E1DA 9038D

General Information

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Materials: sandblasted/black anodized aluminum/laser mark/ES9038Q2M/OPA1622/OPA1602, Susumu resistors, Murata C0G caps, AVX tantalum caps, Taiwanese connectors
Dimensions: 48x22x9mm
Weight: 12g
Power: USB +5V rail no internal battery, 95mA idle current, the device contains >4000uF of capacitance for the power rails filtering
Input: USB-C, PCM up to 32b/384kHz, DSD256, USB bridge Comtrue CT7601CR custom FW
Output: Standard unbalanced output 3.5mm jack, HW volume control .5db/step
Output impedance: .07 Ohm@1000Hz Agilent U1733C
Output power: 180mW@32 Ohm@1kHz@THD=1%
200mW@40 Ohm@1kHz@THD=1%
120mW@16 Ohm@1kHz@THD=1%
measured at +.5dbFS level, typical PC USB2 port powered
the hot unit produces less power
Frequency response: 5-80kHz +.05/-1db@ 32b/384kHz
S/N ratio: -125db(A) referenced to 2.75VRMS
DR AES17 125db(A)
THD+N@1kHz@-.5dbFS BW 22-22kHz .00014%, SINAD 117db typical for 24b/44.1kHz@no-load
THD@1kHz@-.5dbFS BW 22-22kHz <.0001% typical for 24b/44.1kHz@no-load
THD+N@1kHz@-2.5dbFS BW 22-22kHz .00018%, SINAD 115db typical 24b/44.1kHz@32ohm
THD+N@1kHz@-7dbFS BW 22-22kHz .0005% typical for 24b/44.1kHz@16ohm(-6dbfs correspods 120mW)
Crosstalk: -135db@1kHz no-load, -82db@1kHz 32ohm load

Latest reviews

Almost a desktop DAC+amp in your pocket
Pros: - exceptionally clean, transparent but still full bodied sound
- very high output power for a dongle
- amazing measurements (SINAD/THD+N, jitter, output power etc.)
- small, compact, great build quality
- quality USB cable included
- works without installing drivers (Win10/Android)
- Tweak App allows customization of sound signature (2nd and 3rd harmonics and DAC filter)
- excellent price
- unless you want to drive a Susvara, this can replace a kilobuck desktop DAC/Amp
- lightning fast and professional support
Cons: - None at this (or actually any) price
About myself

I'm 38, so my hearing is possibly not the same as in my 20s. I like various music genres, mainly prog rock/metal, blues and some classical music. I'm not into rap/hiphop/EDM so I don't have a strong preference regarding excessive bass quantity.

Some background

I've purchased this item myself, it was new. I have no affiliation with the manufacturer nor was this a sponsored review of part of a loan tour.

Unboxing

This was the simplest box I've ever received. A paper box, with the dongle in it and an USB cable. Nothing else. I love this as we don't need to further pollute the planet and put papers in the box that everybody throws to the trash in a minute.

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Usability

Everything worked on my Android phone and two Windows 10 PCs without installing any driver. As I flashed the latest firmware, I had to install a driver. No surprise, everything worked fine.

You can use an Android app called Tweak9038 to manipulate the settings of the 9038D. This includes selecting the DAC filter, limit hardware volume, and also you can tweak the 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion. This allows you to simulate "tube sound". This is absolutely unique on the market.

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Sound

Simply excellent. Very linear, transparent, clean. No noise or hiss, no distortion even at very high volume.

It can provide a lot of power. My Shure SRH840 becomes painfully loud above 50/100 in Windows 10 and Moondrop Starfield hurts above 45/100.

Comparisons

Much better than any DAPs I've had or tried. I found no audible difference between the Topping DX3 Pro and this USB dongle.

Compared to the Tempotec Sonata HD Pro, there are a lot of advantages. Much better output power, even cleaner sound, far better build quality, and a unique Android app.

Conclusion

Considering that -116 dB SINAD is about the limit of of audible transparency, depending on the power requirements of your headphone/IEM, you can turn your phone or PC into an audibly transparent source of music. All this at such an affordable price and small form factor.

If someone told me two years ago that I'll replace a desktop DAC/amp with an USB dongle to have better sound quality... well I would have started laughing... Now I'm laughing because this is true in 2020.

Now the only reason for having an expensive desktop amp or a DAP is if you have a very demanding headphone or if you want to please your ego with luxury items.
sebek
sebek
@holicst when you connect 9038D to smartphone does it drain the battery very fast? Because I have read that it consumes more than the 9038S...
Lohb
Lohb
Not cross-platform or stable across multiple Android phones...same buggy release as the last 3.
Crapshoot on android and on MACOS...with Audirvana+..nope....
holicst
holicst
@sebek It does not drain battery too fast, but I cannot compare to 9038S as I don't have one.

@Lohb it worked for me flawless no matter into what I have plugged it in.

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