC has disclosure requirements in place for “Endorsements” (which is essentially what any positive review is).

I don’t think they’re being misunderstood. I don’t think anyone is saying there is anything actually amiss here, either. Just expressing that the way things read, and with the lack of specific mentions of other products* and the gushingly positive review of something gifted to the reviewer, it raises red flags.

My personal stance on reviewing rapidly got to the point where I only wanted to review gear I really liked. It was too much of a time commitment to do reviews of gear that I didn’t like (and therefore didn’t want to spend time listening to). The effect of which is that ultimately I ended up only writing and publishing positive reviews. And that resulted in all sorts of false accusations that I was being paid or compensated somehow (has never been the case; gear origins always clearly stated in my reviews).

I got so tired of that, I just said “fuck it” and stopped doing any reviews - as that was preferable to me than spending time with shitty gear/stuff I didn’t enjoy just for “appearances”.

There are, indeed - and that’s where the skepticism will creep in. It’s just the nature of the medium and the process. The only ways to really combat it are a) always be as up-front/transparent as possible and b) never read your critics!

Don’t get discouraged. It’s just a process of refinement.


*A common, and often dead-giveaway, with paid-promotions or “review in exchange for free gear” or “reviews paid for by the manufacturer”, is a requirement that no other products of the same category are specifically mentioned. It’s just another red-flag, but not everyone is aware of it unless they’ve been directly approached by a manufacturer on those grounds. I’ve personally been blocked from review/preview/tour participation by at least one major manufacturer for refusing to operate that way.

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This is direct example of a conflict of interest, and a reason for suspicion of financial motives or unintended bias (even if one believes they are being sincere and fair).

I once abandoned a PC/technology review site because of a single sentence in a single review. It went something like this: “I paid for this product out of pocket because vendor would not send me a free one – they said didn’t have enough site traffic.” So…all of the other reviews had been paid? Hmmm?

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Thank you for another great reply.

Getting a 250$ is definitely a nice bonus, but is it worth weeks of work? I spend at least 2 full days on just taking the photography. I would say at least 5 hours is spent on photography in a single day, I usually stop because of back pain - that’s when I say “okk, that’s enough for today”. Then I have to look through the 200 pics that I just took, delete the trashy ones, make up my mind between the A B C D… options, and then - editing. Being a perfectionist is a blessing and a curse. I have never identified nor classified myself as a perfectionist… I never liked the idea of using a word to define me, it sounded like a trophy or something to show off, and I hate the idea of both of those. However, after some time and maturing, I simply had to accept the fact that I always try to be the best, and I do it for myself. Will anybody notice my attention to detail and countless hours spent? Absolutely not. One might say that it is not worth it, but I do it to please myself, I aim to improve with every. single. review. that I put out. Each one has to have at least something better than the previous one, and I can imagine it will get to the point where it’s too much for me and I’ll say - nope, I cannot meet my own standards, so I’d rather not do it at all.
Am I required to take the nice looking photography? Absolutely not, I could just take my phone and snap a couple of pics and upload it - but I actually cannot do that because it doesn’t satisfy me, it doesn’t satisfy my standards for what is considered “good”. I have my perception of “good content” and I try to meet up to that perception.

I really never planned to release this publicly, but this is The Headphones Community, so I feel a little bit more free in sharing this. People like George Dobrescu (Audiophile Heaven) and Porta (dot) fi are the reason why I started writing. Their work disgusted me so much that I said - wait a minute, these people are considered reviewers and people that should help somebody decide to invest their hard earned money in something? Nope. They talk so much without backing up anything, using the poetry like “gorgeous warm mids”, “punchy”, “wonderful”, bla bla bla… You know, the classic reviewer’s “dictionary” :wink: it’s sickening that these guys are accepted in the industry as “reviewers”. They are one hell of entertainers, and there is nothing wrong with that. But I cannot imagine using my savings to purchase a product based on their so called reviews. So, I started my “reviewer” journey - I don’t even clasify myself as a reviewer because of the situation in the industry, I just aim to help people - I set explaining terminology as my priority. You will definitely notice this in all my IEM and headphone reviews - I carefully explain my experience through songs and actually referencing the exact minute mark to explain what I am talking about (e.g. the snare at 3:24 cuts through the mix, or sounds bright). Then people can play a song and see if how they ears react to the same element - maybe my “bright” isn’t somebody else’s “bright”. This is the main issue with the reviewers nowadays, everything is “nice bass”, “gorgeous mids”, and “warm highs”, but who explains what those are? Very few. I am going quite off topic, but I want you guys to be familiar with who I am, I don’t get food on the table from using a month of my life writing a review, but at least I learn something through that month, that’s why I do it.
I set my standards for “good content” based on people like them - they are what I do not want to be. So the idea that my content is on par with theirs is just a little harsh on me.

