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EarMen Tradutto Review (DAC)

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 140 72.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 45 23.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 6 3.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 3 1.5%

  • Total voters
    194

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the EarMen Tradutto stereo DAC. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $770 from the company direct.

Earmen Tradutto Review Stereo DAC.jpg


The Tradutto is extremely heavy for its size, having been machined out of solid metal. The corners are a bit sharp though for my taste. A chunky machined remote is also included:
Earmen Tradutto Review Remote Control Stereo DAC.jpg

The remote is rechargeable which is nice. What is not nice is that it has no volume controls (nor does the unit itself) so I don't know about its usefulness. On a desk I can just hit the same buttons myself. Another odd thing is using 4.4mm pentacon for balanced output. This kind of connector is use for balanced headphone output sometimes but hardly ever for line out. Sadly the company doesn't include an adapter for it to dual XLR.

Out of the box, one RCA channel was not working. I could feel the connector moving left and right and I could briefly get it to work if I held on to the cable. The other one did not feel very secure either.

EarMen Tradutto Measurements
Let's start with RCA output:
Earmen Tradutto Measurements RCA Stereo DAC.png


As you see, one channel is dead. That aside, note that the output is nearly 2.2 volts meaning it will be louder when you compare it to vast majority of DACs out there that output 2 volts. In subjective testing this could cause people to think the fidelity is better for Tradutto even though it is not.

I used a Frankenstein pair of adapters to go from Pentacon to 4-pin XLR and from there, to two 3-pin XLRs:

Earmen Tradutto Measurements Stereo DAC.png


Company specs the output to be 4 volts but I am only getting 2.2 volts. Not sure if this is a problem with the unit or the adapter I have.

Distortion dominates the SINAD score, landing an average rating:

best stere dac.png


In its price range though, competitors do far, far better.

Dynamic range is along the same lines:
Earmen Tradutto Measurements DNR SNR Stereo DAC.png


Multitone performance is decent:
Earmen Tradutto Measurements Multitone Stereo DAC.png


Intermodulation distortion vs level shows classic ESS DAC IMD "hump" which other companies have solved for a long time now:

Earmen Tradutto Measurements IMD Stereo DAC.png


I expect a perfect response in this price class when it comes to jitter but we don't get it:

Earmen Tradutto Measurements Jitter Stereo DAC.png


Linearity is also non-competitive:

Earmen Tradutto Measurements Linearity Stereo DAC.png


There is only one filter and its response is poor:

Earmen Tradutto Measurements Balanced Filter Stereo DAC.png


This causes THD+N vs frequency to look really bad at low sampling rates:

Earmen Tradutto Measurements THD+N vs Frequency Stereo DAC.png


Increasing the sample rate to 192 kHz eliminates the effect of the filter but still leaves us with non-competitive performance.

Finally to squash any comments about tonality being different, here is the frequency response:

Earmen Tradutto Measurements Balanced Frequency Response Stereo DAC.png


Conclusions
A no frills desktop DAC with near perfect objective measurements goes for $150 or even less these days. The Tradutto charges five times as much but delivers worse performance. Money was spent on case and such which don't add value to performance of the unit. And frankly don't make it look any nicer either. Functionality is poor as far as lack of volume control. There is not one thing you can hang your hat on that would say you should buy this device. In a competitive market, it has no place.

I can't recommend EarMen Tradutto DAC. Company needs to do far better to improve performance and functionality.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Aperiodic

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May 2, 2019
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357
Another piece of overpriced caca lands in the most dangerous spot in audio- Amir's test bench- and promptly bites the dust. I paid 1/7 the price mor my SMSL Sanskrit II which buries this. Fans of needlessly expensive casework might find it to their liking though.

One quibble though, the product name is misspelled here and there throughout the review.
 
Last edited:

Chrispy

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Did the owner use the rcas or was aware of issues with them?
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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I’m not quite sure how big the headless panther is, but using it as a comparison that front display looks tiny. Does it show anything useful?
No. Just sample rate and input.
 

GWolfman

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I used a Frankenstein pair of adapters to go from Pentacon to 4-pin XLR and from there, to two 3-pin XLRs
Good thing you have plenty of testing to show that adapters don't really affect the performance in any meaningful way, otherwise someone might claim that's the reason for the bad performance.
 

Dmitri

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Fortunately for the owner, returning said item shouldn’t be a problem as it is clearly defective. Poor performance at a ludicrous price point is one thing, but that coupled with poor QC is just plain painful.
 

