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TANCHJIM Space Portable Headphone Adapter Review

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 1 0.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 3 1.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 30 11.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 221 86.7%

  • Total voters
    255

multiformous

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Just confirmed with the app, if you long-press the Volume Up and Down buttons, the Space will cycle through it's filter settings helpfully translated here. The app can also allow you to adjust volume and balance, switch between low and high gain, and turn the light on the device on and off.
 

Lräk

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Just confirmed with the app, if you long-press the Volume Up and Down buttons, the Space will cycle through it's filter settings helpfully translated here. The app can also allow you to adjust volume and balance, switch between low and high gain, and turn the light on the device on and off.
There's an app for this?
 

gammonwalker

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I was thinking about buying this due to the measurements, but haven't been about to find many direct comparisons for other aspects.

Does anyone have alternatives within a similar price range (around +$50 less or more) they'd recommend over the Tanchjim Space for its features, sounds quality, reliability, whatever?

I'd like to power nicer IEMs, but also have a Sennheiser 6XXs and would maybe like to buy a HIFI MAN Sundara one day.
 

Matias

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I was thinking about buying this due to the measurements, but haven't been about to find many direct comparisons for other aspects.

Does anyone have alternatives within a similar price range (around +$50 less or more) they'd recommend over the Tanchjim Space for its features, sounds quality, reliability, whatever?

I'd like to power nicer IEMs, but also have a Sennheiser 6XXs and would maybe like to buy a HIFI MAN Sundara one day.
iBasso DC04Pro is also well regarded and he tons of settings to play with. Truthear Shio and TempoTec Sonata BHD are also more or less the same but cheaper.
 

Eddie_Vanjovi

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Variations has an advertised impedance of 15.2 ohms. Should work just fine, and if not, replacing my onboard DAC for the time-being.
 

Blorg

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Would this DAC delivery good results with planar magnetic like Hifiman Sundara?
It should be enough, at ~88dB listening level on the Sundara I am under 1mW (as reported by the Qudelix) and this does ~150mW out of the balanced output. There are more powerful dongles though, if you are specifically looking for the best dongle for low impedance planars the E1DA 9038S does have particularly high power for a dongle (almost 300mW @32Ω, 400mW @16Ω, @1% THD). Subjectively, I feel it works well with my Edition XS.
 

Blorg

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Great performance, nice and modern design - not sure who started it but I find this "exposed PCB" design trend quite attractive. Almost double the output power of Qudelix 5K. Add DSP/EQ to next generation and I will buy 3.
I think the Qudelix 5K has more power than this, did you mean to say that the other way around?

Amir's measurements:

SpaceQudelix 5K
SE 300Ω11 mW23 mW
Bal 300Ω43 mW
SE 33Ω54 mW85 mW
Bal 33Ω142 mW
SE 50Ω52 mW
Bal 50Ω210 mW

Qudelix claims 240mW at 32Ω which looks in the realm of possibility with that measured 50Ω number.

As far as I can see, all these dual CS43131 devices have very similar numbers, the headphone amp is built in to the CS43131 so there's not so much room for variation in implementation and they all seem to come in pretty much the same. The more honest OEMs (Truthear Shio) quote 150mW @32Ω for dual CS43131 @32Ω, which is more or less what they actually seem to measure at. Tanchjim with this, and Moondrop with the Dawn 4.4, both claim 230mW, but both actually measure around 150mW.

The CS43198 is just a DAC and different OEMs are using different op amps with it so there's more room for variation there; many of the CS43198 devices (like the Moondrop MoonRiver2) do actually measure around ~240mW @32Ω (same as the Qudelix).
 

Jabinho

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This is a review, listening test and detailed measurements of the TANCHJIM Space portable DAC and balanced headphone adapter. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $90.
View attachment 297498
I like the transparent window so that you can see the insides. There is an LED that lights up there when you reach the maximum volume control using the toggle buttons on the side. Speaking of those, they are some of the nicest ones I have used with very nice feel and action. You have the option of using 3.5 and 4.5mm headphone plugs. A neat, dual cable USB-C cable is provided as you see in the picture.

TANCHJIM Space Measurements
As is typical for this class of devices, the software I use to communicate with them doesn't work well so I can't run all the tests. But let's start with the dashboard that I can run:
View attachment 297501
Are you seeing what I am seeing? A portable dongle producing distortion below -130 dB??? Incredible. Going balanced, the output doubles to 4 volts but it would clip so I measured it one notch lower:
View attachment 297502

In another measurement I saw, it hadn't clipped so SINAD was improved. I will have to follow up with the company and understand what is going on. Using what we have puts the Space in entirely different class than other dongles, easily matching many desktop DACs:
View attachment 297503


View attachment 297504
Noise performance is superb regardless of class!
View attachment 297505

As is multitone:
View attachment 297506

There is tiny bit of jitter but otherwise, the response is again desktop class than any dongle:
View attachment 297507

The compatibility issue I have with testing causes the noise floor of these sweeps to be about 15 dB higher than they really are. So let's use them for computing max power:

View attachment 297508

View attachment 297509

These are very healthy numbers for a dongle. In case you have different impedance headphone, here is the sweep for that:
View attachment 297510

As seen, it gets unhappy around 12 ohm but higher than that works well. Even with 12 ohm, as long as you use an IEM or sensitive headphone, you should be fine.

TANCHJIM Space Listening Test
There just enough power to drive my power hungry Dan Clark Stealth headphone. It could do better but the last two notches on the volume control caused audible distortion. Switching to Sennheiser HD650, the Space had much easier time driving it and produced superb fidelity as long as you stayed away from the last two notches. In that regard, I think the output level was a bit lower than competing dongles that produce clean 4 volts of output.