I stand by this. I value my time very heavily, our time here is limited =) Imagine wasting your limited time on exposing a crappy company. Here is an example - I experienced very harsh nationalism from the owner of Verum Audio. It was over at Head-Fi, through personal messaging. I decided to stay quiet and not expose the man, I didn’t want to hurt his business. I don’t know his past, I don’t know him, why would I destroy somebody’s life without even knowing this person? So I stayed quiet and stayed professional. A few months pass, and I notice that he was banned from pretty much every forum he was on. I wasn’t necessarily happy that it happened, I was just happy that I didn’t have to get involved, he simply got what he deserved. He was racist to several people and said some disgusting things. He ruined his business because he was taking it personal, but I didn’t have to play the role of God - who am I to judge?

So, to get back to my point. I don’t review products I don’t like. For free? Oh hell no. Why would I be giving recognition and attention to something that doesn’t deserve it? Why would I waste my time for it? IMR Acoustics is one of those companies. A pure scam. Did I go public about it and expose them? Nope. I don’t need any legal issues, but I also have no intention to waste my time & energy on something I am not passionate about. There are cases where I had high expectations and was disappointed (BLON BL05 for example), in those cases I wrote a full review. If you look through my reviews over at head-fi, you will notice that the majority of them are not “soft” at all, I don’t think twice about saying something I don’t like. KBEAR Diamond was a perfect example. It was a product everybody liked, yet I didn’t see what the fuss was about.

You definitely did what was right for you. I also cannot be bought by design, appearance, nor the mainstream consumer market liking a product/hype. Tempotec Sonata iDSD is a perfect example, the reviews are crazy. People are writing crazy stuff, yet to me it doesn’t make any difference at all, it can just make music louder.

To further understand how I function as a writer - my true focus is music. I do not listen to the device, I listen to the music. If I need to stop enjoying music and focus on the device, then I am not judging the performance how the usual person would use it. I respect people who are passionate about gear and technical side of things, but I myself am just passionate about music. I would rather focus on music and see if my ears can actually detect any notable change, because if it’s so subtle that you need to go into a focus state to notice it, it just doesn’t seem like something a person who listens to music would do.

I mentioned my HD 598 review, so here is a link (I wanted to upload it here too, but it doesn’t seem like I could get an official thread for it…): https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/sennheiser-hd-598.12985/reviews#item-review-22987
This was my first “formal” review. You will definitely notice how I tried to fit in the industry. I tried using descriptive terms and definitely wasn’t objective… the review was useless. Then I got the TR-Amp and I just had one of those “Wow factor” moments. The updates on that review for the TR-Amp definitely seem to better explain why I like it so much. The HD 598 was my introduction to the audiohpile world, I had it for years, and then I just decided to put that years of experience in to a “review” (definitely failed to objectively express myself). In the updated sections (if you go to the review, you will see something like “Update with TR-Amp” that’s what I am referring to) I actually gave some reference tracks to explain what I was experiencing. From that review on, I decided to say fck the industry, and fck these so called reviewers, I want to make content that will help a youngster or anybody understand my experience with it. Most of these reviewers don’t even use the device for 24h and write the review just to get it out of the way and move on onto the next product. Yikes.

This is a pretty long write-up and it is definitely thrashing the thread, but I am writing it so people understand that I am not here for the money of the free stuff, I am genuinely trying to expose good products, and put down the hype around the products that don’t deserve it (IMO). EarMen TR-Amp just seems like an overall good package, Europe manufactured parts, very durable, and the amazing sonic experience that I got with all the devices I used it with - specifically the HD 598 because that’s where I first noticed the difference.

You will sooner see me stop doing reviews than you will see me fall for hype trains, or being bought out by somebody. Sponsorships are something else, writing reviews under the influence of somebody else without disclosing it is a whole different thing. It’s essentially corruption, and you will never see me being corrupt. I am open to do business, but I am not open to do business with companies that I personally do not believe in - I am a spiritual person, and I wouldn’t want to make anybody else hurt. Why promote a scam for money, I think I am worth more than that =) I know I am better than that. So you will still see me doing honest reviews, I have some pretty nice headphones on the way and am looking forward to sharing my experience with those here.

