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Emotiva Big Ego+ Portable DAC & HP Review

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 87 69.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 32 25.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 2 1.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 4 3.2%

  • Total voters
    125

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Emotiva Big Ego+ USB stereo portable DAC and headphone amplifier. It was kindly sent to me by a member costs US $79.10 from company website.

Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC Review.jpg

For a portable product it is quite large but that also makes it a better fit for desktop use. Compared to typical dongle, you have a few more features:
Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC Toslink Portable Review.jpg

It can act like a digital bridge taking USB input and converting it to Toslink optical. You can then select between it and analog line out. USB input though is the very old fashioned mini USB which tells me this design is fairly old. You also have a choice of a few reconstruction filters which is never found on this class of device.

Emotiva Big Ego+ DAC Measurements
Let's start with line out:
Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC Measurements.png


Disappointed to see less than 2 volt output and high distortion which dictates SINAD to be in our "red"(poor) category:
Best portable dac review 2022.png

Fortunately noise is a step better:
Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC DNR Measurements.png


High distortion pollutes IMD measurements as expected:
Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC IMD Measurements.png

Above -20 dB you are already in cheap dongle category. Multitone distortion lands in similar spot:
Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC Multitone Measurements.png


Jitter is not bad compared to dongles:
Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC Jitter Measurements.png


Linearity is good enough for class:
Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC Linearity Measurements.png


Filter performance is poor seeing how it doesn't attenuate out of band spectrum:
Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC Filter Measurements.png


This and high distortion translate into very poor THD+N vs frequency:
Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC THD vs Frequency Measurements.png


Emotiva Big Ego+ Digital Out Measurements
Running our dashboard we immediately see that the Toslink output is "bit exact:"
Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC Toslink Optical Measurements.png


So you can use it as a transparent bridge from USB to Toslink.

Emotiva Big Ego+ Headphone Out Measurements
I was surprised to see so little output level:
Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC Power 300 ohm Measurements.png

Emotiva Big Ego+ Stereo USB DAC Power 32 ohm Measurements.png


Best portable headphone amp review 300 ohm.png

Best portable headphone amp review 32 ohm.png


This is partially due to low output voltage but also high output impedance. This means it can create frequency response errors in headphones that have variable impedance (all but planar magnetics). So really not a good or even a fair attempt at producing output for headphone use.

Conclusions
I like the case and transparent bridging to Toslink. Other than that, performance is simply not competitive. It is as if the company doesn't know how much the world has moved on in DAC and headphone output performance. For same or some more money you can get a much smaller dongle with far better performance such as Hidizs S9.

I can't recommend the Emotiva Big Ego+. It just doesn't have good performance and lack of output drive means you can easily hear that on many headphones. Only saving grace is the Toslink output.

----------
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/
 

TonyJZX

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really a device of another era

from the looks of it, it dates back to 2015 but was revised in 2021 but they didnt bother to change the usb interface... which reminds me of products that dete back to the previous decade

also no physical vol. control is a real big misstep

problem is there's a slew of chinese dacs that themeslves have been long discontinued that offerr better performance and features
 

VintageFlanker

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Thanks, @amirm. Quite unremarkable performance. Very weak as a line output, and will barely drive any headphones properly. :facepalm:

from the looks of it, it dates back to 2015 but was revised in 2021 but they didnt bother to change the usb interface...which reminds me of products that dete back to the previous decade
There was no excuse for Mini-USB, even in 2015... Previous decade was dominated Micro-USB already. Mini-USB is already two decades old.

By the way, did this really cost 299€ somewhere back in time?o_O
 

JSmith

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It is good to see as a counter balance to the close to SOTA DAC's we see regularly, which should remind some of the need to keep testing DAC's.

Thanks for the test @amirm... I do like an amusing review. :cool:


JSmith
 

juliangst

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Is this a new product? I still remember Z reviewing the Big Ego 6 years ago but it was the non-plus version
 

juliangst

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This doesn't deserve any better than the 'poor' rating.
It doesn't reach 2V, it has no power at all and USB to spdif converters can be bought for 30 bucks
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Is this a new product? I still remember Z reviewing the Big Ego 6 years ago but it was the non-plus version
It is being sold on their website right now. So I assume it is current.
 

dtaylo1066

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Seems a minor name and cosmetic update at best to an outdated design. The category has blown by this device. Emotiva has not put out a new DAC in years, I think they have moved onto focusing on integrated components and their continued power amp and speaker lines.
 

Matias

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There are several dongles better than this. Very poor.
 

AndreaT

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Great review! I have one, somewhere, it was my first step into external DACs. maybe it was called “Little Ego”. It did not sound better than the analog output of my old MacBook. I had to supply a 3.5 mm to RCA cable. It did not improve the sound compared to the DAC of an old NAD CD player through the toslink. I only paid $ 69 back then. Unremarkable product w disappointing effect on my enjoyment of Music. Yes, it was before ASR…
 

GWolfman

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... $79.10 ...
I like the case and transparent bridging to Toslink. ...
Only saving grace is the Toslink output.
I had to buy a Topping DAC for this at $109, so it would've been great to know this beforehand, granted there is more uses with the Topping should I change my setup in the future.

Can anything else provide the transparent digital (to toslink) bridge for less money than this?
 

TonyJZX

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there probably is one out there for like... $19.95 but its another thing if you can actually trust it

at least that basic topping passes the 'amir asr' test

the other way to go about it is hdmi to sp/dif extractors slash switches which are *generally* quite reliabile... there's been a few reports on this place alone that seem to imply that hdmi standards actually mean something

i have sub $25 four port hdmi switches that have optical or coax out that seem to work just fine (ie. my digital preamp hasnt rejected the signal).
 

Chrise36

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I had to buy a Topping DAC for this at $109, so it would've been great to know this beforehand, granted there is more uses with the Topping should I change my setup in the future.

Can anything else provide the transparent digital (to toslink) bridge for less money than this?
Douk audio usb to toslink converter works good in my car.
 

fordiebianco

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