Conclusions
First a confession: when the company reached out to me a few months ago, I had not heard of them and thought this would be a very low performing device. So I responded that I don't think it would do well. They assured me that it would and showed me measurements that were just hard to believe. They sent me a sample which unfortunately got lost. What you see here is the second sample. As you see, performance is just stunning. Use of dual DACs and excellent engineering has translated into a top of the line desktop class DAC but in a container that is the size of an America quarter! Functionality is excellent with nice tactile volume controls. And the thing manages to look attractive to boot! Other than finding out why it won't produce 4 volts, it is the most perfect headphone adapter I have tested!

It is my pleasure to recommend the TANCHJIM Space dac and headphone amplifier. I will be using it as my everyday adapter for my phone from here on!

-----------
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/
I think you should have tested this unit whit sensitive IEM's. I was quite dissapointed to discover this much noise. These devices are not commonly used with full size headphones.
 

Blorg

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I think you should have tested this unit whit sensitive IEM's. I was quite dissapointed to discover this much noise. These devices are not commonly used with full size headphones.
He isn't listening with IEMs, but that's the 50mV test is meant to test and >90dB is class leading on that. This would be a more objective test of it anyway. Might even be the best dongle he has ever measured, if not it's in the ballpark. It beats the dedicated IEM out on the $1,149 RME ADI-2 FS V2 to put in context.

I don't have this specific device but I have several other dual CS43131 dongles that measure pretty similar and I get no noise whatsoever on IEMs with them.

For that matter I also have dongles with *much* lower 50mV numbers, like the Qudelix 5K (81dB) and I get absolutely zero hiss from that either.

He does do these measurements at 600Ω, while IEMs will be much lower than that, don't know if that makes a difference.

I wonder if it's possible you have some other defect, as I would not expect hiss from this and I haven't seen others complaining about it. There are certain brands, like iFi, that are notorious for making hissy stuff, and that includes their dongles, many complaints they hiss. Haven't seen it with this though.
 

unpluggged

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Blorg

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It does not. Amir tested the main HP out, not the IEM.
He was specifically asked about that and said he tested the IEM output. Also the V1 of the RME ADI-2 FS was at least at the time of that test, the best ever measured at 95dB 93dB. It was the V2 that was a bit worse at 89dB (still great, but worse).


Either way, it's splitting hairs, whether 89dB, 91dB or 95dB, these are all excellent results and there should be no audible hiss whatsoever.
 
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Alex.san

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The OEM manufacturer of these devices has released a very interesting small DAC with a battery. According to Chinese users, it really delivers 330mW from a balanced output. I ordered one, will check on arrival.
I got my DAC.
Full report here
 

unpluggged

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He was specifically asked about that and said he tested the IEM output. Also the V1 of the RME ADI-2 FS was at least at the time of that test, the best ever measured at 95dB. It was the V2 that was a bit worse at 89dB (still great, but worse).


Either way, it's splitting hairs, whether 89dB, 91dB or 95dB, these are all excellent results and there should be no audible hiss whatsoever.
I see. Anyway, while I can hear the background faintly when I connect my Fiio FA7 IEMs to the ADI-2 Pro, I do not hear it with less sensitive IEMs, including the Truther Hexa. On Qudelix 5K, I cannot hear any background noise with the FA7 over USB (over BT, it engages a noise gate in the absense of input signal), so I may conclude that the IEM output of the ADI-2 DAC is even quieter.
 
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Blorg

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I see. Anyway, while I can hear the background faintly when I connect my Fiio FA7 IEMs to the ADI-2 Pro, I do not hear it with less sensitive IEMs, including the Truther Hexa. On Qudelix 5K, I cannot hear any background noise with the FA7 over USB (over BT, it engages a noise gate in the abcense of input signal), so I may conclude that the IEM output of the ADI-2 DAC is even quieter.
If you can hear it on the ADI-2 Pro, but can't hear it on the Qudelix, how is the ADI-2 DAC (which I presume you don't have) quieter?

This would seem to suggest that the ADI-2 Pro, at least, is noisier than the Qudelix at IEM power levels, no? It's a much more powerful headphone amp without a dedicated IEM out though.

I don't see how this says anything about the Space or the IEM out on the ADI-2 DAC though, I'm not following the logic here.
 

unpluggged

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how is the ADI-2 DAC (which I presume you don't have) quieter?
I was talking about the ADI-2 DAC's IEM output.
 

Blorg

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I was talking about the ADI-2 DAC's IEM output.
Right. And likely that is quieter than your ADI-2 Pro. But I don't see how you think that relates to how noisy this Tanchjim Space might be.

Measured at 50mV:

Qudelix 5K - 81dB
ADI-2 DAC V2 - 89dB
Tanchjim Space - 91dB
ADI-2 DAC V1 - 93dB

Amir did review the ADI-2 Pro but didn't measure SNR @50mV. He did note the ADI-2 DAC was better in many other metrics though.

If you didn't hear hiss out of the Qudelix which has SNR of 81dB at 50mV, presumably you wouldn't hear any hiss from this either, as it's 10dB better.

I don't see how the IEM noise level of the ADI-2 Pro is relevant.
 

unpluggged

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But I don't see how you think that relates to how noisy this Tanchjim Space might be.
I did not make any claim regarding the Tanchjim ;)

I don't see how the IEM noise level of the ADI-2 Pro is relevant.
Only as a reference point. In my case, the noise is just a bit over the audibility threshold with my most sensitive IEMs. Also, I think that with this kind of outputs (especially with digital volume control), it's more relevant to measure the absolute noise level into a certain load rather than SNR at set output voltage.
 
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