If I truly believe a product is good, I will write it that way - but sometimes it seems like I am selling the product, like it is perfect. I want to say that that is not the case, but I will work on improving as always. I’ll work on expressing myself better.

I try to balance it just by asking myself if I personally want to do business with this company. Negative things can be:

  1. Not said
  2. Said in a harsh way, essentially “hate speech”
  3. Said, but in a more natural attitude. This does not mean that you overlook the negative things, but that you mention them as they are. Making negative things appear less negative than they really are is not this - that is called altering the truth, it’s a branch of corruption.

–For me, it comes down to whether or not I agree with the vision and aim of a product. I see through the marketing and business, but what I see past those two is what I base my answer on. If a company is truly trying to put out a quality product, then that’s something to respect, something that I support. I try to understand the company, that’s the first step. How can you justify the price of a 4k (4,000 USD) headphone? What will you judge it by, the quality of sound, build quality, or something else? I don’t judge it by one category, I rather try to judge it by what the intention of that product was, what was the manufacturer thinking when they produced it. A 4k headphone could very well be justified for its even if it doesn’t have a 4k sound. How so? What if the manufacturer had in mind a luxury headphone that was aimed for the rich, to be shown as a status? I believe that it isn’t ethical to judge that product by it’s sound characteristics, because the manufacturer didn’t aim it for that specific area. Luzli (Swiss company) is a perfect example. If you are an audiophile or an average audio consumer, you will definitely not find that product worth it. But if you care about the luxury look, then maybe you want it because you don’t even care about its sonic performance, maybe you just care about the status. And that’s okay. So it is definitely a complex thing when it comes to the approach of a review - the approach of judging the product. If it’s a design focused product, it’s the design you (IMO) should be focusing on and judging it by, not the sound characteristics. It’s quite controversial, and each person has the right to have their own approach, but the least everybody should do is to try to respect and understand other’s approach.

This was a long write-up… damn hahahaha. I just hope everybody understands my approach and intention. If I was here for the money and the products, I would definitely have a more “entertainment” approach. I don’t see myself as somebody who could do this as entertainment, I just try to educate people about the products through my very own experience.

Edit - I added some more details to better explain my last point (about conflict of interest)

That’s the thing that got me. Without comparison to other products, the review holds little value of any kind. Is the amp better than the Fiio BTR3? Better than a DNA Starlett? Better in what specific ways? We don’t know.

Comparisons also help to convey what kind of experience you have with other products. If someone with very little exposure to other headphones or dac/amps writes a gushingly positive review of a product, I know to take the review with a big grain of salt. (Honestly, I will probably just dismiss it out of hand.)

If someone who has explored that product category extensively (like Torq for example) writes a gushingly positive review, then I know I can put more trust in it. I would still have to figure out how his sonic preferences differ from mine to draw any meaningful data from it, but at least I could.

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You have a very valid point, and I agree with it. However, having a limited budget, I am unable to acquire other devices.

Getting to the status of Torq, it takes a lot of time. Time is the keyword. TR-AMP review is my first public review on a source, this is my beginning. It’s definitely a much more harsh beginning that it was for earphones and headphones - this only tells me that people care much less when talking about a listening device than the source itself.

You don’t become an expert overnight, but people with experience tend to be much more unforgiving to those who are just starting out - many of the starters quit for that very reason, they sense disapproval and uncomfort. I would also rather stay away from comparisons than make invalid comparisons. Instead of the gear itself, I focus on music, what difference does it make on music?
I am not as passionate to compare one source to another, it’s not something I enjoy. I do know there are people like Torq who do a much better job at that, people who are passionate about the technical side of things. I am more concerned how different headphones perform on different sources than how different sources compare to each other. Sources are something that is quite controversial, they make very subtle differences, sometimes impossible for an untrained ear to recognize - it depends what one is looking for. Just like I take extreme measures to meet up to my own standards, I can imagine people enthusiastic for audio gear will look for those subtle differences, they will search for perfection, and that is something I respect.

My target audience is people who are listening to music, and it is limiting, but that is what I can only do validly, for me it has always been about the music, never about the devices or the brands.

I am still learning to express myself, and I will definitely not stop doing that. Considering this is just the beginning, I have a lot of space to study and expertise. It’s also an interesting thing because I find my vision differing from the rest, so it is definitely easy to become a black sheep.