Hapo

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Jan 11, 2022
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100
Did the owner use the rcas or was aware of issues with them?

...I swear it had two channels at one point...methinks I would have noticed that...although I could not tell the difference between it and the Modi...

...apparently it could not survive being plugged in and then unplugged for shipping...

...a savy member on another thread noted that the RCA outputs looked very cheap, period, never mind on a "high end" product...
 

Steve Dallas

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My Modius is wearing a Schiit eating grin right about now...
 

Tks

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I'd honestly be more interested in a quick talk with the designer to ask where did he come up with the two concepts. The first, a 4.4mm balanced line out on the rear, and the second, a remote with no volume control.

Performance, whatever, we know lots of these guys don't care about this sort of stuff, nor do they verify the performance of their design, so meh. But those two aforementioned things... How does one actively come up with something like that?
 

jam

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We've been so used to Amir treating us with goodie after goodie at very reasonable prices the last few years, all of a sudden a DAC like this falls on his lap.

At that price they should have used a higher end DAC chip to begin with, like perhaps the ES9038PRO, and included full-fledged XLR balanced outputs. They could have saved some cost with a thinner and lighter case. Then again, I don't think they've even managed to optimize the analog output stages.

This DAC whas not designed to compete with his peers in today's market from its inception. I don't know what the designers were thinking of.
 

H-713

Senior Member
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Sigh... I might have given this a pass on performance (since it would still sound just fine), but the use of the 4mm Pentacon (especially for a line output) is a solid WTF in my book. Moving away from connector standardization is the last thing we need right now. Use XLR, or TRS if you need to save space and BOM cost.

Also, I won't comment on the dead channel. The sample size is too small to draw any useful conclusions about reliability.
 

respice finem

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
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This is a review and detailed measurements of the EarMen Tradutta stereo DAC. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $770 from the company direct.

View attachment 184018

The Tradutta is extremely heavy for its size, having been machined out of solid metal. The corners are a bit sharp though for my taste. A chunky machined remote is also included:
View attachment 184019
The remote is rechargeable which is nice. What is not nice is that it has no volume controls (nor does the unit itself) so I don't know about its usefulness. On a desk I can just hit the same buttons myself. Another odd thing is using 4.4mm pentacon for balanced output. This kind of connector is use for balanced headphone output sometimes but hardly ever for line out. Sadly the company doesn't include an adapter for it to dual XLR.

Out of the box, one RCA channel was not working. I could feel the connector moving left and right and I could briefly get it to work if I held on to the cable. The other one did not feel very secure either.

EarMen Tradutto Measurements
Let's start with RCA output:
View attachment 184020

As you see, one channel is dead. That aside, note that the output is nearly 2.2 volts meaning it will be louder when you compare it to vast majority of DACs out there that output 2 volts. In subjective testing this could cause people to think the fidelity is better for Tradutto even though it is not.

I used a Frankenstein pair of adapters to go from Pentacon to 4-pin XLR and from there, to two 3-pin XLRs:

View attachment 184021

Company specs the output to be 4 volts but I am only getting 2.2 volts. Not sure if this is a problem with the unit or the adapter I have.

Distortion dominates the SINAD score, landing an average rating:

View attachment 184022

In its price range though, competitors do far, far better.

Dynamic range is along the same lines:
View attachment 184023

Multitone performance is decent:
View attachment 184024

Intermodulation distortion vs level shows classic ESS DAC IMD "hump" which other companies have solved for a long time now:

View attachment 184025

I expect a perfect response in this price class when it comes to jitter but we don't get it:

View attachment 184026

Linearity is also non-competitive:

View attachment 184027

There is only one filter and its response is poor:

View attachment 184028

This causes THD+N vs frequency to look really bad at low sampling rates:

View attachment 184029

Increasing the sample rate to 192 kHz eliminates the effect of the filter but still leaves us with non-competitive performance.

Finally to squash any comments about tonality being different, here is the frequency response:

View attachment 184030

Conclusions
A no frills desktop DAC with near perfect objective measurements goes for $150 or even less these days. The Tradutta charges five times as much but delivers worse performance. Money was spent on case and such which don't add value to performance of the unit. And frankly don't make it look any nicer either. Functionality is poor as far as lack of volume control. There is not one thing you can hang your hat on that would say you should buy this device. In a competitive market, it has no place.

I can't recommend EarMen Tradutto DAC. Company needs to do far better to improve performance and functionality.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Tradutto or Tradutta?

"Just for the tombstone" :p
 
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