Earmen TR-Amp Simply Perfectly Portable


TR-Amp is a new portable Dac/Amp from Earmen priced at 249.99 via their website, for those who don't know Earmen is the portable division of Auris Audio. Based in Serbia Auris develops a wide array of tube amplifiers and digital audio products built around the idea that equipment should not only sound beautiful but look just as good! 

Now I've had a chance to hear and review a few products from Auris including the Euterpe which I also helped organize a US Tour for. As a fan of their products I'm happy to now have a chance to review their Earmen TR-Amp! While I did receive the unit from them at no cost, I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.

Build & Function 

Overall I found TR-Amp to be perfectly seamless in real world use. With my android devices I had no issues getting bit perfect playback through USB Android Player Pro with both Qobuz and Tidal. Power is built into the Volume knob with a nice bit of initial resistance to prevent accidental switching on or off. The pot it self has a suitable taper and I didn't have any issues getting the volume to a level that I wanted with a variety of headphones.


While not seamless the screws are recessed  and sit flush with the chassis. The overall fit and finish feels good in the hand. Both the 6.5mm and 3.5mm outputs have a nice firmness to them. 

I'm also a big fan of the individual USB C inputs for power and data. It works well functionally and adds some long term durability I feel is worthwhile on an all in one portable. The addition of RCA line out's is also greatly appreciated and a refreshing feature to see at this price point! 

My only qualm with TR-Amp is the size, while I'm used to carrying much larger portable systems I can't say that everyone will be as accustom to something this large. Still I didn't find it to be cumbersome to carry with me around and outside of my home. 

Sound Quality & Headphone Pairing

I find that overall the TR-Amp has an energetic presentation, with average staging, detail and depth. What stands out to me the most is the power output! I've not come across a lot of devices in this price point that pack the sheer heft TR-Amp does. 

It's presentation has a vivid sense of attack and decay with an abundance of texture tho there were times I wasn't able to discern the sustain and release of sounds as much as I'm used to. Tho I didn't find the envelope distracting nor particularly offensive. All in all I find it's rather complimentary to a lot of today's more popular headphones in and around the $500 price point, which I think is a rather smart tuning decision by the Earmen team! 

TR-Amp & LCD 2C 

The thick full bodied Audeze LCD 2C finds it self fully complimented by TR-Amp. The added focus on attack and decay help to balance out the some-what excessive release in LCD 2C's envelope. 

I had no issues with noise nor a lack of gain either, all in all the energetic TR-Amp was an excellent match for the more laid back Audeze LCD 2C. 

Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Closed

TR-Amp's powerful amp stage and low frequency control complimented Aeon 2 Closed hefty bass, how ever I found the pairing had a slight glare in the mid range and top end that I wasn't a fan of. 

Fans of an IN YOUR FACE presentation and aggressive envelope will likely appreciate this pairing. 

Once again TR-Amp proved more than capable to handle Aeon 2 Closed's low sensitivity and hunger for current! 

TR-Amp & HD 600

Unfortunately TR-Amp was not a good match for HD 600, there was too much harshness in the upper mid range and top end. HD 600's rolled off sub-bass was not complimented by TR-Amp either as it's relative Mid-bass "hump" was emphasized.

I will say tho it's likely HD 650 would prove far more complimentary, it's darker top end and fuller bass would appreciate TR-Amps energetic and aggressive presentation to help define it's envelope. 

Product Comparisons

Something I appreciate is how difficult it was to find something priced around TR-Amp that had both it's feature set, connectivity options and overall power. This it to say there's not really anything quite like TR-Amp under $250, specifically the RCA out is what has really set it apart. Some background for myself, my first "Audiophile" system when I was a student was portable based, a DT 880 with a Hifiman HM601 and a JDS Labs cMoy BB. I later added a Indeed G3 Hybrid Tube with some mods that I fed line out from my HM 601. Back then I would have LOVED to have a RCA out on my portable, seeing as my time was evenly split between home and campus.  

Even now often times I recommend portable DAC/Amps and DAPs to new community members who like my self are split between home and everywhere else as having one device to interface with all your sources makes more sense then recommending a full desktop set up as your first. 

Still these comparisons will only be again'st other portable DAC/Amps. If you do NOT need a portable I strongly suggest you NOT buy a portable product. In today's market $250 will get you a better sounding desktop set up than any portable product... period! 

These comparisons where made level matched with my HD 600 and Aeon 2C, each headphone presents both a different load for amplification and has a different tuning so I felt they'd help me gleam how well competing portables do with a wider array of headphones. 

For this comparison I did keep xDSD set to it's "listen" filter with the xBass and 3D+ deactivated. 

Overall my only qualm with xDSD was it's output power, a minor deficiency that was only evident when I pushed the volume to around 91 dB peaks [ 85 dB average] with Aeon 2 Closed. At that volume level there was a slight bit of distortion in the bass, especially with Electronica or any tracks with a heavy Synth Bass presence. 

HD 600 had no qualms on xDSD either and frankly sounded more correct off of it. An while TR-Amp performed better at keeping texture and control in it's low frequencies at higher output levels I didn't feel it out performed xDSD anywhere else in terms of overall sound quality. 

Geek Out v2+ vs TR-Amp

Unfortunately there was no upside for TR-Amp again'st the GOV2+, well it has a line out, but other wise it presented no sonic benefits.

Still GOv2+ is more or less unavailable at this time, while it pops up second hand from time to time around $300 or so the manufacturing company doesn't service them and so it's difficult to say long time how it will age. So yea technically GOv2+ is the far better listen, but I find it's not playing nicely with my newer android devices, even on my older LG V20 where it works well I still have the occasional drop out while playing local files. Which is enough of a frustration to limit my own personal use of it in my own home!

So while I found higher priced products did better than TR-Amp I again feel it's still an amazing product, so much so I couldn't find anything worthwhile comparisons around it's price point. 

Conclusion 


TR-Amps straight forward plug and play integration with Android, powerful output and energetic tuning I feel make it an excellent portable DAC/Amp especially when paired with a darker more lush sounding headphone like HD 6XX or Audeze LCD 2C.  I personally pair my Ether CX with TR-Amp any time I want to stream Qobuz off my cellular devices and just mellow out in my living room.

All in all I give the TR-Amp my highest recommendation! I feel it's tuned smartly and presents and amazing value.

JDS Labs The Element

iFi Audio iCan SE