For what it’s worth I tried the Tr-Amp at CanJam NY and thought it was a neat little unit. Has some extra options over the Nano iDSD BL at the same price point and looks objectively nicer in my opinion. @Resolve actually has a red unit that he’s had since NY as well. You can see it in some of his videos. I can’t say I had the same wow experience that you did but context matters as well since people are coming from all different walks of life and experience with gear. That’s why others are saying comparisons are important because it’s important to know what gear you’re comparing it to to have the experience you’re having.

Writing public reviews is difficult in the first place because you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position by putting your thoughts on feelings out there for everyone to see so I respect anyone that does it. Reviewing sources is probably one of the more difficult things to do in this hobby since they tend to be controversial.

While the review does seem overly positive to the point of sounding like an ad, like I said above, context matters.

Something like this would have gone a long way to be posted in the review so that people can understand the perspective you’re writing from. Without something like this along with some comparisons to gear, a line later in the review just becomes a throwaway line

There’s no context as to why the Tr-Amp is underrated in your opinion. You then make comparisons to unnamed $50-$100 Amp/DAC combos which are half the price and unnamed so it doesn’t help back up the line above in any form.

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Everyone had to start somewhere. :slight_smile:

As you explore the hobby, keep writing reviews. It’s important that views from all experience levels are represented.

Thanks for your review

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With a name that resembles “Tramp” it has to be great!

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If you say it with a Serbian accent it actually is pronounced more like Tr-ump. Pairs nicely with the Donald DAC

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Good point.

I think I consider it underrated because there is very very little coverage of it, I found that there is little interest in it.

The ad nature of my review would be (I guess) me trying to “sell” (I am not selling anything, I just want others to experience it too) the experience I first had with it when I had the Sennheiser HD 598 paried up with it. It was like a game changer for me. I would want other people to have a chance to hear the difference a (quality) source can make.

It was definitely more based on my emotional reaction than anything else - like “wow, HD 598 was capable of this this whole time?”. I have been using the HD 598 for years, and to hear what it’s capable of, it was a special moment, and I put that moment into written form… so it was quite a moment for me, a special moment. A higher step into the hobby itself. But as I went further down the line, I couldn’t find it lacking or bad in its performance. The only problem that I ran into was the lower impedance headphones picking up hiss, I assume people who understand the technical side of things better know why this is happening.

I found it underrated also because I simply couldn’t hear the difference between my mac and the Tempotec sources (Serenade iDSD and Sonata iDSD Plus). I did A B testing with my TR-Amp (with HD 598) and my Mac. I repeated the same element (let’s say a clap at a very specific minute mark in a song - something I expressed and noted in my HD 598 review) over and over and over… again, and I heard the difference. Whereas, I simply could not hear anything that these “reviews” were talking about (reviews for the Tempotec sources). The only difference I could hear is that I was able to crank up the volume louder. You can imagine that it is quite frustrating to enter the world of sources and be greeted by the disappointment that you cannot hear what everybody is talking about… makes you kind of feel left out, lost.

This is something I am trying to track. While I cannot hear or notice something at this point, maybe as I gather more experience I will.

I was literally about to write the exact same thing @taronlissimore wrote. It’s pronounced as “Trump” in Serbian - a reference to the US president. That’s why I mentioned that I liked their naming system, it’s fun… but damn. They definitely didn’t think how the rest of the world would be reading the name of their device as “tramp” :joy: But then - Shiit exists - so yup. Maybe it was intentional, who knows (Donald DAC is definitely my favorite over the TR-Amp, like c’mon. What genius is behind the naming system hahahaha)

I appreciate everybody’s support! I am glad that I was able to better explain things through my later replies (better sooner than later I guess… will try to do it even sooner for the next). Feedback and critics are crucial for improvement, this is why I try to embrace them and not take them for granted.

Edit: one “s” decided to run away. Had to put it in its place

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Yea so I posted my thoughts, brief but some what straight forward months ago, I didn’t make a “official thread” because I’m not an admin, or Mod whose been given the ok to do that. So I’m wondering why you did? I guess I never realized I could make an official thread, but I’m a little disappointed that in stead of adding into the thread I made you went ahead to make one for yourself… Did not you think to maybe PM myself and the admin team to see if an “official” thread could be made?

Either way, since were here I might as well post MY full thoughts here too

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